Newsletter 17th May 2020.
I hope that you are all keeping well.
Longer than usual this week as there are several important items.
Today is the Sixth or the last Sunday of Eastertide. Next Thursday is Ascension Day.
Paschal tide seems to have gone by very quickly this year. The gospel is taken from the Lord’s words to the Apostles at the last Supper and includes the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit. “I shall ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate to be with you for ever, that Spirit of truth whom the world can never receive.”
On Ascension Day, after the gospel, the Paschal Candle is extinguished for the last time. It used to be said that the cloud of smoke represented the cloud as the Lord was taken into heaven. The brass studs representing the five wounds are removed and the candle is kept beside the font, until Easter next year.
No saints’ days this week. The Masses are from the Easter season.
I hope that you and your families are keeping well and managing to cope with the enforced lock down. If we are honest, from time to time there can be black days when it does not seem so easy, but I hope that you are managing to survive. I celebrate Mass in the Church each day and remember you all. I look at the empty benches and think how much I miss seeing you each week, particularly the children.
A sad thought – today would have been the day for the First Holy Communions – with the special Mass in the Church, the celebration in the garden afterwards and your own family celebrations. It now looks as if it will be possible to open the Church again from July 4th, though the exact rules have still to be clarified. I will let you know as soon as I have some more details. I contacted the First Communion families to ask if they would like to consider a celebration on 19th July. Already the majority have said that this would be too soon and that they would prefer to postpone it until September. I will respect their wishes and come back with a September date in due course. By then we will be thinking of starting the classes for 2021. I am sure that we will be able to work out something to meet your wishes.
Some requests about putting Mass from our Church online. A number of Churches are doing this, but it seems that most of them already had cameras and IT facilities in place for a regular streaming of Mass. I tried to see if I could do something with my laptop, but it does not seem to work. The problem is that the wi-fi is the house the router is not particularly strong with the thick walls of the house and the Church. It is difficult to pick up wi-fi messages in the Church. I am not a great IT expert, but I have decided to leave this on one side for the time being as there are already several Churches able to offer Mass online.
Also, the question of help to neighbours and friends. One of the problems at present is that I cannot go round to visit people in their homes. To set up a store of food at the Church would be difficult. There would be the problem of staffing it on a regular basis with the necessary precautions, collecting items to be distributed and also telling people about it. I know that many of you are already helping friends and neighbours with shopping, etc. If you are aware of any case of special need, please let me know and I will see if I can arrange something.
Possibly some of you have spent the evenings with boxed sets. I understand that The Jewel in the Crown is very popular. I have watched Dance to the Music of Time and must watch The Fortunes of War taken from Olivia Manning’s books. Recently I watched a series taken from Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour trilogy. Daniel Craig played the part of Guy Crouchback. This was in pre-Bond days, but even so it seemed to me that he did not really have the style or the culture to play Waugh’s hero.
More work in the garden this past week. The dead fir tree has been removed and I must grout out the stump. Plenty of blossom the trees and it looks as if there will be good crop of cherries. My herbs continue to prosper, and the roses are beginning to bud. So, it will be a good summer.
Here is another recipe from Spain. Cut two red and two green peppers in half and remove the seeds. Peel 8 medium size onions together with 8 medium carrots and 8 medium potatoes. Arrange in rows in a large baking disk and sprinkle with olive oil and salt. Bake in a moderate oven for about and hour until the vegetables are soft. This can be served with some cold meat.
I like this prayer, which may help you in the current days:
Lord, help us to live slowly; to move simply; to look softly; to allow emptiness; to let the heart create for us. Amen.
Something from Chesterton today:
Smile at us, pay us, pass us, but do not quite forget;
For we are the people of England, that never have spoken yet.
There is many a fat farmer that drinks less cheerfully,
There is many a free French peasant who is richer and sadder than we.
There are no folk in the whole world so helpless or so wise.
There is hunger in our bellies, there is laughter in our eyes;
You laugh at us and love us, both mugs and eyes are wet;
Only you do not know us. For we have not spoken yet.
(It is worth reading it all: the title is “The Secret People”.)
Many people have been reading Camus’s “The Plague”. Much of it echoes our present thoughts: “There was no question of not taking precautions or failing to comply with the orders wisely promulgated for the public well-being in the disorders of the pestilence. We should go forward, groping our way through the darkness, stumbling perhaps at whiles, and try to do what good lays in our power.” In reading the sermons given by the priest, Paneloux, I need to remind myself that these are words of an existentialist philosopher suggesting what a priest might say.
Travel remains restricted. I look forward to the days when I can use my Freedom Pass once again and travel to remoter parts of London. There have been several route changes in recent months, and I will need to explore them. The extension of the Northern Line to Battersea should open soon. The proposal to extend the Bakerloo line towards New Cross and Lewisham remains under consideration. It was suggested that in the future this might take over the mid-Kent line to Hayes.
Quite a lot work for the College in Spain. The students are in England, but we keep in touch with them online. I have undertaken some financial modelling for the coming year, but it is far from easy as we do not know how the stock markets will perform. Also, the number of students for next year remains uncertain at present Certainly we can survive but it will not be an easy year. If possible, we would like the present students to return to the College before the end of the year so that we can welcome them and help them on the next stage of their studies. It is not easy as there are travel restrictions and many of the rules in Spain remain in place.
If children would like to come round to the garden, as a sort of private park – maybe one family at a time, you are most welcome as it must be difficult staying indoors. I will keep my distance from you but will be able to see you from the house.
You might have noted that the French Academy has decided officially that Coronavirus is masculine as virus is m. but Corona19 is a feminine word as it is a disease and so it is f.
With prayers and kindest wishes to you all.
Monsignor Nicholas Rothon