Archbishop Longley at St Mary's
Archbishop Bernard Longley presided and preached at Solemn Vespers in the chapel of St Mary’s College, Oscott, at the start of Invocation 2012, the Third Youth International Discernment Festival, yesterday evening, Friday, 6 July.
During his thought-provoking homily, on the theme “Be still and know that I am God, supreme among the nations , supreme on the earth, the Archbishop of Birmingham said: “We have just prayed those words of Scripture in the second psalm of our evening prayer.”
Archbishop Longley said: “Be still. Our modern word ‘still’, or ‘stillness’, has its roots in a very old English verb ‘stillan’ which means in a literal sense to be ‘fixed’ or to ‘stand’. We might at first think that being still simply means being quiet, or motionless; but this is a rather passive understanding of stillness. In a deeper, more active sense, being still is also about being firm, being strong in our faith and in being at home with ourselves, in our body, and in our soul.”
The Archbishop emphasised: “When we are still, when we are fixed upon listening to the voice of the Lord, then we can truly come to know the Lord.
“This weekend you will enjoy many different activities, from workshops and inspiring talks, to our celebrations of Mass and times of prayer, and the many conversations that you will have with each other. Perhaps even more importantly, there will also be times of stillness, alone in the beautiful grounds of this College, or in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, or before the relic of the Heart of St John Vianney which we shall welcome on Saturday evening. In these moments of stillness, in a profound way, we deepen in our appreciation that the Lord God is supreme among the nations, supreme on the earth.”
Archbishop Bernard Longley concluded: “Too many things and too many people try to lay claim to our lives. There are so many distractions and noises that conspire to drown out our stillness, to undermine or upset our faith in Jesus Christ. But here, in these few days, you have a wonderful opportunity to be still, to be fixed on what really matters, to stand before our Lord and to listen.
“Who our Lord is calling you to be? What is the Lord asking you to do with the great gift of your life? You may be confident that if you are generous, and say yes and are prepared to abandon your life to God, you will receive much more than you could ever imagine or hope to find.”
Oscott College, the Diocesan Seminary is situated on the northern outskirts of Birmingham. Despite the torrential downpours during the day that caused many disruptions and flooding in several parts of the country more than 200 young discerners from dioceses throughout England and Wales arrived in time for Solemn Vespers.
The rain that had fallen continuously in Birmingham for much of the day gave way to early evening sunshine by the time Maria Bracken, Youth Ministry Co-ordinator for the Archdiocese of Birmingham and MC for the three-day Invocation Festival warmly welcomed everyone before supper.
Meals and the Key Note addresses and other events are being held in a large marquee situated in the field opposite the front of the College near where Pope Benedict XVI was photographed with seminarians from England, Scotland and Wales on Sunday, 19 September 2010, at the end of his historic State Visit.
After Solemn Vespers the discerners, Oscott College staff and seminarians, diocesan and religious vocations directors together with consecrated religious men and women from a variety of religious communities, together with other willing helpers, returned to the marquee.
Maria Bracken introduced Canon Luiz Ruscillo, Director of Education for the Diocese of Lancaster, who gave a challenging and at times amusing address about the Gospel of St John, Chapter 21: 1-19, ending with the words of Jesus to Peter: “Follow Me.”
Meanwhile, the relic of the heart of St John Vianney (1786-1859), known as the Curé d’Ars, is due to arrive at Oscott College this evening, Saturday, 7 July, in time for the Candlelight Procession of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction.
The relic arrived at Manchester Airport from France during the afternoon of Thursday, 5 July, at the start of its first visit to Great Britain.
After the official end of Invocation 2012 on Sunday afternoon, 8 July, there will be an opportunity for the public to venerate the relic of St John Vianney, the patron saint of all priests, in the chapel at Oscott College.