HOMILY of BISHOP FINTAN MONAHAN FOR CHRISM MASS, WEDNESDAY, April 17TH, 2019, Cathedrdal of Sts. Peter and Paul, Ennis
Chrism Mass – Celebration of Vocation
In our Chrism Mass celebration this evening we renew our promises to be loyal and dedicated followers of Jesus Christ. We give a prayerful voice to our dependence on, our support for each other and our need for God’s help in our vocation of spiritual leadership. We earnestly renew our commitment to follow in the footsteps of Jesus in our respective vocations as married, single, religious or priests.
Situating The Ministry of Jesus
The first account of Jesus’ Galilean teaching is given to us in today’s gospel as an account of his visit in Nazareth, his home-town. It solidly sets the agenda and manifesto for the ministry of Jesus. St. Luke deliberately places this story at the start of the public ministry of Jesus to give a sense of the overall ministry of Jesus and the reaction to it.
The Liberating Ministry of Jesus and His Ministers
According to St. Luke the ministry of Jesus is something in which we all participate in various ways. It will have much to do with freeing people from things which hold them captive and particularly from the enslaving power of sin in its various forms. His ministry therefore will involve liberation – a time when people will be welcomed and accepted, when their dignity will be recognised. This will involve a hand being held out to the many who struggle with needs of all sorts. In this way we are called to be bearers of Good News, a Brexitso to speak from negativity, despondency, despair and sadness. This manifesto of Jesus will determine our ministry as women and men who continue His work.
Participation in the Ministry of Jesus
There are many ways in which we all participate in the ministry of Jesus Christ. We all do by virtue of our baptism, but priests do so in a very particular and specific way and we largely focus on that in our prayer time together during this ceremony. Every morning during Lent in the well- attended morning prayer of the Church, here in the Cathedral we prayed diligently for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life so that more people would respond to the call to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
A vision for Shared Ministry
We have endeavoured to develop and broaden out the sharing of the ministry of Jesus Christ in Killaloe this year in an imaginative way with 30 enthusiastic and energetic women and men studying to offer their skills and talents in Pastoral care and Sharing the Gospel in Catechesis. Along with this we have been trying to encourage and develop Youth Ministry and the employment of a full time Youth Director has been a very positive direction in this step to supplement much already existing good work in this area. In any area it’s great to have someone with a dedicated and focused interest to highlight, animate and enliven that area and in terms of the care of senior clergy the appointment of a new diocesan nurse has been a great help in that way also.
Vocation – Pope Francis
In his recent apostolic exhortation, Christus Vivit, Christ is Alive– Pope Francis tells us “The word ‘vocation’ can be understood in a broad sense as a calling from God…, the call to friendship with Him, the call to holiness… responding to the Lord who has a wonderful plan for us.”
May the Lord reawaken that vision in each of our hearts and souls for this wonderful plan he has in store for us!
Seeking inspiration and guidance!
So where do we go to for inspiration, direction, for a spiritual lift as we renew our efforts to in what our director of formation in Maynooth used to call “Priesting”?
In Sinu Jesu – When heart speaks to heart
Some months back – I was in the bookshop in Knock and a priest whom I had never seen before came across to me and suggested I buy a book called In Sinu Jesu – When Heart speaks to Heart – The Journal of a Priest at Prayer, written by a Benedictine monk. I bought it and have enjoyed it as an inspirational work that one can dip into from time to time. It’s a series of journal reflections on prayer times with Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration and also in the company of Mary, Mother of God. It gives a profound sense of the importance and centrality of generous time given before the Lord in Adoration and relying on Mary for her motherly care as we endeavour to be ministers of Jesus Christ. Every time I dip into the book it’s a timely reminder to me of the importance of prayer and time with the Lord as a starting point for ministry, a time where we water the roots of our spirits and souls and gain the necessary spiritual energy to keep us going, to be faithful ministers of Jesus Christ.
The Bishop of the abandoned Tabernacle
The other inspirational source I found along the same lines is a small and simple little book called The Bishop of the abandoned Tabernacle. It’s an account of the testimony and spirituality of a man who was canonized by Saint John Paul some years ago, St. Manuel Gonzaalez Garcaia. The crucial turning point in his life goes back to the time when he was first ordained and arrived into a parish in Spain where Church practice had hit rock bottom in the late 20th century. One evening he went into the chapel to say his prayers and there was almost a foot of dust in the sanctuary and tabernacle area. It struck him like a tonne of bricks that the Lord Jesus was literally abandoned there, due to lack of prayer and care and presence. From that moment onwards he began to spend his life campaigning for people to pray and engage in Eucharisitic Adoration and obatin all the graces that follow from that.
Returning to the Basics
The content of those two books reminded me of the simple advice a revered and devout Professor called Dom Casey, a much sought after spiritual director used to offer us in seminary –
- Daily devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.
- Frequent prayer to Our Lady, Our Mother.
- Regular attendance at the Sacrament of Reconcilliation.
Back to basics. The simple things are often the most profound and far reaching.
Spending time in the presence of the Lord is bound to transform us, make us more genuinely Christ like, more effective ministers of Jesus Christ, the one we represent.
As an avid fan of the charism, modus operandiand writings of Pope Francis – I am further enthused by his latest letter to the world and it’s inspiring title that captures the meaning of Holy Week in a Phrase – Christus Vivit – Christ is alive!
A message of Hope
Last week I had the joy of being in St. Cronan’s Church for the second last night of a Lenten Novena and my theme was that of hope! Hope is a great summary of what we are called to be as ministers of Jesus Christ. Ministers of Hope in a world that is crying out so much for that hope of the living Christ. Christus Vivit! Christ is indeed alive!
News on Ash Wednesday
You may recall the main news on RTÉ on Ash Wednesday was a sad message of the huge increase in prescription drugs being purchased in Irleand for depression related illness. I firmly believe that the hope at the core of knowing that Jesus is alive, the message of the paschal mystery we are about to enter into is one of the great antidotes to this.
Image of Hope – Cross of Notre Dame
While the news six Wednesdays ago had that depressing news – the news this Wednesday has also sad news, but one that was permeated with a glimmer of great hope. It was the amazing picture of hope, endurance and resilience that was the gleaming, untouched golden cross of Notre DameCathedral in Paris that survived the disaster unharmed and untarnished above the altar during the burning down of the iconic Church on Monday night. A great symbol of what we offer as minsters of Christ, the hope that cannot be destroyed, that can, does and will continue to enliven us amidst the vale of tears that we live in on our pilgrim path on this earth.
The Mystery of the Cross – Holy Week
During this Holy Week and especially in the Triduum that begins tomorrow we focus on the great hope of the paschal mystery at the heart of our faith – we take courage and strength and direction from the Cross of Jesus Christ. The great Carthusian motto captures it in a very succinct way “Stat crux dum volvitur orbis” – The Cross is steady while the world is turning. May the fruit of the tree of the passion of Christ fall on all of us during this Holy Week and always.
Holy Week Blessings and Good Wishes
In conclusion, I thank you all present in the Cathedral this evening for the team spirit which characterises your work as baptised faithful, religious and priests in building up the body of Christ. To all involved in the various ministries and committees whether parochial or diocesan I thank you for the generosity of your service. And I join with you all in expressing our gratitude and appreciation to our priests as they endeavour to remain faithful to Jesus Christ and His message and supportive of you in living out your baptismal promises. May God renew us in our commitment to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ as we approach Holy Thursday tomorrow.