HOMILY GIVEN BY
CARDINAL SEAN BRADY
ST PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, ARMAGH
SATURDAY 8 MAY 2010
It is hard to believe that it is already 20 years since the death of our beloved Cardinal Tomas O Fiaich in France on the occasion of the Annual Diocesan Lourdes Pilgrimage. But it is so and, not alone that, his successor, Cardinal Cahal Daly, of course, passed to his eternal reward during the past year.
I am glad the Committee of the O Fiaich Library has organised and sponsored an exhibition and commemoration of the late Cardinal O Fiaich. It will evoke memories of his life and his achievements and I hope that as many as possible will attend exhibition.
Tomorrow morning the famous RTE Radio broadcaster, Donnagh O Dulihan will lay a wreath at the grave of his friend, Cardinal O Fiaich. Donnagh is taking part in a sponsored walk for the Irish Wheelchair Association. The Walk consists of re-enacting the journey travelled by the Earls O’Neill and O’Donnell from their surrender at Mellifont down through Louth, Armagh, Tyrone and on to Donegal where they board the ship for Europe. I think Donnagh and his companions are then going to walk the final stages to Rome later in the summer.
Of course the Annual Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes begins next Wednesday. There is a certain amount of concern due to the presence of this volcanic ash in the atmosphere. As you know, a lot of people look forward to this annual pilgrimage to the shrine to remember Mary, especially the sick and the housebound. So I ask your prayers that this pilgrimage may take place – that everybody may get there safely – and more importantly, get home safely.
Finally, last week I was up in Crossmaglen where they were celebrating the 175th anniversary of the opening of the Church of St Patrick. A lovely booklet was published to mark that occasion. There was an article in it in which Deirdre O Fiaich recalled the memory of her beloved brother-in-law, Cardinal Tomas. She told of his great love for his family and how he loved to come home and visit the family and call to see the neighbours and talk with them. There are some lovely family photographs – photographs of Confirmation days with his nephew and niece.
It was that mention of home that it came to mind for me as we read this evening’s Gospel. It is the night before Jesus suffered and he is in the company of his disciples. There Jesus makes this fantastic promise – ‘If anyone loves me – he will keep my word and my Father will love him. We shall come and make our home’.
Home is one of the loveliest words in the English language. ‘Make yourself at home ‘– our first day at school is always a memorable day. The first day away from home – away from the familiar – away from mother and father and in the company of strangers. So, when Jesus said that he and the Father will love us, and come to us, and make their home with us, it is something wonderful.
What makes home special? It is the place where those who love us are! That is why it is important to consider what home means to us in our lives.
• Do we pay enough attention to the people who live there?
• Do we ever take them for granted?
• Do we play our part and make our contribution to ensure that there is a happy atmosphere in our home
And so, this evening I want to thank the Lord Jesus for his great love for me. Despite the fact that he knew that his passion and death was facing him – staring him in the face – and later on that night he would pray momentarily to have the chalice of suffering removed – nevertheless, he is thinking primarily of his disciples. He promises them, and through them, he promises us, that if we keep his word and keep his commandments, then he, and the Father, will love us. Not only this, they love us in any case but if we respond to their love by keeping the commandments, they will come to us and they will make their home with us. I think we should all listen carefully to understand what exactly that means.
We should all take on board the fact that we are loved by God. What an honour? What a privilege? We cannot ever fully understand it. That is why the Lord Jesus promised to send the Advocate – the Holy Spirit – our Defender. He said he would send us another Advocate – He himself is our First Advocate. The word ‘Advocate’ or Paraclete literally means the one who hears the cry. Like the parent who hears the cry of the child in the middle of the night and responds to that cry – Jesus is our First Defender – the one who hears our cry for help. That is why what is known as the Jesus Prayer has been so prophetic down through the centuries. It goes like this:
Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God
Be merciful to me a sinner
In this Gospel Jesus says that the father will send another Advocate namely, the Holy Spirit – after he shall have gone. The Holy Spirit will come in the name of Jesus. The Holy Spirit will teach them everything and remind them of all that Jesus had said to them. The result was that after Jesus had ascended to Heaven – the disciples retired to the Upper Room with Mary – the Mother of Jesus – and there they prayed night and day for the coming of the New Paraclete – Advocate – Counsellor.
Next Thursday is Ascension Thursday but we will celebrate it on Sunday next. Pentecost comes on the following Sunday. I appeal to all of you for a New Pentecost for each and every one of us.
We all need the Holy Spirit to come to us often. I pray the Holy Spirit every single day to enkindle the fire of love in my heart and to fill my head with wisdom and to give me the Spirit of courage to actually do what I know I should do.
The Spirit comes in Confirmation in a special way. We had a lovely Confirmation ceremony in Omeath today. Tomorrow will be Keady and in two weeks time it will be here in Armagh. I ask you to pray for all these children that they, and their parents, will prepare for Confirmation.
I was in Kilkenny last night and a lady came to me after the Talk to plead with me to try and insist that we all prepare better for the sacraments and not be giving them out as if we were giving out sweets.
We live in an era of the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Spirit of the Risen Christ is the person who ensures that Christ will be with his Church forever.
Jesus promised peace to us. If we are not at peace we should ask the Spirit to give us peace and joy and love. But maybe we should ask ourselves why we are not at peace. Might it be because we are not keeping the Word, that is, the commandments of the Lord. That is the literal test of our love. Jesus tells us not to be afraid, yet our hearts are troubled and we are afraid. Love drives out fear. I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away for if I do not go away the Counsellor will not come to you.
Mary and the disciples gathered in the Upper Room. We will, please God, gather in Church to beg the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit not just for the children being confirmed but for ourselves.
We are in the Easter season. In Lent we recalled the tribulations in which we now have. But in this season – the season of Easter – we recall the happiness which will be ours hereafter. The Lord’s resurrection and glorification reveal to us the life which is destined to be our Heaven. Tonight we pray that Cardinal O Fiaich is already enjoying this happiness but we also remind ourselves that to enter that happiness we must remember that Cardinal Tomás has already made that journey.
With my recent health scare I got a timely reminder that I too must die and that we should always be ready.