It is pretty obvious to any of you who know me that I have been deeply influenced by Anglican – Catholic tradition; I grew up after all in Oxford and only around the corner from the Cowley Fathers and a short distance from the nuns at Faircares – both Church of England religious communities.
The flow of ideas and understandings between my Reformed heritage and my deep sense of connection to my Catholic roots have produced the priest that I am; and I am grateful to both. It is therefore not surprising to realise that for me the season of Lent, and especially Holy Week, figure very prominently in my Christian year and they mould my prayer life and my understanding of who Jesus is. Every Lent I resolve to use the time as best I can to think more deeply about the faith and what it means to live out the Gospel ; I normally try my hardest to find something to read that will be a challenge and a source of comfort and hope. This is also over layered with spending time listening to sacred music of one type or another.
This year is no exception and I have recently purchased a book by Dom Timothy Radcliffe on the Stations of The Cross. Each section of the book is illustrated by the well known liturgical artist, Martin Erspamer who happens to be a Benedictine monk. Following the Gospel narrative, they enable us to pray our way and accompany Jesus on his journey from the house of Pontius Pilate to the Cross and His Tomb. The purpose of the book and what drew me to it is best explained by Radcliffe himself. He writes; “ Each Station recalls a moment when Jesus stopped. A “Station” means simply a place for stopping as a train stops in a railway station. He stops to talk to people in compassion; he stops when he falls to the groundout of exhaustion, unable to carry on; he stops at Golgotha because that is the end of the road. Jesus is close to us when we too are stopped in our tracks and wonder whether we can carry on any more. We may be halted by illness or failure, by grief or despair. But Jesus carries on, making his slow way to the Cross and to the Resurrection, and brings us with himself in hope. Let us set out.”
I shall use this book every day in Lent; may I commend it to you as a daily devotion that leads us all to a deeper understanding of the mystery of Our Lord’s Passion and to the faith of a Resurrection people.
Pax et Bonum (Peace and Blessings)