Novena to the Holy Spirit: Day 8

Conclude your prayer with the sequence for Pentecost

Holy Spirit, Lord of Light,
from the clear celestial heights,
Thy pure beaming radiance give.

Come, thou Father of the poor,
Come with treasures which endure,
come thou Light of all that live.

Thou, of all consolers best,
thou, the soul’s delightsome guest,
Dost refreshing peace bestow;

Thou in toil art comfort sweet;
pleasant coolness in the heat,
solace in the midst of woe.

Light immortal, light divine,
visit thou these hearts of thine,
And our inmost being fill:

If thou take thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay,
all his good is turned to ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew,
on our dryness pour thy dew,
Wash the stains of guilt away:

Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill,
guide the steps that go astray.

Thou, on those who ever more
thee confess and thee adore,
In thy sevenfold gifts descend,

Give us comfort when they die
Give us life with thee on high;
give us joys that never end.

May is Mary’s Month # 21

During May we are having an on-line Marian festival – using music, poetry, art and prayer to help us engage with Mary and her continuing importance and ministry in the Church.

On Fridays the focus is on a Marian shrine.


This week’s shrine is the church of Notre Dame de la Garde, in Marseille, in France.

The church of Notre Dame de la Garde is – like Lourdes, like Medjugorje and like Walsingham – a place of pilgrimage, but more than that it is a constant sign of the place of faith, and of Mary in the lives of the people of Marseille.

As you can see from the photographs to get up to the church requires quite a bit of effort. Of course you can drive up, or even go up on the little tourist train, but that never seems quite right. Better by far to walk up and sweat!

The first church to be built on la Garde (a hill towering over the harbour of Marseille) was built in response to a vision in 1214 of Our Lady.

It was rebuilt in the 16th over the site of a fort, which had dominated the summit of the hill, and the town. However it was incorporated into a new military complex, and remained part of this until the building of the current basilica which began in the 1850s.

The early years of the present building were far from peaceful – it was seized and occupied by the revolutionaries of the 1870 commune, and then badly damaged by fire 10 years later.

Things calmed down then until the 2nd World War when the site was taken over by the German military and only taken back by the French in late August 1944, just before the liberation of Marseille herself.

Cardinal Etchegaray, a former bishop of Marseille, said that Marseille has many notable pictareque features, such as the Chateau d’If and the Old Port. But – he continued – Notre Dame de la Garde is the living heart of Marseille, not the exclusive property of Catholics; but a place, a symbol, that belongs to and serves the diverse human family of the whole city.

It is because of this sense of the universal significance of this church and of Our Lady, its patron, that the church goes under the local nickname La Bonne Mère (“Good Mother”), (a nickname applied also to Our Lady herself.)

Its prominence in the daily awareness, in the mind and hearts, of the people of Marseille has led church leaders to use the church as a place for promoting social economic and political reforms to bring to the poorest more humane and more just living and working conditions.

It is especially a place of prayer for mariners and fishermen and their families – and many votive paintings are displayed giving thanks for lives saved, many models of ships given to request our Lady’s prayer and protection.

In our present circumstances it is worth noting that the church was a particular focus for pilgrimages of thanksgiving following the Great Plague of Marseille, which in 1720 killed 100,000 people in the city.


This is the last posting of our mini-Marian Festival. Let us use the opportunity to again invoke our Lady’s love and care for our parish and nation.

Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us.

Mother of Christ, pray for us.
Mother of divine grace, pray for us.
Mother most pure, pray for us.
Mother most chaste, pray for us.
Mother inviolate, pray for us.
Mother undefiled, pray for us.
Mother most amiable, pray for us.
Mother most admirable, pray for us.
Mother of good counsel, pray for us.
Mother of our Creator, pray for us.
Mother of our Savior, pray for us.
Virgin most prudent, pray for us.
Virgin most venerable, pray for us.
Virgin most renowned, pray for us.
Virgin most powerful, pray for us.
Virgin most merciful, pray for us.
Virgin most faithful, pray for us.
Mirror of justice, pray for us.
Seat of wisdom, pray for us.
Cause of our joy, pray for us.

