Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Therese in Cardiff

Amazing sights at St David's Cathedral yesterday for the visit of the relics of St Therese of Lisieux. I went hoping to have a half hour there before Mass at 6pm, but the traffic and the crowd at the cathedral meant I only got to the sacristy with ten minutes to spare. The cathedral was heaving - I don't think I have ever seen so many people there, even at Chrism Masses. All three Welsh bishops were concelebrating, along with priests from all corners of Wales. I was asked to proclaim the Gospel, which was a great privilege on so special an occasion. Huge number of people are going to Confession too.
The relics are contained in a casket which was placed in front of the altar, and immediately after Mass a huge queue reformed to come up and venerate with a touch, a kiss or just a moment's prayer. Altogether, a great display of faith, and confirms my thoughts that the Church needs shrines, pilgrimages etc. We are in danger of making our faith so refined, even intellectual, and possibly "respectable", and we are so careful not to offend anyone inside or outside our Church, that we lose these reminders that the Church is a community of people, that we enflesh the Word, that ever since Bethlehem Christianity has been about real people trying in their real lives to live their faith. When they manage to do so, as young Therese of Lisieux did, it is right that we both honour them, and seek their help for us who are still struggling on the way. Further visits that teh relics are making include York Minster and the chapel at Wormwood Scrubs.
The first picture shows the relics being brought into the Cathedral, while the second is a scene during veneration at the altar. More pictures of the Cardiff visit can be seen here and here.

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