Monsignor John Armitage – Headline Act at Invocation Festival
List of saints many of whom are the reason why you are here today!
1 Being a Saint – Becoming who you are!
“I hope that among those of you listening to me today there are some of the future saints of the twenty-first century. What God wants most of all for each one of you is that you should become holy. He loves you much more than you could ever begin to imagine, and he wants the very best for you. And by far the best thing for you is to grow in holiness.” Pope Benedict at St Marys Twickenham
- For me to be a saint means to be myself.
- Being holy means being true to the person God created me to be.
- To become Men and women of great desires, we must become men and women of great heart.
- “I pleaded, outlaw-wise,
By many a hearted casement, curtained red,
Trellised with intertwining charities;
(For, though I knew His love Who followèd,
Yet I was sore adread
Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside.)
2 The story of the Rich Young Man Mark 10 17 -21
As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honour your father and mother.’
“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
Jesus looked at him steadily and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.”
My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact
And I hope that I have that desire in all I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this,
You will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore, will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, you are ever with me, and you will
never leave me to face my perils alone.
“O Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will, but also those of ill will.
Do not only remember the suffering they have inflicted upon us, but remember the gifts that we gained through our sufferings. Comradeship, loyalty, courage and the greatness of heart that has grown out of all of this.. When they come to be judged, let the fruits we have borne, be their forgiveness.”
1 The Annunciation
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’* 29But she was greatly troubled by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. 31And now, you will conceive and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ 34Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’* 35The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born* will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37For nothing will be impossible with God.’ 38Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.
2 The Hound of Heaven Francis Thompson
3 Story of Soul (Ch 12) St Therese of Liseaux
Perfection – being complete / a struggle/conflict
“Should all the saints and angels in heaven join with all the members of the church on earth, both religious and lay, at every degree of Christian holiness and pray for my growth in humility. I am certain it would not profit me as much, nor bring me to the perfection of this virtue as quickly as a little self-knowledge. Indeed, it is altogether impossible to arrive at perfect humility without it. And therefore, do not shrink from the seat and toil involved in gaining real self knowledge, for I am sure that when you have acquired it you will very soon come to an experiential knowledge of God’s goodness and love” Cloud of unknowing
Importance of daily examination of conscience and regular confession
So how do we come to self-knowledge?
Choices not feelings: Progress towards God is indicated much more by actual choices that by pious feelings” Fr Herbie Alphonso SJ
The Personal Vocation
To live you must choose – not just let things happen
To love you must encounter – you must know that human encounter is the only authentic way to know and love
To grow you must suffer You must know that suffering is a vehicle of growth, a chance of redemption a way to turn ourselves to the outside.
6 A style of life that is has something of the life of the apostles:
It gains meaning from a style of living, which is described as apostolic in the sense that something of the ministry of the apostles is to be found there. A man does not choose only celibacy he chooses a style of life which involves celibacy among other ideals.
- Obedience – free for, and open to the God who comes ceaselessly into my life I embrace obedience as a free expression to turn my life over to God, where I experience him in the Church, and in the daily encounter with the people of God.
- God shall be the great love of my life
St John of the Cross-was once asked a question by one of his brothers. “Father, how do you enter into ecstasy? His answer, “by obeying” Not obedience merely to superiors, he explained, but by the obedience of all times and all moments – that ceaseless dispossession of self that makes one docile and pliable, yes, to the orders of superiors, but also to events, things and persons as they come along; to failure and success, to health and sickness, to difficulty and easy human relationships…in a word, free for, and open to, the God who comes ceaselessly into ours lives to redeem and transform them.”
I accept God’s love for me by acknowledging Him as the great love of my life, and as a consequence, I commit myself to live a life of chaste celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom. Chastity is Sexuality in the service of Love
“Batter my heart three-personed God, for you
As yet but knock, breath, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make new.
I, like an usurped town to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, should defend,
But is captivated and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you and would be loved fain,
But am betrothed unto your enemy.
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you; imprison me, for I,
Except you enthral me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste expect you ravish me.
John Donne Holy Sonnets V
7 Renewal of the Church
The saints were the great evangelisers of Europe. We must beg Our Lord to instil the spirit of sanctity in the church and send us new saints to evangelise the world of today.” Pope John Paul II to European Bishops 1985
8 Are you loving?
“Let one man burn with enough love and it will be sufficient to neutralise the hatred of millions.”
“What truly makes a man, a man at the fine point of his being, is his capacity for loving to the uttermost. For giving himself in a love which is stronger than death, and which reaches out into eternity.” PP Paul VI Canonisation Forty Martyrs
“Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.”
Pedro Arrupe SJ
“Love and do what you will” St Augustine
In the end it is about two things, being a man or women of prayer and being generous to others:
So an easy check list:
Do you spend some time in prayer each day – remember prayer changes me not God!
Do you try and go to mass during the week?
Do you read the scriptures and other spiritual books?
Do you seek to do God’s will in your life?
Do you have a love for the poor and those most in need?
Do you go to confession regularly
“When we produce something the result is tangible, we possess the object and the glory. When we give our lives to God, we enter into risk and insecurity, for we do not possess an object and we have no glory.
There is only trust and communion with the other with whom we discover the bonds of love, a covenant given by God. We become pilgrims walking in a beautiful land, not sure where it will lead. We can be sure only of love and of the presence of God, and the call to surrender and to be guided by faithful love.” Jean Vanier