Blessed Dominic Barberi: 'an angel of peace, a preacher of truth'

The Most Reverend Patrick Kelly, Archbishop of Liverpool, has described the nineteenth century Passionist Priest, Blessed Dominic Barberi, who received John Henry Newman into the Roman Catholic Church as ‘an angel of peace, a preacher of truth’. Preaching at a Mass for the Cause of Blessed Dominic celebrated at the St Helens Shrine where he is buried the Archbishop also quoted the words of Newman on seeing Blessed Dominic: ‘When his form came within sight, I was moved to the depth in the strangest way. The gaiety and affability of his manner in the midst of all his sanctity was in itself a holy sermon. No wonder I became his convert and his penitent.’

Many travelled to the Sutton Shrine for the annual Mass which is celebrated on or near the Feast of Blessed Dominic (26 August). The local civic authority was represented by Councillor Marie Rimmer, the Leader of St Helens Council.

In his introduction to the Mass Archbishop Kelly spoke of the ‘definite service’ which God had entrusted to Blessed Dominic: ‘God created Blessed Dominic of the Mother of God for a definite service; he committed to him a work which he did not commit to another. He had a mission: he was a link in a chain; an angel of peace, a preacher of truth. And so his story is inextricably woven by God into the Blessed one who is Blessing to so many: John Henry Newman’.

The Archbishop concluded his homily with words from one of Newman’s greatest hymns:

‘Praise to the Holiest in the height
and in the depth be praise;
in all his words most wonderful,
most sure in all his ways.’




Introduction to Mass and Homily preached by the Most Reverend Patrick Kelly, Archbishop of Liverpool, at Mass for the Cause of Blessed Dominic Barberi. 6.30 pm on Thursday 23 August 2012 in the Church of St Anne and Blessed Dominic, Sutton, St Helens.
(Readings at Mass: 1 Corinthians 1:18-25;
Mark 1:14-20)

Introduction to Mass:

We would fittingly remember an Italian, who had a great love for our country; who left everything to follow our Lord, who appreciated the wisdom of the cross and so it is no surprise that a meeting with him would deeply touch a man who would teach us to sing:
‘and in the garden secretly
and on the cross on high,
should teach his brethren, and inspire
to suffer and to die.’

God created Blessed Dominic of the Mother of God for a definite service; he committed to him a work which he did not commit to another. He had a mission: he was a link in a chain; an angel of peace, a preacher of truth. And so his story is inextricably woven by God into the Blessed one who is Blessing to so many: John Henry Newman.

Homily:

‘The time has come, and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’

Those words or the ones which stick in my memory take me back to winter nights on Preston Station waiting for the usually delayed 4.33 train from London to Whitehaven whose rear portion would get me home to Morecambe after a long day at Preston Catholic College. And whenever the train was very late, it always seemed to be hauled in by a steam called Lady Godiva.

That was so often the setting for miserably coloured posters with the dire warning: ‘Repent the Kingdom of God is nigh’.

But that is not the spirit of the call of Our Lord: Jonah did preach: repent disaster is hurtling towards you. But Jesus proclaimed: the kingdom of God, God, in the words of Blessed John Henry Newman, coming ‘close by’, to forgive, to heal, to bless to gladden. Repent and believe the Good News; it is time to stop playing in the puddles on the shore and take a swim in God’s ocean of light and praise and wisdom and joyful logic of love.

Yes, the joyful logic of love for that is the logic of the cross; the hard headed, deliberately carefully thought through to the end way of loving the unlovely, plunging into the depths and in the depths shaping, forming, breaking out into songs of praise.

And the logic, the argument, the process of loving wisdom and wisest love and generous love is seamless: because he was obedient unto death as a servant for us, therefore God has exalted him: the Risen Lord is the logical consequence of self-sacrifice; the Risen Lord, never to die again, and so through and through Good News is what comes to pass when he has given his body up for us, and poured out his blood for the forgiveness of sins. It is a logic breaking through into indestructible joy.

To meet Blessed Dominic of the Order of the Passion and Cross of Christ, the way also of Elizabeth Prout and Ignatius Spencer, led Blessed John Henry Newman to testify: ‘When his form came within sight, I was moved to the depth in the strangest way. The gaiety and affability of his manner in the midst of all his sanctity was in itself a holy sermon. No wonder I became his convert and his penitent.’

Indeed: for joy flowing from Blessed Dominic of the Mother of God how can we not sing:

‘Praise to the Holiest in the height
and in the depth be praise;
in all his words most wonderful,
most sure in all his ways.’