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Friday, December 9, 2016
Royal Jubilee Mass: Cardinal 'pays homage' to Queen
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 Yesterday at 5.30pm, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor celebrated Mass for Her Majesty The Queen in Westminster Cathedral. The full text of his sermon follows: It is characteristic of our modern media that, when reporting news about an extraordinary event, they often miss the point. For some months now we have been building up to this great celebration of the Golden Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. We have been told about the parties that will be arranged, the concerts being held here in London and elsewhere. We have heard the stories of the lives of the Royal family, and especially of the Queen - her tastes, her habits, her domestic virtues. What the media do not say, however, is what it is that we, the citizens of this country, are doing during these days. The fact is that we are performing an act of homage. 'To pay homage' is not just to express admiration for someone. We admire lots of people - athletes or musicians, whoever. Neither is it an act of envy whereby we might envy people who are perhaps healthier or richer than we are. What we are doing during these days is something much simpler and much more profound, and that is to pay homage. The Queen's title, to be our 'monarch', is equal to our title, to be a 'human being', namely an accident of birth. Elizabeth is our Queen. Her position is a gift, a privilege, a responsibility of birth that makes her who she is. Because she is who she is we pay homage to her. We do so not because the Queen wants it. We are celebrating this Jubilee because we, the citizens of this nation and beyond, want it. There is something in our nature that we are able to do homage to a human being who, through birth, upbringing and long lineage, is given to reign over us. We ask the question, "Is it wrong in some way to do reverence, to pay homage?" It is perhaps the same kind of faculty which we use to worship God. The answer to this question is 'no'. When a nation loses sight of God it tends to deify man. All the tyrannies in our world testify to that. If the sense of God is not lost then the reverence for royalty does not conflict with our reverence and our worship for God. The two actually complement one another. So we do well to day to celebrate together the Golden Jubilee of our Queen. It is much more than an occasion for sentiment or merry-making. It is a time when we can say with even greater understanding and fervour, 'God save our gracious Queen'. In today's Gospel, Jesus speaks of a way of living, of a quality of listening, of a faithfulness to the Word and the will of the Father which He likens to a house which was founded on rock, so that when the rains came and the floods rose, and the gales hurled against that house it did not fall. It resisted. It was still there next morning, in the calm after the storm. The fact is that during these days we celebrate and give thanks to God for fifty years of service which the Queen has given to our country. It is surely a testament to the characteristic of the monarchy which most of us so rightly treasure, namely its stability and endurance. The monarchy has been in the person of the Queen a house built on rock. For fifty years Queen Elizabeth has been our sovereign, an unbroken connection with the Britain of the pre and early post-war period. So many things have come and gone in that time. The landscape of our country has changed, cities have been renewed, Technological and scientific progress abounds. The truth is, however, that as many things change and appear to change - some for the better some for the worse - we continue to need things in our lives and in the life of our nation which endure, which are not constantly changing. At a very deep level what we crave are our icons, our symbols, which speak of things that have been tried and tested, which speak to us about ourselves, our history, our joys and sorrows, and which we can celebrate without embarrassment and without too much explanation. Today and in these next days across the length and breadth of the country fellow Christians will mark this special anniversary with prayers of thanksgiving and of support for the Queen and for all her family. In the Judaeo-Christian tradition jubilee has a special meaning: liberation, the freeing of slaves, a recognition of the fundamental equality of all women and men in the sight of God, and a restitution of liberty to those denied it by the passage of time. It is also a time of joyful celebration, of anniversary. There is something extra-special about a golden jubilee: you cannot let fifty years of priesthood or marriage or working pass by without a celebration. So let us celebrate in our tradition, in our Mass the Golden Jubilee of our monarch. Earlier today I participated in a special ecumenical service of thanksgiving at St George's Chapel in Windsor. I am of course proud and thankful of our Catholic tradition. I was very proud to head a Catholic delegation two months ago presenting a loyal address to the Queen. But I am also proud of the ecumenical progress that has been made over these past years which allows us to pray and give thanks together as Christians, as I did with my fellow Christians this morning. This evening let us ask for God's blessing on our Queen and on her husband, Prince Philip, who has so loyally been her companion and helpmate over all these years, and indeed for all the Royal family. This is a time for celebration. It is a time for thanksgiving. It is above all a time when we can say with full heart and voice, 'God save and bless our gracious Queen'.
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