August 2023

Holidays are generally felt to be over too soon and the memory of them can quickly fade. Although that may be true the memories of my recent holiday in Devon are still fresh and are a delight to the spirit. Many of them centre around the natural world: the beautiful scenery and the varied wildlife. It has been the best year I remember for birdlife. Of course seabirds abounded, but also pipits and buzzards in abundance with glimpses of red grouse, choughs, a wood warbler, stonechats, yellowhammers, linnets, larks, a cuckoo and many other delights. There was a basking shark sporting in the Bristol Channel and a rich variety of flowers to be enjoyed. I remember thinking that this is creation at its best and a cause for praise of the Creator. ‘O Lord our Governor: how excellent is thy Name in all the world.’

The appreciation of creation demands an apprehension of the metaphysical as well as the natural. Where is it all from, what is it for and how do we, as human creatures fit in? Without necessarily being able to give definitive answers to such questions, any appreciation has to move to the supernatural, to God himself, the originator and sustainer – the primal lover – of these things. Human beings form links between the natural and God, between what we apprehend with our senses and what we perceive in spirit.

Two of the feasts which we enjoy in August – the Transfiguration of our Lord and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary – require the same approach. The Transfiguration connects us to the eternal. We are invited to understand the depth of physical and spiritual existence and to view Jesus in the context of the eternal. As Jesus is transfigured, past, present and future become a unity, just as they are for God. In the same moment we are invited to see the truth of God’s purposes, both earthly and heavenly, and the completion of them. On the mountain as the natural and supernatural are seen conjoined, the metaphysical questions can be re-visited, attempted.

A similar approach is helpful with the Assumption. We see Mary the woman at the end of her earthly span. We are invited to see also the virgin, the God-bearer, the entirety of her existence and to perceive that she is the forerunner of human bliss. She goes where we hope to go, claiming the promises of Easter for the first time. As that promise is fulfilled, the end of life becomes the beginning and continues in the eternal. We rejoice with her.

It is a challenge to try to see the breadth and depth of existence, not in a one dimensional way as we might on the page or the screen, but as it is lived out in the created world. It is a challenge we must rise to because anything less is to sell the Creator short and in doing so we deny the splendour and dignity of Man and our fellow creatures. ‘O Lord our Governor: how excellent is thy Name in all the world.’

Sunday 30th July, Trinity 8
Wednesday 2nd August, 10.00am Mass
Friday 4th August, 7.00pm Mass (St. John Vianney, priest)
Saturday 5th August, 12 noon Richborough Family Festival at St. Albans Cathedral

Sunday 6th August, Transfiguration of Our Lord
Wednesday 9th August, 10.00am Mass
Friday 11th August, 7.00pm Mass (St. Clare of Assisi)

Sunday 13th August Trinity 10
Wednesday 16th August, 10.00am Mass
Friday 18th August, 7.00pm Mass

Sunday 20th August Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Wednesday 23rd August, 10.00am Mass
Friday 25th August, 7.00pm Mass (St. Bartholomew, tr.)

Sunday 27th August Trinity 12
Wednesday 30th August, 10.00am Mass
Friday 1st September, 7.00pm Mass

Sunday 3rd September, Trinity 13
In addition to services at 8am and 9.30am: Family Service at 11.15am
Wednesday 6th September, 10.00am Mass
Friday 8th September (no service)

Sunday 10th September Trinity 14
8.00am (no service)
9.30am Parish Mass (Father Robert van de Weyer)

A sincere thank you for helping me celebrate my 60th birthday last month. It was a pleasure to mark this milestone in your company.