Dear Friends in Christ,
Hello and welcome to this week’s Bishop’s Blog!
The weather held up last Saturday for our diocesan pilgrimage to Ladyewell Shrine.
We began with Mass in the nearby parish church, St. Mary’s, Fernyhalgh, before processing along the country lanes with the Blessed Sacrament to the shrine itself, during which the Rosary was recited.
On reaching Ladyewell we concluded with the litany of Our Blessed Lady and Benediction.
I also blessed a newly crafted statue of the Divine Mercy, set attractively in a specially constructed alcove.
The shrine at Ladyewell, though within hearing of the M6 motorway, retains an atmosphere of peace and prayer, and attracts groups and families on a very regular basis, especially during the summer months.
Just to sit and reflect for a short time at the shrine really does help a pilgrim to see things in perspective, and of course to be made aware in faith of the presence of Our Blessed Lady.
The Fathers caring for the shrine are to be commended for continuing Ladyewell’s wonderful tradition.
I was absent from the Diocese this past week in Oxford, attending an editorial committee meeting of the International Committee for English in the Liturgy (ICEL).
The ongoing and extensive task of ICEL consists in the translation of liturgical texts from Latin into English, for example the Rites of Ordination to the Liturgy of the Hours, and much else beside.
The work of accurate translation is a painstaking one, with the overriding consideration being that of handing on to our Catholic people the faith in all its integrity in the language of the English liturgy. This is a mostly hidden work, but essential for the ongoing life and liturgical worship of the Church.
While in Oxford we had the pleasure of a short tour of the places associated with Blessed John Henry Newman, ably led by a well-informed Oratorian Father.
Cardinal Newman came to Oxford as a young Anglican in 1816, to Trinity College, in the chapel of which he made his First Holy Communion as an Anglican, and a chapel of which he retained fond memories. He later became a ‘fellow’ of Oriel College and spent a considerable number of years there.
We visited the dining hall at Oriel which has probably not changed a great deal since Newman’s time there, and where his portrait now hangs. I was particularly interested and pleased to see also depicted on a stained glass window in the Oriel dining hall the coat of arms of Cardinal William Allen, who had been a student there centuries before. So Lancaster can claim a connection with Newman’s Oriel!
The towering figure of Cardinal John Henry Newman, now Blessed, continues to attract and fascinate people of all faiths and none.
He has left behind extensive learned writings and copious correspondence which amount to a veritable life-time study.
When he left the Anglican Church after a period of considerable personal turmoil, he moved from Oxford to the village of Littlemore close by, and was there received into the Church by the Italian priest, Dominic Barberi.
We bishops and priests of the editorial committee had the privilege of seeing the room where Newman made his Confession, and to celebrate Mass afterwards in the little chapel he had originally set up.
The house at Littlemore is something of a shrine to the great Cardinal, with many photographs and memorabilia from his long life. Retracing this particular part of Newman’s long life, I found to be a reflective experience and a spiritually satisfying one.
Another short outing, though not connected to Newman, was a visit to the beautiful little Catholic church at Dorchester-on-Thames, which sits in an area closely associated with St. Borinus and Anglo Saxon Catholicism.
This little church is a true gem and speaks loudly of the Recusant period in England, as well as being a wider link with the Church of many centuries ago.
As a group we enjoyed the kind hospitality of the Fathers of the Oxford Oratory of St. Aloysius Gonzaga for our daily celebration of Mass.
Newman never lived to see his wish realised of having an Oratory in Oxford, but he would undoubtedly be delighted with the presence there today of the Oratorians whom he originally established in England, and who provide such excellent and admirable pastoral service to the large congregation who attend St. Aloysius’ church.
Until next week –
As ever in Christ,