Saturday 28 July 2012


The opening ceremony started with a idealistic view of Pastoral England, a golden age with Fields and tread, fluffy clouds and animals and "rustics" dotted all over the central arena. 
 However, this soon began to change as fields disappeared and trees were uprooted and then slowly tall smoking chimneys rose up creating and industrial landscape to the sound of hundreds of beating drums and the words of Jerusalem.  
But out of this dark image the five rings of the Olympic Games were forged and rose up to dominate the skyline above the stadium.  
Another highpoint of the ceremony was the section dedicated to the work of the NHS and this was also a chance to underline the work with children as they paid homage to British children's literature with of course J,K,Rowland's great wizard Voldemort being vanquished, not my Harry but by an massed army of Mary Poppins complete with umbrella and carpet bag.
A demonstration of British Humour was demonstrated by a parody of the James Bond stories with 007 collecting Her Majesty in a helicopter, leaving the whimpering corgis on the steps of the palace and fly her to the Olympic arena  Here she jumped out of the aircraft with Daniel Craig to parachute down to the turf.  Of course she survived top appear a few minutes later in the royal box.  Mr Bean(Rowan Atkinson) also used his inimitable mime talents to lighten up the LSO recital conducted by Sir Simon Rattle and also his appearance as a runner in the Chariots of Fire.
Of course there were also all the athletes and their spectacular
 march into the arena and the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron.
Mary Poppins vs Voldemort
The NHS caring for the Nation

 All in all a breathtaking opening ceremony which was personally 
The Five Rings soar in the arena
British and didn't attempt to outdo any of its predecessors.  An opening to a games which promises to be a coming together of Nations and people, athletes and visitors which showed us many vales we hold dear: Joy, Light,  Music, People and Tradition; all values which we as Carmelites can embrace.

Light pouring from the newly forged rings

 Her Majesty the Queen escorted by Agent 007

A best kept secret:  the Olympic Cauldron 2012

Friday 27 July 2012


Olympic Teams arrive at Heahtrow
In a little under eleven hours the opening ceremonies for the 2012 Olympic Games will begin in London and watched by an estimated 1 Billion viewers worldwide.  Whether we are sport interested people or not, runner or couch potatoes it will effect our lives in some way or other even, if it is only the travel delays.  Over the last seven years there have been a host of negative reports and complaints about these games.  But now they are here it is time to put these behind us.  As one of the chaplains to the games said this morning; they are a time for peace and togetherness. Even Paul used the athletes as an image so why do we not do the same. 
This prayer was written and is used by the pupils of St Catherines R.C. Primary School, Didbury:

Two icons: The Olypic Torch and Brunel's Bridge
God of Unity and Peace, you bring the world together during the Olympics to celebrate the achievements of gifted athletes and the people and countries who support them.
We pray for the success of the Olympic Games and the Paralympic games in London.  May the participating athletes and their supporters have fun, work well together and grow in respect and appreciation of the people and traditions of other countries. Lord, bless the contestants  their families and their countrymen.
May the Olympic experience allow them not only to feel proud and be a source of inspiration to each other but also to be thankful for the talents that God has given them.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord.
Let's use it today.

Titus Brandsma, Carmelite, Martyr, 1881 - 1942

The life of Titus Brandsma began in the quiet countryside of Friesland, Holland, where he was born on February 23, 1881, and ended some sixty years later on July 26, 1942, in the notorious hospital of the Dachau concentration camp. Born Anno Brandsma, he completed high school Franciscans before entering the Carmelites in Boxmeer in September of 1898, where he adopted his father's name, Titus.  Titus showed interest in journalism and writing, two activities which would occupy much of his time later on in life. Ordained on June 17, 1905, and after further studies at the Roman Gregorian University. The Archbishop of Utrecht appointed  Titus as spiritual advisor to the staff members of the Catholic newspapers in Holland; around the same time, the policies of Adolf Hitler  began to be felt in Holland. These were criticized by Titus in his teaching and in the press even after the Nazi occupation of Holland  and the open persecution of the Jews. Catholic hierarchy.  Following the Church's refusal to print Nazi propaganda in their newspapersand his personal delivery to Catholic editor of a letter from the bishops ordering them not to comply with Nazi orders to print official Nazi publications Titus was arrested on January 19, 1942 at the Boxmeer monastery and interned at Scheveningen and Amersfoort in Holland before being sent to Dachau  on June 19, 1942. His constitution quickly deteriorated under the harsh regime, forcing him to enter the camp hospital in the third week of July. There he became the subject of biological experimentation, before being killed by lethal injection on July 26, 1942.
Living in Nazi occupied Holland, being arrested and made a prisoner by the Nazis and, eventually, being sent to die in the concentration camp of Dachau, were all extreme circumstances which tested Titus’ commitment to peace and reconciliation. His witness during these events offers us inspiration, concrete examples of how he practiced what he preached, and models for us the presence of faith in the most inhuman conditions.

