UK Keeps Light Burning After Papal Visit

Bishop Says Pope Strengthened Catholic Identity

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LONDON, DEC. 13, 2010 ( Across England and Wales, candles and pictures have been distributed to symbolize the legacy of Benedict XVI's September visit, which lit a light that is still burning strong.

Last Wednesday, on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, representatives from various parishes gathered in Northampton Cathedral for a Mass of Thanksgiving for the Pope's visit.

At the Mass they were each given a candle and a picture that were blessed by the Pontiff during his visit.

In his homily, Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton affirmed, "Like Mary we have been chosen and called to be holy and spotless, and to live through love in the presence of Jesus."

He recalled: "That call to holiness was a major theme of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Britain in September. The Holy Father urged us to see that this vocation does not separate us from the world but encourages us to engage more fully in the world, bringing the grace of God into all aspects of our lives.

"He taught that religion has a large part to play in our society and that all people of faith have an important and necessary contribution to make to the common good.

"The Holy Father called us to enter into dialogue confidently with other churches, other faiths and the state."

The prelate noted that "the Holy Father's visit has given us more confidence" to "speak from the heart of Jesus to the hearts of all people."

"It has also helped to give fresh impetus to our identity as Catholics, as experienced by ourselves and seen by others," the bishop said.

Gift of faith

He affirmed that all of the bishops "want to strengthen this identity which is rooted in the gift of faith and which is the wellspring of much generosity."

As Bishop Doyle gave the items to the parish representatives, he blessed them, saying, "May God, who sent his Son into the world as the Light that shines in the dark, help you to bring his light to the world."

In the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, parish representatives gathered for a liturgy on Oct. 24, World Mission Sunday, where they also were given the blessed candles and pictures to bring back to their churches.

The parishioners were encouraged to display the picture, which depicts Christ knocking on a door, and to light the candles during parish meetings, catechetical gatherings, prayer groups, and other events.

Karen Burbridge, a coordinator of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) in Newcastle, is one ministry leader who has used these items in her program.

"It has been such a privilege to be able to use the lovely candle and picture as a focal point during our RCIA meetings in Newcastle," she said.

Burbridge continued, "RCIA is for people enquiring about the Catholic Faith and our enquirers were indeed fascinated by the picture, and moved by the metaphor it creates of Jesus knocking at the door of our heart and bringing us light -- they were also enthralled to be in some way connected to the recent Papal Visit."