Tag Archives: pilgrimage

24 May: Going viral CVI: A pilgrim feeling very, very exposed.

These pilgrims are somewhat exposed. The woman in the middle at least has long sleeves against the nettles and brambles; the lads behind? Well, they lived to tell the tale. If it’s not nettles or brambles, it will be neck pain or blisters or soakings or sunburn. But pilgrimage can also lead us to friendship, hospitality, service; the discovery of who we are and where we are – eventually – hoping to be.

There seems to be a growing interest in pilgrimage these days, perhaps enhanced by the experience of confinement under covid regulations. Let’s get out of here! i’ll come to Mrs Turnstone’s and my visit to Bury Saint Edmund’s in another post. Here we share a reflection by the designer and tv presenter, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, one of a group of ‘celebrities’ who travelled across Ireland and the Irish Sea as pilgrims to Iona, for the BBC, and following journey of Saint Columba.

He tells Peter Stanford, “I am of a generation that has been war-free, plague-free, difficulty-free for most of our privileged lives, and suddenly here we are facing a plague [Covid], nuclear war [Ukraine] and gas prices going through the roof. We are literally touching cloth for the first time and we are feeling very, very exposed. We have nothing to believe in and yet we have to make some decisions quite quickly because we are running out of time.” (The well-tailored pilgrim, in The Tablet, 6 April, 2022).

Privileged we have been, but this blog does not accept that we have nothing to believe in.

The well-tailored pilgrim

by Peter Stanford

Pilgrimage: The Road to the Scottish Isles is available on BBC iPlayer for ten months.

https://wordpress.com/post/agnellusmirror.wordpress.com/30684 johnson

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Filed under Christian Unity, Daily Reflections, Easter, Mission, Pentecost, PLaces, Reviews

 20 April: The Forgotten Grave.

This very chapel and its graveyard are all but forgotten as the village it served has moved three kilometres away.
After a hundred years 
Nobody knows the place, — 
Agony, that enacted there, 
Motionless as peace. 

Weeds triumphant ranged, 
Strangers strolled and spelled 
At the lone orthography 
Of the elder dead. 

Winds of summer fields 
Recollect the way, — 
Instinct picking up the key 
Dropped by memory.
 
From Poems by Emily Dickinson, Three Series, Complete, via Kindle.

Two thousand years on, and people know the place of Christ’s agony in the garden, his further agony and death on Calvary; the place of his tomb; they visit them in their thousands every year.

But did Mary Magdalene return to the tomb – or Peter or John – after Easter? Mary took the Lord’s message to the Apostles: they were to take themselves to Galilee, they knew the way. Before long Peter was leading them out to the boats for a fishing expedition. But the winds of summer seas would take most of them far away, to where people were waiting to hear the Good News from the fishers of men and women. No need for the disciples to revisit the empty tomb, but James and his church in Jerusalem surely remembered and marked the spot.

We cannot all hope to visit the Holy Land, but we can go to Mass this Easter time, or slip into the back of any church, acknowledge the ever-present risen Lord, and then … go back home, back to our daily lives, to glorify the Lord by our life. To share the Good News, mostly without words, but living as other Christs in today’s world, letting the Spirit speak through our instinct.

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Filed under Daily Reflections, Easter, PLaces, poetry

24 January: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022, Day VII.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022

Original photo of Nablus (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0): Dr. Michael Loadenthal

Day 7 “Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh”

Readings

Hosea 6:1-6 – (v6 For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice)

Matthew 6:19-21 – (v21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also)

Reflection

The prophet Hosea is known for his cry for justice and love to override religious ritual and regulations. We are called to make a treasure of our expression of love and our work for justice and to let that be the offering that we place before the manger. We know that God does not want our riches or burnt offerings, but rather that God’s power works through our poverty: “I have no silver or gold”. The Lord desires our loving hearts, filled with mercy, truly penitent and desiring change.

Let us then prepare the gift of a heart full of love. Kneeling in worship requires hearts that are contrite for the sin that divides us and obedient to the One we serve. This obedience revives, heals and reconciles everything that is broken or wounded in us, around us, and among us as Christians.

Unity is the gift offered to us by Christ. We grow in communion as we share the graces our different traditions have received, acknowledging that the source of all our gifts is the Lord.