Friday 20 July 2012

50 years a Priest

Wednesday 18th July saw a large number of wellwishers gather in the Sacred Hearts Church, Charlton Kings, to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Bernard Jones O. Carm.  Fr. Bernard, born in Hampton, had been ordained  22nd July 1962 and ministered in a variety of places - the parish of Usk in Monmouthshire with its young offenders prison; he had been chaplain to a number of Convents; Parish Priest in Devon and latterly chaplain to Nazareth House in Charlton Kings.
Wherever he has been, whatever his role, Bernard had always been a true pastor to the people he served, always living out in a modest and  true manner his vocation as both Carmelite and Priest.
Young and old - one Church, one Community
Fr. Tom Smith, a friend of Bernard, said in his homily: "lowliness is taken up by greatness, weakness by power, mortality by eternity",
applying this quote from Pope Leo the Great to
Bernard's life.  
Bernard is very much, to use a computer term, WYSIWYG - What you see is what you get. When you meet Bernard then you see the true man and that is a valuable gift in today's world. He relates to all young or old and shows a genuine love of people.  Fr. Bernard, however, also has a definite  portion of the Hermit in him, being self sufficient, prayerful and reflective in keeping with his calling to the Carmelite life. Over 100 people came to wish him well and celebrate Bernard and his minsitry.  To quote Fr. Tom Smith again "As life and society become more transient, so to is life within the Church, we have a rare opportunity to see one who has persevered through the storms of life and whose faith is strong and a source of norishment for those around him".

Monday 16 July 2012

Busy, busy

Here in Aylesford, we don't let the weather keep us back. There is always something happening. When the young people left, the bishops took over! We were proud to host the Southwark Bishops' Jubilee Mass. There was a fine turnout and we were actually blessed with sunshine that day! We have not often seen the sun this summer so we all enjoyed it when we had the opportunity.

This was quickly followed by a day of celebration to share the gifts of people with all abilities. Unfortunately the sun had gone away that day but everyone enjoyed the different activities that had been planned. The day ended with hundreds of balloons being released.

It is always a gamble to plan an outdoor event in this country but the gamble paid off for the production of Shakespeare's "As You Like It". It was good to welcome many local people who would not normally come here. 

Next grandparents and their grandchildren took over for a festival. No doubt grandparents have to face all sorts of challenges during their lives and so they did not let a little bit of rain spoil the day!  Many of their grandchildren had their faces painted to look like all sorts of ferocious animals and so care care had to be taken to dodge the rain to protect the facial art work.

The big feast day of the Carmelites dawned: The Solemn Commemoration of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on 16th July. Once again the weather was more like March but we did not let that spoil our enjoyment. We had a special event to celebrate. Fr. Adrian Wilde, En English Carmelite, who works in a Carmelite parish in Florida, was here celebrating the 40th anniversary of his priestly ordination.

Thursday 5 July 2012

white dewfall

Sending down your spirit upon them like the dewfall
Eucharistic Prayer II

Going Home

Aylesford had just had a very busy week. Large tents were put up to get ready for the influx of young people and each day last week large groups came together from the Archdiocese of Southwark. The Catholic youth service team of the diocese helped the young people reflect on their faith in a very enjoyable format. Then at the weekend, even more tents were added as about 200 young people came to stay. There were talks, prayers, barbeques, and even a rap workshop! Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark came to celebrate the Mass on Sunday afternoon and he was very impressed by the enthusiasm of the participants. Some of the tents are still up but many have already been packed away and the crowds have gone home.

Next year this event promises to be even bigger. It will be held at the same time as the World Youth Day for those who cannot make the journey to Rio de Janeiro. All sorts of planning will have to go into this to make sure that the young people are linked in somehow to the experience of those who will gather in Rio.

The weather was kind for the young people, and despite the occasional shower, they really enjoyed themselves. The service of reconciliation was really moving. God will surely bless the desire to grow in the relationship with Him. 
Aylesford is for everyone, young and old, and all those who work and minister here do put a lot of effort into making sure that this place is a welcoming, peace-filled place for whoever comes.
Things were not so peaceful on Sunday night as members of the community and friends gathered to watch the final of the European Football Championship. It was between Spain and Italy and both nations were represented. At times a lot of noise was generated. However I am happy to say that, although everyone did not enjoy the match equally, there was no division in the European union!