Words of welcome!
I welcome you all as we come here on Pilgrimage to Our Lady’s Shrine at Lourdesin the 160th anniversary of the Shrine. Welcome to the many pilgrims from Killaloe diocese who are here until Sunday nexton the 62nd annual diocesan pilgrimage. Special welcome to the wonderful choir from Kilmaley, Connolly & Inch who have worked so hard in preparation for this pilgrimage. Spiritual greetings to many at home who are with us via webcam. You are with us very much in spirit at this most sacred of locations.
Welcome to our many assisted pilgrims and their carers and also welcome to the 48 or so young people who have given so generously of their time to be with us this week along with their supervisors. Whether this is your first time on Pilgrimage or whether you have been here many times before, you carry with you in your heart so many cares, concerns and anxieties, joys, enthusiasms and hopes.
Diocesan Family – Killaloe
We gather as a diocesan family in this year of preparation for World Meeting of Families to be held in just 7 weeks or so! We gather from the broad width of a diocese that extends a hundred and twenty miles long, covering 5 separate counties, 58parishes and has a proud ancient ecclesiastical tradition going back to the days of the early Celtic Church.
Focus of Pilgrimage
Perhaps you come in thanksgiving for a favour that you have received, a recovery, the resolution of a difficult situationor you may be burdened with the sadness of loss or bereavement. On the other hand you may come wondering and worried about a family situation, a relationship that seems to be going through difficult times. You may be awaiting the results of exams or considering a particular career choice! You may be concerned about employment, economic liability or work related challenges. You may be worried about your health and come here seeking healing and solás and consolation. If you’re part of the youth pilgrimage your desire may be the celebration of your faith through fun, friendship, caring for those who benefit greatly from your help & enthusiastic & exuberant preence! No doubt many people have asked you to pray for them when they heard you were coming here for these day. These and so many other countless issues are carried by each one of us to our pilgrimage to Lourdes.
Pilgrimage has a long tradition in our Christian and Jewish faith. As individuals and families we share the faith of those who have gone before us and we have inherited it from them. We acknowledge that pilgrimage can help us to deepen our faith, enable us to put things into perspective and help us to become focused on God and His mother. Living as we do in an age of hectic mobility, when so many demands are made on our time, whether we are parents, grandparents, whether we live the single life, religious life, priesthood or student life. A busy world tends to push God out to the verges of life and marginalise religious values and ideals. In this situation pilgrimage is more necessary today if we are to stand back from the busy merry-go-around of life and reflect on where we have come from, where we find ourselves at this point in time and the direction in which we are moving. As followers of Jesus Christ we must remind ourselves of our sense of duty and how we fulfil it.
Theme of Pilgrimage 2018
The theme of our Pilgrimage this year is “Do whatever He tells you” from the Gospel of the Wedding feast of Cana that we have just heard proclaimed.
The Tyrany of Authority!
In the modern world we live in it is not “cool” to be seen to do something we are told to do or worse still to tell someone what to do! We saw it at the time of the recent referendum, back home. How dare anyone tell one how to vote! Individual freedom and conscience is seen absolute, whether that consience is informed or not! Authority, authority figures and institutions who have established or objective views on issues are often regared as “old hat” and against the autonomy of human freedom or against the spirit of adventure and exploration. And yet – I know from my many years of being taught and being a teacher myself – people thrive and flourish not on “chaotic” freedom but on reasonable, objective rules, regulation and clear guidance of what it right or good to do. I believe we need that clear sense of objectivity in life that in some sense tells us what is right or wrong, what is good for us to do or avoid, what is lifegiving or not. “Do whatever, he tells you” in the words of Mary, the theme of our pilgrimage.
Being open to the message of the Lord
One of the characteristics of our great faith is that it is a revealed religion – we received the good news, the core message of our beliefs from a time honoured and venerable tradition of scripture, tradition, magisterium and most of all from the mouth of Jesus Christ Himself. “Do whatever He tells you” in the words of Mary. During these precious and privileged few days of pilgrimage hereat the grotto in Lourdeswe get a chance to discern and reflect on what Jesus& Mary His motheris saying to each and everyone of us at this particular juncture of our lives. We leave ourselves open in faith to what God wants to say to us. “Do whatever he tells you”! Please God in doing so we will get the grace & courage & conviction to live & proclaim the delights of our faith & not hide it under a bushel but for all to see & marvel at its transparent goodness!
Paving the way for Being open!
For us to enter into that space of listening we might need to unclutter some things, to free ourselves from what often distracts us, to focus on what is deep, what is meaningful, what is spiritual and special in our lives. In doing so our time here in Lourdes will be most fruitful and we will return home better people, bringing a renewed Gospel message to all we meet, love and care for.
“The almighty has done great things for me”
The other sub-theme of the Pilgrimage is “The almighty has done great things for Me”. Sometimes, in the midst of our challengs in life – it can be easy to forget the huge range of privileges we have and are given every day to us by the good Lord! It can be easy to take so much for granted in the midst of our subjective concerns. Reflecting and praying and discerning with Mary, Mother of God and Our Mother in this most sacred of places, here in this oasis of prayer at thisgrotto of Lourdes over the next few days – we enter into the thankful spirit of thankfulness at the heart of the magnificat of Mary. “The almighty has done great things for me”.
A Spitituality of Thanks
The great mystic Meister Eckhart once said if the only prayer you every said was simply “thank you” then you have said all the prayers you need to say.
Today as we begin our pilgrimage, the 62nd Killaloe diocesan pilgrimage to this most blessed and sacred of places we in total openess ask God what he wants us to do, to give us the courage to do it and in the midst of all that to be thankful for what we have received!