“You get out of things what you put into them,” is a well-worn adage. I find it’s often true. The same can be said of our faith. The more time and energy we put into living our faith, the stronger it grows.
That point was driven home to me recently by a young man from Italy, whom I met at a Catholic school, where he had recently started to work. He observed that the Church felt more engaged and energised here in London than in Italy. On reflection, it struck me that the answer might lie in our own engagement. Many of us are involved with Catholic state education [which does not exist in Continental Europe], through our own children attending St. Vincent’s Primary (and other Catholic schools) now or in the past. Some of us even serve as governors of Catholic schools. At St. James’s Spanish Place we have a number of charities that minister to the hungry and homeless week in, week out. Parish volunteers give of their time to read at mass, or to deliver Catholic teaching to children, teen-agers, parents of newborns and adults interested in the Catholic faith. Our parish social volunteers know how to throw a great party, and keep themselves in practice, to the delight of all. And finally, many members of this parish work as carers for, or otherwise support, more vulnerable members of their families, their neighbours or even perfect strangers. In all cases, they are living out Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:35-40, “For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.”