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Christian prayer central to public mourning

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St Mary’s Cathedral celebrates the Mass for the Dead to pray for the repose of Her Majesty’s soul. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
St Mary’s Cathedral celebrates the Mass for the Dead to pray for the repose of Her Majesty’s soul. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

The overwhelming outpouring of public prayer following news of Queen Elizabeth II’s death showed that there is still a place for confident and devoted Christian faith in today’s world.

In Sydney, on the day follwoing the Queen’s death, a steady stream of visitors entered St Andrew’s Anglican Cathedral to pray, leave floral tributes and sign a condolence book, while St Mary’s Cathedral also rang its bells and celebrated the Mass for the Dead at its scheduled Mass times to pray for the repose of Her Majesty’s soul.

News outlets made respectful mention of her deep faith as a guide in her life and her role as the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, reported faith leaders’ prayers, while politicians and other public figures expressed condolences and prayers and nearly all of last weekend’s sporting games were preceded by a minute’s silence.

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In the UK, parish churches, cathedrals and chapels across the country kept their doors open for prayer and reflection following the announcement by Buckingham Palace on 8 September.

More than 5,000 messages from the UK and across the world had been entered on the Church of England’s online book of condolence in the first three days, and more than 22,000 downloads, or 1,000 an hour, had been made on the Church of England’s church finder website AChurchNearYou to access resources such as hymns and images for services and vigils.

Monsignor Carl Reid, the head of the Ordinariate in Australia, which welcomes Christians from other denominations and new converts into the Catholic faith, planned a Requiem Mass for the Queen at St Joseph’s church in Newtown.

“She was a deeply Christian woman and so very friendly to the Catholics and I think to the other Christian churches too.”

He said he was encouraged to hear King Charles in his first address as monarch pray “for the guidance and help of almighty God”.

“That faith has been consistent with him and certainly his mother,” he said.

“Definitely it’s my hope that recognition of that deep faith in those two members of the Royal family will move people throughout the Commonwealth to re-evaluate their own relationship with God and faith.”

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP said that his own immediate instinct when the news first broke was to “give thanks to God because she’s had a wonderful long life”.

“She’s been a tremendous sovereign and example to all of us of a woman of faith, a woman of duty and a woman who persevered even through the hard times in her own life.

“She was a deeply Christian woman and so very friendly to the Catholics and I think to the other Christian churches too.

“I think that many people over the years have watched her messages, especially her Christmas messages in which she would self-consciously share her faith with us and talk about whether if it had been a hard year, how her faith had got her through, and if it had been a good year how her faith had helped her to celebrate.”

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