(Holy Mass on 23 October 2015, Santa Maria in Campitelli)
Here we are again in Rome for our pilgrimage to the tombs of the two Holy Apostles, St Peter and St Paul. As pilgrims, you have come to perform the external task of walking, to give a visible sign of devotion and reverence, but you are more important task is along the inner path of Faith, as you look for the living God and try to strengthen your bond of love with Him.
We are living in difficult times, but we must not be discouraged or yield to resignation and pessimism. We must never forget that there are many other people around us who, although they do not recognise the Faith they have been given, are still trying to find a sense of meaning in their lives. This search for meaning is a real “preamble” to Faith, because it will lead them along the road up to the mystery of God.
It will be difficult for these searchers for something spiritual to find the True God and the True Church if we have not borne credible witness to them. What the world needs now is the credible testimony of good Catholics, so that many hearts and minds will open to God and the real meaning of life, which will never fade away.
The Catholic mission is not simply passing on a message. It means helping people to know Jesus and experience His love and His mercy as deeply and intimately as possible. We have to come out of ourselves to evangelise, and this is what it means to live a catholic life. Your pilgrimage to Rome is tangible proof that you want to come out of yourselves to pass the joy of knowing God on to other people who do not yet know Him or who have forgotten Him. Your pilgrimage must make you feel you belong to a community of missionary disciples.
In St Mark’s Gospel, we hear about a seed which grows even when the man who cast it is sleeping (Mk. 4, 26-29). The intimacy between the Church and Our Lord is itinerant, and on this pilgrimage the Church is a Missionary Community, as Pope Francis has reminded us.
At this point question comes to mind: what can we give others if we have not felt it first within ourselves? How could we help others to meet Our Lord and the living God if we had not already met Him and not already contemplated the mystery of God in our lives?
Where is the best and safest place to live, contemplate, and internalise this meeting with the mystery of God?
The greatness of the Sacred Liturgy does not consist in watching some sort of spiritual entertainment; rather, it is letting ourselves be touched by the mystery of God coming down to us. If this were not so, we should never be able to reach Him with our own forces.
The Holy Sacrifice of Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite brings out certain elements and aspects which are indispensable in letting us understand the sacredness of the Rite, the real presence of Christ, and the sacrificial nature of the Mass which is the very sacrifice of Our Lord. All of this helps and serves in the building of the body of Christ which is the Church.
The ancient Liturgy is not a relic of the past: it is a living reality within the Church, and it helps bring the inheritance of sanctity and prayer which Tradition passes on to us into our modern lives.
The old Liturgy of Mass also makes us extremely aware that we participate in the Liturgy to worship the mystery of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The greatness and power of the Sacred Liturgy teach us how to worship: only adoration matures a deep experience of meeting the living God. The very act of adoring the Blessed Sacrament also matures the missionary spirit in us. It pulls down the barriers between us, and is the best way of pulling down those which stop both reconciliation between us and our brethren, and harmony in this life.
During your pilgrimage to Rome, and at the start of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, stand up and profess your Catholic Faith! We know that Our Lord defeated evil and death. With this Faith we can turn to Him: Jesus Christ here among us to fight the power of the Evil One; and the Church, the visible community of His mercy, is a sign of our ultimate reconciliation with God the Father.
In this ancient church, dedicated to the Mother of God, we see that Our Lord wanted to live in the temple which was Our Lady. In this way He sent into the world His real home and this home is our Faith in Mary, the Mother of all Christians. Our Faith is a real home in this world and it leads us into the Church, where we are all brothers and sisters. Let us ask the Holy Mother of God to keep tender watch over us and our families, so that as pilgrims we learn from this pilgrimage how to continue towards our final destination, the eternal City, and our eternal happiness in our heavenly home. Amen.