The Newman Banner

newman banner 1

In the final image of his poem The Dream of Gerontius Newman depicts the soul under the flowing waters of a crystal stream awaiting new life. Curiously enough, C.S Lewis borrowed this image to describe the death of King Caspian at the end of The Voyage of the Dawntreader.

In this picture, Newman gazes into the water at his own risen reflection, his shroud unwrapping itself under the waters. The autumn trees behind him, reminiscent of the thicket of trees preceding Dante’s descent into hell with its shadowy gateway, have become a forest of angels spanned by a rainbow, “...and with the dawn these angel faces smile....” of the Pillar and the Cloud.

The portrait of Newman - deliberately shadowy on earth and particularly vivid in heaven - was worked from several photos of him in his middle years when the full impact of what seemed a life of almost relentless failure was born in upon him. Our artists printed the portraits - all full-face - onto transparantsies and superimposed them with the Millais portrait to capture the expression they were trying to define.

We unveiled this banner as part of last Advent's Carol Service and afterward someone whom we had never met before came up to the servery hatch in the hall and said to one of the Sisters who was pouring tea, "Thank you, it has helped to take away my fear of death."

As part of the meditation, the Sisters flipped the banner up the other way. If you do this you will be able to see that this life is the shadow and eternity is the reality.....

The picture is painted on silk and is intended to be hung with the earthy image at the top (as in the picture above). For the full impact, you need to start about 15 metres away from it from it and walk towards it slowly allowing the reflection to dissolve into the two separate images. It remained in the sanctuary for the length of Advent and was turned with the heavenly end up after the first week. It has the very healing message that this earth is only a shadow and the true reality is what we shall be in the eyes of God. As it said on Newman’s grave stone: Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem - from shadows and fantasy into truth.

The banner is now the property of the Birmingham Oratory.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008
Advent Carol Service: November 29 2008
Dr Newman's Christmas
This is not the entire text - or the music which included some new settings of Cardinal Newman's words. We quote from the introduction and some key sections from the narration!

Doctor Newman’s Christmas

Lead kindly light, the hymn whose words were written by John Henry Newman, has been sung on state occasions, at the funeral of an American president and even on the first manned space flight! Dr Newman began life in the Anglican Church and ended as a Roman Catholic Cardinal! He was a profound intellectual who simply argued himself into the faith.

The Church has made this servant of God, who died on the anniversary of St Clare in 1890, a Venerable, and, a few weeks ago, such relics as we have of him were moved into a place of public honour at the Birmingham Oratory, the usual preliminary of a beatification.

This came about, in part, because a severely crippled Deacon, the Rev Jack Sullivan, trying to rise in great pain from his hospital bed in Boston, USA, shouted out, “Cardinal Newman help me!” Deacon Sullivan stood up, walked down the ward without pain and dismissed himself from hospital two days later!

Cardinal Newman is not only the great theologian who wrote the Development of Christian Doctrine and the Grammar of Assent, he was a person who cared deeply for others.

The Songs and carols that we have chosen this evening are either written by Dr Newman or would have been amongst those popular Victorian Carols of his day.

Reader 1. It is the eve of the first Sunday of Advent.

