Don’t Ignore Christian Dimension of St Patrick’s Legacy

In a special message for St Patrick’s Day, the Archbishop of Armagh and primate of All Ireland has appealed to Irish people to rise to the challenge of announcing the Gospel in the Ireland of today and not lose the Christian message that has brought, “hope, consolation and strength to generations of Irish people, especially in times of adversity and challenge.”

Cardinal Brady said that Christianity had shaped the identity and heritage of the Irish people. 

“Our celebration would be seriously impoverished if we ignored this Christian dimension of St Patrick’s legacy.”  St Patrick was a man who knew how to turn adversity into opportunity, said the Cardinal, turning the adversity of six years of slavery on Slemish into an opportunity, “to grow in his love of the God who, in Patrick’s words, ‘protected and comforted me as a father would his son’.”

Adversity also taught St Patrick the, “folly of relying exclusively on himself, and the necessity of relying on others and especially on the God who created him.”

He hoped that Irish people would get to know St Patrick well and the faith that inspired him, and “carried him through the adversities of his life.”

The primate said he was aware of the huge numbers who have emigrated from Ireland in recent times, “especially those who felt they had no choice.” 

“May the memory of St Patrick, who was himself carried off from his homeland at the age of sixteen, sustain all those who have left our shores for other lands.  May the example of Patrick’s faith in God, who comforted and protected him, protect and comfort them also.”

In the run up to the International Eucharistic Congress in June, Cardinal Brady appealed to St Patrick and all the Irish saints for a, “deep renewal of faith in God’s power to lift us up to new horizons of hope and possibility.” 

“A humble trust in Christ’s power to heal and renew in spite of our human weakness, would, I believe be proof of the authenticity of our celebrations today,” he concluded.

Today Cardinal Brady will celebrate Mass for St Patrick’s Day at noon in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh.  He will be joined by the new Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown, who visits the diocese for the first time today. 

Before the Final Blessing of the Mass, Cardinal Brady and the Papal Nuncio will come to the front of the sanctuary and will bless shamrock for the congregation.  The mass may be viewed live on the internet

After Mass, Cardinal Brady will ring the Cathedral Mass Bell, in remembrance of the example of Saint Patrick in proclaiming the faith to the Irish people, and in preparation for the forthcoming Eucharistic Congress.  Cardinal Brady will then hand the Cathedral Mass Bell to Archbishop Brown, who will ring the bell as a sign of unity with the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.

Earlier at 11:30am today, RTÉ 1 will broadcast a special Mass from Knock Basilica, in Co. Mayo, which will be shared with viewers in 145 countries via the Eurovision Broadcasting Union and the US-based Catholic satellite network, EWTN.

Aifreann Mhuire an Chnoic (the Mass of Mary of Knock) is a specially commissioned setting of the Mass by Sr Marie Dunne, CHF, who also directs the music. 

The mass is being celebrated by the new Parish Priest of Knock, Fr Richard Gibbons.

by Susan Gately

© 2002-2012



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