Spiritual vessel, pray for us.
Vessel of honor, pray for us.
Singular vessel of devotion, pray for us.
Mystical rose, pray for us.
Tower of David, pray for us.
Tower of ivory, pray for us.
House of gold, pray for us.
Ark of the covenant, pray for us.
Gate of heaven, pray for us.
Morning star, pray for us.
Health of the sick, pray for us.
Refuge of sinners, pray for us.
Comforter of the afflicted, pray for us.
Help of Christians, pray for us.

Queen of Angels, pray for us.
Queen of Patriarchs, pray for us.
Queen of Prophets, pray for us.
Queen of Apostles, pray for us.
Queen of Martyrs, pray for us.
Queen of Confessors, pray for us.
Queen of Virgins, pray for us.
Queen of all Saints, pray for us.
Queen conceived without original sin, pray for us.
Queen assumed into heaven, pray for us.
Queen of the most holy Rosary, pray for us.
Queen of Peace, pray for us.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:
O God,
who by the Resurrection of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
granted joy to the whole world;
grant, we beg you,
that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, his Mother,
we may attain the joys of eternal life.
Through the same Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Photographs of Notre Dame de la Garde, (c) 2013, 2014, 2017, Allen Morris.

A reading for today…

Each day during the Easter season there will be a reading from that day’s Mass posted, chosen by a parishioner, and with their own brief reflection for the day.

For some suggestions as to how to get the most from the reading, click here.

Friday 29th May:
Friday of 7th week of Easter

Jesus keeps open the way to new life, no matter how far we stray from it.

The gospel today shows how reconciliation and renewal are always possible, when faults are acknowledged and repentance is genuine.

At the time of Jesus’ greatest need, his staunchest supporter, the one who declared he would never leave him, denied any knowledge of him-three times.

Now, Jesus asks him to face his failings, experience forgiveness and renew his commitment to the mission entrusted to him.

Simon, not Peter (he is yet to be reinstated as the bedrock of the Church), is asked three times if he loves Jesus. In a new found humility, Simon Peter no longer claims a love superior to anyone else, he simply states that Jesus knows that Peter loves him. Jesus tells him what his responsibility will be; to nurture, love and sustain the lambs and sheep. Those most vulnerable, the new-formed believers, those waiting to be comforted and strengthened by the Good News of Jesus.

How wonderful to know that this same loving forgiveness is open to us, that we too are set straight and once more put on the right path, to follow the Way, the Truth and the Life. Even if, like Peter, there may be hardships waiting for us as we follow Jesus, there will be no clearer evidence of our love of him than to have fed his lambs and taken care of them.

Gospel: John 21:15-19
Feed my lambs, feed my sheep

Jesus showed himself to his disciples, and after they had eaten he said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?’ He answered, ‘Yes Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He replied, ‘Yes, Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Look after my sheep.’ Then he said to him a third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was upset that he asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and said, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.

‘I tell you most solemnly,
when you were young
you put on your own belt
and walked where you liked;
but when you grow old
you will stretch out your hands,
and somebody else will put a belt round you
and take you where you would rather not go.’

In these words he indicated the kind of death by which Peter would give glory to God. After this he said, ‘Follow me.’

Novena to the Holy Spirit: Day 7

Conclude your prayer with the sequence for Pentecost

Holy Spirit, Lord of Light,
from the clear celestial heights,
Thy pure beaming radiance give.

Come, thou Father of the poor,
Come with treasures which endure,
come thou Light of all that live.

Thou, of all consolers best,
thou, the soul’s delightsome guest,
Dost refreshing peace bestow;

Thou in toil art comfort sweet;
pleasant coolness in the heat,
solace in the midst of woe.

Light immortal, light divine,
visit thou these hearts of thine,
And our inmost being fill:

If thou take thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay,
all his good is turned to ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew,
on our dryness pour thy dew,
Wash the stains of guilt away:

Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill,
guide the steps that go astray.

Thou, on those who ever more
thee confess and thee adore,
In thy sevenfold gifts descend,

Give us comfort when they die
Give us life with thee on high;
give us joys that never end.

May is Mary’s Month # 20

During May we are having an on-line Marian festival – using music, poetry, art and prayer to help us engage with Mary and her continuing importance and ministry in the Church.

On Thursdays the focus is on a work of art.