2. As we journey towards Christmas we are invited to do two things.

1. To wait and remember.

2. We remember the Lord’s birth and we wait for his coming in glory.

1. We wait in joyful hope for time to cease.

2. We are not waiting for our friends or our enemies to drop a bomb.

1. Or for two galaxies to collide.

2. But for that absolute and arbitrary ending if time which the Word made flesh revealed to us.

1. Advent is the time of birth and death.

2. We began this celebration by visibly recalling the bridesmaids awaiting the return of the king.

1. Wake O wake with tidings thrilling.... the bridegroom comes. In Dr Newman’s own words:

N. The bridal train is sweeping by,—Angels are there,—the just made perfect are there,—little children, and holy teachers, and white-robed saints, and martyrs washed in blood; the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. She has already attired herself: while we have been sleeping, she has been robing; she has been adding jewel to jewel, and grace to grace; she has been gathering in her chosen ones, one by one, and has been exercising them in holiness, and purifying them for her Lord; and now her marriage hour is come. The holy Jerusalem is descending, and a loud voice proclaims, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him!" but we, alas! are but dazzled with the blaze of light, and neither welcome the sound, nor obey it,—and all for what? what shall we have gained then? what will this world have then done for us?
Year passes after year silently; Christ's coming is ever nearer than it was. O that, as He comes nearer earth, we may approach nearer heaven!
And then, according as we have waited for Him, will He recompense us. If we have forgotten Him, He will not know us; but "blessed are those servants whom the Lord, when He cometh, shall find watching … He shall gird Himself, and make them sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if He shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants." May this be the portion of every one of us! It is hard to attain it; but it is woeful to fail. Life is short; death is certain; and the world to come is everlasting.

1. John Henry Newman was a great thinker, a profound theologian; the Lord’s birth as a man is what lifts up our hearts and draws us all from east to west to make the journey home to the City of God............

Reader 2. John Henry was not just a man of inner vision who saw the greatness of God.

1. And Christmas was not, for him only a time when Christ was born; Christmas marked the stages of his pilgrimage.

2. It was Christmas day 1848 when he returned from Rome after his ordination to the Catholic priesthood.

1. - and it was Christmas Day 1889 that he was able to say his last Mass before his death the following year.

2. But it was the Christmas of 1827 that became a turning point in his life. His beloved sister Mary, just nineteen, the very sight of whom brought spontaneous happiness to others, had a seizure at dinner on January 4th and died that night. Sixty years later, he still could not recall her death without weeping.

1. Mary was the member of his family most like Newman, he wrote that even to visit the countryside familiar to them both was to see her embodiment in every tree.

2. Mary’s death was followed by that of his closet friend Richard Hurrell Froude, of whom it has been said that had he lived, he and not Dr Newman would have been the greatest convert of the 19th century.

1. But Mary and Hurrell found themselves where “those whom the world looked up to, will be brought low, and those who were little esteemed, will be exalted.”

2. And Newman was left to reflect “what a veil and curtain this world is.”

1. It is a place of shadows, and Newman was beginning his pilgrimage out of the shadows into reality.

2. It is light that banishes the shadows and Newman began to learn that it was a kindly light or better that He - the Lord - was a kindly light.

1. In that light, the faces of Mary and Hurrell and all those he loved still shine........

1. Following the light of the Lord led Newman into a deeper knowledge of truth.

2. His great message as a scripture scholar and  a teacher is that truth has a home in each of us, it lives in our conscience.

1. And Newman’s conscience led him reluctantly.

2. Millimeter by millimeter.

1. To the gates of the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

2. He was not troubled by the political goings on in Rome.

1. Or the human dynamics of the Church and its way of conducting its business on earth, which led a fellow Catholic, Hilare Belloc, to say “The Catholic Church is an institution I am bound to hold divine - but for unbelievers a proof of its divinity might be found in the fact that no merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight!”

2.He was worried that she did not have enough saints.

1. (He was not always very observant,)

2. only the 20th century has had more saints than the 19th!

1. And that it had tampered with pristine purity of the early Church.

2. So he set out to write a book called “The Development of Doctrine.”

1. And having written it he so convinced himself, that he joined the Church.

2. - This is the Dr Newman of the encyclopedia.

1. It is part of his long life of suffering and pain for which the Church is in the process of trying to beatify him.

2. But through all this his love shines out, he loved children and ran a particularly kindly school.

1. He became part of the order of one of the most hilarious saints the faith ever produced, Philip Neri,

2. Who re-converted Rome in the 17th century with Palestrina, processions and picnics.

1. Dr Newman played the violin in a school orchestra and could be transported to heaven by Beethoven -

2. - It takes all sorts. -

1. Poor and sick people always found him at home.

2. 20 thousand letter writers got answers -

1. - and he didn’t even have  a laptop!

2. He mourned the loss of Charlie the Mower Pony! 

And wished ‘rest to his mane in the limbo of the quadrupeds.

