I once took a message to a local convent, where the door was answered by a little old sister, walking with two sticks, bent almost double, who had a chat with me before finding the sister I was sent to. ‘You must know about this convent, Will – she’d found out my name as a matter of course – your friend Sister Clare may be a teacher, but most of us look after old people’. I had the impression that she was looking after as much as being looked after. I felt looked after by her in those few minutes’ conversation!
Sister Carol Zinn, the executive director of the American Leadership Conference of Women Religious, says that healthy aging is “whatever is holy and healthy for human beings: to be in relationships, have a meaningful prayer life and a way of being of service to other people. These are a given in religious life, but I really think that they are a given in a happy, holy human life.”
This article from the National Catholic Reporterby Elizabeth Eisenstadt Evans explores aging in community and healthy, mature ‘letting go’ of work, property and other things, but not letting go of mission. What is holy and healthy for Will T as he moves deeper into Autumn and deeper into retirement, I wonder? Do read this excellent reflection from the Global Sisters Report.
September! We are moving into Autumn, fruit, grain harvest, swelling pumpkins … return to school, reluctant scholars yet glad to see their friends. remembering Oscar Wilde yesterday, here is the XVII Century English-speaking Welsh poet, Henry Vaughan, looking for the luxuries of out-of-season flowers and fruit. He’d find them today of course, rushed to us from around the world. But note his conclusion!
The tender vine in our garden suffered from the North’s cold wind last winter, but we have a few bunches of grapes swelling; are they to be food for humans or starlings?
Who the violet doth love,
Must seek her in the flow'ry grove,
But never when the North's cold wind
The russet fields with frost doth bind.
If in the spring-time—to no end—
The tender vine for grapes we bend,
We shall find none, for only—still—
Autumn doth the wine-press fill.
Thus for all things—in the world's prime—
The wise God seal'd their proper time.
Virginia Woolf reflects on the experience of boarding school, callous, unfriended. Put it beside the thoughts we read recently from teenagers on life-changing events.
Now that our boxes are unpacked in the dormitories, we sit herded together under maps of the entire world. There are desks with wells for the ink. We shall write our exercises in ink here. But here I am nobody. I have no face. This great company, all dressed in brown serge, has robbed me of my identity. We are all callous, unfriended. I will seek out a face, a composed, a monumental face, and will endow it with omniscience, and wear it under my dress like a talisman and then (I promise this) I will find some dingle in a wood where I can display my assortment of curious treasures. I promise myself this. So I will not cry.
When I was teaching in school, I once had a class of 13 and 14 year-olds for Religious Studies, an opportunity to reflect, always a priority for Agnellus Mirror. I found this set of notes the other day, their reaction to the question, tell us something, or things, that have changed your life.
It’s time to dust these notes off and share them. And to invite us all to reflect on how much of what we as adults do or don’t do, say or don’t say, helps or hurts the young people we share our lives with as parents, grandparents, relatives, godparents or teachers. Listen to the witness of these youngsters! Read between the lines!
Making new friends at school and leaving my old friends from my old school. My father lost his job abroad and had to come to London to find a new job. He got a job on the railways but he was in digs and we were still in Scotland, so we moved down.
My brother returning from boarding school.
My father dying in hospital.
Moving house because I have to make new friends and go to a new school; leaving my friends behind.
A friend of mine wrote this letter to the Toronto Globe and Mail after reading an article whose writer concluded: ‘I cannot remain a Catholic.‘ Without trying to diminish what happened in the schools, Michael makes the case for remaining a Catholic.
To the editor of the Globe & Mail re. “Amid shameful residential-school revelations, I cannot remain a Catholic” (Bernadette Hardaker, Opinion, July 5).
I, along with many other Roman Catholics, have signed online expressions of horror at our Church’s involvement in the abuse of our indigenous populations, and their most vulnerable members. Together with millions of fellow Catholics, I choose to remain a member of my Catholic community because, despite its institutional flaws and the moral crimes of some of its leading members, the Catholic Church remains a Christ-centered community that provides the spiritual direction and resources that I need in attempting to be the best person I can be.
The Catholic Church is defined as more than its pope, bishops, priests, and other religious. The Catholic Church is composed of “The People of God”, who are attempting to live according to the teachings and example of Jesus Christ. I, with my fellow Catholics, ask for forgiveness from our abused indigenous neighbours, and forgiveness from our God.
