Thursday, 25 June 2009

An Honour and a Responsibility

It is an honour and a responsibility to have been given the Catholic Faith of the Church that was founded by Christ on Peter the Rock.

The word “pride” in connection with the Church has always jarred with me. There are, of course, different kinds of pride. There is honest pride in one’s work, or the gentle sort of pride which is really a healthy self-respect, for example making the best of one’s appearance, or taking care of one’s home. But it is not uncommon for people to say they are “proud” of their religion, even when, to all outward appearances, they seem to share none of its beliefs and to obey none of its teachings.

Pride in one’s religion may be genuinely spiritual, or it may be more akin to pride in one’s town, or to the local football team. At its extreme, it can be ugly. I can remember, some decades ago, seeing a film of mutually hostile crowds at the height of the Northern Irish Troubles. The crowd on one side were hurling hymns at their adversaries, as though they were hurling bricks.

Pride has nothing to do with it. Faith is a gift from God. I do not deserve it. It is a share in the royal priesthood of the Kingdom of Heaven: how could I possibly deserve it? It has been freely given to me, on trust; and the Lord will expect much of those to whom much has been given. What an honour, and what a responsibility!

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