Homily of Cardinal Seán Brady for World Day of Peace 2012
Homily of Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All
Ireland, for World Day of Peace 2012 at 11:00am Mass in Saint
Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh – Sunday 1 January, Solemn Feast of Mary,
Mother of God
Key points for media:
– Pope Benedict in his message for this World Day of Peace deals with
educating young people in justice and peace. He asks us to pay more
attention to the concerns of young people and their difficulties.
– Suicide is now the biggest killer of young men in Ireland, but not
only young men. It is vitally important therefore that society, as
whole, take on board its responsibility in this matter and give
careful consideration to the challenge of listening appropriately to
the concerns of young people”
– Peace is not a blessing already attained. It is a goal to which
each and all of us must aspire by giving our world a more humane face.
– Let us put our hopes for 2012 in the 50th International Eucharistic
Congress which takes place in Dublin from 10 – 17 June next. Its
motto: “The Eucharist – Communion with Christ and with One Another”
can provide the way forward.
I gladly wish each and every one of you a happy New Year. I am sure
that you have already wished many people a happy 2012. I am quite
certain that when you think of those who are nearest and dearest to
you, on this first day of the New Year, your deepest desire for each
one of them is for their happiness. How often we hear it said,
especially by mothers about their sons and daughters: “I don’t mind
as long as they are happy”.
But what makes for genuine happiness someone may ask. If we were to
set about drawing up a shopping list of the components of happiness, I
am quite certain that peace would always come at the top of the list.
So, I extend to all of you my heartfelt good wishes that 2012 may be
marked in your life by peace and goodwill.
Today is World Day of Peace. It coincides, each year, in the Catholic
Church, with our celebration of the Solemn Feast of Mary, Mother of
God. It is not really a coincidence but a matter of deliberate
choice. Mary, the Mother of God, is our mother too.
In His last Will and Testament, Jesus gave her to us to be our mother.
It happened on Calvary as He hung, dying on the Cross for love of us.
Jesus saw His mother and the disciple He loved, standing there so He
said to His mother: “He is your son”. Then He said to the disciple:
“She is your mother”.
In that instance John represents every disciple of Christ in every age
and in every nation. And in his Gospel, that same disciple wrote:
“From that time the disciple took her to live in his home”. This
means a special personal relationship between not only the disciple,
John, but every disciple and Mary. It means the admission of Mary
into the innermost regions of one’s mental and spiritual life. It
means that we too enlist the help of Mary in our search for peace for
ourselves and for our families. We are very wise to do so because
this account of the Crucifixion points to Mary who, with a mother’s
care, takes part in the struggle against the powers of darkness and
negativity and so becomes our sign of hope.
Mary is called: Queen of Peace. At the wedding feast of Cana, she
showed herself to be not only a peacemaker but a custodian of the
peace. Mary had spotted that a disaster was looming which would
threaten the peace and stability of the relationship of that newly-wed
couple – they had no wine. Just imagine the blame and the bickering
that would have followed if nothing was done. But something was done
by Mary. She interceded with her son, Jesus, and the disaster was
Mary is called, Queen of Peace for another reason. She is the mother
of Jesus, who is the Prince of Peace. With His own body He broke down
the wall that separated the Jews and the Gentiles and kept them
Today we give thanks for the peacemakers in our own time and in our
own place, who have not only broken down the walls of hatred and
separation but built bridges of understanding and friendship and, in
this way, made peace.
Today we give thanks not only for all those peacemakers who made peace
at international levels – healing old hurts and hostilities – but also
for those who make peace in families and in homes.
Today we give thanks for those peacemakers on our own island, many of
them women like Mary, who did so much by word and deed to make peace
and to consolidate peace. They did so very often by recognising the
dignity of everyone they met and by respecting that dignity. They
were able to do so, not alone because they were able to see further
than others, but because they first experienced, in their own lives,
the peace and justice which they proposed to others. They had the
ability to educate others in the ways of justice and peace.
