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ORDINARIATE FESTIVAL: Homily by the Ordinary, Mgr Keith Newton
Saturday 20th September 2014


Homily delivered by the Rt Revd Mgr Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, at the Ordinariate Festival Mass in Westminster Cathedral on 20 Sept 2014

(Picture by Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk)

Our Lady

Two weeks ago I was privileged to be present at the foundation Mass of a new Catholic institution for higher adult education based at Buckfast Abbey in Devon. This new school is a response to the Church's call that we must all play our part in the New Evangelisation in proclaiming the faith with renewed enthusiasm and using new methods. This needs a committed and well instructed laity. The name chosen for the new Institution is the 'School of the Annunciation'. This may at first seem a strange title but the founders explain that the Annunciation, the Gospel Reading we have just heard at this Mass, is at the centre of the work of evangelisation, of transmitting the Good news of Jesus Christ, because it was that moment that initiated the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ the complete revelation of God announced to our blessed Lady.

At the end of his encyclical Evangelii Guadium, the Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis has a passage about our Lady whom he calls the Mother of Evangelisation. She is, he says, the Mother of the Church which evangelises and without her we can never really understand the spirit of the new evangelisation. There is, he says, a Marian style to this aspect of the Church's life: the interplay of justice and tenderness, contemplation and concern for others which makes the Church look to her as a model of evangelisation.

When we look at the Statue of our Lady of Walsingham seated with Jesus on her knee, it gives us an image of our own vocation as baptised men and women. It is to present Christ to the world. In the statue the Christ child is holding the Book of the gospels, the unchanging Good News of Jesus Christ which we must proclaim afresh to our own generation many of whom have forgotten it or have never heard it in its fullness before.

This means that each of us must be a witness and this is more often about being rather than doing, about who we are than what we say. We are to become the presence of Jesus Christ to the world because only he has the power to evangelise and we can achieve nothing on our own.

More than anyone else Mary the mother of the Lord and the Mother of the Church can help us because true devotion to Mary will always lead us deeper into the mystery of Jesus. It is always Christ centred and the first thing we need to be an evangelist is to have a Christ at the centre of our life. We cannot make Christ known to others unless we know him in our own hearts. As with Mary this is a work of the Holy Spirit. We too are called to conceive Christ, though spiritually, in our own lives- Christ in each of us the Hope of glory. The story of the annunciation gives us the pattern.

It means being attentive to the voice of God. We can be so busy, so distracted that it is easy to miss his gentle invitations to follow and serve. He makes them often but we simply are not attentive.

The Angel of the Lord brought tidings to Mary.
The angel who brings us such a messages is not likely to be a heavenly being, more likely a friend, relative, priest or someone in need. In the same way we might be God's vehicles in the lives of others inviting them, sometimes unknowingly, to a deeper commitment and encouraging them to let the Holy Spirit work in their lives. Primarily this is always an invitation to trust. It was certainly that for Our Lady; to trust even when the outcome or the future is uncertain and even precarious. Those of us in the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham have some experience of that. But although God takes the initiative we must like Mary respond in trust and faith and echo her 'Yes' in the unique circumstances of our own lives. We are invited to surrender all: our wills, our aspirations our hopes to God's Holy Spirit so that the emptiness may be filled by the Christ in the centre of our lives.

Be it unto me according to thy word. 
Only then can we, like Blessed Mary be Christ bearers, so that the word that became flesh in her may become flesh in our own lives. 

And the word became flesh and dwelt among us.
When we say the Angelus it is not simply an occasion to remember God's great condescension in becoming man of the Blessed Virgin but a reminder that each of us should follow the pattern of Our Lady; attentive to the call, obedient and trusting in response, so that God's will may be completed in our lives as it was in hers. Following that pattern under the guidance of the Holy Spirit we can become a powerful force for the New Evangelisation, so that we can echo the words of St Paul 'It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives within me' (Gal2:20)


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