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Bishop Denis’ Homily at Mass Honouring our Lady of Mount Carmel

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A:                                                      16.07.23

Carmelite Church, White Abbey, Kildare: Mass at 10am

Honouring Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Introduction: It is great to be with you in Kildare this Sunday morning, a Sunday where we honour Our Lady of Mount Carmel on this the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. It is the Sunday of the Sower. The Lord is the Sower and His Word is the Seed. God’s Word always accomplishes its purpose, even when the conditions seem most dubious.

Many thanks to Fr. Anthony (TC), Fr. Yesudas, the Indian Carmelite Community here and their guest Fr. Rosario and their friends for the invitation and the welcome. It’s always good to visit a faith community and meet the regulars who come here to pray, to confess, to celebrate Eucharist in breaking open His Word and gathering around the altar to share His Nourishment. I look forward later to greeting all of you after Mass.

But first let us strive that we become the rich soil, that bears fruit in plenty for the Lord, as we gently and collectively call to mind our sins:

  • Lord Jesus, Saviour of the world: Kyrie, eleison
  • Christ Jesus, Sower of the Word in our hearts: Christe, eleison
  • Lord Jesus, hope and joy of those who trust in you: Kyrie, eleision

Gloria in excelsis Deo


I have never been to Mount Carmel. By all accounts it doesn’t feature on every pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Mind you it is well up north in the country, safely tucked away from all the tension and acrimony that can so often sadly be associated with the Holy Land.

If you are lucky to visit it, you’ll be struck by the spectacular view and how it emerges prominently from the surrounding countryside to the backdrop of the Mediterranean. Mount Carmel is associated with the prophet Elijah. It was the scene of his ordeal with the priests of Baal. The perennial fight we all endure between doing what we know to be good or slipping into temptation to settle for some momentary pleasure.

On Mount Carmel you will find a statue of Elijah. He was a tough, no nonsense prophet. I still am struck by the pose and manly physique of Elijah in St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome, a work of the artist Agostino Cornacchini in 1727. Elijah in St. Peter’s faces Saints Dominic, Benedict and Francis of Assisi. The inscription under Elijah reads: “the entire Carmelite Order erected this statue to its founder”.

That Elijah statue was sculpted nearly 300 years ago. Over 150 years later your church was built in 1884, while the Carmelite presence in Kildare in the sacred land of St. Brigid  goes much further back to 1290. The friars survived the reign of King Henry VIII, even when their abbey was seized.

The present church building is of Wicklow granite and local stone was quarried from neighbouring Rathangan! Of particular note, once more, is our friend the prophet Elijah who occupies the centre piece of the Rose Window, Elijah is of course the spiritual father of the Carmelites.

Another thing of note from a cursory glance at trip advisor and the like is the 140 feet Church spire that adorns your Church, a landmark for visitors to Kildare Town. The intention and hope is that those who are drawn to the retail world just off the M7 that Kildare Town is noted for, might also be drawn to offer a prayer or light a candle!

I think the prophet Elijah allows us to ask a question what do we expect of men in Church today. The Church needs characters like Elijah, to sow seeds of faith, to turn the soil of our hearts so that good faith and good works might grow and develop.

If Elijah might speak to the dads in today’s congregation as your Novena ends, he might offer them five pointers:

  1. Be dads who love their wives and show that affection openly and honestly. Make sure respect is at the heart of your home, your marriage.
  2. Be a dad who prays. Nothing gives younger children greater example than a dad who practices his faith and alongside his wife leads the family in prayer. We all have memories of prayer growing up years ago and how we distracted one another with little grunts and noises. We might have laughed but we also prayed. Be men who pray. 
  3. Be a responsible dad, a dad who works hard, who recreates, who spends time with family, who shares the household duties. Model your life not only on the prophet Elijah but also on St. Joseph.
  4. Be a dad who is present. Present to his family in their growing pains as well as their moments of celebration. Be on the side of the pitch, be on the end of the athletic track, be along the swimming pool, knowing that days of loss are a much better learning than days of winning.
  5. Be a dad who doesn’t get everything right. The best role model you can be to your family is to be honest about your own struggles at perfection. None of us get everything right all the time.

I always mention the scapular on today’s feast. It is an external sign of a filial relationship between Our Lady of Mount Carmel and those who put themselves under her protection. They are promised a good death and more importantly a better destination after death! I have one over my bed, one of the last things I see before going off to sleep. Dads make sure you pick up your scapular today, bring it with you, put it in the car, in your pocket, wear it.

This morning’s gospel is taken from St. Matthew and it takes up the theme of the Parable of the Sower. In fact the crowds are so large Jesus has to put into effect ‘Plan B’ to ensure all hear His message and have access to His grace. Where has the seed fallen in our lives? On the edge? On patchy ground? In the middle of thorns? Or on the most fertile of soil? What kind of a harvest are we yielding with the seed of our lives?

Carmelites, wherever they are, establish a community, like here in Kildare in the twelfth century in response to the prophet Elijah depicted in that lovely Rose Window – by creating a sacred place for The Lord. Brigid did the same as she mapped out territory here in Kildare. It’s the challenge on this the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel for all of us men, women and young people, to map out a sacred space for the Lord in the midst of our busy lives. Amen.