Things have been in a very weird transition this week. We are in week 6 (I think!) and so the essays are really kicking in, but also is this sense of community and bonding.
We started this week by celebrating All Souls. We had an evening mass where we remembered by name the souls of our friends and loved ones. It was such a tangibly moving experience in a way that I don’t think I expected to feel. I’ve been to All Souls services before, but this one felt particularly moving. The fact that the whole community came together to bring on their hearts all those people who have touched their lives, its just so moving. Its not just about reading those names off of a list. Its about remembering all that those people were.
Unfortunately this past year saw the passing of my brother-in-law. Keith was such a huge part of our family that I don’t think the implications of his death really hit me until that moment in chapel when all the names were being read. He was one of the biggest supporters of me and my vocation, and he died just a few days before I went to BAP. Its not just him that I miss, but everything he was. The thing that got me the most in that moment was thinking about how he wont be at my ordination, and that he will never be able to take the mickey out of me for wearing a dog collar. But All Souls reminds us that we have this hope in God, a hope that will never be taken away from us. This constant hope is the hope that keeps us going, even in the face of adversity.
This week also saw our College Festival. It was so good just to be able to sit and have a proper dinner with some of the other ordinands and just relax. The Festival fell on a Thursday which is a normal community day anyway but there was such a nice buzz about the place. Honestly, who doesn’t love an opportunity to dress up and have a nice dinner?
I feel like I probably say this every week, but I am just so thankful for my friends within college. Spontaneous walks that turn into evenings drinking gin and talking about all things theological are just what I need. With the fact that as a college we are so sunk into the liturgical season it can really take some getting used to. So the fact that I know a few 2nd and 3rd year ordinands really helps when I have silly questions.
It just seemed so strange to have this big celebration in the middle of a week where we are trying to be so still and remember. It also felt a bit weird to try and emotionally adjust to the different days, like the changing of the seasons. There is some talk about ‘Kingdomtide’ or whatever season we are in currently, and I think it probably just feels confusing to me when there is already Christmas things appearing in the shops. Perhaps I’m just trying to work out quite what this season means in the context of being an ordinand.
In the foyer of Westminster College they have this bible that is always laid open. On some of the pages it has typographic verses. This one caught my eye when I went in this week. Its the same words that my friend used for the blessings at his first mass this past summer. That verse reminds me so much of the summer just past and how radically different life is now. God just seems to be placing Himself in those little things, so that when I forget about what I’m here for he gives me a gentle nudge – like seeing that verse open in the Bible.
As Fr Robert said at mass this morning ‘Things never go in the way that we expect them too. But God is in control of it.’ He is there in our sorrow and remembrance of those who have passed before us. And He is there in our celebrations and fellowship with one another. In the same way that we remember not just the names of those souls, but all that they are- we also give thanks to God. We give thanks to God not just for who He is as our Lord and Saviour, but also as our Father, Friend and Guide. The best bit about it is that God is so vast and beyond our understanding that we will never stop learning about who He is. Just when we think that we have a grasp on what is going on, God does something to nudge us in a different direction and to take us to places we didn’t expect to go.
Peace and Joy.