Tag Archives: Saint Eanswythe

6 July: U is for Upham

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I’d forgotten this alphabetical gazetteer of places around Britain till I turned over the drafts folder. There are fewer places beginning with U than you might expect. Uttoxeter? Horse racing and biscuits. I could tell a story about biscuits from forty years ago, but I’m going back further, to my schooldays, and the village of Upham, unofficially known to us at school as Upper Upham, to distinguish it from nearby Lower Upham.

Both villages are tucked away off main roads in rural Hampshire. As a teenager, I was sent to Upper Upham as a catechist to a young boy preparing for his First Holy Communion; I was following in the footsteps of other boys who had taught his sisters. We were given adult responsibility as teenagers. And I had an early taste of working one to one with children out of school, though this lad was simply receiving some of the religious education he would have been give had he been in a Catholic primary school. He was not a school drop out or throw out.

My lad did not live in the Brushmaker’s Arms, but we sometimes made our way in there. Smaller than this it was, as I recall it, all cool and dark inside, but it is good that it’s still open, and welcoming far more customers than 50 years ago. No doubt we’d have to show ID to get a glass of beer there if we were teenagers today.

Our Church seems as confused about young people as the rest of society. Children or adults? Capable of preparing younger children for the Sacraments? We don’t really trust them, yet catechists are needed and grandparents should not do it all, willing though they may be. Readers, ministers of the Eucharist? They won’t volunteer if they don’t think they fit the picture; and someone has to put them there.

It’s worth recalling that youngsters like Saint Pancras gave their lives for their faith; and for every young Roman man I know of there are many young women, Roman and British: Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Perpetua, Felicity get mentioned in the Roman Canon at Mass, they were considered that important in those days; Tydfil, Winifred, Eanswyth, Mildred among our more local heroines.

Do we think young people in Britain today can have a lively faith, evident in their lives? Just asking.

 

 

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29 September: Michaelmas Daisies.

MICHAELMAS DAISIES

Many flowers have English names that speak of the faith of those who named them. We saw these resplendent Michaelmas Daisies in Folkestone, next to Saint Eanswythe’s Pool which we have visited before on this blog. It’s where the saint brought clean water for the townspeople and her sisters.

But today we remember Michael the Archangel, whose name means ‘Who is like God?’

Who indeed? Passing through Tonbridge I saw another fine clump of Michaelmas Daisies, where a seed must have taken root alongside the line. Too much reflection from the window to grab a snap, but maybe more people see them than St Eanswythe’s.

Let’s hope hearts at both ends of Kent are lifted at the sight.

It’s worth recalling that Michaelmas daisies are officially ‘asters’ or stars, and stars can guide the wise.

Laudato Si!

MMB

 

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13 September: ‘Her Father Took Some Persuading’.

 

Mr Noah

Mr Noah

‘Her Father Took Some Persuading’ – that’s what I wrote about Saint Eanswythe yesterday. Eanswythe wanted to found a monastery for women, a place of prayer, community and scholarship.

Thank God these gifts are available freely now to women in many parts of the world. In Eanswythe’s Kent Saint Anselm’s Catholic School offers all three. My daughter is now a teacher herself, working with four- and five-year-olds.

Did I take much persuading to act as Mr Noah for one of her projects? Why hit on me for the job, anyway? Judge for yourself and then enjoy the Lord’s sense of humour.

 And he said to them: Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and shall say to him: Friend, lend me three loaves, because a friend of mine is come off his journey to me, and I have not what to set before him. And he from within should answer, and say: Trouble me not, the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. Yet if he shall continue knocking, I say to you, although he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend; yet, because of his importunity, he will rise, and give him as many as he needeth.

And I say to you, Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. 

And which of you, if he ask his father bread, will he give him a stone? or a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he reach him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father from heaven give the good Spirit to them that ask him?

Luke 11: 5-13.

MMB.

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12 September: Saint Eanswythe of Folkestone.

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In the ‘Dark Ages’ there seems to have been a high degree of enlightenment among the noble women of England and Wales. Think of Hilda or Winifride. Not such dark times at all.

There are people ready to cast our own time as a new dark age. But once again, I suggest, not so very dark.

Think of today’s Saint Eanswythe: like her niece Mildred of Minster, a Kentish maid. Eanswythe  died around 640, just 43 years after Pope Gregory sent Augustine to convert the people of Kent. She was not the first teenager to feel that marriage was not all a girl could aspire to. The cloistered life appealed: prayer, community and scholarship. Her father took some persuading, but with his help she founded the earliest sisters’ monastery  in England, overlooking the sea at Folkestone. She was a brave pioneer.

No sign of her original church remains, but Eanswythe’s relics were successfully hidden at the Reformation and can now be visited at the Church that bears her name.

And today’s young people? Here is part of a reflection from Ignatius who was at the World Youth Day in Krakow:

The entire World Youth Day was one big Holy Communion, in which I found Jesus over and over and over again. We were all there together, being made one, by the one body, the one love, of our one Lord.

Catholicity
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Now, the real challenge begins: to take God’s mercy home with us and out to the world…

And here’s Christina:

I have always wanted the truth.

Being raised Catholic, I was poorly educated in the Faith.  Probably because, being in a wheelchair, people assumed that I was “closer to God” and, therefore, going straight to Heaven after death.  But, that bias is ignorant of the fullness of reality – and I want the fullness of reality. I want the fullness of truth.

And there is many another to give us hope. God be with them. And may he help Team Agnellus to proclaim the Truth in all our posts.

MMB

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11 August: Saint Clare.

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Women may have been seen as second-class humans in past ages, yet there have always been saints who stood aside from  what society and family expected of them to live as God called them to.

While aristocratic women may have had more resources to be able to arrange this, they would have been lined up for profitable marriages arranged by others. Not necessarily a doorway to happiness or fulfilment at any level. We have already met the Saxon princesses Eanswythe and Mildred who were given the grace to hear the call and to convince others that they were doing God’s will by entering religious life. Clare was another such aristocrat, and an influence still felt today.

Let us pray to God our Father:

  • for all Franciscan sisters especially those at the Franciscan International Study Centre;
  • for all women and girls whose lives are limited by other people’s expectations and prejudices, whether in education, employment, life choices or female genital mutilation;
  • for those men and women perpetuating the oppression of girls and women;
  • for the Franciscan family around the world.

Saint Clare, Pray for us.

 

.Picture by Simone Martini

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