THE STORY OF KNOCK
Father James, O.F.M. Cap,
"And he took me up in spirit to a great and high mountain: and he showed me the holy city...coming down out of heaven from God. Having the glory of God..." (Apoc. XXI, 10.)
I. SPIRITUAL ODYSSEY
The more we reflect upon the mystery of the Church on earth the more convinced shall we become of the eternal youth of Christianity. Christianity gathers up into a living Church the significant moments of universal history. It offers us the vision of that tremendous truth that man's passage through time, which is the essential meaning of history, is the great spiritual Odyssey of his return to God. Ever since the day (<Gen.> XII, 1-4) when a certain Abraham was commanded by the Most High to go forth from a city of culture and civilization and received the promise of a posterity as numerous as the sands of the sea, ever since that day the real history of man began to take shape, and moved, under the direction of God Himself, towards a definite culmination and achievement. Between Judaism and Christianity there was continuity, a continuity realized in the Virgin who was the flower of humanity as she was the glory of Israel, and the movement of history, in the very center of which she stands, was taken up by the Church as she advanced into the future with a hope that was indefectible.
Never before was it so imperative as it is now to proclaim to the world this conviction that the secret of universal history is in the keeping of the Church. The Church, because she is of God, must triumph. The Church belongs to Christ, the eternal and immortal Christ, and in her eyes there is the light of a celestial vision. She knows, with a certitude that is unwavering, that the plan of God for life cannot finally be thwarted or resisted. There is a painful sense of crisis in our time which it is impossible to ignore.
Progress A Religion!
For a hundred years and more men have been making a religion of Progress. Even now when the myth of Progress has been shattered before their eyes, they are asked to believe that, despite appearances to the contrary, it is possible to make a heaven of earth if only men will abandon Christianity and its dream of a future heaven. But it is only for a time that some can be deceived by this alternative of a man-made vision. The Church of Christ is able to look beneath the surface and see that the City of God is being formed and fashioned, silently and mysteriously, in the womb of time in preparation for the final apocalypse of the Church in heaven.
If we would enter more profoundly into this mystery of the Church on earth, in virtue of which she is in time the sacrament of an eternal Presence, we must recall the intimacy of her relation to Christ. There is no final way of expressing this relation except to say that the Church on earth is the bride of Christ Who is the eternal Bridegroom of heaven. That is precisely the vision to which St. Paul in so many passages of his Epistles invites us and which has been faithfully treasured by Tradition. For Christ loved the Church, St. Paul tells us, and laid down His life that He might present it to Himself, " a glorious Church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." The same idea was preached in every century by men like St. Ireanaeus and St. Augustine, and Tradition on the point was summed up by the immortal Pope Leo XIII when he said that the Church, like another Eve, was born of the sacred side of the dying Christ on Calvary (<Eph.> V, 26).
At Pentecost the Church celebrated her birth when, in bonds indissoluble, she was wedded to her Lord and Master, the risen Christ. It was then the Spirit of God came to her, over-shadowed her with His presence, and sent her forth as the unfailing source of life, of eternal life, for humanity. Either men would accept her, be born of water and the holy Spirit, and find a place within her bosom; or would perish in their sins. But accepted or not she would endure until the end of time. Because she was instinct with life, the life of the Spirit, she would beget children to God: she would hide them, if need be, in dungeon and catacomb; she would suffer them to be wrested from her by the ruthless hand of tyranny; the very blood of her martyrs would flow freely into the earth of time. But fail she could not. She would wait, suffering and persecuted, for the voice of the Bridegroom and the final espousals of heaven: " And the spirit and the bride say: Come."
300 Years Persecution
The Church on earth is not the bride of a suffering Christ for nothing. Of this we have proof, if proof were needed, in the history of the Church in our land. There was a glorious period in which she held her rightful place, the inspiration of all that was fine and noble and spiritual in culture and civilization, but a moment came when it seemed that the very powers of hell were loosed against her. Ecclesiastical possessions were plundered; religious houses were suppressed; a price was placed upon the head of priest and bishop; she was stripped of all that was visible or tangible; the Church entered upon a dark night with nothing but a naked faith to sustain and guide her. For almost three centuries that dark night endured and when a partial emancipation came in 1829 it heralded but an uncertain dawn.
