Come and live…

(did you think this was a vocations-related post? 😀 )

Come and live close to a (our) monastery!

The Abbey owns some houses which are let out to tenants, and two are currently available. This post has only the briefest of outlines, so if you’d like to know more or to come and visit, please get in touch with our agents at their details below.

Abbey House (Rightmove) is next door to us – there would be a clear view across to the monastery were it not for some magnificent trees providing some privacy! It has three bedrooms upstairs, one of which is en-suite, and has private parking on its own driveway. The rent is £750pcm.

2 Abbey Cottages is at the bottom of the drive, just off the main road in Little Haywood. It is an older house, with two bedrooms upstairs. The rent is £550 pcm.

Boot & Son in Cannock are handling the lettings for us; they have all the information you could need and would be happy to hear from you:

01543 50 54 54

19 Wolverhampton Road, Cannock, WS11 1DG

lumen ad revelationem gentium

To be a light to enlighten the Gentiles, and to be the glory of your people Israel

On this day, in two different years, one of my sisters was clothed in the holy habit and another entered the enclosure to begin her religious life. Ad multos annos!

Candlemas is contradictory; or at least, like so much in the Gospels, it doesn’t seem to do what it says on the tin.

In a screen adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, during one of the kids’ secret meetings in Colin’s room, Mary tells him about one of the deities in Indian mythology: this one god looked just like anyone else on the outside, but he could fit the whole universe down his throat. Colin of course scoffs at such nonsense (incidentally, hands up if you remember the film I’m thinking of, and were also enthralled by the dramatic shots of wild Yorkshire landscapes….).

Forty days after the birth of Jesus, the Holy Family set out to Jerusalem in order to present their son, who opened His mother’s womb, to redeem Him and purify His mother. This is all to obey the Law of Moses, but it’s patent nonsense – a Redeemer needs no redeeming, and the purest and most whole of women in no way ought to be purified.

On the outside, however, this was no different to any other couple bringing their first-born to the Temple. Were it not for the Spirit-inspired proclamations of Simeon and Anna it would surely have passed unnoticed and unremembered by anyone else who happened to be there on that day: even if their actions and words had been noticed, what are the odds that it would instead have been brushed off by an observer as the ramblings of an old man and woman?

The Purification is not what it seems to be; the work being done is hidden beneath the apparent. It is when we look at the larger picture of the earthly life of Our Lord that we can see how all these episodes in the early part of Our Lord’s life – His Nativity, Circumcision, Presentation, Baptism, and His first miracle at Cana – fit into the whole: where the Law given by Moses is completed and made perfect; where the types of the past find their culmination.

As well as bringing about His perfection of the old Law, in the events of today’s feast Our Lord gives us another example of encouragement in our interior lives. There are times when what we do might not make sense, either to us, or to those around us; we may wonder at how we just ‘go through the motions’ with our heart not really being in it; we might be surprised at how others’ impressions of ourselves can differ so radically from what we see of ourselves.

In today’s post- and anti-Christian world, where we have lost our sense of identity as valuable, priceless, utterly loved and lovable creatures of the Almighty, we are all too apt to (dare I say it) despair at the non sequiturs within ourselves. Social media and the criticism coming from the world more often than not can exacerbate this, and help it morph into self-loathing. Barely a day seems to pass when we read of someone who has taken his own life because of an inner despair.

But in the apparent ‘contradiction’ of events like today’s in the life of Our Lord, we might see a glimmer – to become the strongest ray of bright sunlight – of the hope for Israel that Simeon spoke of. God knows what He is about; He has made us for Himself, and we have inestimable value because of this.

Let us persevere with patience, as spoken about in Friday’s Mass readings, in our journey with and towards Christ in His Church. Despite the worst confusions, He will, can, and already has, made perfect sense of it all.

Always we begin again

The blog has been updated! We do not actually have any snow on the ground (last night’s flurry notwithstanding), but it’s chilly today so the new header picture is appropriate.

After the preparations of Advent and subsequent Christmas celebrations, life has settled down to normal (although there is little of either the settling or the normal around here) and the liturgy has switched to Ordinary Time.

Ordinary Time is of course not very ordinary at all. Rather, it was once explained, this is ordered time: instead of drifting through winter, vaguely hoping for warmer weather, there is a purpose and direction to each day and week, carefully measuring our spiritual progress until we begin preparing for Easter. In our Office we still count the weeks after Epiphany, a method which I think roots us all the more firmly in the reality of the liturgical year.

A thought from Father’s homily this morning struck me forcefully: we all of us come with our own background, experiences, and history. We are immensely complicated people, in modern life perhaps moreso than our predecessors fifty or a hundred years ago, but no person is or has ever been one-dimensional. Despite our complexities, the call of Christ, to us as to Levi the tax collector¹, is alarmingly and disarmingly simple: follow me!

With these words, I believe, Our Lord asks us to let Him deal with all the barriers between Him and us. The difficulties we face in life are not belittled (indeed, we are promised even more of them!), but they are given perspective and purpose in two short words. In this one moment Our Lord looked Levi in the eye and invited him to a completely different life: one which to an outsider looks exactly the same, but which interiorly is utterly transformed.

It is this to-the-point nature of Christ which I believe the author of Hebrews means in today’s Epistle²: a sharp double-edged blade that will slice cleanly what no other can even touch. There is no hiding from Our Lord’s influence in our lives! It is challenging, and sometimes intimidating; it is also renewing, revolutionary, and the way by which we can come to eternal happiness.

Tomorrow there will be Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the church after Mass. Come and see God face-to-face (and live!). And please, pray for us as we do for you.

¹Mk 2:14
²Heb 4:12f