Homily preached in the Rosary Basilica in Lourdes July 6, 2016 on the occasion of the Jubilee pilgrimage of young Dominicans
Brothers and sisters,
I am sure you will admit with me that there is something a little bit strange in this stop in Lourdes, at the beginning of your pilgrimage. You are "in the footsteps of St. Dominic" and Our Father saint Dominic has never set a foot here!
Amazing, isn’t it?
Is this stop a stop like the others?
I am convinced of the opposite.
You have come to Lourdes because over 150 years ago, a child has seen something, "Aquero", in a grotto just under this church, the first to be built, where we find ourselves at this very moment. And this child will guide our pilgrimage today. Not only today, but every day of your life.
Bernadette is somehow a new Moses, by the River Gave, sent to her stiff-necked people.
Like Moses, she made a detour to see a strange phenomenon. You have done the same and your pilgrimage will become more Dominican
Like Moses, she will take off her shoes for the place where she is standing is a holy ground. Lourdes is a piece of heaven that fell on the earth.
Like Moses, she will find the burning bush. For Bernadette, the burning bush is Mary, the one that bears the one who bears the world, who is like a blazing fire, and does do not consume her.
Like Moses, she will cross the streams smoothly and without even feeling the cold of the water, as she said, at the end of the first apparition.
Bernadette looks at us and invites us to enter into the Grotto.
She is a sign for us because we have to be signs in our world. Signs of contradiction. You heard perfectly: signs of contradiction, not spirits of contradiction.
So, let’s enter into the grotto of Massabielle.
And the Lord loves grottos: that of the Annunciation in Nazareth, that of the Nativity in Bethlehem, that of Lourdes, certainly. He loves grottos because there you find his mother, because they are a place, sometimes inhospitable certainly, where something intimate is to be found and lived.
Today, in Lourdes, we hear the story of the Annunciation. An exchange that took place in a grotto that will join another grotto, that of our heart. This one is not in the innermost parts of the earth, it is inside us. If only we could find Mary there!
It is no coincidence, brothers and sisters, that you stopped in Lourdes.
Bernadette welcomes you and she will show you Mary.
Our Lady –you may not know– is not a detail among others of the Dominican spirituality. She was loved passionately by Our Father Dominic. Why should his sons and daughters love her differently? Always remember she is not the "cherry on the top" of the Dominican cake. We don’t have to talk about her because we have to, or because it's nice, or –even worse– to have a clear conscience! It is just a matter of love.
Here today, in Lourdes, she will deliver a message to you. On the banks of the River Gave, she becomes Mistress of religious life, of our religious life, whether it is young… or a little bit older.
In a few moments, when you go and visit her in the grotto –but also every day of your life– entrust her your religious life.
Entrust your obedience to the one that answers to the angel: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord."
Entrust your chastity to this virgin of Nazareth.
Entrust your poverty to the one that leaves everything, even what she is, to do the will of the Father.
Take Mary as a traveling companion every day.
Some will understand. Others will not… even in the Order!
As Bernadette said to unbelievers: "I was asked to tell you... not to make you believe."
Mary is the Queen of the most holy Rosary.
She is the patroness of our Order.
You will never love her too much.