Newsletter 21st July 2019.
Today is the Sixteenth Sunday of the Church’s year.
Best wishes and prayers for our new Archbishop, John Wilson, who will be installed as Archbishop of Southwark at the Cathedral on Thursday. We hope that it will be possible for him to visit our parish in the coming weeks.
Thursday is the feast of St. James the apostle, the patron of Spain. His relics are kept at Santiago de Compostela in North West Spain. In recent times, the pilgrim route through France and Spain has become popular once again.
Friday is the feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of Our Blessed Lady. They appear in one of the stained glass windows in our Church. They are not mentioned by name in the Scriptures but their names come from a popular tradition. Their names are found in a book known as the Protoevangelium of James, written about 150. This work also gives the names to the three wise men.
School terms have now finished for everybody and I hope that you are enjoying your holiday. Possibly if the weather is good, I may see some of you in the garden in the coming days. Help with watering the plants would be welcome, but do not pull the house too hard as the sections come apart and everybody gets soaked.
I need to tell you that there are more tests at the hospital this week but things seem to be going well as long as I do not rush about too much.
The boy and his sister both have birthdays in the coming week so I will need to look for some presents for them. The boy sits for hours with his books. The Riordan series on the Greek gods were very popular so I might add to his library.
A test of your French pronunciation this week; say these out loud and make sure that you can tell the difference: “sans vin” and “cent vingt”.
A prayer for this week:
Look graciously upon us, O Holy Spirit, and give us, for our hallowing, thoughts which pass into prayer, prayers which pass into love, and love which passes into life with thee for ever. Amen.
I expect that you are looking for the recipe. Here is something unusual. Scoop out the seeds from a melon. Then with a teaspoon, scoop out the flesh, in curls about the size of a walnut. Put them in a basin with some sugar and maybe add a little liqueur. Drain and retain the juice. Beat some cream cheese with some cream and some of the juice and mix with the melon curls. Put the mixture back in the melon shell and keep in the fridge until it needs to be served.
Do you remember this verse from Francis Thompson?
But (when so sad thou canst not sadder)
Cry; – and upon thy so sore loss
Shall shine the traffic of Jacob’s ladder
Pitched betwixt Heaven and Charing Cross.
The exterior decoration of the house seems to have gone well. The work on the hall should begin within the next couple of weeks.
The tracks have now been completed for the Northern line extension to Battersea and the first test trains have been operated.
Best wishes to you all,
Monsignor Nicholas Rothon
16th Sunday of the Church’s year
Today the familiar gospel story of the visit of the Lord to the house of Martha and Mary. It seems the Lord was a familiar visitor to their home – where the two sisters lived with their brother Lazarus.
In itself, the gospel story is a simple account of the characters of the two sisters, one bustling about to ensure that everything is in order whilst the other is content to sit and listen to the Lord. It is a story which transcends generations and it is more than possible that we can see the same thing happening in our own friends and families. It is good to visit X- where everything has to be scrubbed after use and put away – nonetheless it is hard work – whilst with Y – with the many things lying about, it is hard to find a place to sit down.
Over the years there have been many interpretations of this gospel story – many based on the need to make a distinction between prayer and contemplation and active works – and others going deeper to draw a distinction between the work of ritual, vocal prayer and the silent prayer of contemplation.
I have been looking at Benedict’s rule and in chapter 48 he careful to draw the right balance – he says – community members should have specific times for work as well as for prayerful reading and he goes on to show how the timetable for this might be arranged during the different seasons of the year.
Probably for the majority of us, it is not possible to achieve such and ordered way of life, regulated by a formal timetable and a bell to indicate the time for specific duties.
During the course of the year, many couples to see me to talk about a forthcoming marriage, either in our Church here or at a more distant place. One of the things that I also discuss with them is making sure that they try to keep a balance in their lives. The marriage papers speak of an exclusive partnership, but I suggest that this more than just personal loyalties – it is possible that other things can creep in, especially the demands of work, so that time for personal care and time for one another is pushed to the fringe.
But this is not just for married people – it applies to us all – it means trying to achieve a reasonable balance in our lives – and finding time for prayer. I would remind you of your Sunday Mass obligation – for yourselves and for your children – it is easy for this to be put aside with many other demands and obligations – but it is important, to share in the celebration of Mass and to receive the Eucharist –
I always like the wise words of Francis de Sales who recognises that there are different types of devotion- for the solitary Carthusian or for those working in the world – he suggests that to try to impose a uniform system of devotion would cause intolerable disorder. But there should still be room for our own personal pattern of devotion – if you like our own spiritual rule of life. Some may spend a lot of money on a personal trainer, but maybe there is room for something like this in our spiritual lives: to think of regular moments, each day, each week, even each year, which we can set aside even for the shortest of prayers. As a priest I have my office book which I have to read each day – my current book, the English edition, was published in 1974 – so my copy has been to many places and looks a bit worn – but I hope you will have in your own way, something similar that you treasure and is a marker for your own particular forms of devotion.
I don’t want to nag you like Martha – as the Lord says – you worry and fret about so many things and yet few are needed.
Just really to wish you well and to hope that you will be able to find the right balance – the form of devotion that you really need – as the Lord puts it – the few that are needed.