Veronica Murphy and I have been reflecting on the week and the wonderful and powerful conversations we have had with so many people. The Statio Orbis Mass began at 3.00 pm in Croke Park this afternoon. Many of the pilgrims were in the stadium by 1.00 pm but because All Hallows is close by we were able to have lunch at 12.30 then walk over to the stadium and in our places by 2.00pm. The 82,000 strong congregation made the atmosphere in the stadium truly electric. Before Mass Bishop Arthur Roche and I had a brief chat about the wonderful week we had just experienced. Archbishop Bernard Longley also came by as did Archbishop Gerald Cyprien Lacroix, Metropolitan Archbishop of Québec and Primate of Canada: ‘Baptism’ he called out, with a glint in his eye. He explained to the priest he was with that we had a great new baptism resource in Liverpool, ‘but as yet,’ he said, ‘it is not in French!’
There was a carnival atmosphere in the stadium before Mass. The presenters interviewed various people about their extraordinary faith journeys these were interspersed with musical performances from the Three Irish Tenors, Celine Byrne, and The Three Priests. I managed to say a quick hello to Father Martin O’Hagan whom I know well. The Three Priests will be performing in Liverpool later this year.
The Mass was wonderful and the Papal Legate spoke in his homily about the importance of not being afraid to live out the seed of faith received in baptism.
At the end of Mass we watched a video message from the Pope Benedict XVI. The Holy Father spoke of the faith received in Baptism, strengthened in Confirmation brings us to Eucharist. And the Eucharist, the Holy Father said, is an encounter with the risen Lord. Recalling the 50th Anniversary of Vatican II the Holy Father said that much had been achieved through the liturgical renewal but more was needed. Pope Benedict said ‘Active Participation’ is more than being busy with external activity it calls us to a deeper participation in and with the risen Lord. The Holy Father then announced that the 51st Eucharistic Congress in 2016 will be in the archdiocese of Cebu in the Philippines. At this news there was raptures applause. One of the Filipino Bishops on behalf of the Filipino Bishops Conference thanked everyone and welcomed us to the Philippines in advance of 2016. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin then spoke of the Congress as being more than an event: it is to be an opportunity for new Evangelisation. The Papal Legate then bestowed on us the Apostolic Blessing and the Mass concluded with a rapturous ‘Glory, Glory Halleluiah!’ after the deacon had proclaimed: ‘Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your lives.’ ‘THANKS BE TO GOD.’
Read Cardinal Marc Oullet's Homily at Mass
Read the Message of Pope Benedict XVI
More pictures from the Congress here