By Sarah Mac Donald - 07 April, 2014
This Church is not a concert hall or a theatre to which the faithful come as spectators to watch, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has warned.
He told parishioners in Beaumont parish gathered for a Mass to celebrate the refurbishment of the parish church and the dedication of a new altar that “The Church is the place where we learn what holiness means in our lives.”
The Archbishop said the Church is a place where we come to pray and where we learn to pray in a world where “the symbols of God’s presence are so often removed from sight.”
He underlined if we create our own idea of God we will end up creating a false God.
“The God that was revealed in Jesus Christ is totally ‘other’. He saves us through being God, not through any power of our own.”
Prayer, he commented, was not running away from reality, but quite the opposite.
“When we recognise in prayer that God is Lord of the universe, we can never justify behaviour which would plunder or exploit or misuse or appropriate to ourselves our environment or the goods of the creation which were given for the benefit of all,” the Archbishop said on Sunday in Dublin.
“If God is the Lord of life then we can never exploit or abuse, mistreat or exclude, much less suppress any other person, created in the image of God and a member of God’s one human family.”
“Prayer in that sense is the great teacher of discernment in the midst of the ambiguity of progress and all the ambiguities that are present in our own hearts.”
Celebrating the rededication of the Church of the Nativity of Our Lord, Archbishop Martin said, was an act in which the parishioners witnessed to their faith in the God of life.
“It is faith in the God of life that enables us to change and to progress and to interpret change and progress. Without faith in the God of life, there is no real reason to hope that death is not the ultimate end. Without faith in the God of life our life is devoid of meaning.”
Acknowledging that life is not ours, but gift from God, changes our whole attitude towards life.
The Archbishop also paid tribute to the adult men and women around the world who are preparing themselves to receive the Sacrament of Baptism at Easter through the catechumenate process.
“In our traditional reflection on Lent here in Ireland we have perhaps never fully grasped the link between Lent and Baptism. Our tendency has been to look on Lent just as a period of personal penance and almsgiving.”
At the Easter Vigil, on Holy Saturday night, the Church will listen to a series of texts from the Old Testament which show how the entire history of salvation, the story of how God prepared and protected his people for the one who was to come, was filled with symbols of Baptism.
“Baptism, won for us through the death and resurrection of Jesus, brings to fulfilment in us all of the promises of old,” he explained.