Westminster Archbishop Calls on Guild Participants to Be 'Confidently Catholic'

800-Year-Old Festival Held in Preston Celebrates Merchants' Rights To Trade

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PRESTON, England, SEPT. 3, 2012 (Zenit.org).- As the start of the Year of Faith approaches, the archbishop of Westminster called on the congregation at the Preston Guild Mass last Saturday “to be more confidently Catholic in all we do."

"Being confidently Catholic means having confidence in the truth of faith, a truth which is held before us as a great gift from God," Archbishop Vicent Nichols said. 

"This truth of faith is truth about ourselves, about our human condition, fallen and redeemed. It means the truth about God who, in infinite love and compassion, comes to us in the Incarnate Word so that we may never again be overwhelmed by the loneliness of thinking that all depends on us and therefore destined for oblivion."

Held since 1179, the Preston Guild is a 10-day festival that celebrates the renewal of merchants' rights to trade. The event is held once every 20 years. 

During his homily at St. Walburge’s Church in Preston, Archbishop Nichols dwelt on the 2012 Preston Guild theme of "Looking back to look forward," saying that it is vital that "we deepen the roots of our faith so that we may be the bearers of its fruit." In doing so, he reflected on his own personal Lancashire Catholic heritage and how the lessons of the past can provide us with wisdom for the future.

Broadening his reflections to encompass Preston’s historic wool trade, which brought Preston its status as a guild market town in 1179, Archbishop Nichols said honesty was an endeavor, and described the example set then of honesty in business: "profit combined with wider purpose for the common good."

He also spoke of the wool merchants who migrated to Preston from Flanders in the 14th century and who enabled us to "learn together how to fashion a future for the benefit of all."

Archbishop Nichols pointed out that faith too is for the common good, the benefit of all. Referring to the Pope’s letter on the Year of Faith, Porta Fidei, he said we may "never think of belief as a private act" for "faith is choosing to stand with the Lord" so as to live with him and be "confidently Catholic in all we do."

"To live with the Lord, is to share truth at the heart of faith, in all we do and with all whom we encounter. This means having a strong sense of the truth of God. This is the joy and freedom which comes in relationship in faith with the Lord," he said. 

Archbishop Nichols concelebrated the Mass with the main celebrant, Bishop Campbell of Lancaster. The congregation was made up of people for whom Preston is part of their past, present or future – bishops and priests who have or are serving in Preston, school children from local schools, and parishioners representing all of Preston’s 17 parishes.