Tag Archives: hospitality

27 January, Little Flowers CIV: A vision of St Francis, II.

We left our two friars welcoming two journeying friars to their monastery, to the kitchen, the warmest place in the house, where eight friars were already enjoying the fire.

After they had been a little while at the fire, they took the visitors aside to wash their feet, even as they had agreed together. And while that obedient and devout friar was washing the feet of the older friar, and removing the mud therefrom, for they were very muddy, he looked and saw that his feet were marked with the most holy Stigmata; and anon, for joy and wonder he embraced them closely, and began to cry aloud: “Either thou art Christ, or thou art Saint Francis”. 

At that cry and at those words, the friars, which were at the fire, arose and came thither with great fear and reverence to see those glorious stigmata. And then, at their prayer, this ancient friar permitted them clearly to see and touch and kiss them. And, while they marvelled yet more for joy, he said unto them: “Doubt not and fear not, dearest friars and sons; I am your father Friar Francis, who, according to the will of God, founded three Orders. And seeing that, for eight years, I have been entreated by this friar, who is washing my feet, and to-day more fervently than ever before, that I would reveal unto him those secret words which the Seraph spake unto me when He gave me the stigmata, the which words I resolved never to reveal in my lifetime, to-day, by the commandment of God, by reason of his perseverance and the ready obedience with which he left the sweetness of contemplation, I am sent by God to reveal unto him, before you all, that which he asks.”

St Francis said: ” Know, most beloved brothers, that being on the mountain of Alvernia, wholly absorbed in the contemplation of the Passion of Christ, in that seraphic vision I was thus stigmatised in my own body by Christ Himself; and He said to me : “Knowest thou what I have done to thee ? I have given thee the marks of My Passion that thou mayest be My standard bearer. And as I, on the day of My death, descended into Limbo, and, by virtue of My stigmas, liberated all the souls I found there and conducted them to paradise, so also I grant to thee in this hour, in order that thou mayest be conformed to Me in thy death even as thou hast been in thy life, that when thou shalt have passed away from this life, every year on the anniversary of thy death thou shalt go into purgatory, and, by virtue of these stigmas which I have given thee, shalt liberate all the souls thou shalt find there belonging to thy three orders, Friars Minor, sisters and virgins, and over and above these all who have been devout to thee, and shalt lead them to paradise.’ These words of Christ I never revealed whilst I lived in this world.”

And having thus spoken St Francis and his companion suddenly disappeared. And many brothers afterwards heard these things from the eight brothers who were present during the vision and had heard the words of St Francis. 

There was no doubt in the minds of the ten friars as to who had visited them. But contemplate for a moment the spontaneous decision of the two friars that we read yesterday, to wash the feet of their visitors, though they were very muddy. Love in action!

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26 January, Little Flowers CIII: a vision of Saint Francis, I.

We return to the Little Flowers of Saint Francis for our last few extracts from this ancient text. It’s clear that the brothers did not know what to make of the stigmata, the marks of the Passion of Jesus seared onto his body, though they recognised it as a holy sign in a holy man. It was his life that was holy before any such marks were imposed on him. We start with a brother at prayer …

A devout and holy friar, while reading of Saint Francis’s most holy Stigmata, began with great travail of spirit to consider what those so secret words could have been, which Saint Francis said that he would not reveal to any one while he lived; which the Seraph had spoken to him. And this friar said within himself: “Saint Francis willed not to speak those words to any one during his lifetime; but now, after his bodily death, perchance he would tell them, if he were prayed devoutly so to do”. Thenceforward, the devout friar began to pray God and Saint Francis that they would reveal those words. 

This friar continuing eight years in this prayer, until one day, after eating, thanks having been given in the church, he was in prayer in a certain part of the church, and was praying to God and Saint Francis touching this matter, more devoutly than he was wont, and with many tears; when he was called by another friar, who commanded him in the name of the Guardian to bear him company to the town for the good of the Place. 

Doubting not that obedience is more meritorious than prayer, as soon as he had heard the commandment of his superior, he left off praying and went with that friar that called him. And, as God willed it, he, by this act of ready obedience, merited that which he had not merited by his long praying. 

