The Church of Ireland and Catholic Archbishops of Dublin joined the Choirs of Christ Church Cathedral and the Girls’ Choir of St Mary’s Pro–Cathedral to convey a powerful message of Christian unity on Wednesday evening. Hosted by Christ Church Cathedral’s music department, the choirs’ voices united for a magnificent Festal Choral Evensong on the Eve of St Patrick’s Day.
The service was led by Archbishop Michael Jackson and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and was the brainchild of Christ Church Cathedral’s director of music, Ian Keatley. Having grown up in the context of the Troubles in Northern Ireland Ian has always been inspired by the way in which the Feast of St Patrick creates a strong and positive sense of unity throughout the island of Ireland.
‘At Christ Church Cathedral we seek to reflect this sense of community with an ecumenical service promoting a shared desire for Christian unity symbolised by two cathedral choirs singing together as one ensemble on the eve of a Feast which brings us all together in celebration,’ he explained.
In his sermon, Archbishop Jackson said that St Patrick had brought everyone together in the cathedral for a celebration of the gift of faith given by God to the people of Ireland. He said that the contribution of a faith tradition to any country was hard to gauge and in the Ireland of today it was difficult to see anything other than a decline in religion.
‘This is an extremely dangerous place to be and to settle down for the evening because it means that our custodianship of the tradition does not get a chance to breathe into the society of today with the freshness it deserves. We do a disservice to others and to ourselves. This caution is of a piece with what I keep telling myself in my day–to–day work: It is not about me, it is about them; and also with what I tell to those who work with me: It is not about you, it is about them,’ the Archbishop said.
‘Every generation deserves to get a chance to live by faith and it is a large part of our role as Christian people to lay these chances before others and to learn from their discernment of the same chances which we have failed to spot. Our purpose is, in that old–fashioned word, to convict them: to convict, that is to convince and to persuade and to assure, them of three things about the Christian Faith: its compassion, its courage and its coherence,’
Drawing on St Patrick’s Confession, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said that the saint described himself as a sinner. However, he said Patrick’s awareness of being a sinner meant that he could recognise the grace of God. He continued that Pope Francis, in his first interview after his election as Pope, also described himself as a sinner.
‘It is when we identify ourselves as sinners that we truly appreciate the abundance of the infinite mercy of God,’ the Archbishop said. ‘No human sin can prevail or limit the mercy of God. One who considers himself in the first place a sinner can never be harsh or arrogant in his judgement of others.’