The Vice-Principal, Fr Damian Feeney, gave this homily at the Solemn Mass for Saint Patrick, when we welcomed future incumbents for those leaving the House this year.
‘Not I, but Christ in me’ (Galatians 2.20)
To Patrick, Christ was everything. In the life of the Church, it is Christ who acts, Christ who teaches. If the fabulous hymn ascribed to him is not actually by him, it would have been well known to him – and this, alongside the Confession and the Letter to the soldiers of Coroticus, bear out just such an emphasis. The hymn Audita omnes, attributed to
Christ’s holy precepts he keeps in all things,
His works shine bright among men,
And they follow his holy and wondrous example,
And thus praise God the Father in heaven.
Famously, the business of separating fact and legend where saints (and especially Celtic ones) are concerned is a bit of a conundrum – but in the case of Patrick, all we really need is that emphasis on Christ. How appropriate it is, therefore, to be considering today how the call to be alter Christus through priestly ordination manifests itself in us. ‘Not I’, said
Today we are able to express both continuity and change – the continuity of that formation in Christ; but also the change, as the response of those to be ordained is taken outside the seminary, (where, true to its name, the seeds have been sown) to begin a yet more public life in the service of Christ and his church, where experience is further enriched by the key relationship between incumbent and curate, as well as through the many relationships formed within the parish. But, as Patrick knew well, the key relationship is that which we have with Christ, a relationship to be daily enriched and renewed through Word, Sacrament and through the holy people who here constitute his body. So, today we will talk of many things, ranging from the spiritual, to the practical – but let Christ be the purpose of our conversations, and the point of all our striving.