In a Pastoral Letter for the fifth Sunday of Lent, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor has reflected on his nine years as Archbishop of Westminster.
The Pastoral Letter, the last he will deliver to parishes in the Diocese of Westminster as Archbishop of Westminster, will be read out at the 216 parishes in the diocese over the weekend of 28– 29 March 2009.
'These past nine years as your Archbishop have been very eventful ones and fulfilling ones. There have been difficulties and challenges but also for me great joy and fulfillment. There are many things that come to mind as I reflect on these years.”
“I remember the great occasion when over ten thousand of us gathered together at Wembley Arena to celebrate the beginning of our initiative, ‘At Your Word, Lord’. What a joyful day that was, with representatives from every parish. It was like a huge Catholic, Christian family gathered together in faith and hope for the future of the growth and flourishing of the Church.”
“There are so many other things I remember: the Mass every year for the immigrant communities and the thousands of people that come to Westminster Cathedral from many, many nations and gather together in a spirit of prayer and faith and membership of the Church. How often was I able to say to them, as I say to all of you, that you are members of the family of the Diocese, sharing the same faith and giving witness to Jesus Christ by the example of your life.'
In his Pastoral Letter, the Cardinal Archbishop also praises the spiritual strength of parishes in the Diocese of Westminster.
'There I have found vibrant Eucharistic communities; people young and old who gather together week after week to celebrate the Mass. There is no Christian community that can be built up unless it has as its basis the celebration of the Eucharist. That is why we understand that the Mass is the centre and summit of Christian life and must and should be celebrated with great reverence and great care - in the old phrase, It is the Mass that matters.”
”From this there follows another way of building up the Church and that is through prayer, the prayer of the family of God, the prayer of the Church. Without prayer we are no longer a living Church and so I urge you to pray personally in your families, in your groups, so that people will see that we are indeed a family, a people that pray.'
He concluded by asking all Catholics to be confident about the future: “The future is full of promise and you should go forward happily as pilgrims together, happy to belong to the family of the Lord, our Risen Christ. Do remember the words of St. Paul in his Letter to the Corinthians: Glory be to Him whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. Glory be to Him from generation to generation in the Church and in Christ Jesus, for ever and ever. “