Tag Archives: candle

July 13, Readings from Mary Webb XXI: ‘How short a while.’

How short a while –eternities  gone by —
It is since book and candle, half the night,
Consumed the hours, and in the first grey light
I turned and strove for slumber wearily:
But the sad past complained too mournfully,
And wept before me till the dawn grew white;
And the stark future, stripped of all delight,
Loomed up so near — I could but wake and sigh.

Now they are gone. I lie with ungirt will
And unlit candle, sleeping quietly.
Love flows around me with its calm and blessing;
I can but let it take me, and be still,
And know that you, beloved, though far from me,
All night are with me — comforting, caressing.

Let us finish this week with Mary Webb by reading a poem that transcends, rather than denies sorrow. And we can pray that all may feel love’s calm and blessing, flowing around us. Love is not static! It is active,  alive now. Delight can return and will.

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14 February, Mass in the City of Light, February 1946

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A reminder that Christ is among us at the Eucharist, whether celebrated in splendour or in dirt and poverty – and in the case of Archbishop Spellman’s visit to Notre Dame de Paris, in dirty, poverty stricken splendour. Spellman was en route to Rome, to become a Cardinal,

The post-war visit to the French capital by and large was anything but gay. For Mass in the great Cathedral of Notre Dame, each priest was still assigned one little piece of candle stuck in a bottle, which was carried from the sacristy by the server and carefully returned. Even when His Eminence gave Solemn Benediction at the main altar, there were only two candles burning. The streets were dark too, the streets of the City of Light, dark and dirty. The hotels were cold. The shops were shabby. Only the famous Flea Market, which seemed to be very much bigger than ever, was doing a thriving business.

So, Let your light shine! One candle in a neglected, dirty cathedral was a sign of hope, a sign of the Lord’s presence among his people. And even that one candle was an act of defiance to the darkness, the darkness will never overcome!

From ‘The Cardinal Spellman Story’ by Robert L Gannon, London, Robert Hale, 19963, p288. 

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4 August: One for the Road.

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I was just fidgeting to get comfortable in the crypt when she strode in, wearing stout trainers, bag on her back. A couple of coins chinked in the box, a candle was lit, and out she walked, on her way. A pilgrim, leaving her prayer behind?

A pilgrim was I too, even if I had walked little more than a mile to reach the cathedral.

Lead, kindly light, all pilgrims and travellers, especially during this holiday time. And may our hearts turn to you as you walk with us, unperceived.

MMB.

 

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January 31, Aberdaron IX: Fire.

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Sometimes a candle can speak where words cannot.

As here in Canterbury Cathedral, on a cake, or at a memorial site.

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29 December: Father Andrew at Christmas VI. Venite, Adoremus

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Another of Fr Andrew’s Christmas poems. I’ve chosen the bell picture because of  v 3, and because of Abel, who likes the idea that Canterbury Bells are calling people to Church.

Venite, Adoremus (Come, let us adore him)

‘Come along, shepherds,’ the Angels cried,
‘Come along, every one!
For great things happen on earth to-night,
And you shall see a wondrous sight –
In bed of straw, on napkin white,
Come down to earth from heaven’s height
God’s own Eternal Son.’

‘Come along, comrades,’ the Shepherds cried,
And quick those men did run,
And in they pressed through the humble door,
And low they knelt on the stable floor,
Where Mary and Joseph, as poor as poor,
In rich contentment did adore
God’s own Eternal Son.

‘Come along, Christians,’ the bells ring out,
‘Ding-a-dong, come along, come along!’
For round the Altar tapers shine,
Where waits our Saviour, yours and mine,
Veiled ‘neath the mystic Bread and Wine,
And every soul should be a shrine
For God’s Eternal Son.

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27 October: Dylan Day, a personal relationship with God.

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The view from Dylan Thomas’s home in Laugharne.

I never made the chance to ask Fr Austin (our writer AMcC) to expand on what we should understand by a personal relationship with God; now I am casting around for answers, and realising that there are at least as many ways as there are Christian believers.

I think of people who walk around their local church, stopping for a few words at each statue: the saints are part of their family who can lead them in prayer.

If you call them superstitious you must say the same about the Canterbury Cathedral guides who light a candle at the start of their day of welcoming visitors.

Others walk around their church praying the Stations of the Cross, accompanying Jesus (and his mother) on his walk to Calvary; this was my grandmother’s way, one she could also follow seated at home.

Today I invite you to join Dylan Thomas, whose birthday it is today, when as a child, at Christmas day’s end  he

went to bed. Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night. I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept.