This week the art work is a painting by the Russian painter Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, part of the collection at St Petersburg’s Russian Museum.

It was painted in 1914, at the beginning of the 1st World War.

It shows Mary with hands raised – in prayer? in surrender? both?

Behind her, almost as memories, are images of Mary as mother of the child Jesus and Mary mother of Jesus standing at the foot of his cross.

In those images Mary is focused on those events and not on us. In the main image Mary does not look directly at us, but somewhat to the side – but we are pressed very much by the artist to look to her, and to contemplate how she is before us.

And, of course, how we are before her. What past events have formed – or deformed – us? How prepared are we for what lies ahead of us? For what are we in need? Mary who knows joy and fear and remains faithful in both asks us, to help us.

The title of the painting is The Mother of God of Tenderness Towards Evil Hearts. Whose hearts are those? The hearts of the enemies of mother Russia? Or hearts within mother Russia too?

One of the particularly attractive features of the painting is that although the way that Mary is depicted evokes the hieratic dress and pose of Our Lady in the Icon tradition, there is also something more immediately human and contemporary (even 100 years after the completion of the painting).

This is Mary, coming to us from our faith tradition, but very much as one of us – only better than us – coming to be one with us.

Her tenderness, her love, her faith, is offered to us to warm us to life and to service as we (as most always) face difficult and challenging times.

The following prayer is a Preface for a Eucharistic Payer taken from Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It gives thanks to God for the ministry of Mary as Refuge of Sinners, and Mother of Reconcilation.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with your spirit.

V. Lift up your hearts.
R. We lift them up to the Lord.

V. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
R. It is truly right and just.

It is truly right and just, almighty and eternal God,
to give you thanks in all things and for all things
and to proclaim your mighty deeds.

For in your infinite goodness
you do not abandon those who stray from you,
but in marvelous ways you call them back to your love:
you gave the Blessed Virgin Mary,
sinless as she was,
a heart of compassion for sinners;
seeing her love as their mother,
they turn to her with trust
as they ask your forgiveness;
seeing her beauty of spirit,
they seek to turn away from sin in its ugliness;
taking to heart her words and example,
they learn to keep your Son’s commandments.

Through him the Angels of heaven
offer their prayer of adoration
as they rejoice in your presence for ever.
May our voices be one with theirs
in their triumphant hymn of praise:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

  • Translation of Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary (c) 1987, 1989, ICEL.
  • Photograph: The Mother of God of Tenderness Towards Evil Hearts, Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, Russian Museum, St Petersburg. (c) 2015, Allen Morris

A reading for today…

Each day during the Easter season there will be a reading from that day’s Mass posted, chosen by a parishioner, and with their own brief reflection for the day.

For some suggestions as to how to get the most from the reading, click here.

Thursday 28th May:
Thursday of 7th week of Easter

In the reading from Saint John’s gospel provided for today’s Mass, we hear Jesus’ prayer,”May they all be one in us as you are in me and I am in you.”, a clear call for unity among his followers,yet from the earliest times there have been disagreements and divisions. It would be so much easier to live in unity if we were all the same and thought in the same way.It is much more challenging to establish a relationship of mutual respect and dialogue with those whose beliefs and attitudes are different from ours.This prompts me to ask myself:

  • Do I really listen?
  • Do I make a real effort to understand?
  • Am I trying to convince others that I am right and they are wrong?
  • Am I willing to change?

Let us continue to work for  unity among the Christian denominations, one step at a time, with trust and hope.

Gospel: John 17:20-26
Father, may they be completely one

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Holy Father,
I pray not only for these,
but for those also
who through their words will believe in me.

May they all be one.
Father, may they be one in us,
as you are in me and I am in you,
so that the world may believe it was you who sent me.
I have given them the glory you gave to me,
that they may be one as we are one.

With me in them and you in me,
may they be so completely one
that the world will realise that it was you who sent me
and that I have loved them as much as you loved me.

Father, I want those you have given me
to be with me where I am,
so that they may always see the glory you have given me
because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

Father, Righteous One,
the world has not known you,
but I have known you,
and these have known that you have sent me.
I have made your name known to them
and will continue to make it known,
so that the love with which you loved me may be in them,
and so that I may be in them.’

