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Sermon for 8 July 2012



My Dear people,

The priests and laypeople that look after the spiritual and pastoral needs of the Catholic seamen who come to our shores have great tales to tell about the faith of these men and sometimes women. Times are tough and poor countries dominate the world's shipping for their labour is cheaper than that of the first world. Conditions on board are not always the best of Flags of convenience often hide poor working conditions and sometimes exploitation and cheating takes place. The Mission to the Seamen deal with all of this. They have great cooperation from the Civil Port authorities here and can even stop a ship from sailing if the grievance is serious enough. The faith of the sailors is intense so often. Mgr Keegan , the retired PP of St Ann's Stretford is still a Port Chaplain and is often ferried up to the mouth of the Mersey to minister to Catholic sailors who have not had the sacraments for months. He offers Mass and hears confessions and the sailors lead the devotions like the Holy Rosary. Our Lord found little faith in Nazareth because the people he grew up with did not believe him. They only saw the outward appearance. The Brothers and sisters the gospel refers to are Kinsmen - cousins, not brother and sisters for our Lady had only our Blessed Lord and remained ever a Virgin mother. They did not have the faith to look deeper. The sailors could easily see their life in one dimension and have no time for their religion but they are fervent and have shrines and pictures of the saints in their lockers below deck and pray together well. A shared and common expression of faith is necessary if it is to be past on to the next generation. Too often even in our schools - children who practise the Faith are mocked by those who don't.

Try starting the Family Rosary, or prayers before bed together and it is a struggle and yet if we do not do things together we show we have given in to the gross secularism and individualism and isolation of our wider culture where everyone is to worship at the altar of the EGO. To pray the rosary together each day as a couple is so life giving and so gentle. My aunt and godmothers is now 87 and each day with her husband she used to sit in front of the Range and at the Radio Angelus they would begin the Prayer and then the Rosary and then the Litany of our Lady - all off by heart.

Faith cannot be private. The great shrines of the Church like Lourdes always has a very public demonstration of faith and our youth participate in a very full way like the Papal World Youth Day in Sidney last year. But are they not under great pressure to show no signs of faith in the remainder of their lives. You can do and say anything but not be religious. Well our Lord is amazed again at "the lack of faith". We have a chance again this year to show our Faith at the Marian Procession in 6th October around the streets of Rusholme and Fallowfield have we not? Huge numbers turned up last year.

What can we say but that we must not be afraid of showing our faith in a non self conscious way. The football team Portugal all touched the pitch and blessed them selves with the sign of the cross whilst millions watched. Folk still make the sign of the cross when a funeral cortege passes around here, at least in my experience. The Legion of Mary during the Millennium Year did a Mission here if you remember and they did not get one hostile reaction to their standing in the street and inviting people to come to Mass here. So may be it is timidity on our behalf which kind of puts the demonstration of Faith under a cloud.

Listen to what our Lord tells eh?

God Bless,

Fr Tom Connolly

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