Photo Credit: Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes Flickr.Photo Credit: Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes Flickr.
You will of course have noticed that acronyms are commonplace in Lourdes. HNDL stands for Hospitalité Notre-Dame de Lourdes.
The Hospitalité is subject to two jurisdictions: on the one hand is French law (the 1901 law of Associations) and on the other is canon law, which designated the Hospitalité as an Arch-Confraternity in 1928.
Two statutes confer different but complementary rights and obligations on the Hospitalité.
As regards civil law, the statute allows anyone, whatever his or her beliefs, to join the Hospitalité. In this way, such a person, within the Association, can live the Hospitalité mission: to serve the sick, disabled and able bodied pilgrims who come to Lourdes as a humanitarian service, while respecting the values of the Arch-Confraternity.
As regards canon law, Christian hospitaliers can enrich their faith and make their “Engagement” in the Hospitalité. With the agreement of their spiritual director and the HNDL Chaplain General, they also have the option of making their Consecration to Jesus through Mary in the Arch-Confraternity Notre-Dame de Lourdes. In this way they can live fully within an Arch- Confraternity that gathers brothers and sisters in faith in their capacity of “Fidelis Christus”, walking together in the spirit of their baptism.
In effect, mindful of their baptism, they choose to live the spirituality of Our Lady of Lourdes. They discover, just as Bernadette did, the message of the Beautiful Lady, without forgetting that the Beautiful Lady was sent to prepare Bernadette for the Eucharist.
In response to this communion, the Hospitalier and Hospitalière come to realise that service above all is a question of the heart…
Having cleared the way («wellspring of the heart» «purify one’s being» «wash oneself and drink»), having taken the path of their heart where they experience The Lord … («Do you love me..»), meeting in prayer and meditation…. they will embark on their mission of service to their brothers and sisters through their service in Lourdes, in their families and in their social milieu.
For those who feel this a daunting prospect, remember Blessed Pope John Paul’s invitation: ‘Do not be afraid!’ It is simply a matter of entering into the spirit of communion which lived in Bernadette from the moment she prayed to The Lord to respond to her request: ‘She wished to make her First Holy Communion…’
The entire spirituality of Lourdes has as its objective to put us in communion with Christ and, in this communion, to serve in the same manner as The Lord did.
Formation in the Hospitalité spirit allows all Christians to rekindle the spirituality of their baptism and to give it a particular interpretation: that which Bernadette received from the very words of the Beautiful Lady.
So the family of the Hospitalité is made up of brothers and sisters who live in this communion. It is not a question of giving a hand because you have the strength to serve but of giving one’s heart in the humble service of brothers and sisters who themselves are in search of conversion and communion at the heart of their pilgrimage to Lourdes.
What a beautiful prospect for the years to come! Let us embrac again the happiness of service performed with humility and joy.