Still getting ready to open the parish church…

It is time for us to start putting things in place in readiness for the opening of the parish church.

As yet no dates have been confirmed, but it is hoped that during phase 2 of the easing of the restrictions churches will be able to open for individuals to come for private prayer.

  • This excludes any formal summons to prayer, service, liturgy or blessing. It cannot involve the participation of any minister, nor would it permit a group of individuals to pray in common, e.g. in public recitation of the Rosary. This will be a central condition of opening and crucial in our adherence to regulations on social gathering.
  • It also seems to be the case that in order to open the church, even in this limited way, we will be required to have 2 or 3 volunteers on hand to supervise people’s access and use of the church, and to have the church cleaned after every such opening. This will require a fairly substantial team of volunteers and likely mean that the opening hours for the church will be limited.
    • Volunteers will need to wear face masks and gloves, and also aprons if cleaning.
    • Volunteers should be deemed healthy and fit for work prior to commencement of work. At present this excludes those who are deemed vulnerable (over 70 years, and/or with certain pre-existing health conditions, self-isolating or shielding). This may change.

The public celebration of Mass will be further away, certainly in phase 3, and not before July. However the routines involved in opening for individual prayer will give us valuable experience of opening churches safely, and will be a firm platform on which to build for the steps that follow.

These details are provisional and await confirmation by the Archbishop. However given the regular requests I thought it best to share such information as I have as I receive it, not least because…

We can only re-open if we get a team of volunteers together.

So please do think how and when you could assist.

For example, parents bringing children to school, or before collecting them from school, could you join a rota to help once a week with a daily clean?

And could you offer a couple of hours once a week to staff a ‘time for private prayer’?

Please give thought to these requests so that as soon as we are in a position to make concrete plans, you will already have an idea of what assistance you can offer to the parish.

AS SOON as we have clear dates in mind I will invite people to email to confirm how they can help. Please hold back on your offers of help until then.

Thank you very much.

Fr Allen

Photograph. Detail of Cathedral door, Nimes. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Novena to the Holy Spirit: Day 6

Conclude your prayer with the sequence for Pentecost

Holy Spirit, Lord of Light,
from the clear celestial heights,
Thy pure beaming radiance give.

Come, thou Father of the poor,
Come with treasures which endure,
come thou Light of all that live.

Thou, of all consolers best,
thou, the soul’s delightsome guest,
Dost refreshing peace bestow;

Thou in toil art comfort sweet;
pleasant coolness in the heat,
solace in the midst of woe.

Light immortal, light divine,
visit thou these hearts of thine,
And our inmost being fill:

If thou take thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay,
all his good is turned to ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew,
on our dryness pour thy dew,
Wash the stains of guilt away:

Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill,
guide the steps that go astray.

Thou, on those who ever more
thee confess and thee adore,
In thy sevenfold gifts descend,

Give us comfort when they die
Give us life with thee on high;
give us joys that never end.

May is Mary’s Month # 19

During May we are having an on-line Marian festival – using music, poetry, art and prayer to help us engage with Mary and her continuing importance and ministry in the Church.

On Wednesdays the focus is on a piece of music.


There are certain songs that I think of as being sort of Catholic battle hymns. They are songs, and mostly they are hymns, that focus on aspects of Christian faith that are precious to Catholics, but often viewed sometimes with a certain suspicion by Christians of the ‘protestant reform’.

These are hymns such as Faith of our Fathers (in the USA the hymn is made more gender inclusive by the opening line ‘Faith of our Fathers, living still is commonly rendered ‘Faith of our Fathers, ‘Mothers too’); Soul of my Saviour; and a whole range of hymns to Mary – the Lourdes Hymn, Immaculate Mary; Bring flowers of the fairest.

The particular song I offer today is one that seems to be valued more broadly, namely Schubert’s Ave Maria.

Ave Maria, gratia plena,
Maria, gratia plena,
Maria, gratia plena,
Ave, Ave, Dominus,
Dominus tecum.
Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus,
Et benedictus fructus ventris (tui),
Ventris tui, Jesus.
Ave Maria!

