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Sermon for 24 July 2011



My Dear People,

It is good to be back with you after 11 days abroad in the lovely country of Italy and its sunshine. Myself and Father Fairhurst did a lot of walking for the Amalfi Coast is very steep and hilly - up and down a thousand steps wherever you wander. Good for the diabetes eh?

Beside a few days by the sea and lots of swimming, we also did lots of holy visits. We celebrated Holy Mass in the modern city and Basilica of Our Lady of Pompeii which is a huge pilgrimage place for the south of Italy and many cures take place. The Christian people gives thanks for a cure or a deliverance by donating a silver image of the body part which has been cured so, lots of hearts and legs and livers and wombs and infants and also lots of depictions of car crashes with the surviving dearest one sticking out of the wreckage saying "Thanks be to God and Our Lady of Pompeii!!" It takes all tastes doesn't with the Holy, Catholic and Roman Church. We had things like this here before Henry VIII !

We also visited the ancient ruin of the city of Pompeii which was covered by the volcanic eruption of Vesuvius on 24th August 79 AD. What a site- you can still see the bodies of the dead frozen in their death pangs- even the pet dogs. They all suffocated with the gasses released. The Pope had been there before us and said some wise words about the dawn of the age of the Church and the fate of this ancient Roman city with its sophisticated baths and water supply and houses and gyms etc he talked about the new Paganism of the modern cities of the world.

Then we visited the two great Basilicas in Salerno and Amalfi where the remains of St Matthew, and in the latter, St Andrew are enclosed beneath the High Altars. What a shock. I never knew they were there and I prayed for all the "Matthews" and the "Andrews" I know.

This area is the area where Padre Pio was born and we visited Pietrelcina, his birth place. What an amazing little hill top town. Everywhere his presence is felt. He spent a few years here after his ordination because he was not a well man. His Confessional, the bed he was born in - the room he occupied - the scabs from his Wounds of Christ and the brow mitts he used to cover the nails wounds in his hands - they are all on show for you to pray in front of. Did you know that when he was only Five our Lord used to appear to him on a regular basis and talk to him? He told his Parish Priest and little Pio was surprised when he found out - this Five year old, that Jesus did not appear and chat to the Priest also. Padre Pio thought everyone saw our Lord and talked! The rest is History he is a Saint of God now. He died in 1968 and over a million came to Rome for his Canonisation. He still works miracles you know. (By the way I have a holy relic of Blessed John Paul 11 so if you need me to bless you with it, ask me. He will work wonders too.)

Lastly, just to fill you in, the last place I went to on the day before I returned it was the Benedictine Abbey of Carva outside Salerno (Naples area). It was founded in 1011 so was celebrating its Thousand Years. Built in to the side of the rock and it still has a community with young vocations from what I could see. So there you have it- an account of my 11 days away.

One thing I must tell you about the beach - no booze, no thugs, no topless, no youves making it or trying it on with the girls, no radio, no swearing,, everybody- young old and kids and babes getting on and having good time. You could see the influence of the Christian faith. I bet they all had mams and dads and made their First Communion.

So the pearl of great price comes kind of last. However - listen to the sermon and you will understand it more. For some the pearl of great price would be a ticket for Wembley or the latest Sports car or the love of a good woman or.. BUT essentially the pearl is the gift of faith in Christ and the whole way of living we receive from the Divine Master- Having that is worth everything and I must shed everything to acquire it for it is given only to those who make the space.

Father George went off to India on Monday on a 3 bus ticket to London!! Father Martin is a great help and is getting stuck in with the Leaver's Mass on Thursday a Divine Mercy. God Bless and if you are yet to go away come back renewed.

Father Tom Connolly

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