In St, Mary’s Church, Glennan, on New Year’s Eve Fr. Shane McCaughey celebrated the
Vigil Mass and his homily was a very powerful one – so powerful that there wasn’t
a sound from the full church. You can read the text of his homily below and come
to your own conclusions but I have to say that it is time the people of this country
began to reject these people who, in our name, assists the worldwide efforts to denude
the Catholic Church of its presence. To reject our faith, - a faith which sustained
our ancestors through exceedingly tough times when they had nothing else to hold
on to, - at a time when we ourselves have very little to hold on to, would be utter
madness and would lead to total anarchy. The present attack on the Catholic faith,
fuelled by a media pandering to a world where man thinks that he is almighty and
lord of all he surveys, is obliterating all Christianity, humanity, neighbourliness,
and sense of community among our nation and has made a ‘God’ of economics and materialism.
It has the effect of demeaning life itself leading to violent methods of achieving
goals and settling scores. Life becomes less precious and even spending money on
easing the pain of the sick and providing the sick and disabled with proper care
is regarded as ‘ a waste of money’.
MARY, MOTHER OF GOD. 1st January 2012
Christmas is more than just a winter feast to help us get through the dark days of
December. It is in the words of today’s Gospel “something to be pondered and treasured”
in our hearts, something that we celebrate with the intention of changing our lives.
What we treasure is the fact that our God choose to send his Son Jesus Christ into
the world as a Saviour. That concept is worthy of consideration and can give us much
to ponder on as we begin a new year. The celebration of Christmas should change our
lives as we grow to a deeper understanding of the wonder of its significance. In
the Gospel today we meet the shepherds who found the child Jesus with Mary, his mother,
and Joseph. We are told they went back to their fields glorifying and praising God
for all they had experienced. How long this feeling lasted we are not told and we
do not know how their lives were affected as a result.
We do know that someone else who was present stayed with the message. Mary we are
told treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. These things enlightened
her every day as she went from Bethlehem to Egypt, from Jerusalem to Calvary, from
the tomb to the resurrection. Mary’s example is one that is often spoken about. She
was able to see all the things that happened to her through life in light of the
fact that Christ was born. These treasures helped her to cope when presenting Jesus
in the Temple the old holy man Simeon warned her that a “sword would pierce her heart”.
Her resolve was tested too when the young Jesus was lost for three days leaving her
distraught with worry. It was tested too when he went off to lead a life as a wandering
preacher. And when she caught up with him in Jerusalem he responded with the withering
remark “Who is my mother?” There followed the humiliation of seeing him tortured,
and spat upon by the people, and the heartbreaking witness to the crucifixion at
the foot of the cross. Yet from there she became mother to the apostles, to the early
Church and eventually to us all who are believers. When she pondered the birth of
Jesus she shared in the suffering of all mothers and parents and family loved ones
who watch a child suffer or die.
If we can learn from her example then we will be able to cope with whatever next
year brings - good or bad - we do not know. If Christmas has given us food for
thought and things to ponder then we will not be alone.
As this old year finishes and a new one begins we can look back on a year when many
things happened which challenged our lives, our faith and our hopes for the future.
On a positive side we basked in a warm glow from the visits to our country of the
Queen of England and the President of America. At home we got a new government which
promised much, but delivered more of the same. We got a new President whose inauguration
speech gave us a glimpse of great potential. We watched on our television screens
the overthrow of tyrants and thought of the prophetic words of Mary “he will cast
the mighty from their thrones and raise up the lowly”. There were glorious sporting
moments, and family weddings and baptisms, and ceremonies and birthdays and anniversaries,
when we were able to share in the joys of being alive.
But there was a dark side to the past year too. Few people in this country were not
touched by the murder of Michaela Harte on honeymoon on 10th January. The overpowering
sense of grief that afflicted the family was felt like a pain piercing the hearts
of all parents. The earthquake in New Zealand and the tsunami in Japan brought death
and destruction on a colossal scale. There were tragedies on the roads and in families
and many experienced the death of a loved one. Others were faced with sickness and
illnesses both personal and in family members.
July brought the publication of the Cloyne report which once again laid bare the
terrible spectre of child abuse by priests in our country. The abject failure of
the Church in Cloyne to protect the innocents of its community brought hurt and shame
on all of us who believe. I personally, was hurt further then by the Taoiseach and
government of the day choosing to use the occasion of the report’s publication to
launch an unfounded and unwarranted attack on the Pope and the Vatican, to the gushing
support of the commentators in the media who had long looked for such a day. The
scandalous libelling of an innocent priest Fr Kevin Reynolds and the implied libelling
of our missionaries has added to a feeling of hurt and despair by those of us who
minister in the Church. In November then, insult was added to injury when the Tanaiste
closed the Irish Embassy to the Vatican on the alleged grounds of “a lack of economic
returns”. The petty vindictiveness of this gesture was all the more hurtful when
at the same time our new President was urging us to ”turn to an older wisdom that
while respecting material comforts.... also recognises that many of the most valuable
things in life cannot be measured”.
As a child, I like many here would have prayed for the conversion of the people of
Russia at the request of Our Lady. It is surely bizarre that at the time when our
Government is closing the Embassy to the Vatican, the Russian Government is opening
one to the Vatican. Perhaps in years to come the people of Russia will be praying
for the conversion of the Godless State of Ireland.
As we look to the future we turn to the Mother of God and ask her assistance as we
ponder all these things. We pray that the faith which sustained her from Bethlehem
through Calvary to the Mother of our Church will be shared with us and with our families
in the year ahead. Today we dedicate our lives and our families to her Divine protection.