Kuukausittainen arkisto:kesäkuu 2008

Our Lady of Walsingham 24.5.2008

Day 2, Saturday. I woke up early to go back to Netherhall House where I attended morning Mass in a beautiful chapel, perhaps one of my favourite chapels, I especially love the absolutely wonderful and holy smell of the place. After Mass some 25 people from Netherhall went on their annual Marian May pilgrimage to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. More about the shrine later, but here’s the favourite chapel:

Well, Our Lady of Walsingham was apparently one of the most significant pilgrimage sites in the Middle Ages, comparable even to Rome and Santiago de Compostela (remember Czestochowa, Fatima and Lourdes weren’t there back then:). But then came Henry VIII and destroyed it. What was left was a tiny chapel which is now the Catholic shrine, while the Anglicans have a new church where the original shrine was located in the Middle Ages. We visited them both and prayed the Rosary, walked and talked with friends and bought some souvenirs. Here is the Catholic chapel with again absolutely wonderful smelling candles. (I bought two and have one of them lit and burning right here in front of me:)

Then the Anglican shrine. Now this really shocked me, and it shocked some of my Lutheran friends here in Finland, and it might (depending on your knowledge and views) shock you as well. If you’re ever going to see Catholic Protestantism, it’s here. Well I guess of course these Anglicans wouldn’t call themselves Protestant, but the fact remains they’re ”one” with the mainline Lutheran churches (Porvoo agreement). So here goes the list: statues of Mary, statues of post-reformation Roman Catholic saints (Therese, John Vianney), altars with six big candles, Blessed Sacrament Chapel, tabernacle, priests wearing cassocks, prayers and Masses (!) for the dead (!), holy water, benediction, confession… and on it goes. Here are some photos to give you a taste of it. Statues…

…Blessed Sacrament Chapel, with huge Latin letters as in St. Peter’s in Rome saying ECCE PANIS ANGELORUM…

…Way of the Cross, this one being the Station where Veronica wiped the face of Our Lord…

…and finally the beautiful main altar…

Unfortunately the ”Catholicism” wasn’t the only thing to shock me… namely, two of those priests wearing cassocks seemed to read the biblical command ”greet each other with the holy kiss” a little bit too literally… yep, right there in public. It’ll be interesting to see what the Anglican Communion decides about the gay issue in their major conference this summer. But well, to move on, here are some sheep from the neighbourhood:)

And since we were near the east coast, we drove to the beach and had a football match there. The sand and the sea were nice but the wind was terrible.

And here I am then with the two greatest Opus Dei men in London, Jack Valero who appeared on BBC after the Da Vinci Code scandal and who loves to give announcements, and Peter Brown who’s not actually brown but he supports Leeds United and has a very British accent and sense of humour:)

On the way back the boys had to have dinner so we stopped to have what else but Fish&Chips:) I learned that the fish that goes with fish&chips is cod which in Finnish translates as turska which is actually quite a rare dish (or fish;)) on Finnish dinner tables at least in my experience… But well it wasn’t bad at all and we got home safe and sound (though late) and I was ready for the next adventure. I don’t know if I’ll be able to write tomorrow since it is my birthday and I will have a lot of things to do but be sure to check back in a couple of days for part 3.

London 23.5.2008

Yesterday I came back from England. I had a beautiful trip and it’ll take a few posts to relate the whole story but let’s start with the first day right away, the 23rd of May. The evening before my aunt had told my father I should visit my Iraqi family’s neighbours near London. So without knowing them or phoning them I found the place and walked in and totally surprised them. I delivered a present from my dad and spent some hours in a very homely (in the English sense) atmosphere. Aunt Evlyn and her sister were at home when I arrived, and they offered me some English-Iraqi breakfast:)

I found out these aunties had basically gone to school together with my grandmother and lived all their lives next to our family. They have become relatives, practically. One of them taught my father in school! Later Evlyn’s son-in-law came in and he also was from a close family, he was good friends with my uncle. We had some nice chats and in the end took a photo. Despite his being in a wheelchair for about a year or so now (if my memory is good) his faith was firm and encouraging. ”Every day I say thanks to God for everything”, he said.

After lunch (Iraqi grandmothers are good at feeding you) I headed toward the British Library to see the most famous Bible manuscript, Codex Sinaiticus or Aleph. Below a secret photo of it – it’s dates from the beginning of the 4th century, being the first complete Bible to have survived to our days. With my own eyes I could read that Jesus is the kharakter tes hypostaseos autou (Hebrews 1:3), the very stamp of God’s nature/exact representation of his being/figure of his substance/express image of his person, depending which translation one would prefer. This has immense implications i.e. in dialogue with Islam which tells Christians to judge their message by what the Christian Scriptures reveal at the time of the Quranic message. This predates and refutes it.

After this I visited Netherhall House, the Opus Dei residence where I stayed when I was in London four years ago. Thus I surprised even more people and also agreed about the pilgrimage I’d be going on the following day, about which you’ll read more in the next part of the story. After this brief visit I started looking for the place of my accommodation, which was Ewan and Heini King’s flat on Addison Way near Henly’s Corner. It wasn’t that simple, I got lost several times before finding it, but well at least I got a nice bus ride and a good walk in a very pretty area. After about a hundred minutes I finally found it.

Ewan and Heini used to live in Finland, Ewan actually used to teach in my high school and that’s how we met. He now teaches in a Jewish school in London and is involved in a band slowly but surely moving toward becoming professional musicians. Here’s a nice piece of Ewan’s music. And below you get an idea of the area where I stayed – a very nice neighbourhood. That’s the first day. To be continued.