Text: Cardinal Cormac's homily in Cork City, Ireland

 Cardinal Cormac Murphy- O'Connor gave the following homily when he attended the Eucharist procession in Cork City, Republic of Ireland on Sunday. Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, dear Citizens of Cork, When I was appointed a bishop 28 years ago, there appeared a headline in the Cork Evening Echo which stated, Son of Cork-man makes good. I don't know about that, but I do know that it is good to be with you on this great occasion and I am very grateful to the Bishop of Cork for so kindly inviting me to be with you today. Indeed, the City of Cork is written in my memory. As a boy I lived for many months with my grandparents in Sunday's Well and how often I visited members of my family, my priest-uncles in the Lough and in the Cathedral parishes, and uncles and aunts in Summer Hill and elsewhere in this lovely city. But I particularly remember crossing over in a boat called the Innisfallen and my father pointing out to me landmarks as the boat sailed up the estuary from Cobh right in to the city itself. Cork, for me, was a place where the 'traveller' found a family welcome and refreshment for the times ahead. I am delighted that Cork has been proclaimed the European Capital of Culture for this year of 2005, and rightly so. But culture has not only to do with the art, the architecture, or the natural beauty of this city on the River Lee. Culture, it seems to me, is also connected with the quality, the aspirations, and the faith of the people of this city. Just two months ago, Pope John Paul II died, and as I look out at this great crowd here today I cannot help recalling the enormous concourse of people in St Peter's Square and beyond on the occasion of his funeral. What occurred to me then was that this vast crowd, so full of young people, were exhibiting for the whole world to see by means of television, what is at the heart of Christian faith. All of us who witnessed that great event were sad because we had lost someone we admired and loved. It was, however, a sadness mixed with thanksgiving and prayer and faith. As the Preface for the Dead puts it, The sadness of death gives way to the bright promise of immortality. Those days in Rome, in which I was privileged to participate, expressed in an extraordinary way the belief of Christian people. Our acknowledgement that God is our Creator and Father; that Jesus Christ, His Son, is our Saviour and Lord; that He accompanies us in a mysterious way on our journey through life; that here on our journey, each one of us, is on a pilgrimage back to our Father in heaven; that the choices and decisions we make in life are momentous and have consequences, and that, because of our faith, we find meaning in our life and, above all, hope. Suffused with all those extraordinary scenes in Rome, there was an expression of hope in the Divine Providence of God - hope in the future - because the future is in God's hands and we know that the Lord Jesus Christ is with us. Just two weeks later at his inauguration as our new Pope, Benedict XVI spoke movingly of this truth when he said to us and to the whole world, "The Church is alive". And looking at all of you here today I can see just how true that is. In this procession, we are going forth with what is the Church's most intimate possession, namely, the Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Church is alive because Jesus is alive and he walks with us. We believe, as Catholics, in the Real Presence of Jesus in this Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Even though we carry the Blessed Sacrament in honour through the streets today, we know that we are most truly united with him in this life when we receive Him in Holy Communion. So the first thing that this procession should remind us of today is that we are pilgrims on this earth. We have here no lasting dwelling place. I am reminded of the life and experience of the great patron saint of this city, St Finbarr. It is told of him that he was guided by an angel to a district to build a church. A cave is located there which we know today as Finbarr's Cave. Nearby is a beautiful pool in which every night Finbarr caught a salmon. He was obviously a more successful fisherman than many of us! But the angel came after some time and said to him, "This will not be your place of resurrection". And so he had to move on. It happened to him again and again, and the landscape of this part of Ireland is littered with foundations, monastic settlements, and churches that he established. Finbarr knew in his own experience that he was on pilgrimage, that he had no abiding city in this life, that he needed always to keep searching for the Lord who would one day bring him into His kingdom. We are, you and I, just like St Finbarr - on the way, still seeking our real homeland and our everlasting rest. As a reminder of this, in our procession today, we carry the Body of Jesus Christ, given for us on the Cross, one who suffered and died and rose again. Our path through life has all its joys and sorrows and its pain. It is right that as we process we should acknowledge our own sinfulness and the sins of the world, for which Christ died. We should confess that, again and again, we walk down the path of error, seekother ways than those of Christ. But according to St. Paul, we are all united in one body, we who eat of the one Bread. St. Augustine calls the Holy Eucharist, the sign of unity and the bond of love. I think today, as we carry the Body of the Lord in holy procession, the people of Cork should acknowledge in the depths of their heart that everyone of us is walking the same path through this life to eternity, and that the power of the life of God is already working in us. The love of God is already in our hearts. Our share in this love binds us together more deeply and more closely than anything that could unite or separate us in the past. To remind us of this, in his first homily to us, Pope Benedict compared the life of a Christian to that of a fish out of water. Perhaps he too has read about St Finbarr catching fish. "For a fish, created for water," Pope Benedict said, "it is fatal to be taken out of the sea, to be removed from its vital element to serve as human food. But for us it is completely different. We are living in alienation, in the salt waters of suffering and death; in a sea of darkness without light". The net of the Gospel pulls us out of the waters of death and brings us into the splendour of God's light, into true life. As we follow Christ we must strive to bring men and women out of the sea that is salted with so many forms of alienation and onto the land of life, into the light of God. The purpose of our lives is to reveal God, for only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. Dear friends, there are many privileges and gifts that you the people of Cork have, of which you may be justly proud - the talent of the people, the beauty of your city, the accomplishments past and present, of your young people, the love of family and friends that has been cherished and nourished here. But the most precious gift that has been given to the people of Cork is the gift of faith. This faith is what sustains us on our journey of life. It is what helps us to breathe healthily in our world. This faith enables us to believe without doubting that Jesus Christ, by His Spirit, is with us on our own pilgrimage through life. So let us continue our Procession today, united in faith and hope, and bound together in the love that is the love of God dwelling in us. As Jesus himself has reassured us, This is the bread of life come down from heaven. He who eats this bread will live forever. H E Cormac Card. Murphy-O'Connor Archbishop of Westminster Source: AH

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