Next Sunday we celebrate the wonderful feast of Christ the King. The Church’s year ends in triumph with a vision of Christ as ruler of all peoples and creatures, and of his kingdom of justice, love and peace established completely and irreversibly. This is the vision that sustains us here on earth in a world that at this moment in time is anything but just, loving and peaceful. Throughout the gospels Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God. It is any situation in which God reigns and his will is being done. The parables talk about the kingdom and the miracles put it into action. The Second Vatican Council speaks of the Church as being the ‘seed of kingdom’. It is not the Kingdom fully grown but contains within itself the genes for the development of that kingdom. The church is most fully the church when it is bringing justice, love and peace into the world. The church is called to show the loving service of Christ both in word and action. The church is called to show a different way of living to the world. Sunday’s feast is a great celebration. We rejoice that Christ is our king and we accept the task he has given us of proclaiming his reign. We are ambassadors of the great King. Our words and actions should reflect his love. P.D.
On Thursday we celebrate the feast day of St Cecilia. To be frank we know little or nothing about this martyr of the early Church save that she was a native of Rome. There are lots of stories about her but few that are completely reliable historically. However, she has been venerated for centuries as the patron saint of music and that is what we should concentrate on today. Christian worship has always involved music, just as the synagogue service did before it. Hymns, chants and songs have always been part of the community’s experience on a Sunday as it celebrates the sacred mysteries. Saint Augustine said that ‘he who sings prays twice’ and many others have pointed out that music is not and addition but an essential part of Christian worship. In our day we have a variety of different forms of music to accompany the liturgy: from Gregorian chant through to folk music . Each has its place to play but each has to be of the highest quality and requires the highest endeavour. We cannot simply accept that the mediocre and the banal has a place in the liturgy but rather must always be striving for the excellent and only the best in good enough for God. On Thursday we must ask the prayers of St Cecilia so that we can always ensure that what we bring in terms of music is worthy of God we worship. P.D.
In the mid fifth century the Church was rocked by violent disagreements about the nature of Christ – how exactly was he both God and man. The Church was deeply divided. At the same time the western empire was being overrun by Huns and Vandals. The old order seemed to be falling apart. Lesser men might have run for cover and bemoaned the age, St Leo, whose feast day we celebrate tomorrow, rose to the occasion. Leo was probably born in Rome. In 440 he was elected Pope and for the next twenty one years he ruled with the wisdom, clarity and vigour. He was acutely conscious of his role as St. Peter’s successor and realised that in him Peter spoke to the Church and world of his day. He upheld the orthodox faith against the heretics. He challenged the Vandals and prevented a massacre. His writings and sermons show a clear mind and his actions a decisive will. For all this he is just one of two Popes known as ‘the Great’. We too live in turbulent times. Erroneous ideas still besiege the Church and in many parts of the world warfare and violence are common place. Thankfully we too have the living voice of Peter in his and Leo’s successors. Let us pray for Pope Benedict today. P.D.