Saturday, 28 July 2007

Ordinary Time in the Chapel

Here we see the restful scene of the Chapel during Ordinary Time. Although no services are held during the summer months, the Chapel is always open for staff at School who wish to pop in for a time of quiet reflection.

The voice of prayer is never silent,
Nor dies the strain of praise away.

Well I'm off on my holidays today to Scotland - and so my next posting on the blog will be on Monday 6 August. I'll provide some suitable mountain scene for the lovely Feast of the Transfiguration. I promise to stay well clear of the Loch Ness Monster this time. In fact I shall be staying in Dunkeld - on the banks of the River Tay in Perthshire.

Friday, 27 July 2007

The Samaritan Woman at the Well

Here we see a picture depicting the familiar scene from John Chapter 4. Initially Jesus asks the woman for some water, but then goes on to offer her living water.

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
'Behold, I freely give
The living water, thirsty one;
Stoop down, and drink, and live';
I came to Jesus, and I drank
Of that life-giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
And now I live in him.

May we who draw water from the wells of salvation bring life to others!

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Congratulations to Bishop Edward Darling

Well you heard it on this blog! Whilst I was singing the praises of Bishop Edward on this blog, he was away in Northampton being elected the future Executive President of the Hymn Society of Great Brtiain and Ireland - a position which he will hold for 3 years from 2008. What is amazing is that I had made no contact with Bishop Edward for over 20 years - 'something' just told me to do a blog on him! A friendship has now been renewed thanks to cyberspace!

It all reminds me of a sermon Edward once preached. Apparently a visiting priest was due to preach in a parish one Sunday, and just before he went into the puplit to give his sermon the rector described him as 'the finest preacher in Ireland.' The poor man looked embarassed. But to make matters worse, once the sermon was over the rector clapped his hands and said to the congregation, 'there - didn't I tell you!'

Well I can't resist it. I have to say in conclusion: 'there - didn't I tell you!'

Right words and right actions!

Here we see the father with two awkward sons - no wonder the poor man looks confused!

Here we are in the vineyard at harvest time. The first son promises to help his father - but then just sits down and does nothing! The second refuses to help - but then changes his mind and helps to pick the grapes.

Obviosuly the second son is far more use to his father than the first - but what a pity they didn't both offer to help and then get on with the job.

How do we treat other people when they ask us to help them?

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Now here is faith!

I'm sure we all know the story of the paralytic who was let down on his stretcher through the roof so that Jesus could heal him. Not only did Jesus heal him physically, he also healed him spiritually - he forgave him all his sins.

If only more people today would be eager to go to confession and hear the words of Jesus, 'your sins are forgiven!' I know that there are queues of penitents at Westminster Cathedral, but sadly many of our priests seem rather unemployed in this respect. What a pity - what a lack of faith.

Few of us are reluctant to go to the doctor when we are ill. Why are we so reluctant to go to the priest when we have sinned? I am sure that if we knew the healing power of the sacrament, we would be much more enthusiastic for spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ to those around us!

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Farewell to Powerscourt

Here we have a distant view of Powerscourt. There is something lovely about this part of the Irish countryside.

When through the woods and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,
And hear the brook, and feel the gentle breeze:

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to thee,
How great thou art! How great thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to thee,
How great thou art! How great thou art!

I left Powescourt Gardens on a spiritual high!

Monday, 23 July 2007

Fr Michael Clifton's Blog

Fr Clifton - the former Parish Priest at St Thomas Aquinas, Ham has just started a blog.

You can visit it at michaelclifton.blogspot.com

The blog is called Fr Mildew - I hope he stays well away from the roses in Powerscourt Gardens!

We thank you for the flowers

Today we have some dahlias from Powersourt Gardens. I have always been fond of them - I think it goes back to the time my Grandfather used to grow them in Leeds. My Granmother would always have a lovely display of cut dahlias in the house during late summer and early autumn.

There is a lovely hymn all about flowers in the Church Hymnal (5th Edition - OUP) which is set to the tune 'Tyrol' - a Tyrolese carol melody arranged by Dr Donald Davision MBE, ARSCM.

We thank you, God our Father,
For all your loving care;
We thank you that you made the world
So very bright and fair.
We thank you for the sunshine,
And for the pleasant showers;
We thank you, God our Father,
We thank you for the flowers.

Perhaps we have had enough 'pleasant showers' for the time being. A little more sunshine would be most welcome!

