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Today – Thursday after Ash Wednesday – is the commemoration of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Living Faith has a special Lent daily devotional booklet. They don’t put the entries online as they do with the regular devotional (my last entry in it is here), but the e-version of the devotional is only .99 and is available here.  Today happens to be one of my entries, "amy welborn"and you can read it if you click on the “look inside” feature and scroll down a bit. 

A preview:

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.  Luke 9:23

                Perhaps I have made some plans for  Lent. Perhaps I have worked out what my daily cross shall be:  Extra prayer times and practices I’ll take on; particular pleasures I’ll forgo; works of mercy to which I’m committed. 

                After all, intentionality and a thoughtful spiritual plan are good things.

                But I’m struck that on this first full day of Lent, I’m also invited to consider how God’s grace moves in completely unexpected ways in quiet corners of life.    MORE

(Another .99 daily Lenten devotional? You got it – right here.)

If you would like to share the story of St. Bernadette with your children, Loyola has my entry on her from The Loyola Kids’ Book of Saints online here. 

Bernadette was afraid, of course, but it wasn’t the kind of fear that made her want to run away. She stayed where she was and knelt down. She reached into the pocket of her worn-out dress, found her own rosary, and started to pray with the girl. When she finished, the girl disappeared.

Bernadette didn’t know who or what she had seen. All she knew was that being there had made her feel happy and peaceful. On their way back to Lourdes, she told her sister and friend saintswhat had happened, and soon the whole village knew.

Over the next few weeks, Bernadette returned to the grotto and saw the beautiful girl several times. Each time she went, more people went with her. Although only Bernadette could see the girl in white, when the other villagers prayed with her in the grotto, they felt peaceful and happy too. Those who were sick even felt that God had healed them while they prayed.

During those moments in the grotto, the girl spoke to Bernadette only a few times. She told her that a pure, clear spring flowed under the rocks. She told her that people needed to be sorry for their sins. And near the end, the girl said one more thing: “I am the Immaculate Conception.”

Bernadette had no idea what this meant. She repeated it to herself over and over on her way back to the village so she wouldn’t forget the strange, long words. When she told her parish priest what the girl had said, he was quite surprised.

That grotto, from our 2012 trip:

 

"amy welborn"

"amy welborn"

 

Many more photos and comments here 

 

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Many saints to talk about today, four of them “new.”

Today, Pope Francis canonized four new saints – the two everyone’s been talking about, the Martins, the parents of Therese of Lisieux and, of course, her sisters, but there were two others as well. Did you know that?

Here’s the Holy Father’s homily from today.

The men and women canonized today unfailingly served their brothers and sisters with outstanding humility and charity, in imitation of the divine Master.Saint Vincent Grossi was a zealous parish priest, ever attentive to the needs of his people, especially those of the young. For all he was concerned to break the bread of God’s word, and thus became a Good Samaritan to those in greatest need.

Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception devoted her life, with great humility, to serving the least of our brothers and sisters, especially the children of the poor and the sick.

The holy spouses Louis Martin and Marie-Azélie Guérin practised Christian service in the family, creating day by day an environment of faith and love which nurtured the vocations of their daughters, among whom was Saint Therese of the Child Jesus.

The radiant witness of these new saints inspires us to persevere in joyful service to our brothers and sisters, trusting in the help of God and the maternal protection of Mary. From heaven may they now watch over us and sustain us by their powerful intercession.

A bit more (not much) on St. Vincenzo Grossi, also canonized today.

I can’t find anything on St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception! I mean…nada. Perhaps you can help…

Anyway, here’s a go to site on the Martins.

Love this icon:

"amy welborn"

The image that hung in St. Peter’s Square for the canonization:

"amy welborn"

I was hoping to read this collection of their letters, but it’s….$28.99 for a digital version.  Sheesh. 

Fr. Steve Grunow today:

Today, in Rome, the Holy Father will declare two new saints- Louis and Zelie Martin. The Martin’s will be the first married couple to be canonized together as saints.

In the estimation of the world, Louis and Zelie Martin were insignificant. The cultural elites of our day would characterize the two as hopelessly irrelevant. Both sought to be Christ-like, to be holy, by living out their vocation as husband and wife as a sacrifice of love. They were the parents of nine children, of whom five survived to adulthood.

The purpose of the household the Martin’s established was to nurture disciples for Jesus and create future saints for the Church.

In this mission, God blessed them abundantly.

Then, today, “behind” Sunday, as it were, is the feast of St. Luke. 

Eh, and finally, my less-than-minor contribution to the cause today – the Living Faith devotional today. 

