On Sunday 20 October there was a double celebration at St Francis Church, Nailsea, when we welcomed Bishop Declan who came to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation on Gustavo, Marietta, Miguel and Jim and to bless our beautiful new statue of St Francis.
The celebration was enhanced by the sun shining through the church, and the joy on the faces of our four adult confirmands was plain for all to see.
Through this sacrament the Holy Spirit empowers the faithful to bring the Spirit’s joy, peace, healing and love to those they encounter, empowers them to become true icons of Christ, making the world a better, holier, place by the witness they give. As our Year of Prayer draws to a close we listened to the gospel reading of the widow who would not give up (Luke 18:1-8) and Bishop Declan drew on this in his homily reminding us all of the need to pray continually and become more Christ-like in all that we do and are.
At the end of the Mass Bishop Declan blessed our new statue of St Francis which had been prayerfully sculpted for us by David Harding – a gifted sculptor who uses his art as an expression of, and a way of, deepening his faith and of contributing to the New Evangelisation in this country. This statue will be a reminder to us of all that St Francis stood for. We pray that it will inspire those who pray before it with an admiration for our patronal saint who embodied in his life and work a humility, a deep respect for creation and for others and a dedication to serving others. We trust it will also inspire others to strive to live life similarly. In turn, we acknowledge that the source of inspiration and grace in St Francis was Jesus Christ himself, as we remember the prayer Francis prayed before the crucifix at San Damiano:
Most High, Glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart
and give me true faith, certain hope
and perfect charity,
sense and knowledge, Lord,
that I may carry out
Your holy and true command.