Sunday, 20 September 2009
Therese takes Birmingham by Storm
Last night the seminary went to visit the relics of St Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face in St Chad's Cathedral. There we led sung evening prayer with a full congregation, to start the night vigil in the church. The relics arrived yesterday afternoon, and it has been estimated by the cathedral clergy that 8,000 people passed through the doors of St Chad's up to that evening. And many more no doubt will come before the relics leave on Monday! I know people travelled to Birmingham from Nottingham, Northampton and even as far afield as some Carmels in Scotland - it was great to have some Carmelite nuns praying with us, and to know that they're praying for the seminarians!
After evening prayer there was a rosary and Holy Hour led by the youth team from Soli House in the diocese, and at Midnight there was a Mass (deaconed by our very own Roger who was ordained at Oscott in the summer). Many people were there during the night, including lots of parents and children, which was very encouraging. To be in the presence of Therese's relics, this young enclosed religious who felt that she must be 'Love in the Heart of the Church,' was incredible. I must admit to having not had a notable devotion to her before, but reading about her this last month or so, and getting to know her, I can see why she is indeed a Doctor of the Church. Her Little Way is not a way of saccharine piety, but gets to the very essence of what it is to be truly human - that is, abandoning ourselves as children to God our Father. She very much teaches us what we are first told in the Letters of John: 'In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the expiation for our sins' (2 Jn 4:10).
I hope to post more about Therese later, particularly concerning her own words and some words about her by Fr Jean Lafrance whose book 'My Vocation is Love' I am reading at the moment. Meanwhile, Therese will continue her missionary apostolate in this country, and hopefully be a source of great renewal both in and outside the Church.