LONDON, JUNE 17, 2009 (Zenit.org).- A requiem Mass today in Westminster Cathedral marked the 10th anniversary of the death of Cardinal Basil Hume, whose legacy is marked by works of Christian charity and social justice.
A press release from the Westminster Archdiocese today recalled the man who “encouraged work with young homeless people through the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and in 1986 founded the Cardinal Hume Center for young people at risk.”
The statement noted that the cardinal “remained a humble and approachable man, preferring to wear a monk’s habit instead of his cardinal’s robes.”
In the homily of the requiem Mass, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster recalled the cardinal’s legacy: “As we know, he had a compassionate heart. He was moved by poverty, hardship and, of course, injustice.
“This humane and deeply compassionate man acted on these promptings.”
These actions, he explained, include his “spontaneous insistence on travelling to Ethiopia to show support for all those caught up in that dreadful famine.”
Basil Hume was born in 1923 and entered the Benedictine Ampleforth Abbey at age 18.
He was ordained a priest in 1950, and was appointed Archbishop of Westminster in 1976, the same year that he was made a cardinal.
Cardinal Hume was president of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences from 1978 to 1987, and served as president of the bishops’ conference of England and Wales from 1979 until his death on June 17, 1999.
Two weeks before his death, Queen Elizabeth II awarded him the Order of Merit. Three years later, she unveiled a statue of the cardinal in his home town of Newcastle.
Archbishop Nichols affirmed that “for all his monastic manner, this was a man of action, often quietly carried out but sometimes designed to catch public attention and bring about real and lasting change.”
The prelate described the last time that he saw the cardinal, shortly before his death, in a vespers ceremony. Cardinal Hume addressed the packed church, and spoke “from the heart” about “his favorite Gospel passage: the return of the Prodigal Son; the vigil of the loving Father.”
At that time, the archbishop noted, “he spoke of his own journey toward death, the anxiety that he felt and the profound sense of going to his Father, to whom he could tell his story, without ambiguity, and with confidence in the loving mercy with which he would be heard.”
He continued: “It was a testimony without parallel. There was not a sound in the church, nor a dry eye, as we soaked up his words, knowing so well we would not hear him again.”
Archbishop Nichols affirmed that the cardinal “had a rare gift of putting into words, for us all, the struggle involved in reaching out toward God.”
The prelate added: “He helped us to understand that only occasionally will we catch a glimpse of God’s beauty and goodness, and that we are to live for the most part in hopeful trust, knowing that God is near, even if we do not easily or readily sense his presence.”
He ended the homily by recalling some words written by Cardinal Hume in 1994: “To go in search of God requires effort and a measure of self-discipline and self-denial.
“The voice of God does not speak dramatically, as in a hurricane, or an earthquake, or a fire, but calls to us gently in the very depth of our being. To hear the voice of God demands some solitude, silence and stillness.
“In our society today there is too much noise, both around and within us, and the quiet voice of God becomes stifled. But in a moment of gentle stillness, God not only reveals something of himself, but he transforms us, too.
“So if God exists, it is the most fundamental truth of all. It changes everything. It cannot be both true and not matter.”
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