Homily for Ordination Ceremony of Martin Shanahan
Corpus Christi, 3rd of June 2018 – St. Mary’s Church, Mullagh, Co. Clare
Feast of Corpus Christi
Today with the feast of Corpus Christiall over the world our profound reverence for the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is demonstrated at Masses, in Eucharistic Processions, periods of worship and Adoration, along with many different other events. We remember back with great memories to the inter-national Eucharistic Congress in Dublin 6 years ago in 2012 that helped to renew our faith and appreciation of the Mass or the Eucharist.
Processions, parades, marchesoften demonstrate in a serious and stated way, in ritual terms the reverence, esteem and regard we have for something. The parade of the Artane Boys Band before the all-Ireland final. St. Patrick’s day parades in every town and village around the country. Corpus Christi processions with those that have just received their first Holy Communion. These rituals can demonstrate the passion and depth of feeling we have for something.
Eucharistic Procession – Norm
Every time we gather for Eucharist we process or march -maybe not always in such a formalised way – but in a real way, to a sacred place – to leave the mundaness, routine of life to enter in prayer into a Holy Space of that Sacred Covenant spoken of earlier in the Scriptures – in the Holy Sacramnet of the Eucharist. Generations before us have done this so often, to Churches, Mass Rocks, Station Houses, Pilgrimage Sites.
Mass in a Connemara Cabin
There is painting in the National Gallery on loan from the Trustees of Edinburgh diocese called Mass in a Connemara Cabinby an artist called Aloysius O’Kelly. The painting is dated from 1883 and it seems to situated in Ballinakill or Letterfrack parish in Connemara. The painting captures so much of the theology, spirituality, devotion, essence of what we celebrate in the Eucharist.
In the painting :
There is a young priest, probably newly ordained just after celebrating a house station in a small cabin emparting a reverential gesture of blessing.
There is a young bearded man, full of strength in his prime, dressed in his Sunday best of the time – genuflecting respectfully on one knee.
There is an old woman almost totally prostrate on the ground in humble worship.
A young girl looks up in wonder and amazement.
An elderly woman in a traditional red shawl has her head bent in reverence and prayer.
A wild looking man in the background with a fiery red head seems to be tamed and calmed by the reflected glow of the presence of of what he has witnessed in the sacredness of the occasion.
The lighted candles on the altar of God – the kitchen table – point to the source of nourishment and food for body and soul. I am the bread of Life… He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood will live for ever.
A picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is very much a focal point, not dominating, but gently drawing us, hinting at Love of God made real in the incarnation, in the sacred heart of Jesus, in the body and blood of Jesus poured out for us.
Special Sacred Moment Captured
The small community of people are utterly united in a sacred moment or locket of time, a snapshot of the faith of people in profound worship to God in the Eucharist. The simplicity and basic-ness of the dwelling, the poverty of the people at a difficult time in Irish history somehow evaporates momentarily in the richness of what their faith gifts them with – a sense of the presence of the Divine.
It captures the holy exchange that is possible because of the Word being made flesh.
The incarnation is in effect the domestication of the word of God. The Eucharist takes this to yet an even deeper level. God’s tremendous glory being brought down to our level, being made present in bread and wine, the bread of angels in our homes and hearts, our communities, our churches our chapels.
As they hymn in yesterday’s evening prayer intones:
Come, adore this wondrous presence:
Bow to Christ, the source of grace!
Here is kept the ancient promise
Of God’s earthly dwelling place!
Ordination as Priest
Today Martin is to be ordained as a Priest of Jesus Christ so that he will have the power invested in him through the Rite of Ordination to re-enact that sacred ritual, to “Do this in Memory of Me” – that wonderful exchange from heaven to earth that he will have the privilege of celebrating on a daily and weekly basis with and for the faithful whom he will serve.
Chairperson of Diocesan Adoration Committee
For years, as chairperson of the diocesan committee, Martin spearheaded the diocesan campaign to set up formal times of Eucharistic Adoration in parishes throughout the diocese. The diocese is deeply indebted to him for the outstanding service offered in promoting this powerful prayer apostolate. His work has a long lasting and continuing legacy of prayerfulness and communion with God in such a special way.
