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Archbishop Nichols’s Thérèse homily now on video

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The Diocese of Westminster has just posted a video of Archbishop Vincent Nichols’s powerful homily before the departure of St Therese’s relics from the Cathedral last week.

He said:

Yet Thérèse teaches us the ancient Christian message: without love all our efforts are little more than a ‘gong booming or a symbol clashing’.

She had her own way of expressing this: ‘Finally I understood that love comprises all vocations, that love was everything, that it embraced all times and all places… in a word that it is Eternal.’ Then she cried out, ‘My vocation is love…Yes, I have found my place in the Church… in the heart of the Church, my Mother, I will be love.’

As often as we listen to these words, well-known and inspiring as they are, we need to remember that they were written in October 1896, nine months before she died. They were written, then, at a time of anguished pain and suffering. They are not the words of a young romantic, day-dreaming of an ideal future. They are born of abandonment to God, in darkness and desolation. They are, therefore, powerful testimony to the grace of God at work in our weakness, and not to the power of a self-centred romantic imagination. They are words to shape our mission today.

These words speak directly to us today when, as a society, we struggle to understand and respond to the experience of terminal illness and approaching death. In the shortened perspectives of many, such moments are pointless and actually rob life of all its meaning. Therefore some seek the right to exercise the only solution that is within their own power: that of killing themselves and having others free to assist them to do so.

St Thérèse lived through those same moments. She too experienced suicidal thoughts of ending the pain and the overpowering sense of futility. She warned the sister who cared for her that when she had patients who were ‘a prey to violent pains’ she must not ‘leave them any medicines that are poisonous.’ She added, ‘I assure you it needs only a second when one suffers intensely to lose one’s reason. Then one would easily poison oneself.’

So Thérèse too lived the tension that many experience today, the tension between her individual, autonomous choice, on the one hand, and, on the other, the bonds which bound her to her community, to her family, to those who cared for her, to life. She argues, as we do today, that reason, in the context of our relationships, must acknowledge life as a gift and not an individual possession and, at the same time, embrace death when it comes.

Full text here.

Photo: St Thérèse’s relics are carried out of Westminster Cathedral (Catholicrelics.co.uk)

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Written by Luke Coppen

October 19, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Antony Gormley: Inspired by saints?

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By a curious coincidence, two of the biggest crowd-drawing events Britain has seen for a while both came to a close in London this week.

On Wednesday, the day before St Thérèse of Lisieux’s month-long tour of England and Wales ended at Westminster Cathedral, the performance artwork One & Other finished a mile or so away in Trafalgar Square.

The work, created by the Antony Gormley, featured 2,400 different people standing on the square’s vacant fourth plinth in hour-long shifts for 100 days.

I wonder if the work had a saintly inspiration. Gormley is a nominal Catholic who served Mass twice weekly as a boy and spent “a lot of time waiting to be told something by the Virgin Mary”.

Perhaps Gormley’s idea was inspired by the statues of saints that were a familiar sight in his youth.

(Photo: Antony Gormley pictured with Emma Burns, the last person to occupy the fourth plinth. PA Photos)

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Written by Luke Coppen

October 16, 2009 at 1:33 pm

Thérèse visits London jail

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The relics of St Thérèse pictured in Wormwood Scrubs prison in London yesterday.

Photo: Catholic Church (England and Wales)

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Written by Luke Coppen

October 13, 2009 at 7:39 am

Posted in saints

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Archbishop Nichols on the message of St Thérèse

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Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster speaks about the significance of St Thérèse of Lisieux in this video, which is to be shown to pilgrims at Westminster Cathedral on a giant screen as her relics are venerated this week.

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Written by Luke Coppen

October 12, 2009 at 12:54 pm

A feast at the Minster

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Happy feast day of St Thérèse! As Rocco Palmo points out, the saint’s relics will spend the day at York Minster, the only Anglican stop of the month-long visit to England and Wales.

Photo: Catholic Church (England and Wales)

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Written by Luke Coppen

October 1, 2009 at 10:27 am

Posted in Anglicanism, saints

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The backlash

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Matthew Parris uncouples the anti-Thérèse bandwagon.

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Written by Luke Coppen

September 17, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Posted in saints

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