Pilgrims one and all

Our group of September Pilgrims arrived back safely in St Brigid’s car park in the dark at about 12.45am early on Tuesday morning. We were all tired after a long journey from Chartres (where we celebrated Mass at 9.00am) via the Caen-Portsmouth ferry. Once again, it was a wonderful pilgrimage/hopliday, this time visiting various shrines and interesting places in central France, such as Chartres Cathedral, Taize, shrines of St Bernadette at Nevers and the Cure at Ars. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the pilgrimage aspect was made even more real for me personally with my new affliction of arthritis.

Each year I emphasise that the external pilgrimage from place to place is a pointer to our internal pilgrimage. This is our journey through life in the light of our faith, often called our “faith journey”. But of course you don’t have to travel to holy places to be aware of that faith journey, because we all make that journey, no matter who we are. And furthermore, the Church is all about making that journey together, pilgrims through life.

This coming Saturday we celebrate a Mass with the Sick at Christ the King at 11.00am. We invite to this Eucharistic Celebration all fellow travellers on the pilgrimage of faith to join us, especially those whose journey is made that bit more difficult by sickness in mind, body or spirit.  We should make every effort to enable those who cannot normally come to our churches to do so on this occasion. Eucharistic Ministers – please let those you visit know. Drivers – offer a lift to those who need it (contact details inside). The Sacrament if the Sick will be celebrated within the Mass, and prayers will be offered for the sick, including a chance to mention those you want prayed for!

We are all pilgrims together in a Pilgrrim Church. Let us all be alongside one another and especially those who most need our support. Saturday 28th September 11am at Christ the King, followed by light refreshments.

Fr Matthew

X ray vision

I don’t know about you, but I love people-watching. On holiday in York a few weeks ago I was one of thousands visiting that beautiful city. Fascinating to watch how our different cultures affect our behavior, wonderful young mums or dads trying to handle their offspring, and so on.

On Wednesday I spent a while at Radiology in the Heath. It seems I’ve developed osteoarthritis in the hip, and the GP wanted it checked out. A hospital, especially a big one like the Heath, is a whole city to itself. As you make that long trek from the UHW concourse to wherever you are going in this huge complex, all life treks with you – or towards you. And all, of course, have that special hospital look on their face, either because they are a patient or are visiting a patient. It’s a look which speaks of knowing that someone is suffering – themselves or someone else – while also speaking of our human determination to keep going, to persevere, to care, to love. Some are silent, some lost in thought, some in tears. Some are in wheelchairs, some on stretchers. All are in need, because all are human, visitor and patient alike.

There are many, many ways to be broken. Wounds are of many kinds, most of them, perhaps, not visible to the eye. Imagine if we could x-ray one another’s inner feelings! None of us is immune to the brokenness or wounds of life. So let’s all undertake to be a little more caring for one another. And appreciative of those who care for us, whether it’s their job or not.

One of Pope Francis most famous sayings was this one:
“I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds. … And you have to start from the ground up.”