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The Rector Writes...

Philip Whitmore

Midsummer has all kinds of associations, whether it be madness, murders or sun-worship. For Christians it is the time when we celebrate the birth of St John the Baptist, at the opposite pole of the year from the birth of Our Lord. As Saint Augustine says, “From today the days diminish. From the Lord’s birthday, the days grow longer” and quoting Saint John the Baptist, he continues:  ‘He must increase, I must decrease.’   

 

The humility of John, in pointing away from himself and towards the Lord is reflected in the cosmic patterns that we associate with their respective births, at midsummer and midwinter. John is the voice that proclaims the coming of the Word, and after it has done its work, the voice fades away while the Word is magnified.

 

Saint John the Baptist is the particular patron of the Order of Malta, which bears his name, and for that reason it is the principal feast of the Order’s calendar. We have reason to be especially grateful for the work that the Order does in our church, especially the twice-weekly soup kitchen hosted by the Companions of the Order in our Social Centre, but also the Corpus Christi procession that took place at the start of this month, a marvellous act of witness to our faith in the Word made flesh for our salvation. In Malta itself, the magnificent co-Cathedral in Valletta is dedicated to St John the Baptist and we can be sure that great celebrations will be the order of the day in that sacred place.

 

There is, as it happens, a statue of Saint John the Baptist in our church too, appropriately enough on the pulpit, where the voice of the preacher is heard proclaiming the Word of God. Appropriately, too, it is a modest statue, not particularly prominent, but at the service of the proclamation of our salvation through Christ.

 

Next weekend sees the great feast of Saints Peter and Paul, chief among the Apostles and founding fathers of the Church. They are particularly associated with the city of Rome, where both of them suffered martyrdom. For that reason 29 June is kept as the feast of the Pope and next weekend is when a collection is taken for Peter’s Pence, in support of the work of the Holy See and of the Pope’s charitable works. The feast is a Holyday of Obligation in this country, but as 29 June falls on a Saturday this year, the feast, with its obligation, is transferred to the nearest Sunday, in this case 30 June. So be prepared for red liturgical colours next Sunday.

 

This is an opportunity to remind parishioners of the 6-day parish pilgrimage to Rome, planned from 20 to 25 October in 2025, the Jubilee Year. It will include visits to the four major basilicas, each of which will have a Holy Door for Jubilee pilgrims, as well as the two English seminaries, the Vatican, the Catacombs and the English College summer residence on Lake Albano, and much more besides. The cost is likely to be £1595 per person (sharing a bedroom) or £1895 per person (single, with limited availability). Those interested in coming are asked to hand in their names to the parish office.

 

Many will want to know of plans for the funeral of the late Rosemary Everidge. It is to take place at the 12.30pm Mass on Monday 1 July, with the involvement of our church choir, of which Rosemary was a great supporter.

 

As anticipated last week, we have been given a green light to proceed with the overhaul of the church organ next year as well as some work on the rectory in the meantime. The third major project, the replacement of the boilers, is proving more complex, but we hope there will soon be progress to report on this project too. Not only do we need to be able to heat the church adequately during winter, but we need to be more efficient in our fuel consumption.

 

As summer draws nearer, our parish primary school, St Vincent’s, comes to the end of another very full year. It will be time to say goodbye to many, not only to the members of Year 6, who will move to new schools in the autumn, but also to quite a number of the teachers and to Brenda Lynch, the Administrative Assistant. If any reader of this newsletter might consider applying for the position left vacant by Brenda’s departure, there is more information available at HERE. In the meantime, many thanks to Brenda and others, who have given so much to the school over the years. The end-of-year Mass on Thursday morning next week will be a good opportunity to express our fond farewells and our great appreciation for all those for whom the time has come to move on.

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