Tag Archives: hospitality

August 23: K is for Kyle of Lochalsh

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From a junction, yesterday, to the end of the line today! Kyle of Lochalsh station is out of sight to the right of the photograph.

I’m not necessarily in favour of fixed links where ferries used to ply, but they do make life easier. We have the Channel Tunnel between Kent and Calais while Skye has the Skye Bridge linking it to the Scottish mainland. Its echoing of the rainbow when we were there helped reconcile myself to it, as did the fact that the tolls were abolished some years ago. Our plan to walk across from Kyleakin on Skye to Kyle of Lochalsh on the mainland were washed out. The rain was fierce, but there was a bus we were not too proud to catch.

The Isle of Skye’s website says that Kyleakin used to be choked with cars, lined up for the ferry; it’s quieter now but still the hotels do good business.

We were amazed by the quantities of baggage carried by the French coach tourists who shared our hotel, and the mistrustful refusal to accept assistance in getting the cases through the automatic lift door. What a burden for the mind! It is good to travel light whether to Skye or beyond the sky.

And I hope I won’t always need a rainbow to remind me of how beautiful the world is. Even those bits of it engineered and built by mere humans can reflect the beauty of God’s creation.

MMB.

 

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8 July: The Scandal of Disunity

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There are signs of hope. Here is Francis, Bishop of Rome, receiving a blessing from Justin, Archbishop of Canterbury. No charade, surely? The Pope would not bring about scandal by seeking a blessing from a heretic schismatic. When Bishop Nicholas Hudson joined Bishop Trevor Willmott in blessing the congregation at Canterbury Cathedral, what were we to make of the implied recognition of value in Anglican orders?

The scandal is not that these isolated events happen, but that we lack the courage of our convictions, so they remain isolated. Forty years ago I was assured that, juridically, Anglican orders were all valid since Old Catholic bishops had taken part in enough ordinations to ensure recognition of Anglican Apostolic Succession.

In another church, a good distance from Canterbury, a Catholic bishop was ordained recently, with his friend, co-worker and Anglican bishop, robed on the sanctuary. It was good to see him there, but he was not invited to join the Catholic bishops by laying hands on the ordinand.

And the announcement that day deterring non-Catholics from receiving the Eucharist? If a bishop being ordained is not one of those special occasions when Eucharistic hospitality is to be encouraged, I’m not clear when it may be grudgingly permitted. Put out into the deep!

WT.

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June 20: Shared Table III, the Small Miracle, a True Story.

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There were four of us living in the L’Arche house, a couple of kilometres from the community hub, but just by the railway station. Marie and I were cooking ribs and rice with salad. The door bell rang, and rang again. Gwen and Andrew had almost an hour before the next train to Canterbury: come in, sit down, you’ll join us of course.

The bell rang again: three coming off the down train; that made nine, and six friends walking by the top of the road also came down to our door.

I do remember there were eventually fifteen souls – and fifteen spicy ribs: one each! Plenty of rice, even if cooked in relays as none of our pans were big enough; plenty of salad, and there just happened to be a cake and plenty of room on the floor.

Not the meal we’d planned exactly, but we all ate what was placed before us, some with forks, some with spoons, (Luke 10 again) and some of the visitors helped with the washing up!

MMB.

The photo shows preparations for another shared meal at L’Arche Kent, 30 odd years on. I think Peter, second right, was among us at the spontaneous occasion described above. 

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June 18, Corpus Christi: Shared Table I, ‘Eat Such Things as are Set Before You.’

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Today in England is Corpus Christi, the feast of the Body and Blood of Our Lord. We receive this great gift at the shared table of the Eucharist – or from that table if we are too poorly to attend Mass in person. Jesus chose a meal to give himself to us. This week’s posts reflect on that from different angles. What do you think?

Into whatsoever house you enter, first say: Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you. And in the same house, remain, eating and drinking such things as they have: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Remove not from house to house. And into what city soever you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you.

This passage from Luke 10: 5-9 comes back to me time and again. My tutoring work has taken me into many homes, often where no teacher has been before, and in all but two refreshment has been offered. Instinctively, people set a cup of tea and maybe a biscuit or bacon sandwich, before the visitor. (Those two houses where refreshment was not offered, though I visited many times, were definitely not peaceful homes; my inner peace was surely hard-pressed at times.)

Setting a mug of tea before the visitor is indeed a peace offering. So, whether it be builder’s tea, with three sugars I never requested, or a greyish liquid brewed by an eight-year-old boy, keen to please, ‘Thank you! Just what I needed!’

And to be received in peace allows me to do the labour for which I was sent. Teaching English to a school drop-out may not be directly spreading the Gospel, but it is good news when the youngster responds and learns. And all good news is part of The Good News.

MMB.

