(Our reader Jane Mossendew Fulthorpe sent us this post which is in parallel published on her own blog Thoughts from an Oasis in French Catholicism, thanks Jane for sharing it with us.)
This post was first published on my own blog on Monday evening. Before you read it, I want to express my gratitude to ‘Catholicism Pure and Simple ‘ for electing to publish it also.
Underneath the surface of the Catholic blogosphere, it is an example of how we express our Catholic faith; of how we privately encourage and support one another via the Internet. I am sure that there is a lot of it going on beneath that surface. I thank God for the grace and privilege of being able to show you one tiny aspect of what it was like at Cofton Park, in the presence of our truly Holy Father, and how its beauty and truth was communicated and confirmed to me.
Monday September 20 2010
My dear ‘sister’ took the trouble to email her report to me before going to work this morning. It was a beautiful and totally unexpected gift, as you will see, and for which I will be eternally grateful. I knew beforehand that she and another of my spiritual ‘sisters’ would be at the Mass, both from different Parishes close to Cofton. A fourth ‘sister’, who is the blood sister of the second one mentioned above, would stay at home for health reasons. As you all know, I had to be in physical exile in France for this Papal visit. Nevertheless, the four of us had agreed beforehand that we would be spiritually united at this Mass. This way of witnessing to our spiritual bond is not new to us. For example I may one day tell you about what happened when the relics of St. Therese were in Birmingham. But for now let me and my ‘sisters’ share with you what happened yesterday. All you need to know before reading the email is that the first sister is referred to as ‘P’, the ‘sister correspondent is C. and her husband is J. Here is the email:
The Holy Spirit indeed accompanied us on our pilgrimage to Cofton Park. P. and I were travelling to the Park via City Council buses, but from different points in Birmingham. When we arrived at the coach and bus park, there were already hundreds of vehicles – some had arrived at midnight. Amazingly as J. and I, and my (blood) sister were walking with the crowds out of the bus/coach park, we met P. who had become detached from the other pilgrims on her bus and was a little distressed. It was wonderful that we met each other. So we walked together up the long hill and into the top of the Park, and then began to search for a spot where we could ‘set up camp’ and wait for Mass to begin. By that time the Park was already very, very full……… and so we looked for a space at the top of the hill
The first space we found seemed okay, but as the rain became heavier, more and more umbrellas appeared (even though I thought they had been banned!) and our view of the altar was completely obliterated. Then J. (God bless him) went on a walkabout and soon returned, suggesting that we move camp…to a space a little to the left, where we would be able to see both the altar and the two huge choir areas which were situated on either side of the altar.So we moved, and yes it was much better. and with the aid of the several large screens dotted around the Park, we were able to view everything. As the rain became heavier, P. gave my sister a fleece blanket to help her keep warm and we tried to keep our ‘Magnificats’ dry,
9.40am – everyone began waving their flags as the papal helicopter flew overhead. From the big screens we could see that it landed on the fields belonging to the Birmingham City football training ground which is five minutes walk from where I live. Then we were able to track the progress of the Papal car from the training ground to Cofton Park. The Holy Father then travelled in the Popemobile, and although we were too far away to see him, we waved our flags and joined in the welcome of cheers and applause.
Something wonderful happened then.; the rain ceased and the sun appeared and the whole Park was bathed in warmth.
The Mass was simply wonderful – a combination of traditional and modern, both in terms of language and music and there seemed to be at all times a most prayerful and serene quiet which permeated the Park…………….I thought of how………people flocked to see Jesus. as we had flocked to the Park this morning. How they had hungered for His words and how He had fed them.. Yesterday we were fed and nourished by the words of Jesus in the Gospel, fed by the Holy Father’s words and fed by the Eucharist.
When Mass ended, P. decided to walk home rather than walk all the way back to the bus park. We decided to do likewise. So we parted company,. J. offering to take P’s chair so that she could travel light. It was a slow and quite strenuous walk home, weighed down as we were with all the equipment we had needed for our Pilgrimage, but it was good to walk and a fitting way to end our Pilgrimage journey.
Jane, P. and I remembered you and Colin as we participated in the wonderful Mass and we spoke of your being with us in spirit, both in your prayers and through the medium of television.
Thanks be to God.
Love and God bless,
More tomorrow, but I must mention that I had another ‘sister’ at Cofton Park, as yet unknown to the others. She was pilgrimage leader of a group from Somerset. The Lord knows what time they arrived and what they endured on the way. I’m sure she will let me know tomorrow, but I am certain that whatever they went through, that warm sun will have shone on them too. God bless you Mary. Be in touch soon.
God bless our Holy Father. As Archbishop Smith said to him on Saturday night in Hyde Park, ‘Your visit has done us so much good. Thank you Holy Father.’