Ordo Equestris Sancti Sepulchri
Homily of Edwin Cardinal O’Brien
at the Pilgrimage Solemn Opening Mass
Basilica of St.Paul Outside-the-Walls
Friday 13 September 2013
We are grateful to His Eminence James Cardinal Harvey and to the
Community of St. Benedict for accommodating us at this Mass after a last minute
change forced upon our schedule. Indeed we will be privileged to return to this
Basilica of Saint Paul for our closing Mass and Investiture Sunday evening.
As you know, this opening Mass of our full Pilgrimage was supposed to
be celebrated in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, the first church in
Christendom to be dedicated to the Mother of God. As we gather from around the
world to celebrate the Year of the Faith, it is fitting that our theme in this
Mass is Mary, the Pillar of Faith.
In total, generous Faith Mary conceived the Son of God and supported
throughout her life by that Faith, she followed even to stand courageously at
the foot of the Cross. Enduring the tragedy of his death, in Faith she believed
in his promise of the Resurrection and surrounded by the Apostles, awaited the
coming of his Spirit, giving birth to the Church, the Body of Christ.
Having given birth to Christ in Bethlehem, the Virgin Mary was in the
midst of the Apostles when the Church, the Body of Christ was born at Pentecost.
(In Italian on the original document: La Vergine Maria, che aveva dato la vita a
Gesù Cristo a Betlemme, era con gli Apostoli quando la Chiesa, Corpo di Cristo,
ebbe i suoi natali nel giorno della Pentecoste).
In Blessed John Paul II’s beautiful Encyclical on Our Lady, we hear:
“It is precisely Mary’s faith which marks the beginning of the new
and eternal Covenant of God with man in Jesus Christ; this heroic
of hers precedes the apostolic witness of the Church, and
ever remains in the Church’s heart, hidden like a special heritage of God’s revelation.
All those who from generation to generation accept the apostolic witness of the Church share in that mysterious
inheritance and in a sense share in Mary’s faith”.
Mother of Christ, Mary is Mother of the Church – at the foot of the
Cross and at Bethlehem. She is truly the Mother of each of us. (In spanish on the original document: Madre de Cristo,
Maria es Madre de la Iglesia, a los pies de la Cruz y a Belén. Ella es
verdaderamente madre de cada uno de nosotros).
The Preface of our Mass reminds us that Mary, today, shines upon Christ’s
disciples as a star of hope and a pillar of Faith. Many our prayers be that of
a noted spiritual writer:
“Mary, you are the first house of God in the world, the first context the first setting
in which everything that was, belonged to God. Everything you are –
everything! – is for God, his dwelling place. Gratia plena”.
May all the pilgrimage footsteps that follow, fall with the guidance of Mary,
the pillar of Faith, and be accompanied by her footsteps.
Mary full of Grace, full of Faith, pray for us.
00120 - Città del Vaticano
Tel. 39 - 06 - 6877347
Fax 39 - 06 - 6877632