INTRODUCTION OF THE HOLY FATHER JOHN PAUL II
Grotto of Massabielle, 14 August 2004
My dear Brothers and Sisters!
1. Kneeling here, before the grotto of Massabielle, I feel deeply that I have reached the goal of my pilgrimage. This cave, where Mary appeared, is the heart of Lourdes. It reminds us of the cave of Mount Horeb where Elijah met the Lord, who spoke to him in "a still small voice" (1 Kg 19:12).
Here the Blessed Virgin asked Bernadette to recite the Rosary, as she herself told the beads. This grotto has thus become a unique school of prayer where Mary teaches everyone to gaze with burning love upon the face of Christ.
Lourdes is the place, then, where the Christians of France, and those from so many other nations of Europe and the world, fall to their knees and pray.
2. As pilgrims to Lourdes, we too wish this evening to retrace in prayer, together with Mary our Mother, the "mysteries" in which Jesus reveals that he is the "light of the world". We recall his promise: "He who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (Jn 8:12).
We wish to learn from the lowly handmaid of the Lord an attitude of docility and openness to the word of God and a generous commitment to welcoming Christ’s teaching into our lives.
In particular, as we meditate on the sharing of the Lord’s Mother in her Son’s redemptive mission, I would ask you to to pray for vocations to the priesthood and to virginity for the Kingdom of God, so that all those who are called will respond with generosity and perseverance.
3. As we turn to Mary Most Holy, let us pray together with Bernadette: "Good Mother, have mercy on me; I give myself entirely to you, that you may give me to your dear Son, whom I wish to love with my whole heart. Good Mother, grant me a heart all aflame for Jesus".
(Esplanade of the Basilica of the Rosary, 14 August 2004)
Hail Mary, poor and humble Woman,
Hail Mary, lowly handmaid of the Lord,
Hail Mary, Woman of sorrows,
Hail Mary, woman of faith,
Holy Mary, Mother of believers,