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Bishop Denis’ Homily at Mass concluding the Quarantore Celebration in Myshall

Twenty Fourth Sunday -Year A:                                                                                      17.09.23

Church of the Exaltation of the Cross, Myshall @ 10am

Quarantore Celebration – 40 Hours Devotion Weekend


Last Thursday, September 14th, was the celebration of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the Patron of your church here in Myshall, the only church in our diocese to enjoy this patronage. I also realise it is the time of the traditional 40 hour adoration, of which I am honoured to conclude this morning. 

It’s easy to talk about forgiveness, it’s the forgiving bit that’s hardest to do! This morning’s gospel asks us to forgive from our heart, no if’s, buts or maybes, just a total, absolute, unconditional forgiveness.

The unforgiving servant in the gospel disturbs us because he sails close to the wind, he could be any of us. This morning’s parable drives the point home, if God is big enough to forgive us, we should be only too ready to forgive one another and maybe most difficult of all to forgive ourselves..

Let’s pray for that spirit of forgiveness as we draw to a close these precious 40 hours in the presence of the Lord …


In seventeen days-time on October 4th, Pope Francis will open the first session of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome. We have heard more of this synod and its theme than any of the earlier 15 Synods. There has been engagement at parish level, in every diocese and by every Episcopal Conference in the lead up to the gathering in Rome.

For the first time religious women and men and lay representatives will be present during all the sessions of the Synod and enjoy full participatory rights. This is no longer just a gathering of Bishops and some sort of top-down exercise, in fact it models what it says on the tin: ‘For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission’. This is a bottom-up exercise if ever there was one in the Church we all love and cherish.

This week in a preparatory message sent ahead of the Synod there was a call for prayer, for exactly what you have been doing here in Myshall for the past forty hours. The People of God have been on the move across the world since this Synod was first announced in October 2021, and now we are asked to continue that movement, that action, that participation with the power of our prayer.

The prayers of Myshall and Drumphea, the prayers of Clonegal and Kildavin are critical for the success of the forthcoming Synod. Pope Francis offers us a prayer intention for every month, last October it was “Without prayer there will be no Synod”. There are many forms of prayer: listening, adoration, intercession and thanksgiving.

Just a word today on the second form, adoration. Maybe since the pandemic many have lost the habit of the very notion of what it means to worship God, to spend time in His presence, to say nothing so that He might speak to us. Spending time with the Lord so that one day He might offer eternity to us and those we love.

These forty hours called ‘Quarantore’, are precious moments in the life of a parish. I compliment you for continuing this tradition entering now its hundredth year. And perhaps suggest that you might organize an evening of Adoration for the success of the Synod while it is in session during the month of October. A success that is critical for us all and for these young First Communicants who gather with us in Myshall today and who will be the leaders of this parish in time to come.

A brief glance at our gospel, little did Peter know the question he asked Jesus would one day come back to haunt him, ‘how often must we forgive one another?[1] If Peter needed to forgive and be forgiven, all of us this Sunday morning have the same need as Peter. Seventy-seven times over!

Let’s look at this, seventy-seven bit. Some translators even offer the figure of seventy times seven, suggesting it’s allot closer to the original Greek. If we go with the seventy times seven, we’re looking at a figure of 490. So, the magnitude of Jesus in his instruction to forgive rests somewhere between 77 and 490, in other words, let’s put no limit on the amount of times we should forgive. It’s measureless mercy, forgiveness with no strings attached!

Imagine for instance your neighbours cattle or sheep breaking into your land, you’ll forgive the neighbour a few times but 77 times or worse still 490 times would be an enormous show of mercy. And that’s what Jesus offers us this day. Limitless mercy. The little ones among us need to hear this, that God loves them and they like us will be forgiven again and again and again.

[1] Mt. 18:21