The first post on any new blog is supposed to be significant. It’s supposed to set the tone, and the scene, and the pace which readers (should there be any) can expect from the author. The first post has to mark something – an event or a thing – from which everything else that is written on the blog takes the cue.
Three days ago, on Saturday 21 April 2012, my life was changed forever in the church of St Patrick, Soho Square, when, at the hands of a successor of the apostles I was conformed in a new way to the life of Jesus Christ. In a new way, I am his servant: what Pope Benedict called “a simple and humble labourer in the vineyard of the Lord”. In taking on this life, in taking on his life, it is not James Bradley that matters – no longer me, but him. I am now a Priest of Jesus Christ. In the homily at the ordination, we were reminded of a poem of George Herbert (1593-1633) – Aaron. It is a reflection on the personification of Christ in the life of the Priest, and it is that conforming to the will of the Father, through living the life of the Son, in and through the grace of the Holy Spirit, to which I now turn.
On the Thanksgiving Card distributed at my ordination and first Mass, I had some words of Blessed John Henry Newman printed. These words, like Herbert’s poem, pick up on that – what St Paul talks of as putting on the new man (Colossians 3:10), and I offer them here as a preface to everything that I undertake to do a his Priest, in his name: “Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel your presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me, but only Jesus!”.
Let them look up and see no longer me, but only Jesus.
The other part of the first blog post has to be to explain the title of the blog. The words come from a nineteenth century hymn by William Bright (1824-1901), the first line of which is And now, O Father, mindful of the love. In the final verse, we find these words which, again, speak of the conformity of the Priest to the life of God the Son: In thine own service make us glad and free, and grant us never more to part with thee.
It is my hope and prayer that, in some small way, these thoughts and writings might enable that conformity to take place in my own life, and in the lives of those who read them.