Saturday, January 07, 2012

An unexpectedly special evening... Kennington. It's a corner of South London I know quite well, but I had never visited this particular church before.

Let me explain. There is an Ordinariate group in South London which worships at St Wilfrid's, Kennington, and I met their priest, Fr Christopher Pearson, through EWTN's Rome correspondent Joan Lewis when she was in London a year ago covering the foundation of the Ordinariate and the ordination of its first priests. Fr Christopher and I have subsequently met and talked a lot, and I was delighted to hear that his group would have a special visit from Bishop Peter Elliott on the latter's visit to Britain this month. Bishop Peter is a longstanding friend of our family, and we spoke on the 'phone when he arrived in London a couple of days ago - I was glad to assure him that I'd certainly be at St Wilfrid's for tonight's Mass.

Jamie is currently away for a few days. "Don't forget to get some chalk and say the prayer and write up the new date over our front door" he told me, as we always keep this Epiphany tradition in our home, having learned it from friends in Austria. "Of course" I told him pompously - but yesterday I couldn't find any chalk. I even hunted among the stones and earth in our garden and some neighbours' gardens - after all, this corner of England is all surely mostly chalky soil (white cliffs etc etc...)??? But no...I couldn't find any.

Then tonight, at St Wilfrid's, a beatiful Epiphany Mass in a glow of candles and mist of incense, with an inspiring sermon from Bishop Peter and some fine singing - and at the end, a beautiful formal Blessing of little sticks of chalk, and Father Christopher distributing it after Mass, with slips of paper on which the House-Blessing was printed, so that we could all bless our homes and chalk up the date.

After Mass we had a cheery gathering at a local pub and then I travelled home by train, and I have just come in after using the chalk to inscribe the year 2012 above our door and praying the House-Blessing as I stood by the lintel.

20 + C + M + B + 12

"God of Heaven and earth, you revealed your only-begotten One to every nation by the guiudance of a star, Bless this house and all who live here. Fill us with the light of Christ, that our concern for others may reflect your love. We ask this through Christ our Saviour. Amen."


Delia said...

Thanks for the reminder. Some Swiss friends gave me some blessed chalk for this purpose, so have just done it. Stands for 'Christus Mansionem Benedicat', or in popular lore Caspar + Melchior + Balthasar, the names of the Kings.

malani said...

This is a great idea! I didn't know this was a tradition in the Church. lovely!

Mary Elizabeth said...

I laughed with great delight at your comments about not being able to find the chalk to write the new year number and initials of the Magi above your door. Your honesty is so refreshing. I could definitely relate to this predicament.
I only first heard of this tradition when I lived in Batavia, Illinois, west of Chicago, a number of years ago. Our parish priest told us all about it and I seem to remember he provided the blessed chalk for the implementation of this tradition. We did carry this out of course. But we have not continued as we moved back to the southern part of the US, near Houston, Texas. Thanks for the reminder. I will try to find some chalk.