Remembering Her Majesty the Queen
Following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the 8th September, a Book of Condolence was opened at Nottingham Cathedral and people were encouraged to pop into the Church to light a candle or spend time in quiet prayer or reflection during this national time of mourning.
The night before the State Funeral, a Requiem Mass was celebrated at the Cathedral. Bishop Patrick and the Cathedral Dean were pleased to welcome civic and ecumenical guests from across the City and County, including Sir John Peace, His Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant in the County. Children from our schools were well represented and guests were greeted by a guard of honour formed by young people from various local uniformed organisations. The Cathedral was at capacity as people gathered to pray for the repose of the should of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
After the Mass, Bishop Patrick headed to Old Market Square to join other civic and faith leaders from the City at the ‘Remembering Her Majesty’ event organised by Nottingham City Council. After the minute silence, observed for the national Moment of Reflection at 8pm, Bishop Patrick then addressed those gathered. His words focused on the centrality of the Christian faith in the late Queen’s reign.
You can find pictures from both events here, thanks to Gerry Molumby:
You can read Bishop Patrick’s Homily at the Requiem Mass, here:
Homily at the Requiem Mass for Queen Elizabeth II
Bishop Patrick McKinney
“My advice is that, first of all, there should be prayers offered for everyone…and especially for Kings and others in authority.”
I begin by focussing on these words from the 1st Letter of St. Timothy, our 2nd scripture reading this evening, because that’s what we’ve all come to do, to pray in gratitude for the quite amazing example of duty, dedication, and service in leadership, that Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, gave us during the 70 years of her reign. We recognise also the importance of her Christian faith in the way she lived her long life and exercised her reign as Queen. As long ago as 1947, on the occasion of her 21st birthday during a trip to South Africa, she broadcasted a message to Britain and its remaining empire in which she pledged to commit herself to a life of service to God and the people. She said, ‘I declare before you all, that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service…God help me to make good my vow.’ At her coronation she was supremely conscious that she had been anointed by God, she had been called and commissioned as Queen by God, to give glory to God in prayer and worship, and through dedicated service to her subjects. And, as the years went by, the Queen became more open and more comfortable in speaking about the centrality of her Christian faith, in Christmas messages and other speeches. In her Christmas Day message for the Millennium Year 2000 she said this: ‘For me the teachings of Christ, and my own personal accountability before God, provide a framework in which I try to lead my life.’
Themes such as forgiveness, mutual respect and practical good neighbourliness loomed large in her Christmas Day broadcasts. They were well received, and influential, because people could see that the Queen tried to live her life by these Christian values, values which also find expression in other faiths and in people of good will. Her faith in Christ inspired and shaped her deep sense of duty, service and commitment, which were so evident throughout her long reign as our Queen. In 2002, reflecting on her Golden Jubilee Year, in which both her mother and her sister died, she said: ‘I know just how much I rely on my own faith to guide me through the good times and the bad. Each day is a new beginning. I know that the only way to live my life is to try and do what is right, to take the long view, to give of my best in all that the day brings, and to put my trust in God…I draw strength from the message of hope in the Christian Gospel’ Many people of faith, whether they felt strong in their faith, weak or lapsed, and many who professed to have no faith, listened attentively to and felt encouraged by her Christmas messages. What she said was influential, not simply because this was the Queen speaking to her people, but because her words had an authenticity about them; she spoke of what she knew, her personal faith as a follower of Christ, whom she described as her ‘anchor’ in life, and most especially in times of difficulty. I believe through those messages and the moral way she lived her life, that she showed people that it’s possible to be a professing Christian in a secular society. And consciously or not we did all pray regularly for the Queen whenever we joined in singing the national anthem, which is of course a prayer: ‘God save our gracious Queen! long live our noble Queen! God save the Queen!’
The axiom, “Service untiringly done. Duty faithfully fulfilled” expresses well the long and full reign of Queen Elizabeth II. She came to the throne promising to devote her whole life to service and, 70 years later, we would all readily agree that she fulfilled her promise, and that she did so with a certain grace and elegance, and a tireless work ethic. She will be remembered for her quite remarkable sense of duty and service to the peoples of the United Kingdom, the realms, and the Commonwealth.
Finally, let me focus on some words from our 1st reading, from the Book of Wisdom:
“The souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God, no torment shall ever touch them. In the eyes of the unwise they did appear to die, their going looked like a disaster, their leaving us, like annihilation; but they are in peace.”
In celebrating this Requiem Mass for the Queen, on the eve of her Funeral, we are as Christians celebrating the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, He who was her anchor in life and who is, for all Christians, Our Lord and our Saviour; the one for whom we strive to live our lives generously; and who is the source of our hope that eternal life, not death, will have the final word on our lives. There’s a beautiful phrase in our Mass this evening which expresses well our prayer for our faith-filled Queen: “For your faithful, Lord, life is changed not ended and when this earthly dwelling turns to dust, an eternal dwelling is made ready for them in heaven.” We thank God for her life of generous duty and we pray that Jesus Christ, whom she served so faithfully all through her life, may now welcome her into His Kingdom with these words, “well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Master.” May Queen Elizabeth be reunited in God’s love with her dear husband, Prince Philip, and all the deceased members of her family.
Eternal rest, grant to her O Lord, and let Perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace. Amen.