I thought I would start today’s reflection from a picture.
Usually the last Supper seems to be shown as an all-male affair, though I find it hard to imagine Jesus excluding such strong supporters as Joanna, Mary Magdalene, Mrs Zebedee or his own Mother. So here we have the Pentecost window at Saint Aloysius, near Euston Station in London. No apologies for the street scene visible behind it: the message of this window is not just for us, bu for the world outside the church building, where we spend most of our time.
The next picture shows another momentous moment, one from our own days. Here is Pope Benedict sitting down to eat a festive meal with poor people from his diocese of Rome: an unprecedented and prophetic event. It was not so long ago that Gormenghast style protocol decreed that nobody should see the pope eating. It was, perhaps, a useful excuse to avoid dining with political leaders who might capitalise on the photo opportunity, and claim papal approval of their policies rather than their cuisine.
The poor of Rome could not gain influence or anything other than a good meal in good company to celebrate Christmas; Benedict saw to it that they were not left out in the desert of their poverty.
The rules for the Passover that Jesus celebrated with his disciples make clear that all Israelites are invited to the feast, and that their neighbours should make sure none are excluded.
The people of Israel could trace their birthday back to the Passover and the crossing of the Red Sea into the desert of Sinai: as Christians we can look to the events of Holy Week and also to Pentecost as our foundation days, or birthdays. So it is appropriate to show Pentecost today, a gathering where Mary is prominent and one or two more female faces can be seen. The Spirit was poured out n them too; as it has been on all baptised men and women. Let us be as missionary as they were, accepting the paradox of passion and pain, of desert and defeat as essential to our story; and being at one with the people on the far side (which is merely centimetres away) of the church’s stained glass windows.
I give you a new commandment: that you love one another.
I left London’s Saint Pancras station by a different door to usual, and found myself walking along Phœnix Road instead of along the busy Euston Road . Less traffic and a pleasant breeze through the plane trees at the edge of the little park.
Just before reaching Euston station itself I was delighted that Saint Aloysius’ Church was open. It was twenty minutes before midday Mass, by which time I was booked on the Manchester train.
A few minutes of quiet, and a couple of photographs to remind me why I like this 1960’s building so much. It’s not a museum but comes into its own when Mass is celebrated with the faithful gathered around. A moment of pilgrimage, even when I could not stay for Mass.
Here is the mosaic behind the font, with the rim of the font visible at bottom right. ‘Veni Sancte Spiritus’ reads the inscription – Come Holy Spirit.
Next to it is the window of the Holy Spirit’s coming at Pentecost with Mary Queen of Apostles at the heart of them. And of course there were other women and men present, some 120 people altogether. We must not set Mary too far apart, though she is ‘blessed among women’. Other women, such as Mary Magdalene and Mrs Zebedee, were blessed by following the Spirit’s call to follow Jesus, even if they missed the group portrait.
Let’s pray that women’s inner calls may be heeded by those who can open doors to let them obey.
Follow the link for the parish website.
Saint Eanswythe supports the Folkestone arms, along with local man William Harvey, XVII Century medical researcher who described the circulation of blood.
In 1939 the church of Our Lady Help of Christians and Saint Aloysius was free of debt, so Fr Walters arranged for the consecration of the building on Saint Aloysius’ Day, 21 June. During a four-hour long ceremony, Archbishop Amigo sealed relics of Saints Jucundina and Verecunda into the altar table. The service closed with the singing of the Magnificat. Interestingly, the parish historians could find no details of these saints; a point we will return to later in the week.
Father Walters welcomed Archbishop Amigo and other priests, civic dignitaries, and parishioners to luncheon at the Royal Pavilion Hotel. That evening a solemn Te Deum was sung in the first Catholic Church to be consecrated in Folkestone since the Reformation.
In 2106, the Parish Priest Father Bould had this to say about St Eanswythe, a Saxon princess-abbess and ‘Folkestone’s own patroness, virtually the founder of the town’. Her body still lies in the ancient church that bears her name, on the hilltop over the harbour.
‘To Catholics Eanswythe is ONE OF US: to other Christians she is an example and good person from the past, and to secular people she is an historical figure of greater or lesser importance. Eanswythe is part of our worshipping and praying life (and if she’s not for you, she should be!) and what happens to and around her relics concerns us.’ MMB.
Our Lady Help of Christians: pray for us.
Saint Eanswythe: pray for us.
Saint Aloysius: pray for us.
Folkestone Catholic parish website
icon and life of Saint Eanswythe
 A 19th Century church of St Aloysius was demolished after the present Catholic Church was built.
Saint of the Day: Saint Aloysius
Readings: 2 Kings (19: 9-11, 14 – 21, 31- 36) Matthew (7: 6, 12- 41)
St Aloysius Gonzaga was born of a noble family, and when he discovered the mercies of God, he gave up everything and joined the Society of Jesus.
As we continue to reflect on MERCY with our Holy Father Pope Francis, we can read in the letter of Aloysius to his mother: ‘I will sing for ever the mercies of the Lord.’ It is only when I, like Aloysius, allow the mercy of God to reach me that I can show others mercy. Do I need to be more attentive in listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in my life? It is the Spirit who assures us that God is our Father (Romans 8:15) and, as Saint Aloysius said, “it is better to be a child of God, than king of the whole world”. In the reading of today, we see King Hezekiah pleading for mercy from God. The King of Assyria has sent him a letter threatening to destroy him. Only because Hezekiah knows himself as a child of God, not as a king, does he take his problems to God, and God has mercy on him.
So let us listen to the Spirit today and, as Pope Francis has said, ‘Let us cast aside all fear and dread, for these do not befit men and women who are loved’ (Pope Francis, Homily for the opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy).
Saint Paul the Apostle: Pray for us.
Saint Aloysius: Pray for us.