Prayer
God,
through your prophets you have called us to do justice,
to love mercy, and to walk humbly with you.
In Christ, you have shown us what that looks like.
Through your Holy Spirit you continually enable us to hear your words,
to follow Christ’s example, and to live as his disciples.
So, as we gather at the manger, heal our wounds,
reconcile our divisions and hold us together in your love.Amen.
Hymn Verse
Vainly we offer each ample oblation;
vainly with gifts would his favour secure
richer by far is the heart's adoration;
dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.
Brightest and best of the sons of the morning,
dawn on our darkness, and lend us your aid;
star of the east, the horizon adorning,
guide where our infant Redeemer is laid.
              Reginald Heber (1783-1826)

Questions

Global: Climate justice is being recognised as an expression of social justice with which churches can act together on a global scale. Why is this the case?

Local: Sometimes we talk of Christian Unity being advanced more easily when local churches work together on a specific project, often one involving an expression of social justice. How have you experienced this in your local area?

Personal: How do you consider the importance of church as a place for offering worship and as a place from which to call for social justice?

Go and Do

(see www.ctbi.org.uk/goanddo)

Global: Take time today to campaign for global justice. Visit the websites of CTBI agency partners (see https://ctbi.org.uk/membership/) to take part in their current campaign actions for social justice.

Local: Identify projects in your local area that need more support, and work together as churches to assist them.

Personal: Consider an issue of social justice that you’ve not been involved with previously and take time to find out more and take action.

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Filed under Christian Unity, Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace, Mission

The Synod and Church Unity

I wish the Synod of Bishops did not use such words as Synodality or Dicastery. Bear with them! This is their latest Press Release!

ES – IT

Dear fellow travellers.
We send greetings to everyone! In this week’s newsletter, in addition to news from around the world with initiatives and celebrations related to the synodal process, we give importance to Ecumenism, in the context of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, this year with the theme: “We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship him” (Mt 2:2).
Ecumenism and synodality
The aim of the synodal process is “a hugely increased participation of the whole people of God in the life, the governance and mission of the church… If the process is successful, I think there will be a different appreciation of the Catholic Church, which will be very beneficial in the search for Christian unity.”

Bishop Brian Farrell, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in an interview to the Lutheran World Federation
Ecumenical Meeting in Austria at the end of January
At the end of 2021, the Archbishop of Salzburg (Austria), Franz Lackner OFM, informed ecumenical dialogue partners about the synodal process and asked them to join the common journey on the basis of the bond of baptism and to share synodal experiences and traditions from their own confessional tradition. To make this possible, a meeting entitled “Synodality – Ecumenical Perspectives” will be held on 31 January, with the following speeches by Serbian Orthodox Bishop Andrej Cilderzic, Protestant Evangelical Methodist pastor Mag. Dorothee Büürma, the Lutheran superintendent Mag. Olivier Dantine and the former Catholic Vicar General Mag. Martin Eisenbraun. For more information…

Northern Portugal hosted an ecumenical celebration
On the evening of January 18, in the Basilica of the Congregates of Braga, in the north of Portugal, several dozens of Christians participated in an ecumenical celebration with the theme “Following together the star that is Jesus Christ”. Archbishop Jorge Ortiga, Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Braga, said: “We are here today to become aware that the world needs unity and communion, which begins by following that star. Only then will we be able to do something so that others may also follow us”. Jorge Pina Cabral, Bishop of the Lusitanian Church, said, he hopes that new paths will open up in the synodal journey, in the ecumenical movement and in the reality of Portugal, “so that the Epiphany of Jesus Christ will continue to happen in this time”. D. Sifredo Teixeira, bishop of the Methodist Church, said that “the churches need to cooperate to relieve the afflicted and burdened, to build a more just and honest society”.


Ecumenism and synodality hand in hand
From Argentina, the journalist and priest Marcelo Figueroa, has pointed out the importance of not forgetting the ecumenical and interreligious perspectives on the of the Latin American and Caribbean Ecclesial Assembly and the future of the Church in the continent, also taking advantage of the momentum of the synodal journey. It would be important “to be united with other Christian confessions of faith through prayer and the Word of God in a practical and not merely declaratory way. In humble listening, empathy, and acceptance of the worldviews of the native peoples of this indigenous, multicultural and multilingual continent”.

Sharing creativity
This week we suggest some audiovisual materials to deepen the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with creativity: Father Zezinho invites us to meditate with his songs “Iguais”:

“But in one thing we are the same.
We seek the same God
We love the same Father
We want the same heaven
We cry the same laments”.
 
