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2015 Pilgrimage!

2015 Cormac Pilgrimage

The 2015 experience of the Pilgrimage to the Shrine of St. Ann in Cormac is now a memory. But how God has blessed us with the experience of this event!

We were blessed by the numbers who attended the Triduum in preparation for Pilgrimage Sunday. On the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday preceding Sunday’s celebration, the parish church was filled almost to capacity by those who had come to help spiritually prepare for the great feast on Sunday. Those attending included members of the local clergy who concelebrated at Holy Mass each evening at 7:00, and who no doubt also were encouraged in the Faith by the talks given by Father Scott McCaig, the Moderator of the Companions of the Cross, and leader of this year's Pilgrimage.

2015 Cormac Pilgrimage

Unlike last year, when the weather was unsettled and threatening rain at any point, the weather this year was sunny and warm. For those who brought their own chairs, sitting among the great number of pilgrims under the trees would have been an experience this side of Heaven.

Father Scott’s talks were spiritually deeply enriching. A brief summary of Father’s talks given each evening, as well as the homilies given on Sunday, are presented below.

2015 Cormac Pilgrimage

To everyone who assisted in great and in more modest ways to make this year’s pilgrimage a success, please know the gratitude of all who came to pray: those whose attendance marked years of family tradition, those who came to offer gratitude for blessings received, and those who came bearing the burdens of life.

As pilgrims and as a community of faith we promise to hold those who have requested prayers close to our hearts, especially at the monthly mass offered for the intentions of the members of St. Ann’s Mass League.

Good St. Ann, pray for us till we meet again!


The Shrine of St. Ann.

2015 Pilgrimage: Triduum Thursday with Father Scott McCaig The Mass as Sacrifice

The highest form of worship in the Old Testament was sacrifice. God demanded that sacrifice be offered to Him. Why? First it was a way of placing God first. It was a concrete sign that the people were turning away from the false Gods of the pagans. Second it was an act of trust. A sacrifice involved giving the best of the crops and animals to God. Thirdly it was an act of love, placing God above all else by entrusting one’s life and livelihood to God.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is something that God does. Although we do gather and participate at the mass, God is the one who re-presents the sacrifice of Jesus. We know that Jesus ascended to heaven, and that he stands before the father in Heaven interceding for us with God. As both priest and victim, this is what Jesus is doing: atoning for us. This is what we see in Rev 5 and the description of the mass, the great liturgy of Heaven. At every single Eucharist God parts the veil and allows us to be joined with the great heavenly liturgy. It is we who join the Angels and the saints in their song of praise, not them joining us!

Saint John Paul II described the mass as a foretaste of Heaven, a glimpse of heaven on Earth. Father said that the word to remember is more properly understood to mean to relive again the moment. Jesus is the High priest and the victim at each of mass. It is Jesus who acts through the person of the priest. He uses the voice of the priest. It is God’s work and word. The mass does not depend on the holiness of the priest. Jesus is the priest and the victim. A holy priest is better able to dispose souls to grace, so priestly holiness is important. But still it is the work of God.

The mass is also the sacrifice of the Church, the sacrifice of the community of believers who unite their lives to the sacrifice of Christ. We offer Jesus to the Father mediated through the priest, offering ourselves along as well. Thus, we become one with Christ as we offer sacrifice to God the Father.

2015 Cormac Pilgrimage
The Banquet of the Lamb
2015 Pilgrimage: Triduum Friday with Father Scott McCaig

The Church describes the Eucharist as the source, which means that it is where we come to obtain everything we need. It is the source of the Church’s life. It is the fount from which all the Church’s power flows. This is because the Eucharist puts us in touch with Jesus in a very special and intimate way. The Mass is where we are plugged into Christ’s life. Drawing from Old Testament references, the importance of the Passover meal was emphasized. There is a dual importance: the sacrifice of the lamb, and the sacrificial meal. The two go together. We believe that the New Testament fulfills the Old Testament, and so it is that Jesus establishes the new covenant offering both the sacrifice and the sacrificial meal. In the Old Testament the meal is a necessary part of fulfilling the Covenant. Just so, in John Chapter 6, the fulfillment of the New Covenant includes both the sacrifice and the eating of the flesh of the Son of Man. These words “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood you have no life in you”, are shocking, especially to the Jewish people of the time. There was a strict prohibition in Jewish law against drinking blood, as it symbolized the life of another creature. But Jesus makes no allowance for culture or tradition. Jesus means what he says; it is not a metaphor.

