Wednesday, 27 November 2013

TARDIS moments

Yesterday morning I was leaving Christ the King Church for the cemetery after celebrating a Requiem Mass. As I made my way through the groups of people chatting outside the church, and as I passed two men in conversation, one of them was mentioning the name "Lynn Jones". I stopped in my tracks, as that was my father's name, and a rare name at that. I hovered for a moment a few feet from them, and established that they were, indeed talking about a teacher from their past. I presumed that they were mentioning him because they knew that I am his son, but instead they looked round at me quizzically, clearly wondering what on earth I wanted. "Excuse me", I explained, "I heard you talking about
Lynn Jones." "Oh yes", one said, "you wouldn't know him though, he was a teacher in Roath Park School years ago." I revealed who I was, and realised that in fact it was a complete coincidence that they were mentioning my dad at that exact moment. They were reminiscing about "the good old days" as we often do after funerals, don't we? Luckily they remembered him fondly, as a good teacher, very funny - but very free with the cane, too.
Moving on rapidly from that last detail, I was instantly filled with memories of my dad who died in 1992. It was so nice to discover that the men were - on the whole - speaking well of him. Strange how we can be taken back instantly, even by an extraordinary coincidence such as that one at a funeral.
Music can also do that. Here is a video of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" being performed by Anne and Nancy Wilson from the band Heart with backing group, orchestra and choir. The three surviving members, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones were receiving some award in the Kennedy Arts Center in Washington DC, and the son of John Bonham plays the drums. I'm not a fan usually of tribute performances, but this one is done very well. When the choir comes in, Plant fills up and Page quivers too...   Apparently the video went viral when it was released a year ago, but I never caught it. So enjoy - and turn it up!  Take a trip back in time to the 70s, and look out too for those time capsule moments in everyday life, that sometimes would be better called not coincidences but God-incidences.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Farewell to Fr Frederick

So our friend Father Frederick called in today to say goodbye. Frederick is a Franciscan from Bangla Desh who has spent two years studying at the Franciscan Study Centre in Canterbury. He spent the two last summers and last Christmas helping out, and was a great hit with everybody, including myself. His constant refrains when faced with anything he couldn't handle "I am a Franciscan!" for once did actually fit the reality. His loving gentleness did reflect, it seemed, the nature of the great founder of his congregation.
Frederick now returns to Bangla Desh, to a position of great responsibility in the formation of young seminarians. As such he will have influence over not just the individuals, but also over they people whom they will, in turn pastor. From what I have seen of him, he will do a great job. Say a prayer for Father Suzon Frederick Rozario, of the Third Order Regular Franciscans. 

Thursday, 14 November 2013

A Road to Emmaus

Another good video from Inside Da Box - simple, short and well-made. This one is on the Eucharist.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Marriage and the Family II

My last posting has been viewed 107 times so far, which is pretty good going for an obscure li'l blog like mine. It seems to have touched the spot for a few people...  
Much like the new questionnaire issued in preparation for the Synod of Bishops next year - except for the opposite reason. One person who read my post said that it showed I grasped something of marriage. I take that as a compliment, as not being married of course myself, I do like to think I'm pretty observant, I listen a lot, and have been around for a while now. Hopefully what I put made some connection with people's real experience. 
Now I'm glad that the Bishops have made sure that the questionnaire is available to all in the Church, but I'm a bit worried about its style. You would think that a body like the Vatican that also listens a lot, observes a lot, and has been around for much, much longer, would know how to speak in language people could grasp. And it is no excuse really to say that the questions are intended really for the Bishops. That's just saying that they too are living on a different planet. The part that irks me about these kind of documents and exercises is that if I, as a parish priest, put out something like this to our parishioners, I'd get either laughter - or tears. So why is it OK in the upper, or inner, areas of the Church?
To lighten the tone, and for no reason other than it's eye-catching, funny and clever, here's a roadside Church ad from the USA

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Sacrament moment

I make no apology for re-posting Rembrandt's "The Jewish Bride" from the Rijksmuseum. Something very special happened on Wednesday. Well, if I tell you that nine of my family flew by private plane to Paris to celebrate the Ruby wedding of my sister and brother-in-law in a restaurant facing Notre-Dame Cathedral, then something wonderful clearly did happen. But what I mean is something happened on a deeper level than this extravagant celebration of life. And not just forty years of married life, but, given the fact that both of them have suffered from cancer over the last few years, this was a celebration of life itself. The very extravagance of the moment seemed to point to something about love, and its dynamic energy that will not be contained. Such was the desire to celebrate that nothing ordinary would do.
As we relaxed back at my sister's house in the evening, I found myself wondering if it had all really happened. Had I really eaten beef tartare facing Notre Dame just a few hours before? For the trip contained that other ingredient that speaks of love - mystery. It was as if we were suddenly parachuted into Paris, ate, drank, enjoyed one another's company, toasted the couple - in a different world, lifted, for a moment, out of the ordinary.
I guess what I am trying to say is that this was for me - and maybe for others - really a spiritual event as well as an utterly enjoyable and very worldly one. It connected with sign and meaning, with love and mystery, with hope and thanksgiving, and a whole list of other deeply human realities. In the language of my world, it took on the garb of a liturgy of life and of love. It quite simply worked, and on so many levels.
So thank you to my family, and especially to Ju and Graham, for making this sacrament - the marriage and the day - work.