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Thursday, 30 June 2011

Persevering In Prayer

Incidentally, Dom narrowly beat out some very stiff competition, this year.


Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth seems to be a man of an energy, and good cheer and generosity of spirit that I can only describe as Dickensian, the sort of character who sweeps in at the end when all seems lost and makes everything right.
His keynote address at the Colloquium was superb.
His Ember Saturday homily can be found here.
And subject to correction, these were his words at a votive Mass for the Blessed Mother. (I have never heard multiple themes woven together so simply and beautifully, in ways that make one say, of course! the connection is obvious! when of course it was nothing of the sort before.

Whether or not we call these days the octave of Pentecost, we find ourselves in the afterglow of that momentous occasion, the reverberation of which is still felt across these long centuries, being as it is, the moment when the Church, the Fathers tell us, born at the side of Christ as he dies on the cross, begins in a very spectacular way its public life and ministry, the magnalia Dei, as we say, in a rather intriguing double sense, wonders which God does both in and through the Apostles.
During this time, and through the days that lead up to the great feast of Pentecost, the first novena in the life of the Church, when the Church, in its vulnerability, tiny, afraid, is huddled together in the place of the Cenacle...that Church, at its very beginning, tells us so very much that we need to know about the life of the Church from that moment until this.

The Acts of the Apostles, in its first chapter, records three characteristics of the Church gathered in that place: it says, first of all, that they were unianimiter, of one heart; secondly, perseverantus in oratione, persevering in prayer; the third characteristic of the Church, is that it is cum Maria, with Mary.

I would suggest to you that those characteristics which are so emblematic the Church as it is being born, have in every age been characteristics of the Catholic Church. and are still now discernable characteristics.

We sometimes fall prey to the temptation to believe that unity is something which we work hard to bring about.
We should work to see a more visible unity among those who call themselves Christian.
But unity is a gift and a quality which God bestows upon the Church and our task in proclaiming God's truth is to work and pray that many are drawn to that unity.

The greatest expression of being of one heart is to be of one voice.
Surely I am not the only one to have felt during these days, that something of the same holy experience has touched our lives. We feel ourselves to have been of one heart because we are of one voice.
That's as it should be.
And that divinely ordained characteristic of our liturgical worship is based on a deeply seated truth.

Perseverance is not a modern virtue.
We live in a world where things are easily disposed of once they outlive their usefulness.
We live in a fast-moving world where things do not seem to be built to last.
But we worship a God who is unchanging; in Him there is neither shadow of change, or decay.
That's so very hard for us to grasp.
Even our physical bodies are evidence of the change and decay that takes place in time, which is so much a feature of our human condition.

So as we replicate in our lives that changelessness which is in God, and which He so looks to find in us ... well, surely a little echo of that is seen in our perseverance; in our sticking to it, regardless of what the discouragement may be, the disappointment, the lack of appreciation, whatever it is that we find that may discourage us -- our dogged perseverance, our fidelity, and so often our generosity will win through.
Not only will we see a victory for those things that we hold so dear, but in a very real way, for our own salvation, and for the salvation of others.

Perseverantus in oratione
Ours is a praying Church, a singing Church, a believing Church, and a persevering Church.

Cum Maria
The essential quality, I think, of that gathering, the person who enabled it to continue to hope against all the odds was the one who treasured all these things in her heart,and even when she saw no absolute encouragement to continue believe, did not despair.

Fr Frederick Faber, founder of the London Oratory, in his wonderful study, "At the Foot of the Cross", says, reflecting upon the Gospel you have just heard:

"As Christ was dying on the cross, the Church was present in the heart of Mary."

That’s where the Church was, in that moment. That's how small it began. And from the tininess of that Church, something great has come.
So my dear brothers and sisters, as we rejoice to find ourselves in this setting, and to feel the power of the Holy Spirit breath over us, and inspire us -- let us be of one heart and voice; let us be persevering in prayer; but above all, let us be, with Mary.

1 comment:

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