MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS
HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL,
MELBOURNE, ON SATURDAY, 6TH DECEMBER
2014 AT 10.30 A.M., FOR THE LOURDES DAY MASS.
Brothers and Sisters,
Mary said to the angel, ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let what you have said be done to me’ (Luke 1:38), she accepted, despite its
perplexity and the huge dimensions of the task she was given, what was the will
of God for her. She wondered at the
purposes of the Almighty and trusted him implicitly.
is in the same spirit of entrustment and hope that we come in our frailty, in
our human need and illness, for mercy, strength and comfort to Jesus Christ,
the fountain of life, the author of our salvation, the healer of the wounds of
again we celebrate the first apparition of Our Lady at Lourdes to Saint
Bernadette Soubirous on 11th February 1858 at the grotto of
Massabeille near the town of Lourdes. In
2008 Pope Benedict went as a pilgrim, took part in the torch light procession
and celebrated the Jubilee Mass of the Holy Cross in the field across the river
on the following day.
The story is familiar to many of us. A simple young girl from Lourdes, Bernadette
Soubirous, saw a light and in this light she saw a lady who was ‘beautiful,
more beautiful than any other’. The
woman addressed her with kindness and gentleness, with respect and trust. Bernadette said she was looking at me as one
person who speaks to another.
Benedict, whom I will quote liberally in this homily, highlights the beauty of
Our Lady who revealed herself in the apparition of 25th March 1858
as ‘I am the Immaculate Conception’.
From Scripture we know her as the woman clothed with the sun, the one
who had the crown of twelve stars, who left death behind her as entirely
clothed with the life of her Son, the risen Christ, and is for us a sign of
victory and love, of good and of God, giving our world the hope it needs.
Pope reminds us that countless people have borne witness to that beauty. When they encountered Bernadette’s radiant
face it left a deep impression on their hearts and minds. That light Bernadette had living in her. What is significant too is that the Soubirous
family had a family life which was a tale of deprivation and sadness, sickness,
incomprehension, rejection and poverty.
While there was love and warmth in the family, life at the Cachot was
hard, but the shadows of earth did not prevent the light of heaven from
shining. ‘The light shines in the
darkness. A light that darkness could
not overpower’, as Saint John says in his first chapter, verse fifteen.
us who come to this Mass we remember that our Cathedral today is Lourdes. Lourdes is, as the Pope says, one of the
places chosen by God for his beauty to be reflected with particular
brightness. Hence, the importance of the
symbol of light. The lighting of candles
by Bernadette and countless pilgrims is a reminder of this.
comes the point of our pilgrimage today.
We come to encounter the beauty of God for our lives. In the words of the Pope: ‘By coming here to Lourdes on pilgrimage we
wish to enter, following in Bernadette’s footsteps to this extraordinary
closeness between heaven and earth, which never fails and never ceases to grow.’ In these modern times we take the example of
Bernadette and use the Rosary as our prayer under the gaze of Mary, because it
leads us to the mysteries of Our Lord’s life, which is life-giving and
strengthening to us. ‘When we pray it,’
the Pope says, ‘Mary offers us her heart and her gaze in order to contemplate
the life of her Son, Jesus Christ.’
challenge for us today is to keep the light of faith and prayer alive in our
lives, to confess our sins so that we will attain a purity of heart so that in
our life we can take up the mission of extending Christian love by introducing
God’s light into the world, pointing out its true source.
is a reminder to each of us that we are invited to take hold of the light, to
walk in faith as Mary did and to remember the Pope’s words: ‘The life and faith of believers makes it
clear that the grace of the Immaculate Conception given to Mary is not merely a
personal grace, but a grace given to the entire people of God. In Mary, we in the Church can already
contemplate what we are called to become.
Every one of us can contemplate here and now the perfect fulfilment of
his or her own vocation.’
my dear friends, may each of us today remain full of thanksgiving for what the
Lord has chosen to reveal of his plan of salvation through the mystery of
Mary. By walking with her may we come to
know the power of the cross and know, in the words of Jesus, that his Mother is
our Mother who leads us on our journey until the day when we will be with Jesus
and with her forever.
+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.