Pope Benedict in his message for this World Day of Peace deals with
the task of educating young people in justice and peace. He does so
because he believes that young people, with their enthusiasm, can
offer new hope to the world. The Pope begins by saying that we need
to pay more attention to the concerns of young people and their
I am certain that all those involved in raising awareness of suicide
will be immensely heartened by the Pope’s observations that
“attentiveness to young people and their concerns, the ability to
listen to them and appreciate them….represents a primary duty for
society as a whole, for the sake of building a future of justice and
I recently met some people who are involved in providing support for
families affected by suicide. Their aim is to discover how to offer
hope to people who feel that they have lost hope. One such
organisation, ‘SOSAD’ – Save Our Sons And Daughters – based in
Drogheda, has, as its slogan: “There is Hope”. Its founder, Peter
Moroney, set up SOSAD to raise awareness of suicide and to help combat
suicidal feelings through support, counselling and emergency phone
The ability to listen is necessary in many areas of life but this is
one which it is extremely urgent. Suicide is now the biggest killer
of young men in Ireland, but not only young men. It is vitally
important therefore that society, as whole, take on board its
responsibility in this matter and give careful consideration to the
challenge of listening appropriately to the concerns of young people.
At the present time young people see how difficult it is to find a job
and to form a family. The greatest challenge, however, is that of
communicating to young people an appreciation for the positive value
We Christians believe that God created the visible world in all its
richness and beauty. The human person is the summit of the work of
the Creator – and human life is sacred. When God’s original plan of
sharing the happiness of Heaven with the human race was sabotaged by
sin, God prepared another plan. He would send His Son to reveal his
merciful love for all of us.
Today we honour the part played by Mary in the fulfilment of that
plan. With her ‘yes’ to the proposal that she become the Mother of
God, she went along with God’s plan and made herself available to play
her part. She teaches us the importance of putting our trust in our
Creator, who is our first beginning and our last end. She teaches us
the importance of the Gift of Faith – a gift to be requested and
Today, Pope Benedict challenges all of us to help young people
appreciate the gift of life and to awaken in them the desire to spend
their lives in the Service of the Good.
He issues that challenge to educators in the first place and
especially to parents, since parents are the first educators of their
children. He asks parents to spend time with their children. I know
I am speaking to people who have spent a lot of time in the service of
the good, who spend an adequate amount of money on your families and
who spend quite a lot of time with your families. Pope Benedict
encourages all of that. He would wish you to tell your children of
the happiness you get from helping others, and of the importance of
one generation looking after another.
Pope Benedict asks young people not to yield to discouragement when
faced with difficulties. Be confident in your youth and its profound
desire for happiness, truth, beauty and genuine love. He says:
“I ask you parents and grandparents to remind the young people that
they are never alone. The Church – like every good mother – wishes to
offer her children the most precious gift she has: “The opportunity to
raise your eyes to Jesus Christ – who is Himself Justice and Peace”.
The Holy Father ends his letter with a powerful plea – to us all – but
especially to young people. He asks us: ‘Remember one thing: Only a
return to the living God, our Creator, the guarantee of what is really
good and true – a God who is the measure of what is right and who at
the same time is Everlasting Love – only an unconditional return to
God can save the world.
What a city Armagh would be if everyone really appreciated the
positive values of life. There would be no bullying; no exploitation.
What a difference it would make if we all really wanted to spend our
lives in the Service of the Good.
Jesus gave us Mary, His mother to be our Mother too – especially in
our moments of darkness and discouragement.
To her do we come;
Before her we stand;
Sinful and sorrowful
She points us to the Church, the Body of her Son which says to all of us:
May the Lord let his face shine upon you and be gracious to you
This is no superficial blessing but an offering of help and support
for every day of the New Year. We, in turn, respond with works of
kindness towards our neighbour. As we wish each other a happy and
peaceful New Year, we recall them, peace is not a blessing already
attained. It is a goal to which each and all of us must aspire by
giving our world a more humane face.
Some people put their hopes on Euro 2012, the Olympic Games and
American football for a happy 2012. I hope they help but I prefer to
set my sights on the 50th International Eucharistic Congress which
takes place in Dublin from 10 – 17 June next. Its motto: “The
Eucharist – Communion with Christ and with One Another” can provide
the way forward.
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