The sight above, taken in January, is troubling and it is repeated across Canterbury and indeed elsewhere in Britain: homeless people camping out in all weathers. It’s clear from the picture that people have tried to help them with bedding and the tent that they are using. But talking to someone who is involved with the churches’ work, it is also clear that some people, including these campers, do choose not to accept all the help available to them.
About the same time as I took this photo I was talking to a companion of Emmaus in Dover. I was in an Emmaus community while studying in France many years ago, and it seems many things continue from those days, and indeed from the 1940s, when Abbé Pierre started the organisation near Paris. Working for the community is an important part of regaining one’s self respect.
The man I spoke to has become a spokesman for the community. He described how, once he was on the street, he too was unable to take the hand reached out to him. It was months later that he was persuaded to give the community life a try, and it was a life saver. Now he is something of an ambassador, better able than many to get alongside those who do – and those who don’t – use the services that the churches and charities, as well as the local council, can provide. ‘And perhaps in a year or two, I’ll move on; I’m not ready yet.’ Meanwhile, practical help to cope with supported or independent living is part of Emmaus’s service; this can include help to work for qualifications that employers will recognise.
The Louvre Gallery in Paris has an exhibition of works by Leonardo da Vinci, marking 500 years since his death, and Jeanne Ferney went to review it for La Croix newspaper. But her visit was spoilt, not so much by the press of the crowd in the galleries as by the sheer number of cameras and phones pointed at every work.
Over the past few years I have deliberately taken my phone to capture some of the pictures in this blog, but the fact that Mrs T is often standing and waiting for me suggests that I am actually looking at objects rather than just notching up another dozen photos to add to the blog or impress my family. (They are rarely impressed by their father’s exploits.)
Any regular readers will have noticed that some photos reappear from time to time, while the connection between picture and reflection can appear quite tenuous. Sometimes this is done by the writer or the editor to give a totally different angle on the words, sometimes you may not see the world quite as we do! We do not always seek so much to illustrate as to elucidate. And sometimes the picture is the starting point, of course.
We hope not to give a contrary message to the day’s short reflection; nor do we want to spoil other people’s in-the-moment enjoyment of art works or landscapes or flowers by huffing and puffing over a picture and getting in their way; and we don’t want to lose the ability to see with our eyes because we are looking through a lens! Sometimes a mind’s-eye picture is a lasting joy, but a lens-eye picture can grow on you, as this one has on me; taken in a cavern in Poland, I did not expect it to come out at all. It still sets my mind wondering.
Let’s pray for the grace to see ourselves as others see us, especially that Other who is Our Father. And may we never get in his way by our dawdling and sightseeing. This Advent may we see and follow the star that leads us to the Child of Bethlehem.
As she was going out to choir practice one evening in February, Mrs T said, ‘While I’m out you can play any music you like.’ Temptation: I can’t usually get away with Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, for example. Mrs T says that’s fine for the Cathedral, but not for the kitchen or living room. But I was baking and did not want to be changing discs with floury hands, so opted for Through the Night on BBC Sounds.
Brahms was giving me music while I worked when I stopped and listened and paused the music. ‘Our’ blackbird – the one we had last year, with the white chevron on his head – was singing in a neighbour’s fir tree. I left the door open and enjoyed his repertoire until another blackbird’s alarm call silenced him.
I was reminded of my distracted thought at Mass. The image of starlings murmurating, flying in ever changing formation, merged into ‘O filii et filiae’ of Eastertime. Here are the words. As for musical fireworks, I found the recordings below – no need to choose between the blackbird and the choir, enjoy them both! And Happy Easter: Christ is risen, Alleluia!
1. O filii et filiae, Rex caelestis, Rex gloriae, morte surrexit hodie, alleluia.
2. Et mane prima sabbati,
ad ostium monumenti
accesserunt discipuli, alleluia.
3. Et Maria Magdalene,
et Jacobi, et Salome,
venerunt corpus ungere, alleluia.
4. In albis sedens Angelus,
in Galilaea est Dominus, alleluia.
5. Et Joannes Apostolus
cucurrit Petro citius,
monumento venit prius, alleluia.
6. Discipu lis adstantibus,
in medio stetit Christus,
dicens: Pax vobis omnibus, alleluia.
7. Ut intellexit Didymus,
quia surrexerat Jesus,
remansit fere dubius, alleluia.
8. Vide, Thoma, vide latus,
vide pedes, vide manus,
noli esse incredulus, alleluia.
9. Quando Thomas Christi latus,
pedes vidit atque manus,
Dixit: Tu es Deus meus, alleluia.
