Saturday, December 20, 2014

Just a Christmas Card!

The Nativity .indd
Opening the post, a tear came to my eye today, for the first time since my ordination thirty years ago I received a Christmas card from my Ordinary, Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark, the Apostolic Administrator of Arundel and Brighton.

I know it sounds soft, it was just a printed Christmas card, he had written 'Ray' at the top and signed it '+Peter', nothing more, but writing about it, I am still moved. Silly me!

The other week we had a meeting of the diocesan clergy with him, nothing of much substance and not very profound. He just talked about his delight in the priesthood, prayer and 'muddling through' it was the first time in thirteen years, apart from Chrism Masses, we had gathered as the Presbyterate and Diaconate. I was quite moved by that too.


Donna Bethell said...

Dear Father, I certainly hope that your experience is not typical, but I fear it is all too common. No wonder we have a dearth of vocations and dispirited priests when their bishops show no interest in them. God help us.

Bishops, wake up! At least spend time with your priests, get to know them, show them some care and leadership. You might be amazed at the results.

Fr Ashley Beck said...

In my time as a Southwark priest I have always received a personally signed and named card from the archbishop, so it is good that he's extended this to A&B this year

Fr Seán Coyle said...

While I don't recall receiving a Christmas card from any bishop I've served under here in the Philippines I have always been blessed by bishops who were available to their priests. May God shower his blessings on you, your parishioners and your diocese this Christmas.

During the very hot summer of 1976 I spent a month in Knaphill, Surrey, filling in for Fr Brendan MacCarthy. I made some life-long friends there and have happy memories of my brief involvement with the Diocese of A&B. St Hugh of Lincoln is the patron of Knaphill parish. Some years later I supplied in a St Hugh of Lincoln parish in Long Island, NY, and developed an interest in this man, one of the church's most attractive saints, even though he's not on the universal calendar.

George said...

The late, great Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ had some good thoughts on the state of the modern priesthood in terms of what you talk about, Father Ray.

I think he said something about the priesthood having been the greatest fraternity in the world, until the mix of Vatican II and the advent of the television in the rectory. Really I think he said the latter having the most to do with destroying the fraternity: the bond between priests that sustained them through their lives.

I, along with many of your readers I'm sure, are thankful for what you endure for us.

Below is a clip from "Going My Way" -- which I suppose is what I see as the ideal image of the pre-Vatican II priestly fraternity.

Long-Skirts said...


Your hand, I'd kiss
But not for this,
The mundane games
Men play.

Your hand, I'd kiss
For doing this,
Absolve my sins

Your hand, I'd kiss
But not for this,
That any man
Can do.

Your hand, I'd kiss,
For doing this
God's strong,
His choice, the few.

Your hand, I'd kiss
But not for this,
Like any
Virile male.

Your hand, I'd kiss
For doing this,
Place Him between
Lips, pale.

Your hand, I'd kiss
But not for this,
Your strength
Exudes each pore.

Your hand, I'd kiss
For doing this,
Your prayers,
I do implore.

Dr Frederick Jones said...

I can remember an Anglican Bishop who declared that his main interest was in the media and that his clergy should seek the help of his suffragans.

This truly managerial ethos has now spread to catholicism.

Gungarius said...

I do wonder whether it might be best if A&B were reincorporated back into Southwark, which has always been relatively well run.

Православный физик said...

Glad for a little bit of consolation for you Father, thank you for all that you do, even though I admire from a distance, If I lived in England, I would find my way to your parish.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Or incorporated into Portsmouth?

Pelerin said...

Over 50 years ago I bought a small missal card bearing the poem 'The hands of the Priest.' After the 'changes' my once regularly used much loved Missal was put away and the card disappeared. A few years back I was reminded of it but even though I searched through my Missal I failed to find the card. I tried to find another copy in various catholic bookshops but was sadly unsuccessful.

My copy eventually came to light at home and re-reading it I was saddened that younger readers may never have seen it if it is now out of print.

May I echo George in thanking Fr Ray for all he endures for us.


We need them in life's early morning
We need them again at its close.
We feel their warm clasp of true friendship,
We seek them when tasting life's woes.

When we come to this world we are sinful
The greatest as well as the least.
And the hand that makes us as pure as angels
Is the beautiful hand of the Priest.

And when we are tempted to wander
To the pathways of shame and of sin,
Tis the hand of the Priesr will absolve us
Not once, but again, and again.

And when we are taking life's partner,
Other hands may prepare us a feast.
But the hand that will bless and unite us
Is the beautiful hand of the Priest.

At the Altar each day we behold them.
And the hands of a King on his throne
Are not equal to them in their greatness,
Their dignity stands all alone.

For there in the stillness of morning,
'Ere the sun has emerged from the East,
Our God rests between pure fingers
Of the beautiful hands of the Priest.

May God bless and keep them all holy,
For the Host which their fingers caress.
What can a poor sinner do better
Than to ask him, who chose them, to bless.

And when death dews on our eyelids are falling
May our courage and strength be increased
By seeing raised over us in blessing
The beautiful hands of the Priest.

Anonymous said...

Blessings of God on you, Father, this Holy Christmas season. May you always uphold God, the Faith and the moral law with fortitude, sacrificial love and trust in God, in the face of persecution from within and without the Church.

(Mrs!!) Pelerin, Thanks for publishing that beautiful poem about the holiness of the priesthood and how we need priests for our salvation. It's a long time since I heard it. I'll pass it along to others, including priests.

Pelerin said...

Lynda - I'm glad that putting it on here might make it known to others by your passing it along. There is so much criticism these days of our Priests that people tend to forget what we owe them.

I notice on the back is mention of the Carmelite Press, Faversham Kent. I shall look it up to see if it still exists and find out whether they still print the cards. Incidentally the price was 2d! (two old pence for younger readers)

PS I see you saw my reply elsewhere - still not sure whether to be flattered or dismayed that you thought my comments on blogs came from a man!

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