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6 April, Advice to Missionaries: Eat whatever they set before you.

 

Meet Jean-Marie Vianney K. Cishugi who is a student with the Missionaries of Africa, White Fathers. Here he is writing of his early days in Zambia, learning two languages to be able to work with the local people.

“Nitabile hahulu kuli nakona kubulela silozi.”

“I am very happy to speak Silozi.”

« Je suis très content de parler le lozi. »

By Jean-Marie Vianney K. Cishugi, stagiaire.

I came to Zambia in July 2016 to follow the “Welcome to Zambia” introductory course in Lusaka. It was not easy for me to communicate efficiently in English. I made an effort to learn and to practise with people who were willing to help me to improve my English. In fact, I got some help from my brothers who were patient enough to correct my mistakes while speaking.

Then, I came in Barotse Land in Western Zambia on the third week of August 2016 in order to start my apostolic training in Saint Gabriel Parish. I was sent to learn the local language Silozi which is a beautiful one with all its grammatical formulations and verbal richness. While learning it, I was also getting acquainted with the Lozi culture. Amazingly, one must clap his hands (ku bulela niitumezi ni kukambelela) to say ‘thank you’. We were four learners to follow the language course at Limulunda for three months.

I came to realise that I have to humble myself if I want to learn a new language.  It took me few weeks to be able to speak a bit. I struggled a lot with my intonation and it took me a lot of courage. Once in a while, l would join my community at Namushakende on Sunday and visit an outstation of our Parish. Initially, l was afraid and shy to speak but I managed to communicate.

I went to Nanjuca, one of our outstations, for my immersion into the language and the culture. I was nicely welcomed in this village. Some people thought that I was there to interact only with Catholics. Slowly, they discovered that I was there for everyone. Children were happy to be with me. I was eating everything they offered me except tortoise (kubu).

I led the service prayer on Sundays. Everybody, children and parents alike, were praying with me though the majority belong to the United Church of Zambia (UCZ) and the New Apostolic Church. I had the trust of Parents who helped me to practise the Silozi language.

I seized this opportunity to deliver a message from Father Venerato Babaine encouraging parents to send their children to school and live together in peace and harmony with other religions.

I had a very fruitful experience and l owe the people a huge debt of gratitude. During my last days in the village, l was really touched by the generosity of the people who came to bid me farewell. Regardless who they are or where they come from, they offered me few presents. People were sad and some burst into tears when Father Christian Muhineza came to pick me up. I felt sad as I had to go.

I am happy to be with the Lozi people and they are pleased when I speak their language.

Niitumezi kaufela a mina (Thank you all) mi mulimu amitohonolofaze (and God bless you)!

 

The Lord appointed also other seventy-two: and he sent them two and two before his face into every city and place whither he himself was to come. And he said to them: The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send labourers into his harvest. Go: Behold I send you as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes; and salute no man by the way. Into whatsoever house you enter, first say: Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you. And in the same house, remain, eating and drinking such things as they have: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Remove not from house to house.  And into what city soever you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. And heal the sick that are therein, and say to them: The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.

Luke 10: 1-10.

And what feast is set before us next Thursday!

Here is the link to Jean-Marie’s post on the Missionaries of Africa Blog.Speaking the Language

It is important to speak the local language, (including clapping hands and smiling) and humbling indeed to learn. I must return to my neglected Polish!

MMB.

 

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March 20: A Sandwich for Saint Cuthbert

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March 20 is the feast of St Cuthbert, who died on this day in 687. There is a story that one Friday, the bishop of Lindisfarne, Saint Cuthbert was welcomed into an isolated farmstead by a woman who offered to feed him and his horse. ‘Stay and eat’, she said, ‘for you won’t reach home tonight.’ But Cuthbert would not break his Friday fast, so he rested a while, let her care for his horse, and pressed on his way. It got dark well before he was in sight of home so he found shelter in a tumbledown, empty, isolated shepherd’s hut.

Here his horse began to pull down the thatch of the roof to have something to eat, but even Cuthbert could not see thatch as food for a man, however hungry he might be. The horse carried on attacking the roof, making the best of what was available in this wild place. As it pulled at the thatch, a packet fell to the floor; when the good bishop opened it he found bread and meat, the meat still warm. He shared the loaf with his beast as he gave thanks to God. How did the meal get there? Was it concealed by the hospitable woman as she tended his horse back at the farm? Cuthbert did not know, but he was happy to eat what was provided after his day of fasting had finished – for like the Muslims at Ramadan today, he would have counted sunset as the day’s end.

In Muslim countries today, many Christians will observe the fast in solidarity with their neighbours. So  let us enjoy our sandwiches – yes, even in this season of Lent – to thank the Lord who provides the food, as Cuthbert did, and to share in the ministry of hospitality, like the woman on the farmstead.

