By Ann Marie Foley - 06 June, 2018
The message of Knock reminds people that faith can never just be a private matter between an individual and God, stated Bishop Denis Nulty at Kildare and Leighlin’s diocesan pilgrimage to Knock.
“We live it [faith] publicly giving witness to Christ every day in what we say and do,” said Bishop Nulty.
On Sunday 4 June at Ireland’s National Marian Shrine, Knock, the Bishop spoke to the representatives from each of the 56 parishes of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, which includes Co. Carlow and parts of counties Kildare, Laois, Offaly, Kilkenny, Wicklow and Wexford.
Referring to the feast of Corpus Christi reflected in the Gospel of the day, he spoke of the importance of the Eucharist and Holy Mass, and of Corpus Christi processions held in the larger urban parishes all over Ireland.
He suggested that one of the oldest processions originated in his diocese in Tullow Parish in Co. Carlow, dating back to 1784, when Bishop Daniel Delaney introduced it.
He said that at the time of its introduction, a public display of Catholicism might be not have been tolerated by the magistrates and the Protestants of the town, but it passed off peacefully.
“The Corpus Christi Procession is essentially a missionary movement as it winds its way along public streets and public pathways before ending for Benediction,” he said.
He referred to Pope Francis, who reminds people that they live in a missionary Church, where expression of faith is nourished in the “field hospitals” and “meeting squares”.
He said: “As we process with the Blessed Sacrament, let us never be blind to the reality of life we meet on our way. In each person we meet Christ. The person standing outside the pub door, not sure which way to avert their eyes, we are meeting Christ,” he said. He also spoke of how in the homeless person we meet Christ and in little children who talk and then correct themselves, and in the car driver and haulier disrupted on their journey.
The Bishop recalled how Saint Pope John Paul II, who visited Knock here as a pilgrim in 1979, reminded people that Corpus Christi “does not only celebrate the Eucharist but solemnly bears it in procession, publicly proclaiming that the sacrifice of Christ is for the salvation of the whole world”.
He concluded by quoting a reflection on Our Lady in Pope Francis’s recent exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate where the Pope states: “she walks ever at our side … Mary our Mother does not need a flood of words. She does not need us to tell her what is happening in our lives. All we need do is whisper time and time again: ‘Hail Mary’.”
The bishop stated that Our Lady of Knock never used words, so she will not expect people to say much, but rather to just be present and open to meeting Christ in all the people they meet.