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
Ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
Ora, ora pro nobis;
Ora, ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
Nunc et in hora mortis,
In hora mortis nostrae.
In hora, hora mortis nostrae,
In hora mortis nostrae.
Ave Maria!
Hail Mary, full of grace,
Mary, full of grace,
Mary, full of grace,
Hail, Hail, the Lord
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women, and blessed,
Blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Thy womb, Jesus.
Hail Mary!

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,
Pray, pray for us;
Pray for us sinners,
Now, and at the hour of our death,
The hour of our death.
The hour, the hour of our death,
The hour of our death.
Hail Mary!

This familiar song is in fact an adaptation of a song from a poem ‘Lady of the Lake’ by Sir Walter Scott – addressed to Mary, but far from using the familiar prayer given above.

Storck’s translation used by Schubert“Hymn to the Virgin” by Sir Walter Scott
Ave Maria! Jungfrau mild,
Erhöre einer Jungfrau Flehen,
Aus diesem Felsen starr und wild
Soll mein Gebet zu dir hin wehen.
Wir schlafen sicher bis zum Morgen,
Ob Menschen noch so grausam sind.
O Jungfrau, sieh der Jungfrau Sorgen,
O Mutter, hör ein bittend Kind!
Ave Maria!

Ave Maria! Unbefleckt!
Wenn wir auf diesen Fels hinsinken
Zum Schlaf, und uns dein Schutz bedeckt
Wird weich der harte Fels uns dünken.
Du lächelst, Rosendüfte wehen
In dieser dumpfen Felsenkluft,
O Mutter, höre Kindes Flehen,
O Jungfrau, eine Jungfrau ruft!
Ave Maria!

Ave Maria! Reine Magd!
Der Erde und der Luft Dämonen,
Von deines Auges Huld verjagt,
Sie können hier nicht bei uns wohnen,
Wir woll’n uns still dem Schicksal beugen,
Da uns dein heil’ger Trost anweht;
Der Jungfrau wolle hold dich neigen,
Dem Kind, das für den Vater fleht.
Ave Maria!
Ave Maria! maiden mild!
Listen to a maiden’s prayer!
Thou canst hear though from the wild;
Thou canst save amid despair.
Safe may we sleep beneath thy care,
Though banish’d, outcast and reviled –
Maiden! hear a maiden’s prayer;
Mother, hear a suppliant child!
Ave Maria!

Ave Maria! undefiled!
The flinty couch we now must share
Shall seem with down of eider piled,
If thy protection hover there.
The murky cavern’s heavy air
Shall breathe of balm if thou hast smiled;
Then, Maiden! hear a maiden’s prayer,
Mother, list a suppliant child!
Ave Maria!

Ave Maria! stainless styled.
Foul demons of the earth and air,
From this their wonted haunt exiled,
Shall flee before thy presence fair.
We bow us to our lot of care,
Beneath thy guidance reconciled;
Hear for a maid a maiden’s prayer,
And for a father hear a child!
Ave Maria!

But – back to battle hymns. The Ave Maria it is used – to my mind, rather gloriously – as a battle hymn in Alan Bleasdale’s anarchic, still quite shocking, and also very funny film, No Surrender, countering the Orange Order’s ‘The Sash’.

Photograph: Our Lady, Abbaye St-Pierre, Moissac. (c) 2018, Allen Morris

A scripture reading for today…

Each day during the Easter season there will be a reading from that day’s Mass posted, chosen by a parishioner, and with their own brief reflection for the day.

For some suggestions as to how to get the most from the reading, click here.

Wednesday 27th May:
Wednesday of 7th week of Easter

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus says, “the harvest is rich but the labourers are few…” Jesus sends more disciples out on mission to bring the joy of the Gospel to others.  The reality that they may be like “lambs among wolves” is clear and was not a deterrent for those who trusted the Lord.

  • Do we pray to the Lord to send more labourers with the courage to continue this work?
  • What work does Jesus want me to do?  

Gospel: Luke 10:1-9
Your peace will rest on that man

The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of him, in pairs, to all the towns and places he himself was to visit.

He said to them, ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest.

Start off now, but remember, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road.

Whatever house you go into, let your first words be, “Peace to this house!” And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you.

Stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer, for the labourer deserves his wages; do not move from house to house.

Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is set before you. Cure those in it who are sick, and say, “The kingdom of God is very near to you.”’