Saturday, 22 September 2018

A Reception Video

This is a wonderful record of Vespers and the Blessing of the Icons.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

LMS Glastonbury High Mass

Please click on this picture to see more
On the Parochial Feast of the Birthday of the Most Holy and Blessed Virgin, the Shrine of Our Lady of Glastonbury, "the foremost Church in Britain, the fount and source of all religion", was pleased and honoured to host the annual Latin Mass Pilgrimage.

You can see an account on the LMS Clifton website here.

It is wonderful to know that the Rite, feast and language of Holy Mass, which would have been celebrated by the Saints, Martyrs and monks in the Abbey opposite (before its cruel and evil destruction) is once again heard in all its splendour.

The Holy Virgin has been celebrated in Glastonbury from the earliest days of Christianity in our country. She has seen empires and kindgoms rise and fall. She has seen the joy and folly of generations. Our Lady of Glastonbury, our country's first and most ancient shrine, will endure until her Son comes again.

A full set of pictures can be seen following this link.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

The Karoussos Icons 5

After the last four week, we now know that we human beings do not simply understand things on a surface level, because certain objects like flags or wedding rings have an importance which is beyond their physical appearance. We also know that God has made us this way because He set up His Church for our salvation and the Church has at its centre the same kind of thing (physical things pointing beyond themselves), namely the Sacraments. These Sacraments are parts of our everyday world but they are transformed by the power of God to give us His grace. Bread and wine are no longer bread and wine, but become His Sacred Body and Blood - really, truly and substantially. We know as well that the Saints are there not only as our examples, but as our helping friends. They can pray for us, and they can present our prayers to God in a way which is different to us on earth. They are now in heaven, singing the praises of the One who made them.

Icons are part of this system in the theology and devotion of the East. They are not just pictures, but they participate in the thing that they represent. In the same way that the things we have been talking about for the past few weeks go beyond what they symbolise, so icons are greater than simply pictures of the saints they show. It is as if the saint themselves were there. An iconstasis (a screen where there are lots of icons) it is not just some picture gallery, but rather it is a portal to heaven itself. The icons, then, are venerated as if the saint were present. An icon is a ‘thin space’ between heaven and earth, a place where the two see each other. Like a window, you can see through, but you are not there on the other side. We will have three such windows in the Shrine in Glastonbury - Christ the Life Giver, Our Blessed Lady and St John the Theologian.

The icons were offered by the Karoussos Foundation (which takes its name form the icons’ maker, Ianis Karoussos) as a result of the twinning of Glastonbury with the Holy Isle of Patmos. Both places are touched by the presence and the hand of God. We know that many people search for God in Glastonbury, and although He is here in the tabernacle, they do not find Him, but spend their time in illusions and fantasies. Let us pray that these icons will draw new generations to worship Our Lord and Saviour, and to venerate His Holy Mother.

The Karoussos Icons 4

We now know that we human beings do not simply understand things on a surface level, because certain objects like flags or wedding rings have an importance which is beyond their physical appearance. We also know that God has made us this way because He set up His Church for our salvation and the Church has at its centre the same kind of thing, namely the Sacraments. These are parts of our everyday world but they are transformed by the power of God to give us His grace. Bread and wine is no longer bread and wine, but is His Sacred Body and Blood - really, truly and substantially. We know as well that the Saints are there not only as our examples, but as our helping friends. They can pray for us, and they can present our prayers to God in a way which is different to us on earth. They are now in heaven, singing the praises of the One who made them.

To help us focus on God, and on the saints, we in the Western Church use statues. It is sometimes thrown at us that we Catholics worship them. But we know that that is not true. Not only is it not true, it is nonsense. Why would we worship something that God has made and not God Himself? In the same way that we do not worship the saint who is depicted, so we do not worship the image of that saint. But what we do know is that we human beings need help to remember and to focus. I have a number of pictures of my mother in the presbytery. Now, I know exactly what she is like, I can speak to her on the telephone, and she can come and visit me. But there is no harm in my remembering her at other times, or even being caught off guard and seeing her by surprise! Even if she is not there I can speak to her picture.

