By Sarah Mac Donald - 23 August, 2019
In his homily to mark the 140th anniversary of the apparition in Knock, Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam described anxiety about the future as “pervasive and in many cases debilitating”.
He told a packed basilica at the national shrine that there is deep concern about family life, about drug and alcohol abuse, about character and responsibility.
Archbishop Neary, who is custodian of the Marian Shrine, delivered his homily 140 years to the very day that 15 people witnessed the apparition in Knock in 1879.
Among the concelebrants on Wednesday were the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, and the Bishop-elect of Clonfert, Fr Michael Duignan.
During the 3 p.m. Mass, Dr Neary commissioned a new Processional Statue of Our Lady of Knock to celebrate this significant anniversary. The statue was blessed by Pope Francis in Rome on 7 August.
In his homily the Archbishop told pilgrims, that for many, material success and personal fulfilment have become the goal and purpose of human life.
“Yet parents are deeply concerned about raising their children. There are so many voices other than parents, from outside the home and indeed from internet and social media within the home that are clamouring for attention and are very contradictory of the voices and the authority of parents. This is the situation in which we live today. It is complex, confusing and challenging,” he said.
He added that the consumerist world in which we live is governed by money, power and possessions.
“There is nevertheless a genuine spiritual hunger in our world. At the heart of our Christian faith is the conviction that the human spirit is not satisfied with anything short of God.”
Describing society as “in a season of transition”, the Archbishop of Tuam said that “we watch the collapse of the world as we have known it in its political forms and economic realities of the past which are becoming increasingly ineffective”.
He added, “It has been said by many critics of religion that the problem of our time is not atheism but idolatry. It is not that we are non-believers but that our beliefs are assigned to unworthy and unworkable objects.”
Dr Neary also highlighted how today in a variety of ways “the State wants to reshape our values, our fears and dreams in ways that are fundamentally opposed to the Gospel”.
He challenged, “Are we enslaved by elements of the popular press, opinion polls, social media, celebrities and by social trends? What value do we give to God’s word and the teaching of Jesus Christ?”
He continued, “As parents and as the first educators of our children, what do we teach them in terms of values, respect, love? Do we enable and encourage them to reflect and question the situations which are growing in complexity and help them to make responsible decisions taking account of the teaching of Jesus Christ and the rights and dignity of others?
“In our society and in our Church today, there are broken people, broken promises, disillusionment, shattered dreams, manipulation and violence. There is the human cry for healing and hope, for understanding, newness and transformation.”