Archbishop Richard Clarke and Archbishop Eamon Martin gave their third joint St Patrick’s Lecture at the Market Place Theatre, Armagh, on Friday 16th March on the theme ‘Christ in quiet, Christ in danger – challenges and opportunities facing Christians today’. The event was chaired by UTV journalist Sarah Clarke and opened with a video of ‘The Deer’s Cry’, the famous words from St Patrick’s Breastplate, ‘I arise today…’. Both archbishops focused on how the historical figure of Patrick – who was dogged in his perseverance to spread the good news of the gospel of Christ – speaks to us now. Mindful of the Christian duty to model respect for others, both archbishops over their past five years in their respective offices have sought to work together in friendship. Archbishop Clarke said that while Armagh has two cathedrals, both dedicated to St Patrick, there was one Patrick, one Christ and one mission of the Church – the message of Christ to the world.
Archbishop Clarke spoke on ‘Christ in quiet’, making the point that St Patrick lived in constant danger and that today Christians across the world often face real danger, not least in Egypt, Syria and Iraq. He also said that being a Christian in Ireland today takes courage. He spoke of the need for solitude and quiet in order to face those dangers, arguing that quiet and danger are not two separate entities. He quoted Henri Nouwen’s line that ‘solitude is the furnace of transformation’.
Archbishop Martin, who spoke on ‘Christ in danger’ asked what our responsibility is when other Christians are persecuted, and stressed that the challenge today is still to proclaim, often to a hostile audience, that God loves us personally. He noted that Patrick saw himself in his time as witnessing to ‘the ends of the earth’ (Ireland being at the very edge of the Roman world), and talked about the encircling power of God’s protection as captured in the words of St Patrick’s Breastplate.
The audience also watched a specially recorded message from the Chaldean Archbishop Bashir Warda of Erbil in Iraq, where the cathedral has been a sanctuary to Christians who have faced persecution and exile – he thanked Christians worldwide for the prayers which have upheld them. The talk was followed by a question and answer session, in which the archbishops stressed the need for Christians, in what has been called a ‘post-truth age’ to emphasise the importance of truth and its crucial importance in public discourse now more than ever.
The archbishops later joined in a short evening pilgrimage walk between the two cathedrals – also passing the Methodist and First Presbyterian Churches – in Armagh, as a prelude to the St Patrick’s Day march and celebrations on Saturday.
Councillor Thomas O’Hanlon, Revd Louise Donald (Armagh Methodist Church), Archbishop Richard Clarke,
Archbishop Eamon Martin, Sam Nicholson (Deputy Mayor),
and Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo (Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland)
for the full photo gallery click here