Archbishop Guiseppe Lazzarotto’s Homily of Liturgical Reception in St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral,Dublin
26 January 2001
The Liturgical Reception of Ireland’s new Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, took place at Saint Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, Dublin, on Sunday 28th January at 6.30pm.
Archbishop Lazzarotto will be the principal celebrant and will preach the homily at the reception, which is hosted by the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Desmond Connell. The Mass will be concelebrated by Dr Seán Brady, President of the Irish Episcopal Conference, Dr. Desmond Connell, Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Dermot Clifford, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly and Dr Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam.
Archbishop Lazzarotto’s homily follows.
Your Eminence, Cardinal-Elect Dr Desmond Connell, My dear brother Bishops, Aide de Camp to the President, Captain Michael Tracey, An Taoiseach, Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, Members of the Irish Government, Your Excellencies, the Ambassadors and members of the Diplomatic Corps, distinguished representatives of the other Christian churches,
Priests, Religious and dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Christ Jesus our Lord (2Tim. 1:1).
It gives me great joy to greet you for the first time as Apostolic Nuncio. I am most grateful for the warm and fraternal reception you have given me. Many have written to me or called me to welcome me. I would like to express to all of you my profound appreciation.
In a very special way, I would like to express my gratitude to the Archbishop of this Diocese of Dublin, Cardinal-Elect Dr Desmond Connell, for the kind words he has addressed to me at the beginning of this celebration, and for having invited me to celebrate the Eucharist together with you, at the commencement of my mission. I rejoice with all of you and congratulate him for the great honour that has been conferred upon him, a sign of the esteem and appreciation which the Holy Father holds for him personally, but also of the great affection the Pope has for Ireland and for the Church in Ireland.
I would like to thank her Excellency, the President of Ireland for sending her Aide de Camp, and in addition the Taoiseach, the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, the Members of the Dail, the Senate and the Judiciary, who have honoured me with their presence and who have received me with such warmth from the very beginning.
A special word of thanks to Their Excellencies the Ambassadors and all the members of the other family to which I belong, the Diplomatic Corps.
I wish in particular to thank the President of Ireland, the Government and the members of the Diplomatic Corps most sincerely for the affection, regard and respect you have shown to my Predecessor, the late Archbishop Storero.
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you (Jer. 1:4). By happy coincidence, the readings for this Eucharistic celebration which marks the start of my mission as Apostolic Nuncio in Ireland, begin with the text from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah. It is a text that defines our identity, basing it on the idea God has had of us from all eternity. Everything we are, everything we do in our life, finds a meaning and an explanation in the personal bond of love that
God has willed to establish with us from all eternity, even before calling us into existence. Nothing happens by chance; even if the decisions we take and our choices in life are certainly a fruit of our free will, they are nevertheless part of a plan of love that God has prepared for each one of us. Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. We are well aware that when God says that he knows us, it really means that he loves us, because God is love (1 Jn. 4:16) and everything that comes from him cannot but be an expression of his love.
I did not choose to come to Ireland, nor did I ask to; I can even say in all sincerity that I never even dared to hope to come one day among you as Nuncio. It seemed to me that this appointment required a longer experience and a more mature preparation that I do not think I possess. But when the Holy Father communicated to me his intention of naming me as his Representative in this glorious land of Ireland, I accepted joyfully, conscious though I was of my limits, and of the none too easy task that was being asked of me. From the first moment, I felt deeply that, through this call of the Successor of Peter, it was the Lord himself who was guiding my steps towards this land, towards this Church, to add one more piece to the mosaic of my life, which must express and make real the plan which God himself wishes to bring about.
Before you were formed … I knew you: the Prophet Jeremiah’s words remind each one of us not to forget that we have received a call and that God always expects from all of us a clear and generous response. This call can take on different forms and come to us in unexpected ways and in unforeseen circumstances.
I think again at this moment of my Predecessor of happy memory, and who is missed by so many of us. To him I wish to pay tribute for the service he carried out among you as the Holy Father’s Representative. He too received God’s call right here in Ireland and it was the call to the final encounter with the Lord. We can truly never know where the Lord really wants to lead us when He calls us. What matters is to recognise his voice and to respond with total trust.
