Newsletter 7th July 2019
Today is the Fourteenth Sunday of the Church’s year. After many feasts in recent weeks we are back to ordinary time and will use the green vestments until Advent.
Thursday is the feast of St. Benedict.
As always newsletters are written in advance but by the time that you read this, I hope that I will have returned from a visit to our College in Spain. There was a special Mass in the chapel last Tuesday to celebrate our patron, St. Alban.
The funeral Mass for Doreen Clements will be at 11am on Tuesday.
The Parish AGM takes place on Wednesday evening in the big hall. Food and drink will be available from 7.30pm and the meeting will begin at 8pm. The purpose of the meeting is to review the work of the parish over the past year and to make proposals for the coming year. We need to elect three new members for the Parish Council. Proposal forms have been available for the last couple of weeks. The task is not too demanding: probably three meetings per year, but very important in guiding the work of the parish.
The new Archbishop, John Wilson, will be installed in the Cathedral at a solemn Mass on Thursday 25th July. From that date we will use his name in the Canon of the Mass. We are pleased to welcome him to the Diocese and hope that he will be able to visit our parish in the coming weeks.
In the next couple of weeks, I will be preparing the inscription forms for the First Communion classes. The classes will begin at the end of September. Also questions about Confirmation classes: these are held every two years so the classes will start in September next year.
A recipe for a summer soup that we made the other day: really a type of gazpacho. You will need to liquidise a cucumber with the seeds removed, a green pepper and a small melon. You can then delicately adjust the flavour with some black pepper, some olive oil and some wine vinegar, but do this very carefully. In Venice some small fish are added, but this is very delicate as it is difficult to find some suitable fish. Maybe best to leave it without the fish. The taste will puzzle your guests.
The hut behind the station platform is part of a renewal of the signalling system. The Bexleyheath line is now completed and work has started on the Sidcup line. In the bushes, the junk left behind includes a piece of old railway line, with chairs and wedges, not the current flat bottom rail with a spring clip. It is a piece of history and deserves a place in a museum.
A prayer for today: 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 for ever with thee. Amen.
Time for some Eliot this week:
Words move, music moves
Only in time; but that which is only living
Can only die. Words, after speech, reach
Into the silence. Only by the form, the pattern,
Can words or music reach
The stillness, as a Chinese jar still
Moves perpetually in its stillness.
Best wishes to you all
Monsignor Nicholas Rothon
After many weeks – back now in Sundays in ordinary time and we are picking up the threads of St. Luke’s gospel –
In his structured way, Luke explains how the Lord had completed his ministry in Galilee and is making his way to Jerusalem – in the previous chapter of the gospel he says – now as the time drew near for him to be taken up into heaven, he resolutely took the road for Jerusalem – to begin with there had simply been the crowds who came to listen to the Lord – then the choice of the twelve apostles – but now something further – the appointment of 72 others to prepare the way of the Lord – the number may be symbolic – according to some Jewish traditions there were 72 gentile nations– and also there were 72 members of the Sanhedrin – and who were these disciples – they are not named in this gospel story but by tradition some at least appear elsewhere in the New Testament – Philip the deacon who baptised the Phoenician, Matthias the apostle chosen to replace Judas, possibly Barnabas who introduced Paul to the others, and Cleophas, one of the travellers on the road to Emmaus who was to meet the risen Lord.
And the instructions that the Lord gives to them are quite specific – to be gentle, not to impose themselves, that is to accept all that is good but also to recognise that there are times when simply it is better just to move on. At a later stage, we see this happening in the events of Paul’s travels described in the book of the Acts. And not to load themselves with what is unnecessary – they are only going on a temporary, short term mission – no purse, no haversack. And to accept what they find whenever they go into a town where they are welcomed.
And there are stories from the history of the Church which relate to this teaching – some years ago to two priests joined with a group of Fula people, many of whom adopt a nomadic way of live in parts of West Africa – travelling about with them, as they moved from place to place with their cattle and their goats – they did not attempt to instruct them or to convert them but simply lived with them – and after many months, the elders of the tribe said to them “speak to us of your God” There were the Jesuit missionaries who went to China – and initially were simply accepted as wise men – as mandarins, as the shared their knowledge of astronomy and other sciences – and perhaps one of the great errors of judgement that their superiors decided that they had become too involved in Chinese culture and asked them to adopt a more strictly Roman way of life – without this, it is possible that the history of the Church in China could have been very different – and thinking of the martyrs in our own country in penal times – a few years ago we went to West Grinstead – the house which is now the presbytery for the parish has an attic which was used for the celebration of Mass in secret in the early 17th century – and there are things that are left over from those days – a tiny chalice that can be dismantled and hidden in the hem of a cloak – very little indeed – just the minimum to help preserve the old faith.
In their own way, these are examples of the way in which the instructions of the Lord can continue to be live out across the ages. And in reading these verses, I ask what are we doing in our own day – individually, as religious and lay people, as a priest, as a parish in this place- many of the people in our parish are or have been involved in medicine in different ways – and your care and your professional skill is motivated by your faith – not imposing faith on others, but through work, showing the reality of your faith – one of the phrases that we are adopting in some of our schools is that we are doing this not for Catholics but because we are Catholics – we are doing this – not just for our own but because we believe every child matters .
For practical reasons, I am sure that many of your will recognise that these words have a personal relevance for me. It is one of these passages in the gospels that I love going back to – working out what it really can mean – and sharing it with you. I can only say to you “The kingdom of God is very near to you”.