Armagh Talk Monday
Suffering of Faith
and Church revitalisation
Guest Speaker Mary
First Reading - Keady
Responsorial Psalm Sung
Prayer of the Faithful Armagh Parishioner
Information on our
EIGHT months into
office, a Government decision was taken to close our embassy to the Holy See.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said "while the embassy to the Holy See was one of Ireland’s oldest missions, it yielded no economic return."
For the vast majority of the faithful in Ireland this was a historic turning
point. Many decried use of the economic argument when issues such as human
rights, the promotion of social justice and the elimination of poverty which
characterise the work of the Holy See are not fiscally quantifiable.
A week later many drew solace from sentiments expressed in the inaugural
address of our president Michael D Higgins: "Now it is time to turn to an
older wisdom that, while respecting material comfort and security as a basic
right of all, also recognises that many of the most valuable things in life
cannot be measured."
After this announcement a young Dublin mother Anne Doyle found it incredible
that a government would make this decision. She said Ireland was compelled to
stand up and this became the inspiration for a new lay initiative. On November
28, Ireland Stand Up launched a postcard campaign respectfully requesting that
Taoiseach Enda Kenny reverse the decision and to extend an invitation to Pope
Benedict XVI for the 50th International Eucharistic Congress. The demand for
postcards soared into thousands.
Jesus in the Eucharist
Has and Will continue to be a constant in all our lives if we continue to ask
for his assistance and guidance. Even in the face of much unrest Jesus will
remain with us forever.
“And surely I am with
you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28.20
A special collection will be taken up to help the cause “Ireland Stand Up”
Sweeney, Fr. Michael Crawley and the parishioners of Keady, Armagh
for inviting me here to speak on the topic ‘Suffering of Faith and Church
revitalisation.’ It is a real privilege to be here and I would like to start
with a prayer written by St. Ignatius Loyola which I learned during my time
with the Catholic scouts of Ireland and try to recite daily.
Teach me to
Teach me to
love and serve you,
To give and
not to count the cost,
To toil and
not to seek for rest
To fight and
not to heed the wounds
and to look for no reward
Save that of
knowing that I do Thy Holy will
To do Thy
Holy will – what is Thy Holy will? We may be unsure as to what constitutes His
Holy will but I am convinced that our ordinary daily lives, our thoughts, words
and actions afford us the opportunity to live out His Holy Will. And our
encounters in life teach us that His Holy Will is not something obscure – it is
real and tangible and it is in our daily lives that if we follow the will of God, we know
that in spite of all the terrible things that happen to us, we will never lose
a final refuge because the human person finds perfection "in seeking and
loving what is true and good.” ― Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI said on Feb. 8.
“Let us bring to God our daily crosses, in the certainty that he is present and
listens to us.
The cry of Christ on the cross should remind everyone
that God always hears their prayers, even when he seems distant.
When people are faced with “difficult and painful
situations, when it seems that God does not hear, we must not be afraid to
entrust him with the burden we are carrying in our hearts, we must not be
afraid to cry out to him in our suffering.”
The Pope in his address pointed to Christ on the cross, who “at the moment of
ultimate rejection by man, at the moment of abandonment,” is still “aware that
God the Father is present even at the instant in which he is experiencing the
human drama of death.”
But even if people are convinced of God’s presence, a question still remains in
many hearts, “How is it possible that such a powerful God does not intervene to
save his Son from this terrible trial?”
It is important to understand that “the prayer of Jesus is not the cry of a person
who meets death with desperation, nor that of a person who knows he has been
Pope Benedict explained that the “prayer of the dying Jesus teaches us to pray
with confidence for all our brothers and sisters who are suffering, that they too
may know the love of God who never abandons them.”
Presently in our country many of our people are
suffering and have abandoned God – they do not believe that God is the way, the
truth and the light. Many despair.
There is a move towards a secular culture, to a
culture that shuns God, a culture that seeks to deprive us of religious
freedom, and to omit even reference to God.
