Pause for Thought: Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor's St Patrick's Day Thought

17/03/2016 9:25 am

Here's Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor's Pause for Thought reflection for St Patrick's Day - 17 March 2016. It was broadcast just after 9:20am on BBC Radio 2's The Chris Evans Show.

Cardinal Cormac's reflection invites us to "have an open door to welcome people even if it is difficult sometimes."


Today is 17 March – St Patrick’s Day. It is a feast not only in Ireland but all over the world. They say in New York that even the beer is green!

But I want to speak of two phrases in the Irish language which are particularly characteristic of the Irish people. The first phrase is, Ceol agus craic, which means music and laughter. I remember years ago going to Ireland for the wedding of a nephew of mine who married a lovely Irish girl. The evening before the wedding a group of us went to a local pub which had the odd name of Dirty Nellie – I don’t know why. Anyway, I recall playing the piano which was out of tune as there had been much drink spilt on it over the years. But there was great music and singing and much laughter, as so happens on feast days and family occasions and rightly so.

The other phrase I want to mention is even more important. It is Céad míle fáilte, which means a hundred thousand welcomes. When you greet someone who comes to your house – or your company – the neighbour, the new-comer, the visitor – greet him or her warmly – more, say that you are very, very welcome and show it in your face and in your attitude, especially when you meet a stranger, an unexpected visitor and, dare I say it, the refugee. When they come to where you are, make sure they are not only accepted but truly wanted – truly welcome. Jesus said once, I was a stranger and you took me in.

As I said, may you have music and laughter and craic with your friends today but, above all, I ask you to have an open door to welcome people even if it is difficult sometimes. You don’t have to say Céad míle fáilte – a hundred thousand welcomes, but I do hope you will show them that you are really very, very glad to see them and that they are truly welcome. May you have a happy St Patrick’s Day.

BBC Radio 2's Chris Evans Breakfast Show