There was darkness aplenty in Dylan’s life, as there must be in anyone’s. Even in the darkness the holy one is near; a few words will suffice to acknowledge that.

MMB.

 

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1 January: Door! Door!

Abel and I had the afternoon together, and he brought along his new word,’Door’. An appropriate word for the New Year, and a very useful word too. On the train, in the lift at the station or in the art gallery, many buttons are at a height a wheelchair user can reach comfortably, and so can a toddler with a stretch. Then the buttons are designed to be very sensitive for less strong fingers – each one an opportunity for Abel to demonstrate his mastery of technology.

A free gallery means that a small person can come in, look at one or two things and toddle off again. When he’s older, he’ll maybe stay longer.

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A Church that is open means that anyone can come in, look at one or two things, maybe light a candle, peruse or pick up a leaflet, and toddle off again. If she feels welcome, one day she’ll maybe stay longer.

Just as Abel was interested in the buttons, doors, sculptures and even one or two paintings, so visitors to our church buildings may be interested in what they see. Few churches explain their stained glass, statues, or other features, because we regulars hardly see the familiar, any more than we see the buttons in the lift. But these things were installed for a reason: to help us on our journey to God.

This New Year, let’s  try and see our church buildings through fresh eyes. It may help us to see our faith through fresh eyes too!

MMB.

 

 

 

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24 December: Four Candles

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Say ‘four candles’ to ironmongers in Britain and you’ll get a weary reaction. If you don’t know why, watch the video from the link at the end of this post.

I know that reaction. Why? well, Abel’s mother inherited her grandfather’s garden fork, riddled with woodworm. Fork handles? I am serious!

Thanks to  one of an ironmonger’s fork handles, a lick of paint and a few coats of linseed oil, it looks and works as good as new.

A month ago it was the first Sunday in Advent. On the day before, Abel and his grandparents gathered greenery to make their Advent wreaths. When Grannie was not looking Abel used the secateurs; two of his hands and one of Grandad’s did the job very well. Back indoors, Abel and Grannie arranged green leaves on the wreaths, and four candles on each. Red candles on Abel’s, but purple on the old folk’s as Uncle Harry has very definite ideas about the colour of the candles.

At 18 months old Abel knows about doing things together and sharing. He knows a little bit about numbers; he enjoys candlelight and knows not to touch the flame. He knows something about waiting and the candles will help him understand this.

He’ll be learning a bit about baby Jesus, and even if things are a little bit confused in his mind this Christmas, he’ll understand that he’s in a loving human family. Not a bad start.

As for us, we have Good News to proclaim, even if people are confused about what Christmas means. A crib, candle or star in a window represents a silent but glowing witness.

WT.

And here is confusion that you can enjoy: just click on the link.

fork handles

 

 

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July 28: Canine Sectarianism?

 

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Alfie The Collie.

We had left the roar and rumble of the motorway and were enjoying a sandwich lunch in a Cotswold churchyard, gathered under a spreading yew tree, sheltered from the gentle summer’s rain. A woman came by, in waterproofs, wellingtons and plastic hat, clutching two shopping bags.

“You don’t need to sit out there in the rain, go inside, it’s all right. No, you don’t need to worry about him, take him in, he’s a beautiful dog. What breed is he?

“I never heard of a short-haired collie, but he does have that look about him. An intelligent dog, I can see that. He’d be welcome inside, don’t you worry.

“You are dry there? Where you’re sitting now, that big box tomb, that’s what I calls the glove-maker’s tomb. My grandmother used to make gloves for him. He would send his man round to the cottage to collect the gloves and pay Nan for them. All made at home they were, while she was bringing up the family.

“Good boy! He is well behaved. He would be welcome inside. I takes my little Sam in with me. He’s a little Jack Russell but he’s not with me today, he gets all over-excited if he goes on the bus. No, but he likes to come here and light a candle for Steve and Billy, my two other Jackies that he remembers. He comes in with me either sitting in my bag or else on the lead.

“The first time he came in we got told off but I told them he had every right to be there. He was giving thanks for his good health. When he was a pup he swallowed a fish-hook, playing with the children. The vet said that he wouldn’t pull round, but I came in here, said my prayer and lit my candle: and he got better. The Good Shepherd listened to me and he looked after Sam.

“He’ll listen to your Alfie, too. He is a beautiful dog and he’s welcome to come inside.

“Unless he’s a Catholic of course.

“He is? Oh really? Well, nice meeting you all but it’s time for my bus. Goodbye, now!”

MMB.

 

 

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