The Closure of Ireland’s Embassy to the Holy See, a
few months after the Cloyne Speech by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, was viewed by many
as an attempt to progress this secular ideology.
A young Dublin mother Anne Doyle, acutely aware of the
aims of Atheist Ireland and on hearing the announcement by the Tanaiste Eamon
Gilmore on 3rd November 2011 that Ireland’s Embassy to the Holy See
was to close, felt compelled to ‘stand up’. She believed that if people
accepted this decision and didn’t take a stand, the secularists would fast
track their plans for Ireland.
Pope benedict says ‘Man’s biggest temptation is to
What happens when we remove God?
Alexander Solzhenitsyn in
his acceptance speech for the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion
(Buckingham Palace, London, May 10, 1983), said:
“More than half a century ago,
while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the
following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.’
Since then I have spent
well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process
I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and
have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing
away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate
as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that
swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more
accurately than to repeat: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has
Allow me to read what he said
because we can identify with this through our own nation’s religious
archbishops and bishops perished. Tens of thousands of priests, monks, and
nuns, pressured by the Chekists to renounce the Word of God, were tortured,
shot in cellars, sent to camps, exiled to the desolate tundra of the far North,
or turned out into the streets in their old age without food or shelter. All
these Christian martyrs went unswervingly to their deaths for the faith;
instances of apostasy were few and far between. For tens of millions of laymen
access to the Church was blocked, and they were forbidden to bring up their
children in the Faith: religious parents were wrenched from their children and
thrown into prison, while the children were turned from the faith by threats
and lies.” (Solzhenitsyn 1984, Issue 36).
6. “It is true
that millions of our countrymen have been corrupted and spiritually devastated
by an officially imposed atheism, yet there remain many millions of believers:
it is only external pressures that keep them from speaking out, but, as is
always the case in times of persecution and suffering, the awareness of God in
my country has attained great acuteness and profundity.
It is here that we see the dawn
of hope: for no matter how formidably Communism bristles with tanks and
rockets, no matter what successes it attains in seizing the planet, it is
doomed never to vanquish Christianity.” (Solzhenitsyn 1984, Issue 36).
Anne Doyle sent a registered letter to the Taoiseach
on 13th December:
‘In your recent broadcast to the people you informed us that ‘we
are not responsible’ for the current economic crisis. Similarly, ‘we are not
responsible’ for the scandals and abuse perpetrated by a small minority of the
Church. However, by closing our Embassy you have made victims of us all by
launching a direct assault on our faith.
In times of strife many find comfort in their faith and indeed for
centuries Irish people have relied on their faith to help them through
difficult times. The ‘official excuse,’ (the economic argument) for the closure
of our Embassy is but another lie. Indeed the world’s media have recognised it
as such. The secularists, humanists and atheists, can barely conceal their joy
at this decision.
The Labour party’s policy of inclusiveness, which they plan to
engineer in a new constitution, is one which ignores the wishes of the
As a result, Ireland Stand Up is currently planting the seeds of a
further initiative on a multi-faith platform. We will be calling on all faiths,
Christian, Jewish, Muslim and others to unite against this anti-God agenda.
On November 28th Ireland Stand Up, a national lay initiative,
entrusted to Our Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland launched
its first postcard initiative and it has been an astounding success. We
have received hundreds of phone calls and emails requesting postcards. Fifteen
thousand cards have already been distributed. Our website is receiving hits
The hurt, disappointment and anger felt by the people is palpable.
Many of those most affected are grass root supporters of Fine Gael. The party
was not given a mandate, to close Villa Spada, our Embassy to the Holy See,
which was bought and paid for by the Irish people for this specific purpose, 75
years ago, in 1946.
The Irish people owe a debt of gratitude
to the Holy See and the world owes Ireland a debt of gratitude to the countless
Irish priests, religious and lay missionaries who labour and look for no reward
save that of knowing that they do God’s Holy Will.
We are called to defend Christ, to do His
Holy Will, to revitalise the Church and we might ask, how can we do this?
We can stand up and be counted – we can
use our talents, our expertise, we can write letters, we can telephone our
public representatives, we can pray, we can give our time, we can send
postcards, we can donate, we can encourage one another and that is just what
thousands of Irish People did and continue to do.
We were given expert political advice as
to how to progress this issue, the closure of our embassy. On 18th
Jan 2012 government members were cordially invited to Buswells Hotel opposite
the Dail to hear the views of constituents from across the country and to
listen to their dismay at the closure of our Embassy – a bridge too far –. They
also requested that an invite be extended to His Holiness for the 50th
International Eucharistic Congress.
83 politicians (37% of the government)
attended the briefing. For close to two months the embassy closure was on
every broad sheet, radio station and on national TV. A second postcard campaign
was launched – I have brought some for you to take away.
The FG parliamentary meeting called on the
Taoiseach to reverse the decision, there was no dissent. There was disquiet in
the Labour Party and a desire for the issue to be revisited.
The Tanaiste came under increasing
pressure to admit it was a mistake and that the economic argument was
untenable. In fact our Vatican embassy was one of the least expensive embassies
to run. Eamon Gilmore was questioned in the Dail in respect of how the
decision was made and how it raised questions about the democratic process.
An invitation to the Pope was debated among
parliamentarians and Cardinal Brady hopes, and many of us share that hope, that
there will be a papal visit this year.
We have been advised that there will be a
resident ambassador and to allow quiet diplomacy to take its course. But we
must not become complacent – we must continue to pray and to work ‘Ora et
Labore’ - we must be ever vigilant.
We are called to a new evangelization so
clearly articulated by Pope Benedict XVI, and obviously a signature dimension
of his ministry.
today is a reawakening of the faith. Two generations of secularism have
fashioned this time when some do not know even the foundational prayers or
understand the most basic of Catholic devotions. Still others do not sense the
value in Mass attendance, fail to avail themselves of the Sacrament of Penance
and have often lost a sense of mystery or transcendence. For them the faith has
lost its power to attract and engage.
suggests that our worth is found in the things we accumulate. Individualism
demands that we rely on no one but ourselves and our personal needs always take
first place. Scepticism pressures us to trust only what we can observe and
measure and purports to destroy the classical and time-tested relationship
between faith and reason. The trend is to reject the basic right to religious
liberty and the freedom of conscience.
At the same time
there is another generation of young adults who see in the ministry and
teaching of Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI reason to deepen their
knowledge of the faith and strengthen their allegiance to the Church.
Many of these
people have a faith of conviction not convention and through lay initiatives
like Ireland Stand Up and Valuing our Church recognise the important and
crucial role of faith in society and in our personal lives. They see how we can
revitalise the Church of which we are a necessary part of.
“Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each
of us is willed. Each of us is loved. Each of us is necessary.”
Pope Benedict XVI says ‘Jesus in the throes
of his Passion is an image of hope: God is on the side of those who suffer.”
distinguishing feature of the early Christians was their joy so our faith must
be joyful – it must be attractive – it must engender hope.
And so as part of
the Ireland Stand Up National Lay Initiative we launched the Vigil of Hope at
the Joint Committee for Foreign Affairs and Trade on Feb 21st in the
Dail. We invite people of all faiths to pray together for their personal
intentions and for our country at this difficult time. So I invite you to come
together in prayer on Tuesday the 17th of April to pray for one
another, to ask God to intercede for Ireland, for our personal intentions, to
help overcome despair and to embrace the future with hope. Hope springs eternal
and there is more wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.
And to conclude:
33 years ago –
33, the age of Christ- Blessed Pope John Paul II left Ireland and when he boarded
his plane, he turned and looked out at the Irish for one last time saying ‘Ireland
Semper Fidelis, Ireland Always Faithful.
And if we remain
faithful, always faithful, semper fidelis we will have done His Holy Will.
oraibh go leir