No single act of a grudging Parliament could undo work of centuries. The flame of the spirit was still alight, but the body of the people was starved and sick and poor. In 1835, only six years after emancipation a Poor Law Commission Report could state that " Mayo alone could furnish beggars to all England." That stark statement summons up a tragic picture of poverty and desolation, of evictions on the roadside, of empty cabins that would hide their emptiness by barred doors, and of living spectres of men and women and children in the last stages of starvation. To add to the misery, successive famines of which there was one in 1879 reduced the people to a perilous edge when an infamous option was held out to them: they might live: they might keep body and soul together; but they must deny the faith of their fathers. Deny the faith ? For a starving people it meant heaven on earth; but it also meant, for them, an empty heaven. It was then that the people of God made their choice, a choice that was never in doubt; and heaven itself ratified their choice in the miracle of Knock. Knock entered history. It was chosen by our Lady to reveal the celestial city as it is seen through her own eyes. It is not too much to say that, since the Apocalypse was written, no more spectacular or significant visit has ever been offered to humanity.
II. EVENTS AT KNOCK
The humble people of the Knock of 1879, hidden away here in the West of Ireland, could not possibly have foreseen the climax of that day in August, when throughout the day the very elements seemed to be at war. Tradition has it that Knock had been blessed by St. Patrick, that he had prophesied that one day it would be a holy place, but the people were scarcely thinking of that as they looked out at the rains that beat furiously down upon their little village of a dozen houses. Towards evening a little girl of the village, accompanying the priest's housekeeper home, stopped suddenly as she came in sight of the gable of the little church. She must have rubbed her eyes in astonishment at what she saw. For there, standing a little out from the gable, were three life-size figures. Her spontaneous exclamation at the sight is significant. " Oh, look," said she, " they are moving." Movement is a sign of life. It was living beings she was gazing at, living beings with a presence, and that is the significance of her next gesture. She ran home to her mother, her family, that they might see what she saw, and verify her vision. The priest's housekeeper, who remained, suddenly remembered something. She had passed this way a little while ago when going to her neighbors. She had seen what she took to be statues: she had not taken much notice of them. But these were no statues-that moved and that had a presence.
It is not difficult to imagine the scene at the house of the Beirnes when the young girl returned so unexpectedly. She was breathless and excited. She told them of what had happened. The mother listened; her brother was skeptical. But when the girl dashed out again, as quickly as she had entered, the brother asked the mother to follow her; something was the matter; of this he was certain, because, despite his original attitude to the news, he followed in a moment. So convinced was he, on arrival at the scene, that he became the messenger who brought others. Soon there was a little knot of people, fourteen in all, standing or kneeling in front of the gable, and gazing at the Apparition. The night was very wet. The rain was still beating angrily down; the wind was sending it in driving sheets against the gable of the church. It was as if the very elements would obliterate, extinguish, the light that emanated from the object of their gaze. But the Apparition showed no sign of disappearing. It was immune to the attack of wind and rain and storm. It did not extend protection to the onlookers, one of whom described his condition as that of being drenched, but the gable of the church and the ground beneath the vision was dry, dry as if not a drop of rain was falling.
The Apparition may be easily re-constructed from the accounts of the various witnesses. The central figure, holding prominence of position, slightly in advance of the others, and somewhat taller in appearance, was recognized as our blessed Lady. " I was so taken up with the blessed Virgin," remarks one of the witnesses, that I did not pay much attention to the others." But there were others; and they were seen. As the witnesses looked, they saw to the left of our Lady, and inclined before her, one whom they had no difficulty in identifying as St. Joseph; actually he was on the right. On her left there was a figure clothed in priestly vestments with whom there was a little difficulty. But one of the witnesses identified the figure as that of Saint John the Evangelist. The only way in which she could do this, on her own avowal, was by a comparison with a statue of him already seen. But there was a difference; she noted it. The person in the Apparition wore a mitre, not the usual kind but a short-set kind of one which we know to be the characteristic of the Eastern Church. She it was who whispered that it was Saint John; the others were satisfied that it could only be he.
From the Apparition a mysterious light seemed to emanate, sparkling at various points like diamonds, and flowing out from the figures to extend itself almost to the height and width of the gable. But it was a soft light, though bright, and it was silvery. It was such a light as held the attention without strain. It could easily have escaped the notice of chance-on-lookers from the houses of the village which were faced away from the gable of the church. But it did happen, on that night, that a farmer in the distance, about half a mile away from the scene, went out to have a look at his land. He saw something that attracted his attention; he described what he saw as a large globe of golden light. " I never saw, I thought," he tells us, " so brilliant a light before; it appeared high up, above and around, the gable, and it was circular in appearance." In this way a fifteenth witness was drawn into the circle. He would testify, as an independent witness, to what the little group were now gazing at, with different emotions, each attracted by some different aspect of their common apparition.