Iguais – Pe. Zezinho (Feat. Coro Edipaul) Paulinas Comep, Brazil

PRAYER FOR THE ECUMENICAL FELLOWSHIP CAMPAIGN – 2021
 
God of life, justice and love,
we praise you for the gift of fraternity
and for granting us the grace to live communion in diversity.

Through this Ecumenical Fraternity Campaign
help us to be witnesses of the beauty of dialogue
as a commitment of love, creating bridges that unite
instead of walls that separate and generate indifference and hatred.
Make us sensible and ready to serve all humanity,
especially the poorest and most vulnerable,
that we may be witnesses of your redeeming love and share their pain and anguish,
their joys and hopes,
walking the paths of love.

Through Jesus Christ, our peace,
in the Holy Spirit, restorer of the breath of life.
Amen.
 
* The Ecumenical Fraternity Campaign is an initiative organised every five years by the National Council of Churches of Brazil, formed by the Roman Catholic Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Confession of Brazil, the Episcopal Anglican of Brazil, the United Presbyterian, the Syrian Orthodox of Antioch and the Alliance of Baptists of Brazil.
We also recommend the sacred Oratorio SMOTRENJE “Lo sguardo” composed by Monsignor Marco Frisina, member of the Commission on Spirituality, performed on January 20, 2019 at the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, on the occasion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

The Synod in the world


Politicians in the diocesan phase of the Synod in Madrid
“What would you ask of the Church?”: this is the question that the Archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Carlos Osoro, launched to more than twenty politicians from different parties in the chapter hall of the Cathedral of Almudena to participate in the diocesan phase of the Synod of Bishops.Before giving way to the reflections of the leaders – among them, believers, and non-believers and of all the formations (Ciudadanos, Más Madrid, Podemos, PP, PSOE, Recupera Madrid and Vox) -, the Archbishop of Madrid thanked them for their good disposition and encouraged them to “build bridges”. Several local and regional leaders have valued the figure of Pope Francis and have cited the encyclical Fratelli tutti. They stressed the urgency of ensuring “respect for human dignity” and the centrality of the human being, while celebrating the work of the Successor of Peter for the care of creation or in defense of migrants.

Synodality: a possible solution in crisis situations
 At the end of their Plenary Assembly, the bishops of the Central African Episcopal Conference issued a message in which they attempt to outline, in the light of synodality, some ways to find solutions to some of the country’s challenges.Read the message in French


Superiors of Congregations animate in the diocesan phase
The Superior General of the Daughters of Jesus, Graciela Francovig, invited all the sisters of the congregation to participate in the synodal process in the parishes because it can be a very rich moment of ecclesial collaboration.For his part, Alberto Toutin, Superior General of the Sacred Hearts, invited his religious family to “listen to one another, so that this listening changes us, disposes us to the God who never tires of coming to meet us, through the voice of his Spirit”, within the synodal process in the different communities and works where the Congregation serves.
Listening to the voice of the poorest
The Centre Sèvres-Paris is planning a study day on 27 January on the “missionary dream of reaching out to all”. (Evangelii Gaudium 31). Can participatory processes make this dream possible? How can listening to the poorest be a promise for the whole Church?If you want to know more…
The Diocese of Aveyron (France) has launched an original proposal to celebrate a family or friends’ meal to talk about the Synod. With the participation of all the diners, each dish deals with a question related to the Church. To know more…

We go to Quebec, where three bishops invite us to have coffee. Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, Bishop Marc Pelchat and Bishop Martin Laliberté discuss the Synod.To know more …

Synod is for everyone
The Society for the Latin Mass of England and Wales has developed a guide for the participation of its members.If you want to know more…
The Synod on TVEThe program Últimas Preguntas on TVE, which is broadcasted every Sunday, is continuously monitoring the Synod. On January 16, it looked at the work being done in the different Spanish dioceses, mainly in the diocese of Palencia, which has stood out for the variety of materials offered to address the synodality in all ages.
Share your story!
Are you witnessing or living a particular synodal experience? Do you think you have experienced a good practice and want to share it? Fill in the attached form and send it to media@synod.va.
If your story appears to be original or considered a good practice, we will publish it in our next newsletter and who knows… maybe even in VaticanNews!


