Helen Keller, who went blind and deaf at nineteen months, said:
‘One day I asked a friend of mine who had just returned from a long walk in the woods what she had seen. She replied, “Nothing in particular”
‘How was this possible?’ I asked myself, ‘when I, who cannot hear or see, find hundreds of things to interest me through mere touch. I feel the delicate shape and design of a leaf. I pass my hands lovingly over the rough bark of a pine tree. Occasionally, I place my hand quietly on a small tree, and if I’m lucky,
feel the happy quiver of a bird in full song.
‘The greatest calamity that can befall people, is not that they should be born blind, but that they should have eyes, yet fail to see.’
In the tradition of the Old Testament, God appears many times as a great
and all-powerful God able to work unimaginable wonders,
especially when it comes to saving, protecting and providing for his people.However,
the sight of God and of his presence was most of the times - for the People of Israel -
a terrifying experience.
So, what has happened for the author of the letter to the Hebrews to be able to say:
“Let us be confident, then, in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from him and find grace when we are in need of help”?
With no doubts: that he has encountered the person of Jesus Christ.
Not that the people of Israel had the wrong perception of God,
or that God had changed in any way.
But that, against all expectations, the great and all-powerful God of the Old Testament has – in the person of Jesus Christ— leaned all the way down to us to the point of becoming one like us sharing even the consequences of our sins.
Very few people have been able to depict such an encounter with God better that Rembrandt. In his oil painting ‘The Prodigal Son’ – of which we have a copy at the west end of our Church – he depicted the father with a left male hand and a right female hand, symbolizing both God’s power as well as his tenderness.
In the painting the father embraces his wretched son with both hands but, unlike in the gospel story, there is no noise of music, no rows, no complaints from the older son. Instead they all remain silent and still,
for they can do nothing other than to contemplate this awe-inspiring sight.
Fr Daniel Herrero
This Sunday the Holy Father will canonise 7 new saints. They are:
Pope Paul VI, Archbishop Oscar Romero, Francis Spinelli,
Vincenzo Roman, Maria Caterina Kasper,
Nazaria Ignazia of Santa Teresa of Jesus and Nuncio Sulprizio.
Each, in their own way, lived a life of heroic virtue or were martyred.
They were all touched by the Love of God and each of them transformed the lives of others.
Archbishop Romero and Pope Paul VI are well known to the world.
Yet each of us can call on the prayers of any of these new friends in heaven.
We can learn from them the true meaning of being a friend of Jesus of Nazareth. Married, single, religious sister or brother, young or old, layperson or clergy.
They call us to wake up to our vocation.
Lord, I believe: I want to believe. O Lord, Make my faith strong, unconditional, that it penetrates my thoughts; my way of judging both human and spiritual matters.
O Lord, make my faith free, that it may be the fruit of personal choice; make me accept the renunciation and the risks that it entails.
Let my faith be the best expression of my personality;
I believe in You, O Lord……
Prayer Of Saint Pope Paul VI (Signore,io credo:io voglio credere in Te)
All Holy Saints of God, pray for us.
During their visit ‘ad Limina Apostolorum’ to the Pope,
the bishops of England and Wales asked Pope Francis for a message that they could bring with them back to their dioceses.
The Pope answered their request very simply:
“that we are to live the gift of our faith with joy”. Joy is the supreme good.
We may experience poverty, discrimination, failure, the loss of property
or people whom we love…
but we can more easily live through all that if only we have joy in our hearts.
Even for Qoheleth – by far the most critical and gloomy character of the whole Bible – life is worth living only because of the joy of family life, of seeing the fruits of one’s work and of sharing your life, time and food with good friends (Eccl 9:9; 3:22; 2:24).
Other biblical witness, however, affirm that there is an even greater joy in praising God in the liturgy. The liturgy is like an open door that allows us to have a glimpse into the infinity the eternal, the divine…heaven.
In the liturgy we experience both the loving presence of God and the fellowship of the brothers and sisters. (Ps 33:1-3; 133).
But there is even a greater joy, the joy of having an encounter with Jesus Christ.
John the Baptist leapt for joy when still in the womb of his mother heard the greeting of Mary who already carried in her womb the child Jesus.
Mary herself was told by the angel Gabriel that she ought to rejoice because she would be the mother of Jesus.
And with them so many other men and women who experienced Jesus’ love and power to forgive and to heal. (Mk 2:1-12; 5:1-20; Lk 5:17-26; Lk 8:1-8).
A joy that comes not so much from being freed of one’s ailments but from realizing that in the person of Jesus Christ God has chosen us from among all the other people and called us to participate of his Kingdom (Col 1:11-14).
This joy does not fade when trials come rather it increases because the result of suffering is a deeper and more meaningful relationship with our loving God and an increase in faith, hope and charity (Rm 5:3-5; Jm 1:2-4).
Let us rejoice then, for having received the greatest gift of all: meeting the person of Jesus Christ in our lives.
Fr Daniel Herrero
As we gather in Rome for our visit ‘ad Limina Apostolorum’, we have spent time together reflecting again on the impact of the recent reports containing stark revelations of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, including in England and Wales, and of evident failures of local leadership. We have also reflected on the practical steps we must take. We do so in the light of all that has been achieved since the Report of Lord Nolan in 2001. We have endeavoured to build a culture of safeguarding within the Church’s parishes and religious communities in England and Wales, thereby providing a safe environment for all. In every parish there is a Parish Safeguarding Representative. In every Diocese, there is a Safeguarding Coordinator and Diocesan Safeguarding Commission, composed of experts in the main disciplines needed for effective safeguarding. We have established a National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (the NCSC), with a strong majority membership of experts, independent of the authority structures of the Catholic Church. Much has been achieved. Much is to be learned.
Today, 24 September, 2018, we have decided to ask the NCSC to commission an entirely independent and comprehensive review of the safeguarding structures that currently operate within the Catholic Church in England and Wales. Importantly, we will seek to ensure that the voices of the victims and survivors of abuse, through the Survivors Advisory Panel established by the NCSC, fully inform the review and its recommendation.
Each bishop has decided that he will take steps to set aside time for the purpose of meeting with victims and survivors of clerical abuse who live in his diocese.
May God guide us during this week and in this work, that the voice of Christ, crying out in those who have suffered, may be heard with compassion and discernment.
Copies of the full statement are at the back of the Church.