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Father Michael Fuller: Following Mary's Inward Pilgrimage of the Heart

WASHINGTON, DC, June 8 — At a Mass on the Memorial of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception during the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage's stop in the nation's capital, Father Michael Fuller preached the homily about following Mary's interior journey of the heart.

The Mass was celebrated by Bishop Evilio Menvijar-Ayala, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington.

Father Fuller, General Secretary of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and a priest of the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois, preached to a crowd of nearly 3,000 in the Basilica.

Here is a text of his homily, reprinted with permission:


There is the perennial problem faced by all preachers…how to choose what to focus on…


Today, for example, we have the Eucharistic Pilgrimage, we have the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we have this beautiful testament to the Gospel of a Basilica, and we have the enduring words of Sacred Scripture…


At the heart of it all, of course, is the Eucharist.


The words of Scripture always bring us back to the Real Presence of Christ.

The bricks and stones of this building are for the primary purpose of celebrating the Eucharist.

Mary, the one who bore Christ, always points us to encounter him.

And the pilgrimage is a literal journey with Christ.


At the heart of it all is the Eucharist.


I am drawn to the pilgrimage of the Holy Family, of Mary especially. What a journey.


From the moment of that encounter with the Archangel Gabriel to her journey to visit Elizabeth, to Bethlehem, to the Temple…. through it all Mary was on a pilgrimage with the Real Presence of Christ.


Why do I say a pilgrimage?


Well, it all comes down to that last line in our Gospel…. "and his mother kept all these things in her heart."


A pilgrimage is an outward journey that triggers an inward journey. A journey of the heart. In her heart, Mary encountered her Son in the most profound way…


She did not always understand all that was happening but she came to know her Son and what he meant to the world, of what he was offering humanity.


A pilgrimage is an outward journey that is meant to take us into our hearts where we encounter the Lord, the one who is close to us.


In this Eucharistic Pilgrimage Jesus walks with us on an outward journey all the while wanting to come into our hearts more deeply… if we let him in.


But this is nothing new… It happens each and every time we go to Church.


We even call our churches parishes, a word that means sojourners: people on the way to the kingdom, yes, but also, to a deeper encounter, a deeper relationship, now, with the Lord in the temples of our hearts.


 So today, and every day of this pilgrimage, let us imitate the heart of Mary and take in the real Presence of our Lord.


Let us ponder in our hearts all that He has done for us, and all that he desires for us.


Let us sing of His salvation and rejoice in His love.


Today, and every day, let our outward journey with the Lord bring us deeper into the interior journey of faith and let the Lord guide our hearts.


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