SINGAPORE – The Lourdes Experience will be celebrated for the second time at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Saturday Dec 6. The celebration to mark the 150th anniversary of the appearance of Our Lady to St. Bernadette, in Lourdes, is being held on the Saturday nearest to the Dec 8 feastday of the Immaculate Conception.
At Lourdes, Our Lady said "I am the Immaculate Conception" to St. Bernadette’s question, "Who are you?"
Pope Benedict XVI made a pilgrimage to Lourdes in mid September where he preached the value of "humble and intense prayer" like the rosary. He told listeners that devotion to Mary was not a form of "pious infantilism" but an expression of spiritual maturity.
When he took a drink from the Lourdes spring that many pilgrims believe to be the font of miraculous cures, he was demonstrating that the Christian lives by simple signs and symbols as well as by theological ideas. At his Mass with thousands of sick people, he thanked Catholics at Lourdes and all over the world who volunteer their time and effort to help the infirm.
The Lourdes Experience is being held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium for the second time – the first was in 2004 – for those who are unable to go to Lourdes. The Singapore Order of Malta, who are the organisers, expect even more participants this year.
Catholics from various parishes, including members of St. John’s Brigade, Legion of Mary, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Nurses Guild, Catholic Medical Guild are providing support. The Order receives spiritual guidance from Archbishop Nicholas Chia, its chaplain.
Periods of silence and prayer, celebration and adoration of the Eucharist, a procession and blessing of the sick and disabled will produce an atmosphere of deep reverence for Jesus and Mary at the Lourdes Experience.
A iridescent-blue figurine of Our Lady standing on a rock, with a blue ribbon and yellow roses on her feet will be installed at the stadium.
The stadium doors will open at 2.00pm and the day’s events will begin with an audio-visual presentation of this year’s Lourdes Jubilee celebrations. This will be followed by Stations of the Cross, another feature of a Lourdes pilgrimage.
Participating parishes and groups will join in the entrance procession for the Mass to be celebrated by Archbishop Nicholas Chia. Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio and about 40 priests from the archdiocese will concelebrate. Ten priests will sprinkle holy water before Mass begins
After Mass, there will be a procession and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament Benediction by
Father Gino Henriques will follow. The finale will be a torchlight procession during which the rosary will be prayed in English, Mandarin, Tamil, Teochew, Tagalog, Cantonese, Myalanese, Bahasa Indonesia and Korean.
Bottles of Lourdes water have been given to parishes, charity homes, the Assisi Hospice; and packages containing a rosary have been given to parishes for those who are too sick to go to the stadium.
Petitions can be made at three entry points, but love offering should be kept in a separate envelope and placed in the love offering box. All collections will be used for the Missions of Mercy by the Singapore Order of Malta.
Tickets to the Lourdes Experience are free and can be obtained from parishes. -By Joyce Gan