30 Jun – Mass of Sending of Youth Pilgrims – St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh

MASS OF SENDING
HOMILY GIVEN BY
CARDINAL SEÁN BRADY
ST. PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, ARMAGH
30 JUNE 2008
I welcome you all to this Mass of Sending.  I rejoice with you in your decision to go on pilgrimage this summer.  I thank God for your faith which has inspired you to go forth.  You could have chosen not to have bothered and to have enjoyed the summer here with the football and the craic.  Each one of you knows the chain of events that has led you to make this decision.  Maybe you yourself are not actually going but you know somebody who is going.  Maybe you are helping someone to go.  In any case, you are here.  Of course we are all on a pilgrimage – the pilgrimage of life – the spiritual journey.  It is a journey of getting to know God and doing something about that knowledge. 

I was on pilgrimage to Clonmel on Saturday last,  I was invited there to celebrate the fact that Antonio Rosmini, an Italian, who was  the founder of the Rosminian Order was beatified last November in Italy.

What exactly does that mean? It means that the Church has officially declared that this man,  Antonio Rosmini, is in Heaven; he sees God face to face. We now call him ‘Blessed’ for that is the ultimate blessedness.  His feast will be celebrated tomorrow. 

Blessed Antonio summed up the journey of life in three words which he handed on as he lay dying:

Adore            Be Silent            Rejoice

On the way down to Clonmel I called in to see the birthplace of Edmund Ignatius Rice in Callan, Co Tipperary.  He was the founder of the Irish Christian Brothers and he too was declared ‘Blessed’ a couple of years ago.  On the wall there, in his ancestral home, I saw the words of the vows which Brother, now Blessed Ignatius Rice and all those who followed him took:  They began as follows:

In profound adoration before thy infinite and adorable majesty, I concentrate myself to thee in order to procure thy glory.

The word ‘adoration’ struck me.  Here were two men, now declared ‘Blessed’ but, for them, adoration was a central part of their lives.  Adoration consists in the worship of God alone.  I think it is significant that these two men, from different countries, each one now in Heaven, considered that adoration was the central thing in their lives. 

To adore means to honour someone with love and deep affection.  I think that every human being is made to adore something or someone.  Lovers sing songs to each other proclaiming their love for one another.  They use words like ‘I adore you’; ‘I worship the ground you walk on’; ‘you are my idol’.  Of course others adore themselves as if they were the source of all goodness and beauty.  The truth is that God alone is worthy of our worship.  God alone is worthy of our adoration for God alone is the source of all that is beautiful and good.  St Augustine summed it up when he said:  “You have made it for yourself O Lord and our hearts are restless until they rest in you”.

Of course when we worship the one, true God, there is a great sense of satisfaction.  I was at a ceremony yesterday in Belfast where we were present to assist at the ordination of the new bishop of Down and Connor.  It was a ceremony that went on for two hours and a quarter.  There was beautiful music and song and ceremony, directed towards the glory of God.  It gave people a lift because that is what we are made to do – to honour and praise and give glory to God. 

You know, I believe that there is a reason for everything that happens in life.  There is a reason for each one of you going on your pilgrimage.  The reason, I believe is this.  It is an invitation to each one of you to grow into a better and clearer image of God.  Each one of us is an image of God already but some of us are a rather blurred image – the reception is not good – a lot of obstacles lie in the way between us and the transmitting station.  They can be mountains of sins or selfishness which prevents us from getting and becoming and giving a good picture of God.  I believe God is calling each one of you.

We come from God.  To God we are meant to go but we don’t go alone.  The First Reading describes how God chose Jeremiah to be a prophet to the nation.  A prophet is someone who speaks on behalf of another.  Jeremiah was chosen by God to speak on behalf of God to people.  I wonder does the fact that you are going on pilgrimage mean that God might be inviting you to somehow speak on his behalf to your peers.  Now you may say:  ‘For heavens sake – I am getting enough stick already about going on this pilgrimage without you leading me into more trouble by telling me I will have to preach about it when I come home”. 

I am not talking about you preaching at all.  What I am hope is that as a result of this pilgrimage, God will become much more real in your life.  A real presence known to you and that it will show in a couple of ways.

•    You will come to see that our highest glory is to praise and worship God – in prayer and at Mass and that you will be faithful to God.
•    Secondly that you will recognise that sin is something horrible.  It involves revolting against a God who loves us and created us out of love, a God who keeps us in existence.  Therefore that the idea of rebelling against such a God is unthinkable.

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