Men called to 'walk in the light'

 Easter Monday Men's Mass homily by the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Birmingham at St Chad's Cathedral, Birmingham Ever since 1928, this Easter Monday Men's Mass has been taking place here in St Chad's Cathedral. In this first year of the new millennium I welcome you to today's Mass. How proud I am to be part of this great tradition. Over these years the circumstances and intentions of this celebration of Mass and reception of Holy Communion have varied greatly. Prior to 1928 men had gone to Mass on this day to pray for their friends and colleagues who had been killed in the Great War. In 1928, this Mass was a demonstration of our Catholic faith in the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. The following year it was a celebration of the Centenary of the Act of Catholic Emancipation, an Act which ended legal discrimination against Catholics. By 1935 the practice had spread to others towns and in 1939 everyone was praying for peace in the world. Today, we too bring our prayers and concern to Christ, truly present in the action of the Mass, and truly present to each of us in Holy Communion. This year I ask you to pray especially for an increase in respect for human life in the laws and practices of our country, especially in this time prior to a General Election. As we gather this morning we are still bathed in the light of the risen Christ. We can sense, I trust, that burst of light as he broke free from the tomb and rose triumphant over death. It was a life-changing moment for the entire human family. No longer need we think, and fear, that our life is snuffed out by death. Now we know that the life, which God gives to each person at birth, is destined to last forever, in the glory of heaven, united as we are with Him who has conquered death once and for all. When a new and brighter light is shone, then more can be seen. We can see both the beauty and the flaws of what is before us. We can see the details of what needs to be done. You and I know that nothing is worse than working in the dark. When we lack information we end up making mistakes. When we're working in poor lighting we hit our thumb instead of the nail. When we can see properly, then we can get on with the job in hand. Christ is the light. Christ gives us the sight. Christ gives us the information we need to get on with the job of life. So don't work in the dark. Follow the way of Christ and walk in the light. Each of us in this Cathedral this morning has particular tasks at hand. Each of us has our own responsibilities. For some, a first duty lies with their family responsibilities. The light of Christ tells us that in these fidelity, forgiveness and compassion are key tools for doing a good job. No one who thinks that, in marriage and family living, things will always go their own way is walking in the light. They're in the dark and heading for a fall. Many of you have trade and business responsibilities. Here the light of Christ tells you that profit is not everything. It is important, of course. But more important is honesty, the struggle against deceit, injustice and exploitation, and the fostering of the good of all involved in the enterprise and not just the well being of the few. Some of you are at college, university or still at school. The light that Christ gives to you is the confidence that this world is made by God, that the more we understand about it the closer we can come to the Creator, and that knowledge, when put to good use, is one of God's finest gifts. Christ's teaching also helps us to know how to behave. There are rules of thumb to keep in mind, such as it is wrong to seek to do good by an evil means. This happens when a person argues in favour of an abortion in order to save a marriage or advance a career, or in favour of the destruction of embryonic human life in an attempt to find a cure of serious illnesses. The light of the risen Christ tells us that each of us is made for God and that the glory of God is present within us. No one, therefore, is to be cheapened through pornography or casual sex. It does not add to the sum of our happiness. Faithful, life-long, loving friendship does, as does the generous service of those in need. The light of Christ also helps us to know what to do with our lives. Every time we face a choice about what to do, we must seek this light. We seek it in prayer, by reading the Scriptures, in talking with a priest and asking his advice. I have been most heartened by the marvellous response there has been throughout the Archdiocese to the 'Walk with Me' journey of prayer which we have followed this Lent. Two hundred thousand books of the prayer journey have gone out and been used far and wide, and so many people have written to tell me of the help and inspiration they have received during these weeks. Prayer helps us to know what God wants. Prayer helps us to listen to God and to the call God has in life for each of us. Some from among you he calls to be the priests of the future. Pray for these vocations, that God's call may be heard and accepted and that we, as a Church, will be ready to foster and nurture those vocations. You are the men of the Church today. You are the presence of the Church in so many aspects of modern life in this city and throughout the Midlands. Stand up for your faith. Do not be afraid. You will be respected for your convictions and for the light you can bring to so many difficult circumstances. People like the light. They want to live and work in the light. Share the light that Christ gives to us and let it shine wherever the great debates of our day are taking place especially as we approach a General Election. And pray today, as I have asked, that human life, from its first beginnings to its natural end, will be so much more respected in our land, in our laws, in our laboratories, hospitals, clinics and centres of care for the elderly. I thank you for the witness that you give, coming here this morning. You are part of a long tradition and it is for us to carry that tradition well into the twenty-first century. May God bless you all and give you all the joys of this feast of the risen Christ Jesus.

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