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The Catholic Herald comments on the Puy du Fou theme park:

Describing his theme park, its founder said: “The Puy-du-Fou was based on the idea of transmitting a heritage … We remember past glory, the glory of all the generations that defended France and Christendom. It is not an amusement park … It is a flame of French hope. When I created the Puy-du-Fou I considered it to be a moral debt. I wanted to write a hymn to repay the debt I owe to my father and my mother, to the Vendée.” Speaking of the different scenes of France’s history through the centuries which are re-enacted at Puy-du-Fou and which attract many thousands of visitors every year, he explained his vision, showing how the moral and educational purpose of his creation distinguishes it from others: “Let us speak of our heritage of 1,000 years, of the poor who came before us … The builders of our cathedrals were so poor that no one even remembers their names … being French is to be a link in a chain, a cathedral sculptor who leaves his lifework without leaving his name…”

What impressed me about this statement is how counter-cultural it sounds: that to live well is not to seek endless entertainment and distraction; it is to honour one’s parents; to reflect on one’s (Christian) national history; to celebrate and memorialise; not the anarchy let loose by the Revolution or “la gloire” of Napoleonic military imperialism, but the anonymous builders of the great French Gothic cathedrals, such as Chartres or Amiens. Most of all it suggests humility – indeed the humility of the famous geneticist who deliberately spoke out against abortion at a prestigious international conference, knowing that it would cost him the Nobel Prize.

As it happens, we’ve been to Puy du Fou – and it was amazing and fascinating.

As some of you know, we spent the fall of 2012 in Europe, mostly in France.  When I first started researching the trip, I happened upon information about Puy du Fou, and was immediately intrigued. What is this??  It’s the most popular attraction of its type in France – more so than EuroDisney – and I’d never even heard of it.  Then I went to the website, watched the over-the-top amazing videos about knights and vikings and such, and I was determined.

We had to go. 

So we did – as far as I could tell, one of the few non-French speakers in the park that day, which also happened to be the last day of the season they perform the massive, (literally) cast of thousands evening show.

It’s an “amusement park” but there are no rides.  The main attractions are recreations of medieval and renaissance villages with artisans and shops, a small collection of animals, a few animantronic features – de la Fontaine’s fairy tales, for example, and then these spectacular – I mean spectacular shows featuring French history, starting with the Romans – in a full-blown Roman coliseum with chariots and so on.

So, quickly – when we went, the shows were:

  1. The Romans
  2. A recreation of a Viking raid story with a variation of a saint/miracle story
  3. A Joan of Arc type story (although not quite)
  4. Richilieu’s Musketeer, which I didn’t understand at all – involving musketeers, Spanish type dancers and horses prancing on a water-flooded stage.
  5. Birds of Prey show
  6. The evening show, Cinescine 

You have to watch the videos to understand why, once I saw them, there was no way I was going to France and not going to Puy du Fou.

That said, I didn’t know anything about the place beyond the fact that it was popular and looked kind of trippy and totally French.

As we moved through the day, I started to notice a couple of things:

  1. The explicit religious content of every show (except the musketeer one, but it may have been there, and I just didn’t grasp it.)   The Roman show began with two Christian men running onto the sandy floor of the coliseum and drawing an ichthys, and being arrested for that.  The Viking show featured a miracle (based, I think on a particular miracle story but I don’t remember which at the time) about a saint raising a child from the dead.
  2. At some point it dawned on me…there’s nothing about the French Revolution here.  Nothing. Not a word, not an image. Wait. Aren’t all the French all about the French Revolution?

I knew that the evening show was about the Vendee resistance to the Revolution, but before I went, I didn’t know anything about the founder of the park, his politics and how the park expresses that vision.

As I keep saying, it was simply fascinating and really helped broaden my understanding of French history and the French people and the complexity of contemporary France.

Cinescine is really unlike anything you have ever seen. You’re seated on this huge grandstand, and the show happens around this lake – lights, hundreds and hundreds of people in costume tracing the history of the area, including the resistance to the Revolution, animals, music….wow.

(The one almost-mishap was that when I reserved the tickets, I had, of course, been messed up by that European calendar – so I thought I was buying tickets for Saturday, when I had in fact bought them for Friday – which had already happened.  I discovered this earlier in the day at the park, but the ticket folks were very nice and exchanged them out…I mean, why not? I’d already paid for something that had already happened, so why not let us in?  Also, I discovered why, even though the park is open far beyond mid-September, this was the last evening show – it got so, so cold that night – we had to take advantage of the wandering blanket-seller and spend 15 Euros on a blanket that night….)

Loved it, and would absolutely go back if I had the chance.

"amy welborn"

de la Fontaine- he talks

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"amy welborn"

Nightly Rosary Procession, Lourdes.

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