Given at the International Mass in the Pius X Basilica (Underground Basilica) in Lourdes on 24th July 2019
This is the family of God. This is our International Mass, bringing together people from around the world. We are so glad to be here, to be together, to celebrate the presence of our Beloved Lord, together with Mary. She has called us to Lourdes. She always calls us to her Son, our Saviour.
At this Mass today we pray for the Church throughout the world. Today I invite you to pray especially for Christians who are persecuted for their faith, in so many parts of the world. The persecution of Christians is more widespread, more far-reaching than ever before. So today we remember all those who have died for their faith, whether young or old, in Africa, in Asia, in India, in Europe, or in America. We pray for those who are marginalised in their society, deprived of liberty, of health, of opportunity because of their faith. We hold in our hearts those who languish in prisons or who face the threat of violence every time they attend church. We pray for those whose families have been shattered by this persecution and violence.
They are our brothers and sisters. Even if we cannot reach out to touch and comfort them, we can hold them in our prayers so that they may receive the comfort of knowing that they are not forgotten and that we strive, here today, to unite ourselves with them, offering their pain and suffering to our loving Father.
The theme of our pilgrimages to Lourdes this year is ‘Blessed are the poor for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.'
Today we think of those who are poor through persecution. We reaffirm our faith that true riches do not lie in this world and all its benefits, but in our heavenly Kingdom. And the gateway into that Kingdom is narrow. Its door is faithfulness: our faithfulness to Jesus and his unfailing faithfulness to each one of us. The high road to heaven is the path of martyrdom. We thank God that even today we are enriched by the deaths of so many martyrs, people who have faced and accepted death rather than embrace unfaithfulness to the Lord. They are the riches of the Church and the seed of our future. We thank them and we praise the Lord for his work in their living and dying.
My brothers and sisters, let us unite in this prayer and truly be witnesses to the love, forgiveness and faithfulness of the Lord in our world today. For then the Kingdom of Heaven will be given to us, too. Amen