This is what statues do for us. They remind us of the person they show, and they help us to talk to them, and through their prayers and support, they lead us to God.

But we know that they are only artefacts, and by that I mean things which are made with human hands. They may be aesthetically beautiful, or they may be ugly. They may be bright and shiny, or they may be dull and subdued. That really is just a matter of taste. Beware of criticising someone else’s taste. You may think a particular statue is terrible, but it may be a true help to someone else’s devotion. It would be like me going into your home and saying “What horrible wallpaper, how can you stand it! I guess you’re going to change that as soon as possible.” Only to find out that you had just spent lots of money on it, and lots of time choosing it.

So for us in the west, in our history, statues have helped us to pray and to ask the prayers of the saints. But that is not the case for the Church in the East. There, a different tradition, an ancient tradition arose to do the same thing, but with a much deeper theology… icons.

Monday, 10 September 2018

The Karoussos Icons 3

We have seen that we human beings take and use the things of God’s creation and fill them with meaning. And we have seen that God Himself has created us with both the ability and the yearning to do this. We know that this is true because God designed the whole of the sacramental life of the Church (the world’s sure means to salvation) around everyday things. They are portals, gateways into the supernatural world and life of grace.

So we now turn to the word of the saints. We are used to invoking the saints (asking for their prayers and their help) in our everyday lives. If you do not, then you are missing a trick. In the same way that I will ask you to pray for me, so we should be asking the saints as well. The saints are those Christian brothers and sisters of ours, who have died and been found worthy of the courts of Heaven. Their souls, we can be sure, are praising God in the heavenly choir. They have been perfected and have attained the purpose for which all life has been created, namely the worship of Almighty God. It is only in doing this that our souls find true rest and true peace.

The saints are not just there to inspire us, though of course they do that. There are many people who inspire me. Those who stood up to the Nazis in the war, or to terrible injustice inspire me. Members of my own family who struggled through a poor working class life, and still managed to get food on the table through honest work inspire me. But apart from their example, they cannot help me become a better person. Mr Mandela might show me stoic resistance in the face of barbarity and racism, but if I find myself in the same situation, I would prefer someone to help me get out of it or help me cope with it, rather than showing me what they did. Example is all well can good, but it does not go as far as I need. Ask any teacher - you can put a thousand examples on the board, but you have to show someone and help them for them to really get it. Saints are much more than just examples. You can read about examples in a book, but how much better if you can speak to them and apply how they lived and what they said to your life and your situation. And how better still, if they could present your case to someone who can really change the situation… someone with real clout.

Welcome to our teaching about the saints. Yes their lives inspire us. But much more than that, they can help us see and put into action the things that we need to do to live lives which are better and more honourable, so that we can be with them for ever in heaven. And more even that that. They can put in a good word for us with Him upstairs. Of course I can do that as well, but they actually live there and they see Him every moment of every day. They’ve got privileged access.

The Karoussos Icons 2

We saw that there are many things in our world and our society which have a greater meaning than what is simply on the surface. I gave the example of a nation’s flag or a wedding ring. These are more than simply a piece of cloth, or a band of gold, rather they point beyond themselves to what they signify.

In the Church, we see this most perfectly in the Sacraments. When Christ instituted the seven Sacraments, He used the normal things of life - for the Eucharist it was bread and wine, for Baptism it was water, the laying on of hands for Ordination and Confirmation, spoken words for Marriage, anointing with oil for the Sacrament of the Sick, and the words of absolution for Confession. But it is through these words or things which we can find around us, that Heaven and Earth are joined, and God acts in them to supernaturally touch our souls. Something happens in the Sacraments, and the agent, the one who does it, is God Himself. He uses the things of the earth to give us access to the things of Heaven. And He does it in a way which is accessible to us. We know what water is, or bread and wine, or oil or the spoken word. We know as well that these things are transformed into something much greater than themselves when they are found in the context of the Holy Rites of the Church, in the action of the Sacraments.

