The Pastoral theme of the Sanctuary of Lourdes in 2020, “I am the Immaculate Conception”, reminds us of these words spoken by Our Blessed Lady to Bernadette at the grotto of Massabilelle on the 25th March 1858. Four years earlier the dogma of Mary, as the Immaculate Conception, had been defined by Pope Pius IX; Mary the mother of Jesus had been conceived without the stain of original sin. These words point, not so much to the person of Mary, but to the mission of Mary as the mother of Jesus. She had been chosen by God for a mission, to carry his Son in her womb. When our Lady says “I am” she is telling us that she is ready, she is prepared to respond to the call of the Father. If Mary had said to God, to the gift of the Holy Spirit in her womb, we would still be knocking on the door of salvation. Mary gives herself totally to this task and to this gift of a child.
In 2020 perhaps God is calling you to Lourdes just as he called Mary to be the Mother of His Son and called Bernadette to make known the generosity of Spirit shown to us by His Mother and our Mother. Lourdes is not only a destination or conclusion of a journey for pilgrims, it is a new beginning. Inspired by the response of Mary to God’s plan to save us, and by the reaction of Bernadette to Mary’s words, you too can participate in the Diocese of Motherwell pilgrimage and on your return live out your life in the same spirit of generosity and self-giving that reflects Mary’s love for Her Son and for us.
Mary is the Mother of the Church, she calls pilgrims year after year to Lourdes so that we can remember and celebrate our dignity as children of God and of our mission to help restore that same dignity in the lives of others who struggle to cope with life or have lost their way in life.
You are invited to share in this mission, to join Bishop Toal and our diocese on this pilgrimage, the Lord is calling you.
Fr Gerry Maguiness