“Are you the Parson?” asks the old man sitting alone at the back of the church. “I don’t share your faith, but I come in here very often when it is empty, and I just sit here and feel well. I feel love! Loved!”
“I’m very pleased” I say.
“But it’s not just a beautiful building” he goes on, “there’s something else…”
And his voice trails off as he ponders, searching for a word that escapes him, so I prompt him.
“A Presence?” I ask.
“Yes!” he replies, raising his index finger. “There is a Presence here!”
“There is indeed” I reply.
What a wonderful thing for him to experience and for me to hear, to be reminded again of what I already know and experience. The abiding Presence of Jesus that is hidden in the Tabernacle and it strikes me that our church does its own work in drawing people in, Jesus does His own work without any effort on my part. All I do is open the door in the morning and leave it open. God does the rest!
This is the blessing that is ours as a Catholic Community. Weekly and daily, we are drawn into the Presence of Jesus who brings us here “so that where I am you may be too!” It is His desire that we set ourselves close to Him. Close!
A tender closeness, like Prince William in the Coronation of the King kissing his father’s cheek. A very lovely moment. And we are called to kiss the King of Kings in this place that is ours, this very special place.
King of Kings! One of the really inspirational moments in the Coronation ceremony came at the very beginning when a boy from the choir stood before the King and said,
“Your Majesty, As children of the Kingdom of God we welcome you in the name of the King of Kings.”
Those few words put everything in its proper place as did the response of the King,
“In His name and after His example I come not to be served but to serve.”
Everything in the ceremony kept pointing us beyond ourselves to God, to the higher heavenly things. It was the choice of King Charles himself that it be so.
And so, we are called in Christian love to pray that the King may be blessed by the King of Kings, that he may have the grace to live up to the example of Jesus himself. It is our calling from Sacred Scripture, as St. Paul instructed Timothy, to pray for the King and those in authority so that we may live our lives in peace. We do this as Christians, whether we are monarchists or not and the fruit of this prayer is Peace. The Peace of Christ Himself.
The whole lurgy of creation, the liturgy of all our lives, like the liturgy of Coronation, is designed to do this very thing – to remind us of heaven, our ultimate destination, the purpose of all that we are and do and experience. To raise our hearts, minds, and souls to the higher heavenly realities.
It was brought home to me on Thursday and Friday of last week when I attended a training course for clergy at the Franciscan Centre in Ladywell. The messages and the spirit of St. Francis were everywhere. The Canticle of Creation giving praise to God, and it is possibly from St. Francis that St. Vincent Pallotti learned to pray always in union with all Creation; his wonderful meditation that speaks of the delightful sounds God has given us so that “we may fall in love” with the Canticles of the Angels in heaven. That we may fall in love! Fall in love with the One who has already fallen in love with us.
God has fallen in love with us and has given us a royal status to equal and even surpass the royal status of our earthly King. I can hear the late Pallottine Father Ned O’Brien declare time and time again – “we are priests, prophets and kings” – all of us.
It is given to us in Baptism when we are brought to share in the priesthood, prophecy, and kingship of Christ, sharing and living it according to our own particular calling in life.
May the celebrations of this time bring each of us to understand more deeply our own dignity in Christ; may the extravagance of the Coronation move us to be extravagant with the poor; may King Charles, his family and his whole nation experience the Peace that Christ gives.
“…a Peace that the world cannot give.
This is my gift to you.”John 14:27