Posted by esbvm on 10th August 2009
In the February edition of the Newsletter, I reported that the North-West branch had visited Waddington, near Clitheroe to hear a talk on Fr Arthur Wagner, the apostle of Anglo-Catholicism in Brighton. Since the report appeared, I have had several stories about Fr Wagner, including the one about his father, also a clergyman, who became so distressed at the amount of the family fortune Fr Arthur was spending on building churches that he preached a sermon with the text “Lord have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic.”! As Colin Stephenson points out in his “Merrily On High” texts were much used in this way, so that when Fr Arthur fired two of his curates after some trouble, the older one preached on the text “Stay ye here with the ass, while the lad and I go yonder.”
For our Spring meeting the North-West branch indeed “went yonder” to Carnforth in the north of Lancashire and which just sneaks into the Southern Lakes. It is a beautiful part of the country, even in the depths of winter. We had gone for a Lenten Day of Mediation to the monastery of Our Lady of Hyning. We began with coffee and a talk by Sister Mary Stella on icons. Every Wednesday Sister Mary Stella runs an icon painting class and we saw many examples of her work and that of her students before she took one icon to explain to us. It was the Icon of the Nativity after Rublev, an icon painter of the early 15th Century. Our tutor patiently explained the composition of the painting: the mountain is a favourite image as a place where God converses with Man; the symbolism of the Cave, the Old Testament echoes with the ox and the ass, the rays coming down from Heaven onto the Christ-Child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. She then explained the various groups of figures – angels, shepherds, and midwives washing the newborn Child, St Joseph in conversation with the Tempter, the Magi galloping towards Bethlehem. As the end of her short talk, we had gained a fuller, better idea of what the icon was meant to signify.
We joined the nuns for their Midday Office in the simple chapel before having our packed lunch in one of the sitting rooms they provide for guests. They also have an extensive bookshop and piety stall for visitors. It is possible to book in for a stay and enjoy good food but the Sisters are an enclosed Order and so don’t join guests for meals.
After lunch and some recreational time, Canon Brenda Harding led us on a meditation. She argues that if Lent is about our journey towards God, we could consider four of the journeys Mary made and see what they tell us. The first was the Annunciation and from this we learn to echo Mary as she cries out, Be it done unto me according to Thy word. The second event was losing Jesus in Jerusalem and then finding Him three days later in the Temple. The thing we learn here is that like Mary and Joseph, we too must go on searching for the Lord until we find Him. The third episode was the wedding at Cana and Mary’s instructions to the servants should be our watchword, Do whatever He tells you. Finally Brenda took us to the Foot of the Cross where we could do no better than echo Jesus’ words, Behold your mother! After saying the Evening Office, we set off home after a productive day at Hyning.
Our Summer outing took place on Saturday 30th May when we teamed up with the Walsingham cells of St Peter’s Oughtrington and St Chrysostom’s Manchester to visit Ladyewell for the day. All in the area were urged to join us.