Catholics must respond every day to the call of conversion, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor said at the Chrism Mass at Westminster Cathedral today. Speaking to the priests of the Diocese, he quoted the Vietnamese Cardinal Francis van Thuan, who spent 13 years in prison, nine in solitary confinement: "At first his mind was wracked with confused feelings, sadness, fear, tension, when his only future seemed to be this agony and death. But he became convinced during the long nights in prison that living the present moment is the most simple and the most secure way to holiness. He prayed, 'Jesus, I will not wait, I will live the present moment and fill it with love. The road of hope is paved with little steps of hope, the life of hope is made of these minutes of hope; every minute I want to sing with the whole Church, Glory to the Father and Son and Holy Spirit'. The way to holiness, dear fathers, as mine is, is every day. Daily prayer, daily conversion, daily commitment to the ministry to which we have been called." The Cardinal said that in the past year he has been asked by the media to explain falling numbers in the Church. He said: "The task before us seems immense and some days may seem impossible. I do not believe this. The strength as a Church, as the Body of Christ, is not based on numbers. Jesus never talked about numbers, rather, He said in St. Luke, 'Fear not, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom. You are the light of the world, you are the salt of the earth. See, I am sending you out as lambs into the midst of wolves.' "His attention was not to numbers but to the little ones, to sinners, to Zaccheus, to the Samaritan woman, to the pardoned, sinful woman, to the adulteress, to the poor. If we are a minority in the world, is it not because Jesus Christ is calling us to live according to a new style of Gospel; to make our own His priorities and His preferences. This is what he says today: 'The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me, he has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, and to the blind new sight. To set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord's year of favour'."
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