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St Swithun’s Day

St Swithun (or Swithin), was an Anglo-Saxon Bishop of Winchester, consecrated in 853AD. His historical importance as bishop is overshadowed by his reputation for posthumous miracle-working. According to tradition, the weather on his feast day (15 July) will continue for forty days. The name of Swithun is best known today for a proverb, which says that if it rains on St Swithun’s Day, 15 July, it will rain for 40 days.

St Swithun’s day if thou dost rain
 For forty days it will remain
St Swithun’s day if thou be fair
For forty days ‘twill rain nae mare

Swithun, died around 862AD, was initially buried out of doors, rather than in his cathedral, apparently at his own request. William of Malmesbury recorded that the bishop left instructions that his body should be buried outside the church, “ubi et pedibus praetereuntium et stillicidiis ex alto rorantibus esset obnoxious” [where it might be subject to the feet of passers-by and to the raindrops pouring from on high], which has been taken as indicating that the legend was already well known in the 12th century.

In 971 it was decided to move his body to a new indoor shrine, and one theory traces the origin of the legend to a heavy shower by which, on the day of the move, the saint marked his displeasure towards those who were removing his remains. A much older tradition says that the move took place in accordance with the saint’s desire expressed in a vision. There is a scientific basis to the weather pattern behind the legend of St Swithun’s day. Around the middle of July, the jet stream settles into a pattern which, in the majority of years, holds reasonably steady until the end of August. When the jet stream lies north of the UK then continental high pressure is able to move in; when it lies across or south of the British Isles, Arctic air and Atlantic weather systems predominate. The most false that the prediction has been, were 1924 when 13.5 hours of sunshine in London were followed by 30 of the next 40 days being wet, and 1913 when a 15-hour rainstorm was followed by 30 dry days of 40.

Many ancient churches dedicated to St Swithun can be found throughout the south of England, especially in Hampshire. Strangely, devotion to him spread to Western Norway, where the cathedral at Stavanger is dedicated to him.

Fr Matthew (acknowledgments to Wikipedia!)

We are sailing

This Sunday is designated as Sea Sunday. It is the church’s annual day for remembering and giving thanks for the work of sailors who face some of the toughest conditions in order to transport food, fuel, people and goods around the globe.

A full tour of a ship once brought home to me the diversity of skills and abilities, as well as the level of dedication and team work required by a ship’s crew in order to safely sail the oceans.

The same diversity of gifts and commitment is also needed to keep a parish functioning effectively. And I would like to thank the many people from the 3 Churches who worked so hard to make my ordination to the priesthood at St Brigid’s such a wonderful and joyful occasion.

During the service some could be heard (if not seen) sharing their musical gifts, others shared their food and served the many guests, while others served by welcoming the congregation or by serving at the altar.

Not only were practical gifts shared, others prayed for me and there were many words of encouragement in the months leading up to my ordination. I am also grateful to all those who made a financial contribution towards the purchase of vestments and other ministry items which I will use to celebrate Mass within the hospital.

I am so grateful to God for the welcome and support my family and I have received over the past months from the 3 Churches. And especially for the way Canon Matthew has shared his ministry with me.

As we move forward together in faith, may all of us find where our gifts lie and use them for the common good, as together we sail towards our final destination.

Fr Peter Davies

Welcome!

This weekend we welcome any new friends or visitors who join us in any of our five Masses in our 3 Churches. We are also celebrating Fr Peter Davies’ ordination and first Mass.

Strange that his ordination to the priesthood should occur in a significant anniversary year for myself (40).

Just as strange is the fact that Peter has requested that the money from our collection for him should go towards buying vestments for his future ministry. When I was ordained in St Brigid’s in 1978, I also received a very smart white chasuble as a gift from what was then just St Brigid’s and St Paul’s. I still wear it on a regular basis.

It’s a few years now since I first met Peter, when the Archbishop suggested I met with him on his journey – first into the Catholic Church, then on into the priesthood. It’s been a very blessed journey for me, and I hope maybe for him too. And all of yourselves, the parishioners of our 3 Churches, have played a big part too.

I have a strong awareness of that vital part of our faith that is its “handing on”. More recently I’ve had an equally strong sense of the ongoing fraternity of the priesthood, journeying, like the Church in general, down through the centuries. Hands on heads, hands on heads, hands on heads – right back to apostolic times.

So, a very warm welcome if you are joining us for the first time. Welcome back if you have been to Mass before. We have a lot to share and have been doing it for a long, long time. Just relax, don’t worry about things you may not understand, simply try to open your heart to God, and let Him surround you with His love. We have a lot to “hand on”. Our prayer is that you may find yourself able to receive.

Fr Matthew

A wedding, three funerals – and an ordination

Seven days in the life of our 3 Churches

By the time you read this, at 12 noon on Saturday Faye Johnson will have married James Evans at Christ the King. During the week we will celebrate the funerals of Sheila Marks, Tony Woodward and Brian Gowen in St Brigid’s, Christ the King and St Brigid’s respectively. Then on Friday evening Archbishop Stack will ordain Deacon Peter Davies to the priesthood on the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul. Then of course, we celebrate theHoly Eucharist and Reconciliation as usual this and every weekend. And just in case you’re worried about “missing sacraments” we had three Baptisms last Sunday and it’s not long since Confirmation – and I anointedtwo people on Thursday evening.

The sacraments and other liturgies are like jewels, marking out our paths of faith through life, like those lights with which some people line their garden paths or drives. Some are “one offs” like Baptism, Confirmation or Ordination, others are part of our ongoing Catholic journey, like the Eucharist and Reconciliation, while others again mark out our callings in life, like Matrimony and Holy Orders.

In this month of the Sacred Heart, and as we move through this week rich in sacraments and liturgy, let’s ask the Lord to deepen our love for Him. May Jesus enrich our understanding of, and devotion to, the sacraments – His sacraments. They are precious, precious gifts from a loving Saviour.

In particular, let us pray for Peter Davies, to be ordained priest. We remember that with the Word and service, the celebrating of the sacraments will be the very centre of his ministry. From bringing little ones into the family of God at Baptism, through to bringing the not-so-little home through anointing and funerals, via the extraordinary privilege of uttering the words of consecration and absolution, Peter will touch the very heart of our humanity with the love of Jesus. That’s what the sacraments are all about.

Fr Matthew (approx 20,000 Masses and counting)