By Sarah Mac Donald - 29 June, 2014
A learned atheist could learn the Church’s catechism off by heart and still have not an ounce of faith in Jesus, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has warned.
In his homily at a Mass on Saturday for the National Charismatic Renewal Conference at the RDS, the Archbishop told up to 800 participants that faith is not a matter of ready-made answers which can be set out as in a catechism.
“Jesus meets us where we are. He invites us to enter into a relationship with him,” he said and added, “A relationship is never fully mature on a first encounter. You enter into and deepen a relationship day by day.”
The two-day conference concludes today and speakers will again address the theme ‘The Joy of the Gospel’ this morning.
Sr Bridget Dunne, Chairperson of the National Charismatic Renewal Conference, explained to www.CatholicIreland.net that the theme is taken from the title and the spirit of Pope Francis’ papal exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium.
“Faith does not come in ready-made sound bytes,” Archbishop Martin told the packed RDS concert hall on Saturday.
Referring to the Gospel, he said “Mary in her doubts remains a model of discipleship. She does not simply put her doubts aside. She ponders, she reflects, she enters into the prayer of the heart.”
He acknowledged that we all often hope in prayer to get quick answers and quick solutions.
“We live in a ready-made age, in which we are offered simple superficial answers to everything. The age of the ready-made is not the age which brings real joy as we see all around us. The real Joy of the Gospel comes from that daily encounter between us and the God revealed in Jesus Christ and allowing Jesus through his love for us to deepen our thoughts.”
Returning to the theme of the national conference, Archbishop Martin said the “joy of the Gospel is not simply a question of intellectual satisfaction.”
He said it must be “a joy which touches our hearts, takes root in our hearts and then it must spring from our hearts and penetrate everything we do in our lives.”
Referring to the new evangelisation, the Archbishop said that when “we speak about evangelisation, we are not creating a type of sect which sets itself apart from daily life. We are challenged to bring the Gospel right into the heart of the world around us, and in bringing Jesus into our world we actually humanise the world to the fullest extent.”
He underlined that Christians are called to bring the Joy of the Gospel to a troubled world. “Our joy, however, is not a superficial, glib joy. The world is troubled and we find ourselves in the midst of that troubled world. We must be able to share the troubles of other.”
Speaking to www.CatholicIreland.net, Sr Bridget Dunne said the theme of Pope Francis’s exhortation had “caught the imagination, the faith, courage and determination of a lot of us.”
“He is really saying some splendid things that we are taking on-board, listening to and hopefully we are putting into practice.”
The La Retraite Sister, who is based in Cork, said the weekend conference was about giving people very practical advice on putting their faith into action and raising their spirits around faith.
This year the main speaker on Saturday and today is Ralph Martin from Michigan in the USA, who hosts his own Catholic TV and radio show ‘The Choices We Face’.
He is involved in Renewal Ministries which helps the Church in more than 30 countries with leadership training, evangelisation conferences and retreats, and by publishing and distributing Catholic resources.
This is a return visit for Ralph Martin who has been in Ireland before for both charismatic conferences and the Tine Catholic Leaders Network conference.
In December 2011, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Ralph as a Consultor to the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation for a five-year term.
Today, Bishop Martin Drennan will be the main celebrant at the Mass which closes the conference.
“He is the liaison bishop for charismatic renewal for the Irish hierarchy which is why we have asked him,” Sr Bridget explained.
Killarney Methodist minister Laurence Graham also addressed the conference. “We like to have speakers other than Catholics too. Something of our calling is to ecumenism,” Sr Bridget explained.
Recalling her own address on Saturday, she said she had “picked up on something the Pope said to the charismatic renewal gathering in Rome at the beginning of June. With a sense of amusement he said there was a danger of excessive organisation and I laughed because I was in the thick of organising this conference!”
“While we need organisation, Pope Francis went on to say that we are people of the spirit and we must listen for guidance, for inspiration and what does the Spirit want – not what do I think will work, but what does God want. We listen and if we don’t hear, we listen some more until we do.”
According to Sr Brigid, the best way to listen is through prayer and listening to the Scriptures, the Word of God.
“The Word of God, that is God speaking and he does speak. We listen in the silence of our hearts and we listen to the word of prophecy that he gives in our prayer meetings. We listen to the consensus of thought coming through in our groups as to what God is saying and we discern,” she said.
Today, the conference committee will begin the day with an hour of prayer and then all the participants will share in another hour of prayer before they are addressed by Ralph Martin.
They will also hear an address by the Emmanuel Community on how they share the joy of the Gospel. The conference concludes with Mass with Bishop Martin Drennan.
A new office is currently being established by the National Charismatic Renewal Conference in St Mary’s Bloomfield, Donnybrook, Dublin 4 and according to Sr Bridget the Charismatic Renewal in Ireland is “moving into a new phase”.