Most Rev. William Crean
Mass of the Holy Trinity
140 years of 1st Mass (1879)
St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh,
Sunday 16th June 2019
It is still not unusual to see soccer players especially from Latin America bless themselves with the sign of the cross as they come into a game often first touching the pitch as they do so. I am sure some at least wonder at what it means or represents.
It probably has many layers of meaning but generally it is an expression of faith in God as giver of life and its gifts. It probably is a prayer too for the blessing of success as a player/team. And it is certainly a very public witness to belief in God.
While we call it the sign of the cross it is a physical sign of a faith in God as a Trinity of persons Father, Son and Holy Spirit – one God three persons – we rightly state as mystery, not just because we cannot fully explain it but also before whom we present ourselves with the humility of creatures that we are.
This question of the nature of God was the subject of great controversy in the life of the early Church after much searching and strife the early Church found an agreement to a shared profession of faith that we know as the Nicene Creed. We continue to pray that profession of faith as an expression of our unity in belief in God as Father, Son and Spirit.
The Creed is not the last word on our understanding of God simply because the ways of God are beyond us but the Creed gives us the wisdom of the ages as we continually seek to discern the way forward into new cultural frontiers.
When our families are blessed by a new baby one of the first things we seek to teach them is how to bless themselves. It is not easy for the child especially if they are left handed. It is just the beginning of a process whereby we share with the child our way of understanding life as the gift of the Creator God and Father, who redeemed us in Christ, who in turn bequeathed us the Holy Spirit, as our Advocate to mind us in life all that he has taught us.
To-day Trinity Sunday we mark a special moment in the history of this house of prayer St. Colman’s Cathedral the mother church of the Diocese of Cloyne. While this year 2019 we formally mark the Centenary of its consecration in August 1919, we know it was a long time in planning and construction, it is 140 years since the celebration of the first Mass here in 1879.
It was a very incomplete building then with little of the colour and artistic liturgical ornamentation we can see now. Still at that point of its construction and moment in our
history it was a cause of great rejoicing to have accomplished so much in difficult circumstances.
To-day in order to synchronise this moment in the history of St. Colman’s Cathedral we anticipate the Feast of Corpus Christi with our Eucharistic Procession afterwards to St. Benedict’s Priory in the Mount where the Community is dedicated to Eucharistic Adoration.
My friends, the construction of this monumental sacred space is no different than the purpose of the most humble and simple chapel. Both share the provision of a sacred space where the Holy Mass may be offered and celebrated and Eucharistic Adoration be facilitated. For people of faith who enter here engage in prayer and praise from the first moment you place your hand in the Holy Water Font to make the sign of the cross acknowledging the Divine encounter as entering the Mystery of the Triune God of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
While here, whatever the disposition of your heart all we do and say finds its focus in the Sanctuary, the Eucharist we celebrate and the reserved Blessed Sacrament. In a turbulent world this sense of the abiding presence of God among us is a still point from which to reference that which is real, true, noble, good and beautiful from falsehood and pretence.
So, for us who gather here this is a living place of faith, prayer and spiritual nourishment. Therefore, while St. Colman’s Cathedral was designed and built in the 19th century it is very much a spiritual beacon in the 21st century.
On a moment like this we must acknowledge those who have gone before us as the Book of Ecclesiasticus declares
Let us praise illustrious people
and ancestors in their successive generations
In their descendants there remains
a rich heritance born of them ……
The peoples will proclaim their wisdom
The assembly will celebrate their praises. (Eccles 44:1-15)
These words are being fulfilled just as you listen and hear.