Starting on Monday 24 April, at 7.00 p.m., for ten weeks until 24 June, Friar Austin McCormack will be speaking and sharing on ‘Jesus – beyond Dogma’. Everyone is welcome to attend as many of these evenings as you can.
We continue reading poems by Radclyffe Hall. A great deal of her work has not aged well, but we have collected these in Agnellus’ Mirror because they invite us to reflect.
This scrap of verse comments on giving the Human will full expression. Singers, dancers, writers, artists in any field; parents, teachers, carers: we will be more effective in our work if we combine mind and heart, intellect and soul; if we bring our whole selves to the work.
Sing with your intellect and soul combined;
Not all technique, nor yet all wild emotion,
Thus shall you touch the heart and please the mind,
Winning a real and merited devotion.
Radclyffe Hall lived in Sussex; this window of King David and others singing is in Sussex’s Cathedral at Chichester.
The future Archbishop Arthur Hughes is front centre above with fellow Missionaries of Africa in 1934 just before he left Europe for Uganda, where he would later be posted to Gulu. Here are some thoughts of his on carrying out God’s will and the joys and hardships he experienced in the process. He is writing to his parents. Missionaries of Africa are commonly called White Fathers because of their habit.
I stayed in Gulu until on the 27th March 1942 I got a telegram from the Mombasa [Apostolic] Delegation asking me to go to Abyssinia.
Like a true White Father I obeyed instantly and the very next morning at nine was crossing the Atura ferry on my way back to Rubaga en route for the coast and Abyssinia. I will not hide from you that I found it a wrench leaving Gulu and the journey was rather sad in a way: but missionaries have no permanent city here and sadness is not part of our life and certainly not part of mine. The will of God must rule our life and in carrying out that will we find our greatest joy.
I left Rubaga the following Wednesday and went to Mombasa to await a boat for Berbera. I arrived in Berbera on the 6th May and went up by military convoy through Somaliland to Ethiopia. The journey through Somaliland has no attractions: poor old Somaliland being for the most part a most appalling desert with an amazing number of camels (more than I ever saw in North Africa). We stayed for a few days at Lafaruk: an appalling camp in the desert while our convoy was in formation. Once you rise up towards Jijiga the country becomes green and then becomes cold – too cold for my liking. The famous Mahda Pass is stupendously beautiful and then the first view of the town of Harar is really rather lovely. It’s a very old town; really a sort of Turkish town amongst the hills.
From Harar to Diredawa you have thirty miles of sheer beauty amongst the mountains – a most wonderful road winds round the hills and above you on the heights you can still see the remains of the ancient camel tracks over which tradition has it that the Queen of Sheba travelled when she went from Ethiopia to the Holy Land in the days of King Solomon… At Diredawa I left the military convoy and the good Officers with whom I had made friends on the way and took the Littorina electric train to Addis.
From the 12th May to the 12th August I stayed in Addis with of course occasional trips to other places rendered necessary by my work.
… I must confess that I did not like the Ethiopian climate. I found it too high for me (it is nine thousand feet up in most places) and I was there in the rainy season and found it most unpleasant after sunny Uganda. It simply rains unceasingly for three or four months and is most unpleasant and always cold. I found this very painful indeed. Also I was there only on a temporary mission and there was not as much to do as I should have liked. It was therefore a very great delight to me when on the 29th July I got a letter from Archbishop Dellepiane in the Congo writing to inform me that the Holy Father had decided to confide in me the control of the Apostolic Delegation of Egypt and Palestine.
 Berbera was the principal port in British Somaliland. The road to Ethiopia is being rehabilitated with European aid: http://somalilanddevelopmentfund.org/news/75-official-launch-of-lafaruk-berbera-sheikh-road-rehabilitation-project
 The British had a POW Camp for 35,000 Italian soldiers; its desolation can be imagined from the background to the Lafaruk Madonna by Giuseppe Baldan. Did Fr Hughes celebrate Mass before this triptych? No doubt the convoy was a precaution against guerrillas. http://scottishchristian.com/the-maize-sack-masterpiece-that-symbolises-hope-in-africa-over-60-years-on/ . Accessed 4/11/2016.
