Homily by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor Given at a Mass for the CCEE Presidents St Anne's Cathedral, Leeds, October 3, 2004
Tomorrow is the feast of the Patron of Europe, St. Francis of Assisi. His life was permeated by a radical love of poverty, a radical love of Jesus Christ. And his example was such that it touched, through him and his companions, the whole of the Europe of his day. In his life, we are told that Francis drew up a short, informal rule for his followers and took it to Rome for the Pope’s approval. The Pope of that time, Innocent III, told a confidante, that in a dream he saw a palm tree growing at his feet, and in another he saw St. Francis, propping up the Lateran Church, which seemed ready to fall.
I think St. Francis teaches us that there is no way we will be missionaries in Europe without striving to be holy, without striving to imitate Christ. How happy are the poor in spirit for they shall see God. Happy the gentle. Happy the merciful. Happy the pure in heart. Happy those who seek justice. The Beatitudes are our inspiration; the new Rule that must guide us if we are to be true followers of Jesus Christ in today’s world. Again, St. Paul reminds us, that the grace of our Baptism should be fanned into a flame. It is not a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control, and that we are never to be ashamed of witnessing to the Lord.