Sunday, 22 July 2007

All things bright and beautiful

A lovely picture for the Day of Resurrection! These beautiful roses in Powerscourt Gardens look even more splendid having been soaked by the rain earier in the day - they now have a wonderful sheen. Perhaps that is what we look like after the Asperges ceremony at Sunday Mass - not that we ever have it at Ham!

Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their tiny wings.

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

Splendid words by the great Irish hymn writer Mrs Cecil Frances Alexander. But which tune? 'All things bright and beautiful' by William Henry Monk, or the Martin Shaw adaptation of 'Royal Oak'? I vote for 'Royal Oak'!

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Summer bedding

Although we probably feel that summer has hardly arrived this year - and Ireland has fared less well than England - nature still moves on from season to season as this summer bedding at Powerscourt Gardens shows.

Summer and winter, and spring-time and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To thy great faithfulness, mercy and love:

Great is thy faithfulness, great is thy faithfulness,
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed thy hand hath provided,
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Friday, 20 July 2007

Thou my high tower

One of the important architectual delights found in Ireland is the high tower. Here is the high tower in Powerscourt Gardens which I had pleasure in climbing. High towers enabled people to escape from their enemies and to guard their belongings against theft.

A much more beautiful round tower can be found at Glendaloch, again in the Wicklow Mountains.

This idea of being defended against the enemy is taken up in words from the beautiful Early Irish hymn 'Rop tu mo baile, a Choimdiu cride', which most us know in English translation as 'Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart.'

Be thou my breast-plate, my sword for the fight;
Be thou my armour, and be thou my might;
Thou my soul's shelter, and thou my high tower,
Raise thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Real horses at Powerscourt and Nigel Dempster RIP

Ireland is very much associated with horses and with horse racing. Here are two lovely horses which I met at Powerscourt - far nicer than Pegasus!

I was thinking of horse racing today, as I assisted at the funeral of Nigel Dempster at the London Oratory. Nigel was a famous columnist for the Daily Mail, and owned a number of race horses. He died last Thursday after a long illness.

During his last few months on earth he would regularly attend the 10.00 am Sunday Mass at Ham, and one could sense his joy at being in the house of God. We pray that he will soon be welcomed into the courts of heaven.

One of the hymns which we sang at the Funeral Mass picks up this theme - and also links in with the photo of the horses in the lovely green fields of Ireland:

The Lord's my shepherd, I'll not want.
He makes me down to lie
In pastures green; he leadeth me
The quiet waters by.

My soul he doth restore again,
And me to walk doth make
Within the paths of righteousness,
E'en for his own name's sake.

Yea, though I walk in death's dark vale,
Yet will I fear none ill;
For thou art with me, and thy rod
And staff me comfort still.

My table thou hast furnished
In presence of my foes;
My head thou dost with oil anoint,
And my cup overflows.

Goodness and mercy all my life
Shall surely follow me;
And in God's house for evermore
My dwelling place shall be.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

A winged horse

You come across some weird creatures in Ireland! Here I was searching for leprechauns in Powerscourt Gardens and I suddenly came across some winged horses!

This one answered to the name of Pegasus, and was most obliging in keeping completely still whilst I photographed it. Sadly, like the Loch Ness Monster, the leprachauns asked not be photographed. Sorry!

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Powerscourt Gardens

Keeping up the Irish theme, I spent a couple of days in Dublin last week, and on Tuesday 10 July visited Powerscourt Gardens.

These beautiful gardens are located about twenty miles south of Dublin in the foothills of the Wicklow mountains. The fountain in the middle of the lake is a very notable feature of these gardens.

What amazed me, in addition to the sheer beauty of the surroundings, was the fact that I almost had the gardens to myself. Very different to Kew Gardens - near where I live!

Monday, 16 July 2007

Who exactly is this Bishop Edward Darling?

Here you can see my boss - Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, questioning me on the recent content of the blog.

No, I'm only joking! This photo was taken at a luncheon held recently at Notre Dame School, Cobham. Earlier in the day I had acted as deacon to the Cardinal at a Sung Mass to mark the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the School.

The Cardinal was born in 1932, Bishop Edward in 1933, and Notre Dame School was founded in 1937. I am a real youngster - having been born in 1953!

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Bishop Edward treks in the alps

Former Board member and current patron and retired Bishop of Limerick, Dr. Edward Darling, took to the slopes of the Alps last August in an effort to raise funds for Bóthar.

Bishop Edward celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination in 2006 and used this landmark in his life to inspire support for his efforts.

His campaign involved contacting all of the people that he had ordained in his lifetime and asking for their support. His requests met with a huge response from friends all over Britain and Ireland.

Bishop Edward had trained for the challenge in the Austrian Alps prior to the trek, which was a godsend for the real test where he excelled at the physical challenges that faced him on the slopes.

His presence in the group of 30 fellow participants was a huge boost to the event, both in terms of his fundraising contribution and in terms of his passion for the work of Bóthar.

On a personal note, one book in my collection which I really treasure is 'Choosing the Hymns' by Edward Darling. It was given to me as a gift in 1984, with the simple inscription 'To Peter - A memento of your love of hymns - Edward'. I have tried to follow Edward's example by taking great care over the choice of hymns sung in the Chapel of the Resurrection. It saddens me how poor the choice of hymns tends to be in the Catholic Church today - even (dare I say!) in our great Cathedrals.

As I said in earlier posts - what a remarkable man!

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Bishop Edward Darling & Dr Donald Davison MBE, ARSCM

Here is Bishop Edward pictured on the Golden Jubilee of his ordination to the diaconate in June 2006. He celebrated the day in his former parish of St John's Malone, South Belfast. He is pictured here with his wife Patricia, some of their children (and their spouses), and their grandchildren. A real family gathering! Edward was born in 1933.

After spending 13 years as Rector of St John's, Edward was appointed Bishop of Limerick in November 1985. His successor as Rector of Malone (Alan Harper) is now the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh.

We often sing Edward's words in the anthem 'All created things, bless the Lord!' at St Thomas Aquinas, Ham. The music is by Dr Donald Davison, Organist and Choirmaster at St John's Malone. Donald is pictured here after receiving his MBE earlier this year from HM The Queen at Buckingham Palace.

I got to know Donald when we were both on the teaching staff of The Queen's Univesity of Belfast.

Bishop Edward Darling and Dr Donald Davison were both the main editors of the Church Hymnal, published by Oxford University Press in 2000. It is a fine book, reflecting the enormous talent associated with St John's Malone. I quote now from the website of the Royal School of Church Music which honoured Donald in 2006.

'We move to Belfast, where Dr Donald Davison has worked over many years to support the worship and music of the whole Church of Ireland. This is in addition to his work as a parish organist and director of music, and until recently as University Organist at Queen’s and City Organist in Belfast. His career is that of a university lecturer in mathematical sciences; but the organ and church music have been as important a part of his life. In particular, the RSCM wishes to mark Dr Davison’s contribution to the new liturgy of the Church of Ireland; and especially his work as music editor of the fifth edition of the Church Hymnal, and his co-authorship with Bishop Edward Darling of the excellent Companion to that hymnal. On the recommendation of the Archbishop of Armagh, the Council of the RSCM has the greatest pleasure in appointing Dr Donald Davison to the Associateship of the Royal School of Church Music.'

The anthem 'All created things, bless the Lord!' is very suitable for Harvest Festival, and I should be pleased to make a copy available to anyone who requests it. Of course the copy would be for personal use only, and should not be used for public performance without the prior permission of the copyright holders. Simply let me have your email address with the request.

You may wish to make a thank offering to Bishop Edwards special charity - Bothar. Please visit www.bothar.org for details.

Friday, 13 July 2007

Wet and windy weather in Belfast

Sadly the sun did not shine on the 12th July Parades in Northern Ireland. As the photo shows, the weather was wet and windy. It could not have been easy carrying the great banners all those miles.

I was delighted to receive warm greetings on the phone from my friend Douglas Gibson - Glebewarden at St John's Malone. It was good to chat about 'old times', and to learn of the excellent work being done by Bishop Edward Darling - who is now enjoying retirement with his wife Patricia in Moira.

I have such happy memories of that great Church of Ireland priest. He boasts an even greater love of hymns than I do! Not only has he written some fine words, he has also composed a few fine tunes. I owe so much to his inspired ministry.

On an ecumenical note, congratulations to Fr Terry Phipps, the Rector of St James's, Spanish Place, London, who today celebrates the Silver Jubilee of his ordination as a deacon.

