Yesterday my parishioners gathered together at Park Lane before going into Hyde Park for the vigil. they had the smaller of our two parish flags since the other one was being carried by our designated yoof person for the banner parade.
I was pleased to see that there was time for a game of football before the vigil itself
Here are some of our future bloggers - though by the time they grow up, I expect blogging will be a thing of the past and some new technological invention will take its place.
But this was what they all came for - Pope Benedict, the vigil, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the heart of London.
During his address at the vigil, the Holy Father referred to Newman's words towards the end of his life.
At the end of his life, Newman would describe his life’s work as a struggle against the growing tendency to view religion as a purely private and subjective matter, a question of personal opinion. Here is the first lesson we can learn from his life: in our day, when an intellectual and moral relativism threatens to sap the very foundations of our society, Newman reminds us that, as men and women made in the image and likeness of God, we were created to know the truth, to find in that truth our ultimate freedom and the fulfilment of our deepest human aspirations. In a word, we are meant to know Christ, who is himself “the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6).This was a reference to Newman's Biglietto speech when he was created a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church. Newman said on that occasion:
I rejoice to say, to one great mischief I have from the first opposed myself. For thirty, forty, fifty years I have resisted to the best of my powers the spirit of liberalism in religion. Never did Holy Church need champions against it more sorely than now, when, alas! it is an error overspreading, as a snare, the whole earth; and on this great occasion, when it is natural for one who is in my place to look out upon the world, and upon Holy Church as in it, and upon her future, it will not, I hope, be considered out of place, if I renew the protest against it which I have made so often.Pope Benedict also referred to the martyrs of Tyburn, just across the road from the vigil at Hyde Park
Liberalism in religion is the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but that one creed is as good as another, and this is the teaching which is gaining substance and force daily. It is inconsistent with any recognition of any religion, as true. It teaches that all are to be tolerated, for all are matters of opinion. Revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentiment and a taste; not an objective fact, not miraculous; and it is the right of each individual to make it say just what strikes his fancy. Devotion is not necessarily founded on faith. Men may go to Protestant Churches and to Catholic, may get good from both and belong to neither. They may fraternise together in spiritual thoughts and feelings, without having any views at all of doctrine in common, or seeing the need of them. Since, then, religion is so personal a peculiarity and so private a possession, we must of necessity ignore it in the intercourse of man with man. If a man puts on a new religion every morning, what is that to you? It is as impertinent to think about a man's religion as about his sources of income or his management of his family. Religion is in no sense the bond of society.
Not far from here, at Tyburn, great numbers of our brothers and sisters died for the faith; the witness of their fidelity to the end was ever more powerful than the inspired words that so many of them spoke before surrendering everything to the Lord. In our own time, the price to be paid for fidelity to the Gospel is no longer being hanged, drawn and quartered but it often involves being dismissed out of hand, ridiculed or parodied.Referring to Newman's famous meditation "God has created me to do him some definite service", the Holy Father said:
No one who looks realistically at our world today could think that Christians can afford to go on with business as usual, ignoring the profound crisis of faith which has overtaken our societySpeaking particularly to the many young people present, Pope Benedict reminded them of the various possible vocations to which the Lord might call them.
The vigil concluded with silent adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction - a moving witness of faith in Jesus Christ, truly present in the most holy Eucharist. One young person who was there told me that nobody else near to him knew the words of the Tantum Ergo. Rectifying that by the regular celebration of Adoration and Benediction in schools would be a powerful and effective way of responding to the Holy Father's call to the life of prayer.