Monday, 30 April 2007

The Risen Lord Greets Us!

Today we are having an Easter Carol Service in the Chapel. One of the hymns we shall be singing picks up the scene shown here:

Lo, Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb;
Lovingly he greets us, scatters fear and gloom;
Let the Church with gladness hymns of triumph sing,
for her Lord now liveth, death hath lost its sting:
Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son,
Endless is the victory thou o'er death hast won.

Sunday, 29 April 2007

Easter Lilies at Latymer

The lilies in the Chapel of the Resurrection are now at their best (yes, week-end, and no one will see them)! But they are there to give Glory to God! I decided to pop into school, take a photo, and publish it so that others can enjoy the sight.

The Lord of Life is risen for ay;
Bring flowers of song to strew his way;
Let all the Church rejoice and say:
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

The trumpet-shaped flowers really do appear to be singing their praises!

Saturday, 28 April 2007

Agnus Dei

One of our younger altar servers said to me the other day, 'I like the lamb on the altar frontal, it is sort of cute!' Well I suppose it is!

It is only during Eastertide that we use an altar frontal - and the Lamb of God is a perfect image to have on the altar in the Chapel of the Resurrection.

At the Lamb's high feast we sing
Praise to our victorious King:
Who hath washed us in the tide
Flowing from his pierced side;
Praise we him whose love divine
Gives the guests his blood for wine,
Gives his body for the feast,
Love the Victim, Love the Priest.

The self same server (who attends Holy Trinity, Brompton) was asked, along with the other children at HTB, how they could show that they loved God. He said 'we could offer Him a Lamb.' What an answer! Small wonder he won some pop corn!!

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Easter Glory!

After the solemn Season of Lent, when the Chapel is decorated very simply, it is a joy to see it in festal array for Eastertide!

Monday, 23 April 2007

Welcome Back!

On Shrove Tuesday we had to send our dear friend 'Alleluia!' packing - it was not welcome in the Chapel of the Resurrection during Lent. Well, I returned to work today after the Easter break, and the first thing I did was welocme our friend back. This lovely ceramic greets everyone as they enter the Chapel of the Resurrection, and prepares them for the multitude of Alleluias which resound in the Chapel during these Great Fifty Days.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

All the fun of the fair!

This week-end we have had a fair on Ham Common, and I have been watching it from my living room window. I am fond of fairs, and felt attracted by the bright lights and music, and was eager to have a ride on the big wheel. However, I was rather hesitant to go, because I thought I might look a right twit if one of my parishioners were to see me!

However, the opening prayer at Mass this morning gave me courage:

God our Father,
may we look forward with hope to our resurrection,
for you have made us your sons and daughters,
and restored the joy of our youth.

So, with my youth renewed, I went and had a great time!

Saturday, 21 April 2007

It is the Lord!

In the Gospel for the Third Sunday of Easter (Year C) we hear John say to Peter 'It is the Lord!' John and Peter recognise the Risen Lord and are filled with joy. We recognise the Risen Lord hidden beneath the forms of bread and wine. The most important place in St Thomas Aquinas Church (other than the altar when Mass is being celebrated) is the tabernacle, for there we see the Risen Lord. We too should be filled with joy when we meet Jesus.

Here our humblest homage pay we;
Here in loving reverence bow;
Here for Faith's discernment pray we,
Lest we fail to know thee now.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
Thou art here, we ask not how.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

St Thomas Aquinas

Here is the famous statue of our Patron Saint. Famous, because it bears absolutely no resemblance to the great Doctor of the Church! The one thing that every schoolboy knows about St Thomas Aquinas is that he was very fat - whilst our statue shows someone who is extremely thin. How on earth Archbishop's House approved of this design in 1974 is beyond me! Still, the Easter flowers are very attractive!

St Thomas Aquinas is shown holding a chalice, and of course we are grateful to him for his wonderful Eucharistic hymns such as 'Godhead here in hiding', 'The heavenly Word proceding forth' (which includes the O salutaris), and 'Of the glorious body telling' (which includes the Tantum ergo).

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Regina caeli, laetare!

Regina caeli, laetare! Alleluia!
Quia quem meruisti portare, Alleluia!
Resurrexit sicut dixit; Alleluia!
Ora pro nobis Deum; Alleluia!

This is the statue of Our Lady, which is in the Lady Chapel at St Thomas Aquinas, Ham. Many people light a votive candle when they visit the shrine and ask Our Lady to pray for them.

May the Mother's intercessions
On our homes a blessing win,
That the children all be prospered,
Strong and fair and pure within,
Following our Lord's own footsteps,
Firm in faith and free from sin:
Hail Mary,
Hail Mary,
Hail Mary, full of grace!

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Easter Lilies at Ham

After the lack of flowers in church during Lent, it is always a joy to see the church so beautifully decorated for Easter. I have always liked white arum lilies - to me they speak of resurrection. We have two arrangements this year - either side of the sanctuary. They stand out well against the gold curtain on the sanctuary wall.

Monday, 16 April 2007

The Paschal Candle at Ham

Here we see the lovely Paschal Candle at St Thomas Aquinas, Ham. The candle was a gift from St Boniface's German Church in the Archdiocese of Westminster. They use our parish for a Mass each Sunday at 11.30 am, and asked us if we would like to have a candle like the one in St Boniface's. How kind!

The candle is a powerful symbol of the light of the Risen Lord, and is lit at all services during the Easter Season.

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Low Sunday in Ham

Here is lovely photo of the Easter Garden which is located under the High Altar at St Thomas Aquinas Church, Ham, Richmond, Surrey. This is the church at which I act as deacon on Sunday's.

The scene combines the resurrection accounts from a number of Gospels. We see the stone rolled away, and the angel sitting on top of it. We see the folded grave clothes, and Peter and John peering inside the tomb. We see Mary Magdalene in the garden, and most important of all we see the Risen Lord.

The garden remains in place until Ascension Day (Sunday 20 May), though of course Eastertide continues until Pentecost (Sunday 27 May).

Sunday, 8 April 2007

15th Station - Jesus is risen - Alleluia!

Yesterday I quoted the rather sombre 4th verse of the Epiphany Carol 'We three kings', today it is the turn of the jubilant fifth verse:

Glorious now, behold him arise,
King, and God, and Sacrifice!
Heaven sings Alleluia!
Alleluia! the earth replies.

Yes, today is our day of Easter joy - Christ is risen! Today heaven is wedded to earth, and man is reconciled with God! Once more the Church on earth echoes the song of the angels in heaven - Alleluia! Alleluia!

It is this 15th Station which crowns the other 14 Stations, as the lovely Easter hymn expresses it so well:

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once, upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss, Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinner to redeem and save, Alleluia!

But the pains that he endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky he's King, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing, Alleluia!


Saturday, 7 April 2007

14th Station - Jesus is laid in the tomb

We read yesterday, at the end of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John, how Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices (a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds) in linen cloths, following the Jewish burial custom. They then laid the body of Jesus in a new tomb in which no one had yet been buried. The tomb was in a garden close to the place where Jesus had been crucified.

My thoughts go back to the three wise men who visited the child Jesus at Bethlehem over thirty years previously, and their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. When we celebrated the Epiphany three months ago we sang:

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
breathes a life of gathering gloom;
sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
sealed in the stone-cold tomb.

But our representation of the burial of Jesus is not all doom and gloom! Yes the five living characters look gloomy enough, but the body of Jesus hints towards the third morn! Note how all of his halo has not been snuffed out (a light that shines in the dark, a light that darkness could not overpower.) Also, note the little seed which is starting to spring to new life, illuminated by the light of Christ! ('Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies it produces much fruit.')

Something wonderful is about to happen. We shall be celebrating Harvest Festival tomorrow!

Friday, 6 April 2007

13th Station - Jesus is taken down from the cross

If we are honest, we tend to find Stations 13 and 14 fairly easy to cope with - 'Christ has died,' and soon we shall be proclaiming 'Christ is risen.' However, that could hardly have been the feeling on the first Good Friday afternoon as Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus came to take the dead body of Jesus down from the cross. They must have been very sad indeed. I have only once handled a dead body myself, and it wasn't a pleasant experience. I was shocked by how cold it felt.

Bishop How's hymn talks about the great fire burning in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and he prays that our cold hearts will be set on fire by the love of Jesus.

But even could I see him die,
I could but see a little part
of that great love, which like a fire,
is always burning in his heart.

It is most wonderful to know
his love for me so free and sure;
but 'tis more wonderful to see
my love for him so faint and poor.

And yet I want to love thee, Lord;
O light the flame within my heart,
and I will love thee more and more,
until I see thee as thou art.

If that happens, today will indeed be a Good Friday!

Thursday, 5 April 2007

12th Station - Jesus dies on the cross

In the words of Bishop How:

It is a thing most wonderful,
almost too wonderful to be,
that God's own Son should come from heaven,
and die to save a child like me.

And yet I know that it is true:
he chose a poor and humble lot,
and wept, and toiled, and mourned, and died,
for love of those who loved him not.

I cannot tell how he could love
a child so weak and full of sin;
His love must be most wonderful,
If he could die my love to win.

Wonderful words, as are these by Thomas Kelly:

We sing the praise of him who died,
of him who died upon the cross;
the sinner's hope let men deride,
for this we count the world but loss.

Inscribed upon the cross we see
in shining letters, 'God is love';
he bears our sins upon the tree;
he brings us mercy from above.

Dear Jesus, Thank you for your death on the cross!

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

11th Station - Jesus is nailed to the cross

It is hard to imagine the pain that Jesus must have endured being nailed to the cross. As Bishop Walsham How expresses it so well:

I sometimes think about the cross,
and shut my eyes and try to see
the cruel nails and crown of thorns,
and Jesus crucified for me.

I like the emphasis on Jesus being crucified, not just for the sins of the world, but for me!

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

10th Station - Jesus is stripped

Few of us can like being frisked at airport security - I know that when I lived in Belfast in the 1980's, I got annoyed at being frisked whenever I entered the City Centre. Our personal space is invaded, we feel somewhat humiliated.

Just imagine how our Lord must have felt being stripped of his garments. The soldiers were going to divide his clothes among themselves.

Yet Jesus doesn't share his clothes with you and me - no, he shares his life with us! By his wounds we are healed. Isn't it wonderful how his divinity shines so brightly in this picture?

Lord, the light of your love is shining, in the midst of the darkness shining: Jesus, light of the world, shine upon us; set us free by the truth you now bring us - shine on me, shine on me. Amen.