SAINT BARNABAS SOCIETY HEADQUARTERS
MASS – 27 JULY 2019
It is not ourselves that we are preaching, but Christ Jesus as the Lord.
At the very heart of today’s celebration in these new headquarters for the
Saint Barnabas Society is the continuing mission of the Church in England
and Wales to preach the truth about Jesus Christ as the Lord. Those words
from the Second Letter to the Corinthians complement another insight of St
Paul when he says: We are preaching a crucified Christ. He is the power of
God and the wisdom of God.
At the beginning of this Mass we blessed the magnificent new crucifix which
proclaims so eloquently St Paul’s faith and ours that the crucified Christ is the
source of every grace and blessing. This is wonderfully symbolized in the
imagery surrounding the figure of our Lord. To his right, pointing to the water
that flowed with blood from the wound of Longinus’s spear in our Lord’s side
is the prophet Ezekiel.
Ezekiel holds a scroll with the Latin words: Vidi aquam egredientem de
templo, a latere dextro – I saw water flowing out of the temple, from its right
side. In Ezekiel’s vision the water flowed through the whole earth with its
sanctifying power. So the water of sacramental grace flows throughout the
Church, bringing the grace and peace of redemption to the world.
This message of redemptive grace was central to the preaching of the two
great pastors whose memory we commemorate here today.
Blessed Dominic Barberi was formed as a Passionist in the tradition of St Paul
of the Cross. In his many missions travelling around England, whenever he
preached a large crucifix was held in front of him. That same crucifix is in the
church dedicated to St Anne which Blessed Dominic built at Stone in
Staffordshire. He wore on his habit the Passionist symbol of the Cross and
Passion which can be clearly seen in the beautiful icon to be blessed in a few
The life of Blessed John Henry Newman, soon to be canonized in Rome, was
also formed through his contemplation of the cross of Christ. We recall the
insight of his great hymn in The Dream of Gerontius:
And in the garden secretly
And on the Cross on high
Should teach his brethren and inspire
To suffer, and to die.
Blessed John Henry is shown in his Cardinal’s robes exchanging the pax, the
sign of peace with Blessed Dominic. This is not only the embrace of friends,
but it symbolizes the sacramental grace that transformed both their lives,
especially in that pivotal moment a nearby Littlemore.
Although the circumstances of our time are very different from the England
that Blessed John Henry and Blessed Dominic knew in the 1840’s, their faith
in Christ and in his Church is the same as ours. Like them we have also to be
prepared to adapt ourselves to new circumstances and challenges in order to
help others to find Christ in their lives and to experience life in Christ within
the Catholic Church.
Both Blessed Cardinal Newman and Blessed Fr Dominic persevered in their
mission, establishing communities of Oratorians and Passionists to continue
this apostolic work and winning people to Christ by their patient and loving
example. By the manner of their life, by their words and gestures, people
were drawn to them, realising that in them could be seen Christ himself.
Blessed Cardinal Newman first received the Sacraments in the Catholic
Church from Blessed Dominic at Littlemore. It was a privileged encounter for
both of these holy men and a reminder of what Blessed John Henry Newman
had recognised in Blessed Dominic and what he had been searching for – a
moving example of goodness and holiness within the Catholic Church that
would complement his intellectual conviction that the claims of the Catholic
Church were true.
We recall the words of Blessed John Henry quoted by Pope St Paul VI in his
homily for Blessed Dominic’s beatification in 1963: Father Dominic was a
marvellous missioner and a preacher filled with zeal. He had a great part in
my own conversion and in that of others. His very look had about it
something holy. When his form came within sight, I was moved to the depths
in the strangest way. The gaiety and affability of his manner in the midst of all
his sanctity was in itself a holy sermon. No wonder that I became his convert
and his penitent. He had a great love for England.
I think this lovely icon captures the spirit of those touching words. Both of
these holy men remind us that the world still needs moving examples of
goodness and holiness for our preaching of Christ Jesus as the Lord to be
accepted and for the message of the Good News to take root afresh in
England and Wales.
We pray for the work of the Saint Barnabas Society assisting so many on their
own journey into full communion with the Catholic Church and we ask for the
intercession of the saints:
St Barnabas Pray for us
Blessed John henry Newman Pray for us
Blessed Dominic Barberi Pray for us