Homily Notes and Introduction from Archbishop Martin at the Rite of Chrisitian Initiation of Adults in St. Mary’s Pro Cathedral on Sunday 17th February
61 people took part in this ceremony from 22 different parishes in the Archdiocese of Dublin –53 catechumens ( people preparing to join the Catholic Church by receiving Baptism, Confirmation and the First Communion this Easter Vigil) and 8 candidates (people already baptised in another Christian tradition & seeking to join the full communion of the Catholic Church) .
“On many occasions in the Acts of the Apostles, we encounter a note of special joy as the author records how the ranks of the believers grew in numbers and how the emerging Church grew in strength.
This afternoon the Church in the Archdiocese of Dublin rejoices as it embraces this group, representing the 61 men and women from across the diocese who, following the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, begin their Lenten preparation for Baptism at Easter. You come requesting to be baptised and to be welcomed into the family of Jesus which is the Church. I greet the 6 candidates who enter Lent as period of purification and enlightenment in preparation for being welcomed into the full communion of the Catholic Church at Easter.
I greet each of you individually; I greet those who have prepared you for this journey, especially the priests and the representatives of the parish communities to which you belong. Together we pray that, especially in this Season of Lent, our common renewal in the Lord will develop and deepen.
We have listened to the traditional Gospel of the first Sunday of Lent: to the Gospel of the temptations of Jesus.
The season of Lent is a moment of grace offered to the entire Christian community to convert, to return to God. Lent is just not about individual acts of penance; it is not a sort of a Christian version of New Year’s resolutions. Lent is a moment of spiritual battle waged by the whole Church and all its members, in order to identify and to turn away from those idols which day by day, year by year and generation after generation, so easily seduce us and alienate us from the message of the Gospel.
Jesus is tempted at the moment in which he embarks on the mission he has received from his Father. The forces of evil challenge him at that precise moment. The individual temptations are about turning stones into bread, about possessing all the kingdoms of the earth, about throwing himself down in order to be dramatically saved by angels. Each of these temptations, however, is fundamentally about the same thing: Jesus is tempted to turn away from obedience to his Father and to live and work for himself alone, leaving aside communion with God.
Jesus is tempted and he responds to these temptations through an attitude of radical obedience to God and to his own calling. The weapon which Jesus proclaims for this battle with evil is the Word of God. In responding to Satan, Jesus does not enter into a debate about detail or particulars in responding to Satan. Jesus’ aim is not winning points in a debate. His answers are all taken from the word of God.
The battle between good and evil continues in the hearts of each one of us still today. It is the same fundamental temptation to act just on our own without God. It is the temptation into which today many people fall, not so much through a blatant rejection of God, but through an indifference and through a routine of life in which God gradually begins to play more and more only a marginal place.
Many say that they are disillusioned with the Church but still wish to follow the path of Jesus. But where do you find the key to that path? We cannot create it on our own; otherwise we run the risk of creating a God of our own. In this Year of Faith I appeal to all those who feel disillusioned with the Church but still feel attracted by the message of Jesus to turn to the authentic source of that message, which is the Word of God and especially the Gospels. All of us have to take up the Gospels again and read them, rather than surmise that we know them and understand them. We have to familiarise ourselves with the logic of the Gospel. We have to observe how Jesus taught and lived. We have to find the time, the space and the silence to allow Jesus’ revelation of God’s love to heal and renew all of us and to heal and renew the Church.
At this particular historical moment in the life of the Church, as we pray for the one who is to become successor of Peter after Pope Benedict, all of us should make this a moment to foster a deep sense of ecclesial communion, overcoming individualism and rivalry and disunity and fostering anew genuine love of the Church. There will be much speculation in these weeks about the Pope and about the Papacy. Leave it to the pundits to speculate; the Christian community should unite in prayer for Pope Benedict and for the new Pope.
Lent is about new beginning. It is about all of us changing the direction of our lives. It is about each of responding with total integrity to the specific vocation to which we are called in life and in the Church. It is about allowing Jesus Christ to come into our lives and change our hearts and overcome the false idols which can easily find their way into the very crevices of the fabric of our hearts. We have to seek a life of greater simplicity, detached from what is not essential and not true or good in our lives. We have to die to what is false in our lives so that we can rise with Jesus to new life.
At this ceremony I am delighted to welcome those of you – catechumens and candidates – who today take a further step in your integration of this community of faith and worship which is the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Dublin. That journey will reach its climax in the Easter Vigil. Jesus has touched your hearts and has sown within them a hunger and longing for participation in his special presence within his Church in the sacraments Christian initiation and in the Eucharist.
I welcome your sponsors and the priests and the representatives of the parish communities who have helped form you in the faith of the Church. The commitment of the sponsors is a witness of something that is essential today in the life of the Church and in the life of the individual believer. As we celebrate a Year of Faith we are called not just to deepen our faith, but to spread that faith through witness to that faith. We are called to share what our faith means for us. We are called to witness through the way we live to the meaning that Jesus Christ brings to our lives. As sponsors you have not just been catechists who impart knowledge. You have been catechists who have witnessed to what the faith means to you.
My dear catechumens and candidates, you come here to the Mother Church of this Archdiocese to ratify your “yes” to Jesus. Your “yes” must not be just a “yes” in words, but a true conversion to the essence of the Christian life, being a true disciple of the God who in Jesus Christ revealed himself as a God of love. May that love inspire you; may that love embrace you and enrich you, as you prepare for that moment in which you will be able to celebrate fully your sacramental union with Jesus at Easter.
I congratulate each of you on this important day in your life and in the life of the faith community of the Archdiocese of Dublin.” ENDS