The Synod in the Vatican: the Dicastery for Communication

Next to every diocese in the world, next to every believer and next to every other dicastery of the Roman Curia, we too, as the Dicastery for Communication, have asked ourselves how we can take up the invitation to participate in the synodal process. How can we ensure that our contribution is not simply limited to ‘amplifying the voice of the Pope’, but rather becomes an opportunity for a synodal conversion, which concerns us all? How can we rediscover ourselves as ‘members of one another’ even in a body of the Roman Curia? How can we adhere to…Continue to read…



Pray for the Synod
In order to support the synodal journey and ask for the Spirit’s assistance, together with the World Network of Prayers of the Pope and UISG, we have set up a website in 5 languages: Church on the Way. Pray for the Synod. From 2 November, you too can send your prayer. See how to do it… Copyright  2022 General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops, All rights reserved.
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25 October: Looking ahead with hope.

Not long ago I met a fellow parishioner, now retired, whose view of the world was decidedly pessimistic. The conjunction of climate emergency, introverted nationalism, individualism and any number of other evils had really hit home to this man whose working life had been full of selfless service. Perhaps covid-19 finished off any optimism he might have felt towards his fellow humans.

Another fellow parishioner, whose own working life has been as full of selfless service, is Eddie Gilmore; regular readers of this blog will agree that his outlook is hope-full, so it’s a joy to find some of his writings from the Irish Chaplaincy website in a new book, Looking ahead with hope, soon to be published by DLT.

Eddie does not gloss over the difficulties of the time we are living through but he subtitles his work Stories of Humanity, Wonder and Gratitude in a Time of Uncertainty’, thereby nailing his colours to the mast. This is a beautiful world and we should be thankful for the privilege of living in a time when, for most of us in Western Europe at least, we have plenty. 

We can eat, we can share food in fellowship. In fellowship we can sing and sing together, pray and pray together, walk and make a pilgrimage together. Togetherness and fellowship is a theme of this book, and for Eddie that means being and singing with prisoners and lonely Irish exiles, with friends from his time in L’Arche, with a group of pilgrims brought together as if by chance. It means cycle rides with friends, walking through Kent, or through France and Spain on the way to Santiago.

Eddie’s style is conversational, friendly and respectful to the reader. This is a book to enjoy and to give to family and friends. Happy, hopeful reading!

The Book is released on October 29th and can be pre-ordered directly from the publisher, DLT: https://www.dartonlongmantodd.co.uk/titles/2342-9781913657420-looking-ahead-with-hope

Or from any bookshop (ISBN: 978-1-913657-42-0)

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Filed under Advent and Christmas, Christian Unity, corona virus, Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace, Laudato si', Reviews

7 October, Our Lady of the Rosary: Review of The World of Marian Apparitions by Wincenty Laszewski

My Catholic primary school taught us stories from the Bible, one between two at a shared desk. We also heard about miracles outside Scripture, including visitations of Our Lady, especially at Lourdes and Fatima. I came to feel the emphasis on these ‘private revelations’ was excessive, but visiting England’s Walsingham, a shrine for almost 1000 years, set me thinking about the role of Mary ever since.

We’d been told that only Catholics honour Mary, yet Walsingham has beautiful Anglican and Orthodox Shrines as well as the Catholic one. Each one made us welcome. We learned that icons like the Mother of Perpetual Succour came from the East. Later, joining  ecumenical pilgrimages meant walking and talking, eating and praying together.

This book may inspire the reader to go on pilgrimage to one of the featured shrines, or to turn the pages while voyaging in imagination, beads in your hand, a candle and pilgrim’s shell beside you. The many well-chosen pictures will help you to be there. 

Doctor Samuel Johnson, a devout 18th Century Anglican philosopher, had this to say regarding pilgrimage: ‘To abstract the mind from all local emotion would be impossible, if it were endeavoured, and would be foolish if it were possible’. In other words, there is room to be led by feelings as well as by intellectual theology when visiting shrines.

The book may set you thinking about Mary and her place in the life of the Church. When it first opened Walsingham’s Anglican shrine attracted charges of ‘Mariolatry’ – idolising Mary. Less stridently, others judge the honour given to Mary to be obscuring her Son. But on the Feast of the Assumption this year, Pope Francis pointed out that Mary was and remains humble, so that God was able to beget his Son through her and pour out blessings through her, down to today. So it is in humility that we should set out on pilgrimage, on foot, by transport, or through the imagination. 

Whoever receives an apparition can expect grief from a naturally sceptical world and a deliberately sceptical Church which has to discern the spirits at work in these incidents. But once the Church has accepted an apparition as genuine, we can follow Johnson’s advice: ‘Far from me, and from my friends, be such frigid philosophy as may conduct us indifferent and unmoved over any ground which has been dignified by wisdom, bravery, or virtue.’

