(Visit to Archbishop‘s house Westminster, 2009)
A Busy World Hushed
One of my favorite memories of Queen Elizabeth II was when, to celebrate her platinum jubilee, she appeared in an enchanting sketch, having tea and marmalade sandwiches, with the much-loved children’s character Paddington Bear. It shows the Queen’s charm, warmth, sense of humor and engaging personality. Every Christmas, after dinner, my mom, dad and I would sit down and listen to the annual 3pm review of her year that the Queen would give to the nations of the UK and beyond, on television and radio.
One of St. John Henry Newman‘s seasonal sermons (Remembrance of Past Mercies) seems very apt to recall. I can imagine the Queen who, in 2010, hosted Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to beatify Newman, making these words her reflection on her own life of service.
Let us then view God‘s providence is towards us more religiously than we have hitherto done Let us try to gain a truer view of what we are, and where we are, in His kingdom. Let us humbly and reverently attempt to trace His guiding hand in the years which we have hitherto lived. Let us thankfully commemorate the many mercies He has vouchsafed to us in times past, the many sins He has not remembered, the many dangers He has averted, the many prayers He has answered, the many mistakes He has corrected, the many warnings, the many lessons, the much light, the abounding comfort which He has from time to time given. Let us dwell upon times and seasons, times of trouble, times of joy, times of trial, times of refreshment. How did He cherish us as children! How did He guide us in that dangerous time when the mind began to think for itself, and the heart to open to the world! How did He with his sweet discipline restrain our passions, mortify our hopes, calm our fears, enliven our heavinesses, sweeten our dissoluteness, and strengthen our infirmities! How did He gently guide us towards the straight gate! How did He allure us along His everlasting way, in spite of its strictness, in spite of its loneliness, in spite of the dim twilight in which it lay! He has been all things to us. He has been, as He was to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, our God, our shield, and great reward, promising and performing, day by day. “Hitherto hath He helped us”. “He has been mindful of us, and He will bless us”. He has not made us for naught; He has brought us thus far, in order to bring us further, in order to bring us unto the end. He will never leave us nor forsake us; so that we may boldly say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” We may “cast all our care upon Him, who careth for us.” What is it to us how our future path lies if it be but His path? What is it to us whither it leads us, so that in the end it leads to Him? What is it to us what He puts upon us, so that He enables us to undergo it with a pure conscience, a true heart, not desiring anything of this world in comparison of Him? What is it to us what terror befalls us, if He be but at hand attend to protect and strengthen us? “Thou, Israel,” He says, “art my servant Jacob, whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham My friend. Fear not thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee saith the Lord, and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.”
And, as Newman adds, in his famous prayer:
O Lord support us all the day long of this troublous life, until the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then, Lord, in thy mercy, grant us a safe lodging, a holy rest, and peace at the last. Amen. (Sermons Bearing on the Subjects of the Day, 20).
May St John Henry Newman pray for Queen Elizabeth II that she may Rest In Peace.
Fr Peter Conley