Monday, September 19, 2011

In the UK, One Year Later

A year ago today, a journey that overcame an onslaught of brutal advance coverage (and threats of protests that weren't) to become a historic and immensely successful Papal Visit to Great Britain ended in Birmingham with the beatification of John Henry Newman -- the first of only two such rites that B16 has reserved to himself (the other, of course, being the elevation to the altars of Blessed John Paul II).

To mark the milestone, the bishops of England and Wales have released a sweeping vision-statement for the renewal and deepened identity of their church, a venture prominently underscored by the re-introduction of mandatory Meatless Fridays year-round, which came into effect last week.

Even if the Pope's heading to Germany this Thursday for another State Visit, there remain numerous moments of the UK trek that should not go forgotten, among them Benedict's landmark Westminster Hall speech on faith's role in civil society, and the following Evensong in the Abbey (homily/video) that made for both an ecumenical high-point and a liturgical masterpiece.

And likewise among them, there is that money-quote given as the close of the homily at Glasgow's Bellahouston Park:
Finally, I would like to say a word to you, my dear young Catholics of Scotland. I urge you to lead lives worthy of our Lord (cf. Eph 4:1) and of yourselves. There are many temptations placed before you every day – drugs, money, sex, pornography, alcohol – which the world tells you will bring you happiness, yet these things are destructive and divisive.

There is only one thing which lasts: the love of Jesus Christ personally for each one of you. Search for him, know him and love him, and he will set you free from slavery to the glittering but superficial existence frequently proposed by today’s society. Put aside what is worthless and learn of your own dignity as children of God. In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks us to pray for vocations: I pray that many of you will know and love Jesus Christ and, through that encounter, will dedicate yourselves completely to God.... This is the challenge the Lord gives to you today: the Church now belongs to you!
...and even a year on, some challenges never get old.