The above photograph of a statue of St Elizabeth, Queen Consort of Portugal, was taken during a pilgrimage to the country in April last year. It stands tall outside the former monastery of Santa-Clara-a-Nova at Coimbra, where her remains lie in a tomb above the high altar.
‘O blessed Elizabeth! we praise God for thy holy works, as the Church this day invites all her sons to do. More valiant than those princes in whose midst thou didst appear as the angel of thy fatherland, thou didst exhibit in thy private life a heroism which could equal theirs, when need was, even on the battlefield. God’s grace was the motive-power of thy actions, and His glory their sole end. Often does God gain more glory by abnegations hidden from all eyes but His, than by great works justly admired by a whole people. It is because the power of His grace shines forth the more; and it is generally the way of His Providence to cause the most remarkable blessings bestowed on nations, to spring from these hidden sources. How many battles celebrated in history have first been fought and won in the sight of the Blessed Trinity, in some hidden spot of that supernatural world, where the elect are ever at war with hell, nay, struggle at times even with God Himself; how many famous treaties with peace have first been concluded between heaven and earth in the secret of a single soul, as a reward for those giant struggles which men misunderstand and despise! Let the fashion of this world pass away; and those deep-thinking politicians, who are said to rule the course of events, the proud negotiators and warriors of renown, all, when judged by the light of eternity, will appear for what they are: mere deceptions screening from the sight of men the only names truly worthy of immortality.
Glory then be to thee, through whom the Lord has deigned to lift a corner of the veil that hides from the world the true rulers of its destinies. In the golden book of the elect, thy nobility rests on better titles than those of birth. Daughter and mother of kings, thyself a queen, thou didst rule over a glorious land; but far more glorious is the family throne in heaven, where thou reignest with the first Elizabeth, with Margaret and with Hedwige, and where others will come to join thee, doing honour to the same noble blood which flowed in thy veins’.
from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Guéranger OSB, 1805-1875
O God, the author of peace and lover of charity, who didst adorn Saint Elizabeth of Portugal with a marvellous grace for reconciling those in conflict: grant, through her intercession; that we may become peacemakers, and so be called children of God; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
The Paschal feast was ended. Multitudes,
Unweeting what was done, that day had left
The gates of Zion for their far-off homes;
And there was silence, where but yesterday
Had been the hum of thousands. Olivet
Slept calmly underneath the waning moon,
And darkening shadows fell across the steeps
And hollows of Jerusalem. Deep night
Had drench’d the eyes of thousands. But, behold,
Within the upper room where Jesus broke
The bread of life, and pour’d the mystic wine
The night before He suffer’d, once again
The little band of those who loved Him most
Were gather’d. On the morrow morn they thought
To leave the holy city, holier now
Than ever in their eyes, and go to meet
Their Lord upon the Galilean hill.
All bosoms swell’d with gladness, all save one;
One heart amid that group of light and love
Was desolate and dark: nine weary days
Of doubt, which shado’d all eternity,
Had written years of suffering on his brow.
The worst he fear’d to him was realised,
Life quench’d, for ever quench’d, and death supreme.
Jesus was dead. And vainly others told,
How they had seen and heard their risen Lord;
Himself had seen the lifeless body hang
Upon the cross; and, till he saw like them
And like them touch’d the prints in hands and side,
He would not, for he could not, hope again.
But there has been enough of sorrow now
For that true mourner, sorely tried but true:
And as they communed of an absent Lord
Jesus was there, though doors were shut and barr’d,
There in the midst of them; and from His lips,
Who is Himself our Peace, the words of peace
Fell as of old like dew on every heart,
But surely sweetest, calmest, tenderest
On one most torn and tost. The waves were still;
Day broke; the shadows fled: nor this alone,
Love offer’d all which bitterest grief had ask’d,
And laying bare the inly bleeding wound
Heal’d it, which haply else had bled afresh
In after years, till faith adoring claim’d
In One, whom sense no longer sought to touch,
The Lord of life, the everlasting God.
O Master, though our eyes have never look’d
Upon Thy blessèd face and glorious form,
Grant us to trust Thee with a perfect trust,
And love Thee and rejoice in Thee unseen,
And prove the heaven of Thy beatitude
On those who, though they see Thee not, believe.
Edward Bickersteth, 1825-1906
(Bishop of Exeter, 1885-1900)
Almighty and everliving God, who for the greater confirmation of the faith didst suffer thy holy Apostle Thomas to be doubtful in thy Son’s Resurrection: grant us so perfectly, and without all doubt, to believe in thy Son Jesus Christ; that our faith in thy sight may never be reproved; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. – Divine Worship: The Missal.
Today marks fourteen years of ordained ministry. I was ordained a deacon and priest in the Church of England fourteen and thirteen years ago, respectively, on this day. Whilst it was with thanksgiving and joy that that ministry was set aside, I continue to be deeply grateful for all the good that I received from the Church of England and the Anglican tradition. To mark this memory, and transition, I share a prayer composed by Basil, Cardinal Hume, former Archbishop of Westminster, which was approved by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith:
‘The Holy Catholic Church recognises that not a few of the sacred actions of the Christian religion as carried out in communities separated from her can truly engender a life of grace and can rightly be described as providing access to the community of salvation. And so we now pray:
Almighty Father, we give you thanks for the years of faithful ministry of your servant in the Anglican Communion, whose fruitfulness for salvation has been derived from the very fulness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church. As your servant has been received into full communion and now seeks to be ordained to the presbyterate in the Catholic Church, we beseech you to bring to fruition that for which we now pray. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen’.
Thrilling news today that Blessed John Henry Newman will be canonised in Rome at 10 am on Sunday 13th October. Cardinal Newman remains a central figure in the life and work of both the Congregation of the Oratory in England (which he founded), and the Personal Ordinariates (he is the patron of the English and Welsh Ordinariate). His writings, devotions, prayers, hymns and meditations continue to enliven and inspire, drawing Anglicans and others into the fulness of Catholic communion; a journey he himself made ‘out of the shadows and symbols unto truth’. On this traditional feast day of the Most Precious Blood (to which the whole of July is dedicated), a meditation, by Newman, exhorting us to trust in that Blood.
‘There are men who think that God is so great that He disdains to look down upon us, our doings and our fortunes. But He who did not find it beneath His Majesty to make us, does not think it beneath Him to observe and to visit us. He says Himself in the Gospel: “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings? and not one of them is forgotten before God. Yea, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore: you are of more value than many sparrows”. He determined from all eternity that He would create us. He settled our whole fortune – and, if He did not absolutely decree to bring us to heaven, it is because we have free will, and by the very constitution of our nature He has put it in part out of His own power, for we must do our part, if to heaven we attain. But He has done every thing short of this. He died for us all upon the Cross, that, if it were possible to save us, we might be saved. And He calls upon us lovingly, begging us to accept the benefit of His meritorious and most Precious Blood. And those who trust Him He takes under His special protection. He marks out their whole life for them; He appoints all that happens to them; He guides them in such way as to secure their salvation; He gives them just so much of health, of wealth, of friends, as is best for them; He afflicts them only when it is for their good; He is never angry with them. He measures out just that number of years which is good for them; and He appoints the hour of their death in such a way as to secure their perseverance up to it’.
Blessed John Henry Newman, 1801-1890
Fr Lee Kenyon
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