“The message which comes from Knock is the great value that silence has for faith”, Pope Francis underscored in a video message sent on Friday, 19 March, to the Irish faithful on the occasion of the celebration for the elevation of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Knock to an International Shrine of Special Eucharistic and Marian Devotion. The following is a translation of the Holy Father’s message, which he offered in Italian.
Brothers and Sisters,
I gladly avail myself of this means of communication in order to be with you at such an important moment in the life of the Shrine.
Ever since the apparition of 21 August 1879, when the Blessed Virgin Mary, together with Saint Joseph and Saint John the Apostle, appeared to some villagers in Knock, the Irish people have expressed their devotion wherever they have found themselves. You have been a missionary people. It is good to remember how many priests left their homeland in order to become evangelizers. Nor can we forget the many lay people who emigrated to many lands and kept alive their devotion to Our Lady of Knock. How many families in the course of almost a century and a half have passed on the faith to their children and gathered their daily labours around the prayer of the Rosary, with the image of our Lady of Knock at its centre! The arms of the Virgin, outstretched in prayer, continue today to show how fundamental the life of prayer is, which comes as a message of hope from this Shrine. As you know, in her apparition at Knock, the Virgin does not say a word. Yet even her silence is a language; indeed, it is the most expressive language that is given to us. The message which comes from Knock is the great value that silence has for faith.
It is silence before the mystery, which does not mean giving up on understanding, but understanding while aided and supported by the mystery of the love of Jesus who offered himself for all of us as the Lamb sacrificed for the salvation of humanity. It is silence in the face of the great mystery of love, which finds no possible response other than to surrender oneself with trust to the will of the merciful Father. And, finally, it is silence that Jesus asks for when he taught us: “When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Mt 6:6-8).
Dear brothers and sisters present in Knock, and all of you who are following this solemn moment through the new communications media! The elevation of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Knock to an International Shrine of Special Eucharistic and Marian Devotion is a great responsibility. You commit yourselves to keeping your arms always wide open as a sign of welcome to every pilgrim who reaches you from every part of the world, asking nothing of them, but only recognizing them as brothers or sisters who wish to share the same experience of prayer in mutual fraternity. May welcome be combined with charity and become an effective witness of a heart which is open to receive the Word of God and the fortifying grace of the Holy Spirit. May the Eucharistic mystery, which unites us in communion with the Risen Lord and with one another, always be the support for us to live faithfully our vocation to be missionary disciples, like the Virgin Mary who made herself a pilgrim of the Gospel of her Son. May she protect us and console us with her merciful face.
I greet you, I greet you all, as I implore a blessing for you, and I ask you, please, to pray for me!