Friday 24 July 2015

Delighted see that Linen on the Hedgerow is once again viewable. For some reason -- possibly because Blogger doesn't allow deceased authors -- it had been locked down with a violation of terms message for the past couple of months. If you aren't familiar with this wonderful blog then take advantage of once again having the opportunity to explore it; if, like me, you were an avid reader you'll simply be thrilled that it's back live: what a tribute to a lovely man and good strong Catholic. His online contribution to the Faith was immeasurable, and what I knew of his personal offline life reflected the same strength and values.

Richard's death left a yawning chasm in the Catholic blogosphere: things haven't quite been the same since. He is sorely missed.

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. Amen.

This post initially began as a pointer to the Wayback Machine Internet Archive which allows users to see websites that have been removed from the internet (as long as they've been archived). Checking the archive against the live URL I reaslised that Richard's blog was once again viewable in the ordianary way.

The Wayback Machine is still rather amusing should you wish to dig out that first embarrassing hand-coded HTML site you built 20 years ago complete with animated GIFs *cough* and awards. Remember when websites used to be given awards and list them on separate "awards pages". Oh the heady days of 1996 when the 'Net was much less cynical...

Yes, Rat Site Excellence. What we all used to strive for.

Monday 20 July 2015

A Day with Mary in Margate - pure joy in prayer - Ave Maria!

It's a great pleasure to have something unmitigatedly positive to blog about in a world where negativity and cynicism often seem to have the upper hand. Most readers, I'm sure, will have already enjoyed Mulier Fortis' able description of the wonderful and, as our friend Bruvver Eccles would say, spiritually nourishing Day with Mary at the church of St Austin and St Gregory in Margate. I'm not even going to try to top my dear friend the mantilla'd cat lady's description (go and read it if you haven't already!) but simply share a few thoughts of my own.

I love A Day with Mary - it's something that our family has looked forward to each year since we first encountered this wonderful apostolate in 2011. It's a day jam-packed with prayer and devotion but even so, somehow the whole ends up being much greater than the parts.

My children are particularly enthusiastic - they love the processions and the singing as well as the beautiful medals and devotional items on which they can spend their pocket money. This year's haul included a lovely silver miraculous medal to (finally) replace the one my eldest daughter lost when we were burgled a couple of year ago (it's the first time she's found one that she liked enough), picture medals of Blessed Francisco & Jacinta for my younger daughter who has a special devotion to the little seers at Fatima, some large medals and a crucifix for my eldest son and a glow-in-the-dark standing crucifix for the youngest (6) who said "now I can see Jesus on the cross when I wake up at night."

 I love the bookstall -- I always come away from ADWM with a decent reading list for the next couple of months...

The weather was appropriately glorious for Margate's first ever Day with Mary and the town made a  picturesque backdrop for the devotional procession while the very bricks echoed back the strains of Ave Maria after each decade of the Joyful Mysteries.

One of the many lovely things about ADWM is the variety of people that you meet and the way that parishioners and pilgrims blend together and make friends. There is something wonderfully unifying about a church packed to the rafters with smiling, praying, people singing their hearts out to Our Blessed Lord and his Mother. There is something joyfully transcendent about such an experience: I think that it might be a tiny flicker through a glass darkly of what heaven might feel like.

Another great pleasure of the day was seeing the wonderful Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate whom we have been privileged to get to know over the past few years -- and even go camping with at Walsingham! (OK, they were sensible enough to stay in the pilgrim bureau while we roughed it in a muddy field ... but they did manage to survive the journey home in our van and prayed their office with us before letting the girls visit their convent). We're very fond of them and it was a delight to be treated to their wonderfully pure voices singing the propers to the Solemn Mass and other devotional music throughout the day.

What else can I tell you? You should come and experience it for yourself: words can't begin to describe the graces that flow from a day like this. For me the high point was the consecration of our parish to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We are so blessed at St Austin & St Gregory: not only do we have a beautiful church, a kind and holy parish priest, a diverse and welcoming congregation and a quiverful of saintly patrons (Gregory the Great, St Augustine, St Anne - patron of the other church in our parish) but now we also enjoy the protection of the Immaculate. It feels like having the best ever spiritual security system installed. Not only was the parish consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary but also every individual and family present consecrated themselves to her care.

After the stirring and thought provoking sermons, the hours of prayer, reflection and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the joyful singing, processions, confessions, and outpouring of caritas, I think that a spiritual Geiger counter would have  measured the parish of St Austin and St Gregory glowing for miles around with the positive outpouring of prayer.

The demons must have fled in terror.

Ave Maria!