Friday, 26 November 2010

Eternal rest grant unto them

We'd been planning yesterday evening, as a memorial Mass for the deceased friends and family of both the House and the Frassati Society, for several weeks. We weren't able to do something together on All Souls, so made sure we found time later on in November. We've also been praying for those on our November dead list at lauds and vespers every weekday.

Tragically, on Wednesday night, one of the community members heard that one of his friends from school, and a fellow student here at St Mary's, had died in particularly distressing circumstances. So needless to say, our already-planned memorial Mass immediately became a Mass for the repose of his soul.

As expected for such a well-liked and much-loved young man, a significant number of people joined us for our Mass last night: the chapel was mostly standing-room only, and even so, about half a dozen had to stand outside. It was a deeply profound and moving occasion - even for those (like myself) who never met the young man involved - presided over by Dom Hugh Somerville-Knapman OSB of Douai Abbey. A good number of our grieving friends were able to join us for a drink and something to eat afterwards. And we shall be keeping them, their departed friend, and his family and other friends, very much in our prayers.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Happy 113th birthday, Dorothy Day!

'Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.'

Today would be the 113th birthday of the Servant of God Dorothy Day, the cofounder (with Peter Maurin) of the Catholic Worker Movement. Both Dorothy and the CW have been - and continue to be - a huge influence over at least two of us at the House. Furthermore, the very first Frassati Society event earlier this year, on 1 May (the Feast of St Joseph the Worker, and the anniversary of the founding of the CW), was to the Catholic Worker Farm in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire (as well as to the National Shrine of St Joseph at Farnborough Abbey).

For those who don't know who Dorothy Day is, the following excerpt from one of her articles should give some idea...

‘It is no use saying that we are born two thousand years too late to give room to Christ. Nor will those who live at the end of the world have been born too late. Christ is always with us, always asking for room in our hearts. […] But now it is with the voice of our contemporaries that He speaks, with the eyes of store clerks, factory workers, and children that He gazes; with the hands of office workers, slum dwellers, and suburban housewives that He gives. It is with the feet of soldiers and tramps that He walks, and with the heart of anyone in need that He begs and longs for shelter. And giving shelter or food to anyone who asks for it, or needs it, is giving to Christ. […] Not because it might be Christ who stays with us, comes to see us, takes up our time. Not because these people remind us of Christ […] but because they are Christ, asking us to find room for Him, exactly as He did at the first Christmas.’ (‘Room for Christ’ [1945] in Selected Writings, 94, 97)

'New York's Mother Teresa' (l) chats with her close friend 'Calcutta's Dorothy Day' (r)

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Fill the hungry with good things

At St Mary's today there will be a cake (and cards, jam, chutney, etc.) sale in aid of the School of Theology, Philosophy and History's pet charity - Wells for India. This is a wonderful organization, set up in 1987 by Mary and Nicholas Grey, focusing on the provision of safe and sustainable water resources in rural Rajasthan. (Mary Grey is also currently a research professor at SMUC.)

Giving drink to the thirsty is, of course, one of the corporal works or mercy: something we take very seriously (or try to/like to think we do) at Benny House. As such, our kitchen was even busier and messier than usual yesterday evening. Since very few of the SMUC student halls have serviceable kitchens, we threw ours open to any student wanted to contribute. Here are some of the results:

One of our freshers...

... and (some of) the fruits of her labours.

A chocolate fudge cake and an oddly-oblong Victoria sponge in a process of becoming...

The chocolate fudge cake in all its glory.

(Apparently, Shaun didn't consider the Victoria sponge - nor a couple of jars of homemade chutney - photogenic enough to take a picture of...)