Posted by: dowsmallgroups | 09/04/2010

Magnify his name…

Do you ever think of a comeback minutes too late? Well it’s taken me weeks to realise what I could have said when showing my future brother-in-law around Canterbury Cathedral. We had made the trip to see the burial place of the Black Prince, son of Edward III of England, and the site of St. Thomas à Becket’s martyrdom. Walking through the crypt towards the treasury, my companion said, in words full of distain, ‘it’s disgusting all of this gold when there are people starving – the Church has taken from the poor and kept the wealth.’ Now I know he was trying to get a rise out of me and in no small part did I agree with the sentiment.

I could have talked about the Church’s ‘preferential option for the poor’ which was articulated by the Catholic Bishops of Latin America at both Medellin and Puebla, as well as by the Venerable Pope John Paul II. I could have talked about the aid, healthcare and education provided by the Church in the developing world and elsewhere. But what I most regret not saying is that the generosity of the faithful in years gone by is a sure sign of the love they have for God. Like the widow’s two small coins dropped into the ocean of the treasury (Mark 12:41-44), our meagre contributions, our offerings and those of generations past have allowed for the construction of magnificent Churches, beautiful artwork, fitting settings for our worship of our creator, our life-giver, our Father.

Those chalices, monstrances and reliquaries were bought and made because of a desire to give back to God a thing of beauty, magnifying his name. Perhaps it is a case of both/and rather than either/or. The social justice work of the Church, our determination to forge both peace and development in the world is not optional, but neither should we fail to appreciate the wonders created by human hand in order to lift our hearts and minds to God.

I have no doubt that we will publish more posts on beauty, worship and the duty of the people of God to those in need. For now take care and Happy Easter.

This ‘thought’ was originally published in the April Edition of the Westminster Record.

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