Monday, 28 September 2009
Yesterday was the anniversary (the 23rd) of my ordination to the priesthood. The sunny and dry weather of the last few weeks(September can be so much better in this part of the world than the often wet and unreliable summer) has been very similar to that on the ordination retreat at Ty Mawr Convent, near Monmouth, where we stayed at the guest house, Michaelgarth, dedicated to one of my patron saints, the Archangel Michael: I remember a large and (my memory tells me, anyway) a rather fine wooden statue of St Michael standing just inside the entrance; it made a great impression on me at the time. I also recollect the caustic comment of the young priest who was looking after us when one of our number dared to emerge before breakfast on the day of the ordinations wearing a grey clerical shirt!
Well, it was another world & what feels certainly like another Church! The storm clouds were visibly gathering, but many of us were still buoyed up in the mid-80s at the prospects of unity with Rome which, in our innocence, we believed could be achieved in our lifetime. Next year’s papal visit will be almost unbearably poignant for many of us, remembering as we do Pope John Paul’s visit in 1982 – particularly to Canterbury- and the now sadly dashed hopes it engendered.
I also remember that morning a sense of extraordinary grace overcoming weakness and unworthiness, and (as I’m sure do those who travelled with me)a rather foggy high speed dash in my elderly, red Mini to the Cathedral on the morning of the ordination….. !