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Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Cardinal celebrates Mass for Queen Mother
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 Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, celebrated a Memorial Mass yesterday at Westminster Cathedral, to give thanks for the life of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. The full text of his homily is published below. "It goes without saying that for Christians Easter is a time of great rejoicing. It is our time of renewal, the time when our memories of death and of suffering are transfigured by the joy of Christ's resurrection and by his promise that we will have life in Him, life that will be abundant, and for ever. This evening, the first Sunday after Easter, we gather to remember and to give thanks for the life of our much-loved Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. Hers was a life lived to the full, a long life which outlasted the 20th century into which she, only just, was born. It was a life enriched by an extraordinary range of experiences and by a deep faith in God and in the tenacity and generosity of the human spirit. And it was also a life marked by selfless service to her country, by unswerving loyalty to her family, by a spontaneous and genuine affection for her people and by a warmth, dignity and charm which never flagged, even in the most trying circumstances. So while we mourn her passing we also celebrate who she was, and why she came to mean so much to so many of us. Reflecting on just how it was that she touched the hearts of so many people of all ages, and from every walk of life, and listening to some of the tributes that have been broadcast in recent days, I was left with one overriding impression - the Queen Mother was a wonderful human being. Prince Charles put it beautifully when he said that "she literally enriched" the lives of people she met. "She was" in his words "the original life enhancer". The Queen Mother was blessed with a great gift for laughter; for fun; for affection; and for friendship. But she had another gift. The gift to communicate those qualities and to instil in others a similar sense of fun and affection. I was very struck by one person interviewed outside St James' Palace who said "It's like one of your own family dying - she was such a lovely lady". We are one family - the human family. All of us are created in the image and likeness of God. Whatever our station in life, whatever our gifts, we are all called, as the prophet Micah says - to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8). We are also asked to walk with each other through the trials and tribulations of life. So often we fail to grasp those simple occasions to communicate some of the tenderness and the compassion with which our loving Father regards us. It could be just a smile, a word, a touch. The Queen Mother was good at exactly those small things. She understood the importance of gestures, of kindness, of solidarity. But she also understood the importance of shouldering responsibility, even when you might feel it is too much for you to bear. I am reminded of another great-grandmother in the Old Testament - Ruth, great-grandmother of King David. Faced with a time of great trial, following the early death of her husband, and encouraged by her sensitive mother-in-law Naomi to think of returning to her own people from where she came, Ruth gently refuses and pledges herself to Naomi with these words: "wherever you go I will go. Wherever you live, I will live. Your people shall be my people and your God, my God." (Ruth 1:16). These words have echoed down the centuries, not only for the Jewish people, but for everyone because they speak of timeless qualities which have kept peoples' self-belief alive even in times of great insecurity and suffering - qualities of faithfulness, , courage and self-sacrifice. The Queen Mother could never have expected that by unforeseen historical accident - the abdication of her brother in law King Edward VIII - she would become Queen Consort and subsequently Queen Mother. Nevertheless these were some of the qualities she displayed, particularly in the dark times when our country needed an example to keep self-belief alive. We owe the Queen Mother an immense debt. Whether when she herself was Queen Consort, or later for so many years in support of the Queen and the rest of the royal family, she gave of herself unstintingly. And she never lost the common touch, the ability to make people feel special. So thank you Elizabeth, Queen Mother for your affection, your sense of fun and for your courageous example. I trust the Lord is now saying to you, in the words of the Gospel "Well done thou good and faithful servant... enter into the joy of the Lord" (Mt 25). May your soul now rest in Christ's eternal peace. source: Archbishops House
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