Homily of Cardinal Brady for first anniversary Mass for Cardinal Cahal Daly and special day of prayer for renewal of the faith in Ireland

02 Jan 2011

2 January 2011

Homily of Cardinal Seán Brady in St Patrick’s Cathedral Armagh, Sunday 2 January 2011, for:
• the first anniversary Mass in remembrance of the late Cardinal Cahal B Daly
• special day of prayer for renewal of the faith in the Church in Ireland

“The fact is that, ever since the Word was made flesh, every human life has been raised to a new level of dignity … Each one of us has been chosen to bear witness in our own lives to the Good News of God’s kindness and love for humankind” – Cardinal Brady

In his Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland last March, Pope Benedict proposed some concrete initiatives:
·  He asked that time be set aside to pray for an outpouring of God’s mercy.
·  He urged us to implore the gifts of the Holy Spirit of holiness and strength upon the Church in Ireland at this time.
·  He suggested that the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland be requested in prayer and fasting.

At our December General meeting of the Irish Bishops’ Conference a few weeks back, bishops decided to dedicate today, the first Sunday of 2011, as a day of special prayer not only for the renewal of the faith in the Church in Ireland, but also for a renewal of hope in the face of widespread doom and gloom which prevails – North and South – in Ireland at the present time.

So, at this time as we the begin a New Year it is appropriate that we set our eyes firmly once more on the Saviour of the world.  He has come to protect his people and give them hope.

Speaking to the Roman Curia on 20 December last, Pope Benedict XVI returned to the subject.  He said that amidst the great tribulations to which we have been exposed during the past year the great Advent prayer – Rouse up your power O Lord, and come –  has been frequently in his mind and on his lips.

We too make that prayer our own as we ask for the graces to accept humiliation as an exhortation to truth and a call to renewal.  We ask, with Pope Benedict, what was wrong in our proclamation, in our way of living the Christian life, to allow such a thing to happen?

So, we too ask for a new resoluteness in faith and in doing good and in doing penance.  This is also the moment to offer, with the Pope, heartfelt thanks to all those who work to help survivors, in helping to restore their trust in the Church, and their capacity to believe her message.  This is also the moment to give thanks for the many good priests who act as channels of the Lord’s goodness in humility and fidelity.

In the Gospel just read, we heard these amazing words: No-one has ever seen God. It is the only Son, who is nearest to the Father’s heart, Who has made Him known!

Today we pray for a renewal of our own faith, not only in the invisible God, made known to us by his Son, Jesus Christ, but in fullness of grace and truth which come through Jesus Christ.  We give thanks for our having received, from His fullness, grace upon grace and we ask for the strength and healing to be faithful to those

Cardinal Daly, whose first anniversary Mass this is, prayed constantly that, like St Paul, he might finish his course and finish the service – the task – that he had received from the Lord Jesus, namely, to bear witness to the Good News of God’s grace.  That Good News is essentially news of God’s movement towards us.  God spoke His word to us in a language that we could understand.  He shone His light to overpower our darkness and He shared His life by giving us the power to become children of God.

Once upon a time, the Gospel we have just heard was read at every Mass.  It was called the Last Gospel.  It was read immediately before the final blessing.  It was read in Latin, with the priest facing away from the people.  The fact that it was read every day indicates, I think, that it has the power to give a new and an eternal dimension to our life.  St John takes us away beyond what happened at Bethlehem to a place where our minds find depth and our hearts find peace.

The fact is that, ever since the Word was made flesh, every human life has been raised to a new level of dignity.  That very dignity of the human person forms the basis of the religious freedom which Pope Benedict has described in his Message for this World Day of Peace as the Path to Peace.

The Angelus is a daily prayer which celebrates what happened at Christmas.  The word was made flesh and dwelt among us.  Literally it means he pitched his tent among us.  A tent is a temporary dwelling of someone on a journey.  The eternal word of the Father made the journey of coming down to us.  He stayed for a time before returning to the Father.  He came to his own people and they who were his own gave him no welcome.  He, who was the true light, was rejected by the darkness. But He was not, and never will be, overcome by darkness.

If you are like me, you are surprised and sad when people no longer walk with us in faith.  We find it hard to understand how so many say no to the Lord and choose to go by another route.  But, remember, He was rejected before we ever experienced rejection and He was rejected right up to the end.

