Moments of ‘spiritual recharge’ are greatly needed. They can take place anywhere and they are those little moments when grace is poured into us for one reason or another – often, I think, simply to give us what we need to keep going.
For me personally, such a moment took place today at Carfin Grotto, Scotland’s national shrine in honour of Our Blessed Lady.Carfin is a large expanse of open ground upon which the miners of the local community, inspired by local parish priest Canon Thomas Nimmo Taylor, determinded to build a shrine in honour of the Mother of God; Canon Taylor had visited Lourdes in France, which had provided him with the initial inspiration. Begun in 1920, the Shrine was completed two years later. Since then, it has enjoyed a flourishing pilgrimage season and is exceptionally well-used by various groups, parishes and dioceses between the months of May and October.
Carfin Grotto is also the place where, in September 2017, Scotland became a nation given to Mary, when the Bishops and people of the nation consecrated our land to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as this was the centenary year of Her appearances at Fatima.
As well as the many outdoor statues of Saints, there are also little subterranean chapels and crypts – the little Chapel of the Angels, for example; and the Cave of Bethlehem; and – most recently – a new underground chapel of Divine Mercy. There is also a reproduction of Fatima and a large replica of the Grotto at Lourdes; and set as the heart amongst it all, the little Glass Chapel dedicated to Our Lady, Star of the Sea – and here, the Lord resides in the Tabernacle.
I had felt the ‘pull’ to visit Carfin yesterday but the rain poured and so I didn’t go. Since the weather today was far better, off I went.
Carfin is a very peaceful place. It is always wonderful to be there and to just enjoy being outdoors – especially in glorious sunshine which, in Scotland, is rarely guaranteed even at the height of summer. But today was the exception – even though as I write this now, an hour later, the rain is lashing. That sense of peace is perhaps even more important in these present days of pandemic and restrictions.I spent a while wandering around the grounds and peering into the little underground chapels, before discovering there was to be a Pilgrim’s Mass at 1 o’clock in the Glass Chapel, celebrated by Fr Grant, the Guardian of the Grotto. Following the Gospel of the day, Fr Grant spoke about the prayer of Jesus that His disciples might be “kept from the Evil One” and so the reality of the Devil was very much at the centre of a thought-provoking sermon.
After another wander round the grounds, and then some private prayer, it was time to return home.