The story of the boarding schools for indigenous children in Canada does not make easy reading. It’s an horrific affair, with racism and a lack of respect for children among the contributing evils.
It’s also confusing to attempt to find the truth of what happened then and what is happening now. Many records were lost or destroyed, many events were not recorded. The Archdiocese of Toronto, which had none of these these schools, has produced this very clear account, which may not answer all the questions, but perhaps may help us to identify the right ones and begin to answer them – and see where to go next. Click to read the report.
This links to an article by the Dean of Lichfield, Rev Adrian Dorber. Lichfield was the first cathedral to host a mass vaccination centre. Dean Adrian begins:
I was asked to write the following piece for a daily newspaper. Whether it gets printed, or it is mangled into something unrecognisable by sub-editors, is beyond my control, but I thought you might like to see the article. Here it is:
Last week the UK death toll from Covid-19 crossed the 100,000 mark: a grim milestone in our reckoning with the impact of the virus. The swathe of bereavement the virus brings is terrible. The mental and spiritual desolation of 2020 has shown us the fault lines in the way the world is currently ordered: pointing us to the inescapable truth of our relatedness and obligations to each other. One charity dealing with bereavement has predicted a “tsunami of unresolved grief” that will take a long time to heal. Compound the death rate with the anxiety, stress and isolation lockdown and home-schooling have brought, to say nothing of lost jobs, business closures and a contracting economy, then we are right to welcome the NHS’s vaccination roll-out.
The link above will take you to the whole interesting article.
Here is the latest bulletin from Rev Jo Richards of St Dunstan’s, Canterbury. Advent has been a bit different this year!
I must share with you the joy of yesterday – I was invited to take a Christingle service in a local primary school – last year they packed St Dunstan’s church, twice over, and for obvious reasons they couldn’t come to St Dunstan’s and I went to school. Two assemblies – one year R 4&5 year olds, and then year 3: 7 & 8 year olds. They are making Christingles, and I took my ‘giant Christingle’ and we talked through the symbolism of it all….despite all the covid disruption these children were a delight and so interested and engaging. Then we had Q&A session. The most profound questions that came from the Yr 3 children: If Jesus was such a good person, why was he killed, where is Jesus now? How did the Resurrection take place? And this went on for about 20 mins – just amazing, and all so thoughtful, and again the children all so incredibly well behaved. It was an absolute joy to share the morning with them.
You’ve probably noticed that the ‘Going Viral’ posts are well and truly out of sequence, and have doubtless concluded either that Will has lost it, or that some posts are scheduled a little in advance, while others are posted on or soon after we hear from someone with an interesting tale. Thank you, Jo. for today and other days!
This reading from Numbers seems appropriate for All Saints’ Tide; the picture too.
The Prioryschool football team from 1948, dressed as a team to play as a team, and not go astray after divers things. I remember hearing a British competitor from the London Olympics of that year telling how she was sent a white cotton running vest and enough red and blue ribbon to sew the stripes onto it for herself. in 1948, of course, sport was not highly paid, players were expected to follow their sport’s precepts on the field and be good examples off it. Wear your School strip or national running vest with pride, and reflect upon what it means.
The blue ribands seem to have found their way onto the Israeli flag.
The Lord said to Moses: Speak to the children of Israel, and thou shalt tell them to make to themselves fringes in the corners of their garments, putting in them ribands of blue: that when they shall see them, they may remember all the commandments of the Lord, and not follow their own thoughts and eyes going astray after divers things, but rather being mindful of the precepts of the Lord, may do them and be holy to their God.
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that I might be your God.
There was an unexpected item on my shopping list, so I was taking my time, scanning the supermarket shelves. Before I found Mrs T’s ingredient, I overheard a conversation between members of staff: now this stand was empty, should they deck it out with their ‘back to school’ range, or would that be better on extra selves by the main door? – No, the floor there is uneven, the shelves will wobble and who knows what will happen.
On one level, an unremarkable and admirable conversation between three conscientious colleagues, on another a depressing indication of their employer’s world view. This was the morning of the last day of school for young Abel, and the store wants to sell his parents the back to school stuff before anyone else gets the chance to do so. Are we put on this earth to be customers/consumers/marketing targets? Is there more to post Covid 19 life than shopping? Miss Turnstone reminded me to pop something in the food bank; not everyone could even begin to think about new school gear when food is too expensive.