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Dawn Mass Easter sunday
Saturday, April 2nd 2016

Easter Sunday – Dawn Mass

Commemorating the fallen in the Battle of Ashbourne 2016

(Homily delivered by Fr. Derek Darby PP, Ashbourne)

2913.1Today, one hundred years on, we gather on this site to commemorate the fallen of the Battle of Ashbourne in 1916.  We gather at dawn on this Easter Sunday morning to celebrate the new hope offered to all who believe in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and so we entrust all of the fallen to God’s eternal peace.  Anyone who looks up the word DAWN in the English dictionary will see it defined as a number of things:

‘The time each morning at which daylight first begins’.

It means ‘to begin to appear or develop; emerge’.

Or it means ‘to begin to be perceived or understood’.

The Leaders of 1916 had a vision for Ireland as a nation, a vision that would only become a reality if the people of Ireland as a whole responded to the summons to ‘her flag’ and ‘her freedom’.  They endeavoured to bring a new dawn over the Irish nation.  They wanted the Irish people and those whom they referred to as a ‘foreign people and government’ to recognise an Irish nation which guarantees ‘religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens and the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation, cherishing all the children of the nation equally’.  Since the events of 1916, this vision has dawned over the nation of Ireland.

As the Irish Bishop’s Conference remarked recently, ‘The centenary of the Easter Rising marks the watershed moment of our political history.  This pivotal anniversary provides an opportunity for us to deepen our understanding of who we are as a people and to affirm our hope for lasting peace and justice.’  This commemoration affords us the opportunity to reflect on where we are as a society and on what we want to achieve for the future.  People of faith will shape their understanding of this transformative event in the context of Christian values such as love of neighbour, respect for life, reconciliation, hope and healing.

One of the lines that strikes me in the 1916 Proclamation is the ‘summons to her flag’.  Just as the cross became the ‘standard’ for all who believe in the saving power of Christ, the tricolour became a standard which instilled something in its people that motivated them always towards the service of the common good.

As many of your know, the green represents the Irish Nationalism who were predominantly Catholic; the orange, Ireland’s Protestant minority and their support of William of Orange and the white, lasting peace between the two.  The Tricolour was intended to symbolise the inclusion and hoped-for union of the people of different traditions on this island.  Although not adopted as the national flag of Ireland until independence from Britain on 6 December 1921, the tricolour was first unfurled in public on 7 March 1848 by nationalist Thomas Francis Meagher.  Meagher expressed a hope of a new dawn for his country.  He said, “The white in the centre signifies a lasting truce between the “Orange” and the “Green,” and I trust that beneath its folds the hands of the Irish Protestant and the Irish Catholic may be clasped in generous and heroic brotherhood.”

“In His message for this year’s celebration of the World Day of Peace Pope Francis says, “We are related to all our brothers and sisters, for whom we are responsible and with whom we act in solidarity.  Lacking this relationship, we would be less than human.  We see, then, how indifference represents a menace to the human family.”  As the leaders of 1916 called on the ‘Most High God whose blessing they invoked’, as we remember those who lost their lives in 1916 and particularly here in the Battle of Ashbourne, whom we will remember by name in a few moments, let us ask the Most High God’s continued protection on our country where we will never take for granted the gift of peace.

During this Jubilee Year of Mercy, may we not only look back, but vigorously work to rediscover the ideals proposed by a Proclamation written “In the name of God”, and together work to create structures of justice and integrity at the service of all.

As we remember the fallen and offer our Mass for Reconciliation, let us pray that we may work together to realise lasting peace where we can live in true freedom and peace.

Eternal rest grant unto them O’ Lord.  May they rest in peace.

 

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