A wonderful celebration of Confirmation and First Holy Communion at St John Henry’s on Sunday. Mgr Peter Wilkinson conferred the Sacrament of Confirmation, as delegated by Bishop Lopes, and I was privileged to be able to give the children their First Communion. Given the difficulties of this year it was a great blessing to be able to spend time teaching and preparing the children for the Sacraments. Share in the hope, optimism, and joy of their growing faith has been a great and humbling privilege, as well as a deep source of encouragement.
‘Dearly beloved, by Holy Baptism, God our Father gave these his adopted sons and daughters new birth to eternal life. Let us therefore pray him to pour out upon them the Holy Ghost, to strengthen them in their faith, and to anoint them that they may be more like Christ the Son of God: that they may continue his forever, and daily increase in the Holy Ghost, more and more, until they come unto God’s everlasting kingdom.
Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hast brought these thy servants to new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, freeing them from sin: send upon them, O Lord, the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete; give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and fortitude, the spirit of knowledge and piety; fill them with the spirit of the fear of the Lord. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen’.
Divine Worship: Occasional Services
‘[W]ilfrid’s own authority came above all from his love of the gospel and his obedience to the word of God. The loyalty and love that he inspired in others – those crowds of his monks, for example, who came to greet him on his return from Rome in his old age – was based on the fact that they saw him as a rock, a man of ever-stable and unshakable faith, to be relied upon, even in the most adverse circumstances. He could sing the psalms with joy when thrown into solitary confinement in a dark cell. He could run to meet a martyr’s death as a young man in Lyon; fearless in the face of death, because he was confident in the risen Christ.
… On the first anniversary of his death, all the abbots and bishops from north, south, east and west gathered with the local people to celebrate the feast. At the end of the celebrations, which had begun with the vigil the evening before, they went out to sing compline in the twilight. “Suddenly a wonderful white arc shone out before them in the heavens, encircling the entire monastery.” The heavens bore witness to the light brought to many peoples by the first English apostle’.
from ‘Saint Wilfrid’, 2002, by Fr John Nankivell
Almighty God, who didst call our forebears to the light of the Gospel by the preaching of thy servant Wilfrid: grant us, who keep his life and labour in remembrance, to glorify thy Name by following the example of his zeal and perseverance; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
We kept our Solemnity of Title yesterday, the first time we have been able to celebrate the feast of Saint John Henry Newman on the calendar since his canonisation in Rome on 13 October last year. Veneration of our first class relic of the saint (some strands of his hair) - a gift from the Fathers of the Manchester Oratory - was not possible due to present restrictions, but we placed it before his image for the veneration of the faithful present at Mass in his honour.
‘On the spiritual plane, Newman never suffered disappointment. Nor did the faintest shadow of such a thing ever enter his head. What he had longer for, what he had striven so sorely to attain, he at last had gained – Jerusalem. The Vision of Peace, God with Us. In the letters he wrote following his conversion, there are repeated references to the ineffable joy and peace he felt in the knowledge that Christ is sacramentally present with His Church. That belief he held unwaveringly till his last hour. The Shekinah, the Blessed Presence, luminous and life-giving, which went with Israel hidden within the cloud, he had found again, though shrouded in the densest of clouds, and God knows how dense they can be – that Presence he had found, and never lost again’.
Louis Bouyer, Cong. Orat., 1913-2004
O God, who didst bestow upon thy Priest Saint John Henry Newman, the grace to follow thy kindly light and find peace in thy Church: graciously grant that, through his intercession and example, we may be led out of shadows and images into the fulness of thy truth; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Fr Lee Kenyon