Last September I promised to return to the hidden Catholic church – hidden in plain view – in Amsterdam. I didn’t expect it to take so long!
Here is one of its treasures. This dove hovers over the sacristy, just above where the priest would have vested for Mass. In itself the carving is a prayer, raised by the sculptor and whoever placed it here. It also invites those who see it to prayer, especially the priest who would be preparing to proclaim the Word.
Here then is a verse from the Pentecost hymn, Veni Creator Spiritus:
O guide our minds with thy blessed light,
With love our hearts inflame;
And with thy strength, which never decays
Confirm our mortal frame.
We can make those words our own this Pentecost, and pray that all pastors and ministers – ourselves included – may have hearts aflame when they go among God’s people.
Those who are preparing the pilgrimage keep telling ourselves: it’s all coming together!
There was, when I wrote this,still a month before the pilgrims put foot to footpath which was just as well. Catering, comfort breaks, car rides for the weary, climbing up the Downs, covering the route step by step; all this preparation allows the real purpose of the pilgrimage to be fulfilled. And in real life, today is the day we make that first step!
Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.
We are a community: part of the closer walk with Jesus is walking with each other. We know that Jesus and his disciples did a lot of walking around Palestine, and sometimes the disciples’ conversation was far from edifying. Jesus had to rebuke Mrs Zebedee when she wanted him to give James and John top posts in his new government, and to remind the disciples – who had been arguing on the road about who was the greatest – that the greatest of all must be the servant of all.
No wonder he was glad to play with the children at the end of the day!
There will be many opportunities for each of us to serve our fellow walkers during our four days on the road. This time of preparation has been itself a time of service.
We hope to say more about the pilgrimage itself in the days to come.
The Crest of a Wave monument marks the start of the Pilgrims’ Way to Canterbury and the Channel Swim to France. Let’s hope for blue skies as we walk!
St Thomas of Canterbury, plaque at St Thomas’ church.
I seem to remember parish pilgrimages from my youth, where some people sat on the bus and said the Rosary very loud and very fast. Of course prayer is part of our journey too. Indeed, just putting one foot in front of the other is prayer, just as walking hand in hand, silently, is love and prayer.
Hand in hand: we have agreed a theme of ‘Stay with us, Lord’, Luke 24:29, from the story of the two disciples going to Emmaus on the first Easter Day. Charlotte and Colin have found a Taizé chant we might be able to sing, so I can begin to plan out the prayers.
Starting on the beach: I think ‘Stay with us Lord’ will be a good response to our prayers, one we can all remember. On a clear day you can see the White Cliffs from our nearest L’Arche neighbours, Les Trois Fontaines at Ambleteuse on the French Coast. May the Lord be with them too. Abbot Peter of Canterbury was shipwrecked and washed up dead on the shore there, his body glowing with light when it was found. Another link between our two communities.
I digress, wandering some 30km across the seaway from our Kentish path. Each day we will begin with prayer, pause for prayer, end with prayer. We can thank the Lord for food, for friends and family, for feet carrying us on. Let’s see what comes to heart and mind! We can try to make the prayers relevant to the sites we visit. A few possible churches and halls have been noted down. We’ll see what the final route takes us.
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.
RSPB recording of blackbird’s song
Choir of Notre Dame de Paris O filii et filiae
Picture from SJC
When morning gilds the skies,
My heart awaking cries:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
This short verse from a hymn translated by Edward Caswall is a good morning offering in Easter Week, when hearts are awaking as morning gilds the skies.
Christ is risen, Alleluia! May Jesus Christ be praised!
Picture from SJC. The full hymn can be found here.
The Zimbabwe Custody is part of a larger East African Province of the Franciscans. We continue the theme of formation with Brother Victor Orwa’s account of making his final vows in Uganda.
One of the most special moments in my life was when I was received in the Franciscan novitiate to undergo spiritual nourishment as I prepare to make my first vows in religious life. At the end of the year, I committed myself for one year to live in simplicity, with nothing of my own and in chastity. I continued renewing my vows as I promised to the Lord till 5th August, 2018 when I committed myself to the Lord. I was not alone, together with Friar Elcardo Muhereza ofm, we committed ourselves in the hands of the Minister Provincial, Friar Carmello Gianone, the Minister Provincial of the Province of Saint Francis in East Africa, Madagascar and Mauritius.
The event took place in Uganda in one of our Parishes called Rushooka. The procession started at 10 a.m with a good number of religious attending and joining in the profession. The mammoth crowd were jubilant and vibrant in singing to the highest level of their voices. I could notice the smiles on the faces of the Christians who attended and this gave me courage to move on step by step towards my final commitment.
The celebration ended at around 3:00 p.m. and then followed by the congratulatory gifts from the parents and the parishioners. Afterwards, there was the late lunch and taking of photos to keep the day in memory. The event was much awaited since we undertook this journey. I kept on praying for the good Lord to guide us, as He has started. And with the help of the friars we shall manage to reach that level of perfection. Special thanks goes to our formators who had journeyed with us all along and who have believed in us in such a way that they had recommended us for the step. To Our Minister Provincial Friar Carmello Gianonene, for believing in us too and given us the opportunity to be among his friars in the province. To the Custos of Zimbabwe friar Alfigio Tunha, OFM who has given us a home and journeyed with us and lived among us as our own brother. And to the whole friars of the Custody of Good Shepherd. Special Thanks !!!
Reciting the Invitatory Psalm at 3.00 a.m.
While walking downstairs,
One step at a time,
Oh. so slowly,
…. . at three o’clock in the morning,
‘Come lift up your voice to the Lord!’
Mine in a whisper!
My mind saw the Baby,
‘Hail the God who made us,
Come before him giving thanks … . ‘
This newborn scrap of weak humanity,
…. ‘A mighty God is the Lord,’
‘A great King above all gods,’
‘In his hands’, …. so small!
‘Are the depth of the earth,
The heights of the mountains are his,
To him belongs the sea …..’
‘Let us bow and bend low,’
See, he stirs,
He sucks, He sleeps.
‘Let us kneel before the God who made us.
He is our God.’
….. how wondrous is the newborn,
Almost transparent in his fragility ….
‘And we the people that belong to him.’
Oh that we would listen to his voice,
His infant cry ….
Nearly down now,
One more step ….
Written when recovering from an accident.
Welcome back to Sheila Billingsley! Two more of her poems follow on 27 and 28 of this month, remembering the feasts. But ‘Oh that we would listen to his voice!’ A peaceful Christmas to you all!
In a traditionally ordered church the people symbolically face to the East, to the rising sun, symbol of Jesus the risen Lord. Today Sister Johanna leads our Advent reflection on Jesus the rising sun.
Follow the link. Dec 21 – O Oriens
Young Abel takes note of which keys fit in which lock to his grandparents’ house; no doubt it’s the same at home. Keys are important in our daily lives in England. Our ancestors felt the same way of course, and they addressed Jesus as the key of keys: you open what no one can shut, and close what no one can open.
Let’s open our hearts to Sister Johanna’s reflection on the Key of David. click on the link: Dec 20 – O Clavis David.
Sister Johanna invites us to reflect on Jesus, the root of Jesse; Jesse being the father of King David, and so the ancestor of Jesus. I like to go a couple of generations back from Jesse, to remember one of Jesus’ ancestors who was a homeless refugee:
Boaz was the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.
Let’s join Sister : Dec 19 – O Radix Jesse
And pray that he may come quickly.