Newsletter 19th April 2020.
Today has different designations – the Second Sunday of Eastertide – or in former times, Low Sunday or possibly Quasimodo Sunday from the first word of the Latin Introit- the famous hunch back of Notre Dame was said to have been born on this day.
I am able to report that all the Easter ceremonies were celebrated with care in the Church – including the veneration of the Cross on Good Friday and the blessing of the Easter candle and of the font on Holy Saturday night. I look forward to the day when it will be possible to welcome you back to the Church once again.
I hope that you and your families have been keeping well. Like everybody, a regular walk in the afternoon and I see some of you from time to time: careful and speedy walking to avoid the attentions of the constabulary.
Several a feast- days this coming week. Thursday 23rd is the Feast of St. George and also the patron of our Cathedral. Very little is known about him. By tradition he was a Roman soldier and was martyred in the year 303 at Lydda in the Holy Land. Nevertheless, he has always been a popular saint and there are a number of legends about his life, the best known being the slaying of the dragon.
Saturday is the feast of St. Mark, the author of the gospel. He appears in the book of the Acts but there are several traditions about his life. His family were said to have owned some property in Jerusalem, including the garden of Gethsemane. For a time, he was a companion of Paul and is mentioned in the pastoral epistles. He came to Rome and stayed with Peter. It is suggested that his gospel reproduces the teaching of Peter.
Tuesday is the feast of St. Anslem, one of my favourite saints. He was born at Aosta in Italy but came to Normandy where he became a monk and eventually the Abbot of the Monastery at Bec. He became a friend of William the Conqueror, and following the Norman invasion, was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury. He retained an independent spirit and defended the Church, so that for a time, was sent into exile by William. He died in 1109. His best-known work from his time at Bec is his Proslogion. In the past I visited Bec many times. The old monastery has been replaced by more modern buildings, but the spirit of Anselm lives on in the peaceful valley. Dom Philibert, who was at one time the Abbot was a great friend. In his prime, he organised the music in the Abbey Church. This has been recorded on the Decca DVD of plainsong music from Bec.
Thinking of the children of the parish during these days and I hope to be able to suggest a new date for Holy Communions as soon as we return to normal. All other events have been postponed for the time being – baptisms and marriages – so it looks as if it will be a busy autumn.
I have given you this recipe already, but it has been refined and provides a good dish for several days. This helps when shopping is difficult. For my shepherds pie I try to find some lean and fine mince. Apart from shredded carrots and onions, I now add a good pinch of mixed herbs and some slices of mushroom. After cooking the meat, mash up the potato topping with some butter and some pepper. Be careful when cooking the meat and watch the pot: not too much water but a small amount to make sure that it does not burn. When you put it in the oven to brown, not to long so that there a crisp top. Remember to score the top with a fork.
Ted Hughes can be quite cruel: here he is on a Hawk Roosting.
The sun is behind me.
Nothing has changed since I began.
My eye has permitted no change.
I am going to keep things like this.
A prayer for today: Lord God our Father, who through our Saviour Jesus Christ has assured us of eternal life and in baptism made us one with him; deliver us from the death of sin and raise us to new life in your love, in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, by the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Here is Anselm in his search for God:
Lord, thou art my God, and thou art my Lord, and never have I seen thee. It is thou that hast made me, and hast made me anew, and has bestowed upon me all the blessings that I enjoy: and not yet do I know thee.
One of the great nephews had a birthday last week: he is now one. His sister and his cousins drag him about and expect him to share in everything, but he is very good natured and seems to enjoy it all. His parents have moved to a new house and I managed to find a picture of it on Google.
No travels at present and I have to observe everything from a distance. You will have noted that it is no longer possible to board the Boris buses from the rear – the plan was that you had to board at the front and present your ticket to the driver but in recent days, passengers are requested to board through the centre door. They remain quite distinctive, but one wonders how long they will remain in service: certainly, they will not equal the fifty years of the original Routemasters.
My pots of herbs are beginning to sprout but I need some more seeds. Some parsley survived from last year, but I will plant some more. The basil has remained in doors as I do not wish to risk its survival by putting it outside. It is growing well but seems to need quite a lot of water.
I hope that you will all continue to keep well and there are prayers for you all each day as I celebrate Mass on my own in the Church.
I almost forgot the quiz question from last week: these are possible destinations if you had taken a bus on route 12 south from Oxford Circus. This is an answer for those whose memories go back to the 1950s. In modern money, the answers are 12, 176 and 468 (thanks to Philip for this).
Best wishes to you all,
Monsignor Nicholas Rothon