The Portal Archive August 2011 - Page 15

THE P RTAL August 2011 Page 15 One Person’s View by Fr John Ravensdale What an emotional rollercoaster ride these last few months have been! It has been a time of extremes - of bitter sweetness, of sad endings and of exciting new beginnings. I am sure I am not alone when I say that we have, the divine mission to which we all have been called, each, endured heart-rending separations from dearly and have finally come to. loved friends, from former parishioners, and from whirlwind romance valued colleagues. Now, after what can only be described as something mixed feelings akin to a “whirlwind romance”, I have been appointed I recall the mixed feelings I had, a combination of to the parish of Greenstead, Colchester. This means affection and of sadness, as I climbed into the pulpit that, once again, I must leave friends and family, whom at St Michael’s, Palmerston Road, Walthamstow, for I love and cherish so very much. the very last time, intensely aware that I was about to drop a bombshell on the gathered congregation, on Once again, I must say farewell to my people as I go my people. where the Lord wants me to be (where our Ordinary tells me to go)! This time I leave them, not so much in I was about to inform them that, after ten years, I was forlorn sadness, but rather confidently, in the capable resigning as their vicar. I remember, so very clearly, hands of my brother priest, Fr David Waller, who I how I choked on my words as I gave them my blessing, know will likewise love them and care for them, as the and dismissed them at the end of that last Mass. good and holy priest of God I know him to be. I was acutely mindful of the love and support they had all shown me, most especially when my dear wife Anna unexpectedly died four years ago. Of how I was leaving what remained of her presence and influence in the vicarage, and the erected memorial that honoured her in the church where they affectionately called her “Mrs Vicar”. How much I needed all the people of St Michael’s, and many others, at that time. One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church  Then came the absolute joy of finally being received in the bosom of our Mother Church. The genuine, and unfeigned warmth and generosity we all received the first time we were publicly welcomed by our new friends, in our various Catholic communities. The palpable feeling of the Holy Spirit resting on me as the bishop’s hands came down upon my head as he ordained me priest. The sweetness of knowing I had been transported from the political battlefield of the Church of England, to the mission field of the “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church” of Christ our Lord. What blissful liberation there is in the realisation that I am no longer fighting the hopeless rearguard action of the last eighteen years, but going forward in   So it is, once again, with mixed, bitter sweet emotions that I take my own next step on this, our shared pilgrimage. I do so, not with anxiety and fear, as before. This time I have something of a spring in my step, as I draw on the words of our patron, the Blessed John Henry Newman, and with him I pray, in trust: “Lead kindly light”. May God’s kindly light lead us all: Amen. Lead, kindly light “Before starting from my inn, I sat down on my bed and began to sob bit­ter­ly. My ser­vant, who had act­ed as my nurse, asked what ailed me. I could only an­swer, “I have a work to do in En­gland.” I was ach­ing to get home, yet for want of a ves­sel I was kept at Pa­ler­mo for three weeks. I began to vis­it the church­es, and they calmed my impatience, though I did not at­tend any ser­vices. At last I got off in an orange boat, bound for Mar­seilles. We were be­calmed for whole week in the Straits of Bon­i­fa­cio, and it was there that I wrote the lines, “Lead, Kind­ly Light”, which have since become so well known.” (John Henry Newman, 1833)