HOMILY for the 150th Anniversary Celebrations, Wicklow 17 Jan 2020
I always have a happy feeling when I come into Wicklow Town, maybe because its setting is so beautiful with the sea the hills and the Murrough. I remember being happy here because Wicklow was a good place to live and Holy Rosary a happy school. Close your eyes for a moment and see if you can imagine how the first 8 sisters felt as they approached the town in their carriages ; probably excited and nervous . Wasn’t it amazing that they opened the primary school only 4 days after arriving!
The gospel we have just heard, the Beatitudes is all about happiness and living a good life. Sometimes we use the word blessed instead of happy. The sisters came to teach children who had not had the opportunity to be educated, so you can imagine how pleased their parents were when the Dominican Sisters opened the school, just as your parents are pleased when they see you getting on well as you learn, and know that you are growing up to be the person God wants you to be, with all the individual gifts and talents that make you so special.
In the gospel just read, we hear that when Jesus saw the crowds he went up the mountain and sat down to teach his disciples; he was followed by many people who wanted to learn from him, not maths or reading or science but how to be good and happy people.
I do not know if the sisters thought about that gospel as they planned the opening of their school and the schools that followed or the Dominican Education they would give their students, but it seems to me that in Jesus’ words we find a plan for life, which, if we follow it, will bring us happiness .
Let us look at what Jesus is saying to us in this gospel which is good news for us as we remember the past and are inspired for the future:
Some of these Beatitudes as they are called, make us think:
What does it mean to be poor in spirit?
How can we be blessed when we are sad?
Is it really a blessing to be persecuted and have people say all sorts
of nasty things about us or put bad things about us on social media?
Other Beatitudes are easier to understand but I believe Jesus always asks us to use our minds and hearts and then put what we learn into practice in our lives . We can do this whether we are child, young adult or an older person.
We can love God ,with all our hearts, thanking God for all the good things and praying for what we need . We know that God loves each one- Happy are the poor in spirit, Happy are the pure in heart
We can be strong but gentle not bullying others- Happy are the meek
We can be unselfish and generous, and think of others even when we are sad ourselves -Blessed are those who mourn
We can be peaceful, not mean and cruel to others Happy are the peacemakers
We can stand up for good and be ready to forgive those who hurt us;
Happy are those who are persecuted
We can be fair and just, doing all we can to care for others and for the beautiful planet we live on, which is suffering so much. Happy are
those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
Later on, you can think of how you can be a blessed, happy person by living your life the way Jesus asks you. In that way you will not only be happy yourself but you will spread that happiness around.
I have a little prayer that has always helped me and I hope it will help you. Will you say each line after me?
I am only one but I am one
I can’t do everything but I can do something What I can do I ought to do,
What I ought to do I will do
By the grace of God
If all of us here today can live by the Beatitudes I think those first 8 Dominican sisters would be very proud of each one of us and so would Jesus and St. Dominic!
Sr Elisabeth Healy OP Congregation Prioress