On the day of the referendum I launched a new history of the Diocese of Waterford & Lismore by Msgr. Michael Olden, entitled – ‘The Faith Journey of the Deise People’. Here are few thoughts which I shared on that day which I hope apt as we pick up the pieces after the dreadful referendum result.
One of the best things we can do right now, in these turbulent times – when one’s faith is sorely tested- and in order to keep our peace and sense balance in the Church and indeed in the world – is to read Church history. Right now in Ireland there are many who feel as if the world and the Church is falling apart. Last Friday’s referendum, will I believe, be a watershed in modern Irish history. But as we read in the Book of Qoheleth: “There is nothing new under the sun”.
2000 and more years in existence, the Church has seen a great deal and a book like this beautiful publication documents so well the history of the Catholic Church and uniquely the story of that Church in its particular manifestation here in this beautiful corner of the world,- its beginnings, development, rise and fall, fall and rise, its saints and sinners, its struggles and hopes. To have a record of the story of our diocese as is found in this wonderful work is invaluable.
And it is timely. For to read of the past gives us hope for the future. To know our history is to be able to plan for the future. The history of the Church is a record of death and resurrection, of rise and fall, of flourishing, of decline and of rebuilding.
Are we in a time of flourishing? – certainly not. A time of decline? There are signs of decline all around us. We must be honest and recognize it for what it is. Do we need to rebuild – certainly. Where are the green shoots? Where are the signs of the action of the Holy Spirit? Where to now for the diocese of Waterford & Lismore? This book does not say. That is up to us to write.
I was reading recently about some Brazilian fishermen – those who fish at sea – not the gentlemen fishermen who cast a rod on the banks of a river – but those who go out into the open sea to fish for a living.
One Brazilian fisherman was asked why the Lord Jesus choose so many fishermen as his apostles. The answer was profound and full of meaning for these uncertain days.
“People who travel on the land build roads, and they continue to use these roads over and over again. But a fisherman goes searching for the fish wherever they are. And so he chooses a different path each day. For it happens that yesterday’s route does not lead to the fish of today.”
And know that He is with us always, “to the very end of the age.”