Great visit to my late wife,s home. Saw my extended family in Hoensbroek, which is in the south of the Netherlands. Only niece and nephews still alive. The wife of my brother in law died 6 May at 84 then he died 2 days later 08 May at 86 and then my other brother in law died 1 month later in Amsterdam. Holy cow. Damn. Sorry I am not supposed to swear (read my pilgrim post part one and two)
Ik spent 4 days there then took the train to Lourdes. All my fears came to past as the first train was cancelled. I could not find the swear words to say in dutch so I found some choice English words to say. A cab driver offered to take me to Maastricht for 85 euros but I told him no way Jose (he was spanish I think). I found a bus to take me from Heerlen to Maastricht but the damage had been done. All of my connections were kaput (German not Dutch) but a nice lady from Liege (lauk in Dutch) helped me so I said “danku wel” and she said “your welcome.” Whoa. Do I look like a stupid Canadian I thought. Perhaps my sask roughriders hat gave me away.
I made it through the madness of Paris at Montparness Station with thousands of mes amis de Francais. The French were not protesting today for a one hour work week with a 30 minute lunch break and two 15 minute coffee breaks. Mon dieu I thought. So with one hand covering my wallet, another over my documents and my other two hands holding on for dear sacre blue – don,t worry, i am a pilgrim after all – life I made it to my platform. I boarded the train vitesse, tres vitesse, and rocketed south to Lourdes at 310 kilometers per hour. I kid you not. We in Canada may think we are sooo advanced but we are not. They are so civilized here that they still smoke on the terraces and they actually….talk.
Mon dieu. My french gets better. Pardon, je suis un pellerin after all.
Now in Lourdes. I wäs here 5 years ago after my French walk – the way of Vezelay. Lourdes is a beautiful place in the French side of the Pyrenees. It is the site of the marion apparitions to St Bernadette de Soubirous – non not the auto monsieur. Mary appeared to Bernadette 18 times in 1858. Every day since 1858 they have an evening procession to honour the Blessed Virgin and praise Jesus by honouring his mother – just as we should always honour our own mothers. It is a site to behold. I will go there tonight. It is the number one pilgrimage site for Catholics after the Vatican. After the apparitions Mary asked that a chapel be built on the site. Here is that chapel.
You may not believe. Some protestants say it is demonic. But what is demonic about love. I dont mean to pontificate. As Saint Thomas Aquinas said: “ if you believe in God no explanation is required. If you don’t believe in God no explanation would suffice.” It is a matter of faith and it is a relationship that is personal. I am just glad and happy that I can come here. There are thousands here living for hope. What is wrong with that in this crazy world we live in.
Here is where I am staying.
Top floor, second from the right. I stayed here 5 years ago. Basic but clean. 35 euros with breakfast although the baguette is like biting into concrete. Mon dieu. Black coffee and orange juice. Prices here are great compared to Victoriá.
But who would have frites in a sandwich?
Tomorrow I leave for Roncesvalles, Navarra Spain and the start of my long walk and Pilgrimage. Did you know that there is a sector in Toronto named Roncesvalles? Well there is and it is the Ukrainian part of that city.
I apologize in advance for any typos as I am forced to use an Ipad. I use whatever grammar is easiest so you may see me use an apostrophe instead of the possessive. I am a pilgrim so I must say sorry. In advance. I will not swear and I must suffer – but starting Monday. Tonight I party and stay away from gruel.
Have fun at the Lions game.
Read ya later.