A Strong and Fragile Faith
“It may seem a paradox for me to say in the same breath that the faith in Ireland is strong and that faith in Ireland is fragile. There is an intrinsic fragility in faith that can steer us away from arrogance and self-centredness and as our Gospel reading will remind us, to journey with Jesus even when others “stop going with him”.” These words of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin at the beginning of Mass in the Phoenix Park last weekend will have a resonance for all of us. We all have those moments when our faith is fragile and the moments when it is strong. We will have seen the strong and fragile story of faith in Ireland reflected in the historic events of last weekend when Pope Francis came to visit us. All who participated in the events of the visit will have had our faith encouraged and strengthened by the Pope’s words and above all by his prayer and witness. The Pope consistently reminded us of the strength of faith to which we are the heirs. In Dublin Castle Pope Francis recalled the rich missionary heritage that is an integral part of our faith story. This passion to share the Gospel is a gift we need to renew in an increasingly secularized world. Speaking to the newly married and engaged couples as well as in Croke Park Pope Francis underlined the importance of listening to Grandparents and older people who have wisdom and are the roots of our faith. The Holy Father also had something to say about the youngest of our congregation. He encouraged us to bring our children for baptism as soon as possible after birth as that gift of God’s Holy Spirit and the strength that comes with it is the most precious gift they will ever receive. We were all moved when he described the cry of a child as the most beautiful music that we can hear in our churches. The Pope’s affirmation of this sign of hope for the future of our church will no doubt also come as a relief to any parent who has ever been embarrassed in our churches. Last weekend will be long remembered by all who connected with the visit – half a million who attended the events in person and a further million who watched closely on television. We encountered a Holy Father who listened and loved, who encouraged and uplifted, who expressed humility and sorrow – living and witnessing to a strong and fragile faith.
(From Ennis Parish Newsletter)