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

Cardinal urges young Catholics not to be discouraged by persecution

Cardinal Vincent Nichols has encouraged young Catholics to explore what the mystery of Christ gives to them as “builders of a better world” and urged them not to be discouraged by those who are persecuted and killed due to their faith.

The cardinal spoke to Westminster Diocese’s World Youth Day pilgrims during his homily at Mass in the Church of the Good Shepherd in Krakow on Wednesday 27th July.

Reflecting on the murder of 84-year-old priest Fr Jacques Hamel, he challenged the group by asking them what they are going to do, what they are going to build and what they want to be.

Cardinal Nichols began by asking the pilgrims to keep the words of St Paul in mind and explore them in a serious way.

“St Paul invites us to understand the depths he sees in the mystery of Christ. He wants us to understand the depth of the mystery of Christ,” he said.

“Now I want to explore that phrase in the light of what happened in Rouen, northern France, on Tuesday when a priest was killed.”

Cardinal Nichols explained that it was difficult to understand how Fr Hamel had just finished celebrating Mass when two men carried out the attack, in which they killed the 84-year-old priest and held members of his congregation hostage.

“It’s hard to understand why people do those things. It’s born of a fanaticism but it makes us stop and ask questions about our world and about ourselves. It makes me ask the question, ‘Would I be ready for that?’

“As young people, I hope it might just make you ask: What are you going to do? What are you going to build? What do you want to be?”

The cardinal pointed out that the men were 19 – the same age as many of the World Youth Day pilgrims. He explained that young people are those who build the world of the future.

“You’re the ones who will be the builders of what is going to come,” he said. “What I want to explore with you is what the mystery of Christ gives to you as the builders of a better world. Understand the depth in the mystery of Christ.”

Cardinal Nichols revealed three things that this mystery means to him. Firstly he noted that the mystery of Christ is the mystery of every created thing, because Christ is the Word of God through whom all things are made. “So in the eyes of faith – whatever we look at – it’s got Christ deep down as its deepest reality,” he said.

Secondly, the cardinal explained that the mystery of Christ is “a reality shared among us. That every single human being is called into existence by Christ”.

Finally, Cardinal Nichols noted that Fr Hamel had, like many others before him, suffered a cruel death.

“Suffering is not the end of the story and, indeed, St Paul said to us this evening, ‘Do not be discouraged because of my suffering for you’,” he added.

The cardinal explained that the priest, despite being over the age of 80, had not wanted to retire, he wanted to carry on.

“He was simply a faithful and loving priest, and he would say, ‘Do not be discouraged because of my suffering for you.’ In other words, we do not get thrown off balance, we don’t lose our sense of purpose, we don’t lose our direction because of suffering. We know that we do not answer violence with violence; it doesn’t work.”

Reiterating his three points, the cardinal explained that if the faithful open their hearts to the three points it will help to build a better world.

“So please, three things: the mystery of Christ written deep inside us – each one of us. The mystery of Christ binds us together because he is the Word of the Father who calls us into existence and the mystery of Christ overcoming suffering and death,” he concluded. “If we can open our hearts to those three things and receive these truths – for they are the gift of God – then we will receive his mercy and we will be able to offer to each other and build a better world.”

Picture: Cardinal Vincent Nichols.