To the left of St. John and somewhat behind him there was an altar, a full-sized altar without ornaments of any kind, and upon the altar stood a lamb of some five or six weeks old; behind the lamb and away from him, standing erect upon the altar, was a large cross without any figures on it. The lamb seemed to be looking towards our Lady. But one witness, a little boy, saw that the lamb was surrounded by angels whose wings, he said, were fluttering, though he could not see their faces because they were not turned towards him. The lamb seemed to be radiating light; around him this witness saw what he described as a " halo of stars "; glittering jets of light seemed to be shooting out from his body; the lamb, he said, seemed to be " reflecting light ".
Between this altar and our Lady stood the Evangelist, St. John, whose right hand was raised and inclined in the direction of our blessed Lady; in his left hand he held a book "the lines and letters" of which the little boy saw; and he seemed to be preaching and impressing something upon the audience.
Everything in the apparition points to the fact that our blessed Lady is the central figure. She seems to be its very focus. But her attitude as they saw it was striking. Her hands were raised to the height of the shoulders; the palms of them were facing inwards and inclined towards her breast; her eyes were looking heavenwards. So minutely did the little boy observe things that he could describe, in his own way, the parts of her eyes in detail. She wore white robes, fastened at the neck, and there was a golden crown upon her head, a crown that seemed high, the upper parts of it being alive with sparkling crosses; immediately beneath the crown, where it fitted her brow, was a rose. The atmosphere of the scene was one of stillness not incompatible with a gentle movement as the apparition seemed to advance and recede before their eyes. There was just enough to show that it was no tableau or static picture that they were contemplating. The spontaneous gesture of the old woman of seventy-five was to throw herself at the feet of our Lady to embrace them. But her sense of touch was not gratified. She returned to her place: " I continued to recite the rosary on my beads while there, and I felt great delight and pleasure in looking at the blessed Virgin. I could think of nothing else . . .". Such is the true account of that memorable evening of August 21st, 1879, when some fifteen people or more were privileged to find themselves in presence of our Lady of Knock.
III. EVIDENCE FOR APPARITION
Within seven weeks a Commission composed of eminent ecclesiastics from the surrounding district was set up by the Archbishop of Tuam to investigate the event. The result of their deliberations, after taking the testimony of the witnesses, was that " the testimony of all, taken as a whole, was trustworthy and satisfactory." This declaration on the part of men to whom the witnesses were known, and who were qualified to pass judgment, is in itself an evidence by no means negligible. Not a single one of the original witnesses of the apparition ever doubted or recanted, not one of them ever denied the original testimony given, and the witness who first saw the apparition re-affirmed on her death-bed in 1936 her testimony of 1879. When her statement was read over to her, she made the following remarkable addition: " I make this statement on my death-bed, knowing I am about to go before my God." She was then an aged woman. But with her dying breath she affirmed the truth of what she had seen.
Devotion And Fact
It may seem superfluous, after all these years, to refer to evidence for the apparition of our blessed Lady at Knock. It is true that there is a distinction between the fact itself and the devotion associated with it: the fact belongs to the realm of history; the devotion has for its source the faith of the people; and a certain independence of devotion and fact must be recognized. The fact can only be the object of human belief; the devotion takes its rise in faith; and its aspiration must not be arrested until it finds the blessed Virgin herself, the Virgin-Mother of the Gospels and Tradition. But it is necessary to bear in mind the fact as an introduction to the devotion so that the devotion, which must transcend the fact, may find its free and full expansion. It would be a shock, to say the least, to find that devotion should be associated with a fact of so slender a foundation that it could not, humanly speaking, be authenticated. That authentication must come finally from the Church, the ultimate judge in matters that concern directly or indirectly the Faith. But we are not forbidden, rather we are encouraged, to use our reason prudently in order to make certain of a fact so significant that, should it be even merely probable, it cannot be ignored. Suppose for a moment that our blessed Lady did manifest herself at Knock ? Is it prudent, is it without reproach, to stand passively by, as if our Lady's coming were of no concern to us ?
Opposition And Indifference
It was inevitable that the apparition of our Lady at Knock, like her other apparitions, should have awakened hostility and opposition on the part of many. It would seem that humanity has built up for itself a kind of defense-mechanism against intrusions from another world. It is in the walls of this defense that a breach must be made if the stream of grace is to flow through. The opposition of an unbelieving world, dominated by pride and prejudice, we can ignore. But there is an opposition, if such it can be called, of indifference more difficult to explain. It is evident that the representatives of the Church must be on their guard. On their part, prudent reserve is a necessity. Archdeacon Cavanagh said the wise thing when he declared: " God may will that the testimony to His Blessed Mother's presence should come from the simple faithful and not through His priests." At least it could not be said by a public foreign press of the time that this holy priest was at the source of what can be described as an impossible collusion. That fifteen persons, of different ages varying from childhood to old age, should have invented the unanimous story of Knock is simply out of the question. That somebody contrived, by mechanical means, to deceive the little group, as well as the isolated watcher of the fields, was examined at the time and excluded as an impossible hypothesis. But the voice of opposition is not easily stilled, and indifference is almost invulnerable.
Since it is natural for man to justify his actions and to find reasons for his attitude, particularly when it is one of indifference, it is conceivable that many should react to the news of the apparition much in the same way as Dominic Beirne did when his sister first broke into the kitchen with her extraordinary story. The people as a whole, it will be argued, are attracted more by the poetry of their religion than by its hidden essentials, their attention is naturally captivated by the spectacular, the extraordinary. The results is that their devotion is in danger of running ahead of their reason. This is a common, and perhaps comprehensible, attitude. But it is not a final attitude. It is no more final than that of the boy who was at first skeptical and then went to see for himself, and remained because he was convinced. Now the devotion of Knock, increasing with the passage of the years, is not lightly to be dismissed. One can be reasonably certain that many a soul, by no means riveted to the externals of religion, has come to Knock and benefited by its experience there. It is erroneous to think that, in all these years, enthusiasm has been confined to the people. Archbishops, Bishops and priests have mingled with the crowds and have not hesitated to express their unequivocal belief in Knock.
It would be easy to exaggerate this attitude of false superiority where popular devotion is concerned. The people of God, and by such I do not necessarily mean a church of saints, have instinctive ways of appreciating the things of the spirit; and the approval of the successive Archbishops of the diocese is a factor not to be neglected. It is not a thing unknown or unheard of that people, on their own, have been deceived for a relatively short period. But Knock has stood the test of time, during which the devotion has taken root and spread. The bare suspicion of deception would have been enough to arrest this development; the reaction against Knock would have been as violent as enthusiasm for it has been strong; the apparition of Knock would have been buried in that deep oblivion reserved for great and popular deception. But it has not been so. Almost on the morrow of the apparition a pilgrimage came from Limerick to Knock; the City of Cork soon followed; and the first organized pilgrimage from the United States arrives this year (1949).
Essentials And Externals
There may be some who will insist upon this difference that exists between the essentials of our religion, accessible to faith, and the externals or accessories in the form of miraculous and extraordinary phenomena. That is a valid distinction. It is true that faith is the essential thing, that the apparitions of our Lady are not intended to increase the content of divine revelation confided to the Church, but it does not follow that apparitions serve no purpose. Granted that the life of charity, nourished by the sacraments and prayers, is the very life of the Church and the essential thing in Catholic holiness, it must also be conceded, in the concrete, that He draws men to Him by the very cords of Adam. Man is a composite of flesh and spirit; he has senses as well as mind; he is a being of feeling as well as thought.
One has only to think of the Incarnation itself to realize that Almighty God takes account of this. He offers Himself to us to be seen and touched and felt. Did not our blessed Lord, the Living Sacrament of the Godhead, institute those sacred signs, the sacraments, by which body and soul are sanctified? It is exactly on the same principle that the Church, in her liturgy, brings eternity into time and that in her apparitions our Blessed Lady shows herself the Mother that she is.
Who would sustain, for instance, that the revelations of our Blessed Lord Himself to St. Margaret Mary made no difference in the historical development of devotion to the Sacred Heart? Was it the theology of the theologians and the preaching of the preachers, and not the apparitions, that made the difference? And to find the impulse for a particular devotion in an apparition or a private revelation is no objection to a sacred theology which, the while it has the right to examine the new devotion, may also benefit by it. If we turn our attention to the interventions of our blessed Lady at La Salette or Lourdes, it is clear that they have influenced the growth of that attention to her place and prerogatives which is a characteristic of this age of Mary. It is one thing to know theoretically that Mary is a mother; it is another to have sensible evidence of her motherhood. It is one thing to know theoretically that she was the associate of the Redeemer in His passion; it is another to have the shattering memory of her tears. And in each case Mary was herself, the perfect Mother, speaking dialect at La Salette, because the children did not fully understand French; and at Lourdes she gave her name in a French phrase that Bernadette could neither forget nor change.
