“Whether bound by blood or by spirit, in Mary’s child the inexplicable love of God becomes real to us” – Bishop Liam MacDaid
Preaching today during Mass for the Clogher diocesan pilgrimage at the Grotto in Lourdes, France, Bishop Liam MacDaid reminded pilgrims of the power of human encounters to extend healing, comfort and support, and how such encounters represent the presence and love of God in our daily lives and in our community networks – be they faith, family, social or at work.
In his short homily, Bishop MacDaid recounted the story of a soldier en-route home from a war-zone to visit his mother, and how his encounter at the airport with a woman who had witnessed suffering in the recent sudden death of a friend’s young child. She was willing to reach out and calm his fears. This brought the young man to realise the need for accompaniment: “He knew what was real and what mattered … he needed to feel safe and understood”.
The Gospel reading at Mass in Lourdes today tells the story of the Visitation of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, to her cousin Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-56). Bishop MacDaid equated it to the experience of the young soldier and, in turn, its significance for all people:
“A soldier finds an understanding mother to talk to in a busy airport; a young mother-to-be goes to be with her elderly cousin, also pregnant, and finds consolation and support. In both meetings we see grace; love that enables one cousin to put aside her own plight to help the other cousin. Compassion that enables a mum to provide a safe, understanding place for another mum’s son. In Mary and Elizabeth’s visit, and in our own similar ‘visitations’, the Spirit of God is present in the healing, comfort and support that we can extend to one another in such moments. Whether bound by blood or by spirit, in Mary’s child the inexplicable love of God becomes real to us, the peace of God becomes possible in our own ‘visitations’ and encounters with our sisters and brothers in whom God is present. It can enable new life to leap in the womb” Bishop MacDaid said.
Notes for Editors
· Pictures from the Clogher diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes are available for media publication by contacting Mr Gary Carville on +353 (0) 87 2577836.
· Bishop Liam MacDaid is the Bishop of Clogher. The diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes runs until Monday 11 July. The 350 pilgrims include 50 assisted pilgrims, 80 young people from the Clogher don Óige youth ministry and 50 staff of nurses, brancardiers, helpers and priests. The programme for the diocesan pilgrimage includes participation in the traditional torchlight procession, the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, Mass at the Grotto where the apparitions took place in 1858, and a Eucharistic procession. Other features include baths for the assisted pilgrims and a visit to the nearby village of Bartres where Saint Bernadette spent much of her youth.
· The Diocese of Clogher includes all of County Monaghan, most of County Fermanagh and portions of Counties Tyrone, Donegal, Louth and Cavan. Saint Macartan is the patron saint of the diocese and the diocesan cathedral is in Monaghan. The Clogher Diocesan Office can be contacted on +3534781019 and by email on [email protected].
· The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes takes place each year on 11 February. On this day in 1858 Our Lady first appeared to the fourteen year old, now Saint Bernadette Soubirous, in Lourdes. The Blessed Virgin Mary said to Bernadette, “I am the Immaculate Conception”.
For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long +353 (0) 86 172 7678