In this week’s blog, Fr. Paddy talks about the Easter Dawn Mass on Mount Leinster which has attracted thousands of people for the last two years. 

Fr. Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Nationalist papers.

This column appeared in the edition published 29 March 2011.

On Sunday April 24th, Easter Sunday, the 3rd Annual Dawn Mass on Mount Leinster will take place. This for me personally, is an absolute fantastic morning of prayer, healing, hope and celebration. Perhaps it is the largest Easter Mass in the country, in terms of the huge crowds who attend. Last year an estimated 3,000 people came to this glorious mountain to publicly demonstrate their faith in Christ and his resurrection.

I wonder what makes Mount Leinster Dawn Mass so popular?   Is it the novelty of getting up so early?  Or the fact that it is a pilgrimage experience?  Perhaps that the Mass is celebrated in the environment of such a beautiful summit? I’m sure many reasons are personal. But this experience is very attractive and taps into our human thirst for the Divine in our human lives.

Mountains resonate with our human journey through life. For this reason, Jesus in his ministry, climbed and sat on many mountains. We can only fully enjoy the summit experience of Mount Leinster until we appreciate the journey that brings us there.

Mountains in terms of the climb, are always difficult, yet mountains visit our story often in an involuntary manner. The mountain of debt, sickness, uncertainty, anxiety, bereavement and burden resonates with so many at this time.

Perhaps that’s why Jesus spent so much time on the mountain. Yes, he is with us, not just on the summit, but also on the climb!!!

I think that is why the Dawn Mass is so popular on Mount Leinster. Jesus offers strength and solidarity to all who gather.

Last week I found myself on a mountain. This mountain was in an Oncology ward in Dublin. I was visiting a sick parishioner and was walking past a waiting room. I heard a lady say, “Fr Paddy”, I walked into the room and saw two ladies. One had recognised me. It transpired both were awaiting very serious test results. Both were very open that God would bless them on this mountain of worry and uncertainty. That night I received a text message from one of the women saying, “it’s like winning the lotto”, her tumour was benign. The other lady begins treatment soon; another mountain that, please God will lead to her full recovery. No matter what the weather conditions are, the Dawn Mass on Mount Leinster will always take place. It is a story of hope, a living testimony of faith. When I visit Mount Leinster, I always get a sense of the miracle of God’s creation. It also reminds me of a story my late mother used to tell us growing up. “Do you know I believe in miracles”, she said. “Do you mammy”, I said. “Yes”, she replied “every time I held you as a tiny baby”.

This is a time to prepare for the fantastic goodness that flows from the generous heart of our God.

Please feel most welcome to attend our Dawn Mass on Mount Leinster on Easter Sunday morning. Sacred fires and music fills the air from midnight, culminating with Mass at 6:00am.

“Spirit of God, loving and free; Spirit of God, flow through me”.

Follow Fr Paddy @frpaddybyrne on Twitter for Lent.