Jesus speaks of himself as the bridegroom and Scripture describes the Church being the bride. The early Church Fathers used this wedding imagery to describe how Jesus infused his own divine life into his bride, the Church, as a nuptial embrace. Thus Jesus infuses his own divine life into us when we receive The Eucharist. As an interesting aside, Father made mention of the Baldachin, the canopy that was built over the altar in former days. Father mentioned that it is a symbol of the wedding tent, where the bridegroom consummated the wedding.

Father also spoke of the "Bread of Life". This phrase was familiar to the Jewish people who understood the meaning of the manna as the bread from heaven. Thus Jesus as the bread is life is the living bead that has come down from heaven. The Eucharist is the fullest expression of the love of God. What more could he give us? The Eucharist makes the Church. It advances the peace and salvation of the world as is prayed in the 3rd Eucharistic Prayer. When we assist at mass we are giving God the very action and sacrifice that God wants. Each time we assist at Mass, we are participating in the salvation of the world. Our participation is more powerful than fasting or other prayers. Jesus becomes flesh to restore creation and offer it back again to God the Father.

When we receive the Eucharist, we receive the risen and glorified body of Jesus. We do not receive a dead corpse, but a living Jesus. He is the living Lord of the universe. Every time we come to the Eucharist it is a new and unique meeting with Jesus, because the circumstances of our lives are different each time we come to Mass. St. Ignatius of Antioch described the Mass as the medicine of immortality.

2015 Cormac Pilgrimage
The Power of Adoration
Triduum Saturday: July 25, 2015.

Father commented that the Church has so many treasures, cathedrals, works of art, and especially the souls of the faithful redeemed by God’s grace. But the most precious treasure of the Church is the Blessed Eucharist. In the Eucharist, the reality of Jesus is present: body soul and divinity. St Theresa of Avila wrote that she believed that in the Eucharist, she possessed Jesus as completely as those who walked with Jesus when he was on Earth. If we really believed and allowed this to affect our faith, how would this change our behavior and attitude toward the Blessed Sacrament?

Accepting the matter of faith that Jesus is Truly Present in the Eucharist, we are left with the question of “why”? Why did he come to us in this way? Father suggested that it is because he wanted us to have a lasting memorial of his gift to us on earth. In other words, for love. Jesus remains in the Tabernacles as a prisoner of love. Lovers need to be with their beloved. They cannot bear to be separated. So too it is that Jesus wants to be with us. Looking at the crucifix reminds us how much Jesus loved us. Looking at the host reminds us of how much Jesus continues to love us. If Jesus was not so hidden in the Eucharist, who could dare approach him? For many, our unworthiness and brokenness would cause us to hold back. So Christ disguises himself, so to come to us in humility and simplicity so that we will not fear to approach him; so that we can have intimacy with him.

The great tragedy in the church today is that so few dare to believe. Some believe but do not come to adore the Blessed Sacrament; they live as if Jesus is not there. Jesus, the lover of souls, is not loved. Saint John Paul II said that care must be taken to ensure that our focus on the Blessed Sacrament remains the central focus of our faith and Church. Adoration of the Lord invites a response to our prayers that is not possible in other prayers.

Adoration transforms the adorers. One cannot help but be changed by prayer in the presence of the Real Presence. Mother Theresa said that time spent in adoration is he most precious time that we can spend on this earth. It brings healing on us, but it also brings God’s love and healing to all the world. In the Eucharist, the reign of God is already at work in our midst. In the Blessed Sacrament we encounter the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Sacred Heart always appeared to St. Margaret Mary when she was in a time of adoration. This is where we find him. Jesus wants so deeply to heal us and relieve our sorrows and our discouragement. He is here in the most humble of ways so we can be one with him, and not fearful or too much in awe to approach him.