IV. SYMBOLISM OF KNOCK
Our blessed Lady spoke at La Salette; she told the children to make known her wishes; and at Lourdes she gave a verbal message; but at Knock she did not speak. Here is the ultimate objection, the one that has exercised the minds of many, and it is kept alive by the continued silence, the enigma of Knock. It matters little, for those who are arrested by it, that it was never the intention of our blessed Lady to add to that revelation committed to the Church or that when all her precious words have been carefully gathered up they resolve themselves into the two great words of Prayer and Penance which she has constantly mentioned in her apparitions. The fact remains that at La Salette she spoke and that at Lourdes she gave a verbal message; but at Knock she spoke not. Those who repeat this difficulty, and who are not stunned by the majestic silence of Knock, forget one very simple thing. Language is a means of communication; it is made up of sounds that are bearers of a spiritual meaning; and it is perfectly adapted to the material world of space and time. But there are times, even in this world of space and time, when language fails us; and silence is our only adequate means of communication.
Communication is the central thing in language; but there are different kinds of communication; and this is particularly true of communications received from a sphere that is beyond space and time. Amongst the witnesses at Knock there was the old woman of seventy-five who, with naive enthusiasm, endeavored to kiss the feet of our blessed Lady. She was frustrated in her attempt. But was she entirely disappointed? She received from the Queen of Heaven a communication in the delight she experienced in simply looking at her. One is reminded of the Catholic poet who went into a wayside church simply to gaze:
<To say nothing, to gaze upon your face To let the heart sing in its own speech.>
The poor Irish woman, for whose faith the invisible world was as real as the things around her, wanted perhaps to feel the very touch of her Lady's feet. The gesture was a natural one. But it was not the first time in history that the sense of touch has been denied. On the morrow of the Resurrection the risen Saviour, wishing to take the Magdalene's sense of His presence beyond the senses into a higher realm, simply said: "Do not touch Me." The injunction has never been forgotten by souls of great spiritual insight.
Messages By Signs
It is essential, therefore, to distinguish between a verbal message, communicated by words, and a message that may be communicated in other ways. It must also be noted, where verbal messages themselves are concerned, that the popular notion of the speech of our Lady is entirely inadequate. Many good people imagine that when the blessed Virgin spoke, as she is reported to have done in the various apparitions, her words must have fallen, like any other words, upon the external ear. But it is at least remarkable that people standing quite as close to our Lady as her privileged seers were quite unable to hear. What is even more remarkable is that the verbal messages at La Salette and Lourdes were not received in the way in which ordinary verbal messages are heard. Few people advert to this, but it is true. When the shepherd of La Salette was asked whether the sounds of our Lady's voice made an impression on his ears, he replied that he knew not how to express it; but that the Lady's voice seemed to strike his heart rather than the drum of his ear. A similar question was put to St. Bernadette concerning the secrets she had received. But she had no hesitation in saying that the secrets could not have been heard by others because, as she explained, it was not like we are talking now. " When the blessed Virgin entrusted me with her secrets she spoke to me here (pointing to her heart) and not through the ear." It is lawful to infer, even when our Lady elects to speak, it is to the heart she addresses herself; and it is in the heart she must be heard. Language is, on past analysis, made up of signs. But at Knock the apparition is itself the sign; the very silence speaks.
When a message is too great for words, and its import too significant to be limited to the language of any single people, there is left the language of Catholicity in the silence of the apparition. The apparition itself speaks, the symbolism of Knock is shattering, and it is an apparition and a symbolism such that no human artist, much less fifteen people of the countryside, could have brought together in the unity of a single design. The artistry is that of Mary. She would have us see, in the apocalypse of Knock, the eternal issue of that struggle which is the crisis within every other crisis that takes place in time. There are many who do not even know in what that crisis consists; and that is part of the tragedy of the present situation. But it is nothing less than the eternal struggle of the archenemy of mankind for the possession, body and mind and spirit, of a humanity that belongs to Mary. This country cannot say that it has not been warned or that the Queen of Ireland has not given the sign of her presence.
