November 2016: Mass to welcome the Relics of Saint Claude La Colombière and Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque

On the evening of Wednesday 9th November, the magnificent neo-gothic Jesuit Church of the Immaculate Conception in Farm Street was filled almost to capacity and the atmosphere of expectation was electric. The coming of the Relics, not only of the Jesuit Saint, Claude La Colombière, but also of his most famous spiritual daughter, Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, had been well prepared. Piles of the booklets with the Novena of Prayer in preparation for the Mission were still to be seen at the ends of the benches.

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The two reliquaries were carried in by members of the Emmanuel Community and, together with portraits of the two Saints, were installed in front of the High Altar. The Relics had been brought from Paray le Monial by Father Benoit Guédas, the Rector of the Shrine at Paray le Monial, and Father Jean Rodolph Kars. Some years ago responsibility for care of pilgrims to Paray le Monial was given to the Emmanuel Community, an Association of the Lay Faithful recognised by the Church. The Visit of the Relics had been arranged on the initiative of Frederic and Anne-Sophie de Narp, the couple responsible for the Emmanuel Community in London, and in co-operation with the Parishes of Farm Street, St. Patrick’s Soho, and Our Lady of Victories Kensington.

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The Clergy, including chief celebrant Bishop John Wilson, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster responsible for west London, processed in bowing to the Relics as the organ pealed out, the choir singing one of the Emmanuel Community’s own songs as the entrance Hymn.

Bishop Wilson preached very movingly on the Love of God:

“Tonight we are celebrating the greatest love story ever known: the story of God’s love for us revealed in a Man who walked this earth. God’s love has a name, a face and a Heart that is beating, even now, for love of us all. Devotion to the Heart of Jesus began at the Last Supper when St. John rested his head against Jesus’ Heart. At the Resurrection, his Heart rose – alive. Now, blood and water from his pierced Heart flows from Jesus’ risen body, a source of life and healing. Jesus’ Heart is the fountain of his love.

“St. Claude said: “Jesus’ Heart is always open to shower graces on us, to receive us, to be our dwelling-place and our Heaven – even in this life.”

“The Bible is a love-letter from God. It can be forgotten, discarded, or ignored. People are closed to God’s message in Jesus. But the Lord is kind, faithful, patient and forgiving. He chooses people to pass on his message of love. He chose St. Margaret Mary and He chose St. Claude to help her to understand. God’s love is pure and gentle; it teaches us to do God’s will and helps us when we fall.

“The Three Great Apparitions at Paray le Monial all happened when St. Margaret Mary was in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus’ message is a call to prayer. St. Margaret Mary rested on Jesus’ Sacred Heart; in Adoration we come close to his Heart burning with love and mercy.

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“St. Claude said: “All sinners’ sins are as nothing but an atom before his mercy.”

“The relics of St. Margaret Mary and St. Claude are here with us. These two saints are praying for us in Heaven, and are here with us for our Mission. St. Margaret Mary and St. Claude, pray for us and help us in our mission – we know that Jesus is the Face of the Father’s Mercy.” (Summary)

At the end of Mass the Superior of the Jesuit Community at Farm Street, Father Dominic Robinson, welcomed and thanked Bishop Wilson, the priests and members of the Emmanuel Community especially those missionaries who had come from as far as Australia, and all who had been involved in organising the Mission.

The Mass was a joyful, hope filled opening to the Mission. The members of the Emmanuel Community particularly appreciated the time and effort that the organist and choir had put into learning the “Emmanuel” Mass setting and some of the Community’s songs, and for singing in French, in honour of the two French Saints, “Céleste Jérusalem” (composed by the Verbe de Vie Community).

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