Editorial – The Message of God’s Love

Preaching doesn’t come easy to most priests. At this time of year particularly, I’ve often found a homiletic challenge in presenting the teaching of Pentecost, the Holy Trinity and Corpus Christi in a way that is in any way helpful, meaningful or relevant to a patient congregation who now face the same face and voice weekly at the altar in a rural parish where for many years they once enjoyed at least one regular and often welcome alternative. The energising element of surprise in preacher or homily has largely disappeared.

However, I recently had the sad task of burying a young wife and mother of seven children who had fought hard with real faith and courage against a cruel illness for two years. With her husband Martin, Dara frequently recited the ‘Magnificat’ throughout their lives together and loved to visit shrines associated with the Virgin Mary, and Mary’s song of thanksgiving was central to her funeral liturgy. Hours before she passed away the couple recited the prayer together for the final time and she said smiling to him – ‘No more statues of her – I’m going to see the real thing!’ Her final message to her children were three words; ‘Keep the faith.’

For the many hundreds who attended her funeral Mass inside and outside the small parish church where those words resounded through the loudspeaker on a sunny day, those three small words, ‘Keep the faith,’ provided the strongest sermon they had heard in many years. That simple witness to faith, hope and love, in the face of suffering and death, lingered in their minds and hearts longer than many more learned offerings. Like the quiet gesture of the Sacred Heart these June days, the message of God’s love is best delivered in simplicity or silence.

Father Paul Clayton-Lea, Editor