Celebration of Canonisation of Saint Julie Billiart
Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King Liverpool
Homily delivered by Sister Anne Marie Niblock SND
Head Teacher of Notre Dame High School Southwark
“I thank my God whenever I think of you; and every time I pray for all of you I pray with joy.”
These words of St Paul that we heard in our first reading and which are the introduction in your booklets could also be the words of St Julie to each one of us here today. “I thank my God whenever I think of you; and every time I pray for all of you I pray with joy.”
St Julie is known as the smiling saint – and how she must be smiling when she sees such a wonderful gathering here today.
Many of you will know the story of St Julie’s vision at Compiegne. She was in bed, in pain and praying to her Good God when she had a vision, a dream of the future. Early paintings depicting this vision had Sisters of Notre Dame standing around the cross of Jesus, but what if Julie saw more than that? …. more than just her spiritual daughters in an Institute marked by the Cross? What if she saw you… Malcolm, Margaret, Michael, Elizabeth, Favour, Timothy, Frances, Jessica, ,… and every person in this Cathedral ……. You are her spiritual daughters and sons who follow in her path; keep Jesus at the centre of your lives; and proclaim the goodness of God in our world. You are all part of the Compiegne Vision.
Our Gospel today reminds us that Jesus loved young people.
The letter addressed to young people after the Synod on Youth in 2018 which was convened by Pope Francis said,
“The Church and the world urgently need your enthusiasm. Be sure to make the most fragile people, the poor, and those wounded by life your travelling companions. You are the present; be a brighter future.”
50 years ago, Pope Paul VI proclaimed Julie Billiart a saint of the Church. In his homily he said,” It is the honour of God, which we profess to exalt the sanctity of a human person; it is the light of Christ, which we identify in her; it is the only light of our religious world, which we celebrate, presenting to the veneration of the Church a life in which that light has repercussions and shines.”
So how would St Julie want us to celebrate the 50th anniversary of her canonisation? I believe that she would not want to be the focus of our attention, but draw our eyes, hearts and minds to the Light of her Good God. She would want us all to commit ourselves to being part of the Compiegne vision and to education, which she called the greatest work on earth.
Education which is a work of faith, where every job, even the most insignificant, becomes great in God’s eyes.
Education which is an act of hope, hope in a better tomorrow, hope for the future of all people.
Education which is a work of love, love for God and for those God sends into our care.
Education which is a work of prayer, which transforms our own hearts to keep the vision alive.
My prayer for each one of you today is that you will continue to be part of the Compiègne vision and that like St Julie you, too, may be
people of courage, able to act for justice and defend the poor
people of faith, with a deep trust in God's goodness
people of love and joy, able to transform the lives of those you meet.
This is what has been handed on to us by St Julie.
We are heirs and trustees of this Notre Dame tradition.
Let us treasure it, nourish it and develop it.