THE BISHOP of Raphoe, Alan McGuckian SJ, has urged people to ‘live at depth’ during these uncertain times.
In his St Patrick’s Day Homily, delivered at an empty St Eunan’s Cathedral in Letterkenny at a Mass broadcast live online, Bishop McGuckian said people needed to ‘keep an eye out for each other’.
It was a time, he said, to make time for families and for relationships which may have been forgotten about in the hustle and bustle of everyday life before the recent shut down.
It was a strange and unprecedented St Patrick’s Day in Letterkenny, devoid of the usual pageantry and merriment due to the various closures in a bid to quell the spread of coronavirus.
With the shutters pulled on the bulk of the town’s businesses, the scene was replicated at St Eunan’s Cathedral, as Bishop McGuckian said Mass behind closed doors.
“This time brings its challenges and fears, but it could be a time of great blessing,” Bishop McGuckian said.
“You may be someone who came to Ireland as an exile from your someplace; you may be an Irish person who feels threatened by all the talk of social isolation; it may feel much too close to the bone in some other way. You may feel that you are a captive, physically or metaphorically.
“These days can be our Slemish Mountain. The depravation and the loss of a certain kind of outer freedom could be the moment to go deeper into ourselves.
“It may be a time to go deeper and give more consideration to the people around us; go back to the depths of our relationships that we may have forgotten about.
“We can enjoy time with family members, if we are spending more time in the house with them; a time to think about friends and neighbours who live alone, keeping an eye out for each other.
“One of the results of living in a softer age is that we lose the sense of wonder and awe. We enjoy the buzz that pleasure gives, but because it doesn’t really satisfy us we go back for more and more. We become addicted to food, drink, pornography, screen time, shopping, fashion, looking good or whatever it may be.”
Quoting from the ‘Confessio’ of St Patrick, Bishop McGuckian mentioned how Patrick had ‘lost all of his comforts’, but had ‘turned from being a disaster into a liberation’.
In a message he said that ‘shouts down the centuries’, Bishop McGuckian quoted St Patrick: “So, I am first of all, a simple country person, a refugee and unlearned, but this I know for certain that before I was brought I was like a stone lying in the mud.”
Bishop McGuckian added: “In Ireland, Patrick spent years on Slemish Mountain herding someone else’e sheep. That was a bit of social isolation. How did that work out for him? By his account, when he was cut off from the life he had known – as a carefree ungodly child of privilege in the late Roman Empire – he was drawn inside of himself and learned to live his life in a new and deep way.
“Even though he bore great hardships and was often exposed to the cold and the damp County Antrim weather, he realised that the life he had lived before was shallow. From now on, he would live at depth.
“He gave time to prayer. When he was tending to the sheep he prayed often. Even at night, he rose to pray, sometimes in the snow and the rain. Something radical changed in this young teenager. It took him by surprise. Before this had happened, he couldn’t give a hoot about God or good living.
“He said: ‘I never even felt lazy as I realised the spirit was burning in me at that time’.”
It was a message, he said, for people to drawn comfort from in a time of uncertainty and worry.Tags: