On Friday night I got to participate in a very special celebration at the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun. I shuffled over after work, my glasses misting up with the light rain, and entered the sanctuary of the church. The rosary had already begun, and someone handed me a blue candle and lit the flame from his own. The Fatima statue was right there, waiting at the back to be carried forward, all adorned with flowers.
I always love to hear Cardinal Wuerl give a homily, and he presided at this event. Once the rosary was over (something about praying the rosary in a crowd always gives me chills), the statue was brought forward. It felt so timeless; the same sort of reverence and ritual which has been done so many times before by so many Catholics. It was reverent and I like that all of us in the basilica were joined by those around the world watching on EWTN. It was a global moment.
After the celebration was over, I went up to the statue, as did everyone else, and prayed and talked to Mary for a bit. Lately my prayers are a simple as "Thank you for the goodness that is my whole entire life, for all the blessings you give me, every single day, over and over."
There are so many gorgeous representations of the Blessed Mother at the Basilica and I spent some time with my patroness, Our Lady of Guadalupe, in particular. I cannot make a visit to the Basilica without visiting the crypt, though, and the Lourdes grotto to the side which reads at top in stone, "I am the Immaculate Conception." This is the part of the entire building which moves me most deeply. The quiet, the stillness of the stone and candles, the sense that Mary is very near. There are no frills, no mosaics, no abundance of incense. It is just the image before you, which can become like a tattoo on one's heart.