by Mgr Kieran Heskin

Sacred Heart Church, Ilkley

A CHURCH minister once visited an old man who was dying. The minister, during the course of his Prayer Service, asked his parishioner, “do you reject Satan”? The ultra-cautious reply he received from the dying man was “at this rather delicate junction of my existence, I have no wish to cause offence in any quarter!”

Bishop Marcus Stock, the Bishop of Leeds, will visit Sacred Heart Church, Ilkley, on this Thursday evening, 21st Oct., to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation to some of our young parishioners. Before confirming them, he will ask them to renew their Baptismal Promises. One of the questions he will ask is “do you renounce Satan?”

When they have renewed their baptismal promises, the Bishop will ask God in a solemn prayer to “pour out the Holy Spirit upon them”, and they will receive the Holy Spirit just as the apostles received the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem on the first Christian Pentecost 2000 year ago. Like the apostles, they will be commissioned to go forth from their Confirmation Service to bear witness to Christ and to Christian values in the twenty first century.

Those who have tried to live lives of Christian witness in the past have always had to contend with challenges. Those who try to do so today, in a world where many are hostile to any kind of faith message, will need courage and conviction as great as that of any of their forebears.

Jesus, who showed courage and conviction himself to the point of death, wants his followers to walk in his footsteps. He asks them to be “the salt of the earth, the light of the world”. He wants them to be people of principal, people who are prepared to stand up for what is right, not waverers who, like the proverbial dog, are willing to “run a bit of the road with everyone”; not people whose minds resemble garbage cans, ever open to rubbish from all sources.

A few lines of verse, picked up from one of my teachers many years ago, sums up the challenge of religious faith: “Remember you preach a gospel, a chapter each day, by the things that you do and the words that you say. Folk read your gospel, whether faithless or true: now what is the gospel according to you?”