New building blessed by Archbishop Longley
Yesterday we were honoured by a visit from the Most Reverend Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, who celebrated the Solemn Mass and afterwards blessed our new building.
Metropolitan Kallistos Ware of Diokleia was also present on the sanctuary during Mass, and Archbishop Bernard invited the Metropolitan to join him in the blessing of the building. Fr Jerome has prepared an inscription for a plaque in Latin and Greek accordingly!
The Fathers are immensely grateful for all your generosity in supporting our fundraising Campaign that has made this building possible for the parish and the Oratorian community. Of course we still need to raise more to finish paying for it - and we commend this to you. Not only do the new rooms make further growth and long-term stability of the Oratory possible, but the parish centre gives us new apostolic opportunities in welcoming people to the church and creating bonds of charity.
Here is the Archbishop's sermon from Mass yesterday:
“Look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is sitting at God’s right hand.”
"It is always a great pleasure to celebrate Mass with you here at the Oxford Oratory and to be united with you in the Sunday liturgy. There are several different purposes that have brought me to the community of the Oratory Fathers, to the Parish of St Aloysius and to this city where we witness to our faith in Christ in a real though as yet partial communion with the other Churches and ecclesial communities.
Among those Churches whose Christian living and witness the Catholic Church recognises and esteems it is the holy Orthodox Church with whom we have the closest theological, sacramental and spiritual bonds. For that reason I am most grateful for the presence of Metropolitan Kallistos Ware at this morning’s Mass and I thank His Grace for having welcomed me earlier this year to participate in the Divine Liturgy with his community in Canterbury Road earlier this year. We pray during this Mass for a deepening of the bonds of faith and affection that hold us together in Christ.
Today is also a significant day for the Fathers of the Oratory here in Oxford as we celebrate with them the completion of the first phase of their building project. It is gratifying to know that those who have been living in such cramped quarters in cellars and attics, thanks to God’s gift of increasing vocations to their way of life, will now have more fitting accommodation so as to organise their lives of prayer and service for the benefit of the parish and the many chaplaincies they provide. We also pray during this Mass for more vocations to the Oratory and for the success of the futures phases of this project.
Our Mass today affords me the first public opportunity to thank the Oratory Fathers for their generous response to the invitation to establish a new house in York, under the patronage of St Wilfrid. We shall pray for the founding members of this community as they serve their new parishioners and the pilgrims who visit the Shrine of St Margaret Clitherow.
None of these projects – our striving for the full, visible unity of the Church, the extension and growth of the Oxford Oratory, the new foundation in York – none of these would flourish if they were not founded on Jesus Christ and on faith in him which is also God’s gift to us. If we keep our focus on our Lord we are less likely to make any particular project or activity an idol for our worship or a distraction from the Gospel itself.
St Paul encourages us: “Look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand. Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth.” He is clear that Christ must be at the centre of all that we are and everything that we do so that we may become more like him. As we become more like him he can work in and through us more effectively and our lives will be fruitful in good things. In this way our projects will flourish.
The parable of today’s Gospel reading illustrates and conveys the teaching of Christ himself on the priorities that must govern our lives. Being successful in what we do is not in itself a problem but it carries a threat to our spiritual wellbeing. Whatever our interest, pursuits or work may be we must not become so absorbed in them that they become ends in themselves. The rich man of the parable is absorbed with the thought of amassing further wealth – his barns on earth become the source of his delight.
Nothing and nobody should delight us so much that we lose sight of our eternal destiny and forget the divine pattern for our lives that is the only true source of wellbeing and delight. If we can keep this in mind we can see our work and interests in their proper perspective and they can then serve the purposes of God.
Today, the fourth of August, is the annual feast day of St John Mary Vianney, the Curé d’Ars. I recall his memory today because he is the patron of all pastoral clergy and because of the clarity of vision with which he saw the purposes of God as the true source of our happiness and success. In his Catechetical Instructions St John Vianney reflected on the teaching of Christ that is before us today:
“Consider, children, a Christian’s treasure is not on earth, it is in heaven. Well then, our thoughts should turn to where our treasure is.
Man has a noble task: that of prayer and love. To pray and to love, that is the happiness of man.
Prayer is nothing else than union with God. When the heart is pure and united with God it is consoled and filled with sweetness; it is dazzled by a marvellous light. In this intimate union God and the soul are like two pieces of wax moulded into one; they cannot any more be separated. It is a very wonderful thing, this union of God with his insignificant creature, a happiness passing all understanding.”
May this union with God be the goal and the fruit of all the projects that we commend to his loving mercy today."
Here is the Archbishop, Metropolitan Kallistos, Fr Richard and Kate Allison, our parish and Campaign secretary, in one of the new bedrooms:
The Archbishop blesses the Library:
Blessing of the Parish Rooms:
The Metropolitan adds his own blessing:
Fraternal greetings between East and West:
His Grace cuts the beautiful cake prepared to celebrate the occasion:
Photography by Elizabeth Nyikos