Dear Friends in Christ,
I’m delighted to be here greeting you as I lead our Diocesan Pilgrimage to this well-loved Marian shrine – in this the year when we celebrate 90 years since our very first Diocesan Pilgrimage to the shrine.
For this week’s post I use the homily for our Mass of Welcome this (Saturday) afternoon:
“Mass of Welcome Lourdes Pilgrimage 2017
Feast of St. Mary Magdalene
(Song of Songs 3:1-4; John 20:1-2; 11-18)
Mary Magdalene persisted in her search for the Lord. Peter and John had departed from the tomb but she stayed amidst her distress and tears, such was her deep attachment and love for the Lord. As we just heard in that gospel, she ‘found the one whom her heart loves’, when the risen Christ appeared and spoke to her personally, calling her by her own name. Mary of Magdala’s life would never be the same again. The Lord she thought was dead and buried was in fact living and glorious. The Church calls her the ‘first Evangelist’ for it was her task to go and tell his brothers and sisters the good news of the gospel: that Christ has risen.
We are in Lourdes as a diocesan family on pilgrimage and, like Mary Magdalene, we too are searching and ultimately looking for the Lord. We come to Lourdes to be with Mary, the Mother of the Lord, who will lead us to her Son. We will learn in prayer from the example of St. Bernadette how to persevere in faith, for the little girl Bernadette had to stand firm and insist that Our Blessed Lady had really appeared to her. Lourdes is a special time of grace for each one of us pilgrims. We take the decision to come here, it is almighty God however who calls us by name to set out in pilgrimage in the first place. Let us open our hearts, therefore, and be attentive to the call of God in this most holy place of prayer.
For some of you this will be your first pilgrimage and experience of Lourdes. Be open-minded and patient with yourselves. Talk to Our Lady at the grotto, tell her your story and what’s on your mind. Be carried along by the example and prayers of your fellow pilgrims, and above all be inspired by the faith of the large number of sick you see around you, and those who so devotedly care for them. Be aware that, perhaps above all, Lourdes is a place of spiritual healing where pilgrims find the strength, the faith and the courage to live their lives as faithful Catholics in a challenging and often complex world.
Others among us will have been regular pilgrims to Lourdes over the years and so are familiar with all that goes on here. Yet we must never be complacent. The Mother of God’s Son has still many new graces and favours to bestow on us. Like Mary Magdalene we too continue to search for the Lord, although we believe in him, trust in him, and love him. Part of God’s mysterious purpose for us is to come to Lourdes in July 2017. Remember that our quest for God will only cease when we see him face to face in the eternal life which awaits us.
I urge you as Bishop to support and encourage one another on this pilgrimage as a diocesan family of brothers and sisters. Charity is the greatest commandment of all, and may that charity and respect for each other be the hallmark of our days here in this great Marian shrine.
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us. St. Bernadette, pray for us. St. Mary Magdalene, pray for us. Amen! ”
Our blog closes now until September – so with a remembrance of you all and your intention here in Lourdes , I sign off now until September.
May God bless you all,
As ever in Christ,
Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster