The Bishop began by reminding us that on this last night of the year we celebrate Mary, God's Holy Mother. We pause in gratitude for peace, stability and prosperity in our country. But we do not live independently of the rest of the world, and if we look beyond our own confines we might well worry. There is war, poverty and tyranny, and even in our country there is human distress. We are called by God to do what each of us is able to, to help and heal. Jesus reminds us that our salvation is linked to the mercy we are able to show in our daily lives. If you do not know what you can do, Bishop Bernt encourages us to support the work Caritas is trying to establish here in Norway.
The Bishop sees many positiv signs for our Church in Trondheim. There is an increase in the number of registered Catholics, and although numbers say little about who the Church may hope to help, hope itself should never be underrated.
We have experienced a somewhat long and exhausting process for the building of a new church. The local council should complete the procedure for our applications in the next months, and the architect's proposals show an inspiring building. What is missing is the building's personality. It is up to us, we who will live in and with the new church, to shape the interior. The Bishop will send a letter to each home in the parrish and diocese as soon as permissions for demolition and building have been received. He reminds us that this will be our church and that we all must pull our weight to ensure the completion of it, each according to his own ability.
Bishop Bernt expresses deep gratitude for the events which gave us a new pope this year. Pope Benedict instigated clearance work of vast proportions in connection with the shameful circumstances which have beed disclosed in our church. Thanks to his efforts we now have satisfactory safeguards and effective procedures in place. He has, unfortunately, been given little credit for this in the media, but rather been given the blame for the Curia's earlier naivity and negligence. We are thankful and joyful over Pope Francis and his effectful communication of basic Christian values. Many are now able to hear that message, who earlier either could not or would not listen. We also appreciate the challenges Pope Francis is issuing regarding the systems and conditions which lead to injustice and suffering. Bishop Bernt reminds us that a pope is as strong as the Church's prayers, and that is is we who are responsible for those prayers.
New Year's Eve, the solemnity for Mary, Holy Mother of God. Mary is the primordial standard and the paragon for the Church. In the short gospel text we heard this evening she tells us at least two important things: She "kept all these things (that the shepereds had told her) and pondered them in her heart" (Luk 2, 16-21). God's actions and message concerned her quite literally, and she received them and gave them room to grow within herself. She was called to be God's partner and she did what was asked of her. We are all called to be God's partners and to undertake the tasks He gives us to do. Maria is our primordial standard and our paragon.