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Homily of Bishop Denis Nulty for World Day of Peace 2019

Bishop Denis Nulty celebrated Mass for World Day of Peace in the Cathedral of the Assumption, Carlow on New Year’s Day at 11am. In the large congregation were public representatives, civic and municipal authorities associated with Carlow County Council, the Garda Síochána led by Superintendent Aidan Brennan and Inspector Audrey Dormer, the Civil Defence, the Ambulance Corp, the Fire Service, the Order of Malta and the O.N.E. 

Do you realise how much food we wasted these past seven days? – one third of what we purchased, we didn’t eat, they are now in compost heaps in the garden, in black bins due for collection over these coming days” … “What we do with the chemicals in our fridges at the end of their life? They are not for dumping in landfill or worse still on the side of country roads. Fridges need end of life care, just like human beings, all of us” … “In a very changed politic from this very day, New Year’s Day 2019, around this tender issue of life, all of us must work much even harder to strengthen a culture that values all life and advocates for all in need of protection in our society” – Bishop Denis Nulty

Homily:

My mother died in 2010, a friend sent me the following poem by an anonymous poet:

Your mother is always with you

she’s the whisper of the leaves

as you walk down the street.

She’s the smell of bleach

in your freshly laundered socks.

She’s the cool hand on your brow

when you’re not well.

Your mother lives inside your laughter.

She’s crystallised in every teardrop.

She’s the place you came from,

your first home.

She’s the map you follow

with every step you take.

She’s your first love

and your first heartbreak …

and nothing on earth can separate you”.

On New Year’s Day we think of all mothers. I think ‘Mother’s Day’ should be moved from the traditional fourth Sunday of Lent to today. Mother’s Day was originally a day for Christians to visit their ‘mother church’. In more recent years we have allowed the greeting card companies and florist industries to set the pace and tone. No better day for celebrating Mothers than on this, New Year’s Day.

It’s hard to believe it is exactly a week ago we gathered to celebrate the birth of Christ. I know myself these days are all a bit of a fuzz, I think every-day this past week is either Saturday or Sunday! With the birds offering a symphony chorus every day and daffodil bulbs in early bloom, I’m not the only one confused these past days! Well a week later we gather to celebrate the Mother of the Christ child, with another text from the very descriptive St. Luke reminding us Mary “treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart[1].

This is our 52nd World Day of Prayer for Peace. An initiative of the more serene Pope Paul VI, I’m not sure he envisaged something he inaugurated in 1968, as still worthy of message and celebration, 51 years later. In this year’s message, which focuses on politics, we should distinguish the terms ‘politicians’ and ‘politics’. We are all involved in the world of politics. We have elected officials to represent us at different levels, but it doesn’t diminish our own responsibility for the body politic. Pope Francis reminds us “peace is the fruit of a great political project grounded in the mutual responsibility and interdependence of human beings[2] – peace with oneself, with others and with all creation.

I think the peace with oneself and peace with others is pretty obvious, but what about peace with creation, our common home? Pope Francis digs a little deeper and coming out of the frame of his seminal exhortation Laudato Si he says “peace with all creation is rediscovering the grandeur of God’s gift and our individual and shared responsibility as inhabitants of this world, citizens and builders for the future[3].  

Do you realise how much food we wasted these past seven days – one third of what we purchased, we didn’t eat, they are now in compost heaps in the garden, in black bins due for collection over these coming days. Our mothers, and certainly our grandmothers would not be impressed. Philip Boucher Hayes reported last evening on RTE’s Drivetime on what is termed ‘The Draw Down Project’. It contends we are putting more carbon emissions into the environment every year than we are taking out. The big offending issue in addition to obscene food waste is what we do with our old fridges. I suppose we might add what we do with all our old electric goods, particularly those with potent greenhouse gases? What we do with the chemicals in our fridges at the end of their life? They are not for dumping in landfill or worse still on the side of country roads. Fridges need end of life care, just like human beings, all of us.

The right to life is not given or taken away by the law of the land or by any politician. In a very changed politic from this very day, New Year’s Day 2019, around this tender issue of life, all of us must work much even harder to strengthen a culture that values all life and advocates for all in need of protection in our society. The Church most always be on the side of the most vulnerable, especially when that stance is neither popular or profitable. Included in the vulnerable this day is the common home we share with family, friends and neighbours. Let us re-dedicate ourselves to a deeper consciousness of ethically eliminating waste and excess in all our lives.  

Just in case you didn’t know Mother’s Day officially falls on Sunday, 31st March 2019, that’s three months to prepare our gift but more importantly, to celebrate those blessings.

Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.

St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us.

St. Bridget of Kildare, pray for us.

St. Conleth of Newbridge, for whom this year we celebrate the 1,500th anniversary of his death, pray for us.

St. Laserian of Leighlin, pray for us.

[1] Lk. 2:19

[2] Pope Francis, World Day of Peace Message 2019, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City, ¶7, pg. 9.

[3] ibid, pg. 10.

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