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Cardinal visits Winchester College to Mark the Anniverary of its Founder - William of Wykeham

In his homily during the Mass to mark the anniversary of the death of William of Wykeham at Winchester College this weekend Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor said:

'My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, my dear Friends,

I am very grateful for the invitation to come to Winchester College for the anniversary of the death of William of Wykeham, its founder. I am delighted that so many from the College are here together with Anglican friends, and members of the local Catholic community.

When Bishop William of Wykeham founded this College in 1378 there were many twists and turns of the Church in England at that time. What I am reminded of as I come here is what Winchester has always stood for. These buildings, like those of New College Oxford, have had a huge influence on English intellectual life. They contain echoes of the great monasteries and cathedrals which have shaped the development of English civilisation. At their foundation is the purpose to cultivate, and to spread, a tradition of excellence and integrity in the field of learning....
09 October 2004

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It was just fifty-one years ago, during this month of September, that I first came to Walsingham on pilgrimage. I was with a group of young seminarians and we arrived at dusk. The first thing we did was to walk the Holy Mile to the Slipper Chapel. I remember we walked along in our bare feet, reciting the Rosary and singing hymns to Our Blessed Lady. We brought with us all our aspirations for the future; for the conversion of England; for our families, and the hopes for our priesthood. We were like hundreds of thousands of other pilgrims who have come to Walsingham year by year. ...
12 September 2004

Several weeks ago I returned to London from a visit to Rome the day after those horrendous bombings in Madrid. Here at the Cathedral, thousands of people, many of them Spanish, had gathered to pray for the victims and the injured and to be together during that terrible sense of loss. As I mingled with the young people who had gathered spontaneously on the piazza after that ceremony, I found it a most moving experience. Occasionally, one of them would shout out, 'Let us be silent' and for several moments there would be a hushed and reverent silence in the crowd. Many held lit candles and left them as a symbol of their prayer against the outside walls of the Cathedral. That silence was not only a dignified and authentic response to the evil which had confronted them but also, it seemed to me, an act of faith. It was a belief that terrorism could never conquer the human spirit, that death would not ultimately prevail and that, even in darkness, there is always light and hope....
11 April 2004

I wonder if, like me, you have noticed that in the Gospel story the closer Jesus comes to his Passion the less he says, and the more he is silent. The Last Supper is a supper of few, though momentously important words. In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus withdraws to be silent and alone with the Father. At His trial, Jesus makes no answer to many of the questions that are put to him by Pilate or the High Priest. How few and poignant are the words He speaks on the Cross. Those words which are spoken come from a place of deep silence, and it was in silence that the mystery of God's will was fulfilled in his last hours.

Silence is how we ought, perhaps, to begin to prepare ourselves in these next few days. Our inner ear can be deafened by the noise of everyday life. We are bombarded by visual images and wordy messages, and increasingly at risk of becoming bereft of interior life, and the need for silence before God. I am not talking just about refraining from speaking, but rather of an interior silence which brings us face to face with ourselves and with God. I am talking about that inner space within each one of us where God dwells and out of which we may more authentically love our neighbour and ourselves....
06 April 2004

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today is Education Sunday. It is a time for us to give thanks particularly to the teachers and staff of our schools who give such an enormous amount to our children and our young people. Where would the Catholic community in this diocese be without the heroic efforts of countless members of our community who for the past 150 years have committed themselves to fundraising, building, and maintaining our schools and providing the moral and personal support which the teachers in our schools deserve. I would like you to pray today very specially for all of those who contribute to making our schools places of faith, hope, and love as well as sound educational institutions.
07 February 2004

I send my warmest greetings to you and your family as we approach this wonderful season of Christmas.

This year we celebrate this feast of peace at a time of continued insecurity at home and abroad. And yet it was into a world as violent and uncertain as our own that God sent His angels to announce His own unique gift the birth of His Son, our Saviour, in that simple stable in Bethlehem.

Jesus, the Son of Man, Marys tiny child, was born into a situation of intense vulnerability. No sooner was he born than he was fleeing persecution and terror.

The true meaning of the Nativity cannot be experienced without a sense of this insecurity and fragility which is part of our human story. These things help rather hinder our entering more fully, and with an even greater sense of wonder and expectation, into the miracle of Jesus birth.

