The Most Rev Vincent Nichols has offered prayers and thanks for the ministry of Pope Benedict XVI at a special Mass for the Holy Father at Westminster Cathedral on Sunday 24 February 2013.
During his homily Archbishop Nichols said:
“We pray especially for Pope Benedict XVI as he prepares to step down from the Chair of St Peter with astonishing courage and humility. He has constantly reminded us that our personal relationship with the Lord lies at the heart of our life of faith and that this relationship is lived and fashioned within the community of the Church.”
The Archbishop also recalled the moving image of the Holy Father at prayer in London’s Hyde Park in 2010:
“For me an abiding and powerful image of the ministry of Pope Benedict will be that of him at prayer before the Blessed Sacrament together with 90,000 people under the night sky in Hyde Park. There, in that profound and remarkable silence, he led us to the Lord, to our own moment of ‘covenant’ with the Lord, in which we learned again of the abiding and steadfast love of the Lord on which we build our lives. As one mother told me: ‘My teenage sons learned more about prayer in those fifteen minutes of silence in Hyde Park than in all the years of their young lives.'”
Archbishop Nichols concluded his homily by looking with prayerful confidence to the historic week ahead:
“On Thursday [28 February] the See of Peter becomes vacant in these most historic circumstances. We know what we are to do at that point. We know that God will provide a successor to Pope Benedict, who will lead and shepherd us with all the grace of that high office. We will pray for the Church, for the discussions and decisions of the Conclave. But for these remaining days we cherish and love Our Holy Father Pope Benedict. We thank him for all he has given us and we praise God for the blessings of his Pontificate. May the Lord bless and preserve him. May the Lord bless his holy Church.”
Representatives from national civil and religious institutions attended the Mass.
Download the full text of Archbishop Nichols’ homily by using the link in the top right hand corner of this article.