MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS
HART FOR THE CHILDREN OF THE ARCHDIOCESE IN SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL,
MELBOURNE, ON TUESDAY, 17TH MARCH 2015 AT 10.30
My dear young Friends,
Over sixteen hundred years ago a young boy was born in Roman Gaul. He loved his God and his family, but he did not take a great deal of notice of how important God, our Maker, is in the life of each of us.
When he was sixteen he was captured as a slave and taken away and forced for six years to mind sheep on a mountainside. There was very little food; no one else was there very much, and while he looked after the sheep he developed a wonderful friendship with God. He said, “Constantly, I used pray in the day time. Love of God and his fear increased in me more and more and as my faith grew and my spirit was stirred up. I said as many as one hundred prayers, and at night nearly as many, so that I used to stay with God even on the mountain.”
After six years he heard a voice in his sleep asking him to be ready for something especially brave, which would bring him back to his home and family. When he ran away from his master, he travelled two hundred miles, led on by a magnificent idea that there would be a ship to take him home. After a voyage of three days they came to land and still had to journey for a month. His companions knew that he was a man of God and yet, because they were very hungry, they mocked him, and this young man, Patrick, said, “Turn with all your heart to God. With him everything is possible.” They came upon some pigs and journeyed on so that at the age of twenty-three he was restored to his people.
This young man was our Saint Patrick. He spent some time studying in France, came back and taught his people of the love of God that he had known. This man, Patrick, became a great leader and teacher. To help him in this work he spent much time in prayer, because prayer was a conversation of love with his God. At one stage he spent forty days and forty nights fasting up on the mountain and he came to the Irish people to teach the Gospel because he loved God so much. He became the Archbishop of Armagh in Northern Ireland and his love of God was infectious.
We young Australians often look at our footballers or cricketers, our athletes and swimmers and tennis players, we rejoice when Australia is doing well because we admire courage and bravery. Patrick was someone who was brave and courageous in God’s service and he invites us to a greater and deeper courage. Like Patrick, we want (1) to know our God as a friend and to see prayer as our conversation with him, (2) to know that God loves us and asks us to be courageous in work and in play, but to be constant and faithful to God in all that we think and say and do, (3) Patrick invites us to value ourselves because we are precious to God and by honesty, truth and directness to be worthy of what Saint Patrick gave the Irish people who then brought to Australia the love and care of God.
I do ask each of you young people to think and ask God to touch you with that love and with the ability to do something special for him. Patrick was an ordinary young fellow until he allowed God to touch him - and that changed his life. We too must know that God gives us a special invitation. For some of us it will be to be a priest to bring people to God like Saint Patrick. For others it will be to be a teacher like Saint Patrick. For all of us it is important that we wonder about how great God’s love is for us and what we can achieve if we say yes to him. Jesus Christ was the centre of all that Patrick was and did in his life.
Today we want to know that he guides us just as powerfully and lovingly. In the words of Saint Patrick, “Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me.” May it be so in the hearts of the wonderful young people of Melbourne Archdiocese.
+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.