Cuthbert in a wall painting at Durham Cathedral.

Please remember in your prayers Abbot Cuthbert Johnson OSB, sometime Abbot of Quarr, who died on January 16, 2017. He was from Saint Cuthbert’s diocese and was ministering there when he fell sick and died.                         Will T.

Photo from thepelicans.org.uk where you can read Abbot Cuthbert’s obituary and an address he gave for the Missionaries of Africa to whom he remained close. http://thepelicans.org.uk/obituaries/obits24.htm#pjohnson

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Notes from a Pilgrimage: IV 17 September

 

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Tagliacozzo Piazza by Alessandro57

The same grumpy bus driver, doing everything he could to redeem himself, took us by a new and much better route onto the autostrada and off we went towards Tagliacozzo, almost two hours’ drive. We drove up into the Alban Hills, covered with trees and with bare rock coming through dramatically.

Tagliacozzo is a small hill top village in what is now the ski resort area (or will be when it snows) but is also the resting place of the body of Thomas of Celano. Francis’ first biographer. When we arrived we walked up the narrow cobbled streets through the small piazza and on up to the 13th century friary at the top of the hill. There the guardian greeted us, as friendly as he had been in previous years and, truly or not, gave every impression of remembering we three which is always nice. After a quick look round we had the two lectures, on the sources for Francis and the sources for Clare and there was a very lively discussion at the end. We had Mass in the church with the body of Thomas of Celano lying in his niche in the wall. He too seems mostly incorrupt in that the face, hands and feet you see are his actual ones. His feet, turned up at the bottom of the glass case, looked rather flattened, more like flippers and his face was a dark greyish brown colour. We wondered what he thought of his grey conventual habit, it is a conventual church! Andre gave the homily about the power of words and then of The Word, and we prayed for all writers which was nice.

Then we progressed to the Hotel Mariana for the lunch of the year. We had a mere four courses with several side dishes ending with a plate of choice desserts each, a profiterole, fresh with real cream, a small pot of ice cream, and a sort of white tiramisu but when we asked him what it was called he said it was not tiramisu but a speciality unique to his house and, we suspect, his mother, since although pretty ancient, she is clearly the queen of the kitchen! We were all overfull, just what I had come determined to avoid, and took some scarmoza home as a soggy bag. Scarmoza is a delicious dish of cheese which would not be difficult to do, it is not unlike the hot cheese we used to have in Arundel, but the slices are thin, dipped in flour and the fried in olive oil until they have browned a bit.

Finally really full and cheered by the fact that one of them got locked in the loo but was finally rescued, we piled sleepily into the bus. The driver had had the same lunch and was not at all grumpy. He said he made what sounds like a very nice onion chutney that he called marmalade, and tomorrow he is going to give me the recipe. Encouraged by this he then said he had made a special liqueur and if we brought glasses, we could try it. So tomorrow we will climb in the bus armed with 16 bicchierini and see what happens!!!

Tomorrow is a lecture on prayer, walk to St Peter’s for the Sunday audience, back for pranzo and off to Rieti in the coach. So my toothbrush is packed and this is more or less up to date. Andre had two cousins up from the south and here for supper last night, so he invited Murray and myself to sit with them over supper as they speak English, though the older one Marissa, says she reads it but is bad at speaking. So I have invited her for a crash course in Hollington! We shall see!

Love to all ft

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1 August: Work, work, work, the whole day through?

 

 

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I invite you to share Fr Austin’s homily on Martha and Mary: a good thought for the holidays. WT.

Luke 10:38 – 42.

What kinds of things frustrate you? The phone rings as you are about to leave – you run back in, and find someone sitting there near the phone. And the answer you get – it won’t be for me!  I think today’s Gospel is all about this.

There are dangers in overwork, no matter how good the work and no matter how noble the motivation for doing it. Spiritual guides, beginning with Jesus, have always warned of the dangers of becoming too taken-up in our work. Many are the spouses in a marriage, many are the children in a family, many are the friends, and many are churches, who wish that someone they love and need more attention from was less busy.

Generally too our society supports us in this escapism. With virtually every other addiction, we are eventually sent off to a clinic, but if we are addicted to our work, we are generally admired for our disease and praised for our selflessness: If I drink too much, or eat too much, or become dependent on a drug, I am frowned upon and pitied; but if I overwork to the point of neglecting huge and important imperatives in my life, they say this of me: “Isn’t he wonderful! He’s so dedicated!” Workaholism is the one addiction for which we get praised.

Beyond providing us with an unhealthy escape from some important issues with which we need to be dealing, overwork brings with it a second major danger: The more we over-invest in our work and daily routine, the greater the danger of taking too much of our meaning from our work rather than from our relationships.

