07Aug

Of Joseph the Chrysanthemum grower

News from the far east where Fr. Nicholas, and his wife Mary, are spending August. It is their favoured destination each summer due to the fact that their eldest resides in Hong Kong. This year he joins our intrepid duo in Borneo where they soon plan to set off in canoes to hunt out Orang-utan. But before the pith helmet and giant shorts of the missionary priest can be donned time is being spent in the Cameron Highlands from where he sent me this wonderful photograph and news of his escapades thus far.

It transpires that Fr. Nicholas celebrated and preached Mass there on Sunday morning. This was followed by a visit to the farm of Joseph the Crysanthemum grower who requested a solemn blessing for a motor car and two flats. Father Nicholas assures me he remembered the precise sequence of blessing in Latin and English and flourished the aspergillum with aplomb. Perhaps it is fortunate that Joseph the Crysanthemum grower is neither a liturgist nor fluent in either language…

Being less flippant- Father Nicholas timed his visit well given that the duty cleric that day was an 84 year old French mission priest who was recovering from a hip operation five weeks ago! He, in turn, was covering for the parish priest who was away in Kuala Lumpur on annual leave. Given that the recovering priest was not very mobile an enthusiastic and energetic eccentric from England to trek off on parish duties was just what the doctor ordered.

And after the blessings of car and flats Father was driven up into the hills, in a distinctly unroadworthy jeep, to give the last rites to a brain damaged grandmother incapable of speech, movement or sight. Father Nicholas tells me it was unusually humbling even for a priest of the Ordinariate. He adds that he will “never again complain about life in Pembury, Wateringbury and school in a single day”. His point is apposite- we in the West really do take our privilege for granted sometimes.

Please pray for all our holidaying congregation. Pray that families may have much needed quality time together- they do not get enough of it in the modern world. I myself am off to the Ordinariate lay conference in Worth Abbey this afternoon to deliver a talk. Then I shall drop the workload and head to the Loire Valley in France with tent and family in tow. I am grateful to a friend who is residing in the presbytery in our absence to care for the dog. And to Fr. Des of the Mill Hill Fathers who is offering cover this Sunday and making an appeal. Finally do pray for the Orang-utan of Borneo who must now brace themselves for a visit from dear Father Nicholas…

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