As many of you will know by now, Time Magazine has named Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate change activist, as its person of the year. This would seem to me well deserved and a great boost, not only for those who seek to draw our attention to saving our planet and to action, but encouragement to young people many of whom seem to have greater awareness of its plight than many older generations. I certainly include myself as one who is largely ignorant of many of the issues. I feel a resolution coming on.
Despite my shortcomings, I do recognise the urgency of immediate collaborative action. However, I am also aware of those who believe it to be all smoke and mirrors. The majority of us know that certain world leaders aren’t treating this threat to our planet seriously. But I’m amazed at the reaction of some Catholics who do not consider Global warming a priority and who tell me that as Jesus warned that such natural disasters as earthquakes and floods would happen, then we should somehow passively stand aside and let the inevitable take its course. What about the responsibility of all Christians to be stewards of creation, caring for, protecting and sustaining our planet and all of us who live on it and depend upon it?
Another person who has been the inspiration to many is Melissa Villalobos from Chicago, the Catholic mother of seven children who cried out, “Please, Cardinal Newman, make the bleeding stop” as she lay close to death on her kitchen floor. She was suffering from a torn placenta and was haemorrhaging blood. For some time Melissa had experienced a special devotion to Saint John Henry Newman and often felt drawn to his picture. It was, therefore, quite natural for her to call upon her friend in her hour of need. Her trust in him was honoured; the bleeding ceased and the powerful scent of roses filled the room. This dramatic healing not only saved Melissa’s life, but that of her unborn child Gemma, who will be celebrating her sixth birthday on 27th December, and allowed her to give birth to two further children John Henry and Blaise.
Quite understandably, Melissa’s devotion to him increased. She encouraged the praying of a novena to him in the nine days prior to his canonisation. It was an enormous success and it is said that 650,000 people worldwide registered for the novena to be sent to them by email. It is believed that many more became involved without ever signing up.
I hope the two examples above have given you a bit of a lift in what has been an uninspiring election week. I can’t remember a run-up to an election where the electorate have undergone such confusion and bewilderment. In some cases on the very day itself and even when entering the polling station, people were clearly hesitant and undecided.
I was having a meal with my sister and friends in London on the evening of the election. My sister recalled a journalist’s remarks in one of the national newspapers where she compared this moment of indecision to when she was in a restaurant and the waiter suddenly appeared to take her order. Unprepared and in a panic she quickly ordered the obvious and perhaps safest item on the menu, the sea bass. I can imagine that there were a good many having a sea bass moment on election day. There will be no prizes for guessing what I ordered from the menu that night. My second sea bass moment in one day!