Carfin Grotto is the national shrine for Scotland in honour of the Blessed Virgin and each year it hosts a very full and varied programme of mini spiritual excursions.
Key amongst these are the regular pilgrimages which take place throughout the summer months – various parishes and religious groups visit the Grotto on particular days, while on other occasions, people come for special events.
Such was the case yesterday, when the pilgrimage season opened with an evening in honour of Our Lady of Fatima, whose feast day was celebrated yesterday.
For anyone who thinks the faith is dying a slow death in Scotland, the crowds of people present yesterday evening would beg to differ. Several hundred had come specially to the Grotto on a Sunday evening in order to honour the Mother of God.
Those present were of all ages – children, young adults, not so young adults and those with the wisdom of older age. Everywhere I looked, Rosary beads were catching the beautiful evening sunlight, while hands held aloft flickering candles in their paper shields.
The celebration began in the Grotto itself, where a statue of the Virgin of Fatima was borne aloft by four young men, closely followed by one of the newly-ordained Priests of our Diocese.The statue was slowly and solemnly processed through the grounds of the Grotto, the crowds of people walking behind, praying the Rosary in unison, led by the Guardian of the Shrine. This trail of good souls tased a number of the shrines and tableaux of the Grotto, before finally moving up toward the parish Church. There the National Statue of Our Lady of Fatima stood resplendent atop a wooden column near the Altar, surrounded by roses.
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was then offered. After speaking about the readings of the day, the Parish Priest spoke very beautifully about the message of Fatima – particularly about the great need for prayer and sacrifice offered willingly on behalf of souls. Following this Mass, there was adoration of the Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament, and the evening concluded with Benediction.
Looking out across all these people who had come to honour Our Lady and Her Son, and who did so with such warm devotion, and mindful, too, of the recent spiritual endeavours within our little nation, I found it hard not to conclude that the Holy Spirit is at work here.
Something is moving here, something wonderful and beautiful, and the common element seems to be the prayer of the Rosary.
Now, it is well known that the Rosary works great miracles of grace and of nature, and I think here in Scotland, as well as across the entire United Kingdom, the Rosary is bringing about a spiritual change – almost like the signs of spring after a long winter.
I give thanks for this and ask the Lord to let it continue.