Cardinal O'Brien urges politicians to recognise the advantages of marriage and support married couples for the benefit of society.
In a homily to be preached during a Homecoming Mass tonight at St. Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh, Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien will describe families as, "the building blocks of our society"
adding "the foundation on which those building blocks are laid is marriage"
He also states; "At the heart of my service as Cardinal and at the heart of my ongoing service of my brother Bishops in Scotland must be the protection and support of marriage and family life."
and asks; what does the State do to encourage young people into stable relationships and to help them bring up their children? Have our politicians looked around Europe and the world at how other countries support the family and learned from what they see “ if not I urge them to do so."
The mass will be an opportunity for hundreds of parishioners from throughout the Archdiocese of St. Andrew's and Edinburgh who were unable to travel to Rome to welcome the Cardinal, around 1300 people are expected to attend the celebration.
NOTE TO PICTURE DESKS:
The Cardinal (wearing red berretta and soutane) will be welcomed on the steps of the Cathedral at 7pm by the Cathedral Administrator Mgr. David Gemmell, where there will be an opportunity for photographs. Thereafter he will proceed into the Cathedral to receive a short welcome address before preparing to celebrate mass at 7.30pm.
NB: Photographs may be taken inside the Cathedral but should be kept to a minimum during mass.
TEXT OF HOMILY BELOW:
STRICT EMBARGO 7.45PM, 31 0CTOBER 2003
CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
HOMILY PREACHED BY CARDINAL KEITH PATRICK O BRIEN
ST MARY S CATHEDRAL, EDINBURGH FRIDAY 31ST OCTOBER 2003
"Just last Saturday following on my return from Rome I was privileged to be preaching in
St Patrick s Church here in Edinburgh as we dedicated the newly erected shrine to the Venerable Margaret Sinclair in a beautiful ceremony led by our Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Pablo Puente.
Her remains had been transferred from Mount Vernon Cemetery back to her home “ her spiritual home of St Patrick s Church where she was brought as a baby to be baptised, where she received all the Sacraments of Initiation, and where her faith grew as she herself grew into womanhood.
Being with you all here in our Cathedral today is indeed a homecoming for me “ a homecoming to this Cathedral in which I was ordained a priest and some twenty years later as a Bishop; a homecoming to the priests, religious and people whom I have tried to serve since my ordination here to the priesthood some thirty-eight years ago.
My heart is indeed full on this occasion. I could say many things “ but I summarise my feelings under the heading: Christians be aware of your responsibilities as you try to live your Christian lives.
RESPONSIBILITY TO THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST AND TO THE CHURCH:
Aware of our Christian heritage, I now remind you of the loyalty which we should have to that heritage, to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to the Church of which we are privileged to be members.
My motto is those five words, which I chose from Psalm 99 when I was appointed Archbishop: ˜Serve the Lord with Gladness .
If I could have a longer motto at this present time, I can think of no words better than those of St Paul when he wrote his Second Letter to Bishop Timothy in the early years of the Christian Church. The words are contained in Chapter 4 of that Second Letter:
Before God and before Christ Jesus who is to be judge of the living and the dead, I put this duty to you, in the name of his appearing and of his kingdom: ˜Proclaim the message and, welcome or unwelcome, insist on it. Refute falsehoods, correct error, call to obedience “ but do all with patience and with the intention of teaching .
These are indeed wonderful words, which every cardinal and bishop, priest and religious, lay woman and layman, young or old must take to heart.
It is part of our responsibility as Christians to indeed proclaim the message of Jesus Christ and to insist on that message whether welcome or unwelcome. It is incumbent on us all to refute falsehood, correct error and call to obedience “ and we must do that as St Paul says: with patience and with the intention of teaching .
I know that you all are aware of the lowering of standards in society in Scotland at this present time. I do not need to go into detail on this occasion, but I am sure that you acknowledge it from your own communities, from the standards observed in society in general, from the lifestyle of so many of our young people and indeed of children. It is incumbent on us to remember our Christian heritage and the burden yet joy placed upon us to preach that Christian message to those who are longing for something better amid all that is around them. Further words of St Paul come to mind from his letter to the Romans when he states: I have preached Christ s good news to the utmost of my capacity!
And that is what we must do whether we are ordained or lay, whether we share the Sacrament of Holy Orders or share the Sacrament of Matrimony.
POWER OF THE SACRAMENTS:
˜I single out two Sacraments for our consideration at this Thanksgiving Mass today.
