Wednesday, 29 November 2006

Arinze in London

Cardinal Arinze was in town recently to inaugurate the Nigerian Catholic Chaplaincy (the national chaplain lives on the same floor as me) and to celebrate the Academic Mass at Westminster Cathedral (see the splendid photo above). In his homily he meditated on the meaning of faith:

My Catholic faith gives unity and meaning to my life. Otherwise the various things I do, or bear, or receive or hope for in life would be like scattered mosaics without a unified meaning. My daily duties would be one monotonous and dull detail after another, without connected meaning. I would be facing heat, cold, traffic jam, insistent telephone calls and endless office meetings which make every new day saluted with lack of enthusiasm, if not with a sense of boredom, meaninglessness and growing tiredness.

On the contrary, my Catholic faith is a dynamic and bright lantern for my path in life. It shows me Jesus as the way, the truth and the life (cf. Jn 14:6). It harmonizes my duties as a citizen and as a Christian (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 43). It excludes all divorce between my Sunday Mass and my duties on Monday to Saturday. My plans and hopes, my achievements and failures, my pains and aches as one grows older, and my joys and celebrations of milestones in life are all given a vital synthesis and sense of direction. I do not live with a pessimistic melancholy outlook on life. I have no temptations to suicide because such are often based on seeing no meaning in life. With St Paul I can humbly say that I know in whom I have believed and I have every reason to put my trust in Christ Jesus (cf. II Tim 1:12).

The Cardinal went on to talk about the position of a Catholic in a pluralistic academic institution:
It is a risk to try to meet people of other religions if one does not have a clear idea of one’s Catholic identity and a calm insertion in it. A country does not send as its ambassador a citizen who cannot distinguish the flag of his country from two other flags, who has forgotten the name of the President or King/Queen of his country and of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and who cannot sing the National Anthem!

A Catholic who is not well inserted in our Catholic faith and community is threatened by many dangers in the academic community. There is the error of secularism which lives or wants to conduct society as if God did not exist, as if religion were a private property which must not be allowed to show its face in public. There is religious or theological relativism which denies objective truth in any religion, which assumes the attitude that one religion is as good as another, and which is practically saying that your religion is true for you and my religion is true for me, as if sincerity were the only virtue and were the objective criterion of truth! Every teacher knows that sincerity is not enough, otherwise all students would pass the mathematics examination. Practical materialism can become equivalent to implicit or practical atheism when only material things are taken seriously and the existence of God is denied or ignored. The error of liberalism, which can sometimes approach indifferentism, is that of people who regard themselves as superior to all considerations of adherence to a definite religion or set of beliefs and who look on all religions with indifferent and benign compassion.

The full text of the homily can be accessed here.

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Blogger surge said...

His Eminence gave a brilliant sermon, the published text was frequently interspersed with very funny "one-liners", and it was all delivered with tremendous verve and dynamism. It is not imagined that the 'drome has heard such cardinalatial preaching since April 1st, the last time he preached there.

1:18 pm  
Anonymous Andrew said...

Who would have thought the man behind that awful fireball bishop's mitre would give a good sermon. I am impressed and gald that he said this to univeristy students like me, where there is a tendency to think all religions are the same

2:27 pm  
Blogger elena maria vidal said...

Thank you, Father, for the beautiful and inspiring words of the Cardinal.

3:32 pm  
Anonymous Mike Garcia said...

That's a nice fiddleback His Eminence is wearing by the way!

6:54 am  

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