APOSTOLIC JOURNEY TO IRELAND
HOLY MASS IN LIMERICK
HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER JOHN PAUL II
Greenpark Racecourse, Limerick
Monday, 1 October 1979
A phobail dhílis na Mumhan, go mbeannai Dia dhaoibh.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Today, I would like to speak to you about that special dignity and mission entrusted to the lay people in the Church. Saint Peter says that Christians are “a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (1 Pt 2 :9). All Christians, incorporated into Christ and his Church by Baptism, are consecrated to God. They are called to profess the faith which they have received. By the sacrament of Confirmation, they are further endowed by the Holy Spirit with special strength to be witnesses of Christ and sharers in his mission of salvation. Every lay Christian is therefore an extraordinary work of God’s grace and is called to the heights of holiness. Sometimes, lay men and women do not seem to appreciate to the full the dignity and the vocation that is theirs as lay people. No, there is no such thing as an “ordinary layman”, for all of you have been called to conversion through the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. As God’s holy people you are called to fulfil your role in the evangelization of the world.
Yes, the laity are “a chosen race”, “a holy priesthood”, also called to be “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world”. It is their specific vocation and mission to express the Gospel in their lives and thereby to insert the Gospel as a leaven into the reality of the world in which they live and work. The great forces which shape the world—politics, the mass media, science, technology, culture, education, industry and work—are precisely the areas where lay people are especially competent to exercise their mission. If these forces are guided by people who are true disciples of Christ, and who are, at the same time, fully competent in the relevant secular knowledge and skill, then indeed will the world be transformed from within by Christ’s redeeming power.µ
Lay people today are called to a strong Christian commitment : to permeate society with the leaven of the Gospel, for Ireland is at a point of decision in her history. The Irish people have to choose today their way forward. Will it be the transformation of all strata of humanity into a new creation, or the way that many nations have gone, giving excessive importance to economic growth and material possessions while neglecting the things of the spirit? The way of substituting a new ethic of temporal enjoyment for the law of God? The way of false freedom which is only slavery to decadence? Will it be the way of subjugating the dignity of the human person to the totalitarian domination of the State? The way of violent struggle between classes? The way of extolling revolution over God?
Ireland must choose. You the present generation of Irish people must decide; your choice must be clear and your decision firm. Let the voice of your forefathers, who suffered so much to maintain their faith in Christ and thus to preserve Ireland’s soul, resound today in your ears through the voice of the Pope when he repeats the words of Christ: “What will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his life?” (Mt 16 :26). What would it profit Ireland to go the easy way of the world and suffer the loss of her own soul?
Dia agus Muire libh !
May God and Mary be with you and with the families of Ireland, always !
Slán go deo le brón is buairt. Agus beannacht Dé libh go léir.