Meditations given by the Rev, Bede Jarrett, O.P., during the Novena preached in the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in preparation for the celebration of the Seventy-fifth Anniversary of the Apparitions at Lourdes, February 2nd - February 10th, 1933
After This, Our Exile, Show Unto Us the Blessed Fruit of Thy Womb, Jesus!
HERE on earth we are in exile. Here on earth we have no real home. This life is not life, really. The true life is a life which does not end. We were not really made for this life. We are too big for it. We were really made for another life, a life which will give us a better chance to use all our powers, such as we possess. That other life will give to everyone the fullest possible chance to use every gift of God he has.
Here we are pilgrims, strangers. We seek a city, and the city we seek is not to be found here. If you wanted to sum up in one single word the true attitude to life that we should have, the true attitude that Our Lord wishes us to have, you could use that one word, pilgrim or traveler. That is the New Testament idea of the way in which we should look at life. Here we are just travelers, pilgrims, and it is as travelers and pilgrims we should behave.
Our Lord’s attitude to life was of someone not of the world, though in it; not attached to the world; not concerning Himself with the things of the world. The beauty of Our Lord’s character is His perfect freedom and independence. Nothing can ever happen to Him that will disturb Him. He walks through the world perfectly free. No one can really take from Him anything. No one could take even His life away. That was because all things lay under His will. But, altogether apart from that, Our Lord was outside the reach of man, and when He gathered people together to follow Him, that was the very idea He gave them in His very words: "Follow Me.” You see them already on the march. They are travelers. They are pilgrims. They are followers. It is indeed not a command, but a counsel that they should leave behind all things to follow Him. But all must follow Him. We see Him then as the leader of a pilgrimage, a great traveler. So when someone says to Him, "But my father is dead. Let me go bury my father and then I shall follow you,” He answers, "Let the dead bury their dead. Come thou and follow.” Again we see the picture set of Our Lord marching onwards, His disciples being indeed His followers. He strides ahead down the roadway and we all are to follow.
The whole Christian conception of life is that, to sit loose to life. We should rest heavily upon nothing, because everything one day will fail us. If you lean heavily on anything and it is knocked from under you, you lose your balance. That is in our experience surely true of everything in life. So it becomes us to remember that here on earth we are travelers. If you have ever traveled at all you know that the secret of good traveling is always to remember that you are a traveler; that you are not at home. As you travel you cannot travel without some discomfort. It is very easy to allow yourself to be put out by your discomforts of traveling. Because you are traveling you have not everything by you. You have not everything at your hand. To be sick when you are on a journey is a nuisance to you. It is a nuisance always to be ill, but much more so on a journey. At home you can rest quietly. You have everything to hand around about you. You have your own things and you know where they are kept. But on a journey there are discomforts, inevitably so on a journey. You can never properly unpack. You can never spread your things around about you. You live half unpacked. Even when you stay somewhere resting, you do not want to take everything out of your trunks. There are numberless other discomforts, and unless you say to yourself resolutely all the time, "I am on a journey, and this is a price I must pay for traveling,” you will be miserable as you go from place to place — or, "I am enjoying the passage, but in any case, I am a traveler,” else there will be the danger of impatience. This discomfort is indeed the price you pay for travel. So if you want to be happy on a journey, you must always be reminding yourself, "But I am on a journey. I cannot expect anything else.”