Once again I am pleased to be able to send you the coming week’s Newsletter together with the Readings for Holy Mass this weekend. Hopefully this greeting will find you well and strengthened to know that despite the necessary differences of the particular time we are living through our Parish communities continue to be as they have always been, serving our Faith family, and many more besides.
As I have heard it said, and occasionally say myself, I couldn’t have written the script last Saturday morning as I concluded my few lines to you. Having commented on the autumnal atmosphere and darkness of the morning, the next chapter of garden life at the Presbytery in Cleckheaton, was the arrival of a very vocal duck, making its way up the driveway. Being somewhat ‘plagued’ by cats (sorry cat lovers !) I went out to see if the duck had been involved in a skirmish with one of the numerous collared felines (clearly someone’s, but not mine!) who also find their way into the garden. Boldly, and still very loudly making her presence felt, the duck and I met half way up the drive. She appeared uninjured, just curious and quite undeterred by my six feet of height peering at her. Behind me was the very friendly, and ever-present robin, clearly pleased to have a familiar wall of human being standing between himself and the new arrival, as he cautiously assessed the scenario. Returning to the Presbytery I noted throughout the morning that the duck remained in the garden quite contentedly taking a good look round, and on more than one occasion finding somewhere to nest for a while. Having had a walk around the garden after the lunchtime Mass and seeing nothing of the duck, I was satisfied that she had a arrived and departed as a visitor and was not looking for permanent lodgings. With some further land clearance taking place nearby, she had probably found herself forcibly evicted from a place of quiet seclusion and was viewing potential new sites to take up residence ! The robin is quite clearly back in situ as king of all he surveys, bobbing around without a care in the world. Hopefully he keeps an eye out for the cats and remains deft enough to avoid their stealthly approaches.
The presumed search of the visiting duck for new pastures and a new life reminded me of some words written by Cardinal Newman. Yesterday (Friday) we celebrated his feastday. The second as a saint of our Faith tradition. Some of you may well have been in Birmingham when Pope Benedict raised him to the status of Blessed John Henry Newman during the Papal Visit on September 2010. It is hard to believe that event is already a decade ago ! Throughout his life, and it was a long life, almost ninety years, St. John Henry Newman was seeking to understand God’s will for him. The reflection enclosed seems apt for our own time when many are seeking a purposeful existence amidst huge change to what had become the norm of life and living within our society. The wisdom of the words of a saint – one of our own countrymen – remind us that whoever we are, wherever we find ourselves, whatever we profess to being, God has a plan for us, which is uniquely ours, and has been offered to no one else in the entire expanse of history. Our response is very Lucan, to listen and respond, as depicted by Our Blessed Lady in the his account of the Annunciation. May we each do so generously, even if unlike the duck we don’t currently even have the freedom to wander aimlessly up the driveway of our neighbours ! One day we will.
God knows me and calls me by my name.…
God has created me to do Him some definite service;
He has committed some work to me
which He has not committed to another.
I have my mission—I never may know it in this life,
but I shall be told it in the next.
Somehow I am necessary for His purposes…
I have a part in this great work;
I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection
He has not created me for naught. I shall do good,
I shall do His work;
I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth
in my own place, while not intending it,
if I do but keep His commandments
and serve Him in my calling.
Therefore I will trust Him.
Whatever, wherever I am,
I can never be thrown away.
If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him;
In perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him;
If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him.
My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be
necessary causes of some great end,
which is quite beyond us.
He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life,
He may shorten it;
He knows what He is about.
He may take away my friends,
He may throw me among strangers,
He may make me feel desolate,
make my spirits sink, hide the future from me—
still He knows what He is about.…
Let me be Thy blind instrument. I ask not to see—
I ask not to know—I ask simply to be used.
from Meditations and Devotions,
“Meditations on Christian Doctrine,”
“Hope in God—Creator”, March 7, 1848
Be assured of continuing prayerful and affectionate remembrance.