 Harar had been a Moslem city-state.
 Where he was Apostolic Delegate – http://www.catholic-hierarchy.org/bishop/bdell.html
Once upon a time if you used a camera you’d have to wait a good while to view the final image. The method was different from the one we’re used to in a digital age. The click of the camera button exposed the photographic film to light, forming a latent image, at this stage invisible to the eye. Further exposure to light at this stage would ruin the image, so the film had to be developed in a dark room. The process involved soaking the film in a tank of developing fluid. Slowly the hidden image would be revealed, and a ‘negative’ created. Once washed, fixed and dried the image on the film was projected onto photographic paper and the image, once seen through the eye of the camera lens, was made visible in the print.
Not being someone who could do all this, I remember the long wait between taking the photos and retrieving the finished product from the chemist. That was a long time past. It’s so much more convenient and instant now. But I wonder whether the old ways are truer to our experience of development than the instant ‘click and view’.
In looking with love God creates us, each one full of the beauty and life-giving capacity that belongs to those made in the image and the likeness of the Creator. The image is there but latent, unseen by any eye but God’s. It’s going to take time, darkness, and soaking for this image to develop.
Through the years of our life God labours patiently to develop the image. We take time. We develop in the dark room of trust in God. The darkness envelops and protects us, though it might not seem that way. When we cannot see our way and when we have no means within ourselves to manage our experience, trust moves us into God, and God moves us into who we are
And there we need to soak. Prayer is not only the saying of words, or the making of requests; it is also resting our life, our times and our experience in God. Not once for all, but hour by hour, and day by day.
Slowly the image, always there but latent, begins to form. To our own eyes the image may appear to be a negative. We become more, not less aware of our frailties and our capacity for destructiveness. But now light is needed, not of our own understanding but of the love of God: the eye that first looked through the camera lens and that joys in what it beholds.
We know that more development is needed.
And it will take time, and much love.
I am driving purposefully, signalling my intentions to cars around, moving forwards towards…
Hold on…where am I going?
I am going entirely the wrong way!
The trouble was the beginning of the journey was part of a familiar route and I’d gone into automatic pilot. I didn’t need to think about where to turn and why. So when I should have turned left I carried straight on – good for the journey I’d made many times in the past but not at all related to where I had to get to today.
Lent is a time for waking from the dream and more consciously thinking about where we are going. If I carry on this way will I come to a place I really want to get to, or am I simply going with momentum – the draw of the familiar. Which way is my life facing and what will happen if I carry on moving this way? There is a sense for many of us that we fall into a path others determine for us – be that to do with job, lifestyle or the roles we play; and there is often much that is good and true and necessary about this. But is this our all?
John of the Cross wrote of how there is an alternative gravity that draws us deep within our hearts – a gravity that those who heard Jesus responded to intuitively. This gravity draws us into relationship with One leads us into meaningful living; it helps us face our lack of wholeness and our entanglement, but gives us hope of integration and freedom.
The soul feels that she is rushing toward God
as rapidly as a falling stone when nearing its centre…
She knows, too, that she is like a sketch or the first draft of a drawing
and calls out to the one who did this sketch to finish the painting and image.
[The Spiritual Canticle, chapter 13]
Mark’s Gospel summarises Jesus’ Gospel this way:
‘The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news.’
Repentance carries with it this sense of stopping to consider where we are going; do I really want to continue in this way? Or is there another gravity that draws me? Repentance is about desire and direction, not achievement or arrival. Those who responded to Jesus’ call ‘followed him’; they probably had little sense of where that journey would take them but chose all the same to go where he went. They sensed in their own unease the draw of another, inward gravity.
‘Where am I going?’
And a nod to Saint David with our illustration!
More from Father Andrew, SDC; written in war time.
If we just live in this world we do have tribulation, but if we live in the Sacred Heart we are able to be of good cheer though we are in the midst of that which is cheerless, for He Who told us to be of good cheer is Himself in the midst of us.
I shall indeed keep you in my heart and my prayer, my dear Child.
God Bless and keep you.
The Life and Letters of Father Andrew, p 120. Edited Kathleen E Burne, Mowbrays, 1948.
