Early on Wednesday morning I travelled up to Walsingham to attend the annual colloquium of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. As ever it proved an uplifting and worthwhile use of my time. And the journey was wonderful too- the Norfolk countryside a blaze of deep oranges and burn yellows as leaves prepare to fall.
The colloquium began with an address delivered by Scottish prelate, Bishop Keenan. He gave an excellent summary of Pope St. John Paul II’s theology of the body- a timely reminder, in these days of confusion and controversy, of the Church’s historic and unchanging teaching on matters of faith and morality. After the address we recited the rosary and offered benediction before Mass and there was opportunity given, which I gladly took, for the sacrament of confession.
The evening proved a challenge to caterers due to a power cut which lasted from 8pm until 2am the following morning. The cooks did magnificently however and so we enjoyed a supper by candlelight followed by drinks and convivial conversation. The priests of the confraternity are always a jolly bunch.
The following morning we breakfasted after Lauds before gathering for the second lecture delivered by the Rector of the Shrine, Mgr. John Armitage. He was on superb form sharing his plans and vision for the restoration of the Shrine before charging us to continue upholding the faith for Christ with courage, zeal and determination. Drawing on the heroism of English martyrs he reminded us that the work of the church must continue, in good times and bad, through the faithful ministry of simple priests, missioners and evangelists on the ground. The message being to never give up or run away! God wins in the end.
We then gathered for Mass in the Shrine and that theme of fidelity, courage and commitment was taken up again by Bishop Keenan, on the feast of St. Margaret of Scotland, who encouraged us to support one another in fidelity to the faith. After Mass we lunched before Father John Saward delivered the final lecture on the Mother of God, the Beauty of Truth and Christ’s kingdom of love.
Sadly I had to slip away before this final address- so I very much hope it will be made public. I am told it was excellent. However my mother has had a knee replacement operation in recent weeks and I was determined to make the journey home to Sheringham to spend time with my parents before returning to Pembury this morning. The olds were on fine form and there was even time for a little father and son bonding at the local curry house in Sheringham! Carers deserve a little tlc…
A great fruitful week then and now it is back to the daily round and the parish. This weekend we are blessing graves after Mass on Saturday morning and have the usual schedule of services on Sunday. The final Ordinary Sunday before Christ the King ends one liturgical year and Advent is upon us. How can that be??!