At the heart of Eucharist is thanksgiving. Worship and thanksgiving to God who has provided and given so generously to us. Ag Críost and síol. Ag Críost an Fómhar! It is that same generous and spontaneous gesture of thanksgiving that motivated the thanksgiving of the community at Quilty (of whom Martin is an integral part of) to construct a Church, Our Lady, Star of the Seaall those years ago in thanksgiving to God for saving the lives of so many who were so close to peril. We thank God that a member of that faith community has generously offered himself in response to God’s call to be a leaven of thanksgiving and communion in our diocese.
Meaning of the term Deacon
On the feast of Christ the King when Martin was ordained deacon we had the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of what it means to be a deacon. The word “deacon” is derived from the Greek word diákonos (διάκονος), which is a standard ancient Greek word meaning “servant”, “waiting-man”, “minister”, or “messenger”. One of the interpretation as to its meaning or etymology is that it literally means “through the dust”, referring to the dust raised by the busy servant or messenger. What a great image for Martin today as well as last December. In Killaloe we hope that Martin has the sleeves rolled up and is ready to blaze a trail to raise much more dust the length and breadth of the diocese from Quilty to Kinnity, from Killaloe to Loop head! We had a little chat yesterday about where that dust might settle and all will be revealed when it indeed does settle after the excitement of these fiesta days in the parish of Kilmurray Ibrikane.
ESB analogy – Power and Light
Having worked in the ESB for many years one would hope on the feast of Corpus Christi that he would bring some of the power and energyand strength of the Lord in The Bread of Lifeto us in his ministry along with the lightof Jesus Christ and of course not forgetting while he’s on a roll the renewable wind energyof the Holy Spirit that we celebrated just two weeks ago here in Mullagh at Confirmation!
Martin has already given a lifetime of service in his work, in relation to family, community and in the diocese. He has served and continues to serve with spontaneous generosity – Remarkably and most generously he has been called to and has freely responded to that call to continue this at a time when, in practically every other walk of life he would be long since retired.
Wealth of Experience
Being an employee of the ESB for over 30 years, having been a married man and a family man for many years, Martin brings a wealth of knowledge and experience of so many pastoral situations. Having met his beloved wife, Mary Margaret O’Flaherty from Inis Oirr, Fr. Tom Ryan, currently PP of Shannon had the privilege of assisting at their wedding in June 1992 and eventually Eoin their son arrived and we have the joy of listening to him on the organ today during this ceremony and for a beautiful intrumental at the offertory in a short while. No doubt Mary Margaret is with us in spirit today. May God increase her glory in heaven.
The Priest – man of Prayer
As priest, we will look to Fr. Martin to be a man of Prayer, a man who having spent prolonged times of profound communion with the Lord in adoration and like Moses will be able to share the radiance of the presence of the Lord to and with those to whom he will minister.
The Priest – Preaching the Word of God
A big part of Martin’s ministry as priest will be around the word of God. As priest, he will be called upon in the service of preaching and teaching the Word of God for so many occasions and rituals from birth to death, in happy and sad times, through thick and thin. He will bring the hope and good news of the Gospel through his preaching and through the witness of his gentle, unassuming, friendly personality and simple lifestyle that echoes the presence of the carpenter from Nazareth who transformed the world forever.
Congratulations and every blessing to Martin on this happy day. We rejoice & celebrate with you and your & promise to keep you in the prayers for the generous ministry of service you are about to take on. It is great to have you as an esteeemed colleague of the presbyterate of Killaloe diocese. I hope you will be very happy and fulfilled as a priest of Jesus Christ. I know you will continue to do outstanding work. May the Lord reward you for your dedication, commitment and love of the Lord! Go maire tú an ola agus go raibh cóta bhán Chríost timpeall ort inniu agus gach lá mar shagart naofa! Áiméan.