Wincenty Laszewski has limited his explorations to apparitions beginning from the late 19th Century, thus omitting Lourdes which still witnesses renewal of faith as well as physical and emotional healings. Renewal and healing occur at other shrines too, and Laszewski leads us to many across the world.

Fatima, whose Sister Lucia certainly suffered at the hands of the Church, is well known but most of these shrines were new to me. At Beauraing, Belgium, in the 1930s the children who saw and heard Mary came from families indifferent to religion; it was only after the Occupation ended that the local bishop could pronounce the supernatural nature of the events. The children faded into the background, later marrying and raising Christian families. Thus they lived out their response to Mary’s two questions: “Do you love my Son?” and “Do you love me?” 

Far from there, in Ngome, South Africa, a German Benedictine missionary received visions in the 1950s. Sister Reinolda heard from Mary that she should be addressed as ‘Tabernacle of the Most High’, as she had held Jesus, the Host, in her womb and in her arms. It was time for Christians to be ‘a sea of hosts’ to bring Christ’s salvation to the world; a poetic but doctrinally orthodox idea. We are the Body of Christ, as Saint Paul proclaims (1 Corinthians 12:27). Mary also asked for a shrine where seven springs come together.

In Egypt it was at a Coptic Orthodox Church dedicated to Mary that she was seen by thousands of Muslims and Christians on a number of occasions. As always there is scepticism from more than one side, theories of mass suggestion  or natural phenomena or fakery, as Laszewski makes plain. But in the spirit of ecumenism which characterises Egyptian Christianity, the Catholic Church accepts the judgement of the Orthodox Patriarch’s Commission that the apparitions, and subsequent individual healings, were God’s work. 

Scepticism is an honest position to adopt towards apparitions, and always the first stance of the Church which proclaims Christ Crucified, foolishness to the Gentiles (1 Corinthians 1:23). But Mary makes the sign of the cross during many apparitions, indicating that the Cross is central to her message. Those who accept the divine origin of the apparitions should not disdain people who are indifferent or unmoved.

As time goes by, shrines may continue to flourish in ways that the original visionaries could not have expected. Who would have predicted today’s ecumenical scene in Walsingham? Mary was seen here before the Reformation, before even the Great Schism between Eastern and Western Christianity; now it is a place where some of those wounds are being healed. What blessings will be made available to the faithful and the world as these modern shrines find their lasting mission?

A few points regarding Wincenty Laszewski’s labour of love. At p197 he wrongly portrays Frank Duff as seeking permission of St John Paul II to found the Legion of Mary. Duff had begun this work in 1921 in Dublin, more than half a century before meeting the Pope in Poland. Saint Pius X became Pope in 1903, not 1913. Laszewski relates how his predecessor, Leo XIII had a vision of the 20th Century and its evils. The Pope did not reveal details of this event, but Laszewski claims it as a Marian Apparition because Leo championed the Rosary. Pious suppositions are not history!

I would not be alone in scratching my head over Laszewski’s description of Ngome as  a place where natural realities came into contact with the supernatural. Springs of water have always been places where contact with the supernatural is a given, as at the Pool of Bethesda, or Lourdes, or many a holy well. In the words Chesterton put into the mouth of Mary, speaking to King Alfred:

The gates of Heaven are lightly locked,
We do not guard our gain,
The heaviest hind may easily
Come silently and suddenly
Upon me in a lane.

Lord, grant us eyes to see with and to discern your presence in the people we meet.

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5 October: some places may operate upon us.

Doctor Johnson had a few thoughts on pilgrimage: In Autumn 1773, he made his way to the Island of Iona (or Icolmkill) in Scotland with James Boswell, who recorded:

 When we had landed upon the sacred place, which, as long as I can remember, I had thought on with veneration, Dr. Johnson and I cordially embraced. We had long talked of visiting Icolmkill; and, from the lateness of the season, were at times very doubtful whether we should be able to effect our purpose. To have seen it, even alone, would have given me great satisfaction; but the venerable scene was rendered much more pleasing by the company of my great and pious friend, who was no less affected by it than I was; and who has described the impressions it should make on the mind, with such strength of thought, and energy of language, that I shall quote his words, as conveying my own sensations much more forcibly than I am capable of doing:—

‘We were now treading that illustrious Island, which was once the luminary of the Caledonian regions, whence savage clans and roving barbarians derived the benefits of knowledge, and the blessings of religion. To abstract the mind from all local emotion would be impossible, if it were endeavoured, and would be foolish if it were possible. Whatever withdraws us from the power of our senses, whatever makes the past, the distant, or the future, predominate over the present, advances us in the dignity of thinking beings. Far from me, and from my friends, be such frigid philosophy as may conduct us indifferent and unmoved over any ground which has been dignified by wisdom, bravery, or virtue. That man is little to be envied, whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plain of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of Iona!’

