On Sunday I traveled into London for the Mass of Thanksgiving for the Papal Visit – an anniversary celebration to mark a year since the Holy Father’s state visit to Britain.
The Mass was a wonderful celebration of the busy year the Catholic Church has had following the visit of the Holy Father. It’s amazing that a year has passed since I was stood in Westminster Cathedral celebrating Mass with thousands of other pilgrims and Catholics along with the Pope. It was a great opportunity – and reminder of what we can achieve – to get together again and simply ‘be Catholic’. Hopefully everyone went away feeling that the Papal Visit is not just something we will mark each year as something that has passed, but something that we can act on, build on and live out. WYD made this possible, now we have to look for new ways to spread this spirit of faith.
The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, who presided and preached at the Mass,provided suggestions in his Homily on how to act on our faith and ensure the message from the papal visit continues into the next year.
His homily drew on young people’s reflections on the papal visit and how we should life our lives following those four days last year.
In his Homily he said that the anniversary was “a moment of hope and confidence in the gifts that our Catholic faith offers to our world.”
Deepening a life of prayer
The Archbishop focused on the importance of prayer in our lives. He said that the message brought by Pope Benedict included an encouragement for Catholics to give witness to the beauty of holiness, to the splendour of the truth and to the joy and freedom born of a relationship with Jesus Christ. This witness, he said, would best grow through a deepening of a life of prayer.
“Only prayer roots us in Christ. Only prayer sustains the poise and purpose in life that becomes a witness to the reality of God’s presence. Only prayer produces the reverence we are to show to all things holy. Only prayer sustains the space and silence our spirits need if we are indeed to be guided and formed by God’s Holy Spirit. As Cardinal Newman said: without prayer we cannot “radiate Christ; we become just another ‘clashing symbol’ in a world filled with growing noise and confusion.”
“In the words of Pope Benedict, prayer is simply being in silent inward communion with God at the heart of our thinking, our meditating, and our being. Prayer is letting the Lord have the right of free speech.”
Archbishop Nichols also recalled Pope Benedict’s call during his State Visit for clearer moral values, needed for a peaceful and harmonious society.
He particularly drew attention to the recent riots. He said: “Scandals in the world of the media and the violence and looting on the streets of some English cities in mid-August revealed how profoundly true his observations were. He said, “If the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident.”
He reminded us of the Holy Father’s ability to challenge us with questions by asking: “Where is the ethical foundation for (political) choices to be found?”
He told us that “Catholic tradition maintains that the objective norms governing right action are accessible to reason, prescinding from the content of revelation.”
He added: “Our Catholic faith, illuminating reason, gives us that gift. We see life whole when we recognise the true nature of the unborn child. We see life whole when we see in every pupil not only a future contributor to our economic prosperity, not only a future parent and leader, but also a spiritual being whose deepest needs and surest happiness can be answered only in the mystery of God and in a personal relationship with Him. We see life whole when we recognise the limited value of our personal experience as the criterion of moral truth. We see life whole when we recognise that the well-being of every human person has to be at the centre of our economic life, the ultimate purpose of our striving and the measure by which we are to judge success. We see life whole when, in sickness and terminal illness, we both treasure life as it is and do not fear death when it comes, so that we neither deny the dignity of life at its endings, nor fail to welcome our journey to God when He calls.”
The full Homily and audio are on the www.rcdow.org.uk website.