LIVERPOOL, England, JULY 6, 2012 (Zenit.org).- “The regeneration of the Catholic Church in our country lies in the rediscovery by the faithful of the love of Jesus Christ present in the Eucharist,” said Bishop Mark Davies, bishop of Shrewsbury in a homily delivered today in the presence of the relic of the heart of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests.
Bishop Davies told Catholics gathered at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool that Pope Benedict XVI has himself drawn attention to the “pastoral plan” of St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests, as a model for the renewal of parish life everywhere. The Mass also commemorated a National Day of Prayer for the renewal of parish life and vocations.
The bishop explained, however, that St. John Vianney did not have a concrete plan as such but rather a firm and deliberate disposition to seek holiness which he was able to convey to those who around him.
Fundamental to the answering this call to holiness, Bishop Davies said, was the saint’s life of prayer, particularly in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist.
“St. John Vianney never set out to ‘please people’ responding to demands like a tin can blown about on the piazza outside. Rather he proceeded purposefully in seeking to please God. This led him very close to all his people and especially close throughout his life to the most difficult and confused of his people – the types of people we might naturally be inclined to avoid. Yet there was nothing of a ‘people pleaser’ in this,” he said.
“The stories are legion of his remarks and sayings which might appeal to Lancastrian plain-speaking. Yet it is hard to know how they were first received such as when he told his congregation that in their dealings with each other most of them were probably thieves! Or that man who brought his fine dog for the Curé to see, who was told with a sigh ‘If only your soul was as beautiful as your dog!’.”
The National Day of Prayer will be held in the cathedral where 3,000 people are expected to attend. The Most Reverend Patrick Kelly, Archbishop of Liverpool, who this year is celebrating the golden jubilee of his ordination to the priesthood, will also be among the preachers during the event.
Afterwards, the relic of the heart of St. John Vianney will be taken to St Michael’s and All Angels Church in Woodchurch, Wirral, for compline.
The relic arrived into Manchester Airport on July 5 and was then taken to Wythenshawe, near Manchester, on the first stage of its first ever tour on British soil, where it was venerated by more than 2,000 people.
On Saturday, the relic will be venerated at St Wilfrid’s Church, Northwich, Cheshire, before it will be taken to Shrewsbury Cathedral. Later in the day the relic will be taken to the Invocations Annual National Vocations Conference in Birmingham.
The vocations event, which this year will focus in a particular way on the priesthood and its role in the life of the Church, is being held at St Mary’s College, Oscott.
The relic will be present at the festival from Saturday evening when Bishop Davies addresses participants. The Most Rev. Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, and the Most Rev. Bernard Longley, the Archbishop of Birmingham, are expected to preach at the event on the following Sunday.