Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Tat and all that

Yesterday was the annual Tat fair where those to be ordained this summer spend their Tat grant on such niceties as clerical shirts, 'Scottish Widows' cloak and stoles. For three hours we trialled round the different suppliers comparing quality, price and cut before making decisions. I'd already ordered 3 shirts from a supplier that came two weeks ago but wanted another 3. In the end I purchased 4 as there was a Fair Trade stall which had just what I wanted and did an offer on 4. Cloak was easily decided on but the stole!!! I went round and round trying to decide which symbol I liked with which material. Unfortunately my favourite Celtic cross wasn't available with my favourite material so back to thinking about it.
As I've already commented what we wear seems to say so much about what we believe and what sort of priest we think we will be- and I'm still trying to work that out!!!
In the meantime I have also turned my attention to Ember Cards , looking to get some printed to send out details of the Ordination service and the change of address. What surprised me was that most entries on Google for Ember cards were for some sort of game. however I shall have a simple design printed by one of the printers and then hopefully get them posted after Easter.
Today I'm off to do some more research for my dissertation - an interview with a Vicar of the church where CS Lewis worshipped, and some more writing on said dissertation.

Sunday, 26 February 2012


There's the old joke that priests only work on Sunday's and so for ordinands the same could be said to hold true- particularly this term when I have 2 lectures on Monday and that's it! However Sundays often make up for it with multiple services. In fact today I was only due to serve at the morning Eucharist. This was my last time as sacristan as next week my other half of the sacristan team is on duty and the following week is our farewell from the churches. Is it really a year since we started - how the time has flown. I've learnt so much in the last twelve months and become proficient at setting up for the service and coping with whatever slip ups come!
Today having been to Cuddesdon in the morning I accompanied K to the Wheatley Churches together lenten programme which was an interesting talk on what the Roman Catholics believe followed by question and answers. It was good to meet other Christians in the world outside college and to socialise with K.
This evening I attended college Compline. This is a daily service but it isn;t compulsory and so for most of the time here I've not gone. However as part of my lenten discipline I've decided to attend each day. Its a lovely peaceful service which prepares for sleep. As I sang along tonight I felt drawn into the Call the Midwife programme which often showed the nuns singing compline. Now its time for bed and the tomorrow is the start of a new week and more work on my dissertation.

Saturday, 25 February 2012


It was a lovely day today- blue skys and warmer than we should expect for February. So off we went to Salisbury. It's one of those places we had said we would visit before we left Cuddesdon- afterall from here its only just over and hour and a half whereas from Derbyshire its 4 hours or more. We arrived in time for a quick lunch and then a wander round the market before finding our way to the Cathedral.
Inspiring, wonderful, it reminded me of the Starbridge novels which of course are based on Salisbury. Once inside we wondered for a couple of hours taking it all in- stopping to pray when the Chaplain on duty for the day invited us to join him. I love the fact that in cathedrals across the country on the hour all stops for a short time of prayer. I was pleased today to see that most in the cathedral paused and a number joined in the Lord's Prayer.
I'm always amazed at what our ancestors managed to build with their basic technology. In salisbury tehre is a model showing how the Cathedralwas built which along with a couple of books I have read recently really demonstrated the wonder of what they did. And it was all for God's glory- to lift mans eyes to the ehavens and to bring glory to the Creator of all.
I'm thinking of 'collecting' cathedrals- so far those visited are
Derby, Durham, Blackburn (where I sang in Songs of Praise at the age of 16)Exeter, Ely, Wells, Christ Church Oxford, York, Sheffield, Newport, Salisbury, St Pauls, St Peters Rome, Lincoln, Coventry (old and New) Lichfield, Truro, Winchester. Actually having listed them I'm not doing to badly- but still a few to go!!! Any recommendations?

Friday, 24 February 2012

Evening Prayer

most days we have evening prayer and this term its BCP. However on a Friday we have A service of the Word which allows the officiant to form as service as they please and usually involves more contemporary music. This evenings service was based on pilgrimage and was a lovely reflective service. For me the most inspiring part was singing the Song O God You search me.

O God you search me and you know me,
All my thoughts lie open to your gaze.
When I walk or lie down you are before me:
Ever the maker and keeper of my days.

You know my resting and my rising.
You discern my purpose from afar,
And with love everlasting you besiege me:
In every moment of life and death, you are.

Before a word is on my tongue, Lord,
You known it's meaning all the way through,
You are with me beyond my understanding:
God of my present, past and future, too.

Although your spirit is upon me,
Still I search for shelter from your light.
There is nowhere on earth I can escape you:
Even the darkness is radiant in your light.

For you created me and shaped me,
Gave me life within my mother's womb.
For the wonder of who I am I praise you:
Safe in your hands, all creation is made new.

Bernadette Farrell. Based on Psalm 139

We snag it in the service and then at the end the musicians played it again and some of us sat and sang it quietly.
Now I can't get it out of my head- only problem I can't remember all the words.
Off tomorrow for a day out with K in Salisbury.