How many times has a child’s head been washed, and water been poured over it, before its baptism? And yet, through this simple sacramental action, it is not their head which is clean, but their very soul - washed clean from original sin, and united to Christ and His Church. And words of love and commitment must have been exchanged by a couple before their wedding day, but when they do it in the sight of God, witnessed by His Priest, something all-together different happens. What we see and feel, what our senses tell us, gives way to something greater, something much more profound. Of course, we can ignore these rites and reduce what is going on to a simple human ritual. In place of Baptism some may think of it as a service of thanksgiving for the safe birth, or a naming ceremony. And Matrimony can be reduced to the level of a commitment of one to another. And in these cases, nothing happens to the souls of those involved. They have been brought down to the human level. But this is not what the Church does, nor is it what the Sacraments do. And as these have been given to us by God Himself, then we have to say that they are part of what God has in mind for us, so that we can live and flourish. He has given us something so much greater, so why would we settle for anything less?

In society, then, we use the things of this world to point beyond themselves, and in our faith, this process is elevated in the most wonderful way in the Sacraments. It is with this in mind that we can see what an icon is, and what place it has in devotion.

The Karoussos Icons 1

As the Shrine in Glastonbury has welcomed the gift of the icons made by Iannis Karoussos, it is good to think about what icons are and how they fit into our devotion.

We are used to the idea in the West that this world and the things within it are not just stuck here with a surface meaning. Indeed the whole of our religious rites are based on the fact that what we see with our eyes and hear with our ears has a deeper meaning and a deeper significance. At every baptism we begin by welcoming the child (or the adult) at the door of the Church. Of course this is practical, as to get to the font (which is usually in the Church building) you have to get through the door first. But that practical reason has a spiritual meaning as well. I explain it to the baptismal group like this - assuming that the child has not decided to let their presence be felt by a loud and sustained cry of ‘delight’ by that point! As we enter a building through a door, so baptism is like a door to the life of grace which God offers us in baptism. Once we have entered a building, then we can look around, perhaps sit down, or shelter from the rain, or the baking sun outside. So with the first of the sacraments, we enter the spiritual life of the Church. We can receive those other six moments when we know that God  touches our soul. But we first have to get in. Baptism (like a door) does that - our soul enters the building of God’s grace. A door is not only a door, it is something greater. In the baptismal rite, it is the entry into the opportunities that God opens up for us.

And other objects have a meaning which goes beyond their surface importance. A flag is a piece of cloth with an emblem upon it. It shows which country is being represented. In that way it is like a name badge. If you see a sticky label on someone, then you can assume that that is their name. But for some, a flag is much more - it signifies the nation itself. I don’t think that we in the UK have such a high view of the flag, but in America, where children every morning stand and ‘pledge allegiance to the flag’, you can see that the importance of this piece of cloth,. The way that the flag is understood, is much deeper than here. The flag and the nation are intertwined. So when enemies of the States burn the flag then they are offending America itself.

Or again, a piece of gold twisted into a circle is a nice decorative thing, and may glint pleasantly when it catches the light, but when placed on a finger in a wedding ceremony, then it ‘means’ something more. The bride or groom says “receive this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity”. This material thing points to and symbolises the love and commitment of the two people getting married.

Things of this world are not only of this world, they point beyond it.

Friday, 7 September 2018

High Mass on the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin


Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Glastonbury, Saturday 8th September 2018

11:30 High Mass
13.00 Lunch in Parish Hall
14.00 Rosary
15.00 Exposition and Confessions
16.30 End
Please bring a packed lunch – tea and coffee will be available

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Vespers to welcome the Karoussos Icons

The Karoussos Icons
Last night saw Solemn Vespers in the presence of His Excellency Declan Lang, Catholic Bishop of Clifton, and Him Eminence Gregorios, Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Thyatira and Great Britain.

His Excellency, Declan Lang
His Eminence, Gregorios

The Bishop, the Archbishop, the Rector of the Shrine
in the backgroud the daughter of the Icons' maker, Katerina Karoussos.
During this the Karoussos Icons, made by Ianis Karoussos and given to the Shrine of Our Lady of Glastonbury by the Karoussos Foundation, were blessed by the Archbishop.

There will be more photos of the event in the coming days.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Our Lady of Montligeon

On the evening of 1st November 1876, August Buguet, a local bell-ringer, the brother of a young priest, was crushed to death by a falling bell. Soon afterwards, the priest’s two young nieces, aged just 12 and 16, also tragically died. In his prayers and in his meditations, Fr Buguet was disturbed by these deaths, and knew that God was calling him to do something about it. He was worried, not only for his own dearly beloved who have died, but also for those who had no one to pray for them. He said “One consequence that can be drawn from my meditations, is the necessity to relieve the souls in Purgatory. I have delayed too long in organising the Work that I had planned. I must work to deliver these souls.”

He was posted to La Chapelle-Montligeon and founded an association for the souls in purgatory, for whom no one else prays. The parish was very poor, with little work, “I was trying to reconcile a double goal: to have people pray for neglected souls, and, at the same time, to obtain through these souls the means by which the worker could make a decent living.” As well as finding other work for the people of his parish, he set them to building a great basilica to Our Lady - a basilica dedicated to the relief of the souls in purgatory.

By the time of his death in 1918, the Basilica of Our Lady of Montligeon was well known as a place to intercede for the dead, and received countless thousands of pilgrims.

Of course we do not need our own purgatorial book. It is a holy and right thing to pray for the dead, and the greatest prayer we have is the Holy Mass. If you want Mass offered for anyone the just ask your priest.

Our Lady, when she appears to or inspires us in different places and in different times always points to her Son, and always with a Mother’s love. With what love our Heavenly Mother seeks to comfort us in our distress and sooth our troubled hearts.

Our Lady of Montligeon, pray for the souls in purgatory
Our Lady St Mary of Glastonbury, pray for us.

Friday, 20 July 2018


Since Pentecost, we have celebrated many feasts on Sundays. This means that the liturgical colours that we have seen have reflected the feast. The Church links colours with period of the Church’s year, or particular feasts. As we are firmly back in normal time, we will see green again for a while. The colours, and thus the vestments, that the Priest wears is not a personal choice. Of course he may choose this or that chasuble, but he cannot decide to wear red on a green day, or black in place of white. So what are the colours, and what do they mean?

Green: this colour is the default. It is the colour used for what is often called ‘Ordinary Time’. Actually the official name is ‘per annum’ or ‘through the year’. It is the colour of nature, when nothing is out of the ordinary. So if no particular feast is celebrated, or we do not find ourselves in a specific liturgical season, then the colour used is green.

White: this colour covers both silver and gold. White is used during the Christmas and Easter seasons. They are times of rejoicing, and white reflects that. It is also used for the celebration of the feasts of the Lord (such as Christ the King, or the Sacred Heart), feasts of Our Lady, feasts of the Angels, and feasts of the saints.

Red: feasts of the Holy Spirit, such as Pentecost, are celebrated in Red. This reflects the tongues of flame which descended on the Apostles at Pentecost. It is also used for saints who shed their blood for Christ. These are the Martyrs and red is used to remind us of their blood which was spilled in defence of the faith. If a saint is a martyr, then red is used as opposed to white.

Purple: this is used for the two great seasons of Advent (before Christmas) and Lent (before Easter). It reflects the penitential nature of the two seasons. Originally Advent was a lesser fasting period than Lent. Although Advent is different now, with few people fasting, the colour remains the same.

Rose: is used on two Sundays, the third Sunday of Advent and the fourth Sunday of Lent. These were days when the fasting of the two seasons was lessened, and to reflect this, a different colour was used.

Black: this colour is used for funerals, and Masses of the dead, such as All Souls day. In the new rite of Mass, the priest can also use purple or white for funerals.

Our worship of God comes through signs and symbols. It is through sight, touch, taste, smell and hearing. The colours at Mass help us to focus on the season, or the feast which is being celebrated.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

More Pilgrimage Pictures

Photo taken by (c) Phil Gibbon - source the Clifton Diocesan Website
The Diocesan website has more pictures of the Pilgrimage, and a little account. Go over and see! Link here.