As soon as they had gone forth from the gate, they met two strange friars, who appeared to have come from a far country; and one of them seemed a young man and the other old and lean; and, by reason of the bad weather, they were all muddy and wet. Wherefore that obedient friar had great compassion for them, and said unto his companion: “O dearest brother mine, if the business whereon we are going may wait a little, inasmuch as these strange friars have great need to be charitably received, I beseech thee to permit me first to go and wash their feet, and especially those of this aged friar, who hath the greater need thereof; and you will be able to wash those of this younger one; and thereafter we will go about the business of the convent”. 

They went back and received those strange friars very charitably, and took them into the kitchen to the fire to warm and dry themselves; at the which fire eight other friars of the Place were warming themselves. 

To be continued.

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19 August, Pilgrimages: Saint Olav, holy King of Norway

Saint Olav

As I said a few days ago, I though we could use some of our holiday time to go on virtual pilgrimage, and thanks to Sheila Billingsley who alerted us to this Norwegian saint, we can start with Olav, the Holy King of Norway who died in 1030, in a world very different to our own.

I was especially glad of her recommendation as I was unwell and needed to find an on-line Mass to attend. She pointed me to a Roman Catholic High Mass for the Feast of Saint Olav, presided by Bishop Erik Varden of Trondheim in the Lutheran Cathedral in that city – the church where Dr Varden was ordained Bishop.

Bishop Varden makes Olav sound like a real human being:

Sigrid Undset wrote of St Olav, patron saint of our diocese and country: ‘Saint Olav was the seed our Lord chose to sow in Norway’s earth because it was well suited to the weather here and to the quality of the soil.’ What makes his story so compelling is the fact that we can follow, step by step, the work of grace in his life. Olav was not a ready-made saint; he began adult life as a viking mercenary. Though through his encounter with Christ in the Church, through decisive sojourns in Rouen and Kyiv, then his final, dramatic return to Norway, where he died a martyr, supernatural light gradually took hold of him and suffused him, radiant in his body even after death. 

Should you wish to follow our celebrations, you can find access here. A good account of St Olav’s life is available here.

Do read the life of Saint Olav at the link above and dip into the celebrations on youtube. The homily is on the website in English and German.

As I followed the Mass, I was impressed to see the Church Universal alive in two ways in Trondheim: the warm friendship between the two churches, Lutheran and Catholic, and the very international community which is the Catholic church in Trondheim.

Saint Olav was killed in battle with King Canute of England and Denmark in 1030 and soon counted as a martyr. He is patron saint of Norway, though he had been rejected by the leading warriors who had accepted Canute’s bribes. No doubt some of this money had come from the Danegeld, paid to the Danes to stop them from looting through England.

Tomorrow we visit an earlier English king, whose cult Canute promoted in Suffolk: King Edmund the Martyr.

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30 July: Table talk

Everything stops for tea.

The elderly lady that Arthur and I garden for now lives alone in the house that was her bed and breakfast business. She constantly gave of herself to her family and guests with beautiful food, but now relies on carers to put her meals on the table, because sometimes she forgets important things like eating.

Today we were talking about this experience of giving back to God some of our faculties in old age and being cared for. ‘That is true,’ she said, ‘but we can still sit around the table and enjoy a cup of tea and good company. That is good, thank you for coming to see me.’

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3 May: In the Gloom of the Evening.

Doctor Johnson is on his travels in the Isle of Skye, in Autumn of the year 1773. The places named were homes of the local gentry who unfailingly welcomed Johnson and his friend James Boswell.There were no roads on Skye at this time and a trusted guide was absolutely necessary for safety.

More than 200 years later, I cannot help but think of the violence, terror and uncertainty that so many unwilling travellers have experienced in recent months, and the welcome they have received from strangers in their unexpected hour of need. Let us hope and pray that a ‘degree of cheerfulness’ may be granted them through the kindness of others, enabling them to sustain their children and vulnerable dependents.

