Saturday, 5 January 2013
Alistair and Catherine
I have just officiated at the wedding of Alistair and Catherine who both studied at Leeds Trinity a few years ago. Catherine indeed was baptised here as a baby. The photographer organised a phalanx of guests outside the main doors and much confetti was thrown over the happy couple as they passed between their friends. Suddenly, the full nature of this place became clearer to me: it provides (at its best) a truly wholistic formation. Young people study here, but for what precisely? To get jobs? - yes. of course. Alistair and Catherine have good jobs teaching in local high schools. Our primary education degrees and PGC courses are well respected. But the education provided by a university like our own has to involve more. This is what I think it is: every student who passes through our doors has the opportunity to see something truly beautiful, namely the Catholic Church. Even if they can't accept the truth claims we make - namely that our lives have meaning, that we are unutterably loved, that God guides us through the teachings of his Church - they will know that there are some people who do believe all this, and that will give them hope. Then when a young man and a young woman who were in part formed here and who gave themselves to each other in holy matrimony in the chapel here emerge from the main doors, with her arm in his, one dark January afternoon to embrace the challenge of married life, unafraid, in a swirl of confetti, it says something powerful and joyful to the world. It says: we as a Church have the answers to all the deepest questionings of the human heart. We are convinced that we were made for love and we dare to proclaim what the Church has always proclaimed, following Christ's lead: marriage is for the whole of one's life. Now I'm going to St Aelred's in Harrogate to preach on vocations to the priestly life. Marriage and priesthood - both options for love, both liveable in a radical way through sacramental grace, both by their very nature open to new life, both ordered to the upbuilding of the Church.