Pilgrims often travel with very specific, heart-felt intentions. They know why they’re going… or at least they think they do.
Oftentimes, however, pilgrims are surprised by the unexpected graces they receive on pilgrimage. Graces they never thought to ask for, or even knew they needed.
Regarding her recent pilgrimage to France, a pilgrim reflected that her favorite experience from the journey was the baths at Lourdes. It was not simply the experience in and of itself, however. It was the answered prayer – a prayer that she never thought and never uttered. A prayer she didn’t know she needed to pray.
“I was assisted by an amazing nun from Ireland who prayed with me and made the bath so much more spiritual,” the pilgrim shared. “She said the Blessed Mother gave her the words to say and had called me to Lourdes for a reason that I would understand at some point in my life. She was so right as I needed the graces I received to deal with my husband who had a stroke 4 days after I got home.”
Another pilgrim described her story of prayers that were answered in a very unexpected way. “I went to Lourdes with my husband, seeking his healing, but also asking for my own spiritual healing, because I was struggling with the day-to-day realities of being a caregiver. I had no idea, though, what Our Lady had in store for us.” The pilgrim went on to describe drastic changes which occurred shortly after their return, “Within a few days of our return home, the perfect job became available to me. I had had no plan to return to the workforce, but after much prayer I came to believe this was God’s answer to my prayers. My new position allows me to utilize my God-given talents and gives me respite from the responsibilities at home, while providing resources to obtain outside help for my husband. In addition, it enabled us to purchase a new home which accommodates his needs much more effectively than our previous home. The timing of how everything fell into place… I have to believe these were answers to my prayers at Lourdes.”
These are only two stories of many, and most pilgrims will agree: When we journey on pilgrimage with a heart open to God’s Will and the graces He wishes to impart, our prayers will be answered – perhaps not exactly in the way we’d expected, but in ways that far exceed anything we would have thought to ask for.