In our way to Armidel (Armadale) was Coriatachan, where we had already been, and to which therefore we were very willing to return.  We staid however so long at Talisker, that a great part of our journey was performed in the gloom of the evening. 

In travelling even thus almost without light thro’ naked solitude, when there is a guide whose conduct may be trusted, a mind not naturally too much disposed to fear, may preserve some degree of cheerfulness; but what must be the solicitude of him who should be wandering, among the craggs and hollows, benighted, ignorant, and alone? The fictions of the Gothick romances were not so remote from credibility as they are now thought. 

In the full prevalence of the feudal institution, when violence desolated the world, and every baron lived in a fortress, forests and castles were regularly succeeded by each other, and the adventurer might very suddenly pass from the gloom of woods, or the ruggedness of moors, to seats of plenty, gaiety, and magnificence.  Whatever is imaged in the wildest tale, if giants, dragons, and enchantment be excepted, would be felt by him, who, wandering in the mountains without a guide, or upon the sea without a pilot, should be carried amidst his terror and uncertainty, to the hospitality and elegance of Raasay or Dunvegan.

Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland by Samuel Johnson.

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10 March: Pope Francis prays that migrants be made welcome.

A Lampedusa Cross, fashioned from the timbers of a migrant boat wrecked on the island.

Pope Francis’s prayer calls on us to welcome and reach out to the exiles who find their way into our community, into our parish. With restrictions lifting, let us be conscious that there are new people among us, people, too, who are tentatively coming back to worship after several months away. Let’s say a word or two to those we meet or end up sitting next to. Francis wrote this prayer before the war began in Ukraine which only increases our need to welcome the stranger among us.

Father,
grant the followers of Jesus
and all people of good will,
the grace to do your will on earth.

Bless each act of welcome and outreach
that draws those in exile
into the 'we' of community and of the Church,
so that earth may truly become a common home
for all people. 
AMEN.

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26 December: Happy Families

Here is Saint Francis, witnessing the life of the Holy Family by CD

Did it make you squirm when well-meaning priests or other adults urged us as children to be ‘like the Holy Family’. If we were, it was never for long – rarely if ever were we free from petty jealousies or quarrels, despite my father’s holding to the motto, ‘the family that prays together, stays together’, which is not totally untrue in our case, decades past childhood. Perhaps we have been blessed, guided and defended more than we generally acknowledge.

A silent ‘thank you’ for that grace on this, the feast of the Holy Family, which is usurping Saint Stephen’s day.

Following the death of his close friend Mr Thrale, Doctor Johnson realised that he would be seeing much less of the Thrale family. He composed this prayer on the last occasion that he stopped over at the house they were putting on the market, where he had spent many happy days.

To thy fatherly protection, O Lord, 
I commend this family. 
Bless, guide, and defend them, 
that they may so pass through this world, 
as finally to enjoy in thy presence 
everlasting happiness, 
for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen

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25 December. St John XXIII: a Christmas Message.

On Christmas Day, 1933, Bishop Angelo Roncalli was preparing to leave Bulgaria after 10 years, to become Apostolic Delegate to Turkey and Greece. This passage is from his farewell sermon that day.

In accordance with an old tradition of Catholic Ireland, all the houses put a lighted candle in the window on Christmas Eve, as an indication to Saint Joseph and the Virgin Mary, in search of a refuge on that holy night, that inside the house round the fire and the well-stocked table, a family is waiting for them.

Wherever I may be, though it be at the ends of the earth, if a Bulgarian away from his country comes past my house, he will find in my window the lighted candle. He has only to knock on my door; it will be opened to him, whether he be Catholic or Orthodox: friend of Bulgaria, that will be enough. He can come in and I shall extend to him a very warm welcome.

How good it will be to welcome family and friends this Christmas! Let your little light shine!

With our best wishes to all our readers for a Happy Christmas and a hopeful and healthy New Year, 2022. Will Turnstone and the Agnellus Team.

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17 September,Going Viral XCI: Not yet quite normal.

