St. John the Baptist got here to organize the means of the Lord by proclaiming the Good Information of the coming of the Redeemer, and by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the knowledge of the simply.
In line with Abba Apollo, a desert father who lived about 1,700 years in the past, the satan has no knees. He had them as soon as, however they atrophied by means of disuse and withered away as a result of he wouldn’t bend his personal will in humble obedience to God.
His proud motto is ‘Non Serviam – I can’t serve!” In the guise of a serpent, he enticed our first mother and father to commit the primal act of disobedience, promising them that this would result in their equality with God; and, ever since, our wounded human nature has been disposed to disobedience, and to pursuing its personal wishes in radical autonomy.
Whereas true liberty is to be discovered solely in obedient service to God, some individuals now attempt to raise disobedience right into a precept by sustaining that the essence of liberty is “the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life”.
Such a false concept might hardly have been expressed extra clearly if Devil had expounded it himself, as a result of it means arrogating to males the prerogatives of God.
St. John the Baptist was forthright in his criticism of the ‘viper’s brood’ of his personal era who practised values that successfully contradicted the religion they professed. How damning should his verdict be on our era, by which the hearts of so many Catholics have develop into disobedient, and have turned away from the knowledge of the simply to a watered-down faith of Catholicism-lite?
“Of course, I’m a Catholic – but I…” How typically have you ever heard somebody say a sentence that begins like that? “I’m a Catholic but I don’t go to Mass”; and even “I’m a Catholic, but I’m ‘pro-choice’”.
Such individuals have been seduced by the blandishments of a society that appears to have assigned itself the process of rending asunder – and setting at odds – issues and other people whom God has willed to be joined collectively in dynamic complementarity.
This dismal and damaging course of consists of the separation of:
life from religion;
information from knowledge;
mercy from justice;
tradition from custom;
rights from duties;
pleasure from advantage;
procreation from marital relations; and
gender from intercourse.
This listing simply goes on and on. And, in fact, the Church now faces the counter-cultural problem of making an attempt to deliver all of them again into some kind of harmonious unity. The extra the world encourages us to separate our lives into separate, unrelated compartments, the extra we’d like the Church’s assist to reconcile these false antitheses, and to combine our lives as soon as extra.
Right here in your Cathedral you’ve a marvellous help to that finish in your Holy Home Chapel. The Cathedral is devoted to Our Woman of Walsingham, and a few of you’ve visited her Shrine in England. In 1061, the Blessed Virgin appeared there to a woman referred to as Richeldis, and requested her to construct a life-size illustration of the Holy Home in Nazareth by which the Annunciation had occurred. Walsingham then turned England’s Nazareth; and by constructing a model of that Holy Home right here, you might have made Houston America’s Nazareth.
At the Holy Home of Nazareth – and Walsingham – we see in the home group of the Holy Household the good integration of all the issues and other people whom the world seeks to divide; and in a Cathedral and an Ordinariate that has that Holy Home as its centre and inspiration, it’s to be anticipated that many hearts which could in any other case be disobedient must be being turned to the knowledge of the simply.
Once I come right here, I’m all the time inspired to seek out that the graces flowing from the Holy Home helps to type Catholics who’re dedicated to striving for sanctity -despite their very human frailty- by integrating the calls for of their religion into each facet of their lives.
Not as a way to grow to be bigots or fanatics, however to develop into real practising Catholics: the kind of individuals whose sentences begin with “I’m a Catholic, so of course I…”, somewhat than with “I’m a Catholic but I…”.
Nevertheless, once I come right here, I all the time need to remind you all that yours isn’t the solely Holy Home on this aspect of the Atlantic: we even have one at Casa Walsingham down in Medellín, Colombia.
And there, too, we’re doing our greatest to show the hearts of the disobedient to the knowledge of the simply in our programmes for a few of the youngsters who stay or work in the road, or who’re in grave social or ethical hazard there.
That is the 15th yr that I’ve come to evangelise right here, so a few of you’ve heard my story many occasions. However, I all the time have to elucidate to the newcomers that I turned concerned on this work once I was “adopted” by a gaggle of street-children once I turned stranded in Colombia while on vacation there in 1982. I sought the assist of the native Catholic Archbishop for my new buddies, and what had began as a easy trip started to show right into a vocation.
At that stage I used to be an Anglican, and I ultimately ended up working as an Anglican priest at the Shrine in Walsingham in England. And in the Holy Home there I began a charity referred to as Let The Children Reside! to help the work that the Catholic Church was doing with the street-children in Medellín. We gave the charity that quite dramatic identify as a result of so lots of the youngsters whom I had obtained to know had fallen sufferer to the violence for which the metropolis was then infamous.
I spent all my holidays working as a volunteer with a Catholic programme for the road youngsters. Because of Our Woman’s mild prodding, I ultimately realised that I needed to exit to reside there, and to grow to be a Catholic; and in 1995 I used to be ordained as a Catholic priest in Medellín, with a particular temporary to develop the work of Let The Children Reside!
