Feast of St. Macartan
St. Macartan’s College
22 March 2012
My dear students,
Your parents have sent you to St. Macartan’s College to further your education. During your six years here you will, they hope, learn skills which will begin to prepare you for the demands of life and work as an adult member of the community. During your time here you will have a lot of choices to make. You will endeavour to get to know yourself better and you will try to find out what area of work will best suit your talents and what area of further studies you might qualify for so as to take you there.
This task of personal assessment and discernment is not one which can be completed in a week or two. It will take patience and time and the wise student will take advice from trusted others. The choice of area of work will be influenced by the values of home and by the values of the society in which you live and grow up. You may give priority in your thinking to earning power, to the perceived status of the work, to the security of the job or whatever considerations rate highest in the words and thoughts of those who are paid to advise on these matters in the media.
On the other hand, you may have developed enough self independence and self confidence to see that the most important consideration is to find an area of work which suits your personal talents and which will bring you personal happiness and satisfaction. You may even be strong enough to think outside the box and to make things happen rather than be carried by the tide. Am I happy to be motivated by society’s apparent prevailing values – money, success in the public eye, prestige or even greed? Or can I free myself from notions of self-importance or from the desire for many and expensive possessions? And can I think in terms of what I might have to offer society, while earning a living which will enable me any my family to live in reasonable comfort?
An Indian legend tells how at dusk the air was still and a wandering holy man settled under a tree, near a big rock, beside the path, at the foot of the mountain. There he would spend the night with a stone for his pillow. He had few belongings and had long ago given up the idea of chasing success, or money and possessions or popularity. He had what he needed and he really needed very little. Now he was simply trying to find himself.
His evening meditation was disturbed by the shouts of a businessman who came running up to him in a bit of a state. “I had a dream last night,” he blurted out, “telling me to come to the tree, near the big rock, beside the path, at the foot of the mountain. Here a wandering holy man would give me a priceless stone that I have been looking for all my life. I cannot believe that I have found you.” The holy man rummaged in his bag and said, “Perhaps this jewel which I found today is the stone of your dream. It is very beautiful. Take it.”
The businessman’s mouth dropped open in amazement and his eyes grew large with delight. As he carried the diamond home he was brimming over with pride and satisfaction. He would never see a poor day again. But the feeling did not last long and by the end of the evening he was deeply troubled. He tossed and turned all night trying to plan what he would do with his new found riches, with all the possessions which would soon be his. His life could be changed forever.
But even more, something else was bothering him profoundly. He could not get his meeting with the holy man out of his mind. There was something about it that disturbed him to the core. Before dawn broke he got up and went back to the tree, near the big rock, beside the path, at the foot of the mountain. The holy man was already up and was saying his morning prayers. The businessman placed the shining diamond in front of him and said, “I have a more important favour to ask you now. Can I have the most important gift of all? Will you give me the secret that allowed you give the precious stone away?”
On Easter Sunday afternoon, all going well, I will board a flight toRome. The following morning, I will ordain as deacon a young man from the parish of Monaghan. In a year’s time, he will be ordained, with God’s help, to the priesthood; to serve the people of this diocese. Like St. Macartan, he answered God’s call “I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, fruit that will last.” There is still room on the bus for any young man who has the independence to think outside the box and the freedom and strength of character to follow the path of making a contribution to others rather then spend his life chasing pleasure or wealth or status. Are you strong enough, mature enough to leave back the shining diamond and ask for the secret that would allow you to trade it for the most important gift of all?
May God direct you in finding the right answer.
+Liam S. MacDaid
22 March 2012