1. Above all he was a friend, especially to the fathers and brothers of his community.

2. Even when British Cardinals found him a challenge he could write:

1. “Never was in such happiness as I am now…….I am surrounded by my dear friends.”

2. Years later when he went to Rome to receive his Cardinal's Hat, Leo the 13th asked after his community and how many had persevered, John Henry wept and Leo gently stroked his unruly white hair and begged him not to cry.

1. Dr Newman’s whole life was an Advent and its true and final Christmas was heaven......

1. Dr. Newman was a shy and affectionate man with a genius for friendship. A friendship that most deeply affected his life was with a woman....

2. who was also called Mary.

1. It did not start well.

2. She was one of his objections to the Catholic Church.

1. He thought we thought too highly of her.

2. May I share a story? One of our sisters was out begging and the kind benefactor who was driving her round, took her out to a crowded restaurant for lunch, and presently, a couple joined them who turned out to be a Presbyterians. They got on well and feeling encouraged, the man enquired, “I’ve never really known any Catholics to ask, but why do you people have statues and pictures of the Virgin Mary all over your churches?”
Our sister asked, “Do you have any photographs of your mother up at home?’
“Sure,” he replied. “She was a great woman.”
“Good,” Sister agreed. “But the Mother of God was before photography - so we have to do the best we can!”
“Is that all it is?” he asked incredulously.
“No,” she replied, “but it goes a long way! In John 19:27, Jesus did say she was our mother. But the thing is, she was His mother. Don’t you think that makes her quite a bit out of the ordinary?”

1. Doctor Newman thought so, too. To him she was more than a mother, she was a friend, and as Francis Bacon....

2. (Shakespeare’s contemporary, not the late artist of the same name)

1. ....said, “Friendship perfecteth man.”

2. Of Mary, Newman wrote:

N: “There was a divine music in all she said and did—in her mien, her air, her deportment, that charmed every true heart that came near her. Her innocence, her humility and modesty, her simplicity, sincerity, and truthfulness, her unselfishness, her unaffected interest in everyone who came to her, her purity—it was these qualities which made her so lovable; and were we to see her now, neither our first thought nor our second thought would be, what she could do for us with her Son (though she can do so much), but our first thought would be, "Oh, how beautiful!’”

2. With Mary’s friendship we pray her words as we listen to her magnificat, which is interspersed with carols that were composed or became popular during Newman’s life time.

1. The Magnificat is a miniature of the entire good news - it is the Christian way of life. We reflect in images and in song on tonight’s gospel.....


Our prayers take their inspiration from well known words of Dr Newman.

N: Everyone who breathes, high and low, educated and ignorant, young and old, man and woman, has a mission.....We are not sent into this world for nothing; we are not born at random; we are not here, that we may go to bed at night, and get up in the morning, toil for our bread, eat and drink, laugh and joke, sin when we have a mind, and reform when we are tired of sinning, rear a family and die. God sees every one of us; and has an end for each of us.
R1: Lord, show us each day your way for us

Response: Spirit of the Lord come and pray in us

N: Growth is the only evidence of life: to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often!
R1: Lord you came to give us life - to the full. Send us your Spirit and chage us into a new people of dynamic hope.

N: If we are intended for great ends, we are called to great hazards.
R1: Give us courage, Lord, to believe and live your good news.

N: Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt.
R1: We pray for those who cannot make up their mind about the truth; lead, Kindly Light!

N: The love of our private friends is the only preparatory exercise for the love of all men.
R1: We thank you Lord for the gift of friendship - it is one of the treasures we can carry into Eternal Life

N: Fear not that thy life shall come to an end, but rather fear that it shall never have a beginning.
R1: Lord, give us the grace, tonight to set out on the pilgrimage of love to your Kingdom.

N: Christ is already in that place of peace, which is all in all. He is on the right hand of God. He is hidden in the brightness of the radiance which issues from the everlasting throne. He is in the very abyss of peace, where there is no voice of tumult or distress, but a deep stillness--stillness, that greatest and most awful of all goods which we can fancy; that most perfect of joys, the utter profound, ineffable tranquillity of the Divine Essence. He has entered into His rest. That is our home; here we are on a pilgrimage, and Christ calls us to His many mansions which He has prepared.

