Newsletter 31st May 2020.
Today we celebrate the feast of Pentecost.
First, I hope that all of you are keeping well and managing to survive with the changing regulations week by week.
Today, fifty days after Easter we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit on the apostles as promised by the Lord. Up to this time, the disciples had hidden themselves away, out of fear, but on this day, filled with the Spirit, Peter and his companions boldly proclaim their faith. This feast is sometimes described as the birthday of the Church. The reading at Mass from the book of the Acts gives a list of the people who were in Jerusalem on this day to share in the Jewish feast and who listened to the Apostles. It is in fact a list, in an anti-clockwise direction, of places in the Eastern Mediterranean where there were known to be Jewish Communities at this time.
May is now over and Our Lady’s crown goes back into its box for another year. I hope that you have managed to find time to recite the Rosary each day during this month.
In the missal, we now start the ninth week in ordinary time.
As far as we know at present, the date for re-opening the Church will be 4th July – the exact rules have still to be determined but I will let you know in due course. I have ordered a supply of masks and gloves as I understand these are required. As yet, there is no explanation as to how a homily can be given whilst wearing a mask, but I am sure something can be worked out.
We now move on to the post Easter feasts – next week, Trinity Sunday, then Corpus Christi and the feast of the Sacred Heart with the feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul at the end of June.
Years ago, at the College in Spain, lectures would finish at the end of May. There would then be ten days of intense revision, which was quite hard as the Castilian summer was beginning. The exams would be spread over a week, normally oral exams with the lecturer and two companions to question us on all that we hand learnt during the year. The deacons, who had completed their six years at the College would return to England to be ordained as priests, and the third year, with great excitement, would be going home to England for a summer holiday. Those who remained would pack up everything and move out to our country house at Viana de Cega.
A prayer for Pentecost:
Fire of God, wind of God, Spirit of God, purify us in the flames of your mercy, change us by the breath of your power, and take possession of us in the warmth of your love, so that we may rediscover your image in us.
A Spanish recipe from Valencia. Hard-boil some eggs, remove the shells and cut them in half. Cut some large tomatoes in half, remove the seeds, add a tiny piece of butter and cook them in the oven for about ten minutes. Sauté some pieces of ham in some butter and put them in the tomatoes. Chop an onion into small pieces and fry gently in some butter. Add some rice and some stock and cook for about twenty minutes, until the rice is soft and has absorbed the liquid. Pile the rice on a serving dish, add the filled tomatoes and the eggs and pour some hot tomato sauce over the rice.
Some of my plants are growing well but I almost killed off the basil recently by leaving it outside. It much prefers to stay inside with the warmth of the house and some gentle watering. Many of the leaves shrivelled up, but with some tender care, it seems to have recovered. The roses seem to be doing very well this year. It seems that everywhere, the cleaner air is helping the plants to grow. There is a good crop of gooseberries and I hope to be able to make some jam.
During the lock-down, I miss the opportunity to undertake journeys by train or bus. For those with obscure interests, the class 707 units, delivered to the South Western Railway last year, but no longer required, are to be transferred to the South Eastern. It is possible that we will see them at Blackheath in the next few months.
Here is a well-known poem from George Herbert:
Prayer, the Church’s banquet, Angel’s age,
God’s breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet, sounding heaven and earth –
And a description of Gatsby – If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to he promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away. It is worth looking up Hemingway’s account of his travels with Scott-Fitzgerald.
A Pentecost prayer from St. Augustine: Breath in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Work in me, O Holy Spirit, that all my actions may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love only what is holy. Strengthen me O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me then, O Holy Spirit, that I myself may be always holy. Amen.
Best wishes to you all,
Monsignor Nicholas Rothon