Homily for St. Patrick’s Day 2020
Bishop William Crean
St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh
Dia is Muire dhibh, Good Morning and welcome.
We are glad you can join us for this time of prayer to mark St. Patrick’s Day. We are doing so in strange and unusual circumstances. The coronavirus has swamped the world.
We gather in an eerily empty St. Colman’s Cathedral – we know its empty for good reason – to help stem the spread of a rampant virus that is such a threat to our families and society.
Patrick is our father in faith – he lit the flame of Christian hope in Irish hearts. We are thankful it still radiates among us all these centuries later.
So, in the midst of a seemingly gloomy time we give thanks to God for the rich blessing of family, friends and fellowship in faith.
The world has been stopped in its tracks. We are witnessing a phenomenon never experienced by any previous generation.
Those who have gone before us have known war that wreaked havoc, terror and death of an extraordinary scale.
Those who have gone before us have experienced plagues that led to a great loss of life.
But these events took place at times when science and medicine were not developed as they are now.
This experience has generated genuine shock and awe because of its sheer speed of infection before which a very sophisticated medical and scientific community are put to the pin of their collar to cope.
Taken together with the experience of climate change we realise how fragile we are and how fragile our world is too.
This generation has been blessed to live in the best of times. We have known the blessing of peace and prosperity. We can be forgiven for taking it for granted. It is understandable for us to believe that it would go on and on.
Yet there have been those among us that have been raising their voices and concern about the nature of the society we have been fashioning for ourselves. Questions about global inequalities, about the power of multinational companies and about the exploitation of limited natural resources.
The coronavirus has stopped us in our tracks. It is impossible to know at this point what its full impact will be. But we fear it will be huge – and on all levels of society and on people socially, emotionally and spiritually too.
We are reminded by its unknown quantity that we are not in charge – forces beyond our control are at work in the world. For now, all of us are called to a deep level of shared responsibility – called to think of how we can help healing rather than cause hurt.
We are called to support those in science and medicine to lead us through this swamp of fever.
We are called to prayer – to acknowledge the gift of God’s creation – to work with the world of nature to find solutions to this pandemic.
From our heart we can pray the Breastplate of St. Patrick like we have rarely prayed until this time of peril.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
St. Patrick, pray for us.