newsletter 7th June:

Newsletter Sunday 7th June 2020.

Today is Trinity Sunday – the last day of the Paschal Season.

I hope that you are all keeping well as things are gradually returning to normal.

The important news as that we can open the Church for Private prayer from 15th June – not as yet for daily Mass.  We cannot simply leave the Church open all day but from Monday it will be open from 9 to 10 am and from 4 to 5pm.

First to tell you of the sad death of Father Francis Hartley on 28th May. I put out a special note last week but possibly you might not have seen it.  He came here in 1972 and left in 2001 to move to Bexley.  We were together for 28 years.  He was much respected and loved by the people of the parish.. He was a wonderful priest.  I hope to organise a memorial Mass for him when things return to normal. May he rest in peace.

At one time, we used to refer to Sundays after Pentecost whilst the Church of England kept to Sundays after Trinity. Now we simply use numbers of the weeks of the year, which is more prosaic.  Depending on the date of Easter, there could be anything between 24 and 28 Sundays after Pentecost.

Next Sunday we keep the solemnity of Corpus Christi:  at one time this used to be celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday and was kept as a Holy Day of obligation.

This week is kept as the 10th week in ordinary time.

The one feast this week is St. Barnabas, whose feast is on Thursday. Although not one of the original twelve, he is ranked as an apostle. He looked after Paul after his conversion and introduced him to the other members of the early Church. He is described in the book of the Acts as a “good man and full of faith”.  Without his courage and his kindness, Paul would not have been introduced and the development of the early Church could have been different.

There are some enquiries about baptisms and marriages, but I am suggesting that we leave matters until the Church is re-opened fully and we have an idea of the new regulations. Also some enquiries about First Communions next year. Again I will put out the inscription forms for the classes when we can open the Church once again

For Baptisms, we light the Paschal Candle and the baptismal candle is lit from it and passed to the parents. In the past the Candle would be well used at the Sunday Masses during the Paschal season. This year it has had little use – so we have a tall and dignified candle beside the font.

Thinking to the future, 2021 will be the year for Confirmations. Normally we start classes in the autumn, once a month, and the Bishop comes to administer the Sacrament in the spring or early summer. A little early to think about classes, but we will need to begin to arrange them soon. Candidates for confirmation are normally about 14, say   year 8 or 9 at school.  I will put out some inscription forms in due course.

I expect that at this time of year you would like a recipe for Gazpacho. My version includes some pieces of bread, some ripe tomatoes, some green peppers, a cucumber and a little garlic. Put in a liquidizer with some sherry vinegar, some olive oil and a little water to make sure that it is thin enough.  Serve with diced hard- boiled egg and some pieces of spring onion.

A prayer for Trinity Sunday:

Almighty and eternal God, who has revealed thyself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and does ever live and reign in the perfect unity of love: hold us firm in this faith, that we may know thee in all thy ways and evermore rejoice in thy eternal glory; who are three Persons, yet one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eye

He stared at the Pacific – and all his men

Look’d at each other with a wild surmise –

Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

I am sure you will recognise Keats writing about looking into Chapman’s Homer. Obviously, this is not the Darien in Connecticut. I will have to tell you a story about this some time.

I like this from Unamuno. For me, God I not a rational necessity; I have no need of Him to explain the universe: what I cannot explain without God I cannot explain with Him. But he can become a need of the heart, the revelation of the Father. I realise that all this will strike you as a kind of jumble, like everything that happens when one attempts to reason with one’s heart, which is as bad as trying to feel with one’s head (in the everyday sense). Inasmuch as I don’t expect God to explain anything, I do not make a dogma of my own out of Him, not even an ideal. God is continually evolving in me, in my consciousness. Does this correspond with outer reality? I don’t know.

(It seems to me that he is struggling with the Scholastic concept that truth corresponds with objective reality: he is questioning the limits of such an idea).

The boy and his sister are looking forward to the summer break. Their mother will have a short break before she starts as a GP in August. The grandparents in Sussex are moving house so maybe there will be some new places to explore. Their favourite place in the old house seemed to involve a lot of mud and paddling in the stream.

My herbs and plants seem to be doing well. The lettuce and the spinach have grown in abundance with lots of sun and water, but I find that in fact they have little taste. Some tomatoes and even a cucumber have been planted recently and I will have to see how they will develop. The basil has recovered to a large extent and has produced some new shoots. It still prefers to stay indoors.

There have been no opportunities for rail or bus travel. I look forward to resuming my journeys later in the year so that I can give you a full report on what has been happening.  Seventy years ago, the last of Bulleid Pacific West Country Class locomotives were being delivered to the Southern Region. I remember seeing Bere Alston, then brand new, hurrying the Golden Arrow service through Orpington.

I look forward to being able to open the Church once again so that we can resume the normal Masses and celebrations and I will be able to see you all again. I hope that you are all keeping well and have been able to enjoy the sunny days.

With kindest wishes,

Monsignor Nicholas Rothon

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