Bishop's Homily at the Diocesan Pilgrimage Mass


(Print Version)

 The Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge delivered the following homily October 14, 2017 at the Basilica of the National Shrine in Washington, D.C. during the Mass for the Diocesan Pilgrimage


How blessed are we to be in this glorious Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the patroness of our nation. Providentially, our pilgrimage occurs during the 100th anniversary of the apparitions in Fatima when Our Lady called all people to prayer, penance and conversion of heart. Today, dependent upon God’s grace, we renew our commitment to embrace and to live her message.

We have journeyed to this Basilica Shrine as pilgrims, as members of God’s holy family, as one diocesan church with a rich diversity, and as brothers and sisters united in Christ. While Bishop Loverde is unable to be here today due to a commitment outside of our diocese, he has asked me to assure you that he is with us in prayer. Please allow me to express my deep gratitude to my brother priests, deacons, consecrated religious, our seminarians and all of you who have made sacrifices to be here today in the midst of the demands of daily life. In a special way, we are united today in prayer with all the faithful in our Diocese, especially those who are unable to be with us due to illness and hardship.

The beautiful theme for our pilgrimage is taken from the motto of Saint John Paul the Great, Totus Tuus: We are totally yours, Mary. Saint John Paul once said: “It is you whom Jesus from the cross asks to receive Mary into your home and to learn from her the attitude of humility and generosity that singled her out as God’s first collaborators in the work of salvation.”

My brothers and sisters in Christ, we receive Mary into the home of our hearts when we, like her, acknowledge our blessings and proclaim the greatness of the Lord. We receive Mary into the home of our hearts of when we imitate her example of sitting at the feet of Jesus and stop our constant doing so to be still in His presence. We receive Mary into the home of our hearts when we listen to her words: Do whatever He tells you and remain faithful to his commands. We receive Mary into the home our hearts when entrust our desires, plans, and our very lives to his providential care with the trust that allows us to echo her words: “Let it be done to me according to your Word. 

Today allowed many opportunities to reflect that we belong totally to Mary and to Her Son, Jesus Christ including the praying of the rosary; the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance; time before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and of course this celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. These practices are not just reserved for a diocesan pilgrimage but must remain priorities in our lives.

It is my hope and prayer that today’s pilgrimage has been filled with abundant blessings for you. Knowing that we belong totally to Mary and can rely on her intercession and the divine assistance of Her Son, may you return to your home, parishes and communities with renewed commitments to heed Mary’s call to prayer, penance and conversion of heart and to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received.

Specifically and respectfully, may I encourage you, dear brother priests, to renew your “yes” to prayer, holiness, the reverent celebration of the Sacraments and the authentic proclamation of the Gospel. Dear Consecrated Religious, renew your 'yes' to poverty, chastity and obedience. Dear married couples renew your 'yes' to faithfulness and to a sacrificial love that is kind and patient and always ready to forgive. Dear single people, renew your 'yes' to find your joyful hope not in the things of this world but only in and through Jesus Christ. Dear young people, renew your 'yes' to discern the will of God in your life; to listen closely to what He is asking of you and to respond with a generous and trusting heart. And dear families, please renew your promise to be what our Church and world need you to be more than ever:holy families known for your mutual love and respect in imitation of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Our pilgrimage will conclude with a Eucharistic Procession to the Saint John Paul II Shrine. Processions remind us of truths we can so easily forget. Namely, we do not walk. We do so in the company of one another as brothers and sisters in Christ who support and encourage each other in faith. The procession reminds us that we share an ultimate goal: life with God in the Kingdom of Heaven and as we continue this earthly journey it is Jesus who leads and we who follow.

With renewed trust and confidence, we conclude with these words from our Diocesan Pilgrimage Prayer: Through the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima and of her devoted son, Saint John Paul II, may we belong totally to Mary and so be led to you our Father in Heaven who with your Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign one God forever and ever. Amen.