Young People’s Evening Liturgy
Welcome and introduction by Mgr John Armitage – Brentwood Diocese
Welcome to Westminster Cathedral this evening as we begin this all night vigil of prayer to God our loving Father, in the presence of the relics of St Teresa of the Child Jesus, together with young people from across the three Dioceses of London. As we come towards the end of this momentous visit of the St Therese to our country it is only fitting that the last night before she returns home is spent in the company of young people in vigil and prayer. St Teresa being such a young saint, is assuredly your saint and inspiration, giving us an insight into God’s love from the experiences of a young person.
You will have come here for a range of reasons tonight, whatever this might be, you will find a clear and simple message in the life of this young woman; “God loves you and it is possible in the ordinary everyday things of life, to respond to that love.” She called this her “Little Way” to do small things with great love.
How should we understand the practice of the Church in venerating the relics of saints? There is a saying “When the finger points to heaven the fool looks at the finger” Relics are a human reminder and “pointer” that the person remembered is showing us a road that they followed in life, that ultimately led them to heaven, so we can be encouraged by the legacy and story of their life. Look beyond the relics to where St Therese is pointing, she is showing us a way to live our daily lives, in an accessible and straightforward way, as we shall see during the course of this liturgy. What we know about her is mainly through what she has written, because of these writings in 1997 Pope John Paul II made her a Doctor of the Church. Doctors of the Church are people of great faith whose teaching gives a new insight into the mystery of God’s love. She shows us the importance of the presence of young people in the life of the Church. Make sure in addition to your visit here tonight that you read some of her writing in the days to come and experience first hand the power of the testimony that has moved countless people since her death.
In her Autobiography she quotes St Paul in his letter to the Corinthians “I will show you a way that is better than any other. What was it? He explains that of all the gifts of heaven, even the most perfect, without love, they are absolutely nothing, love is the way, as it leads us directly to God. She continues “beside myself with joy I cried out; “Jesus my love! I’ve found my vocation and my vocation is love!”
It is curious that she was searching for her vocation as a Carmelite Nun, was this not her vocation? She realised that there is a deeper “call from God” that gives meaning and purpose to every aspect of the particular and daily expressions of our lives whether we are a priest, a nun a married person or a single person, that is to seek God’s will each day. In each moment of the day God’s grace reveals itself to us. She tells us she has “found her vocation” when she discovers the God given meaning in her life, her vocation to love. It is the strength in each moment of each day, to embrace the grace of that moment and to find even in the most intense suffering, God’s loving presence.
Follow her example and in your youth truly seek your vocation in life by daily seeking to do God’s will. This constant presence takes away fear of the past and anxiety over the future. Listen to her own words
“We are quite wrong to think of sorrows and trials that the future may bring; it is, as it were, meddling with Divine Providence. We who run in the way of love must never torment ourselves about anything. If I did not just suffer minute by minute, it would be impossible for me to be patient; but I see only the present moment, I forget the past, and I take good care not to anticipate the future. If I grow disheartened, if sometimes I despair, it is because I have been dwelling on the past or the future.”
A saint is a man or woman who is close to God and who makes God real and close to others. Tonight we are close to God in his great Cathedral, with an ordinary young women, who did extraordinary things for God, because she opened herself to God’s will each day discovering the meaning of her life. May we take courage to follow in her steps, by embracing God’s love and grace each day, in the ordinary everyday events, doing small things with great love!
A saint gives us a clear message “God’s love is the same to each and everyone of us and is only limited by the degree to which we are open to receive it.”
As we enter into our vigil of prayer let us ask St Therese to pray for us that we may open our hearts to the Lord this evening.