Timothy McGuirk serves in the Saint Joseph Service as a member of the Hospiltality of Our Lady of Lourdes. As a fourteen-year-old American, he came to Lourdes for the first time during the 2008 Jubilee with Our Lady’s Pilgrimage for secondary school students with members of the Order of Malta. Today, he lives in New York City after leaving his hometown of Boston to accept a communications role at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
Five New Year’s Resolutions for Every Stagiere and Hospitalier
During the start of each year, many of us “decide” to do new things in life. Some want to visit the gym eight days a week while others want to pray a decade of the rosary every minute of the day. I say these things half-jokingly because we set unrealistic expectations on ourselves sometimes. These lofty goals fail because we never formulate a clear path with concrete vision to live up to those expectations.
As members of the Hospitalité, we strive to embody the qualities Our Lady exuded in the Grotto: treating people with unmatched respect regardless of who they are on the surface; pointing people to Jesus Christ; inviting people to make acts of faith in the special place we know today as Lourdes.
During this time of renewal and new beginnings, I would like to offer five clear, measurable new year’s resolutions for every member of the Hospitalité to consider. I invite you to consider using as many as your circumstances allow as we together anticipate another season of service at the Grotto.
- Invite your family to pray together – if only for your own intentions.
Evangelization in one’s family and among friends can seem overwhelming. While I do not have the remedy to those feelings, I challenge you to engage someone who cares for you and invite them to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ. I recommend asking them to pray for you as a starting point.
In my own life, I have an upcoming wedding, a four-hour distance between me and my fiancée, a new job and lots of other personal initiatives that I hope will succeed. If you can’t think of anything in your own life, ask them to pray for me instead!
This resolution matters because faithful families and communities reveal God’s love to the world. Father Patrick Peyton famously said, “the family that prays together, stays together.” This year, please join me in taking this small step towards holiness across our families.
- Commit to share water from the Grotto with five malades at home – especially after making a personal visit and spending time with them.
When you learn of someone living with a serious illness, consider visiting them and sharing water from the Grotto. In my experience, everyone loves to receive this gift because it enables them to feel connected to Our Lady in a special way.
When we share the water of the Grotto and make a personal visit, we become a conduit of the message Our Lady entrusted to Saint Bernadette. We pass on the message of Lourdes by sharing our experience. We practice hospitality by inviting someone to spiritually journey with us to the Grotto. We express the love of God by forming a relationship with our sick brothers and sisters.
I struggle sometimes to find words when speaking with a sick person at home; but I encourage you to consider praying with them, sharing your experience at Lourdes and explaining why you chose to bring water home to them.
- Choose one global issue – division in my own country, the impending Brexit process and the European Union, violence, poverty, abuse in our Church, etc. – and entrust it to Our Lady.
Our world faces a difficult year ahead. We need God presence. I cannot think of a better way to invite God into our world than the woman who bore His son at Bethlehem 2,000 years ago. If a particular issue strikes you, consider bringing to Our Lady that she might intercede to her son, Jesus.
- Write your Lourdes story with as much detail as you can.
When we began this blog began with the purpose of making Lourdes more accessible to young people, I thought about the essential role Hope Carter, Brother Joseph Byron, OSB, Dr Alessandro de Franciscis and others played in sharing their Lourdes stories with me. Their willingness to describe how the Lady of the Grotto changed their lives inspired me to continue to return to Lourdes every year for the past 12 years.
I will write my story this year because I never want to forget the story of my past that made me who I am today.
- Support a pilgrimage – spiritually, financially or in any way you can according to your circumstances.
I’m no mathematician; but the numbers indicate that our pilgrimages – in so many ways the life blood of the Sanctuaries – need support.
I read of one this winter that will not use a key mode of transportation for the sick because of financial challenges. That broke my heart to read!
We know that the rising costs of transportation would present challenges. Many pilgrimages face a generational shift where young people do come in the same way that older people once did. Others suffer from fractured leadership that does not share the same vision of the future.
Now more than ever, we need to pray for our pilgrimages. We need to support them financially according to our capacity. We need to volunteer to assist them in recruitment and retention. As members of the Hospitalité, we depend on their success.
This year, I invite you to consider your identity as a member of the Hospitalité as you form your new year’s resolutions. A prosperous, happy and healthy new year ahead!