R1: Behold, O Lord, we come! hear us as we pray:

Our Father
who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us
and lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil. Amen.



May the Lord support us all the day long,
till the shades lengthen and the evening comes,
and the busy world is hushed,
and the fever of life is over,
and our work is done.
Then in His mercy
may He give us a safe lodging,
and a holy rest,
and peace at the last.

Reader 1 In 1890 the bridal train swept by the Edgebaston Oratory, carrying Dr Newman along with the other little children, the holy teachers and the saints robed in white. And his body was laid to rest in the grave of his dear friend and fellow oratorian Ambrose St John. On the monument, as the Cardinal had requested were the words: “Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem: out of shadows and images into truth.......

10 dec 2008 newman 2

The picture above is a study of Newman for a banner that was unfurled at the end of the service.

Mini Synod of the Word

10dec 2008 mini synod on word

To keep the Church company, we had our own Synod of the Word on November 2nd 2008.
Reading our Father Benedict XVI’s homilies and interventions in the refectory, sharing and discussing the initial presentation of Cardinal Ouellet and the moving testimonies of the Synod Fathers.

We enthroned the Word with Bishop Felemou, were in awe at the wonderful work of Archbishop Esua and the Holy People of God in the Cameroons. We looked into the mirror of the word with our Holy Mother St Clare in her words quoted back to us by Archbishop Damasceno Assis, kneaded the Word like bread with Sr Antonieta of the Daughters of St Paul

Like Latvian Bishop Justs we cannot forget the witness of Father Victors who spent ten years in prison for refusing to tread on the Holy Word of God..

With Bishop Virgilio David we remembered the humility of the Word who descended to the heart of our darkened world, as depicted in the painting by one of our sisters above.

We asked for the epiclesis of the Holy Spirit inspired by Patriarch Laham of our Antiochene brothers and sisters and, following their tradition, we placed the open bible over the head of each sister to pray for healing and grace.

With Cardinal Pell we try to spread the Word through XT3 of which our enclosed contemplative community is part. Inspired by the Archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar, we asked the Word to teach us and speak and act in us through humble service to others. With the Sudanese faithful we tried to express the Word without written words and our sisters told the stories of the Lord in drawings, drama and dance.

Then, with our beloved brother, Bishop Tagle of Imus Philippines, whom we had already encountered in videos of the Canadian Eucharistic Congress, we try to continue, daily, to listen to the Word and live it in our poverty.

Thursday, 30 October 2008
A guest on the road to Emmaus

pius 3 zim

We have prayed daily for Archbishop Pius in the years in which the Church in Zimbabwe has carried the cross of unearned hatred, torture, slander and lies in an unceasing effort to live the Gospel of mercy and peace.

We feel that the Archbishop making the long hike to our off-the-beaten-track community is an expression of gratitude to all the contemplative women and men who share in prayer the cross and resurrection of the Lord’s love for his Holy people in Zimbabwe and through out Africa. We are deeply conscious that this is his last pilgrimage before returning to his homeland.

