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’s a lot of it about; nostalgia that is, but we also want to go deeper than that; what has shaped us, or our parents, in the past, how will it work out for our children. What seemed like normal life back then is a source of fascination and indeed joy today, and not just the frocks and hairstyles!
The London Irish Centre has partnered with the Irish Film Institute to bring film heritage to Irish communities in London and across the UK. Under the headings ‘Ireland of Yesterday’, ‘Watch Irish History Unfold’, and ‘Rediscover Television Adverts’, the Reels from Home collection includes materials which date as far back as the early 1900s. It includes both professional and amateur films documenting all aspects of Irish life including tourism, industry, sport, entertainment, and much more.
The films have been selected to engage with the London Irish Centre’s objectives to promote and advance education in Irish art, language, culture and heritage.
Reels From Home contains materials from IFI Player collections including The Bord Fáilte Film Collection, The Irish Adverts Project, The Father Delaney Collection, The Loopline Collection Vol. 1, and The Irish Independence Film Collection.
Speaking about the collection’s release, Gary Dunne, Director of Culture at the London Irish Centre, said: ‘”The London Irish Centre is delighted to partner with the Irish Film Institute on the Reels From Home initiative. For over 65 years, the Centre has been a cultural bridge between London and Ireland, and strategic and programming partnerships like these play a key part in connecting our audiences with high quality Irish culture. The Reels From Home collection is bespoke, dynamic and engaging, and we look forward to sharing it with audiences in the UK through a series of co-watching screenings.”
At a time when many people are spending much of their time indoors due to the Covid-19 outbreak, Reels From Home brings a new channel of content to the Irish community that is free, entertaining, informative, and easy to access and navigate. The project follows in the footsteps of the 2018 Reel Memories initiative, presented by the IFI in partnership with Nursing Homes Ireland, which brought a selection of curated IFI Player material to nursing home residents across the country.
Commenting on the project, Kasandra O’Connell, Head of the IFI Irish Film Archive, added: “We are delighted to be able to bring the collections of the IFI Irish Film Archive to a new audience in the UK , particularly at a time where people may be feeling more isolated than usual. As someone who was born in London to Irish parents, the UK’s Irish community is one that I have been eager for the archive to work with, and partnering with the London Irish Centre gives us a wonderful opportunity to do so.”
Highlights of the collection include Alive Alive O: A Requiem for Dublin, which captures the colourful street traders of Dublin and their fight to maintain their merchant tradition in the face of aggressive economic development;
Ireland in Spring presents a celebration of all things Irish and a delightful window on 1950s Ireland;
and a 1970s advert for Bass ale featuring the legendary band The Dubliners performing in the iconic Dublin bar O’Donoghue’s.
Reels from Home is now available free-to-view on theIFI Playerand via the IFI Player suite of apps developed by Irish tech company Axonista. More details will be on the London Irish Centre.
The Franciscans at Alnmouth Friary in Northumberland are supporting L’Arche Kent by finding unusual fund-raising things to do. The number 2.6 comes from the length of the postponed London Marathon run – 26 miles – which is a major fundraising event in the UK. I have to say I’d struggle to make 2.6 skips in shorts and trainers, let alone a habit and sandals. Brother Michal was skipping for 26 minutes! Bravo. Read the full report here. And thanks to all who continue helping L’Arche in any way.
Saturdays, I usually avoid the city centre but this weekend I had to pass through. It was quiet, very quiet, but I saw more people that I know, and had a long catch-up wih a former neighbour. He was concerned for the football club he is a part-owner of; even paying part-time wages is a challenge when no money is coming in. But with gyms closing, gatherings prohibited, even the community teams are suspended, including school children and wheelchair players. They don’t want quiet Saturdays.
It becomes clear that sport is important for more than passive entertainment.
Pope Francis’s Missionary Intention this month is:
Let us pray that a spirit of dialogue, encounter, and reconciliation may emerge in the Middle East, where diverse religious communities share their lives together.
What can I do with these stones? I could throw them at anyone who got too close to me or my possessions or my part of the beach.
I could use them to make a pathway in my garden, or across country for people to walk over. I could use them as filler in a drystone or concrete wall, providing shelter for people or beasts.
I could go down to the tideline and start a game of ducks and drakes, skimming them across the surface of the sea, splashing over the waves. People would hardly need an invitation to join in, the game is infectious. Like football (soccer) on a smaller scale. Every nation wants to be involved in the football World Cup even if they can barely hope to win one game.
Playing games, playing music, sharing meals together can help bring about a spirit of dialogue, encounter and reconciliation as much as high level talks between politicians who barely trust one another.
But even sport can be tainted by spectators’ hatred and racist abuse, when they could be admiring the beauty of the players’ skills, sharing the thrills of the game.
Is there room for God’s Spirit somewhere in there?
I usually skim read the football writing in the newspaper, but this article was different. The writer was complaining that the fans at a major final were unable to sing their anthems with their usual spontaneity. When they would normally be raising their voices together before the game, there was a pop band playing. There was music during the game too, and after goals were scored: the right tunes, but not fan generated; he felt excluded.
As annoying as canned music in the supermarket, suggested Mrs Turnstone.
Or in churches, I suggested. ‘Even Taizé chants can be annoying at the wrong time’, she said.
I would add plain chant to that list. Please, no piped music in church! If we are representative of anyone other than ourselves, we feel excluded by it. We don’t find it welcoming, or prayerful, or conducive to inner silence, or even outer silence in terms of visitors being guided towards speaking quietly to each other. Let the church speak for itself!