I was privileged to act as deacon to Fr Terry yesterday, when he celebrated a Mass to mark the Golden Weddings Anniversaries of two couples - one of whom (Laurence and Maureen Philpotts) have connections with Latymer Upper School.

Fr Terry is seen here blessing the deacon prior to the chanting of the Gospel at a Solemn High Mass in the Tridentine Rite.

However, I was not put to the test! The Mass yesterday was said in English in the Modern Roman Rite.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

12th July

I send warm greetings to all my Protestant friends in Northern Ireland who will be watching the parades today.

We rejoice at all that has been achieved during the past year in bringing the different communities together.

We pray that the parades today - which mark the 317th Anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne - will be peaceful and good-natured. Let's hope for some sun!

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Cutting the cake!

The anniversary cake was a lemon cake - it was absolutely delicious!

Before the cake was eaten, there was a gourmet barbecue to enjoy. I drank champagne and feasted on fresh salmon.

I was able to share the cake with the congregation of St Thomas Aquinas, Ham following the main Mass on Sunday morning. I even took a piece to Betty Wells (aged 90) later on in the day when I visited her home to give her Holy Communion.

So the cake fed plenty of people - though not quite 5,000!

Monday, 9 July 2007

Anniversary Cake

I had a big surpise at the party held after Mass on my 10th anniversary - a cake!

Here it is! It is cross shaped and backed by two candles marking my double figures years of service - 1 and 0! But what was the cake like? You will have to wait for my next post to find out - unless you are one of the lucky people to have eaten it!

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Friends at my Anniversary

I was delighted to have a number of friends with Latymer connections present at Mass on my anniversary.

Mr Malcolm Smith represented the Head, and Helen came with two of her three sons. The person to my right in the alb is Edward Henley.

Edward has just completed his first year of formation for the priesthood at Allen Hall. He is a former pupil of Latymer Upper School.

Saturday, 7 July 2007

10th Anniversary of Ordination

I celebrated the tenth anniversary of my ordination as a deacon on Thursday 5 July. I acted as deacon at the Solemn Mass at Westminster Cathedral and gave the homily.

I was delighted that Monsignor Mark Langham was the principal celebrant. Not only is he the Cathedral Administrator, he was my spiritual director during my years of formation, and was one of the main concelebrants at my Ordination Mass on Saturday 5 July 1997.

Here I am pictured with Fr Mark at the end of the Mass last Thursday.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Martha and Mary

Today is the last day of the School Year at Latymer. We have all been frantically busy during the past few weeks - we have all been like Martha, so preoccupied with our tasks. As we start the School holidays we have a chance to learn more from Mary - to take some time out from our duties so as to sit at the Master's feet.

Today we think particuarly of Chris Hammond and Andy Leake - two of our Assistant Heads who leave us after many years of faithful service. We wish them both happy and blessed retirements.

Holy Saviour, calm our fears
When earth's brightness disappears;
Grant us in our latter years
Light at evening time.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Jesus calms the storm

We've been thinking much about the weather recently - it has been very wet, and whilst this has not pleased visitors to Wimbledon, it has caused much more serious heartache to those whose homes have been flooded in Sheffield and other towns and villages. We keep them in our prayers.

Jesus calmed the storm that suddenly threatened the lives of his disciples those 2,000 years ago. Sometimes we too feel threatened by the storms of life. Let us turn with confidence to Jesus who can still save us today.

I think of these words in the hymn 'Sweet Sacrament divine.'

Sweet Sacrament of rest,
Ark from the ocean's roar,
Within thy shelter blest
Soon may we reach the shore;
Save us, for still the tempest raves,
Save, lest we sink beneath the waves:
Sweet Sacrament of rest;
Sweet Sacrament of rest.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Let the children come to me!

What a lovely picture for a School Chapel. Admittedly these children are far younger than those at Latymer - but the message is clear - Jesus welcomes us all, young and old.

The adults who come to the Chapel of the Resurrection are always happy when the pupils come joyfully and reverently to worship - and one knows how pleased Jesus is to see them.

However, I know some churches where children are not always made to feel welcome - I wonder what Jesus must think? For he said 'unless you become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven!'

Monday, 2 July 2007

And some fell on good soil

We all know the parable of the sower!

The Word of God has been sown in our lives - but what sort of ground has it fallen on? Has it fallen on good soil? Is it going to yield a rich harvest?

Let's take the Word of God to heart and ensure that we give 'Glory to God in the highest' by the way we live our lives.