Queen of Ireland

When we are wearied with speculation and uncertainty in regard to what is happening in our beloved Church, let us take the time to watch and pray in silence at the liturgical shrine at Knock. Our Blessed Mother has been assumed body and soul into heaven and it is in her glory as Queen that she has revealed herself here.

“The brightest splendours of the Lamb’s redemption fall on her. Immaculate – radiant white she stands, flooding the still amazement of those who looked and knelt and prayed. Lightsome beyond the brightest crown of life in heaven, the golden diadem adorning her queenly brow, more fragrant with mystic love her golden rose than all the flowers in paradise, she appears as the climax of human redemption.” (Knock, Vision of Hope)

The Apparition was silent; no words were spoken, yet the message was very clear. Today we live in a noisy world which can also be aggressive. If we try to talk about our Faith we are often not listened to and there can be confrontations that are hard to deal with and which fail to yield satisfactory solutions. Nevertheless, the simple piety of Knock finds resonance in the hearts of Irish people. Three years ago the Holy Father prayed in silence here at Knock. The silence which descended on the pilgrims at Knock on that occasion, 45,000 people in silent prayer, was a powerful expression of faith and trust in God. Again, we witness the powerful link between the reflective supportive silence of the apparition 142 years ago and the power of silent, meditative prayer during the visit of the Holy Father and the need for reflective silence in our busy world.

Although apparently simple, the vision at Knock is richly symbolic of the Catholic Faith, particularly in the emphasis on the Lamb of God. The tableau is a manifestation of the wholeness of God’s plan of salvation. Silence testifies that there is nothing more to be said – this is the completeness of God’s revelation to the world. In the demeanour of the three figures we see individual pathways of prayer. The hands of Our Blessed Lady are raised, as are her eyes in supplication to her Divine Son while Joseph her spouse, is deep in interior prayer.The gesture of St. John, beloved adopted son of Mary, is outwardly proclaiming the Word of God, indicating what was believed the Book of Revelation.

Our Lady is seen as intercessor; St. John is preaching; St. Joseph as patron of the Universal Church also represents the sanctity of marriage and the family. In this small book “Knock, Vision of Hope” Franciscan friar Father Hubert bids us lift our eyes to see St. Joseph also as a beacon of hope. The demeanour is one characteristic him as we witness his interior contemplation and depth of prayer. “Reverently inclined towards the blessed Virgin and holding his hands joined, the patron of the Church has placed himself in prayerful union with God’s providential plan – he is interceding with the heavenly Queen that the Church on earth which is his care, may attain to its final exaltation through and in her.”

The angels circling around the Lamb are a reminder of the constant movement of life in the Holy Spirit, and the never-ending praise and glory of God in which we participate during Mass when we join with the angels and saints in the Sanctus.

Jesus continues to offer himself as the Lamb of God in every Mass. Through the ministry of the priest, he is the spotless victim offering himself to the Father for the salvation of the world. His is the perpetual, timeless, everlasting sacrifice of praise to the Father. As St. Paul tells us, Christ is “the same yesterday, today and forever.”

Scripture scholar and Catholic theologian Scott Hahn teaches that Jesus Christ is the son of David and the king of the new and heavenly Jerusalem. “He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah and he is the Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world, as is said elsewhere in Revelation. But here in heaven, on the throne of glory, after his crucifixion, his resurrection, his ascension, his enthronement.” (The Lamb’s Supper)

1879 the Apparition had a special message for the people of that time. The little village in Ireland’s west would never be the same again. Today, one hundred and forty-two years later, it likewise has a relevant message for us. While Knock is recognised as a Marian Shrine because of Mary’s appearance, nevertheless, central to the Apparition is the altar, the Lamb and the cross. This points unmistakably to the Eucharist and the Mass.
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Knock is the only authenticated apparition site in the world in which Jesus has shown himself as Lamb. The liturgical richness of the Knock apparition has priceless meaning today when the holy sacrifice of the Mass is often neglected, misinterpreted or described as a community meal. At every Mass the Word of God is proclaimed to us in the Liturgy of the Word, and in the Liturgy of the Eucharist Jesus is offered through the priest to the Father in sacrifice. In the vision of Knock, we behold Saint John preaching the Word and the Lamb being offered on the altar. So when Jesus is named the Lamb of God during Mass, we are reminded that we now have heaven here on earth. Jesus says to us “This is my Body which will be given up for you;” “This is the cup of my Blood…It will be poured out for you and for many so that sins may be forgiven.” Blessed are we who are called to the supper of the Lamb!

Jesus continues to offer himself as the Lamb of God in every Mass. Through the ministry of the priest, he is the spotless victim offering himself to the Father for the salvation of the world. His is the perpetual, timeless, everlasting sacrifice of praise to the Father. As St. Paul tells us, Christ is “the same yesterday, today and forever.”

We should not equate Knock with simple devotion or dismiss it as religiosity. Our Lady’s Shrine at Knock is the centre and focus of Marian devotion, beloved by the people of Ireland. Many graces are received here through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother. But Knock is more. It is a foil to the teaching of counterfeit doctrine. We would miss a great deal if we only understood Our Lady’s Shrine at Knock simply as devotion to Our Lady. It is a liturgical apparition of global significance.

“The Knock Apparition breathes hope, joy and peace. Mary enshrines in her Vision (the Lamb, risen and triumphant, the altar and the bare cross) her utmost love and gratitude to the Lamb of God for her own unique redemption while at the same time, again through her Vision, she gives a message of supreme importance to all men: They must complete their salvation, nourish the hope of redemption by constant worthy reception of the Eucharist, living Bread from the Altar of the Cross.”

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