Saturday, April 28, 2012

Royal Wedding Anniversary and Vocations (Good Shepherd) Sunday

April 29th is the first anniversary of the wedding of Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. I offer loyal congratulations to the couple.

Their wedding was memorable for the fine address given by the Bishop of London, the Right Reverend Richard Chartres. Had his address been delivered by a Catholic Bishop, we would have been justly proud. it began with these unforgettable words:
“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” So said St Catherine of Siena whose festival day it is today. Marriage is intended to be a way in which man and woman help each other to become what God meant each one to be, their deepest and truest selves.
There was this practical and profound reflection on the importance of the presence of God in marriage:
As the reality of God has faded from so many lives in the West, there has been a corresponding inflation of expectations that personal relations alone will supply meaning and happiness in life. This is to load our partner with too great a burden. We are all incomplete: we all need the love which is secure, rather than oppressive, we need mutual forgiveness, to thrive.
Not a sentence of the Bishop's address was superfluous and I can only recommend that you read it. (It is not long.)

Becoming what God means us to be is surely at the heart of this Good Shepherd Sunday's World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

Pope Benedict has published his customary message for this day and it, too, is profound. The theme of this year's "Day" is Vocations, the Gift of the Love of God.

The Holy Father writes:
The source of every perfect gift is God who is Love... We are loved by God even "before" we come into existence!... The profound truth of our existence is (...) contained in this surprising mystery: every creature, and in particular every human person, is the fruit of God's thought and an act of his love...
Along the same lines as the Bishop of London, Pope Benedict quotes St Augustine's famous excerpt from the Confessions:
Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all.
In other words: only if we love created things for the sake of God in whom every created thing, including the perfect gift of a spouse, has its source will we truly encounter Love.

Those called to the perfect love of Christ in the priesthood or the consecrated life of the religious will also love created things for the sake of God for as they respond to the call to an exclusive love of God without the mediation of a spouse, they are also called to a deep love of neighbour.
These two expressions of the one divine love (love of God and love of neighbour) must be lived with a particular intensity and purity of heart by those who have decided to set out on the path of vocation discernment towards the ministerial priesthood and the consecrated life; they are its distinguishing mark.
Let us pray today for all young men and women, boys and girls, that they may open their hearts to the never-failing love of God who loved us even before the foundation of the world. May many find happiness in the total offering of themselves,
drawing from this wellspring (of self-offering and openness to the love of God) through prayer, constant recourse to God's word and to the sacraments, especially the Eucharist.

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