Thursday, 23 February 2012


So we enter the season of Lent again. Yesterday was both Ash Wednesday and a quiet day here in college. For the first time since I came to college I really enjoyed the quiet day. This in part was because I knew what to expect and so had planned carefully how I would spend the day. partly I think as well because I was so ready to have a quiet day.
The day started actually the evening before with compline and short address. Then yesterday after breakfast we had morning prayer and an address 9 on Poverty) from one of the Sisters of the Begbrooke convent. The sisters will be moving to live in a new building here at Cuddesdon. I spent the next couple of hours rereading my journal and making fresh reflections in it. Then we were back in church for Ashing and Eucharist. This was accompanied by a second address on Obedience then while everyone else moved to lunch I went out of college to spend 4 hours away on my own- walking along the Thames. Returning I read a book about fresh expressions in a cathedral. Then it was on to church and the evening prayer with address about chastity. We had a silent evening meal, and at 9.30pm there was an optional compline which had a Taize base- a lovely end to a peaceful day with God.
What I have taken away from yesterday was the need to prepare and plan for quiet days/retreats and that I need this time out with God regularly. I'm looking forward now to the three days of pre-ordination retreat in the diocese.
Today I've spent the day out from college visiting a number of churches to do research for my dissertation. I took a checklist of things I was looking for and then made comments on what I observed. This will now be written up into a chapter for my dissertation of 20000 words! I also took loads of photo's so they can find their place in it as well. I'm not as far on with the dissertation I was hoping to be- partly because I've allowed myself to be distracted easily. With that in mind my lenten disciplines are going to be - no TV before 7pm - I'm easily hooked on Countdown and escape to the Country!! And I'm not going to look at Facebook, Blogs etc until the evening. I will check emails during the day because most college communication is through email. I will also try and blog a reflection each day as I did last year- but not until the evening!!

In the meantime I'm going to watch the programme about the training of catholic priest and see how different it is to my training.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

This is the life

Since yesterday morning I've hardly been at home, other than to pop in and grab a coffee before dashing off again. Yesterday it was a combination of lectures and plans for a creative worship which I was involved in. Today it ahs been a funeral which was rather unusual. We started with a short graveside committal service, followed by a lovely cooked lunch before going over to another church for a celebration of life. It was a lovely service and celebration of a wonderful Christian mother and grnadmother. The whole family contributed to the service and made it very personal and special. As kevin kept saying when I apologised for having to dash off again- this is your life now we need to get used to it!!
Then I returned to college and the first of the 'Tat' suppliers was showing their wares. So I have ordered three tailored balck blouses and collars. I shall order another three from another supplier when the rest come in a fortnight so I can see how well they wash and wear. It was rather daunting and at the same time very exciting to try on the shirt and collar and see how I'll look in 4 months. This is coming very quickly now and I can't wait :)
Our creative worship yesterday was - well creative. We decided to reclaim Valentines day for God and celebrate His love rather human love. both of my fellow planners had come to the meeting with the idea of restaurant/food and so we went with that as our format. We set up a lecture room as a cafe with snmall tables and candles, and then invited people to take a seat and we began with a welcome and singing Love Divine. we then came to the Word section- we served pitta bread to be shared at each table and dipped into olive oil, while readings about the love of God were listened to, then vinegar as someoen read about the paqssion of Christ, and we finished with honey and readings about gods love and how we should share it with others. We then responded to the Word of God by singing How deep the Fathers love. For our intercessions we handed out heart shaped post it notes and asked everyone to write a prayer on the front thanking God for His love and writing on the back someone or something that was in the ened of God's love. These were then stuck on a gold card cross which slowly turned pink from the hearts. I've participated ( and led) similar intercessions before but yesterday I was amazed at the sense of prayer in the room as we wrote our prayers. We went on to say the Lord's prayer and then concluded by singing 'Here is Love Vast as the Ocean', and 'ANd can it Be?' We had a number of positive comments from people as they left and tomorrow we will have a review from the Liturgy tutor. I really enjoyed being involved in the planning of this service and seeing it excuted while I took a back seat this time. I feel so fulfilled and the sense of 'this is what I was born for' in these situations.
Tomorrow I am to deacon for a Bishop at the College Eucharist- an American Female Bishop. Should be interesting!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Time passes

I feel as if I should be posting more often- after all this blog was started in order to reflect on my training and one of the major elements of training is theological reflection! However as I try to get a grip ion my dissertation ( rather like trying to grab a jelly!) I don;t find my mind finds it easy to reflect. We continue to countdown to the move- which only makes writing the dissertation more urgent. I had hoped to have it done by the end of the Easter break but I've already moved that deadline to the 20th May. From the 21st May we are on to the Leavers course at college and then time will really fly by!
Leaver's Course- this is really going to happen- I am going to complete my course, hand over duties of sacristan and move on from college to curacy! Part of me longs for the day, longs to be out and doing what I feel God has called me to do. The other part feels so at home here with the friends that I have made that I wonder how I'll ever cope away from college. Most days the former triumphs but just occasionally the latter gets a grip.
Meantime next week and the week after we will have the college 'Tat fair' ( Tat for the uninitiated is the name given to all liturgical dress and soft furnishings). There we will be able to select stoles, clergy shirts etc and begin to think through what our clothes will say about the sort of priest we want to be. When I came to college I was planning to wear coloured clerical shirts ( if for no other reason than I don't look good in black I'm told!) But as time has gone on I feel that I want to wear black but I'm not sure why! I don;t think I've become more catholic in my views but do think it seems to speak more about being a priest and representing God. At the end of the day it will be a uniform not a fashion statement! Decision, decisions!
Time now to go and get changed into a suitable outfit for a funeral visit.