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5 July 2015
posted by Canon Dakin on 07-07-2015

Corpus Christi

The title of Pope Francis’ recent encyclical is Lodato si - Praised be. Sixty, seventy years ago, if you had been walking through the Italian countryside and you met someone on the road the greeting you might have expected to give or to receive would not have been Buon giorno - Good Day - but Sia lodato Gesu Christo - Praised be Jesus Christ. To which the reply would have been - Sempre sia lodato - Praised for evermore. Nowadays, I guess, the response would be Cosa dice? - You what? Europe has drifted from its Christian anchorage. The culture of Europe was once interwoven with our Catholic faith. Modern opinion makers are busy unravelling any connection. The Italian government attempted to remove the crucifix from State schools.  A few weeks ago a small town in the south of France erected a war memorial surmounted by a cross. Paris ordered the cross to be removed. France is officially a lay state. You wonder why they haven’t demolished the church of Notre Dame. In England we have had councils attempting to suppress Christmas in favour of a Winter Festival.  Marriage has been redefined in a way which is unacceptable to Christians with no room left for conscientious evasion. I told you about the Belfast baker who was taken to court and fined because he refused to bake a cake to be the centre piece of a propaganda event for gay marriage. Respectful disagreement is being interpreted as abuse. We are written off by the libertarian press as fuddy-duddy bigots stuck in a time warp. What do we do about it? Cower away and keep quiet hoping not to be noticed? It is in this situation that the Church is calling for a new evangelisation. We have the truth about the meaning of human existence.  We need to proclaim it. I noticed a phrase used by Mr. Cameron a few days ago in relation to terrorism. He said ‘We must be stronger in standing up for our values and we must be more intolerant of intolerance’. That is a phrase which could be become our programme as Christians living in a society which has become detached from its Christian roots. The bishops have launched a programme ‘Proclaim 15.’  A congress of 800 diocesan representatives, including our own, is being held this week in Birmingham to share ideas which would promote the new evangelisation. It will end on Saturday and our bishops have appealed for a prayer event in every parish on Saturday evening. I have consulted and all are invited to Evening Prayer and Benediction on Saturday evening at 6.00.  Hopefully you won’t have to abandon the drawn out ding-dong of a Wimbledon final but it’s obvious that any small sacrifice we might make in order to attend would sharpen the effectiveness of our prayer.  6.00 0‘clock, then, this coming Saturday.

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