Filed under: advent, advent journey, diarmuid o'murchu, estates ministry, hope, kingdom of god, st chads cathedral, year for consecrated life
Last Saturday I was very lucky to be invited as part of the Anglican delegation to St Chad’s Cathedral for the opening Conference and Mass for the Year of Consecrated Life (I’m not a religious, but am Chaplain to the Birmingham Franciscan Companions). There was a wonderfully warm and gracious welcome to us, and plenty of inspiration for the coming year.
I’ll be thinking and living this for a while and it will certainly be a major contribution to my preaching this Advent. We were given A Reflection on the Year for Religious by Diarmuid O’Murchu. I’ll quote from it here as a step and stage on the Advent Journey.
In Feb 2014, the Congregation for Religious in Rome issues a document, simply entitled Rejoice, announcing a special year to celebrate Religious Life…
The document calls Religious to a fresh sense of being counter-cultural, challenging the transitory nature of contemporary life. We are called to have courage to go against the culture of efficiency, with its tendency to waste and trivilialize what is sacred. We are called to a new sense of solidarity, particularly with all who search for deeper meaning, who despair in the face of violence, oppression and the exploitation of natural resources.
Towards the end of the document, (p81), Pope Francis states: ‘An authentic faith always involves a profound desire to change the world. Here is the question we must ask ourselves: do we also have great vision and impetus? Are we also daring? Do our dreams fly high? Does zeal consume us (cf Ps 68:10). Or are we mediocre and satisfied with our ‘made in the lab’ apostolic programmes?’
O’Murchu then goes on to write about the task of putting this into practice, especially in the context of communities which are experiencing diminishment. This speaks to my own context of small, often fragile churches in areas of depriviation. O’Murchu speaks great wisdom in the need for honesty and realism, of letting go of the past, but of hope; hope that God has a new future that will open up for us, and hope that we can work for God’s Kingdom with all those people of good will around us.
In these dark, short winter days, in this Advent, this speaks to me of the God who we encounter coming to us in the margins, carrying nothing.
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