This is the second of two essays to be published in our bulletin. It was authored by Isabelle Brough, an 8th grade student at our school, as part of the traditional observance of the May Crowning.
For a long time, I took what it meant to go to a school named after Our Lady of Lourdes for granted. Of course I had heard about St. Bernadette and how Mary appeared to her. I had also heard about the many miracles that have taken place since those visions occured. What I had not done was personalize those lessons. That all changed last summer when my family and I participated in our parish’s anniversary pilgrimage to Lourdes, France. That experience was so eye-opening. To see first hand how Our Lady, Mary our mother, affects the faith of so many around the world was amazing. When I was there, standing in the grotto, touching the stone, where she appeared to Bernadette I felt connected to both of them. The young girl, the same age as me, who was chosen to spread a message of hope and the beautiful lady who appeared to her. Now when I hear the name Mary I cannot separate her from the power of healing and peace she offers to all of us.
Before I visited Lourdes, I had a strong admiration for Mary. I looked up to her as a role model who was courageous, caring, and gentle. Mary has done so much that I find admirable but the bravest thing I think she ever did was say, “yes,” to God. She was put into an unimaginable situation and she handled it with grace when she agreed to be the mother of Jesus. In addition to seeing Mary as an unerring and exemplary role model, I have found that praying with her has always had a way of calming me. Being in the presence of Mary while I was in Lourdes was a very special and incredible experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
When I arrived at Lourdes, I was not prepared for the sense of faith, awe, and understanding that I would find. According to the LA Times, around six million people filter in and out of Lourdes in a year seeking healing and the comfort of our Mother in the waters of the shrine. I found the number of people there and the strength of the faith they possessed, all united in the same hope, inspirational. It is amazing that all of these people can come together to bond over their similar situations and setbacks - sharing a common hope - all because Mary had appeared to Bernadette and brought healing to the little town of Lourdes.
In my time spent at Lourdes, I found that Mary gives me a strong sense of calm. Now when I think of her I am aware of the comfort she brings to millions of people all over the world. She does this by listening, joining in our prayer, and sharing a sense of peace. For a long time, I was mistaken that you had to be in a place of prayer, not unlike the shrine in Lourdes, to feel a connection to Mary. I learned that Mary is always with us. I know that whenever I need to feel comforted or calm I can count on Mary to listen to me. No matter where I am, who I am with, or what I have done I can find the motherly love and comfort of Mary.
I often take for granted how privileged I am to have so many wonderful role models in my life. Each one of these women shows qualities of Mary in how they live their lives. I think of my Grandma who, like Mary, has a deep faith - she prays often and tries to do God’s will. My Ama, just like Mary, has an angelic sweetness, she radiates joy to everyone she meets. Mrs. Glaspy has so much wisdom to share, especially in faith, like Mary she helps us get closer to Jesus by teaching our families how to pray. Mrs. Roberts, who answered God’s call to charity by giving so much of herself to our parish and our school. My friend and classmate Maya, like Mary, she is so strong and comforting - even when handling her own challenges she is the first person to offer a hug or support when I need it. Lastly, my aunt and mother supporting me in so much throughout my life. Just like Mary always protected Jesus and wanted the best for him, my mom and aunt do the same for me. I have looked up to my aunt and had a strong bond with her since I was little and I can not even begin to put into words the gratitude I have for my mom and all the sacrifices she makes for me every day since I was born. My mom and aunt both bring me comfort and healing when I am sad just like I can find comfort and healing in Mary. They each in their own way remind me of Mary. I am always reminded of my mom’s strength similar to Mary’s when I see her working and teaching the first graders, looking after them and caring for them as a mother would. My mother, like all mothers I know, has heroic patience. Like Mary, I know she trusts more in God’s plans than her own. These women and my trip to Lourdes have brought me closer to Mary, in their own ways they have helped me to appreciate what it means to belong to this community named after Mary, our mother, the family of Our Lady of Lourdes.