As we become more and more immersed in our work and the things that interest us, to the detriment of our relationships, we will naturally begin too to draw more and more of our meaning and value from our work and, as numerous spiritual writers have pointed out, the dangers in this are many, not least among these is the danger that we will eventually find it harder and harder to find meaning in anything outside of our work and daily routine.

Old habits are hard to break. If we spend years drawing our identity from working hard and being loved for being anything from a professional athlete to a dedicated mum, it will not be easy to simply shift gears and draw our meaning from something else.

Classical spiritual writers are unanimous in warning about the danger of overwork and of becoming over-preoccupied with our work; with on-line interests; with anything that excludes others; when using hospitality becomes abusing. This is in fact what Jesus warns Martha about in the famous passage in scripture where she, consumed with the very necessary work of preparing a meal, complains to Jesus that her sister, Mary, is not carrying her share of the load.

 Jesus, instead of chastising Mary for her idleness and praising Martha for her dedication, tells Martha that Mary has chosen the better part, that, at this moment and in this circumstance, Mary’s idleness trumps Martha’s busyness. Why?

Because sometimes there are more important things in life than work, and what I prefer to be doing; even the noble and necessary work of tending to hospitality and preparing a meal for others. Idleness may well be the devil’s workshop, but busyness is not always a virtue.

AMcC

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18 June, Year of Mercy: Embarking on Mercy

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mercylogoMercy is not something that can be enclosed in a static fashion in a building. No one can draw a line around grace or mercy, and say, “here it is, we have caught it”. God is always more immense than our buildings. We may celebrate the community which loves to share mercy in a specific place. But the presence we encounter must help us to progress further on a journey, to set out on new routes, to embark on a voyage. In this sense, a harbour or a pier could be as true a symbol of the newness of mercy as a doorway.

We cannot pin down the symbolism of the Bristol Channel, seen here, by deciding that this journey is just beginning or just ending. It can be both and either. The transformative character of our life of faith and grace is likewise full of endings and beginnings.

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Nothing is quite as thoroughly an ending as a retirement home, we might suggest.

Yet for people of genuine faith, that will be a place for friends visit us, gladly hearing words of enlightenment and courage from us.

What our visitors may learn, from conversation with us, therefore, is how we view the final days of our earthly life with great hope, the tremendous beginning of eternal life and joy.

St. John’s hospital in Canterbury, being an almshouse, surely has this potential too….

I often nowadays see this doorway closed off, with entry prevented. But this open image suggests far more.

CD.

Mercy is not something that can be enclosed in a static fashion in a building. No one can draw a line around grace or mercy, and say, “here it is, we have caught it”. God is always more immense than our buildings. We may celebrate the community which loves to share mercy in a specific place. But the presence we encounter must help us to progress further on a journey, to set out on new routes, to embark on a voyage. In this sense, a harbour or a pier could be as true a symbol of the newness of mercy as a doorway.

We cannot pin down the symbolism of the Bristol Channel, seen here, by deciding that this journey is just beginning or just ending. It can be both and either. The transformative character of our life of faith and grace is likewise full of endings and beginnings.

Nothing is quite as thoroughly an ending as a retirement home, we might suggest.

Yet for people of genuine faith, that will be a place for friends visit us, gladly hearing words of enlightenment and courage from us.

What our visitors may learn, from conversation with us, therefore, is how we view the final days of our earthly life with great hope, the tremendous beginning of eternal life and joy.

St. John’s hospital in Canterbury, being an almshouse, surely has this potential too….

I often nowadays see this doorway closed off, with entry prevented. But this open image suggests far more.

CD.

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13 June, year of Mercy: Mercy in Ruins

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mercylogoWhen we travel, we hope that when the heat gets too much or we feel hungry and thirsty, God’s Providence may bring us a friendly face and a chance of hospitality. But tourism takes us through areas of ruined classical cities, where once was a lively population and hospitality was likely. However, that population died long ago, and all they have left is the skeleton of a dwelling. This picture reminds me of a similar doorway, to a house which no longer existed, when I visited Athens in my late teens, when a military junta ruled Greece.

I had taken a bus from the airport into Athens in the early hours. By five in the morning it was light, and beginning to be warmer. I had planned to visit the Parthenon before the crowds arrived, so I sat down on the step in front of a doorway like this to gather my wits for the climb up the hill. But there was an old wooden door in the doorway, and this suddenly opened behind me. A fellow traveller, an American I think, emerged, wished me good morning and went on his way. He had slept the night behind a door and a door frame.

It was a comical, theatrical moment, as if an ancient Greek house servant had come back to life to greet me.  Like Silas and St. Paul, I was wondering what signs or messengers might show up in my dreams, to send me off on a more purposeful path.

 

CD.

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