Great Symphony of Prayer for the Jubilee of Hope

At the beginning of February, Fr Michel Daubanes, Rector of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, held the “Journées de Lourdes” (Lourdes February Days) for pilgrimage directors, hospitality presidents, religious tourism professionals and the Sanctuary’s partners. During the plenary session, he presented the Sanctuary’s plans for 2024, following Pope Francis’ lead. In preparation for the Jubilee of Hope, scheduled to take place in Rome in 2025, Pope Francis is calling for a “great symphony of prayer”, dedicating the year 2024 to prayer.

Which symphony will we be playing in 2024?

In his opening address to the “Journées de Lourdes 2024”, Fr Daubanes, Rector of the Sanctuary, said, “This season, dear friends, we are called upon to create a successful symphony. Why a symphony? That’s not the usual term we use if you’ve come for a pilgrimage! Rest assured; I’m not proposing a revolution! What is a symphony? The etymology of this word is: syn (together) phonie (of sounds). Literally: sounds together. To emit sounds together, to create a composition, in harmony; that is our mission”.

The processions, the first movement of the symphony

It’s all about putting this year’s pastoral theme – “People should come here in procession” – into practice. This comes at the end of the request made by the Virgin Mary to Bernadette on 2nd March 1858, during the 13th apparition: “Go and tell the priests (a theme used in 2022) to build a chapel here (developed last year) and that people should come here in procession (the pastoral theme for this year, 2024)”.

It’s a call for us to be active participants in the different processions that are held twice a day in the Sanctuary: the procession of the Blessed Sacrament at 5pm and the Torchlight Marian procession at 9pm. In the early days of pilgrimages to Lourdes, processions started at the station and ended at the Sanctuary.
The Rector of the Sanctuary pointed out that banners are an essential part of the procession. “They are part of your history, our history. You are proud of them; they are a part of your identity, for your people and for everyone to see. They represent your country, your region, your culture”. And he called upon people to come to Lourdes with them.

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The Baths, another movement

During the pilgrimage period, there is always a lot of moving about: entering one of the basilicas, going to the Grotto, doing the Stations of the Cross, etc. “Go and drink at the spring and wash yourself there”, is a response to the Virgin’s request on 25th February 1858, during the 9th apparition.
Father Daubanes reiterated the importance of continuing to offer the “Water gesture”, which is the one that corresponds most closely to the Virgin’s request. However, he announced that, following the growing demand for a bath, as happened before the pandemic, a think tank is working to ensure that, from this year onwards, “the water gesture and a bath will both be possible, depending on individual preference.

The symphony of prayer

The Dicastery for Evangelisation has issued a call to everyone to be “Pilgrims of Hope”, in a world where hope is often lacking. But to see it, to taste it, the call to intensify our prayers is all the more urgent.
Father Michel Daubanes sets out this symphony of prayer in eight stages:
– Individual and community prayer
– Prayers of petition and thanksgiving
– Prayers of intercession and thanksgiving
– Prayers of adoration and praise
– Words and hymns
– Silence
– The rosary
– The Lord’s Prayer
“Dear friends, let us enter into this great symphony of prayer, which has so many harmonies! What could be better for our Sanctuary than to play our own part in this great universal symphony? Let it not be sad or sentimental, but joyful, beautiful and fervent!”

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The symphony will be pastoral

The Sanctuary is determined to make progress in providing for different disabilities. An employee has taken responsibility for this issue.
The Sanctuary’s works programme will continue, with a particular focus on ecological aspects. This applies to both the Youth Village and the hydroelectric power station.
The Rector reminded us that, “Everyone who enters the Sanctuary has a place there. And each person who welcomes others has his or her place and ensures the success of the whole. I’d like to reiterate here that the sick and people with disabilities always come first. They must be at the front. In a liturgy, you don’t stand up in front of sick people who are sitting or maybe lying down. They must be allowed to take an active part, whether in the readings or in the offertory procession…”.

“Compassion and tenderness”

At the Meeting of Sanctuary Rectors in Rome, two words featured frequently in the Holy Father’s speech: compassion and tenderness.
The Rector of the Sanctuary of Lourdes urged us to be “agents, beneficiaries and witnesses of this compassion and tenderness,” to “restore hope to all those who enter the Sanctuary.”

“It’s likely that our 2024 symphony will be unfinished, but that’s okay! It will continue in the jubilee year 2025, when the message delivered by the Immaculate Conception at Massabielle will undoubtedly express its vitality and newness. In the meantime, I hope that during this year, through the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes, whom we love so much, our ardent prayer in all the languages of the earth will rise to the Father and join the praise sung in heaven. May our symphony of prayer, in our hymns and through our voices, be the most beautiful there is.” (Fr. Daubanes, Rector of the Sanctuary.

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