Archbishop Outlines Challenges for New Evangelisation

vocations

Cistercian Father Michael Casey, an expert on monastic spirituality from Tarrawarra Abbey in Australia, was one of the main speakers at a gathering of Benedictine abbots focusing on the changing demographics of Benedictine vocations, religious formation and a range of other issues, reports The Catholic Leader.

 

The scriptures and contemplation must be at the heart of the New Evangelisation, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has said.

In his homily for a special Mass to mark the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Rathmines Folk Group, the Archbishop said the challenge of the New Evangelisation is to bring people back into a deep personal relationship with the God revealed in Jesus and to help them, “overcome a life-style that is closed in on itself within the anonymity of our modern culture.”

He suggested that the challenge for today’s Church is to find ways in which the grace of baptism and initiation into the sacramental life of the Church is kept alive among young adults so that they can find growth and nourishment in their faith in a manner that addresses and welcomes them in the world and in the culture in which they live.

Addressing the lack of integration and coherence between faith and life, the Archbishop told the packed church that there are many who claim to love God and who are not renowned for their love of their neighbour. On the other hand, many live a good life, but do so, “as if God did not exist.”

“Our love of God can often be marginal and not particularly relevant to the manner in which we live the good life,” he said.

Of the hectic pace of modern life, Dr Martin said this makes contemplation more difficult.

“Silence can become alien to our lives. How many times do we find ourselves, the moment we encounter silence, turning to something to block out silence," and he said today’s world offers many new opportunities to do this.

He added, “All of us today need moments of silence and contemplation to be able to encounter God and thus to encounter our real selves and our need to be embraced by the forgiving and redeeming and liberating love of God.”

Describing the 6:15pm Mass, which celebrated 40 years of service by the folk group, as a truly joyous occasion, he paid tribute to their years of, “continuous and joyous celebration of the Sunday evening Eucharist,” as a witness of fidelity and commitment and community.

During the Mass Archbishop Martin presented a Bene Merenti papal medal to James Murphy, who recently retired as sacristan in Rathmines parish.

Referring to the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, he said the Council brought change and renewal to the life of the Church. “The Rathmines Folk Group was child of the change and the ferment that was taking place in the Church in Dublin at that time,” Archbishop Martin told the congregation and added that the Church of 1972 was very different to the Church of today.

The Rathmines Folk group was an initiative that recognised that amidst the changes that were taking place in the Church after Vatican II there were also problems and challenges, he said.

“It was clear that despite the changes, the Church was not making the inroads it ought to have been making among young people. Rathmines was then and still is today an extraordinary cosmos of those who, then and today, seem to be most likely to become estranged from the life of the Church: young adults.”

The Folk Group set out to provide a space for young adults that was more responsive to their world and their culture than some of the traditional forms of liturgical celebration.

The challenge of the Church today, Archbishop Martin said, is to find similar ways to keep the faith alive among young adults and allow them to find growth and nourishment in their faith.

“There was something in the initiative which responded to a need felt by many within the Church at the time, young and old,” he said.

“We often forget that the Latin Mass, as it was celebrated in our parishes, was very often far from the magnificence of the great Cathedral celebrations or the beautiful austerity of monastic liturgy or indeed as the Latin Mass can be celebrated today. It was then very often marked by haste and routine and even a certain passivity,” the leader of the church in Dublin commented.

He said the Folk Group gave expression to a desire to participate, to celebrate, in an atmosphere of joy and expressiveness, which were characteristics of those days.

“For many of those who came here in the early days, the Folk Mass was a lifeline to a Church that did not seem otherwise to be reaching out to them.”

“Its success over 40 years is marked by the fact that it has continued to be such a point of reaching-out to young adults who live today, if anything, in an even more isolated existence. The Folk Mass was a lifeline of welcome and outreach and became for many a fixed point of nourishment in the faith and experience of a community of faith.”

As to where the Folk Group will go in the future, the Archbishop suggested there are two areas in which it might have an impact.

“The first is the scriptures: I am convinced that all our work of New Evangelisation, especially here in Ireland, must seek to be more deeply scripture-based and I hope that as the group works on new texts, it will be even more deeply inspired by the new interest in prayerful understanding of the scriptures.”

The second area was that of contemplation.

“Part of the Folk Group’s challenge for the future will be to provide a musical accompaniment within the liturgy which stimulates not only joyful celebration, but also moments of reflective calm, celebrated collectively as a community,” he said.

By Sarah Mac Donald

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