Last March a priest who was little known outside his own country was propelled onto the world stage (we would say by the Holy Spirit) when Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected Pope and chose the name of the humble saint of Assisi, Francis. Now, within nine months he has been selected Time magazine’s Man of the Year.
At 77 years of age Pope Francis is moving with haste and some in the church fear the changes that he will bring but these fears are groundless. Pope Francis has recently written a letter (technically called an Apostolic Exhortation) to encourage the whole church to seriously take on board the fact that Christ founded the Church primarily to continue his mission to the whole world. In this he writes; “today’s vast and rapid cultural changes demand that we constantly seek ways of expressing unchanging truths in a language which brings out their abiding newness.” and quotes Pope John XXIII: “The deposit of faith is one thing… the way it is expressed is another”.
So, I predict many changes to come to make the Church more fit for the purpose of effectively preaching the message of Jesus Christ and I guarantee no change in our fundamental beliefs.
The Catholic Church is the largest provider of charitable services in the world and most of that charity is generated at parish level. The St Vincent de Paul Society’s work of reaching out to those in need, Catholic and non-Catholic, was highlighted recently and a heartening number of volunteers has joined. The work of our parish ladies groups is also well known.
So, here let’s say it for the men, members of the Knights of St Columba. They are a great help to me as I call on them when heavy work is needed and often in emergency situations. Not least they maintain our cemetery – let’s not forget that caring for and respecting the dead is one of the corporal works of mercy! In addition this year they have raised £2,183 in support of a number of charities. The most recent four year venture is a £500 annual donation to the cost of training a priest for India, of which I shall be writing more at a later date. In common with all parish organisations the men would welcome new members.
How is your Advent going? During this period of spiritual preparation for Christmas, do remember the Sacrament of Reconciliation, this Saturday and on Christmas Eve.