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.”

…and now the clergy news

There’s quite a lot happening on the clergy front at the moment…
We were very grateful to Fr Gareth Leyshon for being able to supply while I was away, and to be in residence at the presbytery. He has now returned to Coventry, his base for his work with the Sion Community. He is busy planning and preparing for their forthcoming missions in parishes in various places. These include Merthyr Tydfil later in the autumn.

Meanwhile, I am looking forward to welcoming Fr Andy Bord to our 3 Churches. He will be moving in later this week. It will be a big change for him as he has been ministering in St Mary’s, and latterly also Holy Family, with Canon John Maguire for thirteen years – that’s quite a wrench. It’s also of course a big change for me and for us all. While we were blessed to have Frs Modest, James and Tomy from Kerala from 2004 until a few years ago, it’s a long time – twenty years for me – since I have shared a home and parish life with a priest from our own diocese. Luckily Andy and I know each other well, and I think his arrival will be a real blessing for all of us. Unfortunately, Andy had already planned his summer holidays for September – at the same time as our September Pilgrimage! So, while we will both be here next weekend, 1st September, we will not be really firing on all cylinders until the weekend of 22nd September.

Fr Peter Davies has also been on annual leave from his hospital ministry and will continue to assist us on most Sundays, for which we are very grateful.
One last piece of clergy news – Archbishop Stack has recently accepted Christian Mahoney from our 3 Churches as a candidate for the permanent diaconate. Christian has already started his formation, centred around monthly weekend sessions at Wonersh Seminary near Guildford. Please remember him, Esther and their family in your prayers.

That’s it – bulletin over!

Fr Matthew

To find but lilies there…

There are various traditions surrounding the where and how of Assumption of Our Lady (Feast 15th August). Even in Jerusalem, one such version has it happen at the site of the present Church of the Dormition, (the Eastern Church’s alternative name for the Assumption), south of the Old City, while another shows you the cave-church dedicated to the event, close to the Garden of Gethsemane. One such tradition says that on the day of the death (and Assumption) of Our Lady, St Thomas the Apostle was not present, just as he was at the appearance of Our Lord on Easter Sunday evening. It was said that they opened the new grave for him to gaze on her one last time…

They bore her in a reverent group To a holy place,
Left her body in the earth –
Her body, “full of grace”.

But Thomas, tardy, slow of foot, Absent when she died,
Spent with sorrow, craved to see Her of the Crucified.

There was a swift intake of breath,
A hurried silent prayer;
Startled they opened the new-made tomb To find but lilies there.

Sister M. Angeline