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15 March 2015
posted by Canon Dakin on 19-03-2015

I came to Thornton in 1968. At that time there were two elderly people in Sacred Heart parish, one a man, the other a woman, who remembered standing in Poulton market place on Candlemas Day to be hired for the year by a local farmer. If you go to the census of 1911 you will find that Thornton and district was a land of small farms. Local employment was mostly in service on those farms. It was the tradition that today, Mothering Sunday, those living and working away from home would return to pay a visit to their mothers, yes, but first of all to their mother church, the church in which they had been baptised, to the font in which they had become children of God.  

      It fitted into the rhythm of Lent. The goal of Lent is the renewal of the vows of our baptism at Easter. This mid-Lent Sunday is a half-way house when the gospel is about enlightenment. In the early Church the baptised were called the ‘enlightened’, having had their eyes opened by faith.  Easter, the renewal of our baptismal vows is not the end of our yearly cycle - it looks towards Pentecost and our calling to share the light, to spread the light that we have received. “Men”, it said in the gospel, “have shown that they prefer darkness to the light.”  There was a glimpse of the shadows in a report last week by the Equality and Human Rights Commission according to which Christians are too scared to admit their beliefs. If this is true it is partly the fault of the Commission itself. A Christian who publicly expresses his belief that marriage is between a man and a woman may be afraid that he or she might be risking prosecution under the equality law. As a result of uncertainty the law is to be more carefully defined. But, in general, we tend to hide behind the beatitude ‘Blessed are the meek’ and allow ourselves to be shouted down. Pope Francis said to the world’s young people gathered in Brazil that they should go out and cause a stir. It is the young who are on the front line these days. There was a newspaper report a couple of weeks ago that young people at university are shy of  saying that they believe in God - not that the majority have carefully thought through their agnosticism - it’s just not cool to say you believe in God just as it’s not cool for students to wear a tie. The good news is that there are now four Catholic universities in this country and a fifth is shortly to open in London with an emphasis on philosophy and European culture. In state universities our students have the support of chaplaincies - but they are being challenged in a way that we were not and need our support - at least the support of our prayers.  Meanwhile the rest of us are not to be like rabbits hiding in their burrows but just quietly to let the light of our faith focus on those areas of life in society which are presently in shadow.

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