Last Sunday, Bishop Alan McGuckian SJ of Raphoe celebrated Mass for the annual Legion of Mary pilgrimage to the Basilica of Our Lady of Knock, Co Mayo.

During his homily, Bishop McGuckian stressed that the ongoing Synodal Pathway “is vitally important at this moment in the history of the world.” He reiterated that the “challenge of Pope Francis to the Church is: will we simply mirror the culture? Will we become polarised, demonising those who are different, demonising each other?”

Drawing on the example of the Legion, Bishop McGuckian said, “The Legion of Mary answer has to be: No.  We are the Mystical Body of Christ. We will seek to walk together, listening to what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church in our time. I know that some people have been reluctant to be involved fearing that the Synodal process is a path towards changing the Church’s teaching. Pope Francis is quoted in the book Let us Dream saying: ‘What is under discussion at Synodal gatherings are not traditional truths of Christian doctrine. The Synod is concerned mainly with how teaching can be lived and applied in the changing contexts of our time…’”

Speaking to the current divisions within the Church, The Bishop of Raphoe continued, “It goes without saying that there are divisions of opinion among Catholics even about Church teaching. Where there is division there will be tension which is often unpleasant. However, the invitation and the challenge to us who believe that the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ is the following: If we walk together, if we speak the truth in love to one another and if we listen with love to others who think differently to us, then the Charity of God, the Holy Spirit will be among us and there will be change. Ultimately it is not the teaching of the Church that will be changed. It is we who will be changed. We will become more fully the Mystical Body of Christ.”

In conclusion, Bishop McGuckian returned to the example of the Legion, saying, “We live in interesting and challenging times for the world and for the Church. When there are challenges and disagreements in life there are two temptations into which we can fall. One is to become aggressive and confrontational; the other temptation is to turn away and disengage.

“Neither of those temptations is admissible in the Mystical Body; neither is acceptable in the Legion of Mary. The call of the Legionary when there is an awkward situation in which the offer of the Gospel is not welcome is to be patient, persistent always trusting that the work is being guided not ultimately by us but by the Holy Spirit.”

To read this homily in full, click here

ENDS