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Friday, March 24, 2017
Text: Bishop Hollis at Anthony Minghella Memorial Mass
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¬†Homily preached by Bishop Crispian Hollis, on Saturday, 21 June at the Memorial Mass for Anthony Minghella at St John's Cathedral Portsmouth. There's a wonderful injunction in the prayers that are said at the graveside which are addressed to those who mourn. It is an injunction that is full of hope and promise and comfort and it says that "we should console one another with words of faith." I am quite sure that Edward and Gloria and all the family have been immensely consoled by all the tributes that have been paid to Anthony over last two months ≠ well deserved and fulsome ≠ but our celebration of Mass today is crucial in bringing to an end some of the emptiness of mourning, while at the same time, helping us to set out on a journey of renewed hope and optimism which surely would have been Anthony's wish for all of us. I have been struck by some words of a hymn in the Breviary because I think they capture something of the mood that we are seeking today. Day is done, but love unfailing dwells ever here; Shadows fall, but hope, prevailing, calms every fear. Loving Father, none forsaking, take our hearts of love's own making, Watch our sleeping, guard our waking, be always near. Dark descends, but Light unending shines though our night. You are with us, ever lending new strength to sight. One in love, your truth confessing, one in hope of heaven's blessing, May we see, in love's possessing, love's endless light. So, let us console one another with words of faith and we have heard such words of consolation in that first reading from the Book of Wisdom. "The souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God" even if, to those outside the faith, Anthony's death seemed like disaster and annihilation. Our Christian faith tells us that Anthony is with God ≠ and why can we say this with such assurance? Because Christ himself tells us in the Gospel that has been read that "All that the Father has given me, will come to me and I will not turn him away because my Father's will is that I should lose nothing (or anyone) of all that he has given me and I shall raise him up on the last day." We come together today, of course, to continue to pray for Anthony, but, at the same time, we want to reflect and give thanks to God for giving us the enormous privilege of knowing him and enjoying the wonderful way in which he developed the gifts with which God had blessed him. This is why those words of St Paul are so important when he writes that "the life and death of each of us has its influence on others." All talents and gifts, at their best, are for others and it is certainly true that, literally, millions of people have been touched and blessed ≠ and, I dare say, changed ≠ by Anthony's gifted life. His life has had a huge influence on so many. In his generosity and kindness, his compassion and understanding, he was a given person ≠ especially to his family ≠ and to a countless number of others who were entranced by his consummate skills as an author, a producer/director and as one who sought to interpret our lives to us and help us to rejoice in life. There was nothing remote or distant about Anthony and everyone seemed to matter to him; here was a warm and loving human being, full of zest for life and for people. Again, if I may, I quote from the reading from the Book of Wisdom: "he was tested like gold in a furnace" and when his time came "he has shone out and as sparks run through the stubble, so has he for grace and mercy await those God has chosen." That Anthony is now with God, we can be sure and, although we feel poorer for his leaving us, it is not too fanciful to think that God and the courts of heaven are richer. We remember one who was given huge talents and he never buried them in the ground. He used them, developed them, shared them with us and enjoyed them. In our remembering today, we come before God with thanksgiving for him who was "God's work of art." In our praying today, we are confident that already he will have heard those wonderful words of the Lord, spoken to the faithful steward, "Well done, good and faithful servant, come now and enjoy your master's joy." Dear friends, dear Edward and Gloria and all the family, let us console one another today in our sadness with these words and prayers of faith. But we hold in our hearts ≠ and this is so important - wonderful memories of a great and loving person and those qualities are with God and last forever. Eternal rest give unto him, O Lord; may he rest in the peace of Christ.
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