And God bless and keep you all, all our readers. Thank you for being with us.
During the same Freshers’ Week Fair, and only a few paces away from the Paintball Monster, a slightly (but not very) different kind of recruitment was going on. Promising safe, lucrative careers to those newcomers from secondary schools, a British Army Officers’ Training Corps Tenet had a team ready to win over students to lives of military domination. Officers are paid to be good at domination. Students who have brains sharpened by A level mental discipline are just sufficiently self-assured about their talent for drilling others and keeping the world in line. Some might feel relieved to have difficult decisions about a fruitful direction to pursue in life to be taken for them by the military.
Psychotherapist Viktor Frankl observes that “boredom exists so that we will do justice to the meaning of our life.” From a utilitarian point of view, grief and repentance “appear to be meaningless” but when told to take a sleeping pill, “the grief-stricken person commonly retorts that his sleeping better will not awaken the lost one whom he mourns.” Through love “the gates to the whole universe of values are thrown open.” Dan Berrigan says that “one of the largest tasks of all… [is] helping other people to live by other means than their fear, whether it is fear of one another, fear of the enemy, fear of the authorities, fear of prison, fear of disgrace, or fear of separation from their families.” Such inflation of reality is what “government [is] able to play on” till people can’t recognise fear of what might happen as different from what is actually happening.
That I exist is a perpetual surprise which is life.
Stray Birds XXII
Or in the words of the Welsh Poet W.H. Davies:
Good Morning Life and all things glad and beautiful.
I fully realise that for you, reader, maybe this is not the way you feel today. Certainly not ‘all things glad and beautiful.’ WHD knew suffering as a tramp, an amputee and a homeless hostel dweller before he was helped to become a full time writer. ‘What is this life if full of care …’ was written from experience.
‘… we have no time to stand and stare?’ Davies continues. It is no bad discipline to make time to stand and stare at any moment, or sit and reflect at day’s end. There is never a day without something to be grateful for: a smile, a star, sunshine on waves, an unseasonably early flower, dust motes dancing in a beam of light. And more small mercies to come tomorrow.
May the Lord grant us a quiet night and a perfect end. Amen.
Do you remember Sister Johanna writing about praying the Psalms, and how the difficult prayers that we do not agree with have a place in our own prayer life? ‘This is not pretty’, we might say, ‘but I need to tell it to someone.’ Here David wants to guard his mouth, but what comes out is the sort of confusion that springs from deep hurt as we have been touching on these last days. But ‘surely in vain is any man disquieted.’ Easier said than felt or acted upon. But saying it is a start.
Psalm 38 (39) A canticle of David.
I said: I will take heed to my ways: that I sin not with my tongue. I have set guard to my mouth, when the sinner stood against me.
I was dumb, and was humbled, and kept silence from good things: and my sorrow was renewed.
My heart grew hot within me: and in my meditation a fire shall flame out.
I spoke with my tongue: O Lord, make me know my end. And what is the number of my days: that I may know what is wanting to me.
Behold thou hast made my days measurable: and my substance is as nothing before thee. And indeed all things are vanity: every man living.
Surely man passeth as an image: yea, and he is disquieted in vain. He storeth up: and he knoweth not for whom he shall gather these things.
And now what is my hope? is it not the Lord? and my substance is with thee.
Deliver thou me from all my iniquities: thou hast made me a reproach to the fool.
I was dumb, and I opened not my mouth, because thou hast done it.
Remove thy scourges from me. The strength of thy hand hath made me faint in rebukes:
Thou hast corrected man for iniquity. And thou hast made his soul to waste away like a spider: surely in vain is any man disquieted.
Hear my prayer, O Lord, and my supplication: give ear to my tears. Be not silent: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner as all my fathers were.
O forgive me, that I may be refreshed, before I go hence, and be no more.
Worth Gate Thursday 19th January, 12‐12.30pm
St Mildred’s Church, Church Lane, CT1 2PP Business and commerce Innovation and integrity
Wincheap was one of Canterbury’s thriving markets, with traders coming in from far and wide to sell their wares. Today we pray for the thousands of businesses which make this city such a vibrant place to live. We pray that those who do business here will operate in honesty, integrity and generosity.