Thursday the 25th of February

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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Cardinal Nichols reflects on light of Christ in homily

Cardinal Vincent Nichols has reflected on the light of Christ, explaining that it overcomes all darkness.

During the Easter Vigil on 26th March in Westminster Cathedral, Cardinal Nichols admitted, “The darkness is real, this week shown most emphatically on the streets of Brussels.” However, he added, “The light is strong, overcoming all darkness, as our ceremony has portrayed in light which flooded the darkened cathedral.”

He went on to say, “It is the light of the risen Christ who, still bearing the wounds of his suffering, comes to us in glory. And this light, passed in faith from hand to hand, has the power to overcome all darkness, all sin.”

At the Easter Vigil, Cardinal Nichols baptised six people into the Catholic Church. Reflecting on the rebirth that comes through baptism, he said, “Yet here is a further key truth; this new life, this way of faith is not an external imposition on our nature, on our humanity, as many would have us believe.

“Our faith does not distort our natural selves by asking of us things which are against who we truly are. No, this new life is the fulfilment of the nature, which we all share even though it carries us beyond the limitations of our nature. Of course, faith is demanding. But more important it is fulfilling.”

The Easter Vigil began with the cardinal entering the darkened cathedral with the light of the Paschal candle. The flame of the candle was shared with everyone in the cathedral to spread light across the church, symbolising the light Christ brings by his resurrection after the darkness of the crucifixion. In addition to the six people who were baptised, another six were received into full communion with the Church, and a further six, along with those baptised and received, were confirmed at the Easter Vigil in Westminster Cathedral.

Prior to this Cardinal Nichols had washed the feet of Chelsea Pensioners at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Maundy Thursday. Then, on Good Friday, he marked the Lord’s Passion in central London by attending the Walk of Witness in Westminster and the Wintershall Passion play in Trafalgar Square before celebrating the Solemn Liturgy of the Passion at Westminster Cathedral.

During his homily, the cardinal began by talking about how during Holy Week “Jesus is being lifted before us, held before us” allowing us to develop as Catholics. He went on to reflect on the washing of the disciples’ feet, describing it as “a vivid picture of mercy in action.”

He reminded those present of the deeper story of the feet washing, “another story has been told this evening, too. It weaves in and out of this washing of the feet.

“St Paul tells us the deeper meaning of all that is taking place within this circle of the friends of Jesus. He tells us that on this very same occasion, ‘the night before he was betrayed,’ Jesus took some bread, blessed it and broke it and said: ‘This is my body which is for you.’ We also hear that he took a cup of wine and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this as a memorial of me.’ The washing of the feet and the giving of the Eucharist are inseparable, if each is to be fully
understood.”

During the Solemn Liturgy of the Passion of the Lord in Westminster Cathedral on Good Friday, Cardinal Nichols pointed out that Good Friday this year had a particular poignancy. “This year there is a lovely and rich moment. Today is 25th March, usually the Feast of the Annunciation, of the conception of Jesus in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. There was an ancient tradition according to which Jesus dies on the cross on the same day as his conception, his incarnation. These mysteries, his Incarnation, the Cross, the Resurrection, are inseparably connected.”

The cardinal also drew attention to the Year of Mercy prayer card that had been placed on seats in the cathedral before the liturgy.

He reflected on the image of the Trinity on the card. “Here we see, in our imagery, the Father stooping down to raise up his Son, in and through the power of the Holy Spirit.

“When the Father stoops down to lift up the body of Jesus, he is stooping down to lift up us all. In the bond of the Holy Spirit he lifts us up, every one of us, out of every mess we make, every sin we commit, every hole we dig if only we will put ourselves, like Christ, into his hands. Let us do so today.”

Photo:Easter Vigil in Westminster Cathedral. © Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk.