Most Sunday mornings, the talk in the Abbey Church sacristy is of sport - cricket, rugby, golf, motor racing, tennis.....and who could escape the World Cup? As I write this, English football fans are licking their wounds, following the defeat of the national team by Croatia at the semi-final stage. It has been a real roller-coaster, and as so often, the media have built and fuelled expectations. The consensus is that the young and inexperienced team have overachieved at Moscow. Their Manager, Gareth Southgate, and his team have behaved with dignity and poise throughout the competition and we can be rightly proud of their achievements. And there's more....before I have even completely my first paragraph, perhaps more remarkable, Roger Federer has just been defeated by the South African opponent, Kevin Anderson, at the Quarter Finals stage of Wimbledon. Lasting over four hours, the fifth set score was 13-11.
Two gripping and exciting contests in these two great sports. But it's not a matter of life and death. Unlike the event in Thailand, where twelve Thai boys and their coach were trapped in a partially flooded cave, and which gripped the world's attention. The complex three day rescue, involving a multi-national team including two British divers, saw all of them brought successfully to the surface. On their return to England they were greated as heroes; one of them modestly commenting, “We are not heroes. What we do is very calculating, very calm. It's quite the opposite”. We pray for the convalescence and full recovery of those rescued, and marvel at the bravery and selflessness of those who daily risk their lives in the emergency services, including our Beaulieu retained firefighters. |
On Wednesday 8 August, 1pm-1.45pm there will an organ recital given by Mr Martin Penrose, Organist of St Thomas', Lymington. Proceeds to Church Funds.
On Sunday 12 August at 6.30pm we shall be hosting a benefice “Songs of Praise” in the Abbey Church, led once again by Hugh Ashley, formerly of BBC Radio Solent. We all enjoyed a similar event led by Hugh last year in the Abbey Grounds. Again, the Beaulieu Village Band will be performing and our choir leading the singing. Cake and a drink will be served afterwards. I hope you can join us.
This month includes the feast of St Bartholomew – Friday 24 August. Bartholomew was one of the twelve apostles; and probably the same figure as Nathaniel of John's Gospel. He came to know Jesus through Philip. On seeing him, Our Lord said of him, “There is an Israelite who deserves the name, incapable of deceit.” Bartholomew is believed to have preached worked in India and Armenia, and tradition says he was martyred by being flayed and crucified, and he is often depicted in art holding his own skin.
The apostle has special significance for us at Beaulieu. King James 1st, in granting a charter to Henry, 3rd Earl of Southampton, gave the right to hold a St Bartholomew Fair. One of two Fairs, it lasted for three days. It seems that early in the last century, the Fair was closed by Henry, 1st Baron Montagu, on account of the riots and rowdiness! Traditionally, monasteries acquired relics from the Holy Land which they kept in reliquaries. Intended to be the largest Abbey in the country at the time of its construction, as late as the 14th century an arm of the saint was kept in a silver chest on its High Altar. Following the Dissolution, Beaulieu Parish Church, formerly the Abbey Refectory, was dedicated to St Bartholomew. Kelly's Directory refers to it as such in 1868. As Tony Norris, our sacristan and archivist commented in the light of the discovery of the grave of Richard 3rd, “One wonders whether secrets still lie beneath Beaulieu Abbey waiting to be revealed ...perhaps it's time to get our metal detectors out!”
I began by referring to matters of life and death, and sadly I must finish on the same subject. On Monday 9 July my mother died. The family are comforted by the fact that she lived a very full and active life for the majority of her 94 years. She died at home, as she would have wanted, in her sleep in the early hours. Many of you will have experienced the death of a loved one, and that of a mother is particularly stinging. The next days, weeks and months will be very painful as we come to terms with our loss and mother's absence. I feel rather disorientated, and there is the inevitable reproach – could I have done more...been a better son, and so on.. I am thankful that during these last few years I have been at Beaulieu, not far away, and she was immensely proud, and pleased to see me happily settled in the benefice, and New Forest area that she had known so well all her life.
“Through all the changing scenes of life, in trouble and in joy, the praises of my God shall still my heart and tongue employ.
Fear him, ye saints, and you will then have nothing else to fear; make you his service your delight, your wants shall be his care”. (Nahum Tate & Nicholas Brady)
With my love and prayers for a restful and refreshing summer. Fr John