Thursday, August 21, 2014
The feast of Our Lady of Knock is celebrated on August 21st, the same day we celebrate Pope Pius X. One of the many graces I received in my religious life is the opportunity to live in Ireland for two years. Our Congregation has a nursing home there and I was sent in 2002 to 2004. I loved Ireland and I am grateful for the short time I was stationed there. Sure, I felt homesick and missed our American holidays, but it was an experience of both culture and spirit, not to mention Religious Obedience. I came to know and appreciate St. Patrick in a deeper way, different from the wave of shamrocks and Irish trinkets we have on St. Patrick's day. I also learned about Our Lady of Knock. I visited Knock several times when I was in Ireland and made a three day personal Retreat at the Shrine. A fellow Sister and I stayed at a facility operated by the religious of St. John of God right at the Shrine grounds. I was fortunate enough to stay up late at night to savor the quiet of the Shrine when all the other pilgrims were gone. The daytime processions and conferences during Mass were wonderful.
The representation of the vision found at the sanctuary is engaging. At the main altar is a statue of a lamb with a cross, the Lamb of God. Off to the side of the altar are three figures, life-size, all struck in white, with Our Lady in the middle, and St. Joseph and St. John the Apostle, each standing on her side. There is an air of prayer and stillness in the main chapel. When you're inside the chapel, the silence is so palpable that one can't help but be drawn to the contemplation of the vision before you. The message of Knock for me is one of reverence and an invitation to enter into the mystery of the Lamb which was slain and is represented at the altar. It is an invitation to contemplate the mystery of Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The witnesses stated that Mary was silent during the apparition. The fact that there were many witnesses, ranging from the very young to the very old, men and women, makes me think of the universality of the Mass. The presence of St. John the Apostle makes me think of his prologue, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was GOD." St. Joseph, the humble and just man of Scriptures, only reinforces the message that it is in silence that God speaks and how humility is pleasing to Him. It was also interesting for me to learn that the apparition was attributed to the intercession of the holy souls in purgatory. It was after a 100 days novena to the holy souls initiated by the Archdeacon Cavanagh that the apparition occurred.
I am very grateful to God for this wonderful gift of having brought me to this wonderful place of grace, love and devotion.