2015 Cormac Pilgrimage
"Eucharistic Miracles"
Mass for Healing with Father McCaig: Pilgrimage Sunday: 2:00 pm.

Father affirmed that the belief in the Eucharist is not some obscure theory from the Middle Ages, but has been a constant belief of the Church from the very first days. St Paul wrote of this in his Letters; St. John taught this in his Gospel: The Holy Eucharist is the True Presence of Jesus! Speaking of his own conversion experience, Father McCaig said that it was through reading the early Church Fathers that he was led to Full-Communion with the Catholic Church. The early Church Fathers taught and believed that the Eucharist was the same flesh that died upon the cross and rose again from the dead. Father made many references to writings from the early church that demonstrates beyond a doubt that the belief of the Church from the earliest days was that the Eucharist is Jesus himself. We remain true to this belief today. "This is my body". Because it is a matter of faith and something that we cannot prove, doubt is tempting. The greater the mystery, the greater the temptation to doubt.

Eucharistic miracles are miracles where the host visibly turns into flesh. These miracles tend to take place when the belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist diminishes within the Church. Jesus comes to us in the same way that he appeared to Thomas, so that we could say with Thomas: "My Lord and My God".

The first miracle Father spoke of took place in Lancinao, Italy during the 8th century. After the words of consecration the host changed into flesh and the wine into blood. This was validated by an independent scientific investigation with took place in the 1970’s; the flesh and blood are real and are specimens of heart muscle flesh, blood type ab, with the qualities of fresh flesh, though it is some 1200 years old. The second miracle took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina on August 15,1996. The host had fallen and was placed in the Tabernacle for it to dissolve. But it didn't. In 1999 it was examined as it was found to be bleeding. The white blood cells were still active. Human DNA was found during an investigation that was conducted in San Francisco. The investigating doctor reported that the tissues belonged to someone who had an inflamed heart, and was from the left ventricle. Why the left ventricle? From it comes the purified blood – the purified blood of Christ.

There are other Eucharistic miracles as well, but common among them is that the tissue is from the heart. Thus, the Eucharist is the Heart of Jesus in the world. As the persecutions against the church increase, we must find our strength and hope in Jesus and the Holy Eucharist.

Story of Father Joseph Nguyen. Through Father Joseph’s time of torture and imprisonment, he was sustained by prayer and by the belief in the Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. So too for us, Father Scott affirmed. The Eucharist will sustain us. It is Jesus the Lord. It is such an awesome miracle that it scarcely seems that it can be real. Still, our faith tells us that it is.

In closing, Father Scott used this quote taken from The Letters of J R R Tolkien: "Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament … There you will find romance, glory, honor, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves upon Earth".

2015 Cormac Pilgrimage
Bishop Mulhall's Homily
Pilgrimage Sunday: July 26, 2015.

The Bishop spoke of this being the moment of Grace and the time the time for mercy. Pope Francis has invited us to reflect on the virtue of mercy in a special way during the “Year of Mercy” that will be opening later this year. It will be a time for us as a Church to manifest God’s mercy. This is a virtue that is deeply needed in our world.

The Bishop observed that after the Fall, God had a “conference” with himself about how to handle the disobedience of Adam and Eve. In truth, God talks to himself: God the Father, and God the Son, with God the Holy Spirit. And the conclusion they reach is “Mercy”. It is a beautiful virtue to ponder and to consider how to respond to others with mercy.

The Bishop also affirmed that suffering and God’s response to prayer has a reason. It is not that suffering in itself is good, but rather that good can come from it. God responds to prayer, but when it is the correct time. Otherwise we might not understand or appreciate the answer. Prayer helps us bring our desire in line with what God wants to give us. In this we mirror the example of Our Blessed Mother, who taught us to be firm in our faith, and to accept God’s will to work through the situations of life with dedication and with mercy.

2015 Cormac Pilgrimage
St Ann, Grandmother of Jesus
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Available July 19th, 2013
We have made PDF files of three books of historical significance for both the Pilgrimage and the Cormac area. The books are entitled A Journey of Faith, People and Places of Yesterday and The Story of Cormac. Converting the books to digital media ensures that they will be preserved for the future - and for you to enjoy as well!
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The 77th Annual Pilgrimage to St. Ann's, Cormac ©2015 | Blue North Studios