10. Beati qui non viderunt,
Et firmiter crediderunt,
vitam aeternam habebunt, alleluia.
11. In hoc festo sanctissimo
sit laus et jubilatio,
benedicamus Domino, alleluia.
12. De quibus nos humillimas
devotas atque debitas
1. O sons and daughters of the King, Whom heavenly hosts in glory sing, Today the grave has lost its sting! Alleluia!
2. That Easter morn, at break of day,
The faithful women went their way
To seek the tomb where Jesus lay. Alleluia!
3. And Mary Magdalene,
And James, and Salome,
Came to anoint the body, Alleluia!
4. An angel clad in white they see,
Who sits and speaks unto the three,
“Your Lord will go to Galilee.” Alleluia!
5. And the Apostle John Quickly outran Peter, And arrived first at the tomb, alleluia.
6. That night the apostles met in fear;
Among them came their master dear
And said, “My peace be with you here.” Alleluia!
7. When Thomas first the tidings heard
That they had seen the risen Lord,
He doubted the disciples’ word. Alleluia!
8. “My pierced side, O Thomas, see,
And look upon my hands, my feet;
Not faithless but believing be.” Alleluia!
9. No longer Thomas then denied;
He saw the feet, the hands, the side;
“You are my Lord and God!” he cried. Alleluia!
10. How blest are they who have not seen
And yet whose faith has constant been,
For they eternal life shall win. Alleluia!
11. On this most holy day of days
Be laud and jubilee and praise:
To God your hearts and voice raise. Alleluia!
12. For which we humbly dedicated and duly Give thanks, Alleluia. Tr. Edward Caswall, apart from vv. 5 & 12.
The Dean of Canterbury Cathedral’s prayer for the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
“May God bless and comfort all those who feel pain and sorrow following the fire at Notre Dame de Paris, Our Lady of Paris, and all those in France and throughout the world who look to this beloved place for encouragement in their own lives.
“Grant that the community of Notre Dame finds in the years to come that their present sadness is transformed into a sign of hope which may inspire new vision and creativity in those who witness it, just as Our Lady herself found her pain and sorrow at the Cross transformed into the glory of Resurrection and New Life in her Son Jesus Christ,
Prayers will be said throughout the day and Our Lady Undercroft chapel has been set aside for those who wish to pray or reflect on the sad scenes which unfolded yesterday in Paris. Cathedrals and churches across England will toll their bells for 7 minutes at 19.00hrs on Maundy Thursday.
We don’t make a habit of reproducing posts, especially quite recent ones. But at this time we should remember that Paris and Notre Dame have known hard times before. It was a relief that the Cathedral survived the Second World War though it was, like the city, exhausted and grubby, when Archbishop Spellman of New York passed through on his way to Rome and his cardinal’s hat in 1946.
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.
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!
So, Let your light shine, Notre Dame de Paris! May we all love our own church buildings for it is there that we meet as God’s family. If Notre Dame has many stories of the great and the good, the smallest village chapel has been the meeting place between God and his people.
From ‘The Cardinal Spellman Story’ by Robert L Gannon, London, Robert Hale, 19963, p288.
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.
The Eildon Hills in the countryside where Duns Scotus was born.
“The fall was not the cause of Christ’s predestination and if no one had fallen … Christ would still have been predestined in the same way.” Blessed John Duns Scotus.
The idea that God was coming to be part of his creation – whatever mess humans may make of our corner of it – has great appeal to me. For an imperfect analogy, just think of the way we play: even adults can get lost in a world of our own making, like my friend John with his model railways. See our post for 14 May: A World of My Own . I’m sure I oversimplify Scotus, but I am learning to rejoice in the world of God’s making. I hope you get chance to over the summer.
This post looks ahead to Autumn and the 2016 John Duns Scotus Festival which will take place in and around Duns in Berwickshire, Scotland (not too far from Edinburgh) during September and October.
Born in Duns 750 years ago this year, John Duns Scotus rose to become one of the leading philosophers of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages. Educated at Oxford and in Paris, he was a leading figure in some of the great arguments of the Church, with his followers earning the name ‘Dunces’ from the followers of his rival St Thomas Aquinas – the origin of the dunce’s cap. They were called this not because they were stupid, but because they stuck to the teachings of Duns Scotus.
A series of events is planned to mark this occasion designed to re-awaken interest in this son of Duns.
from the publicity flyer for the Festival.
The Catholic Churches in Berwickshire have posted details of the Festival, beginning on 17th September with an exhibition and lecture. Berwickshire RC Churches There you will also find pictures of sites in Duns associated with Blessed John Duns Scotus, more biographical details and links to sites about his writings.