‘According to our need, so shall be our strength’
These words, spoken by St John Henry Newman in his ‘Second Spring Sermon’, were preached in 1852 when the Catholic Church was being restored in England and Wales after the Reformation. These simple words reflect a profound truth, that in the midst of the trials and tribulations of life, there is a strength to be found in faith. The mystery is, that the more urgent the needs, the greater the strength that is given.
Despite the suffering and trials that mark the passage of human history, one Way is clear, one Truth sets us free, and one Life continues to inspire us: the person of Jesus Christ. The first reading of Midnight Mass at Christmas says, ‘the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light’ (Isaiah 9:1-7). Each age brings its own darkness and we are only too aware of the darkness of our own times. It is in the midst of this darkness that the Body of Christ, which is the Church, continues to shine the light of our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Since its foundation in 1887, The Guild of Our Lady of Ransom has worked to support the preaching of the good news to the people of our country who are walking in darkness. This has taken many forms, from supporting parishes in financial need to the promotion of our Catholic history (enabling people to understand the very foundations on which our country was built) and the public witness of the Catholic faith through processions, talks and publications. The Guild’s central mission remains the same today as it did when it was founded over a hundred years ago, to work for the conversion of England and Wales.
As we enter into a new chapter in the life of the Guild, we face today’s darkness and recognise the urgency to share the light of the Gospel with the women and men of today. St Pope John Paul II reflected that:
‘ ... entire groups of the baptized have lost a living sense of the faith, or even no longer consider themselves members of the Church, and live a life far removed from Christ and his Gospel. In this case what is needed is a "new evangelization" or a "re-evangelization."’ Redemptoris Missio (1990)
He also called us to, ‘Look to the future with commitment to a New Evangelisation … that is new in its ardour, new in its methods, and new in its expression’. This New Evangelisation can take place through any Christian community, whether parish, chaplaincy, school, religious community or new charism in the Church, but we cannot simply take this for granted. A recent document from Rome calls for the pastoral conversion of our parishes because ‘the current parish model no longer adequately corresponds to the many expectations of the faithful’ . Parishes are reminded that ‘mere repetitive actions that fail to have an impact upon people’s concrete lives remains a sterile attempt at survival’. It calls for a pastoral conversion of the Christian community so that ‘parishes may exude that spiritual dynamic of evangelisation’.
The Guild of Our Lady of Ransom commits itself to continue to support our parish communities through the Ransom Grants and to support new and innovative ways of witnessing to the Gospel message in chaplaincies, schools and new charisms in the Church, through the Dowry Initiative.
I invite you to join us as a member of the Guild. Be a partner in prayer, a partner in support and a partner in witness to our Catholic faith.
As the Church seeks to read the ‘signs of the times’ we recognise the great needs of our people. As we seek to live out our Catholic faith, we are strengthened by God’s Word, for ‘according to our need so shall be our strength’.
Monsignor John Armitage
Master of the Guild
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