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Address of Bishop Denis at the celebration of the Feast of St Laserian, Old Leighlin Cathedral

Patronal Festival of St. Laserian – Molaise Day:                                     18.04.23

Old Leighlin Cathedral @ 7pm

Yahweh I know you are near …”[1]

We stand alongside Elijah at the mouth of the cave with the gentle breeze. We meet Yahweh in that gentle breeze.

Bishop Adrian and friends, it’s an absolute joy to be with you in the heart of Old Leighlin this Tuesday evening, April 18th, as we once again mark Molaise Day, the Feast of St. Laserian. I’m very conscious Bishop Adrian this is your first Molaise day. It’s great to have you among us and once again I’m delighted to work alongside you in every and any way possible.

The scripture I chose comes from the Book of Kings. It’s a reasonably well known piece from the first Book of Kings, chapter 19, verses 9-12. It’s Elijah finding Yahweh in the gentle breeze.

Yahweh I know you are near,

standing always at my side …[2]

I always associate Old Leighlin with that gentle breeze. I love my walk from the car parked somewhere in the ecclesiastical village, in through the main Cathedral gates, walking the path where loved ones rest to the right and to the left, observing the cherry blossom ready to burst into life and of course always experiencing that gentle breeze.

Ten years ago, I received a phonecall that would ultimately change my direction in life. A few days earlier, Molaise Day, April 18th, was just an ordinary day in my parish diary. Arranging a wedding, a school visit, a funeral of a good parishioner and the usual parish bits and pieces. Nothing special, no mention, no even notion  of Laserian.

A short couple of weeks later on a sunny May morning in 2013 I would be invoking his intercession at my announcement as the new Bishop of Kildare & Leighlin, and successor to Laserian in front of the Cathedral in Carlow. April 18th is now no longer just an ordinary day in my calendar! It links me and all of us with someone who was the Abbot in this holy place back in the seventh century. The Abbot of a dynamic community where kindness and compassion inspired many to know God’s love.

Yahweh I know you are near,

standing always at my side.

You guard me from the foe …”[3]

So what might be the foe in 2023? The Book of Kings reminds us a change of heart does not occur because of a fire out of heaven but rather because of quiet burning in the heart. We are not here this evening for a history lesson, but all of us have to rediscover Laserian and his message for this especially designated ecclesiastical village and wider area, 1,384 years after his death.

I always think in our churches and our traditions there is much more that unites us than divides us. The environment, care for our common home is critical. This is not just our common home, it is our only home, there is no Plan B. Climate Change is the defining issue of this generation; it won’t be solved by sound bites or quick fix easy solutions. The cry of the poor and the cry of the earth go hand in hand. How we tackle homelessness, the trolley crisis, migrants and refugees is inextricably linked to our care for this earth. This is the lens in which we must view everything.

It seems to me that Old Leighlin here has the potential to become an oasis of climate care in a sea of climate catastrophe all around us. It is here we might consider how the principles of Laudato Si’ might be embedded. The best friends of the environment are good farmers who know the signs of creation and can interpret them much better than any analyst. It is here a summer school one day might engage farmers and scientists to reflect together on CO2 emissions. We might call it the Laserian Summer School. And that’s only for starters.

Let’s find Yahweh now in the gentle breeze. Shortly we will walk to the well. I love that walk. Let’s hear more acutely this evening the song of the birds as we stand around the well. Let’s hear the gentle rustle of the trees as we pray our prayers and sing our hymns. Let’s be aware of God’s creation, because He is still speaking from the mouth of Elijah’s cave.

Yahweh I know you are near,

standing always at my side.

You guard me from the foe

And you lead me in ways everlasting”[4]

[1] Composed by Dan Schutte

[2] ibid

[3] ibid

[4] ibid