"Grace to you and peace" (1 Thess 1:2). I am writing this message on board the CIE coach from Killarney to Dublin. It is almost noon on Wednesday, October 19, the feast of St. Luke the Evangelist, the sixth day of our tour and pilgrimage to Ireland. It is a four-hour drive to Dublin, and it is drizzling. In the homily at the mass I celebrated earlier this morning for fellow pilgrims at St. Mary's Cathedral, Killarney, I pointed out the need to find God in the consistent rainfall that seems to be "ruining" our day. I said God is in the rain, and we must recognize the presence of his grace in the unceasing rainfall. We must also see the diffusion of his grace in all of Ireland we have seen in the past six days ( I will say more about my experiences across my adopted home of Ireland in due course).
Grace upon grace; that is what this pilgrimage has been so far. We have received God's favor and calmness throughout the tour. We have prayed and partied from Galway to Killarney. There is so much to share with you. Still, one of the highlights for me so far is celebrating mass at special sacred spaces like the Shrine of our Lady of Knock, where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared on August 21, 1879, in the company of St. Joseph, St. John the Evangelist, and the lamb standing on the altar. God lavished his abundant grace and peace upon me and my friends at Knock. I presented you all to Jesus and the Blessed Mother, and I know God's grace has been released and increased in you. Please keep praying the Rosary; our Lady wants us to pray it frequently.
We are getting closer to Dublin now. It is still raining, but it will not stop our visit to the Guinness brewery! Now, with the risk of shocking some people or undermining their expectation of my moral decency (smiling), I have had a lot of Guinness here in Ireland! Feel free to verify my claim from other parish members on this tour. Without equivocation, the best Guinness is made in Ireland ( it is even better than Nigeria's Guinness Stout). What sheer grace God has planted even in this very mundane matter. God's goodness permeates all things he created. He is present in all beautiful things if you look carefully. As we get closer to Dublin, the literary land of Leopold Bloom, the central character in one of my favorite Irish classic fiction, James Joyce's Ulysses, I need to halt my writing. I will continue reflecting on how God's grace runs through all our lives the next time I see and talk with you.
Meanwhile, I extend God's grace upon you, Rath De ort.
In His joy,
Fr. Alayode Bernard O'Niwe