Newsletter 3rd May 2020.
Today is the Fourth Sunday of the Easter Season.
First, I hope that you are all keeping well.
Normally we would be keeping this as Vocations Sunday. I would speak to you about Vocations – to the priesthood and to the religious life. There would be a second collection to help meet the costs of training the future priests of the Diocese. This will not be possible on 3rd May, but the Archbishop has asked that we should have the collection later in the year when things return to normal.
The gospel today comes from John and the Lord gives the story of the good shepherd. – I tell you solemnly, I am the gate of the sheepfold.
Monday is the feast of the English Martyrs. Always an important date at our College in Spain as six of the former students are canonised martyrs and sixteen are beatified martyrs. Recently we have commissioned a new series of painting of the martyrs to match the old paintings that date back to the 17th century. Those of you who have visited the College will have seen these paintings.
Today is the first Sunday in May – the month of Mary. At the Sunday Mass I would be asking the children to crown the statue of our Blessed Lady. Sadly, it is not possible this year, but I will get out the crown and place it on the statue in the normal way.
There should be a Bank Holiday this week – normally on the first Monday in May but this year transferred to Friday to commemorate VE day. In fact, the holiday will be theoretic for many people this year. It would be a day for working on the steam railway, but this is closed down for the time being. Steam engines have a ticket – they can remain in use for ten years, after which they require a major overhaul including a renewal of boiler parts. The engines have not been in use so it may be possible to extend the life of their “tickets”.
Some of you may be hard at work with home-schooling. One of the great nieces seemed to be doing very well with speedy and correct answers to all the questions. It was eventually discovered that when her father absesnt, she was asking Alexia to provide all the answers. She will go a long way.
Lots of curious films are appearing on the television. Recently there was a film about London Airport, as it was then called, in the mid-1950s. The story was rubbish, but the details were fascinating. A Boeing Stratocruiser from New York made an instrument landing. A BOAC Constellation came back from the Far East, stopping at Rome to re-fuel and a BEA Viscount operated a flight to Tel Aviv. It was necessary to consult my 1954 Observer’s book of Aircraft to confirm the details.
Something simple this week for the cookery class. Slice some mushrooms and cook then gently in some butter until they are browned. Towards the end of the cooking, season them with pepper and salt. Prepare some slices of buttered toast and cover them with the mushrooms. I think Anatole might have prepared this as a savoury when Bertie Wooster visited Aunt Agatha. I seem to remember that Aunt Agatha was at one time Captain of Lacrosse at Roedean but cannot find the reference to this. Does anybody know where it can be found?
Quite a lot of work in the garden in recent days. I cleaned out the garage and found many things that I had lost – the top of the watering can and the charger for the pool cleaner. One of the fir trees beyond the big flower bed seems to have died. It did well for several seasons but for some reason it has not survived. I will see if there is any life in it, but otherwise I will have to remove it. The herb pots are doing well, with sun and regular watering. To begin with, the shoots all look the same but within a few weeks I hope that I will be able to identify what I have planted. Pleased to say that the pool seems to be doing well and hope that in a few weeks, when the lock-down is over, we can begin to use it again. My book of herbs says that a basil plant indoors helps to deter flies. I find that this seems to work.
I am beginning to wonder about First Communions. As yet, it is not possible to set a new date, but I will try to have one single day. It may be possible before the summer holiday – say mid-July- but it is by no means certain that things will be back to normal by then. I will keep you all informed. We had almost finished the classes – one more lesson plus the rehearsal – maybe parents could get out the books and look at the two final lessons with the children. In particular, we need to focus on the real presence, the we receive the body and blood of Christ when we receive Holy Communion. You may recall my mnemonic that I have given in the past to help with themes for prayers after Communion –
A L T A R – this stands for Adore, love, thanks, asking, repentance.
Pepys is very concerned about the Plague. “ In August 1665 he writes: As to myself, I am very well, only in fear of the plague, and as much of an ague by being forced to go early and late to Woolwich, and my family to lie their continually. But Lord, to consider the madness of the people of the town, who will (because they are forbid) come in crowds”. In the present circumstances, I am not sure that I would recommend a move to Woolwich. It was said that the Plague was brought to an end by the Great Fire the following year.
A prayer that we all need at this time: Grant, we beseech thee, heavenly Father, that we, who in our tribulation are yet of good cheer because of they loving kindness, may find thee mighty to save us from all dangers. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
And now some Betjeman:
Although dear Lord, I am a sinner,
I have done no major crime;
Now I’ll come to Evening Service
Whensoever I have the time.
So, Lord reserve for me a crown,
And do not let my shares go down.
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Keep well and with prayers for you all.
Monsignor Nicholas Rothon