Rev Jo Richards reported on recent and upcoming events in the City of Canterbury, but Agnellus got a bit left behind! But we’ll start with Rev Jo’s report, noting in passing that it’s three weeks since a ‘going viral’ post. Mrs T and I have been away, forgetting masks and germs, except on the trains, but we’ve also failed to record a few changes in how we come together. But read on to the end of the post!

Will Turnstone.

Rev Jo reported:

On Saturday we had the delightful wedding of Hannah and Sam in St Dunstan’s. It was so good to be able to have a full church and sing hymns – neither of which we have been able to do throughout lockdown with the covid restrictions. So we wish them every blessing on their special day. 

It was also Canterbury Pride, which Jenny and I joined the gathering first thing in the Westgate Gardens, and then later in the day I joined the folk in Dane John Gardens – and it was quite a festival atmosphere, and again a good opportunity to catch up with a number of folk I know from across the city….then stayed up to watch the tennis. It was a late night!!

The first of Rev Jo’s coming events was a return to old routine that I had been looking forward to, the highlight of the day when I worked Fridays at the L’Arche Glebe garden. We used to meet in what was perhaps a chapel or vestry, converted into a parish room but that is too small even for the revised restrictions.


Coffee morning at St Mildred’s Friday 17th September The Friday morning coffee club at St Mildred’s is resuming from this Friday 17th September, from 10.00 – 12.00, thank you to Viv, Vie and Doris. So if you are passing by do drop in and say hello. To give us more space, it will be held in the body of the church. It will be  an opportunity either for some quiet time, or catching up with one another. All from across the Benefice, and beyond are very welcome to drop by.

I was certainly made welcome to the improvised cafe at the West End of the Church itself, joining a few parishioners, including a gentleman I’d not met before. May the coffee morning flourish and welcome passers-by, like the two tourists who were leaving as I arrived.

Kent Vegan Association: We are delighted to announce that Kent Vegan Association will be holding their monthly market in St Peter’s Church on the third Sunday of the month, beginning Saturday, 18 Sep. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to engage with the local community, especially as we are looking to develop St Peter’s as a Community Hub, in addition to a place of worship. An Oasis on the High Street for all.

We’ve mentioned these talks before: https://www.cantcommsoc.co.uk/2021/08/kentish-saints-and-martyrs-600-1600/

Saints & Martyrs 600-1600: All talks begin at 7.30pm. We have on Wed 22 Sep in St Mildred’s a talk on the Anglo-Saxon female saints, on Thu 23 Sep Martyrs of the 16th Century in St Dunstan’s,  and In Becket’s Shadow on Fri 24 Sep in St Peter’s. Please come along and support these events held in our churches, with excellent speakers.

Follow this link.

Have a great weekend!

Will.

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9 August: Pilgrimage : 800 years later.

Here are two pictures to set you thinking.

A Dominican, also known as a friar preacher, preaching in Canterbury Cathedral, and seven more singing Vespers. Not something that happens every day, but no longer an occasion for demonstrations against such ecumenical hospitality. And it was a shared time of prayer, celebrated at the usual hour for Evensong, with contributions from both Anglican and Catholic clergy, and the choir of St Thomas’ Church, Canterbury with the Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin.

The occasion was the 800th anniversary of the arrival of the Dominicans in England. Four of the friars are walking from Ramsgate to Oxford via Canterbury and London. The Preacher was Fr Richard Finn; most of the friars present were young men: fit, we hope, for two weeks of marching. But they were taking a break for refreshment and prayer in the mother city of the English Church.

The vespers were sung and the sermon preached 800 years to the day since the first Dominican sermon preached in England: Archbishop Stephen Langton ordered one of them to give the homily and after hearing it, gave them his blessing and his backing. Fr Richard spoke about joy: a virtue to be cultivated even in difficult times, as the pandemic has been for so many of us. But if we are joyful at heart, we can live and share that joy. For a start, let’s rejoice that these events do take place.

The friars are now walking on to Oxford, where they established their first house in England and where their main house of studies is today, though they are also at Edinburgh and Cambridge.

Read more about the Friars’ pilgrimage here.

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