By Sarah Mac Donald - 17 June, 2016
The Primate of All Ireland has asked St Anthony of Padua to help people in Ireland rediscover the gifts of faith, hope and love, especially those who feel they have lost “these powerful Christian virtues”.
In his homily at Mass in St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh on Thursday evening to formally welcome the relics of the popular Saint, Archbishop Eamon Martin said too many people today are gripped by despair, including young people whose lives are meant to be filled with dreams and wishes for the future.
“There’s nothing as awful as losing hope, and sadly it is all too common for that to happen today – maybe in many cases it’s because of first losing faith, or losing the gift of loving or feeling loved.”
He said anxiety and depression have a hold on many Irish lives.
“No doubt the heavy hand of austerity, financial pressure and unemployment has played its part, but so too have the impossible expectations of appearance, popularity, instant gratification and the shallow fantasy of celebrity culture.”
The Archbishop added, “Perhaps we’ve also ‘unlearned’ how to cope with the reality of sacrifice, disappointment, and the failure that is part and parcel of life in this ‘vale of tears’.”
On the matter of people losing faith, he said, “It is easy to drift away from faith because life has become so busy and confused. Finding time and space for prayer seems more and more difficult; sinful habits become more ingrained and the next thing to lose is that sense of God’s presence – just as a friendship grows cold because of not ‘keeping in touch’.”
He added that finding faith again is not as difficult as it may sound, because even if we have been lukewarm or uncommitted to the friendship, God never leaves us, God our Father is right there beside us, waiting patiently for our return.
“So Saint Anthony, help us to find our faith again,” he prayed and he also enjoined the Saint to help people rediscover and rekindle the gift of love.
Elsewhere in his homily the Primate stated, “Christ is our light and our hope, the one who never lets us down and who offers purpose and meaning to life.”
“If Saint Anthony wants to help rekindle hope, no doubt he will want to call upon the kindness, encouragement, perseverance and unselfish commitment of others, including ourselves, to light the flame of hope for someone else.”
He concluded by saying that if each member of the packed congregation left determined, like Saint Anthony of Padua, to carry the child Jesus in their arms wherever they go, holding up to others their friendship with Jesus, opening to them the consolation found in God’s Word, then “who knows how many lives could be touched by the visit of these relics to our country and our Cathedral!”