Cardinal in Lourdes pays tribute to bomb victims' families
posted on 25 July 2005
Urges pilgrims to “learn from the sick and vulnerable”
The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, has paid tribute to the families of two of the 7 July victims, likening their mothers’ faith to that of Mary at the foot of the Cross.
His remarks were made in a homily on the first day of the Westminster diocesan pilgrimage to the Marian shrine of Lourdes.
Like Mary, the women “knew the desolation and suffering and agony of her son. And yet they knew that also in some way there would resurrection, that there would be hope, that there would be meaning.”
The Cardinal was referring to Mrs Fatayi-Williams, the mother of Anthony, whose funeral took place at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday and to the mother of Ciaran Cassidy.
At the funeral the Cardinal described the response of Marie Fatayi-Williams as a beacon that should guide Britain’s response to terrorism” (see www.rcdow.org.uk).
He also referred to the shooting of the young Brazilian electrician, Joao Carlos de Menezes, by London police last week.
“There was also the Brazilian young man who was caught up in the tragedy,” the Cardinal said. “I think of his parents and his family suffering, and all those who suffer bereavement at this time.”
The Cardinal returns to London on Friday.
Text of homily follows
Homily by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor delivered at an open-air Mass at the ‘Cathedral of the Trees’, Cité de St Pierre, Lourdes, 25 July 2005.
Dear Friends, dear fellow pilgrims. It’s really nice to be with you on pilgrimage. I’m glad you’ve all arrived safely, whether by plane or train, whether it was early or late – more likely to be late.
We’re here together, so many of us, a sort of microcosm of our Diocese. I always think this first Mass and the picnic we have afterwards is rather special. We are in the desert and the good Lord has given us something to eat. I haven’t actually seen what’s in my picnic basket but you know that it’s enough for the journey. You know the good Lord is going to feed us.
This pilgrimage this year is very special. We come from a Diocese and particularly from a city of London filled with troubles, uncertainties and fears at this time. People wondering what’s going to happen in the future, what the future will bring. And here we come from that city of uncertainty, to Lourdes, to a place which God has touched. People from all over the world come here to reach out to God from human suffering and pain and need, and also with great faith and hope.
The woman in the Gospel came to the well and while she was there Jesus came. And the first thing he said was quite simple. He knew all about her, but the first thing he said was: “Give me a glass of water.” Do something for me. And she was surprised. How could this man, as it were, speak to her, who was a kind of outcast for a Jew. And it seems to me that here on our pilgrimage each one of us, whoever we are, are going to be surprised. God surprises us because he’s always the one in all of our lives who takes the initiative. He’s the one who speaks to us first. He’s the one who comes to us in ways we can’t even dream of - sometimes within the quite ordinary events of our life as it was for that woman. And then Jesus says: “If you only knew what God is offering you and who it is that is saying to you, ‘give me a drink’, you would have been the one to ask and he would have given you living water”.
Those were wonderful words. If you only knew, then you would ask for living water. And it seems to me, here in Lourdes, we are asking for the living water, the faith that is faith in Jesus Christ because living water is Jesus and everything he means for us. It’s not just one aspect of our faith, it’s everything Jesus has given to us: forgiveness of sin, the Holy Eucharist, hope of eternal life, the shape of the way we should live, the truth of what it means to be human with God our Father, hope of everlasting life. All these things and more, by the gift of the Holy Spirit, is living water. And that’s what we’ve come to seek. I would give you living water and the living water is Jesus - in word, in sacrament, in Holy Spirit, in life, in presence, in love – all those gifts which we share and for which we are so grateful to God. We come to Lourdes with our needs. The sick, who are a very special part of our pilgrimage, come with great gifts to offer all of us who accompany them because the sick, by their example, by their resignation, by their faith, through their suffering teach us to have a deeper faith and resignation to the will of God. And enable all of us to seek living water, the deep things, the real things that come from God and are in our life.
Each one of us comes to Lourdes with needs but I want to say especially to the young people here that you will discover, as we have all discovered, a deeper part of yourself which you have not discovered before because you realise that your faith in Jesus Christ is not some abstract thing, it’s real, that God has a purpose for you and a meaning for you. And a love for you that you never realised. And that therefore you have a part to play, not just in this pilgrimage, but also in the meaning, the purpose and the generosity and the example in you life. That’s what Lourdes meant. That’s how Lourdes will touch you during these days.
Going back to London, and those terrible things that happened just a fortnight ago, and since, I was thinking of some of the families that I have been in touch with since that 7 of July – two in particular. I spoke to the families. I was particularly moved by two mothers, both of whom had lost their only son on that day. And each of those mothers spoke to me about, yes their pain, and their desolation, and their suffering, but also about their resignation to God. And their faith enabled them to accept their suffering and I thought to myself, these are marvellous and faithful women who are a bit like Mary at the foot of the Cross who knew the desolation and suffering and agony of her son. And yet they knew that also in some way there would resurrection, that there would be hope, that there would be meaning.
There was also the Brazilian young man who was caught up in the tragedy. I think of his parents and his family suffering and all those who suffer bereavement at this time.
The contrast between London and the city of Lourdes is something that we, as it were, bring back to our Diocese at this time – something of the love of God and the mercy of God and the incomprehension of God’s plan but in which we say, “not my will but yours be done”, just as Mary did all through her life.
So during these days, my dear friends, you and I are seeking the living water that is Jesus. I want you first of all to pray for and with the sick who are with us, pray for our Diocese and that all our faithful people may be renewed in faith, to be a living example of the living water that is Jesus - meaning for our world today.
I want you also to be open, open in your quiet time to God. What is God and Jesus Christ asking you to be? What is he asking you to do? Because he has a purpose and a plan for each and every one of you and that openness means also a generosity on our part. “If you only knew” says Jesus, the woman at the well, “If you only knew what God is offering you and who it is that is speaking to you, then you would ask for living water”.