A reflection from one of our 2022-2023 interns on how their experience at the Church of All Nations has impacted their work as a Catholic in Parliament…
It is unsurprising that visiting the Holy Land brings a new depth and understanding of one’s own personal faith. It can be somewhat overwhelming to take in all the holy places – there is a hustle and bustle to the Holy Land, which can sometimes distract from the spiritual significance of the places where Jesus walked, and spent his life.
Despite the bustling atmosphere, the Church of All Nations possessed a profound amount of overwhelming peace.
Despite the bustling atmosphere, the Church of All Nations possessed a profound amount of overwhelming peace. Often referred to as the Basilica of the Agony, in reference to Jesus’ night of Passion there, the church was built by Antonio Barluzzi, the Italian architect, in 1924. Perhaps this overwhelming peace came from the historical significance that the Church itself was built over the rock where Jesus is believed to have prayed in agony the night before he was crucified, with the ‘sorrow rock’ exposed in front of the altar. Or perhaps it was in fact the spiritual significance and the depth of prayer and emotion which has been felt in the Church by pilgrims.
Being a Christian in today’s society undoubtedly does not come without struggles.
As we have just journeyed through Lent and the Triduum, it is very fresh in our minds the extent of agony, fear and feeling of loneliness that Jesus must have felt when praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. When praying in the Church of All Nations, I reflected on this and, whilst not at the same intensity as Jesus’ experience, I could relate to the isolation that can sometime come with being a Catholic working in public life. Being a Christian in today’s society undoubtedly does not come without struggles. These struggles become somewhat more unavoidable when working within public life, when questions regarding morality and the very essence of our Christian faith are continually being disputed. It is in these moments, where we can feel lonely and fearful of how people are going to react to a differing Christian opinion and perspective. Whenever we offer a Christian perspective which may go against the grain of what is considered the norm within society, we are opening ourselves up to discrimination. That said, it is important to remember that being ambassadors for Christ within public life can also bring much fruit – there is a sense of responsibility as one is truly at the centre of where decisions can be made to help or hinder people’s lives. I think it is important that as Christians, we reunite our experiences of loneliness and fear as a chance to grow closer in relationship with God. In the letters of Peter, he reminds us so beautifully of this writing: ‘For it is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God’s will than for doing wrong’.
It is important to remember that being ambassadors for Christ within public life can also bring much fruit.