Holy Mass on the Memorial
of the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
and Canonical Coronation
of Our Lady of Lourdes of Retiro
Homily by Bishop Honesto F. Ongtioco, DD
Bishop of Cubao
National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes,
Kanlaon, Quezon City
22 August 2020
After 3 months and a 20-day delay, we are now gathered at last for the Canonical Coronation of Our Lady of Lourdes and how beautiful is God design that the coronation of Our Lady’s image happens today when the whole church celebrates her Queenship. This image of Our Lady of Lourdes in Retiro brought by the hands of Manuel Flores in 1894 to 1896 is rebuttably one of the most if not the most beautiful representation of Our Lady of Lourdes. But if we were to ask St. Bernadette about the beauty of Our Lady, she would most definitely answer; “Oh, oh, yes indeed!” and even more than that, so lovely that when you have seen her once, you would willingly die to see her again.
But we all know that the beauty of this image is but a fair reflection of the real beauty of God’s Holy Mother. The Beauty is best described by the very title which Our Lady proclaim herself to be when she appeared to St. Bernadette, she said; “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
It is perhaps by God’s providence that the Holy Father, Pope Francis through the Apostolic Penitentiary has granted the gift of indulgences may be receive in this National Shrine from today, the Queenship of Mary until December 8, 2020, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. There is an undeniable link that bind these two Marian feasts together. For to understand the Queenship of Mary one has to go back to her Immaculate Conception, for from the very moment of her conception, the Lord has bestowed upon her a dignity that surpasses all creatures and even the Saints. Full of Grace. And the crown with which we offer her today is but an affirmation of the singular privilege that has been granted to her, Queen of Heaven and earth.
The title Immaculate Conception brings us back to the original beauty of God’s creation. It brings to mind, original innocence, original justice. It brings back to that original beauty with which after creating all creatures, God has proclaim to be good. For indeed beauty and goodness are interchangeable. Divine beauty is Divine goodness. Real beauty is where goodness abounds. It is this beauty untainted by sin, the real meaning of man being created in the image and likeness of God. The Image of God, perfectly reflected by the Holy Spirit in the human soul, and all these captured in the words of the angel: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” Si Maria ang patunay na, ang kagandahan ay hindi lamang sa panlabas na anyo. Ang tunay na kagandahan ay nasa kalinisan at kagandahan ng loob. Sapagkat ang kaluluwang Dalisay at Mabuti ay may kakayahang magsalamin at maglarawan ng kagandahan na na nanggagaling sa Diyos. Sinaunang ganda, sinaunang kabutihan (Mary is the proof that, beauty is not just in appearance. True beauty is in cleanliness and charm. Because the Pure and Good soul has the ability to reflect and describe the beauty that comes from God. Ancient beauty, ancient goodness).
Indeed, with the Holy Spirit, dwelling her soul from the first moment of her conception, Mary is crowned with living light. In her is found no shadow of sin, no darkness, whatsoever. Of the Immaculate Conception, the church cries out: “Tota pulchra es, Maria. Et macula non est in Te.” (You are all beautiful, Mary and no stain is found in you.)
The ever young and sinless virgin Mary. This is what St. Bernadette saw in the Grotto. “She has the appearance of a young girl of sixteen or seventeen. She is dressed in a white robe, girdled at the waist with a blue ribbon which flows down all around it. A yoke closes it in graceful pleats at the base of the neck. The sleeves are long and tight-fitting. She wears upon her head a veil which is also white. This veil gives just a glimpse of her hair and then falls down at the back below her waist. Her feet are bare but covered by the last folds of her robe except at the point where a yellow rose shines upon each of them. She holds on her right arm a rosary of white beads with a chain of gold shinning like the two roses on her feet.”
This external beauty of Mary is a testimony to the even greater of her soul. Mary is God’s Masterpiece. And this masterpiece is not by jewels of men but by the very dignity that God has ennobled her. Not only because her Son was King, but because of her Fiat.
She was given an important role in our redemption. And who could ever point was effectively the way to salvation than her, who has fixed her gaze upon Christ, and walk with Him the path of suffering finding it’s summit in the throne of the cross at Calvary, where full of trust and confidence in God lovingly united herself with the suffering of the Son. Christ our Lord has willed to appear to us as the men of sorrows who had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him. Nothing in His appearance that we should desire him. He hid his beauty when He emptied himself so that by dying on the cross, He might restore in man the original beauty of Divine likeness. And Mary is that new creation, in her is found the original beauty restored to man. While Eve was paradise lost, Mary is paradise regain, and today, the Blessed Trinity puts Mary before us as if the Trinity says; “Behold my masterpiece. This is what I can do for you if you only turn away from your sins and return to me. I will restore to me. I will restore to you what sin has taken away. I will give back what was lost to the evil one.
Truly, the absolutely original and singular beauty of Christ is reflected in the Holiness of a life transformed by grace. The Holiness and grace-filled life of Mary is the Blessed Trinity’s invitation to all. To return to that original beauty that can only come from God. The crown that we shall put on our Lady’s image, in the name of the Holy Father, adds nothing to the beauty that is already hers. She received the beauty from the Blessed Trinity and nothing could diminish it. Nothing can darken that living light. The image is not made resplendent by the crown we give her, rather that crown becomes resplendent because it is placed on the head of God’s Holy Mother. Our devotion does not add to the glory that Mary received from God rather our devotion is perfected because we offer it to her.
This Canonical Coronation timely takes place in the middle of this pandemic. There can be no better time to honor the Our Lady of Lourdes. “Salus infirmorum” (the health of the sick) and approach her throne of mercy, that in the time when the whole world is afflicted by the danger of this illness. For from her union with Christ, she attains her radiant eminence transcending that of any creature. For from her union with Christ, she receives the royal right to dispose of the treasures of the Divine Redeemers Kingdom. From her union with Christ, is derived the inexhaustible efficacy of her maternal intercession before the Son and His Father. Mary is Queen, but she is also our mother, and her life is a testament to God’s faithfulness and love. Difficult as our journey may be, questioning our hearts may see. Our Mother faithfully accompanies us in every step of the way. May we remain steadfast like her, never loose hope, believe that she intercedes powerfully for us with the mother’s prayers. Obtains what she seeks, and cannot be refused.
The apparition to St. Bernadette, the wonderful healings at Lourdes and even here in our National Shrine and the prayers granted in this Sanctuary tell us one thing, our Mother is always with us. We continue to pray to the Lord through the intercession of Mary, health of the sick, the queen of Lourdes. Let us heed the call of the CBCP to pray 10 Hail Mary’s every day for our deliverance from COVID 19. In Mary who is Queen, we have the sign that no matter how distractive COVID 19 may seem to be, God always has control and He wants us to trust in his power. Amen.