With my work on Archbishop Arthur Hughes I’m finding how what is left out of a story can change the reader’s perception even without the narrator meaning to do so. I well remember how my daughters would complain if a paragraph was left out of a well-loved bedtime story!
There are details that give a more rounded picture of the human being but which are unlikely to appear in official obituaries. Arthur Hughes, as Papal Nuncio in Egypt, writing to his sister – a nun and a headmistress – about a forthcoming world heavyweight boxing match, or punning in French about his post in Egypt (before it was confirmed) ‘My position here is provisional, I am in effect near Cairo/precarious’.
‘Ma situation ici doit être provisoire; je suis, en effet, près Caire.’
We’ve met Fran Horner before: she works at the John Rylands library in Manchester on Dom Sylvester Houedard OSB, monk, artist and poet. Now she has turned up some odds and ends that bring him to life in ways that supplement words on a page. Read and reflect!
The Empire builders drew a straight line in the sand dividing Syria and Iraq, and all those similarly ruled boundaries in Canada and Australia. Was anyone asked would they rather be in Manitoba or Saskatchewan? Thank God those boundaries cause little friction.
The Welsh border with England has very few straight bits, and the area around Oswestry is a case in point. On the map England seems to have taken a huge bite out of Wales, and place names in English and Welsh turn up on either side of the border. Maesbury is a mishmash of the two, and Welsh Frankton is definitely in England.
The New Saints Football Club play in the Welsh Premier League but have their ground in Oswestry, England, and so it goes on.
The Old Saint of Oswestry was King Oswald of Northumbria who died at Oswald’s Tree – or Oswestry – in the 7th Century, battling against the pagan Mercians and their Welsh allies – who of course were more than capable of going to war against Mercia when the fit was on them. Or of marrying across the border as seems to have happened more than once in my own family.
Let us be grateful for peaceful co-existence along the Marches of England and Wales and pray for peace along the many borders that divide rather than unite people in our world today.
Oswald from a Ms in New York Public Library:
File:Stoswaldaskingnyplspencer1f89r.jpg From Wikipedia
Since I was small, I had always loved gardening, so when the chance came of a holiday job at the parks in Castleford, I seized it. The town council took a pride in their parks, lung-savers in an industrial landscape. As well as the mines there were glassworks, a factory producing chemicals such as wood preservers, a coke oven and a maltings: the least offensive smell. In a heat wave the fumes gathered in the valley where the town was built on the ford. The rivers ran black. Breathing was a challenge.
Valley Gardens was our nearest park: a good park with a crown bowling green, playground for the children, lawns and lots of traditional bedding, the plants grown in the council’s own nursery. There was also raised bedding with scented plants for blind people to enjoy. And so they did.
I’m ever grateful for the skills learnt at Valley Gardens but also for the attitude to work imbibed from the older guys I worked alongside. Many had been miners and knew how to pace themselves to be productive over the whole day. They were also humble enough to put themselves through the City and Guilds Certificate training: men who knew how to handle tools, being ‘taught’ how to dig or prune before taking on specialised skills such as caring for the greens.
Recently I read that Valley Gardens, for many years the responsibility of Wakefield City council, is run-down and the play area no longer safe. A committee has been formed to revive this park. When I was there, people knew the decision makers in town. Now they are in Wakefield and need never go near Valley Gardens.
I hope the committee is supported by the community and Wakefield council so that the gardens return to their former glory.
There are parallels in church life. We need to trust people, even those who shun responsibilities, with a mission they may fail at. Apart from Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, who were members of the Sanhedrin, Jesus chose women and misfits for his first generation of leaders. I don’t recall his disciples sitting exams.
Since writing this post I read an article describing how the people who use the parks the most are poorer people, people without gardens of their own. So it is poor people who take the brunt of government spending cuts in this area of life, as in so many others.
Our beds were every bit as lovely – and more so – than this semiformal planting in Berlin’s Charlottenberg Park. The Roses were a feature of Valley Gardens: the older gardeners taught me how to prune them. This is ‘Mermaid’, who needs very careful handling with her vicious thorns. But she’s lovely!
Do I need to add that it was another true story? One of the most spectacular shared meals of all time, that puts into the shade our small miracle recalled in Tuesday’s post – and it happened in the unforgiving Galilean sunshine. 5,000 men, not to mention women and children, all of them fed from five loaves and two little fish.
John’s account (Chapter 6) tells us that the food was offered by a small boy. So even then, the Lord depended on others to complete his work.
John also tells us that Jesus spoke about himself as real food:
For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him.As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me.
Well, they did not get it, those who walked no more with him. But do we get it? Remember Herbert McCabe:
The doctrine of transubstantiation, as I see it, is that the bread and wine become more radically food and drink.
To the naked eye the Eucharist is nothing like as spectacular as the feeding of the five thousand, at which Jesus floated the idea of his body as food to his followers. But consider how we feel more alive in the company of loved ones, as part of a crowd with a purpose such as cheering on a sports team; breathing the same air, hearing and singing the same chants, sharing conversation. We feel energised.
We can be less than 100% attentive to what is being said and done at Mass, receiving the Sacrament in a daze of fatigue or fret. But our presence, our extended hand, are there not just in the moment, but more radically are on the brink of the eternal moment.
(I doubt the loaves and fish were as big as these carved on Strasbourg Cathedral)