Thursday, 21 April 2011

Mary's Miles

   On Saturday 22nd of January, St. Vincent's day, there was a little crowd of very kind people to see me off from Temple Meads station, Bristol. To Mary and Mat Martin, Paulo Nurse, Jon Bela and my folks - many thanks. At Paddington i'd arranged to meet David Hothersall, to discuss this blog. He'd brought a leaflet in French about "Monsignor Vladimir Ghika", among whose sayings was;

"Si tu sais mettre Dieu dans tout ce que tu fais, tu Le retrouveras dans tout ce qui t'arrive."*

   Our meeting was also when the idea of calling it "Mary's Miles" came up. Just to clarify, it's not actually "Mary smiles", and especially not perhaps today, which is Good Friday, when the Church commemorates the fulfilment of Simeon's prophecy, that "a sword will pierce" Our Lady's Heart. "Mary's Meals", however, is such a magnificent charity, that it may very well prompt Our Lady to smile from time to time.

"Look at the Star, call upon Mary;
With her for guide, you shall not go astray.
While invoking her, you shall never lose heart;
If she walks before you, you shall not grow weary,
If she shows you favour, you shall reach the goal."**

   Of late i've been thinking a little bit about the "backpack project" (see, because my own little backpack has been great, though one of the zips is starting to play up. I'm attached to it not least because i bought it second-hand from a shop in Lockleaze, Bristol, named after St. James (Patron of pilgrims), which happened to be the local parish church. Good zips are very important on a trip like this, and i've also been reflecting on the feathers which line my sleeping bag. It's all very well to look at birds and remark how pretty they are, and how beautifully they sing, but of course some birds are also incredibly "hard", withstanding temperatures the very idea of which would strike terror into the hearts of most humans. Hence feathers are used for things like my sleeping bag.
Independence Square, Kiev/Kyiv
   Thanks be to God, i'm in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, and have spent a very comfortable night in "Dream Hostel". Later this morning i hope to attend a Good Friday service at the nearby St. Nicholas' R.C. Church, though Catholic and Orthodox Easter, happily, coincide again as they did last year. I've often been touched by the particular warmth and generosity of people in this country, but also by their very great faith, in spite of up to 70 years of atheist communism. A standard greeting, which one often hears in the west especially, is "Glory to Jesus Christ!", to which one replies "Glory forever!". Part of the explanation for this is that soviet rule was of a shorter duration there, only around 45 years; much of western Ukraine was in Poland until World War II. Visible directly opposite here meanwhile is a huge stadium, under construction, where it is hoped that the final of 'Euro 2012' will take place - Ukraine and Poland are to host the tournament jointly.
    A word of caution to anyone heading East towards Kiev from the Ukrainian village of Vchoraishe. If your map is like mine, the next village is marked as 'Andrushki', but there is a signpost pointing you towards 'Andrushivka' as you leave the village. This is the road i took, which meant i actually spent part of Sunday evening walking West, but by that time it didn't seem worth retracing my steps. At the same shop where i bought the map, incidentally, i also bought a copy of 'Treasure Island', in Ukrainian translation, the quintessential swash-buckling adventure yarn, as a gift for the wonderful orphanage/school run by Miles Jesu in Bortnyky. I had an especially pleasant stay there at the beginning of this month - and have since been reminded of the utterly dreadful circumstances which are the fate of so many young boys (and girls) who aren't so lucky as to be taken in by places like that. For more information please contact; ''.

   Treasure Island features Bristol of course, one of whose most (in)famous sons was one Edward Teach, aka 'Blackbeard'. To this day, Bristol's world-famous football team, playing in glorious blue and white, are known as "The Pirates"...

A very Happy Easter to one and all!

*If you take care to put God in all that you do, you will discover Him in all that arrives."
**Prayer attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

1 comment:

  1. A grand and thoughtful meditation for Good Friday.
    All the very Best in Kiev.