Tuesday, 13 October 2009

The Little Flower...

Flos, flos, florem has always been one of my favourite Declensions in Latin, and I see that in a new light now. This evening I went to Westminster Cathedral to reverence the Relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux. I arrived at the Piazza at around 7:30pm and was greeted immediately by the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, who come regularly to Mass at Blackfen. They gave me one of their medals, which was sweet. I joined the queue, which was very long for a weekday evening, and we marched ''forward in faith,'' as it were, slowly. Passers by asked me questions about what was going on, and I was delighted to tell them what little I know about St Thérèse, although I wish that I had known more. There was an awful Ecumenical Service going on which I could see and hear on a big screen just off Morpeth Terrace as I was queuing up, but fortunately that was over by the time I got to the West Doors.

Anyway, I got to the doors after about 35 minutes queueing and bought two Roses. The procession inside the Cathedral was somewhat quicker than outside, and it was very touching to see the many devout and decorous Faithful kneeling in the side chapels and clutching their Rosaries, or in many cases just their Roses, or kneeling in silent prayer by the many votive candles. The grand organ was still playing after the service, and as I drew nearer and nearer to the Relics, encased in a glass box, something stirred in me, and a dam broke. It was at this point that I started to cry and clutched tightly at my beautiful roses for comfort and solace. I became oblivious then to the crowds, which, in spite of my snobbery the other day, weren't as bad as I thought they'd be, and the sole ultimate focus of my heart and mind was this exquisite Reliquary in the centre of the Nave. At length, I came even to the wonderful saint herself and felt something move, as subtle as it was profound, and my eyes welled with tears, thinking about my sins and the great privilege of being in the presence of this beautiful Saint. I wept with the most bitter contrition, but also in the knowing of God's presence, mediated by the Relics of this most beautiful Saint, and shared by so many Catholics in and outside the Cathedral. Of course, it was all too brief, and I was swept aside, and after a brief moment of silent prayer before the Relics, I was obliged to go off. I retired to a packed side Chapel to pray and knelt in the midst of all these roses. I got up, and went out.

I wandered about for a while without purpose, but then returned to the Piazza. It was at this point, on my way home, that I bumped into Joanna Bogle again - purely by chance! She is so marvellous, wise and very witty, and we talked for about two hours. She was there handing out leaflets for her Catholic History Walks, and I think I shall make the effort next time - they do sound fantastic! We talked about many things, but probably the most appropriate thing was the sizeable crowds, not a single file of elderly women but people of all ages - in front of me in the queue in fact was a young family with a small baby. We both agreed that Catholicism in England was vibrant, popular and very much alive - and you can't get any more Catholic than visiting the Relics of a Saint! What a marvellous and memorable evening, certainly one of the chief events of my adult life - and I had no particular devotion to St Thérèse before this week. That will change as of now, and in fact, I shall add her face to my ''saint-roll'' thingy in the side-bar!

I hope that others who visited the Relics had as wonderful an experience as I did. God bless o/


  1. That was so good to read, Patricius.

  2. I think you experienced something unique visiting the relics, and at a very young age to boot, when you cried. It was remorse,proper Catholic remorse for sins in the presence of holiness. We can all(and indeed must) acknowledge guilt for sins,but remorse is the will flooding the senses. A true contrition,and rare. I only get this now,as an old 'un.You sense the harm done to other's and feel their pain. Wonderful stuff! God bless you.

  3. I am so pleased to hear that you had such a positive and moving experience at Westminster yesterday. In yesterday's introspective post, I thought you sounded a little 'down'.

    As others have often commented, I really enjoy reading your blog, and the posts about life with Aspergers are really helpful as it's difficult to understand what someone in your situation is actually thinking and feeling. You express yourself very well. Thank you for the insight you give us.

  4. It's my turn tonight. My friend, Mgr Armitage, is leading some form of liturgy in the Cathedral.

  5. Thank you all for your kind comments, they are much appreciated after a long - endlessly long - day at work.