Pastoral Letter: At Your Word, Lord
posted on 05 September 2003
In a pastoral letter which will be read at Masses across Westminster Diocese on Sunday 7th September, the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor,said:
'My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
'What we hear, what we say, and how we hear, how we speak, determine to a great extent what we do – and eventually make us what we are. It is crucial, as Christians, that each of us has an ear that is attuned to Christ’s ceaseless call to leave other things and to follow Him.
'Ever since I came to the Diocese, it has been my most urgent prayer that all of us called to follow Christ will truly hear His voice and deepen our faith in Him. This is the reason why I have initiated the programme of renewal, At Your Word, Lord. I have to admit that sometimes I have wondered if we had the resources, or the energy, or the courage to embark on this enterprise. But St. James, in the reading today, points us to the one thing that is necessary: It is those who are poor by the world’s standards that God chooses to be rich in faith. It is the gift of faith that gave us the will to begin and it is the same gift of faith that enables us to continue and fulfil what Christ calls us to do.
'Today is the day on which the whole Diocese is dedicating itself to praying for a fruitful response to the programme for renewal. It is Prayer Commitment Sunday. The first reason why we need to pray is because when we pray the Lord listens. The task in which we are engaged is the Lord’s work, not just ours. In the Gospel today, the deaf and dumb man asked the Lord for healing but also for a new way of living. Jesus granted his request. Ephphatha - be opened – He said. I ask today, in the name of Jesus, that your ears are opened to His voice and your tongue loosened so as to encourage the faint-hearted.
'And this brings me to the second reason why we need to pray. In the reading from Isaiah today the Lord says, ‘Do not be afraid, God is coming to save you…Blind eyes will be opened, and the deaf ears unsealed…tongues sing for joy, streams in wasteland. I want us all to pray today that the Lord Jesus will bless our endeavour and make it fruitful, fruitful for ourselves personally and for all the people in our Diocese.
'Please pray for me and for my fellow bishops that we may lead you well in this programme of renewal. Pray for your Parish Priest and Core Community that they may lead your parish well. Pray for the people who will be touched by our programme of renewal, those gathered in our parishes and those scattered beyond.
'I know there will be some who will not be formally engaged in this programme. I want you to know that you, too, through your prayer and concern, are part of our Diocese and through the grace of God are involved in our endeavour. My dear people, I appeal to you today to respond generously to the call to prayer and to renewal in your parish, in your community, in your Diocese.
'You can express this in no better way than to repeat the words of the Psalm which so many of us recite every day: Come in, let us bow and bend low. Let us kneel before the God who made us. For He is Our God and we, the people who belong to His pasture, the flock that is led by His hand. O that today you would listen to His voice, harden not your hearts. (Psalm 94)
'May God bless you and give you courage and perseverance to continue to listen to the voice of the Lord. It is He who has opened your ears and loosened your tongue. It is good that we should also be able to praise Christ the Lord as the people did in today’s gospel, He has done all things well.'