By Rita Phillips
Newman College, 13th November 2016
On Saturday, 12th November 2016 the Sisters of The Work have been busy at the Newman College: Tables were moved, chairs prepared, cakes were baked and flowers arranged. At the end of the day the chapel was beautifully decorated and the library stocked with tea cups. But for what reason?
13th November was Rememberance Sunday in England, but it was also the day on which the Holy Doors in many Cathedrals, Jubilee Churches and Places of Pilgrimage were officially closed ( a week prior to the official closing of the Holy Door by our Holy Father Pope Francis in Rome).
So also at Littlemore, on this particular Sunday morning, some parishioners of Blessed Dominic Barberi church and some Friends gathered in the Newman College chapel where at 9am Bishop William Kenney CP, Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving for the Closing of the Jubilee Year. The Readings and Mass texts were those of the 33rd week of Ordinary time, Year C. In his homily, Bishop Kenney referred to these readings and spoke about the end – and that we all would like to know more about the judgment at the end of time and about God’s mercy. His Lordship challenged us to practise mercy in daily life and not to give in to our human inclination to offer justice to our neighbour, but to expect mercy for ourselves.
For this particular celebration at the end of the Jubilee Year the Vatican had provided some beautiful and profound prayers for the beginning of Mass and after Communion. These prayers spoke about the past Jubilee Year as an extraordinary time of mercy and conversion and of praise and thanksgiving to God for all the gifts and blessings our Heavenly Father has bestowed on us. Following the Prayer after Communion, before singing together Mary’s Magnificat, the Bishop invited all present: ‘Let us express our thanks and joy in the words of the Virgin Mary, our Mother. As we sing the Lord’s mercy extending to every generation, let us ask him to pour out, like the morning dewfall, that same mercy unceasingly upon the entire world.’ Although the Holy Door is now closed officially, God’s Mercy endures forever! After the final blessing all joined in the singing of ‘Holy God we praise thy name’, praising and thanking God.
The Door of Mercy at Littlemore was not actually closed (unlike the Holy Door in St. Peter’s, Rome) but, as the only entrance door to the chapel, it remains open to everyone who wishes to pray and adore the Lord, present in the Blessed Sacrament.
The beautiful liturgical celebration was followed by a wonderful reception at the library, where we all enjoyed Julia’s lovely homemade cakes, sandwiches, tea and coffee. There, everybody had the opportunity to join interesting conversations and nice chats and discussions. The Sisters had prepared a little memento for everybody to take away with them. A small card, showing on the outside a picture of Christ knocking at a door and the words from Rev. 3:20, ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock’; inside words by Pope Saint John Paul II, ‘Do not be afraid! Open, open wide the doors to Christ. God works in the concrete and personal affairs of each one of us. Don’t let the time that the Lord gives you run on as if everything were due to chance.’ And a call by the same pope: ‘Be apostles of Divine Mercy under the maternal and loving guidance of Mary.’
As this celebration was prepared with love, people interacted with love and the Mass was the expression of love, you could feel Our Lord’s presence at this very special event.