There is one obvious reason why our blessed Lady did not speak, in the ordinary way, at Knock. In the eyes of all these humble witnesses she manifested herself as one in prayer. There was about her the stillness of that contemplative vision, the symbol of which was the mystical rose upon her brow, as she stood there in all her beauty interceding before the Throne of God. Remember that the liturgy of the Church in time is an extension of the liturgy of heaven and realize that the Gospel of the Assumption, read throughout the Octave, was the one in which it is said that Mary has chosen " the best part." The reference is to the scene in the Gospel when another Mary sat at the Master's feet while Martha busied herself about many things. But the significance of that scene as explained by St. Augustine is that Martha represents the Church militant on earth while Mary represents the Church triumphant in heaven. But our blessed Lady is the Church in person. She is crowned because, before her Assumption, she had submitted to that death by which she shared in the redemption of mankind. It was not because of her own sins she died; she had none. It was precisely for the sake of that humanity for which the Saviour Himself had laid His life. Hence she is crowned Queen, Queen of the Church in heaven and on earth.
Patron Of The Church
If we look for a moment at the apparition we find, on the right hand of our Lady, the Spouse and Guardian of her virginity, St. Joseph. Remember it is the year 1879. Only seven years before, at a moment when the Church seemed in the greatest peril, Pope Pius IX had declared St. Joseph Patron of the Universal Church. He is now seen at Knock. He is inclined before his Queen in the knowledge that all that he is and all that he has he owes to her with whom, in life, he was united by God himself. Saint Joseph does not speak. He is the man of silence. But the whole attitude of reverence speaks and tells us of the meditation of our blessed Lady for that Church of which he has been declared the Patron and Protector. It is inevitable that the glory of this man, whose silence we have taken all too literally, should increase and extend as that of Mary is emphasized. St. Joseph is a great Saint. No other Saint in heaven has approached so closely to the dignity of the Queen of heaven as St. Joseph did; he occupies a place apart above and beyond the body of the Church, and this gives to him a power of influence and intercession unequaled by others.
So much might be said, in presence of the apparition, that the subject is inexhaustible. But if we wish to find the message of Knock, while awaiting the authentic interpretation of the Church, we must approach St. John. To him, in life, was Mary committed by her dying Son; from Mary he learned much. But St. John, Bishop, is the official preacher and that is how the simple people of Knock beheld him. He seemed, they said, to be impressing something forcibly upon an audience. Our blessed Lady was included in his sermon. Now that message has been committed to writing. Therefore he held a book in his hands. But if you would find the message of Knock you must open the Apocalypse. It is a mighty book. It is, for very many, a sealed book. But it is the book that contains the key to universal history. Running through it, like a streak of flashing light, is the great theme of redemption in its three cosmic stages. There is, first, the mystery of " the Lamb which was slain from the beginning of the world." That is how St. John describes, in the thirteenth chapter, the eternal plan of redemption so simply and touchingly symbolized by the lamb of five or six weeks old that was seen at Knock. There is, secondly, the mystery of the woman " clothed with the sun " that is seen in travail on the earth where the mind of the seer of Patmos passes naturally from the Virgin-Mother to the suffering Church on earth of which she is the prototype. There is, finally, the City of God of which it is said that it has the glory of God and that the Lamb is the light thereof.
This is the City of God of which St. John has said: " And he showed me the holy city . . . coming down out of heaven from God. Having the glory of God." It is the city whose ensign is the Cross standing behind the Lamb as the instrument by which salvation was wrought and by which judgment will finally be passed upon the world. A glimpse of its splendor, through the eyes of their Queen was given at Knock. To the people of that time, emerging out of a dark night when they had proved their fidelity to the Mass, the sacrifice of Redemption, it was given as a consolation and the poor old woman who expressed her gratitude was the voice of Ireland. But to the people of the present time, confronted with a new menace, the apparition at Knock is a challenge. It is no longer a question of offering the sacrifice of Redemption upon a bare rock, without the externals of religion, but of extending this very sacrifice of Redemption into lives that are fully and militantly Catholic. Catholic in the true balance of prayer and action, of contemplation and apostolate; Catholic in their social as well as their individual activities. To be worthy of the faith of our Fathers, and of the Queen of heaven who has come to us, Knock must become a school where we shall learn the secret of true sanctity; then we shall go forth from it in the secure and conscious protection of Mary who is Queen of the Church on earth as she is Queen of the Church in heaven.
End Note: The editor wishes to say that the statements and opinions recorded in these pages are based on human testimony only.
The Story of Knock. The Apparition at Knock, 21st August, 1879. This article was written in 1950 for "Knock Shrine Annual" by the late V. Rev. Fr. James, O.F.M. Cap., M.A., Ph.D., D. Litt., Agrege, Louvain, Professor of Philosophy in University College, Cork. Printed in the Republic of Ireland by FNT-MAYO NEWS.