Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The night of wind and rain and fire

 The anniversary of the reception of Newman into the Church comes round so quickly. I cannot believe the passing of time. On the his first feast I thought marmalade cake was best; on his second, warm bread toasted over the open flames, covered with butter and lime marmalade fitted the bill. Now, here we are at the third anniversary of his beatification. Once again I am looking forward to a weekend out in the elements, under canvas, hoping we might have the warmth of a camp fire to ward off the cold and damp. I really am beginning to associate Blessed John Henry with wind, rain, cold and fire. (O bless the Lord). The Duke of Edinburgh has a lot to answer for.

I am tired to my bones. My throat is sore. I wish with all my heart that Newman had the power to get me a few days rest. What is it he says? 

God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission—I never may know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. Somehow I am necessary for His purposes, as necessary in my place as an Archangel in his—if, indeed, I fail, He can raise another, as He could make the stones children of Abraham. Yet I have a part in this great work; I am a link in a chain, a bond of connexion between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do His work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling.
Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life, He may shorten it; He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends, He may throw me among strangers, He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me—still He knows what He is about.
No getting out of my weekend of camping, my marking, lesson planning or teaching there then. Such is life. Unsurprising from a man so caught up by zeal that he made his confession and was received into the church a by a Passionist priest, Blessed Dominic Barbari, who was still dripping with rain from his journey: John Henry knelt before him as he dried himself by the fire. 

There is, of course, only one thing for it: a cure. Since I am a simple soul, and know my limits, I cannot suggest anything complicated for such an occasion - I am sure that Newman wouldn't like it. I still think of him as a granddad who would appreciate simple treats. Therefore, I propose: Jam Rolypoly and custard or, in the absence of time to make Jam Rolypoly, strawberry and vanilla swiss roll and custard! Bird's Eye Custard was made in Edgebaston, Birmingham after all - the place where the first Oratory of England was established (on the site of an old Gin factory).

Come wind, rain and fire - I am ready to do some definite service.

No comments: