Tuesday, May 05, 2015
A Portal of Mercy
Be careful what you wish for!
Spurred on by our Beloved Supreme Pontiff's exhortation to 'go out to the peripheries', to 'bring mercy' to people, I said in a sermon that the Church needs a presence 'where people are'. Like most Catholic churches we are not in the midst of where people are, 'location, location' wasn't the first thing in the minds in of our Victorian forefathers. In our case I get the impression our Church and Presbytery was built in a side street with a strong memory of anti-Catholic riots. It wasn't built as a centre for evangelisation.
I suggested that it would be great to have a chapel, a place of 'outreach' in the main shopping area. I had some vague thought that it could be a place where people could drop in to pray or even go to Confession: a sort of 'portal of mercy', a good idea, but I hadn't quite thought it through.
Last week one of my parishioners said she knew someone who might be able to let us have a small shop for a few weeks, now I am not quite sure what to do with it, I'm in a bit of a panic.
I think that it needs to be a place of prayer, a place of conversion, more than thing else and people need to be invited to pay there, it needs to be simple, I don't have vast numbers of people who could act as counselors or even catechists.
I have been thinking about that bishop who said the Rosary will overcome Boko Harram, it seems a bit like Pius V commanding the Rosary be said before Lepanto. I remember the valiant Hugh Thwaites' convert instruction "it works well for drug dealers and wife-beaters especially", was teaching the Rosary, and Dominic of course taught the True Faith to those Albigensians who had either never heard it or were unconvinced by it.
My thinking is is how do sow the seed of conversion in a brief conversation. The Rosary is easy to teach, most Catholics can do it. It teaches the fundamental doctrines of the faith, it opens people up to mystery and grace.
So my 'Portal of Mercy' would have a Crucifix in it, a statue of Our Lady, the opportunity to light candles, kneelers and pious men and women being seen saying the Rosary and willing to teach it, and to pray it for those in need. Say a Rosary, it may or may not come off. Even if it doesn't, it is a useful exercise to think of what is the best way to communicate our Faith.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake