Saturday, 31 May 2008

Ham Common - 5

Here are three ducks enjoying a siesta on Ham Common!

Please pray for a good friend of mine - Rev Edward Houghton, being Ordained to the Priesthood today at 6 pm by His Eminence Cormac Murphy-O Connor in Westminster Cathedral.

Friday, 30 May 2008

Feast of the Sacred Heart

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Thine for ever! God of love,
Hear us from thy throne above;
Thine for ever may we be
Here and in eternity.

Thine for ever! O, how blest
They who find in thee their rest!
Saviour, Guardian, heavenly Friend,
O defend us to the end.

Thine for ever! Lord of life,
Shield us through our earthly strife;
Thou the Life, the Truth, the Way,
Guide us to the realms of day.

Thine for ever! Shepherd, keep
These thy frail and trembling sheep;
Safe alone beneath thy care,
Let us all thy goodness share.

Thine for evere! thou our Guide,
All our wants by thee supplied,
All our sins by thee forgiven,
Let by thee from earth to heaven.

Happy Feast!

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Ham Common - 4

Here we see some swans and ducks enjoying the afternoon sun on the pond on Ham Common.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Ham Common - 3

Here is the pond on Ham Common - which lies midway between my flat and St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Ham Common - 2

No, this is not my house - it is Forbes House on Ham Common. However, I do live less than 100 yards away!

Monday, 26 May 2008

Ham Common - 1

We are now going to have a brief series entitled 'Ham Common' - the place where I live, close to Richmond Park in Surrey.

The last time I showed you the Common (6 April), it was covered in snow. Not any longer! It is now in glorious green - for Ordinary Time.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Alleluia! Sing to Jesus - 18

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ.

Lord, enthroned in heavenly splendour,
First-begotten from the dead,
Thou alone, our strong Defender,
Liftest up thy people's head.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Jesu, true and living Bread!

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.

Though the lowliest form doth veil thee
As of old in Bethlehem,
Here as there thine Angels hail thee,
Branch and Flower of Jesse's stem.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
We in worship join with them.

Paschal Lamb, thine offering finished
Once for all when thou wast slain,
In its fulness undiminished
Shall for evermore remain,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Cleaning souls from every stain.

Life-imparting heavenly Manna,
Stricken Rock with streaming side,
Heaven and earth with loud hosanna
Worship theee, the Lamb who died,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Risen, ascended, glorified!

Happy Feast!

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Lambeth Palace - 3

Robert Runcie was (the 102nd) archbishop from 1980-1991. Previously he had been Bishop of St Albans, and I met him twice in this role. On one occasion I was an altar server at the service he was taking, and he asked me (very politely!) to unpack his bag. I was amused to find amongst all his robes a Marks and Spencer's pork pie. He noticed my amusement and said 'oh dear, you're not Jewish are you?' He had a keen sense of humour, and even appeared on the Michael Parkinson show. He had the joy of welcoming Pope John Paul II to Canterbury Cathedral in May 1982.

George Carey was (the 103rd) archbishop from 1991 - 2003, and he is now living in retirement. He had previously been Bishop of Bath and Wells. I met him once at Westminster Cathedral, when I was deacon at a Requiem Mass for Cardinal Basil Hume in June 1999. He did not seem at home at the service - but then of course, that was sadly the case.

The present (104th) archbishop (since 2003) is a Welshman - Dr Rowan Williams. He enjoys good relations with the Roman Catholic Church, but is going through hard times in his leadership of the Anglican Communion. Please pray for him as he prepares to host the 2008 Lambeth Conference.

We have some alleluias to look forward to on Sunday.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Lambeth Palace - 2

As I walked down the corridor from the State Reception Room to the Guard Room (where dinner was served), I passed the portraits of a number of former Archbishops of Canterbury. I recognised four of them.

Michael Ramsay was (the 100th) archbishop from 1961-1974. He was a very saintly man, and longed for the Anglican Church to be reunited with the Roman Catholic Church. He was also keen on unity with the Methodist Church. I had the privilege of meeting him three times - twice as archbishop, and once after retirement. On this last occasion (Holy Week 1978) he and his wife joined me in my flat for supper. I served them roast chicken!

Donald Coggan was (the 101st) archbishop from 1974-1980. He came from the Low Church tradition, and had previously been Archbishop of York and Bishop of Bradford. As a Yorkshireman, I strongly approved of his pedigree! I had the privilege of meeting him twice, and found him easy to get on with. He never sampled my cooking!

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Lambeth Palace - 1

Last Friday I was invited to dinner at Lambeth Palace - the London home of the Archbishop of Canterbury (Church of England - Protestant). Here I am at the front door!

I was allowed in, and was pleased to see an image of the Resurrection at the top of the staircase leading to the State Reception Room.

I didn't think much of the flower arrangement - but doubt that the Archbishop was personally to blame!

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Welcome Spring - 42

Primroses and bluebells (again at Harlow Carr Gardens) are both welcome signs of Spring.

Kindly Spring again is here,
Trees and fields in bloom appear;
Hark! the birds with artless lays
Warble their Creator's praise.

Where in winter all was snow,
Now the flowers in clusters grow;
And the corn in green array,
Promises a harvest-day.

Lord, afford a spring to me,
Let me feel like what I see;
Speak, and by thy gracious voice,
Make my drooping soul rejoice.

On thy garden, deign ro smile,
Raise the plants, enrich the soil;
Soon thy presence will restore
Life to what seemed dead before.

Tomorrow, we shall be visiting Lambeth Palace in London.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Welcome Spring - 41

Here we have two more varieties of tulip at Harlow Carr - there are so many lovely colours!

Monday, 19 May 2008

Welcome Spring - 40

Another splendid shrub at Harlow Carr.

Today marks the opening of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2008. I am not exhibiting - this year!

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Alleluia! Sing to Jesus - 17

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Trinity - one of my favourite feasts of the year.

Let us join our voices with all the heavenly host in a great paean of praise.

Ye watchers and ye holy ones,
Bright Seraphs, Cherubim and Thrones,
Raise the glad strain, Alleluia!
Cry out Dominions, Princedoms, Powers,
Virtues, Archangels, Angels' choirs,
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

O higher than the Cherubim,
More glorious than the Seraphim,
Lead their praises, Alleluia!
Thou bearer of the eternal Word,
Most gracious, magnify the Lord,
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Respond, ye souls in endless rest,
Ye Patriarchs and Prophets blest,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Ye holy Twelve, ye Martyrs strong,
All Saints triumphant, raise the song
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

O friends, in gladness let us sing,
Supernal anthems echoing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
To God the Father, God the Son,
And God the Spirit, Three in One,
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

This was my favourite hymn when I was a choirboy. We sang a fantastic descant to verse 4.

Happy Feast!

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Welcome Spring - 39

I'm no plant expert - but here is a photo of a lovely specimen on a flowering (not burning!) bush in Harlow Carr Gardens.

To me this represents how man can work with the Creator in a laudable manner. Many of the plants at Harlow Carr show the fruits of research by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and other organisations. Beautiful colours have been cultivated which help raise the heart of man in wonder and awe.

And man, the marvel seeing,
Forgets his selfish seeing,
For joy of beauty not his own.

That to me is true worship - a fitting thought as we look forward to the celebration of Trinity Sunday. We have no less than 26 alleluias tomorrow!

Friday, 16 May 2008

Welcome Spring - 38

Here we have a pot of yellow/green tulips with white hyacinths. The scent was lovely.

This colour scheme is very suitable for Ordinary Time. The Anglican Archbishop of Armagh (Most Reverend Alan Harper) would definitely approve. When he was Rector of St John's Malone in Belfast he used to order green flowers - for around 25 weeks in succession!

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Welcome Spring - 37

Here are some magnificent tulips at Harlow Carr Gardens. They are such a powerful mix of colours - a great image for these days following the Day of Pentecost!

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Welcome Spring - 36

Here is a lovely Spring scene at Harlow Carr Gardens.

I noticed that things were far more behind in North Yorkshire than in London. In Harrogate the narcissi and daffodils were still at their best in early May.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Welcome Spring - 35

When visiting North Yorkshire, I always like to go to Harlow Carr Gardens just outside Harrogate. These lovely gardens belong to the Royal Horticultural Society.

Here is a photo of the crowds on May Day Bank Holiday! I shall show you some of the Spring blooms over the next few days. As I have mentioned before, if you ever visit these gardens be sure to take some refreshment at Betty's Cafe - it is a real Yorkshire treat!

Monday, 12 May 2008

Welcome Spring - 34

I paid a visit to the family in Boston Spa (West Yorkshire) over the May Bank Holiday. Here is some broom in full bloom in my sister and brother-in-law's front garden.

Although I don't usually include such pictures in my blog, I might be in the dog-house if I don't include a photo of the two dogs.

After licking the bowl clean, they swap places to make sure the other dog hasn't left anything - they never have!

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Alleluia! Sing to Jesus - 16

Here we have a photo of the Paschal Candle in the Chapel of the Resurrection - decorated with red flowers for the Feast of Pentecost.

Holy Spirit, Lord of light,
From the clear celestial height
Thy pure beaming radiance give.
Come, thou Father of the poor,
Come with treasures which endure;
Come, thou light of all that live!

Thou, of all consolers best,
Thou, the soul's delightful guest,
Dost refreshing peace bestow.
Thou in toil art comfort sweet;
Pleasant coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.

Light immortal, light divine,
Visit thou these hearts of thine,
And our inmost being fill:
If thou take thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay;
All his good is turned to ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour thy dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.

Thou, on us who evermore
Thee confess and thee adore,
With thy sevenfold gifts descend:
Give us comfort when we die;
Give us life with thee on high;
Give us joys that never end.

Alleluia! Alleluia!
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful,
and kindle in them the fire of your love.

Happy Feast!

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Welcome Spring - 33

Here is a photo of the lovely view which greeted me from the front steps of the Culloden Hotel prior to my journey to the CCEA Headquarters in Clarendon Dock.

Bishop John Baptist Crozier certainly had a good view from his Palace. Oh for the good old days!

The Culloden Hotel served me a fantastic breakfast. Porridge with a generous measure of Irish Whiskey poured over it (at 7.30 am!), Isle of Man Kippers, and County Down Yoghurt. The coffee was wonderful and strong - it needed to be!

Friday, 9 May 2008

Welcome Spring - 32

Here is a photo of the Culloden Hotel near Belfast, where I stay when on CCEA business.

The house you see was built by a Mr Robinson, and named 'Culloden House' in honour of his wife, Lady Elizabeth Jane Culloden. On the death of Mr Robinson in 1884, his widow conveyed the property to the Church.

So at the end of the 19th century, Culloden House came to be the official residence of the Bishop of the Diocese, and was known as the Bishop's Palace. The Bishop of Down and Connor, the Right Reverend Thomas James Willand took up residence in Culloden House in 1898. In subsequent years three Bishops lived at the Culloden. During the tenure of Bishop John Baptist Crozier (what a name for a bishop!) a private Chapel was dedicated within the house.

Eventually the house was considered too grand for a bishop, and the Church sold the property, and it was converted into a hotel. Sadly the Chapel is used no more - it is now the 'Mitre Bar' (no comment).

In 1996, the Culloden became the first hotel in Northern Ireland to be granted 5 star staus. After several major renovations and extensions, the hotel now boasts 105 deluxe bedroom suites, 11 luxurious self-catering apartments, 6 private banqueting suites and a luxurious Spa!

The hotel is the first choice of any VIPs coming to Belfast - politicians, pop stars and sporting heros! Former guests include, Tony Blair, Tom Jones, Sir Cliff Richard, Sir James Galway, Bono from U2, Bobbie Williams. Ainsley Harriot, Michael Ball, Chris Rea, Kenneth Brannagh, Alan Whicker, John Major, Lionel Ritchie, The Corrs, Lloyd Grossman, Ben Elton, the 1998 World Cup Winning French Football team, the English football team, captained by David Beckham, the Spanish Football team and the Irish Rugby Team. The name of Deacon Peter can now be added to this litany of the greats.

Yes, the Culloden Estate and Spa, "Built for a Bishop....Fit for a Deacon!"

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Welcome Spring - 31

When I stay in Belfast, CCEA arrange accommodation for me at a lovely hotel on the North Down coast - overlooking Belfast Lough.

This was the stormy scene one Friday afternoon - the next morning all was calm! In Spring the weather can change so much from one day to the next.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Welcome Spring - 30

I recently attended a meeting of the Northern Ireland Examinations Board (CCEA) at their Headquarters in Belfast. These are located in Clarendon Dock.

These two photos show the view from our meeting room. I can't remember much about the meeting - but the view was great!

It is marvelous seeing this part of Belfast springing back to life. I remember it being so lifeless during 'the troubles' of the 1970's and 1980's. A lovely thought for Eastertide.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Welcome Spring - 29

Here is another view of Teddington Lock - showing some boats moored up. One of these boats belongs to the Parish Priest of St Thomas Aquinas Ham, Fr Walter Walsh.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Welcome Spring - 28

Here is an early morning view of Teddington Lock on the River Thames. The river forms the dividing line between the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster in the North, and Southwark on the South. I live in the Archdiocese of Southwark, but work in the Archdiocese of Westminster, and so usually cross over the River Thames twice a day.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Alleluia! Sing to Jesus - 15

On this glorious Festival Day, we have an image of the Chapel of the Resurrection - decked out in festal array.

Hail the day that sees him rise, Alleluia!
Glorious to his native skies; Alleluia!
Christ, awhile to mortals given, Alleluia!
Enters now the highest heaven! Alleluia!

There the glorious triumph waits; Alleluia!
Lift your heads, eternal gates! Alleluia!
Christ hath vanquished death and sin; Alleluia!
Take the King of glory in. Alleluia!

See! the heaven its Lord receives, Alleluia!
Yet he loves the earth he leaves: Alleluia!
Though returning to his throne, Alleluia!
Still he calls mankind his own. Alleluia!

See! he lifts his hands above; Alleluia!
See! he shows the prints of love: Alleluia!
Hark! his gracious lips bestow, Alleluia!
Blessings on his Church below. Alleluia!

Still for us he intercedes; Alleluia!
His prevailing death he pleads; Alleluia!
Near himself prepares our place, Alleluia!
Harbinger of human race. Alleluia!

Lord, though parted from our sight, Alleluia!
Far above yon azure height, Alleluia!
Grant our hearts may thither rise, Alleluia!
Seeking thee beyond the skies. Alleluia!

There we shall with thee remain, Alleluia!
Partners of thine endless reign; Alleluia!
There thy face unclouded see, Alleluia!
Find our heaven of heavens in thee. Alleluia!

Happy Feast!

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Welcome Spring - 27

Our photo today - taken just outside Little Stretton, reminds me of a lovely verse taken from the poem 'From Clee to heaven the beacon burns' by A E Houseman. This forms part of 'The Shropshire Lad'.

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough
And stands about the woodland rise
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Welcome Spring - 26

One could hardly have a more Spring-time image than this - lambs in the fields near Little Stretton.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Alleluia! Sing to Jesus - 14

I shall be celebrating the Ascension of the Lord on Sunday - but some people celebrate it today - the 40th day of Easter. Our hymn seems appropriate for these people. Our photo is of Easter lilies in the Chapel of the Resurrection.

Alleluia! Sing to Jesus,
His the sceptre, his the throne;
Alleluia! His the triumph,
His the victory alone:
Hark! the songs of peaceful Sion
Thunder like a mighty flood;
Jesus, out of every nation,
Hath redeemed us by his blood.

Alleluia! Not as orphans
Are we left in sorrow now;
Alleluia! He is near us,
Faith believes, nor questions how;
Though the cloud from sight received him
When the forty days were o'er,
Shall our hearts forget his promise,
'I am with you evermore'?

Alleluia! Bread of angels,
Thou on earth our Food, our Stay;
Alleluia! Here the sinful
Flee to thee from day to day;
Intercessor, Friend of sinners,
Earth's Redeemer, plead for me,
Where the songs of all the sinless
Sweep across the crystal sea.

Alleluia! King eternal,
Thee the Lord of lords we own;
Alleluia! Born of Mary,
Earth thy footstool, Heaven thy throne:
Thou within the veil hast entered,
Robed in flesh, our great High Priest;
Thou on earth both Priest and Victim
In the Eucharistic Feast.

We shall have 'Hail the day that sees him rise' on Sunday!