The Sacrament of Holy Orders is that Sacrament which I share with my brother Bishops, Priests and Deacons. That Sacrament confers a certain dignity but is also very much a call to lead and serve. Christ first issued that call to serve 2000 years ago. He still calls today but fewer answer that call. While we pray for vocations, we must realise that it is difficult for vocations to grow or flourish in a society ruled by secularism and materialism. However, many mature men, strong in their faith and in their character, many who have had successful careers and are graduates from colleges and universities, some indeed coming from difficult backgrounds, still come forward in answer to the call of Christ to serve as priests; and, as we know, women also answer Christ s call to serve as religious sisters, despite so many counter-attractions.
We must also remember that it is often from the family that vocations grow and develop. Catholic families living their faith are vitally important to ensure that the next generation of clergy and religious will emerge. Their families are the building block of our society and we must be aware that it is from such families that young people whose spiritual formation continues in our Catholic schools, are prepared to serve in society and many from these roots receive the call to serve in the priesthood and religious life.
The Sacrament of Matrimony is also a God-given gift through which the majority of people live out their Christian lives. Marriage is dignified by the title of ˜Sacrament in only a few Christian Churches “ but it is certainly dignified in that way in our own Church.
Marriage and family life have been of increasing concern to my brother Bishops and myself in recent years. We see the importance of full and adequate preparation for the Sacrament of Matrimony; of the need for the care of young people setting out on their married lives; of the responsibility we have of helping those already entered into married life enhance the spirituality of their married union; and of drawing from the fruits of the love of elderly couples in our communities. We are all aware of the high ideals of the teaching of Jesus Christ and his Church, but also aware of the reality of the difficulties of the lives which many people live, as they struggle with their commitment.
However, families are the building block of our society and the foundation on which those building blocks are laid is marriage. When I was in Rome for the Consistory recently, I was given a titular church dedicated to Ss Joachim and St Anne, the parents of Mary, the Mother of God and consequently, the grandparents of Jesus. I see a sign in the gift of this titular church to me “ but also a reminder. At the heart of my service as Cardinal and at the heart of my ongoing service of my brother Bishops in Scotland must be the protection and support of marriage and family life.
We and those around us must realise what a precious gift marriage is. I sometimes wonder whether the State recognises sufficiently the security and stability that married couples and their families bring to society. Perhaps we need to ask; what does the State do to encourage young people into stable relationships and to help them bring up their children? Have our politicians looked around Europe and the world at how other countries support the family and learned from what they see “ if not I urge them to do so. In a very real sense our future rests in the hands of today s parents as they mould and shape the next generation. We must ensure that they receive the support that they need in this dedicated apostolate.
I lay a burden on your shoulders at this present time as Pope John Paul 11 laid a heavy burden on mine when creating me a Cardinal. Encourage vocations to the priesthood and the religious life! Be an example to others in your own marriages and family lives and help and encourage those in difficulty! I am more than fully aware of my heavy responsibilities. I ask for your ongoing prayer and support; and promise my prayer for you in your Christian vocations.
I think of the two great Cardinals who have been my immediate predecessors, both of whom I have known so well and who I regarded as very close friends during their lives on earth. I think back to words of Cardinal Gray as we celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving in this Cathedral on 15th August 1989 marking the 175th anniversary of its building. Cardinal Gray made reference to his own unforgettable memories and stated: I have seen and admired great medieval and modern cathedrals and basilicas, but for me, St Mary s Cathedral is my most beloved Gate of Heaven and House of God, through which and in which I hope one day to enter and to live . I can simply reiterate those words.
And the words I remember at the funeral of the late Cardinal Winning quoted for us by his close friend Bishop Devine of Motherwell. Cardinal Winning stated of his family: I hope I never let them down .
I too think back to the many graces and blessings which God has given me and to my family, my blood family and to the family of this Archdiocese.
I love our Cathedral and our churches, our chapels and our convents “ but more than anything I love the family of our people in this Archdiocese whom I have tried to serve to the best of my ability in my priesthood, as a Bishop and now as a Cardinal. Yes, pray for me as I pray for you that in the years which are left to me to serve you, our Church under the leadership of Pope John Paul II, and all God s people, that I will continue to serve you as you deserve and that I will never ever let one of you down.
May God, who has begun this good work in me, one day bring it to fruition in the Kingdom of Heaven."
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