Friday, 16 May 2014

St Simon Stock

Today is the feast of St Simon Stock one of the first Carmelites to come to Europe from the Holy Land.

Simon was an English man probably from Kent, and helped the Carmelites change from hermits to being part of the new movement of friars. He was prior general of the Order and died in Bordeaux in 1265. Tradition has it that in those difficult days of transition, Simon had a vision of Our Lady who promised to protect the Carmelites and that the Carmelite habit would be a sign of her care.

It is from this tradition that the Brown Scapular devotion grew, and that wearing the Scapular (a smaller version of the habit) was a way of being open to Mary’s care. It was also a sign of Christian commitment. The Scapular is now a world-wide devotion.

Since 1951, St Simon Stocks relics have rested at Aylesford Priory, and are housed in a beautiful reliquary created by the Polish artist Adam Kossowski. Thousands of pilgrims come to Aylesford every year to pay honour to St Simon Stock and Our Lady.

St Simon of England pray for us.

The National Shrine of Saint Jude is currently selling a number of saints’ prayer cards that were created and printed in the early years of this peaceful place. They are all beautifully prepared, in full colour and mostly A7 size or larger. Most of them include a prayer to the saint on the back. You can purchase these, here

Fr Wilfrid McGreal, O.Carm

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Thoughts from the Chaplain: Transforming suffering!

On Tuesday of this week I had the privilege of presiding at the Mass of our Provincial Chapter. The night before Fr Wilfrid had handed over the office of Provincial to Fr Antony Lester. Tony had thanked Wilfrid very much for his gentle leadership over the past six years, which could not have been an easy time for him. Let us keep both of our brothers in our prayers.

What struck me in the readings of the day was St Stephen’s courage by which he addressed the people, the leaders and the scribes. Quite clearly a man filled with the Holy Spirit. He said “You stubborn people, with your pagan hearts and pagan ears. You are always resisting the Holy Spirit” and I thought “Food for thought here”. We might not be pagans, but how many idols are there in our life? And that surely is a way of resisting the Holy Spirit.

This made me think of Fr James McKarns’ reflection in Living Faith for this Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Easter. He reflects on how suffering can transform us. He writes “Whether physical, mental or emotional hurts, the better we endure the cross, the more Christ-like we become. Accepting suffering means not running toward it, but through it…Our Saviour has said we will save our souls through patient endurance.”

Let us remember our sufferings don’t have to be in vain. We can offer them up with Jesus, not just for our own good, but for the good of all.                                                                  

Fr Piet Wijngaard, O.Carm.