The Universal Call to Holiness (Lumen Gentium)

Every year, Father Kevin puts on a series of talks or reflections for Lent. They are always very good and, in my opinion, constitute a real aid to our journey through Lent. The evenings take place at Nazareth House in Southend and every years take a different theme. I was honoured to be asked to present a talk myself a few years ago when the theme was 'The Last Words of Jesus', but we have also had really good speakers like Rev Dr. Andrew Pinsent who gave a superb talk on Faith and Science and Father Tim Finigan on the Reform of the Reform.
Nazareth House

This year, inspired by the Holy Father and the Year of Faith, the theme is The Legacy of Vatican II. Last night (Thursday 14th February) was the first talk by Fr Martin Boland, Dean of Brentwood Cathedral. His talk was entitled: The Universal Call to Holiness (Lumen Gentium). Father Martin is one of Brentwood's really talented priests (we are so blessed to have so many) and also authors a very well written blog.

I found Father Martin's talk right up my street, although as often is the case with these events, I wished I had a transcript that I could pick through at my leisure. He concentrated on a discussion of holiness. What constitutes holiness, the holiness of the Church, our call to Sainthood, how that might seem unachievable, but yet is what God wants us to do.
Fr. Martin Preaching at Brentwood Factory Cathedral
God doesn't ask us to be another John Vianney or Therese of Liseux, but to fill our own vessel to the fullest we can, to achieve all that we can achieve, to become all that we can become. Father Martin expressed this beautifully and bridged from the all holy to the every day (us) using an example from Thomas Merton's work The Seven Storey Mountain.

Fr. Martin considers LG 5 the most important paragraph in all the council documents, and this led to an exposition of the vertical and horizontal hierarchy in the Church. As well as a careful consideration of the holiness of the Church, Fr. Martin also put this in the context of us as sinners and how God often works His greatest miracles through the most broken of vessels. Giving ourselves over to Him, having courage in consistently placing Him at the centre of all we do, at home, at work, when we are alone, when we are in company, is the path to Sainthood.

The Chapel at Nazareth House
After Fr. Martin's talk, we adjourned to the beautiful chapel for Benediction and Compline, followed by an opportunity for Confession. This is a great way to end the evening, in prayer and with an opportunity for reflection. Finally, there is tea and biscuits and an opportunity for a chat. I had a crazy evening yesterday between meetings, Parent's Evening and the talk, so Mum & I skipped off home sharpish!

Tonight (Friday 15th) Father Martin is back at Nazareth House to give a talk about Same Sex Marriage, which I highly recommend you support if at all possible.

On the way home, Mum & I remarked on how extraordinarily fortunate we are to live where we do, and to have the opportunity to deepen our faith through such evenings, which bring together theoretical theology (that is, an exposition of the faith~ St. Anselm defined theology as 'faith seeking understanding'), practical prayer and a real encounter with Jesus Christ in the Sacraments. Since the conclusion of the Catholicism Project, lots of my fellow Parishioners have contacted me to ask what's next, and I would encourage you to now support the Lenten Reflections, as good attendance can do nothing but encourage our Priests and convince them of our hunger for the faith and for good catechesis!

Forthcoming Lenten reflections are as follows:

Thursday 21st February
Mr Liam Connolly, Director of Adult Formation, Archdiocese of Southwark
The Continuing Work of Evangelisation and Catechesis in the Church and World (Gaudium et Spes)

Thursday 28th February
Canon Peter Newby, Parish Priest, St Mary Moorfields
The Word of God Alive and Active (Dei Verbum)

Thursday 7th March
Fr Timothy Gardner OP, Dept of Catholic Education, Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales
Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi (Sacrosanctum Concilium)

Each evening begins promptly at 8.00pm and includes a talk/meditation followed by Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Office of Night Prayer and Benediction.

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