ASIA/MYANMAR - The people of God gather at Mary's feet to ask for peace, justice, healing, reconciliation

Monday, 13 February 2023 prayer   marian devotion   peace   reconciliation   justice  

Nyaunglebin (Agenzia Fides) - The people of Myanmar gather at the feet of the Virgin Mary to earnestly invoke, with inner emotion and spiritual participation, healing and peace. Thousands of pilgrims and devotees gathered yesterday, February 12 - despite the civil war - at the Marian Shrine of Nyaunglebin, in the Bago region, about 150 km north of Yangon, to pray and make requests for intercession to Our Lady of Lourdes, to whom the shrine is dedicated, to celebrate "National Marian Day". The feast in Myanmar has ancient roots: it was already celebrated in 1892, when Bishop Msgr. Ambrose Bigandet decided to open a new mission in Nyaunglebin, entrusting it to the fathers of the Paris Foreign Missions (MEP). They built a wooden church there which was the first church in Myanmar dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes. With the influx of pilgrims, a new church was built and consecrated in 1902 and since then the Church of Myanmar resumed celebrating Our Lady of Lourdes, proclaiming, starting from 1957, the "National Marian Day".
Yesterday, the people of God who came from the Archdiocese of Yangon and from many other dioceses gathered at the feet of the Virgin to ask for peace and reconciliation in the country troubled by war.
"Our Mother is a healer. She is the Lady of Lourdes where millions are cured. She is the Lady of Health where thousands are cured every year. Since she is the mother of the eternal healer, Jesus", said Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, during the celebration of the Eucharist which was attended by an assembly of thousands of faithful, alongside numerous non-Christians.
"Our condition is like the suffering Jews, movingly portrayed in Psalm 122", observed the Cardinal, comparing Burmese citizens to Jews "who were in peril, persecuted for their faith, displaced, starved, and always looking for the day when they could reach their holy city of Jerusalem", a powerful symbol of peace, "the city of peace".
"As a kind mother, she welcomes us with outstretched arms, as the Mother of consolation. She knew our suffering as the Mother of Sorrows, as the mother who stood at the foot of the cross and cradled the body of her tortured and killed son. She knows our tears, she knows our weakness, she welcomes us with a compassionate heart to this national shrine", he said.
The Burmese faithful have asked the Virgin of Lourdes for a "physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, economic, social, and national healing to take place today", entrusting her with the fate of the nation: "It is with gratefulness we all gather here, in this national Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes with the same prayer from the Psalmist: Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; may there be peace within your walls", continued Cardinal Bo.
The faithful gathered to ask for the miracle that she requested for her Son at the Marriage in Cana: "Mary mother most holy, we cry with our extended arms, our six jars are empty of the life-giving wine of hope. Let us pray and fill those empty six jars with the life-giving wine of hope". Six empty jars, have been emptied by six evils: violence, starvation, displacement, deaths, and poverty. As in Cana, God's people say: "Mary, let the celebration of peace and reconciliation start in this country, in our families, and in our personal lives. Let the six jars be filled with six blessings of God: Peace, reconciliation, food, home return, human security, and community resilience".
Recalling that, at the moment of Jesus' birth, "the shepherds and the holy Family saw the star in the sky", the Cardinal then remarked: "When everything looks bleak, faith like the star in the sky, will guide us in along the way". "Our Lady's message – he explained – is not one of despair but one of hope.
As we say in the Rosary, Mother Mary had her sorrowful mysteries, but also joyful mysteries. Despite all that she underwent in her life, she could sing the great Magnificat saying that: The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name".
"Last three years our faith was challenged. Yet Jesus calls us ‘have the faith of a mustard seed’. Everything will work out for those who believe in the powerful name of Jesus and the powerful protection of our Mother Mary. She never abandons us. That is the simple message we carry back today", concluded the Archbishop.
Underlining that Myanmar is "a blessed nation", the Burmese baptized community acknowledges that it lacks "a peace based on justice", stating: "We need Peace, we need the living waters of Justice. Peace and Justice are the two eyes that will bring light to this nation". Gathered to invoke peace, justice and reconciliation for all the people of Myanmar, the Burmese faithful entrust themselves to the "Queen of Peace", unceasingly praying the Rosary, "to dispel the darkness and suffering": "We pray to you today for the people of Myanmar. We ask that you bring comfort to those who are suffering and peace to a nation torn by conflict and division.
We pray for an end to violence and for the safety of all those caught in the crossfire. We trust in your loving care and intercession and ask that you bring peace to Myanmar, now and always". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 13/2/2023)