…As Laity Council marks Patron Feast Day
Christians, Catholics in particular have been urged to emulate the life of the saints, by adhering and fulfilling the demands of Christ in expressing love to their fellow humans, including strangers. The charge was given by Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins, Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, ably represented by Very Rev. Msgr. Anthony Obanla, Chancellor, Archdiocese of Lagos at the Laity Patron Feast Day, with the theme, “Called to be a Saint: St. Thomas More in focus”, held last Sunday, at St. Jude Catholic Church, Mafoluko, Lagos. Stating that the theme is an urgent reminder of what true Christian life entails, especially now that the ideal of Christianity is daily threatened, Archbishop Martins added that being true Christians make people realise that the welfare of those they encounter is their duty, regardless of status, ethnicity or religion.
He said: “We are called to care for all, even those that are strangers to us. For that was indeed what the life of the early Christians portrayed which earned them the name. We are to know that our faith which we practice as Christians trains us to look beyond borders and see all peoples as our brothers and sisters. “The Saints, whose holy lives we celebrate and memorialise, in their own life time did not stray from the path of adherence to and fulfillment of the demands of being Christ – like. Enamoured with the love of God in their various paths of life, and at the end of their earthly lives, testimonies of their lives of holiness are attested to.
This, is the pattern of life we are called to live.” The Archbishop said that being true Christians involves self-sacrifice, even suffering, as was demonstrated in the life of St. Thomas More, who was prepared in view to a life-time of small sacrifice, suffered intentional discomforts. “It’s not an easy course, but it is the one to which we are called as God’s people. I urge you all as Christians that you should train yourselves so that when duty requires uncomfortable choices, we would be ready to embrace them with heroic virtue. We should not just think love and justice, but we should also do it”, he admonished. Very Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Ibe, Chaplain, Lagos Archdiocesan Laity Council said like St. Thomas More did not allow his loyalty to the throne deny him of fidelity to God and his belief in the Divine Authority of the Church, the lay faithful should be aware of their duty towards God, Church and country.
Urging all Christ’s faithful who live in a world whose values conflict with the principles of God’s kingdom to emulate the saint, Fr. Ibe said Thomas More’s resilience, absolute conviction and courage showed him to be a man who knew the truth, lived, spoke, defended and died for the truth. “St. Thomas More was not a bishop and neither was he a priest or religious. However, he bore witness when he chose to place his conscience above an earthly king’s demand. You and I can do likewise”, he said. In his address, Mr. Ugonna Ezeifedi, President, Lagos Archdiocesan Laity Council said like St. Thomas More’s firm decision, despite his position, dying for the Kingdom of God should influence Christians to stand firm and be ready to die for the faith in Christ.
He said the occasion affords the council the opportunity to celebrate those who have in one way or the other worked tirelessly in the Archdiocese for the spread of the gospel. St. Thomas More was beheaded o July 6, 1535. Pope Leo XIII beatified him and Pope Pius XI canonizes him on May 19, 1935. Highlights of the event included the special award of recognition given to Past Directors of the Lay Apostolate and a couple each selected from the 20 deaneries of the Archdiocese for their contributions to humanity and Church development. The awardees include; Very Rev. Msgr. Peter Oke and others, Past President of Lagos Archdiocesan Laity Council, Dame Priscilla Kuye and Engr. and Mrs. Chucks Nzei among others.