But, for those who try to be faithful, there is a fantastic promise. Those who accept Christ become adopted sons and daughters and share in his life.  He invites people to rise up with him.  Blessed Theresa of Calcutta never tired of saying – “God calls us to be faithful; not necessarily successful”.

Christmas was about Christ’s birth as one of us.  Today’s liturgy is about our birth as Children of God.  It is about the amazing fact that before the world was made, God had chosen us to be His children in union with Jesus.  The consequence of that is that we have been chosen to live in holiness, a holiness which is received from Christ.

We are called to live our lives through love in the Presence of the Risen Christ – present now in a different but very real way.  The challenge is to be aware, each day, of that presence.  One good way of growing in that awareness is to examine our lives each day.  We have been chosen to praise the glory of God forever – and I am glad to have the Benedictine monks from Rostrevor who remind us powerfully of that call.  It is really amazing – so amazing in fact that it caused St Leo the Great to say:

O Christian be aware of your nobility,
For it is God’s nature that you share;
Do not then by an ignoble life
Fall back into your own weaknesses.

Each one of us – as the inscription of Cardinal Daly’s headstone reminds us  – has been chosen to bear witness in our own lives to the Good News of God’s kindness and love for humankind.  That kindness and love were revealed in Jesus.  We too are called to reveal them in our dealings with our brothers and sisters.  To the extent that we do so, the grace of healing and renewal, so eagerly desired by Pope Benedict, will shine out in the Church in Ireland.


Cardinal Seán Brady is Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland
Media Contact: Martin Long, Catholic Communications Office, 00 353 86 1727678

Background Notes

(i) Pastoral Letter:
Text of the ‘Pastoral Letter of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, to the Catholics of Ireland’ in English and Irish, including the Pope’s special ‘Prayer for the Church in Ireland’,  extracts from the Pastoral Letter, related Vatican video clips and FAQs are now available on the special web feature:

(ii) Short biography of the life and ministry of Cardinal Daly:
• On 5 January 2010 Cardinal Brady concelebrated the funeral Mass for the late Cardinal Daly in St Patrick’s Cathedral Armagh. Cardinal Daly is buried on the Cathedral grounds alongside his three predecessors: Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich (died in 1990); Cardinal William Conway (died in 1977); and, Cardinal John D’Alton (died in 1963).
• Cardinal Cahal Daly was the 113th successor to St Patrick. He was born in Loughguile, Co Antrim on 1 October 1917.  He was educated at St Patrick’s National School in Loughguile, and then as a boarder in St Malachy’s College, Belfast.
• He studied Classics at Queen’s University in Belfast and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree with Honours and also the Henry Medal in Latin Studies in 1937 and completed his MA the following year.
• He entered St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, and was ordained to the priesthood on 22 June 1941.  He continued studies in theology in Maynooth, from where he obtained a doctorate in divinity (DD) in 1944.
• His first appointment was as Classics Master in St Malachy’s College (1944-1945).  In 1945, he was appointed Lecturer in Scholastic Philosophy at Queen’s University, Belfast.  From 1952–1953 Queens granted him sabbatical leave, which he spent studying at the Catholic Institute of Paris where he received a licentiate in philosophy.
• He was a peritus, or theological expert, at the Second Vatican Council (1963–1965) to the late Bishop William Philbin, former Bishop of Down and Connor, during the first session of the Council and to the late Cardinal William Conway, former Archbishop of Armagh, for the rest of the Council.
• Cardinal Daly was ordained Bishop of Ardagh & Clonmacnois in 1967 and was subsequently appointed Bishop of Down and Connor in 1982.
• Cardinal Daly was appointed as Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland on 16 December 1990 and served until his retirement, at the age of 79, when he was succeeded by the then Archbishop Brady on 1 October 1996.  Cardinal Daly was created a cardinal in by the late Pope John Paul II on 28 June 1991.  Cardinal Daly had as his motto, “Jesus Christ, yesterday and today” taken from Hebrews 13:8.
• Upon his retirement Cardinal Daly returned to his study of theology and philosophy. He authored a series of books on violence and the search for peace in Northern Ireland including a book of memoirs “Steps on My Pilgrim Journey’ which was published in 1998.  Among his other published works are ‘Philosophy in Britain from Bradley to Wittgenstein’ and ‘The Minding of Planet Earth’, published in 2004. In March 2007 the late Dr Thomas Kelly, former head of the Department of
Philosophy at NUI Maynooth, launched ‘Philosophical Papers’, a collection of articles previously published in various journals by Cardinal Daly.