God calls each of us in different ways.
He may speak words that we hear in our minds or words that we hear through another person.
He may place a deep feeling within our heart or allow us to receive a revelation through Scripture or prayer.
We may experience His call in a dramatic or sudden way. More often, the encounter is gentle or gradual.
A call from God is both personal and specific. Each person’s experience is unique, and it can be hard to explain or put into words.
In this post, I’d like to share more about my call to Lourdes.
“Would you do me the kindness of coming here for fifteen days?” ~ Blessed Virgin Mary to Bernadette Soubirous, February 18, 1858
There was a specific moment when I felt called to Lourdes.
As I briefly explained in a previous post, this occurred in April after reading an article about a miracle that took place there.
After reading the article, I felt a tug at my heart; I received a strong feeling and a clear thought that I was supposed to go to Lourdes.
It’s not that I necessarily wanted to go, I needed to.
I didn’t wake up one day and make this decision on my own. It felt like God spoke to me, personally and specifically, and invited me to follow Him there.
After this, so many questions rose within me: With whom? When? How?
I had so many anxieties, and the thought of participating in a pilgrimage like this seemed ridiculous — maybe even impossible.
In order to be open to His invitation, I couldn’t listen to the doubts and fears (even though that seemed like the easier path at the time).
I knew that the only way for these anxieties to be overcome was to give them to God. I had to give everything to Him, and I mean everything.
I needed help, so I began to pray with a friend about the pilgrimage. It was the only thing, and the best thing, I could do.
I told God that the trip was in His hands, not mine.
I also told God that if the pilgrimage was His will, He’d have to lead the way and show me what to do.
He answered this prayer and provided even more than I asked for…
God gave me confirmation that the pilgrimage was His will in two specific ways.
Answers to My Questions
Once we began to pray (in the form of novenas), the details fell into place rather quickly.
One by one I received answers to my questions:
- With whom I’d be traveling
- Dates for the trip
- Means of transportation
- Financial assistance
(Some of the answers were surprising and not what I expected!)
I didn’t force any of it to happen. Everything came together because God allowed it to.
He led the way, and I followed each step He placed in front of me.
As my departure date grew closer, the anxieties were transformed into peace and joy.
After witnessing how the details fell into place, I became confident that God was indeed calling me to Lourdes.
A Special Grace
While I was in Lourdes, I experienced something I didn’t expect: being there felt normal.
It didn’t seem like I was doing something ridiculous or extraordinary. Even though I knew I was in a special place and participating in something incredible, it didn’t feel like that.
I was in a new place, but it felt like I was somewhere familiar.
I heard from several people who’ve been to Lourdes that they had a “powerful” spiritual experience there.
I know that each person has their own unique experience while on pilgrimage. I still found myself comparing my experience to theirs and wondering why mine felt normal and theirs felt powerful…
While I was in Lourdes, I couldn’t understand why I felt the way I did. However, I realize now that even though it felt familiar and normal, it didn’t feel ordinary.
It was the first time I’d gone on pilgrimage. I encountered many new things, and I never felt “bored” or that my time there was without meaning.
While I was in Lourdes, I had no doubt that I was exactly where God wanted me to be.
This confidence was a special grace. I couldn’t have created or forced this sense of certainty even if I tried.
There are many things I still don’t know, but I know for sure that God sent me to Lourdes.
Mary Calls Her Children
An estimated six million pilgrims travel to Lourdes each year!
We saw people from all over the world in this small town at the foothills of the Pyrenees. (And most people we encountered weren’t English-speaking.)
While we were looking around at the groups of people, we realized something: for one reason or another, whether they realize it or not, each of these people was called to Lourdes.
Each pilgrim and volunteer is invited by God, through Mary, to this sacred place.
Our Lady of Lourdes gathers her children in her home and blesses them in a special way.
God Calls You
Those reading this may have been on pilgrimage or visited holy places.
In one way or another, each of you has been — and continues to be — called by God.
Whether you’ve been called to go on pilgrimage, become a priest, get married, join a group, work in a certain field, live in a particular location, volunteer, or participate in a devotion, God has called you personally and specifically.
And He never stops calling!
This is why we must spend time with the Lord in prayer, silence and the Sacraments. We must open ourselves to His invitations and listen attentively to His messages.
If we don’t, we could miss out on the special plans He has for each of us…