Saturday 4 Feb at St Chad’s Cathedral saw the celebration of the Mass for Religious. His Grace, The Most Rev Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, was the Principal celebrant and preacher. The Cathedral was pleasantly full with representatives from all the various Religious Orders across the diocese. Concelebrating with His Grace was Fr Stephen Wright, Episcopal Vicar for Religious, and others priests of the diocese and Religious Orders.
Preaching from the First Reading of the day from Hebrews 13:21 His Grace began with and based his homily on, ‘May God make you ready to do his will in any kind of good action’. ‘This blessing’ he stressed, ‘was not about making us do God’s will but enabling us to do God’s will and this blessing in turn opens up the meaning of obedience’ explaining, ‘Obedience is a disposition of life to which you have made a life-long commitment as Religious…, it is not submissiveness but a joyful disposition to be where the Lord needs us to be’. He further added, ‘Obedience involves listening…, drawing closer to Christ so that we can hear what he is saying to us in the Scriptures, through the sacraments, in the needs of others and in the experiences of our lives…’ Thus we need, ‘the obedience of sheep who instinctively trust the shepherd to lead them to good pastures’.
Referring to a recent meeting that took place here in Birmingham of Anglican and Roman Catholic Bishops, His Grace reflected on the insights of the invited speaker, Professor Janet Soskice, who noted that the fundamental calling of the Christian is first to follow and then to go out.
This Mass always has a special moment when we recognise our jubilarians and thank the Lord for their dedicated and loving commitment over many years and also gives a moment for renewal of Religious vows, recalling the day when these commitments were first made some years ago.
Archbishop’s Homily in full