We invited friends from CAFOD and some of the local communities working for justice and peace were able to be present. We all have different moments of vividness. Frau Marianne had taken Mother Damian to collect the Archbishop from Chester station. Her car - working perfectly on the outward journey - manifested every red light on the return home and refused to proceed at more than 10kph bucking like a bronco in the dark, on the crowded rush hour roads. Sr Agatha and Sr Maria who get up before the community at five conscious of His Grace already up and praying in the Extern Chapel. At the Homily of the mass the Archbishop talking of the vertical and horizontal of the cross and stretching his arms out to explain what he meant. Diving in to his pocked to get his pocket Bible. (Owning a pocket Bible is a sure indication of belonging to what John Paul II and Benedict XVI have called the Civilization of Love! You are so excited by the Word of God, you cant be without it.)
“...I love passionate people. I’m a passionate person myself!”
“...I have been asked not to speak on political issues: in Zimbabwe the Gospel itself is a political issue....”
“In 1997 £1 sterling was worth Ten Zimbabwean Dollars now it is worth 10,000 million Dollars.....Four million people have left Zimbabwe.... even 50 years ago we had ambulances now we have wheelbarrows. I out of every 4 adults is HIV (I am not HIV! It is one of the slanders uttered against me!!!!!!) There are 38,thousand child heads of families and over a million orphans. Life expectancy is now 37 for men 34 for women, their is 95% unemployment...... I could go on for a whole day!”
“...I wake up in the middle of the night and I know I cannot stay here, living comfortably in a cloud castle. I am well fed - in Zimbabwe hundreds of people are dying, now.”
“ ...I am not permitted to speak; but I can be there. Even if all I can do is be there and die.”
“...but if we do not speak the stones will cry out.”
“...I have always loved St John of the Cross. I believe with him, that your life is the most important to the Church and I want to make it increasingly my own. In the 28th stanza of the Spiritual Canticle, St John of the Cross says:
‘An instant of pure love is more precious in the eyes of God and the soul, and more profitable to the Church, than all other good works together, though it may seem as if nothing were done....When the soul, then, in any degree possesses the spirit of solitary love, we must not interfere with it. We should inflict a grievous wrong upon it, and upon the Church also, if we were to occupy it, were it only for a moment, in exterior or active duties, however important they might be. When God Himself adjures all not to waken it from its love, who shall venture to do so, and be blameless? In a word, it is for this love that we are all created. Let those men of zeal, who think by their preaching and exterior works to convert the world, consider that they would be much more edifying to the Church, and more pleasing to God (not to mention the good example they would give!) if they would spend at least one half their time in prayer, even though they may have not attained to the state of unitive love. Certainly they would do more, and with less trouble, by one single good work than by a thousand: because of the merit of their prayer, and the spiritual strength it supplies.’
“When I was in the seminary I thought how great it would be to get to the Spiritual Marriage........Its uphill work and I am still struggling and I am sixty years old!”

“Whilst I have been here I have made a retreat with the Benedictines at Ampleforth and I was with the Carthusians at Parkminster for twelve (?) days. Ahhhhh! It was enough!”
“I do not think I will be able to return to Britain - but we will be pilgrims together....”

We sang vespers with the Archbishop and at the end Mother took the veil of St Colette and blessed him with it. As on St Colette’s feast, for gentlemen and children we simply place the veil round their shoulders. As Mother did this we sang Holy Mother’s blessing. You can see this in the Photo. You can also see Our Lady from the Shrine Chapel. I suppose in out hearts we wanted to surround His Grace with all good protection!

pius 2 zim

Archbishop Pius had blessed us all at the end of Exposition after Midday Prayer and Mother Damian took him round choir after Vespers to say good bye to each sister. He came to Mother Francesca and took her hands, knowing her to be our Abbess Emerita he asked, “How long did you bear the burden, Mother?” (meaning how long had you been in office) and beloved Mother answered 21 years. He kissed her hands.

30 oct 2008 pius 1 zim

His Grace told us a little about his own mother - who is now 90 and how she became a Catholic for his sake when he went to the seminary. (She had been a Methodist)..........
It was very hard to part. Please join us daily in praying for Zimbabwe and for His Grace for the Bishops of Zimbabwe and for their elected and unelected government.

Monday, 29 September 2008

As the leaves are falling, we are beset by ambiguous feelings.  The year is coming to an end and life is slowly dying down, maybe this is the time for stocktaking.  If this were the end, where would it leave us? It can be a very melancholic and depressing awareness, that our days are counted and perhaps there is not much time left to achieve what we are aiming at. But autumn is also the time of plenty, the earth has given of its fruit and it is a time of thanksgiving.  Not only have we gathered the fruits of the earth in our own lives; the fruits of charity and patience. Maybe, when we look at the trees, we discover that underneath the falling leaves there are tiny buds, the sign of hidden, but certain, new life.

