KNOCK, Ireland, Aug. 24, 2012—The Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Charles Brown, gave the homily at today’s closing Mass of the National Novena being held in Knock.
Titled “The Future of the Church in Ireland,” it started with a reminder of how Blessed John Paul II came to Knock on September 30, 1979, to celebrate Mass.
Just as the former Pope did we too have come as pilgrims to pray to Mary, Archbishop Brown commented.
The times in which Mary appeared, in 1879, were difficult for Ireland and yet in the years that followed there was a great flourishing of the Church in Ireland.
“When we reflect on Our Lady’s apparition at Knock and the historical circumstances in which it occurred, we cannot help thinking about our times and our own future,” the nuncio observed.
There are certainly reasons for discouragement at the moment, with a continual stream of news pointing to the weakening of the Catholic faith in Ireland.
Yet, only two months ago the archbishop said he had witnessed the success of the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin that exceeded everyone’s expectations.
He also recounted the fervor of people at a recent ordination and the thousands of pilgrims who climbed Croagh Patrick. And just ten days ago the nuncio said he had seen hundreds of young people praying the Rosary while in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.
“We need to propose the Catholic faith in its fullness, in its beauty and in its radicality, with compassion and with conviction,” he said. “We need to be unafraid to affirm the elements of the Catholic way which secular society rejects and ridicules,” the nuncio added.
The Church should seek the Kingdom of God, which is not a worldly kingdom, but one which will only be completed in the New Jerusalem.
Archbishop Brown referred to Pope Benedict XVI’s efforts regarding the New Evangelization and the forthcoming synod of bishops on this topic to be held in October, as well as the Year of Faith which will begin in October.
“Reflection on the faith will have to be intensified, so as to help all believers in Christ to acquire a more conscious and vigorous adherence to the Gospel, especially at a time of profound change such as humanity is currently experiencing,” he recommended.
The nuncio noted that in Ireland, the recently published National Directory for Catechesis of the Bishops of Ireland, entitled Share the Good News, recommends Catholics set up study groups to study the Catechism and that in his opinion this could have a very positive effect.
“Brothers and sisters, the future of the Church in Ireland begins now,” he said. “Certainly, the road ahead is not an easy one, but the road ahead for Catholics in Ireland did not look very easy in 1879 when Our Lady appeared here on that rainy evening in August,” he commented. (Zenit)
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