Saturday, 28th November 2020

Ministry of Reader 2015

Posted on 18. Nov, 2015 in Carousel

Left to right: Monsignor Ciarán O'Carroll (Rector), Fr Hugh Clifford (Director of Formation), Bishop Dónal McKeown (Derry), Bishop Francis Duffy (Ardagh and Clonmacnois), Mr Tony Shannon (new Reader), Rev. Stephen Duffy (Deacon), Bishop Leo O'Reilly (Kilmore, celebrant), Fr George Hayes (Vice Rector), Mr Seán Mulligan (new Reader), Bishop Philip Boyce (Raphoe), Bishop Brendan Kelly (Achonry), Fr Thomas Norris (Spiritual Director).

Left to right: Monsignor Ciarán O’Carroll (Rector), Fr Hugh Clifford (Director of Formation), Bishop Dónal McKeown (Derry), Bishop Francis Duffy (Ardagh and Clonmacnois), Mr Tony Shannon (new Reader), Rev. Stephen Duffy (Deacon), Bishop Leo O’Reilly (Kilmore, celebrant), Fr George Hayes (Vice Rector), Mr Seán Mulligan (new Reader), Bishop Philip Boyce (Raphoe), Bishop Brendan Kelly (Achonry), Fr Thomas Norris (Spiritual Director).

Two seminarians of the Pontifical Irish College, Rome, Mr Seán Mulligan (Diocese of Clogher) and Mr Tony Shannon (Diocese of Meath) were conferred with the Ministry of Reader by Bishop Leo O’Reilly of Kilmore at Mass in the College Chapel on 18th November 2015.

The Ministry of Reader is a Church ministry in itself, but it is also one of the steps along the way in formation for the Priesthood.

 

Here is the homily preached by Bishop O’Reilly at the Mass:

Last Sunday’s readings, from the book of Daniel and the Gospel of St Mark, were full of apocalyptic foreboding. We heard of great distress, cosmic chaos and  things falling apart. In the midst of all this upheaval and uncertainty Jesus gives one ringing assurance to disciples: “heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away.”

The word of Jesus will stand. The word of God is the one firm anchor in the stormy sea foretold by Jesus for his followers. These words must have reassured Peter in all the troubles he experienced as he preached the word – the hostility, the opposition and imprisonment. They must have strengthened Paul in his many travails – especially on his journey as prisoner to Rome. They stood to him when he and his companions were literally shipwrecked on the island of Malta and during his imprisonment in Rome where we find him in today’s reading. The astonishing thing is that the word of God, the message of Jesus continues to be proclaimed even from behind bars – as St Luke says – with complete freedom and without hindrance.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Today you will be instituted as readers, lectors, ministers of Gods word. This is one of what used to be called ‘minor orders’. But it is no small thing. The word of God is a powerful reality. The letter to the Hebrews tells us that it is sharper than any  two- edged sword. So St Paul is invariably depicted in art – as he is in the great statue outside St Peter’s in the Vatican – with a two-edged sword in his hand. In the other great statue at the front of the basilica, St Peter is identified by the keys. The keys are the symbol of authority and in particular of the authority of St Peter as the authoritative preacher of God’s word in the Church.

The word of God is powerful because Christ is present in his word. You will recall that the Constitution on the Liturgy teaches that Christ is present at the celebration of Mass, not just in Communion but in the community gathered in his name, and in his word.

The responsibility for proclaiming God’s word then is a sacred one. You are making Christ present to your hearers as you proclaim his word. So while this ministry is a step on the road to priesthood for you, in a real sense it goes to the heart of what our priesthood is about. The Second Vatican Council’s document on priests has this to say: “Since no one can be saved who has not first believed, priests .. have as their primary duty the proclamation of the Gospel of God to all. (Presbyterorum ordinis 4) The liturgy of the ceremony says the same thing: “you will bring the message of salvation to those who have not yet received it.”

The Gospel gives us the classic image of the Church –  Peter and the apostles in a fragile boat on a stormy sea. They are afraid, their faith is weak. They ask themselves, is Christ really with us or is he only a figment of our  imaginations? That’s often how we experience the Church today. Things could seem to be falling apart. The ship is threatened with sinking. Commentators write about the Church as a thing of the past. Recently, a well-known commentator described it as a 1500 year old institution wiped out by the abuse crisis. We are being written out of the script. That is the world where you will proclaim God’s word.

Today’s Gospel is one to meditate on again and again. The words of Jesus: courage, it is I, do not be afraid, these are our defence. The word of Jesus will not fail. His word assures us the Church will not fail. Christ is with us – not as a shadowy, ghostly reality, but as a real presence in word and sacrament. Never forget that it is Christ’s word you proclaim; that heaven and earth may pass away, but Christ’s word will not pass away. You cannot share that word with others until you have accepted it yourself, till you have prayed and pondered it, tasted it and digested it.

I’ll leave you with the words of the ceremony itself: “In proclaiming God’s word to others, accept it yourselves in obedience to the Holy Spirit. Meditate on it constantly so that each day you will have a deeper love for the scriptures, and in all you say and do, show forth to the world Our Saviour Jesus Christ.”