In his homily for the Opening Mass of the Elphin Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes on Monday 29 August, Father John Cullen, PP, Roscommon, reflected on the story of Lourdes and suggested three things to be done to enter more into the conversation that Saint Bernadette experienced with Mary.
Father Cullen said, “Firstly, LISTEN. Mary instilled an attitude of listening in Bernadette and her message still echoes in our hearts today. Mary, the woman so full of God, so full of grace and so full of love, – and that is the meaning of the Immaculate Conception, a title that Bernadette did not understand at the time. Mary, the woman loved so much by God as to be so great as to contain God. Mary says to each one of us in the Gospel words of the Magnificat recited every day as part of the Evening Prayer of the Church: God is great. Rejoice in God our Saviour. He looks on us all and wants to do great things for us.
“LISTEN to this message….as Bernadette listened.
“Secondly: TRUST. We read in the Gospel that Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding feast of Cana. He wants to bring about change in our lives too. Remember that Mary can speed up time and put the rush on God!!! Jesus said to Mary that his hour for the miracle had not yet come, but she told the stewards “do whatever he tells you…” and the water was changed into wine. Mary had brought about change, quicker that was expected.
“Bernadette trusted the “Beautiful Lady” – we can also trust that God can bring about the change in our lives.
“Thirdly, let us decide to “do whatever” Jesus tells us. This will involve sacrifice and challenge, as it will open up other horizons in our lives, just as Bernadette opened Lourdes as a place that is the pilgrimage of mercy in our fractured world today. Bernadette in turn entered the seclusion and silence of a convent – where she experienced sickness and endured misunderstanding. She was 35 years old when she died.
“Let us pray that during these days of pilgrimage that we can help one another to have a deep conversation with God that will open for us an expression of love and Gospel service for one another.
“When Bernadette was hassled by the authorities about the truth of her visions, and not believed by them, she said: the Lady did not ask me to make anyone believe, she only asked me to tell my story.
“On our Diocesan Pilgrimage let us all decide to LISTEN, to TRUST and to DO WHATEVER HE TELLS US, as part of our story as a Diocesan family. May this give us all the courage to be LOURDES, as it were, to one another, here and on our return home.
Father Cullen said that, “Today, our Diocesan Pilgrimage is part of that conversation and message. We respond to the invitation to come to Lourdes in prayer, in procession and in penance. It is here in the ‘grotto’ of our hearts that we feel an inner presence of peace. Bernadette has a message for each one of us: No matter what situation you are in, you too are invited and you matter to God. You are the focus and centre of his love.”