Central London is a building site. Wherever you look, edifices come crashing to the ground and new ones rise. The area around Tottenham Court Road exemplifies this not just above ground, but also below with Crossrail which continues to rock the foundations of Saint Patrick’s, Soho.
The march of commercial progress and financial power can often have its consequences. Loneliness, spiritual disembodiment, homelessness and addiction continue their march into our society and our conscience. The Church is called as the Body of Christ to be the antidote, healing balm and presence of Christ to challenge the powers and potentates of our world and to proclaim and exhort God’s mercy and forgiveness not least in this Holy Year. Pope Francis sees this conflict in dramatic way and is pleading with the Church to be a sign of God’s love, tenderness and justice to the broken hearted, destitute and spiritually lost. It is not for us to be revolutionaries of politics but to be revolutionaries of the proclamation of the Kingdom of God.
Cardinal Vincent asked St Patrick’s two years ago to host ‘Day for the Lord’: 24 hours of Eucharistic Adoration with an opportunity to participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We have carried it on monthly ever since and this Third Sunday of Lent the Cardinal kindly designated us again. What marked this year was that the day before we brought our Open House (twice a week a meal for homeless and vulnerable and a Friday Night Shelter) guests, singing and praying, through the church’s Holy Door down to their dinner. It was an extraordinary 48 hours in which the Church continued her tender and loving outreach to the broken, poor and marginalised and then invited them and others to encounter the sacramental mercy and restorative love of Jesus in Confession and Adoration.
The buildings grow ever higher and pockets become ever more full but the broken and the poor, both spiritually and materially, continue to knock on our doors. The Holy Year of Mercy and the Day for the Lord in God’s mysterious plan is our halting but faith filled response to that.
By Fr Alexander Sherbrooke, Parish Priest of St Patrick's, Soho Square.