Friday, 26 September 2008
Mother Damian's Silver Jubilee

The Kiss of peace from the Jubilee service
(Yes, we are singing, My Peace I Leave You....!)

26 sept 2008

From Mother Damian's Jubilee service

The Renewal of Vows

Mother Vicaress
Mother Mary Damian of the Incarnate Word.

Lord, you have called me by my name.

Mother Vicaress
The Lord has called you
and set you apart.
The Lord is your light and your shield
and he is your Saviour.
Gaze on him,
consider him,
contemplate him
and participate in his life
that in you he may make all things new.

(as the candle bearers come forward and surround the Jubilarian)

Light your lamps for the Bridegroom is here:
go out to meet Christ the Lord

Mother Vicaress
Look up to heaven, dear one,
and take up the cross and follow Christ
who walks ahead of us.
For whatever tribulations
may come our way here below,
we shall enter through him into his glory.
At all times
pray and watch
and carry out the work
you have so faithfully begun.


In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

I, little Sister Mary Damian of the Incarnate Word
wish to follow the life and poverty of our Most High Lord
Jesus Christ
and to persevere to the end,
and I vow to God, before the Blessed Virgin Mary
and I promise you, dear Mother,
to observe, for the whole time of my life
the most Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
by living in obedience,
without property,
and in chastity,
in the form of life which the Blessed Francis gave
to our Blessed Mother Clare
and Pope Innocent IV confirmed,
after the example of our Holy Mother Colette.
And I vow to observe enclosure.

Mother Vicaress
And I, on the part of God the Almighty,
if you are faithful to what you have promised,
promise you life everlasting.

The Crown

The Celebrant comes forward to bless the crown.

Bless, O Lord, this crown of flowers +
May it be for you, Mother,
a reminder of the Lord’s years of fidelity to you
and a pledge of that crown graven with holiness
that awaits you on the last day
if you go forward joyfully and swiftly
on the path of perfect poverty
in persuit of that perfection
to which the Spirit of the Lord has called you.

The Celebrant retires to his place.

Mother Vicaress
(holding up the crown)

Be faithful, beloved, unto death
to him to whom you have promised yourself
for you shall be crowned by him
with the garland of life.
Our labour here is short,
our reward everlasting.
The greater the promise,
the greater is the merit
and the greater the salvation
which will be given us as a pure gift
by the Father in his mercy,
by the Son in his passion,
and by the Holy Spirit the fountain of peace,
of sweetness, of love and of all consolation.

Choir (as Mother Vicaress crowns the Jubilarian)
If you suffer with him you shall reign with him,
if you weep with him you shall rejoice with him,
if you die with him on the cross of tribulation
you shall possess a home in heaven
amid the splendour of the saints, and your name shall be called glorious.

Jubilarian Behold, the handmaid of the Lord,
let it be done to me as you have said.

Sr Elizabeth's Ruby Jubilee!

26 sept 2008 sr eliz's ruby

The Photos show
1 The entrance of the Mass - Mother and Sr Elizabeth crossing the sanctuary. Father Gareth by the shutter to the dining room, where the overflow congregation were seated.

2 Party supper in Garden. Cooks off shot!!!!

3 Sr Elizabeth with some of her community presents.

And an excerpt from the service

The Prayer of Thanksgiving

The Celebrant comes forward to pray.

Father, we thank you for your faithful love,
we praise you for your covenant of steadfast love and faithfulness with your handmaid

Forty is the number of the covenant.
Noah was saved by you, Lord, for forty days in the ark of protection.
for forty years you cared for your chosen people
in the wilderness
and you brought them to the fruitful land
of your faithful promise.
For forty days and nights Moses prayed on the mountain
and you, Father, revealed your commandments to him.
For forty days the elders were on the mountain in your presence,
eating and drinking before you.
Isaac was forty years old when he received his bride of the covenant
and Joshua was forty years old when Moses chose him out of all Israel.
For forty years the land had peace after Gideon arose to judgment.
Jonah preached repentance for forty days and was heeded.
David reigned for forty years and God promised him a house.

