Homily of Most Rev Martin Drennan, Bishop of Galway at Requiem Mass for Bishop James McLoughlin R.I.P.
30 NOVEMBER 2005
HOMILY OF MOST REV MARTIN DRENNAN, BISHOP OF GALWAY
AT REQUIEM MASS FOR BISHOP JAMES MCLOUGHLIN R.I.P.
The Solemn Requiem Mass for the retired Bishop of Galway Dr. James
McLoughlin R.I.P. took place at 1.00pm today in the Cathedral of Our
Lady Assumed into Heaven and St Nicholas, Galway. The Bishop of Galway
Dr Martin Drennan was the principal celebrant and preached the homily.
The following is the text of Bishop Drennan’s homily:
Some time back I came across a letter written by a monk several centuries
ago. He said he had been given a vision of heaven and saw four groups of
The first group he saw were the sick who give thanks to God. When thinking
becomes thanking we have really changed. Along the road of life we can be
tempted to compare our gifts with those of others, even to want to be someone
we admire. The Lord does not ask us to compare our blessings with those he
gives to others, what he gives each one is enough for that person. He asks
us to enjoy and use well what he has entrusted to us. The L’Arche communities
have a beautiful prayer, I thank you, God, for making me as I am; help me to
be what I ought to be. People who pray like that like have learned to find
God in their disabilities, they show us how to be truly human, how to be
fragile and yet grateful to the Lord. Vulnerability can give God an opening
to come into our lives To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in
everything (Thomas Merton). The sick who give thanks to God for that love
are ready for heaven.
The second group the monk saw in heaven were those who practise hospitality
and get up to serve. We are gifted people, all of us, because being gifted
means we have received much. Those who are wise know that when God gives
us a gift it is not for myself only. It is to be shared, to benefit others.
God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7). A teacher told me once of a pupil
who asked, “why is everyone in the class happy except me?” “Because they
see goodness and beauty when they look around them”, said the teacher.
“And why don’t I see that goodness?” “Because you can’t see without what
you don’t see within”. We confirm each other when we help other to see
the beauty within. Those who see that beauty know they are blessed. Getting
up to serve becomes a privilege, a way of saying thanks to the Lord.
The third group the monk saw in heaven were those who crossed the desert
without meeting anyone on the way. We cross many deserts during our lives
– loneliness, coping with death, loss of confidence when things go wrong,
dealing with failure, when prayer is difficult. Sometimes we make our own
deserts. There is a Japanese proverb which says, Even monkeys fall off trees.
Our mistakes should not surprise us, but in fact they do sometimes shatter
our confidence. Many a time others can’t give us much help to get through
our deserts. Whether they are the result of mistakes or of our circumstances,
deserts are uncomfortable places; they can destroy the fragile. They call
for perseverance, for commitment, courage. Our faith tells us that we are
never alone as we cross them. Jesus is with us and Mary stands beside
every cross (Jn 19:25-27).
The last group the monk saw in heaven were those who do what God wants and
keep doing it. In short, they follow the maker’s instructions. We are
wise when we listen to and take in the maker’s directions for the use of
a camera, a mobile phone or a computer. God asks two things of us, first
that we listen to him and second, that we trust him. A story about the
famous writer, Mark Twain, makes the point. A 17 year old came to him and
said, “I can’t understand my dad anymore. he is so behind the times that
he has no grasp of modern ideas. What should I do? Move out?” Mark Twain
answered, “Yes, I can understand your situation perfectly. When I was 17
my dad was just like that. It was unbearable. Then someone advised me
to be patient because older people learn more slowly. Then years later,
when I was 27, my dad had learned so much that I could have a sensible
conversation with him. What should I say to you? Now I’m 37 and, believe
this or not, when I’m stuck for advice it is to my dad that I turn.”
The art of listening to people and to God has to learned, as has the
art of trust. God calls us to listen to him, to trust him, to the freedom
which comes from obeying him.
Today we gather and give thanks to God for the gifts he gave Bishop James
for his journey towards heaven. A care for the sick gave opportunities
to give and receive. To be compassionate you need to be competent, able
to help, to give time and be patient. Compassion means becoming a friend,
showing another how beautiful he/she is. It is learning that we are healed
by the wounds of others. Suffering can hollow out a channel of grace,
teach us to give thanks to God. That was a part of the faith journey
of Bishop James.
Many remember him for his humble service, his prayerful service to the
Lord, his kind service to people. The Lord gave him a big heart, a
deep interest in young people, a heart for priests and people alike.
Generosity brings joy, but also brings its own cost. The consequence
of his joy and commitment is that he died fully used up.
More than likely it is those closest to him who were aware of the deserts
he crossed on his journey of faith. In the desert it is the plants that
put down their roots deepest that survive longest. He had deep roots,
trust in the Lord and wonderful faith in Mary as source of perpetual help.
He was given the inner strength to cope and eventually to look back with
a smile at where the Lord had led him. I saw for myself how he had looked
on the diocese with a kindly eye and made decisions accordingly.
When he was appointed Bishop he chose as his motto, In manus tuas, Into
your hands – a high deal indeed. It is the prayer of surrender and trust
that Jesus spoke as he was dying. Mary was at the Cross supporting him
in that self-giving. She was with Bishop James each time he said
In manus tuas as part of his night prayer and with him when he surrendered
his gentle soul to the Lord. May he know no more need for night prayer.
May he enjoy eternal day.
Martin Long Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Brenda Drumm Communications Officer (087 233 7797)
NOTES TO EDITORS:
The following bishops were present at the Requiem Mass:
Cardinal Desmond Connell, Archbishop Emeritus of Dublin
Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto Papal Nuncio to Ireland
Counsellor Rt Rev Mgr Andrew Vissanu Thanya-anan
Dr Dermot Clifford, Archbishop of Cashel & Emly
Dr Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam
Dr Christopher Jones, Bishop of Elphin
Dr Thomas Flynn, Bishop of Achonry
Dr John Buckley, Bishop of Cork and Ross
Dr Gerard Clifford, Auxiliary Bishop of Armagh
Dr John Magee, Bishop of Cloyne
Dr James Moriarty, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin
Dr John Kirby, Bishop of Clonfert
Dr Seamus Hegarty, Bishop of Derry
Dr Fiachra Ó Ceallaigh, Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin
Dr Laurence Forristal, Bishop of Ossory
Dr Leo O’Reilly, Bishop of Kilmore
Dr Anthony Farquhar, Auxiliary Bishop of Down and Connor
Dr Donal McKeown, Auxiliary Bishop of Down and Connor
Dr Edward Daly, Retired Bishop of Derry
Dr Francis Brooks, Retired Bishop of Dromore
Representing President Mary McAleese:
Captain Lorraine Fahy, Aide-de-Camp
Representing An Taoiseach:
Mr Bertie Ahern, Commandant Roy McAuliffe
Representing the Church of Ireland:
Rev. Patrick Towers, St Nicholas’ Galway
Also in attendance Mayor of Galway and members of City Council