The energy of that work lies, in fact, in Our Woman’s personal arms, and together with her help it has developed programmes for street-children and different girls and boys who’re at excessive ethical or social danger. These embrace youngsters with particular instructional wants, and teenage- and even pre-teenage- moms and their infants. The charity all the time tries to answer the altering state of affairs of the tons of of youngsters who search its assist.
Since I used to be right here final December, a further group of youngsters has began coming to Casa Walsingham. These girls and boys are usually not Colombian however Venezuelan, they usually type a tiny fragment of the a million refugees who’ve fled to Colombia this yr in order to flee from the appalling chaos being brought on by the disastrous insurance policies of the socialist authorities in Venezuela.
There are greater than 60,000 such refugees in Medellín alone, and one sees them at almost each main intersection in the central space of the metropolis. I need to stress that these are not financial migrants, motivated by a mere want for a greater lifestyle, however real refugees from starvation and violence.
Inflation in Venezuela this yr is believed to be heading in the direction of 1,000,000%. Meals there’s briefly provide, and it has been reported that the common month-to-month wage is just not sufficient to purchase even 1 / 4 of a hen. Medical providers appear to be on the verge of collapse; and, in accordance with the statistics, the inhabitants of Caracas are ten occasions extra more likely to fall sufferer to murder than are these of Houston.
There appears to be little probability of a peaceable and democratic answer to the disaster, and it could be very doubtless that the flood of refugees from Venezuela into Colombia will proceed or improve in 2019 as a result of they merely have nowhere else to go. Lots of the refugees are youngsters, and we have now discovered instances of acute malnutrition and stunted progress. A few of the youngsters have critical dental issues; and in lots of instances, they solely possess what they have been capable of carry in a small bag.
The plight of the Venezuelan refugees has been under-reported in the press, and Colombia is being left to bear this burden with valuable little help from the worldwide group. Up to now, the Colombians have proven exceptional solidarity and endurance; however the danger of violence is growing as increasingly individuals are having to compete for very restricted assets.
So what’s Let The Children Reside! doing to assist? Properly, though we’re a really small organisation, we consider that we should not flip away empty handed these whom Our Woman brings to the door of her home.
By October this yr we had helped 83 refugee households; and we’re at present working with 44 Venezuelan youngsters each weekday – as well as, in fact, to some 300 Colombian youngsters who’re persevering with to profit from our different programmes.
We’re serving to the refugee youngsters with meals and garments and toys. We’re offering instructional and leisure actions to maintain the youngsters protected and occupied while their mother and father try to earn a number of pesos. We’re additionally bringing the mother and father collectively for mutual help, to allow them to begin to put their lives collectively once more with out being overly depending on us.
I do know that, contemplating the giant variety of youngsters who want our assist, this response doesn’t sound spectacular: certainly, it’s woefully insufficient. However at the very least we’re making a big distinction to the lives of these youngsters whom we’re serving to.
We should always very a lot love to do extra: however this yr, sadly, has not been an excellent one for elevating funds in the UK due to all of the uncertainty over Brexit. Our charity there’s already overstretched, and its reserves at the moment are perilously low.
Let The Children Stay! is a 501(three)(c) non-profit in the U.S. The American charity has helped by sending $three,000 to Colombia every month, however most of this has come from donations we acquired final yr.
In view of all this, we anticipate having to scale back our price range in Colombia by about 25% from January onwards, so I need to confess that the outlook for our youngsters subsequent yr actually seems to be fairly grim. We will be having to chop again at the very time once we ought to be increasing.
Nevertheless, I all the time keep in mind that when Our Woman appeared at Walsingham, she promised that each one who sought her there would discover succour. I’ve subsequently come as a pilgrim to her Holy Home right here in Houston to hunt her assist for my youngsters. I’m asking her not just for the traditional beneficiant response to my attraction right here this weekend, but in addition for assist in arranging future occasions to generate revenue between my visits to Houston.
Along with that, we’re in search of somebody with wonderful communication expertise in English and Spanish to assist us to use for grants from Trusts and Foundations right here in the U.S. So if you already know anybody who is perhaps fascinated about a biggish problem for a smallish wage – what’s to not like? – please ask them to contact us.
And in the event you’re considering of creating your Will – properly, we now have by no means acquired a legacy from somebody in the U.S., so it might seem that individuals who help Let The Children Reside! simply go on and on dwelling! Maybe that could be one thing that you simply may wish to keep in mind… And, above all, please maintain us in your prayers.
St. John the Baptist moved the hearts of lots of his hearers to repentance, and to combine their religion absolutely into their lives. Might he and Our Woman of Walsingham intercede together with her Son to maneuver your hearts to answer the plight of a few of the least of Our Lord’s brothers and sisters in Medellín by serving to Let The Children Stay! Might Jesus Christ be praised! Amen.
This essay is an edited model of a homily preached on the Third Sunday in Creation 2018 in the Ordinariate Cathedral of Our Woman of Walsingham, Houston, by Fr. Peter Walters.