At times this message can seem lost among the gaudy lights and discarded wrappings of the modern commercial Christmas. But we should not forget that all but a few of the people of Bethlehem were also blind to what His birth might signify. Although there was no room available there, Jesus still came. Even though our own hearts are at times not fully open to his message, He still comes to us to bring us the same life, joy and peace that He brought to the Shepherds who went away 'praising God for all they had seen and heard.'

So, this is not a time for worry about what might be. It is a time to pause, to focus on what is really important in our lives, and for us to invite Jesus ever deeper into our hearts that He may be born anew within us.

22 December 2003

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This third Sunday of Advent is often known as Gaudete Sunday. The word gaudete means rejoice or be happy and it comes from the text of our second reading from St. Paul to the Philippians. Paul is writing to the community of Christians from prison and it is clear that he loves this group very much indeed. His heart is speaking to their hearts. So he says in this passage: 'I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord. I repeat, what I want is your happiness'. Quite simply, Paul is saying, as I do to you, that we should rejoice and be happy because we are united with Christ, we live in Him and through the gift of His grace we rejoice.

I was reminded of this when ten thousand or so of us met at Wembley Arena in September for the launch of At Your Word, Lord. It was clear at that great celebration that we were Christians, Catholics together, rejoicing in the Lord. We were glad. Sometimes I think we dont rejoice or be happy as much as we can or ought to be. Of course, Paul knows that this is easier said than done, but it is very important, and so he says, 'Again, I repeat, be happy. What I want is your happiness'.

13 December 2003

Recently, I asked somebody who knew Pope John Paul very well over many years, what he thought was the leit motif of his long pontificate. He said to me that it was summed up in six words, about which the Pope had thought, reflected upon and preached about for the whole of his long life. These words were from the eighth chapter of St. John's Gospel, The Truth will make you free.

In Poland, the country he loves so much, its history, both tragic and glorious, moulded his character. The Polish experience, as he learned it in his youth, was a metaphor for the human condition in the 20th century, namely, the quest for freedom. And in the pursuit of that aspiration, truth was more powerful than what the world usually regarded as real power. The human spirit, ordered to truth, was the most irresistible force. His whole life and mission, as priest, bishop, pope, has been to communicate to people worldwide that you will only be free if you order your life by what is true...
16 October 2003

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It is a great privilege for me to come here to your country and to this Cathedral at Stockholm for a celebration of its Golden Jubilee. I come as the representative of Pope John Paul II, who has asked me to convey to you his congratulations, his greetings and his hopes for evangelisation in your country.

The history of the Catholic Church in Sweden is not unlike our own in Britain. The re-establishment of the Church here over the past one hundred and fifty years began slowly. The first Catholic Church, after the Lutheran Reformation, was erected in 1837. By the beginning of the 20th century the number of Catholics began to increase mainly due to immigration from Italy. Later, after the Second World War, more people came, especially from Poland, Hungary, Germany - and later, from Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. It is this community of people from many backgrounds who have written the story of the Catholic faith in Sweden. And you have done it with great steadfastness and faithfulness over so many years.

12 October 2003

Wembley Arena:

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It must be a long, long time since so many Catholics of our diocese were gathered in one place to celebrate our faith together and to give glory and praise to God. Are not those words of St. Peter to the first disciples addressed to us tonight, You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart to sing the praises of God, Who called you out of the darkness into His wonderful light. Once you were not a people at all, and now you are the people of God. Once you were outside the mercy, and now you have been given mercy.

As I look at all of you, gathered round this great space, I think to myself that we are the inheritors of a tradition. Just over one hundred and fifty years ago the Diocese of Westminster was re-established. The people who lived here then did so in very different circumstances. They had got used to living in London quietly during penal times because of the possibility of persecution. The re-establishment of our diocese was marked by a large influx of immigrants especially from Ireland, where the poverty engendered by the famine brought the poor and destitute to London. From other countries they came as well during those first fifty years of our diocese -from Italy, from Poland and elsewhere, and of course from other parts of the United Kingdom too. We are part of a story of the Catholic faith in this part of our country. Those religious ancestors of ours built our churches and our schools. They gave of their little money to the missions for the up-keep of their priests and religious. They not only kept the faith, they helped to spread the faith. ...
26 September 2003

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