Thursday, 25 May 2006

Ushaw Sermon

This is not an archives blog so I won't bore you with the details of the conference, but here's part of the sermon I preached yesterday afternoon to the Catholic Archives Society. It's an appropriate post, perhaps, as we celebrate the Feast of St Bede, the great Northumbrian historian (even though he is pushed to one side by the Ascension!):

On a very personal level, an Ordination anniversary is a timely opportunity to give thanks for the past and make resolutions for the future. And the same could be said for each of us as we come to the close of this conference. Whatever our broader Vocation might be (with a capital 'V') - whether it be within a family, a diocese or a religious community - we have all been given a smaller vocation (with a little 'v') to guard and promote the Church's heritage.

This is not just a case of managing dusty piles of manuscripts and coping with limited budgets. Though we will be going home with many bright ideas, let us never forget the more profound significance behind our work. As archivists, we witness to the incarnational nature of the Church; we proclaim a God who enters history and leaves His footprints all around us.

In 1963, Pope Paul VI told a group of ecclesiastical archivists: 'it is Christ who operates in time and who writes, He Himself, His story through our papers which are echoes and traces of the passage of the Church, of the passage of the Lord Jesus in the world. Thus, having veneration for these archives...means having veneration for Christ, means giving to ourselves and those who will come after us the history of the passage of this phase of transitus Domini in the world.'

Just as archives forms an important part of the memory of the Church, so at Mass we remember, make present and renew the life-giving Sacrifice of Calvary. As we do so, let us pause for a moment and renew our service to Christ and His Church through our archival work.


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