Archbishop McQuaid’s Address to Lourdes Pilgrims
Posted by shane
The following address was given to Dublin school pilgrims by the Most Rev. John Charles McQuaid, Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, on the concluding day of the annual diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes, 16th August, 1955:
Each pilgrim knows in his heart what the grace of this sojourn at Lourdes has meant for him. All of us hope that it has meant as much for every fellow pilgrim and invalid, for not one of us has failed to experience the gentle mercy of the Mother of God.
Now we know that all who, in obedience to Our Lady’s wish, come to this sacred place to do penance and pray, share in some way in the vision of St. Bernadette. It is not that we have seen Our Lady: that is a grace reserved for another life. We are not worthy to be favoured as the child who was chosen by God to be the confidant of His mother. But here in the Grotto, at Mass, and in the processions of the Blessed Sacrament, we have been soothed by the peace that is, as it were, the perfume of the Shrine. We have been drawn by the stainless innocence of the Virgin Mary. We have been strengthened by the holiness of the Immaculate Mother, who in grace stands next to God made man Himself.
We must return to the daily burden of our ordinary lives and to the sufferings that lie ahead in the uncertain future. Yet, you will admit that, having come to Lourdes, we can never be the same again. God, in the richness of His mercy towards all who venerate His Mother, has been pleased to give us the grace to carry the Cross with a new and more joyful patience.
We trust that, whatever the pain of our daily life, it will not ever again be such an unrelieved weariness. For here at this Grotto we have laid down the burden of our sins in the Sacrament of Penance: here, too, we have been united at Holy Communion with Our Divine Lord Himself, Who is our very life and pledge that we shall have eternal life. Here, too, we have promised Him that, by His grace, we shall be more courageous in combating our evil tendencies: more faithful in following in the footsteps of His virtues.
We are not deceived in the knowledge of our weaknesses. We know that the attractions of sin can be again renewed. We know that we can again betray the grace that we have received. But we also know — and this is the trust that is uppermost in our hearts this evening as we say farewell — that Mary the Mother of God, who appeared on earth to call us back to penance, is always our loving Mother. We know, with the deeper comfort that the grace of Lourdes can bring, that the Mother of Sorrows whom our sins have wounded, is the Refuge of Sinners and the Consoler of the Afflicted.
To her then, strongly we entrust the weariness of our hearts and the weariness of our lives, and the pain of all whom we know to be in sorrow and temptation. To her we give over our puny resolutions: our longing to love Her Divine Son with all the faithfulness of our hearts.
And she, we firmly trust, with the Mother’s love that rose in her heart at the Annunciation, will obtain for us from Jesus Christ, Our Lord, the grace to remain constant in His love, whatever it may cost: and, at length, the grace of graces, to die in the friendship of Her Son: ‘Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. — Amen’.