Bishop Ray Mass at Lourdes Grotto

Mass at the Grotto Lourdes Homily Notes   4 September 2018


Surely our celebrating Mass here at the Grotto is the most privileged part of our pilgrimage!

A few steps in front of me, the spot is marked where Bernadette knelt, – a delicate fourteen year old girl whose family lived in awful poverty. You can also see up there, to my left, at the beautiful statue, the spot where Our Lady appeared.

Think of all Lourdes has meant for millions of people in the one hundred and sixty years since then, since 1858. Think of what it has meant in times of war and times of peace; in times of health and in times of life threatening, life changing illness; in times of great joy and in times of great heartbreak. Surely this is the most privileged part of our pilgrimage.

When we come on pilgrimage we bring the intentions, needs and troubles of many, such as:  ‘Say a prayer at the Grotto for me’, ‘leave this note with my intention there’, ‘light a candle for me’.  Also, we come with our own troubles, burdens and heartbreaks. We also bring our prayers for the Church.

Take a moment to include in this Mass all those who have asked for our prayers, the needs deepest in our hearts and the intentions of all gathered at Lourdes this day.


When major events occur in our lives it is important not to forget them straight away. Rather continue to talk about them and reflect on them over a few weeks. How beautiful, how moving, and how important was it?  For example,  the World Meeting of Families WMOF 2018 and the visit of Pope Francis. We continue to ponder them: What meaning has it for me; for my faith in Jesus, the Son of God; for how I live my life?

It is most appropriate that the Lourdes theme this year and the Gospel of our Mass is the wedding feast at Cana, thus, the theme of marriage and family. And gathered here in Lourdes, we can recall  the words of Pope Francis at Knock just nine days ago.

Our Gospel contains two powerful phrases: ‘They have no wine’, and ‘Do whatever he tells you’. As Mary saw the needs of the Cana wedding couple and placed them before Jesus, ‘They have no wine’, Mary sees all our needs and places them too before Jesus. As mother of Jesus and mother of God, she is in a unique position to intercede for each of us. And her advice at Cana is always her advice to each of us, ‘Do whatever he tells you’. In other words, seek to know God’s will in your life and do God’s will.

Little did the wedding couple know how Jesus would help, or maybe even that he did help them. For us, to seek to do God’s will is to trust. To trust that God is present and at work in our lives, that he hears our prayers, and that he knows best how to answer our prayers.

As you journey on in life, carry those two phrases in your heart: ‘They have no wine and Do whatever he tells you’. Turn to Our Lady to intercede for you, as countless millions do every day here at Lourdes and Knock. Trust that God is your strength and that he will guide you. Trust that in your hour of need he is close to you and ‘Do whatever he tells you’.

Celebrating Mass at the Grotto I see two examples as most appropriate. God spoke here at the Grotto when our Lady asked Bernadette to go to the priests and ask them to build a church and to ask the people to come in procession.  What courage it took for Bernadette, an uneducated, delicate, poor, fourteen year old girl, to persevere with this request when first she met with complete refusal! ‘Do whatever he tells you’, truly the past 160 years have been God’s will, – a witness to God’s care for his people, especially for those who are ill or have a disability.

The phrase, ‘Do whatever he tells you’ also brings to my mind something Jesus first asked of the twelve apostles and he continues to ask of all Christians and  of all of us, his disciples, ‘Do this in memory of me’. Gather on Sunday, gather to offer the Holy Sacrifice and gather together to receive the Bread of Life.

Here at Lourdes, I ask all of us to be faithful to Sunday Mass and to encourage people to join in the celebration with their local parish community. Surely Our Lady is saying to us: “Do whatever he tells you’, do not neglect Jesus invitation to ‘Do this in memory of me”.

I want to finish by recalling some of Pope Francis’ words at Knock just eight days ago. Beautifully he entrusts the people of Ireland, the homes and families of  Ireland and families worldwide to Our Lady. Pope Francis is a wonderful model of devotion to Our Lady.

Why so much emphasis on family, why a World Meeting of Families? I quote one sentence from ‘The Joy of Love’, paragraph 31: “The welfare of the family is decisive for the future of the world and that of the Church”.

  • God made us for family.
  • Family is where every child discovers what it is to be a human being.
  • Family and home are the great source of love in the world.

Pope Francis and the WMOF 2018 challenge us:

  • to always give 100% in our homes, families and extended families;
  • to always work for a society and a world in which every person has the possibility of a stable, happy family life and home, – in childhood, in adult life, in old age. 

Pope Francis Words at Knock:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am happy to be here with you. I am happy to be with you in the house of Our Lady. And I thank God for this opportunity, in the context of the World Meeting of Families, to visit this Shrine, so dear to the Irish people.

In the Apparition Chapel, I lifted up to Our Lady’s loving intercession all the families of the world, and, in a special way, your families, the families of Ireland. Mary our Mother knows the joys and struggles felt in each home. Holding them in her Immaculate Heart, she brings them with love to the throne of her Son.

Mary is Mother. Mary is our Mother and the Mother of the Church, and it is to her that we commend today the journey of God’s faithful people on this emerald isle. We ask that our families be sustained in their efforts to advance Christ’s Kingdom and to care for the least of our brothers and sisters. Amid the storms and winds that buffet our times, may families be a bulwark of faith and goodness, resisting, in the best traditions of this nation, all that would diminish our dignity as men and women created in God’s image and called to the sublime destiny of eternal life.

Now, with these intentions, and all the intentions hidden in our hearts, let us turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the prayer of the Angelus.

They have no wine’, Our Lady intercedes:  ‘Do whatever he tells you’ and trust in God’s help.

Pray for family life worldwide. Pray for the ministry of Pope Francis, the chief shepherd of the Catholic family worldwide.

+ Ray Browne.