When your Word was revealed in your most holy Son, Jesus,
he fasted forty days and nights
before beginning his public ministry
and after his glorious death and resurrection
showed himself to his disciples for forty days.
You, Father, are our protector and redeemer,
you are the author of life and freedom;
bless your handmaid who has served you these forty years.
You have supported her in her poverty from the riches of your hand.
And surrounded by your love,
even a thousand years seems like a watch in the night.

We thank you for all you have given
to your handmaid,
and the gift you have made of her to her covenant family
and to the whole Church.
Through Christ our Lord.

The candle bearers place their lights before the altar and return to their places...

The Lost Clareshare!

Due to circumstances beyond our control (as the BBC used to say when it was very young and people often fell over the cables!) this Clareshare, describing amongst other things, Sr Elizabeth's epic Jubilee, never reached its destination. Here it is for posterity

Clareshare for July 2008

Peace and goodness was the greeting an old pilgrim gave to people as he walked through Assisi. This was at the time of St Francis’ birth and people remembered the old man afterwards as a sort of herald to Francis. Peace is not created by the absence of war, but it might be achieved by the absence of recrimination. In one of John Paul II’s last world peace messages there was a definition of peace that forms part of our sisters’ daily prayers: There is no peace without justice and no justice without forgiveness.

It is worth sitting and taking these four words: peace, goodness, justice, forgiveness and looking at them, praying them and using them as a mirror for one’s own life.

Racing time!

The one thing we have in common with Oscar Wilde and Leonardo da Vinci is a lack of consistency in output! Clareshares appear irregularly not because there is nothing to put into them, but because we live to fast to write about it!

June was devoted to preparing for and living through Sr Elizabeth’s Ruby Jubilee. Those of you who have visited Ty Mam Duw for Retreats and Franciscan Prayer Days will know Sr Elizabeth from behind the servery shutter. She is also our Vicaress in her free moments! After a week spent in retreat Sister emerged to the glory of her Jubilee Mass and there followed the week of a lifetime, not only for Sr Elizabeth. But for all of us.

Gloria in excelsis Deo

For the celebratory Mass, Sister sat on her throne-like choir stall in the centre of choir and after the Homily, Mother Damian came froward and Sister renewed her vows, first made forty years ago when she was 19. Sr Elizabeth is a convert to Catholicism and was baptized and entered when she was 17. She chose for her jubilee card our Lord’s words to St Paul: My grace is sufficient for you. It is true!

As we said Amen! Mother Lifted up her jubilee crown and said in the words of St Clare and St Colette:
Be faithful, beloved, unto death
to him to whom you have promised yourself
for you shall be crowned by him
with the garland of life.
Our labour here is short,
our reward everlasting.
The greater the promise,
the greater is the merit
and the greater the salvation
which will be given us as a pure gift
by the Father in his mercy,
by the Son in his passion,
and by the Holy Spirit the fountain of peace, of sweetness, of love and of all consolation

It was more like an anticipation of the Parousia, than a jubilee! Sister was surrounded with candle bearers carrying between them 40 candles on steel and glass stands decorated with flowers as the choir sang Clare’s words:
If you suffer with him you shall reign with him,
If you weep with him you shall rejoice with him,
if you die with him on the cross of tribulation
you shall possess a home in heaven
amid the splendour of the saints
and your name shall be called glorious!

Brighter even than the reflected earthly glory of lights and flowers was the loveliest of all the gifts for Sister’s Jubilee, an exquisite Monstrance for the reservation of the the precious body of the Lord under the form of bread, that we call the Most Blessed Sacrament.

This was the gift of Father Gareth Jones, celebrant at the Mass and was one of the two replicas of the incredibly lovely Oak of Mamre Monstrance made for the Sanctuary of Lourdes. This was but one of the many gifts for Sister. Not only did each Sister make Sr Elizabeth a present, but every guest, whether they knew our Sister or not seemed to have brought her a gift, from a Rose tree really called Sister Elizabeth to a pop up Narnia book! Not to mention a Papal Blessing!


