I thank you for the invitation to celebrate this Mass. I compliment you on this blessed initiative – of having a Mass of Thanksgiving for the Holy Year of St. Paul.  This evening I want to thank God for the presence of the Cursillo Movement in the Church and in Dundalk in particular.  

Approximately 60 years ago, somewhere in Spain, probably in the diocese of Ciudad Real, the Holy Spirit inspired that first team of clergymen and laymen to give the first Cursillo de Cristianidad –something wonderful was born.  It is typical of the humble spirit of the Movement that the names of those first individual contributors remain anonymous.  They had learned well from Jesus who told us to learn from him who is meek and humble of heart.  What was born was a great Movement of Spiritual Renewal in the Church – a great Movement of spiritual awakening that tries to convey a new sense of the powerful and personal aspects of our faith in Jesus Christ – our one and only Saviour of the world.  We need that awakening, right now, here in Ireland in a big way.

This evening I want to thank God for those in this diocese who have heard and heeded the message.  The seed has fallen on good ground and has borne fruit one hundred fold.  That was plainly obvious to me when some of your number came to Dromantine recently and gave a brilliant personal testimony on what the Cursillo Movement has meant in their lives. It was really powerful stuff – I am glad to have the opportunity to come here this evening and tell you that.  But what is more important is that together we tell God and thank God. 

This evening I want to thank God for the deeper and richer appreciation which you have for God from Cursillo.  ‘In Christ’, is a great phrase so beloved of St. Paul.  He uses it so often to convey his deep union with his beloved Saviour.  He said:

I live not now, but Christ lives in me.
He wants to know nothing else but Jesus Christ and him crucified
He wants to fill up in his own life what is wanting in the sufferings of Christ.

I am here tonight to encourage you, with all the power at my disposal, to embark on a new programme of promoting Cursillo at every possible opportunity.  We need the New Evangelisation as never before.  People today – but especially young men and women – need to hear the Good News, brought by Jesus Christ and preached so eloquently by St. Paul – not only in word but by his deeds as well.  People don’t know it but they are hungering and thirsting for Christ who alone can satisfy the deep desires of every human being.  Every heart is longing and yearning for a love that will satisfy and last forever.  Only Christ can give that love.

Without me you can do nothing
Without Christ we can do nothing.

Archbishop Martin and I were in Rome recently.  We met Cardinal Cañizares, the Prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship.  He suggested to us that the way out of our present difficulties in the Church in Ireland, is to aim at a deeper union with Christ in the liturgy.  I agree with him.

We can only love what we know.  This is where Cursillo is so important.  The meditations, the talks, the drills, are fundamental to increasing our knowledge of Jesus Christ.  We are called, not only to know and love Jesus, but to embody, in our own lives, the attitudes and values and behaviour of Jesus Christ.

I think that is what St. Paul had in mind when he said:

“Let the same mind be in you as was in Jesus Christ”.

Last week, on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, – Pope Benedict launched a Year for Priests.  It is in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Cure of Ars St John Mary Vianney.  He used to say:
“The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus”.

The Year for Priests is meant to deepen the commitment of all priests to interior renewal.  The purpose of this renewal is for the sake of a more forceful and incisive witness to the Gospel in today’s world.   You in Cursillo talk of Spiritual Renewal.  Pope Benedict talks of Interior Renewal.  It is the same thing.  It is to enhance our bearing witness to the Good News. 

Pope Paul VI said “

“The world today only listens to teachers who are also witnesses to what they teach.  Go out to the world and tell the Good News to every creature

“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved”.  Jesus said that if we had faith the size of a mustard seed, we could move mountains.  There are surely mountains out there – of indifference – which prevent people from seeing their need for Christ.

Father Michael McGréil recently published a Report The Challenge of Indifference: a Need for Religious Revival in Ireland. There you have it again – the need for a revival in faith in Ireland – here and now. 
Lord I believe – help my unbelief!

His Report found that indifference, rather than hostility, is the problem. People just cannot be bothered to make the effort to get to Mass on Sundays.  He says religion is still an important aspect in the life of the vast majority of adults in the Republic of Ireland.  That is consoling and a base on which to build. 

Indifference can sometimes have a transitional weaning phase in late adolescence.  Later, when confronted with the more serious problems of life, people are more likely to revisit religious practices as a meaningful dimension of their lives.

Religion and religious practice provides meaning and moral order.  He says that there is evidence that when religion is excluded, society functions badly.  The number of homicides, suicides and marital breakdowns increase.  But we preach Jesus Christ not as a solution to social problems but as the answer to our own personal problems. 

Go out to all the world and tell the Good News

“Use words only where strictly necessary” St. Francis added.

Tell them the Good News of Cursillo and tell them what it has done for you.  It is a great story which deserves to be told, loud and clear, from the rooftops.

Go on LMFM and Dundalk local radio – I know humility and modesty advises against this but as St. Paul said: 
“The time is running out – the world, in its present form, is passing away.  You have the answer”. 

Pope Benedict says: 
“There are sectors of co-operation which need to be opened up even more fully to the lay faithful”

Priests and laity together make up the one Priestly People.  Priests live, in the midst of the lay faithful, that they may lead everyone to the unity of charity.  The Pope recommends the Mass, Holy Communion, Adoration and Confessions.

I understand that the purpose of a Cursillo weekend is to try to help each other achieve a deeper and richer appreciation and knowledge of Jesus Christ. 

Why is this so important?

Because no-one has ever seen God – the only begotten Son – who is in the bosom that the Father has made him known.  It is essential that we get to know Jesus and that we love him.  We only love what we know.  All of this is so that we may serve/submit, our will to Him and be united with Him.

St Ignatius of Loyola urges us to meditate on God by using our memory, intellect and will to remember some truths that have been revealed about God so that with our intellect we may penetrate those truths and eventually submit our will in love to the God so revealed.

I note that you give a lot of time to discussing what is dealt with in the drills and to report on the discussions.  I am very pleased that
•    The Mass,
•    The Rosary,
•    Visits to the Blessed Sacrament,
•    Meditation. and
•    Stations of the Cross
are the central acts of your devotion.  People always note the atmosphere of friendship and joy that fills the time of the Cursillo meetings.  In this way you convey new insights into what a Christina community, with Christ at the centre, really looks like.

We, clergy and religious, need the help of Cursillo now as never before.  We need your prayers to get the courage and the humility and the sincerity to say that we are sorry – truly sorry- for the abuse that has been inflicted on children by priests and religious.  We need to acknowledge the harm that has been done to children and to fairly face it.  Further down the road comes sincere repentance and efforts to make amends to those who suffered.  We need your strength to remind us to continue to pray for victims of the abuse that they may recover.

We need your prayers and help for the Year of the Priest.  We need your prayers and help also to prepare for the Eucharistic Congress in 2012.  The Church depends on you.  I know you will not let us down.  We need you to get involved in the talks that will need to be given to enable people to be clued in.  There has been a very encouraging response so far and I know that it will continue.  The Irish have a great appreciation of, and love of, what the Mass is all about.  It will show itself in the lead-up to the Congress.