It is interesting that the stories we have grown up with and we still use to teach our children all have a happy ending. Perhaps we simply like it when they have the end we all expect: “and they lived happily ever after”. Or perhaps we are trying to pass on to the future generation a hope that we all hold. But all too often we see innocent people suffering the consequences of human evil, greed and selfishness and they never see justice done. So, are happy-ending stories only a human fabrication? A form of alienation? Is there a well-founded hope that things will end up well, at least for the person who seeks to do good? And, even if justice is done and things are put right at the end of their lives, will that ever be enough to compensate for years of suffering? In the first reading of this Sunday (Wis 2:12, 17-20), we hear a group of wicked and ungodly people plotting against the virtuous, whom they plan to put through a “shameful death”. The virtuous for their part have nothing to fear because they know that no human action escapes God’s sight and that He will do justice sooner or later. Psalm 56:8 says: “You yourself have counted up all my sorrows, collect my tears in your bottle. Are they not all written in your book?” This image of God collecting our tears has inspired Christian artist from very early times and some have represented it in their icons of the Last Judgement. There, near the book of the Gospels and the signs of Jesus’ passion, there is a little bottle with the tears of all righteous and just people who have suffered in their lives. None of those tears have been shed in vain. When Christ comes again He will wipe all their tears and they will have a blessed life for eternity (Ap7:17; 21,4).
Fr Daniel Herrero Peña
In our Gospel today St Peter makes his profession of faith in Jesus as the Christ.
True God and true man. It’s an act of faith that each of us is invited to every day. It is challenging. In the midst of our doubts, uncertainties and trials it is not always easy to find the words. Yet we need to find words. We all stumble, we all make a mess of our lives and we all need the grace of God to take the small steps along the path of faith.
Our actions often do match our words.
We can be tempted to despair. It is in that moment we really need to open ourselves to the grace of God and allow the loving kindness of God to open us up to the possibilities of faith. We need the encouragement and faith of each other too. We don’t travel alone. We need to remember this when we feel discouraged and downhearted.
A watch may have a gold chain,
but if it doesn’t tell the time it is useless.
A fruit tree may be teeming with blossoms,
but if it doesn’t produce fruit it is useless.
A lamp may be studded with diamonds,
but if it doesn’t give light it is worthless.
And a faith that doesn’t result in good works is dead.
The fruit of prayer is faith.
The fruit of faith is love.
The fruit of love is service.
And the fruit of service is peace.
It was only few days before my ordination when I found out that the Cardinal had assigned me to Our Lady of Victories. The Vicar General rung my phone as I was coming back to the presbytery of Our Lady and St Catherine, the parish where I was appointed for my diaconate. “I am happy to tell you, Daniel” – he said – “that the cardinal has appointed you to Our Lady of Victories”. I was indeed very happy and a little surprised too.
Since in writing I don’t have an accent that will give me away I will start confessing that I was born in Burgos, a small city in the north of Spain. I spent most of my teenage years studying hard to get to university to study civil engineering. However, God had a different plan for me. By the time I started A levels I felt very strongly that God was calling me to the priesthood. I struggled with my vocation for a long time but finally I decided to join the seminary and in 2007 I was sent to the Redemptoris Mater House of Formation in London.
I could hardly speak any English then, so I spent the first two years learning it. After that, I was ready to start my philosophical studies at Allen Hall Seminary in Chelsea. In 2011 I left for the Holy Land, where I had a wonderful experience for 10 months, working hard but also visiting the holy places, getting to know many of the places that are connected to the Bible and above all looking to have a closer relationship with Jesus Christ.
After my time in Israel, where I felt that God was confirming my vocation to the priesthood, I was sent for two years to have an experience of mission in Madagascar. Again, I found myself in a completely new place where I could hardly communicate. However, I experienced an incredible joy, the one that comes from announcing the Gospel to the most vulnerable and to see its amazing power to change people’s lives. In June 2014 the time came for me to resume my studies so I came back to London.
I was ordained deacon in 2017 and about a year later, the 30th of June 2018, I was ordained priest. Now, I hope, and I pray, that in these years ahead the Lord will give me the grace to be able to announce the Gospel with faith, especially to those that are most in need, and to serve you with all my heart and strength.
Please, remember me in your prayers.
Fr Daniel Herrero Peña.
Following a wonderful summer here in London, which not even the English can moan about, the autumn beckons us with a mixture of beginnings and endings.
September is a month of freshness– a time of new challenges, renewed vigour, and
an opportunity to appreciate the beauty of nature, as the bright colours of summer give way to the subdued shades of the Fall. For all of this, we give thanks to God, for the beautiful creation He has bestowed upon us, and for the opportunity of loving and serving him, wherever he calls us to be.
On a personal note, I feel fortunate to have been at Our Lady of Victories over the past three years. Thanks also to my fellow clergy and all parishioners for your love, friendship and patience. It has been good to be here, and I am grateful for the many blessings received - the greatest of which is simply to have shared with you in the work of the Gospel.
With my love and prayers,