June 14, 2018
On Saturday we celebrate the feast day of a great English saint. Richard of Chichester was born in Droitwich in the West Midlands in 1197 and died at Dover in 1253. But it is as the reforming bishop of Chichester that he is best known and loved. In the close a statue of him overlooks the Cathedral, and his shrine has been beautifully restored within the church itself.
Richard was a man of simple personal habits, great generosity, and clearly possessed the ‘common touch’. He was not adverse to rebuking his clergy and even the King when he thought it necessary, but he was gentle to the people in his charge and keen to lead them to heaven.
Richard was keen to instil a love of Christ in his people and his whole outlook can be summed up in the beautiful prayer he left us:
Thanks be to Thee, my Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits you have given me, for all the pains and insults you have borne for me.
O most merciful Redeemer, friend and brother, may I know You more clearly, love You more dearly, and follow You more nearly day by day. Amen.
Simple but profound, we would do well to meditate upon it.
June 8, 2018
This weekend we enter the ‘Ordinary Time’ of the Church’s year. Perhaps that’s a bit of a misnomer as nothing in our life in Christ is ‘ordinary’, in the sense of dull at least. It’s a time when we grow and develop as Christians. And the saints are our examples and guides during this period.
The saints, as we have said many times before, were ‘ordinary’ men and women who became extraordinary because they allowed Christ into their lives completely. They were transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We are called to be exactly like them. We can’t say that we cannot be because we are only ordinary so were they.
As we go through this period we will be looking at their lives and struggles so that we can see how we can imitate them, how we can learn from, and how we can become more like them.
But the saints are not just examples they are also advocates who pray for us and plead our cause. That is wonderful to know. We are not alone in our struggle to become better Christians we have this great crowd cheering us on to victory. The Communion of Saints is not some abstract doctrine but a wonderful reality at the centre of the Church.
June 1, 2018
This weekend we celebrate the wonderful feast of Corpus Christi. The phrase ‘Body of Christ’ has so many resonances and this feast brings them all together. There is the physical Body of Christ, crucified for us but now resurrected and glorified in Heaven. There is the Church which is the Body of Christ on earth. And, of course, there is the Eucharistic Body of Christ by which the Church is constituted and through which we are united to Christ in Heaven.
This feast calls us to remember especially the Eucharistic Body of Christ. We give thanks for the great gift of that Body given to us. In many parishes there is a Corpus Christi procession in which the Blessed Sacrament is carried through the streets. This is a wonderful way of celebrating our faith in the ‘real presence’ and a wonderful way in which we can give witness to those around us.
Down through the ages the Blessed Sacrament had sustained the saints in their troubles and difficulties. The Mass has been the rock of all that the Church does, says, and is.
This weekend we celebrate the fact that bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ, and that we too are transformed by our consumption of the same.