I am interrupting my series of posts on the life of Archbishop William Ullathorne to feature an extract from some of the writings of this great man because they have great resonance for us here and now.
Archbishop William Ullathorne never wished for the spotlight, in fact, he had requested, at an early stage in his vocation, to lead the life of a contemplative but his superiors had seen something in this young man that gave them reason to believe that they were in the presence of a great future cleric.
More than that, a leader of clerics as well as Men.
This is part of his appraisal of the post and role of a Bishop, and interestingly, despite being written over 130 years ago, his observations ring so very true to the circumstances that we find ourselves in today.
Secularism on the rise, Science taking over from God..........over to His Grace:
"The dangers of the present age are intellectual; it is an age of false science and false theories respecting God and the human soul.
The age is striving to do without God, in science, in government, in the education of the people, man is held up to himself as all-sufficient for himself.
The Church is bid to stand aloof from the moral guidance of human affairs.
It has become a point of policy amidst nations nominally Christian to banish God Himself from the affairs of men, and in His place to take possession of the souls and consciences of men, that they may be managed according to the desires of nature, and as if no better principles of guidance, no brighter light from God had ever been given.
And has God no witness left?
Is there no prophet any more? There is. To this age of unbelief, to this age of godless teaching, to this age of troubled minds and distressed consciences, the bishop is the mouthpiece of God, and represents the prophetic character of Christ.
To the world, which, like a wayward child, is impatient
(From Ecclesiastical Discourses Delivered on Special Occasions (1876)
Such a portrayal of the qualities of a bishop is enough to set the pulses racing and to ask oneself where it all went wrong.
But, in reality, it has always gone wrong in periods of the history of HMC.
Another Archbishop, the late Fulton Sheen of the USA, told his audience that the Catholic faith peaked and troughed in 500 year cycles; at times the faith flourished and at others, it died away under the pressure of Huns, Freemasons, Nazis, Communists and now, the Secularists, Atheists and Liberalists.
It is approximately 500 years since the Reformation in the British Isles; a period in which the Church launched the Counter Reformation and gradually, very gradually, moved towards emancipation in the 19th Century.
So now the time is ripe again for a bit of pressure and a little persecution.
And you know what? That may make better Catholics of us all.
NB: If anyone knows how to get rid of annoying white backgrounds, please share the knowledge!