FR. ANDREW WRITES:
Earlier this week I visited the magnificent shrine of St Augustine in Ramsgate. The church was built by Augustus W. Pugin and is a masterpiece in the Gothic style, which is well worth seeing.(see www.augustineshrine.co.uk for more information) It has a beautiful location overlooking the sea and is not far from where St Augustine and the other Benedictine monks landed in England in the late 6th century. Pope Gregory the Great had sent Augustine to England to convert the English. St Augustine was the first missionary of the English. One account of St Augustine and his monks says that, ‘They attracted the native people by their goodness, their preaching and miracles.’ (‘A Year with English Saints’, ed. by Fr M. Holden, CTS, London, 2004, p. 43). Essentially St Augustine managed to convert the King of Kent, Ethelbert who became the first Christian English king. On Christmas Day 597 an impressive number of 10,000 people were baptised.
Why do I mention all these things? I mention them because on the 11th of July we celebrate the memorial of St Benedict one of the patron saints of Europe and it was his legacy that in effect came to England with St Augustine and his monks during the 6th century. The Benedictine influence on England was great with many monasteries being established all over England. These were suppressed under Henry VIII but re-established again in the 19th century. Douai, Ampleforth, Downside, Farnborough, Quarr, Worth, Prinknash are just some of the great Benedictine monasteries based in England. Here in London there is Ealing Abbey for monks and Tyburn Convent for nuns. As you know we even had a Benedictine Archbishop, Cardinal Hume.
Following in the missionary footsteps of St Augustine an event called ‘Proclaim 15’ will be happening in Birmingham this Saturday. This is a national conference on Evangelisation where fifty members of our diocese have been chosen to attend from every deanery as well as representatives from various diocesan departments. All parishes have been asked to keep this event in prayer and to pray specifically for evangelisation in our parishes. We will be holding a special Holy Hour here in the parish after the 6.30pm Mass this Saturday (which you are all very welcome to attend.) Please do come along if you can. And please keep this intention in your daily prayers with the Proclaim 15 prayer. Let us pray that this event will be a great catalyst for evangelisation in our parish. (See www.catholicnews,org.uk/Home/Special-Events/Proclaim15-Building-Missionary-Parishes/Evangelisation-Prayer)
The Proclaim 15 Prayer
Loving Father, you so loved the world that you sent us your only Son, that we might believe in him and have eternal life. May we encounter Jesus Christ anew this day and live the Good News with joy. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, help us to “go out to the whole world and proclaim” our faith with confidence. Give us the courage to witness to the Joy of the Gospel by our words and actions. Help our parish to become more welcoming and missionary, so that you may be known and loved by all people. We make this prayer through Our Lord Jesus Christ Your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen
Our Lady, Star of the New Evangelisation, pray for us.
Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us.