The first words which the Holy Father spoke on his arrival in Ireland in 1979 referred precisely to the ‘voice of Ireland’ by which, like Saint Patrick, he felt called in making his visit (Homily of the Holy Father, Phoenix Park, 29 September 1979.) There is no doubt that the Pope in that moment harboured deep feeling that, through the ‘voice of Ireland’, it was God himself who was calling him and that he came in response to that call.
In the past, the ‘voice of Ireland’ has also reached me on many occasions through the voice and invitation of many Irish friends and missionaries whom I have met in the various countries in which I have carried out my service. For different reasons, I had never been able to accept these invitations. I am happy to be able to do so now, responding to the ‘voice of Ireland’ that has called me through the voice of the Successor of Peter. And answering the Holy Father’s call, it is God himself I intend to answer in a spirit of humble service to him and to his Church, which is in Ireland.
Coming among you, I have no desire or ambition other than that of bearing witness, by my presence, to the solicitude, the affection, the appreciation and gratitude that the Holy Father holds for this Church and for this country. He himself confirmed this to me some days ago in the course of the audience which he granted me before my departure from Rome. We all know how strong and deep the Holy Father’s faith is. Equally deep is his gratitude, oftentimes expressed to the missionaries who have made the history of this Church great, and to whose influence he attributed the evangelisation of a large part of Europe and of Poland in particular.
The Gospel that was just read admonishes us about how difficult it can be to open oneself to the truth. Jesus came to bear witness to the truth (Jn. 18:37), but his own did not receive him (Jn 1:11).
Today too, Jesus our only Saviour, is living and present in our midst; but do we know how to recognise and accept him? What is today the truth to which the Church in Ireland must be open and to which it must bear witness with total fidelity to Christ and to his Gospel? Dear brothers and sisters, there are no easy answers to these questions. We can answer these questions wisely and responsibly only if we learn to walk together, united by the love and in the love of the Lord Jesus, allowing ourselves to be filled with his grace and opening ourselves to the action of the Spirit that the Risen Christ has left as his first gift to those who believe in him.
Before arriving here, many people warned me that in Ireland I would have a very ‘wet’ time, with lots of rain. Nevertheless, although I have only been here a few days, I have been able to see the beauty of the Irish sky with its intense blue colour. A few clouds, even dark and dense ones, cannot possibly blot out, hide, or destroy the ‘sky’ of your Church, a beauty built down through the centuries on unquestionable faithfulness to Christ and with the patient and generous toil of so many sons and daughters of this Church throughout the whole world! This must not happen, you must not allow it to happen!
Certainly, the Church in Ireland must today accept new challenges and must be able to give convincing responses, in the light of the immutable Gospel, to the new demands arising from the changed living conditions affecting individuals and society as such. But the enormous heritage of human and spiritual wealth which was built by our brothers in the faith who have gone before us in this land giving witness to Christ and to his Church, and left to us in inheritance, cannot be forgotten.
The Pope wrote in his recent letter at the conclusion of the Jubilee celebrations that ‘the symbol of the Holy Door now closes behind us but only in order to leave more fully open the living door which is Christ’ (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 59). It is through this door – always open for each one of us – that we must enter, so that we can create new opportunities which allow the truth to permeate our Church, our families, our community, our society and our country.
Speaking on the Feast of the Epiphany earlier this month, the Holy Father urges us ‘to set out from Christ above all in a daily commitment to holiness, with an attitude of prayer and listening to his word; to set out from him by a testimony to Love’ (Homily on the Feast of the Epiphany, 6 January 2001). It is precisely to this form of Love that Saint Paul refers in the Second Reading: a love that is patient and kind; love that is always ready to excuse, to trust and to love; a love that does not come to an end (cf. 1Cor. 13: 4-8).
Allow me to remind you again of what the Holy Father said to Ireland more than twenty years ago, and which still has resonance for us today: Ireland – the Pope said – has inherited a noble human and Christian mission, and its contribution towards the betterment of the world and the birth of a new Europe can be as great today as it has been in the most luminous days of the history of Ireland’ (Address to the President, 29 September 1979).
This is the message of hope and encouragement I want to bring you in the name of the Holy Father as I begin my walk among you as Apostolic Nuncio, trusting in your benevolence and in the fraternal assistance that you are able to give me, and trusting above all in the grace of God and in the protection of Our Lady of Knock, Mary, our Mother and guardian of this land.
Go raibh grá Dé oraibh go léir.
28th January 2001
Fr Martin Clarke 087 220 8044
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