C.S.Lewis writing are amongst Sr Elizabeth’s favorites and along with the archeology of St Peter’s, a liturgy workshop, special vespers and a barbecue, there was a Narnia game and Lewis’s Last Battle as a musical, whose libretto, songs and costumes were all home produced!
it took sister a week to recover and she then gave a thank you supper and presented each member of the community with a hand-crafted Missal cover.


We do not watch TV, but since being given the facility to see EWTN we have always tried to follow the Holy Father’s principal adventures, which have included the two previous World Youth Days. But Sydney was special! Through our invited involvement in XT3 we already knew a lot of people who would be there. It was thrilling to see Papa sail into Barangaroo, but even more stunning to think you would be getting the excited accounts of friends on the boat with him.

As well as preparing edited video’s of Youth day, Mother and Sr Yolanda collated material from the Quebec Eucharistic Congress. We have seen the Eucharistic Procession through the Streets of Quebec and look forward to listening to some of the talks and liturgies in preparation for Mother Damian’s retreat for her Silver Jubilee in August. Mother organized Sr Elizabeth’s Jubilee and Sr Elizabeth will repay the compliment by organizing Mother’s!

The Portiuncula

But before that happens, we will be keeping the feast of Our Lady of the Angels, the Portiuncula. This year we will keep it on the eve of the day, Friday 1st August at 6.30 pm.
You are so welcome to join us at this joyful Franciscan family occasion. St Mary of the Angels, was the first Church St Francis had. Here the Franciscans started out and Clare received the habit. The prayers for the Assisi Pardon, the Plenary Indulgence of the Portiuncula and the celebration of Holy Mass will be preceded from 5.30pm by an hour of prayer and chants, during which the Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available

Of late, Indulgences ­ a misleading name for a great idea ­ have been making a gentle return to fashion and our father, Benedict XVI, has given them for a number of occasions, including most recently World Youth Day. If Luther could take such a profound objection to their maladministration, their rightful observance might be worth a second glance.

In St Francis' day, to obtain a plenary Indulgence - the remission of the temporal punishment due to sin - one had to make a lengthy pilgrimage or go on crusade. Francis wanted this beautiful spiritual gift to be available to the poor and the least, and he persuaded Pope Honorius III to grant it to his little Church of Our Lady of the Angels on the day of its consecration. The gift was subsequently extended to all Franciscan Churches. You can ask this gift for yourself, or you may offer it for someone you know is in need - living or dead.

The Assisi Pardon is a gift of the Holy Father, so we are asked to remember his intentions in our prayers. We pray the Creed, the our Father and a prayer to the Mother of God. We need to have received the Sacrament of Reconciliation, reasonably close to the time and to have received the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

Some of you would have to catch a boat to get here, but that need not stop you sending your prayer intentions (first name only, please) and one of us will offer the prayer for you!

Regular highlights

If you live nearby, we have Adoration with midday prayer every Thursday from 12.00 to 1.00 pm. The size of the public congregation varies, but it makes a beautiful and restful midday oasis, full of that peace and goodness we are all longing for. Come if you can!
Vespers is at 4.30 daily and visitors are always welcome.

Mountain of tears

Pray for Zimbabwe. It is now the desert in the heart of Southern Africa. We have a friend and Claresharer in Zim, Cathy, who sends out a news sheet: this is not the political scene, but everyday events
“The ruination of ordinary lives and the suffering that people are enduring is utterly heartbreaking. Everyday holds tears and trauma and the most common phrase in our lives is: "We are in God's hands.".... This morning, as I write this letter, hundreds upon hundreds of people are crowded outside banks across the country desperately trying to withdraw their own money. This is because most shops no longer accept cheques and the Governor of the Reserve Bank has limited daily withdrawals per person to one hundred billion dollars. With one hundred billion dollars you can, today only, buy just three single blood pressure tablets. Or, today only, you can buy one copy of a local weekly newspaper and two small green onions. In my home town, even if you had the money, there is almost no food left to buy.”......

April 2008

Some of you have asked for a picture of the Sisters. Here is one taken April 2008 with Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds, who came to give us a day of recollection.

roche April 2008