Most Rev Vincent Nichols: pray every day to remain healthy

London, UK - People should pray every day if they wish to remain healthy, according to the new Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols.

In his first pastoral letter to his diocese since he was installed in May, Archbishop Nichols warns that stable, fruitful and healthy lives cannot be achieved without daily prayer.

The letter, published today, warns against the temptations of ambition, favouritism and hypocrisy in the “battles and wars” that people fight among themselves.

Archbishop Nichols, a conservative, is marking a near-triumphant start to his service as successor to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor. Although this has yet to be reflected in numbers of worshippers, Roman Catholicism, along with other religions in Britain, is experiencing something of a renaissance.

This is thought partly to be due to the efforts of atheists such as Richard Dawkins and novelists such as Dan Brown and Philip Pullman. The publicity engendered by their fulminations seems to have had the opposite effect of that intended and proved the truth of the adage that no religion benefits as much from persecution as Christianity.

The number of seminarians or trainee priests at Allen Hall, the Archbishop’s seminary in Chelsea, has risen for the third year after decades of decline. Britain is giving a warm welcome this week to a pilgrimage of relics of the French nun St Thérèse of Lisieux. Roman Catholics and other Christians are expected to queue at cathedrals around the country, including the Anglican York Minster, to venerate the relics.

In addition, the Pope is expected to visit Britain next year to mark the beatification of the Anglican convert to Catholicism, Cardinal John Henry Newman, bringing him close to becoming a fully fledged saint.

Archbishop Nichols says in his letter: “A sound practice of daily prayer is essential for our well- being.” He says that St Thérèse illustrates this. “She teaches us that prayer can indeed be part of our daily routine,” he says.

Referring to life’s daily struggles, arising from “conflicting ambitions and desires”, he quotes St James in advocating recourse to prayer to help to overcome temptations to favouritism and hypocrisy. “St James insists that our relationship with Christ, expressed in prayer, is central to the stability and fruitfulness of our lives,” he said.