Johnson says in Rasselas, ch. xi:—’That the supreme being may be more easily propitiated in one place than in another is the dream of idle superstition; but that some places may operate upon our own minds in an uncommon manner is an opinion which hourly experience will justify. He who supposes that his vices may be more successfully combated in Palestine will, perhaps, find himself mistaken, yet he may go thither without folly; he who thinks they will be more freely pardoned dishonours at once his reason and religion.’

( both from “Life of Johnson, Volume 5 ” by James Boswell)

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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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A Sunday pilgrimage around the edge of Canterbury

We live in a pilgrimage city, so any walk can be a pilgrimage. Today we took ourselves outside the built-up area for a change of scene; we are not far from the first big open spaces. It was already warm at 10.00, so we took our walk early, out by way of Eliot path and the leafy University.

I had a foraging bag in my pocket and spent a few minutes in the university grounds, beneath the scented shade of a lime, or linden, tree, gathering the blossom to dry for tea – a soporific I’m told – working alongside the bees, hive and humble.

I’m always reminded of a primary school teacher who insisted, heavy-handedly, that there were no green flowers, but see above; and that grass was always green. See above and below. Use your eyes!

Use your eyes? It was our ears alerted us to the peacock, but he is surprisingly well camouflaged in the dappled shade in the picture below. His markings effectively break up the outline of his body; he looks like part of the tree and part of the shadow.

Final picture, another bird whose camouflage is effective. This wood pigeon is sitting in next door’s birch tree; the passageway between the two human houses channels and increases whatever wind there may be. The pigeon is probably enjoying a gentle breeze.

The first ripe blackberry today, only a few days later than usual.

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16 June: Sell my silver

Saint Richard’s statue outside Chichester Cathedral

A reminder of one of our English Saints, one who should not be forgotten, a model bishop.

To Chichester belongs a Sussex saint, Saint Richard, Bishop of Chichester in the thirteenth century, and a great man.

In 1245 he found the Sussex see an Augæan stable; but he was equal to the labour of cleansing it. He deprived the corrupt clergy of their benefices with an unhesitating hand, and upon their successors and those that remained he imposed laws of comeliness and simplicity. His reforms were many and various: he restored hospitality to its high place among the duties of rectors; he punished absentees; he excommunicated usurers; while (a revolutionist indeed!) priests who spoke indistinctly or at too great a pace were suspended. Also, I doubt not, he was hostile to locked churches. Furthermore, he advocated the Crusades like another Peter the Hermit.

Richard’s own life was exquisitely thoughtful and simple. An anecdote of his brother, who assisted him in the practical administration of the diocese, helps us to this side of his character. “You give away more than your income,” remarked this almoner-brother one day. “Then sell my silver,” said Richard, “it will never do for me to drink out of silver cups while our Lord is suffering in His poor. Our father drank heartily out of common crockery, and so can I. Sell the plate.”

Richard penetrated on foot to the uttermost corners of his diocese to see that all was well. He took no holiday, but would often stay for a while at Tarring, near Worthing, with Simon, the parish priest and his great friend. Tradition would have Richard the planter of the first of the Tarring figs, and indeed, to my mind, he is more welcome to that honour than Saint Thomas à Becket, who competes for the credit—being more a Sussex man. In his will Richard left to Sir Simon de Terring his best riding horse and a commentary on the Psalms.

The Bishop died in 1253 and he was at once canonised. To visit his grave in the nave of Chichester Cathedral (it is now in the south transept) was a sure means to recovery from illness, and it quickly became a place of pilgrimage. Very pleasant must have been the observance of Richard’s day in the Chichester streets. In 1297 we find Edward I. giving Lovel the harper 6s. 6d. for singing the Saint’s praises; but Henry VIII. was to change all this. On December 14th, 1538, it being, I imagine, a fine day, the Defender of the Faith signed a paper ordering Sir William Goring and William Ernely, his Commissioners, to repair to Chichester Cathedral and remove “the bones, shrine, &c., of a certain Bishop —— which they call S. Richard,” to the Tower of London. That the Commissioners did their work we know from their account for the same, which came to £40.

from Highways and Byways in Sussex by E. V. Lucas, 2nd edition 1921.

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