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Mission in Ministry – A Reflection on ‘the Sacrament of Healing’

Mission in Ministry 2020: “as the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Healing at Knock Shrine.”

The national Marian Shrine at Knock is where the apparition of Our Lady took place in 1879. Our Lady appeared with Saint Joseph and Saint John the Evangelist. It is the only major apparition where our Lady did not speak or give any message.

I find it fascinating that Mary did not speak at Knock; we could say she ushered in the ministry of listening. This act of listening is the real miracle of Knock. People come from all over the world to be heard; people, who are broken, damaged, frightened, and disillusioned with a Church that has lost its way after the scandals of child sexual abuse by members of the clergy. People are searching for meaning in their lives. They are searching for appropriate bandages for the open wounds that are oozing hurt. All these people come to Knock Shrine in order to listen and be listened too.

Thus the real miracle of Knock is the Sacrament of Reconciliation or the Sacrament of Healing. People share their lives of seeking the possibility of healing. There is a real “decluttering” of the soul taking place in the sacred space of the sacrament. The Sacrament of Reconciliation allows people to share the pain, the hurt, the sheer rawness of their hallowed out souls that are lost in an abyss of nothingness through years of spiritual destruction amid Self –Imposed Neglect.

Some people come to the Sacrament of Reconciliation to try to begin a new life, while other people want to escape the bondage of being enslaved to online pornography or to the manacles of substance abuse and addiction. Other people are practicing a religion of fear and evil, they are rooted in a life of darkness and judgement, their souls hallowed out to the point of the nothing of nothingness.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is for me the Sacrament of “Healing”, that is, “Helping Everyone Alive Live In Nurturing Grace”. It is through grace which is a gift freely given to us by God that Mary invites is to listen and to feel the pain and the hurt of others.

Healing is all about nurturing the possibility of grace repairing the damaged life; it is enabling a person to move forward in hope and in courage.

The Sacrament of Healing allows a person to emerge from the deep wounds of alienation in years of darkness. The Sacrament of Healing is the possibility of light in the nothingness of nothingness of our spiritual wells. The Sacrament of Healing plunges the hidden depths of the soul and enters the cellars of self that are concealed by corrosive beliefs and years of dark meaningless theologies of fear and spiritual stagnation.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a process of conversion and liberation. It is our realisation that we are not alone in our pain, in our hurt, in our desire to heal our wounds. God is listening, God is waiting, and God is wishing us to leave our sins behind. God wants us to be free. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is the beginning of new life; it is the liberating presence of a new self, new soul, new being emerging from the darkness of evil, hurt and pain.

Thus the real miracle of Knock is the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the re-emergence of lost souls into fullness of grace. The miracle of Knock is that we are rejuvenated; we are restored in our faith journeys. We gain courage through our spiritual liberation to give witness by our new lives of living faith. Many people who come to the Shrine at Knock emerge from the embers of their own dark night of the soul to reclaim their souls and their lives.

Forgiveness is not ours to give, but ours to receive. We cannot create it; we can be certain only that it is beyond us, in the sense of beyond our control, beyond our ability to will it into existence. Forgiveness and healing become possible only when will is replaced by willingness, it results less from effort than from openness.

Forgiveness, divine or human does not remove responsibility and it is in the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Healing that a person gains the ability and the insight to accept responsibility for his or her life as a human being created in the image and likeness of God. Forgiveness provides the pathway to a new beginning. This is the real Miracle of Knock; this is the real Miracle of Mary at Knock, her listening, her gentleness and her openness invites people to seek forgiveness and the possibilities of living their faith in a loving way. There is palpable liberation and joy in the heart of the liberated through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Healing. Our Lady of Knock, guide us in your silence and love us we serve you through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Healing.

Denis C Hartnett MHM-Knock-Ireland

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