Thursday, 16 June 2011

George Basil Hume OSB, OM

17th June marks the 12th anniversary of the death of Cardinal George Basil Hume.

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1923, Hume joined Ampleforth Monastery in 1941, taking the name Basil, and took solemn vows in 1945. After studying in Oxford and Fribourg, he was ordained priest in 1950 and returned to Ampleforth, where he was elected Abbot in 1963.

In 1976 he was appointed Archbishop of Westminster and made a Cardinal the same year. Her Majesty the Queen rewarded his remarkable achievements by making him a member of the Order of Merit, shortly before his death on 17th June 1999.

His mortal remains are buried in the chapel of St Gregory and St Augustine in Westminster Cathedral.

The following extract from his book Light in the Lord (now out of print) was reprinted in Priesthood: A Life Open to Christ, compiled by Canon Daniel Cronin, to celebrate the Year for Priests (2009-10).

"I would like you all to pray for me – and as time passes I see increasingly the urgency of that request – and I also pray that I may be ‘a genuine sign of Christ’s loving presence among you.’ That applies to each of you as well. You are to be ‘a genuine sign of Christ’s loving presence’ among those entrusted to your pastoral care. As ‘genuine’ signs of that presence, we must ourselves, as St Paul says, ‘put on Christ’, that is to think as Christ thought, to act as Christ acted, to speak as Christ spoke. It is our task to ensure that the word of God is solemnly and properly acclaimed and the Catholic faith is taught, to make certain that the Eucharist and other liturgical services are celebrated with sincere devotion – and all this for the glory of God and for the well-being of the people we have been sent to serve. This last phrase could sound as if our laity were not more than the passive recipients of what we, as priests, have to offer. What an error that would be.

Just as the laity are expected now to play an active part in the liturgy – and this in consequence of their baptism – so must they also play an active part in the mission of the Church. It is part of our responsibility to work for the Kingdom of God in whatever way is most suitable and to enable the spiritual energies of the baptised to be released. It is for us to encourage them to learn more about their faith, to teach them how to pray, and to provide them with whatever assistance they may need to be missionaries, evangelisers and catechists in the circumstances of their daily lives.

Do not forget, too, that our lay people have been anointed with the Holy Spirit. He is at work in them as he is in us, and our leadership as priests – for bishops and priests must be leaders – will take account of this. Ours, priest and people, is a partnership. We have different roles, but one purpose which is to give glory to God and to serve our neighbour – it is an adventure of love."

May he rest in peace.