Monday, 9 July 2018

My Bishop and I...

This is the only picture I have of the Pilgrimage. I was walking and singing you see. there should be some on our Diocesan Website, so when they are up, I'll post a link.

Many thanks to all who came, and to all who helped. Graces from Our Lady will flow onto you all.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

The Pilgrimage Timetable

In the Shrine:
11.30am Rosary
12.00pm Silent Adoration
3.00pm Benediction

In the Abbey grounds:
12.00-3.00pm Confessions and individual prayer
2.15pm Rosary Procession
3.30pm Mass in the Abbey

Friday, 6 July 2018

She invites you...

Devotion to Our Lady in Glastonbury is lost in the mists of time. Unlike other places, Walsingham or Lourdes for example, we cannot point to one moment of revelation or to one occasion when prayers to her began to take place here in Glastonbury. Honouring Our Lady in Glastonbury merges into the background of our country, as the Abbey merges into the ground beneath the Tor. Devotion to her has always been here, and the Blessed Virgin has always been honoured here.

These pilgrimages to Glastonbury, however, are different. We do not come to remember something specific that happened in history, rather we come to remember who we are, the background to our lives. And when we are transported from this place, it is not governed by images or visions that have been given to us.

Glastonbury is simply different.

Extraordinary things have happened here: from building the most magnificent Abbey in the land, to the terrible murder of our martyrs, Richard Whiting, Roger James and John Thorne, but through it all, Our Lady St Mary of Glastonbury has stood and watched history unfold before her. She has been part of the fabric of this country, even before it was a country.

She it is who has stood sentinel in this place, from the dawn of Christian civilisation, being loved, and loving in return. And she will remain here until her Son comes again. 

She bids you... come.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Me and the Chancellor

We both look fab. You can see who he is here. His name is Sir Thomas Allen.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Movietone Glastonbury Pilgrimage

From Youtube. You can see the number of people here venerating the Mother of God. This was before the nuns left, so the pilgrimage was in the field now occupied by Morrisons. It is such a pity that we no longer have the space for an outdoor Mass on our own land. We have to have the Pilgrimage in the old Abbey ruins. That seems like a good and nice idea, but as I have now been here for ten months, I know what else goes on in that once hallowed land.

But still, here is the Pilgrimage as it once was, and next Sunday we shall again walk with Our Lady of Glastonbury and give her the honour that is her due.

Come to the Pilgrimage!

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Glastonbury Pilgrimage

The great glory of our Diocese is the Pilgrimage in honour of Our Lady St Mary of Glastonbury. From time immemorial, stretching back into the mists of our country’s history, Catholics have come to Glastonbury to be with Our Lady. We, in our day, continue this great tradition for the salvation of souls and the joy of heaven. This pilgrimage takes place on the second Sunday of July, so this year falls on July 8th. The programme for the day is as follows:

In the Shrine:
11.30am Rosary
12.00pm Silent Adoration
3.00pm Benediction

In the Abbey grounds:
12.00-3.00pm Confessions and individual prayer
2.15pm Rosary Procession
3.30pm Mass in the Abbey

Please do come along to the Pilgrimage to sing the praises of Our Lady. When we do so, we join with the countless saints who have asked the prayers of Our Lady in this place - not to mention  all of the folk, religious, lay and ordained who have come here to pray for the good of the Church and the world.

So let us come and ask our martyrs to strengthen our faith, and implore the angels to raise our voices to the courts of heaven, and the sweet Virgin to surround us with her love.

Come to the Pilgrimage!

Friday, 29 June 2018

Well Doctored

I am well and truly doctored! My graduation was yesterday in Durham cathedral.

A rather spiffy gown.

A lovely mother (mine).

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Fr Phipps' Ordination

Thursday saw Fr Seth Phipps being ordained to the Sacred Priesthood in Warrington.

There are wonderful pictures and an account here.

I was able to take some myself, until it was announced that no one should take pictures. So I stopped. I am very obedient (when I want to be!)

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