“The Gospel shows us…that it is in precisely such situations of disappointment and grief – when we are appalled by the violence of evil and shame for our sins, when the living waters of our lives are dried up by sin and failure, when we are stripped of everything and seem to have nothing left – that the Lord comes to meet us and walks at our side,” the pope said.
“On the way to Emmaus, Jesus gently drew near and accompanied the disconsolate footsteps of those sad disciples. And what does he do? He does not offer generic words of encouragement, simplistic and facile words of consolation but instead, by revealing the mystery of his death and resurrection foretold in the Scriptures, he sheds new light on their lives and the events they experienced. In this way, he opens their eyes to see everything anew.”
Cardinal Gérald Lacroix of Québec was the principal celebrant of the Mass, which was celebrated in French. The shrine, the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, is the oldest Catholic pilgrimage site in North America, the first church having been built on the site in 1658. Dedicated to the grandmother of Jesus, the shrine has long been revered as a place of healing.
Local authorities estimated that 2,000 people were at the shrine Thursday. In the province of Québec, despite the majority of the population having Catholic roots, fewer than 10% attend Mass regularly, compared with 90% several decades ago, the AP reports.
The first reading spoke of the shame that Adam and Eve felt as a result of their sin. The pope has several times spoken about his personal shame at the mistreatment of indigenous children at Canada’s church-run residential schools, which operated until the 1990s. Pope Francis publicly apologized on Monday for the mistreatment and abuse perpetrated by Christians during the schools’ operation, and has reiterated several times his “shame and sorrow” at the hurt expressed by former students at the schools.
“In confronting the scandal of evil and the Body of Christ wounded in the flesh of our indigenous brothers and sisters, we too have experienced deep dismay; we too feel the burden of failure,” he noted.