From the Rector - June 2018

Dear Friends,

To go on a pilgrimage is to walk purposefully to something which has meaning for you, a search for spiritual or perhaps moral significance. It provides the opportunity to step out of the non-stop busyness of our lives, to seek a time of quiet and reflection. It is a time of simply being rather than always doing.

Often, people go on pilgrimage when they are at a crossroads in their lives. or when undergoing a change in their life's direction or relationships. Others may be in search of a deeper spirituality, healing and forgiveness. Or it may be that pilgrimage marks a special birthday, retirement or other occasion for giving thanks. It‘s also a great adventure with the chance to meet new people and see new places.

  • Christians walk to Santiago de Compostela (something I am longing to do if you'd like to join me!)
  • Every 10 years, the little town of Oberammergau puts on it’s world famous Passion Play (Put this in your diary for 2020 as I hope to take a group from the Benefice with me)
  • The Holy Land acts as a focal point for Christians

In this and my previous Parishes, we go on Pilgrimages and indeed, have one coming up in August to Walsingham. I have also, fairly recently, returned from a Diocesan led pilgrimage to Montserrat in Spain.

The area offered spectacular mountain views of Catalonia with The Benedictine Monastery in Montserrat, located at the top of a 4000 foot mountain... home to about 80 monks. Next door to this is the home of the revered La Moreneta (or Black Virgin). a beautiful 12th-century Romanesque carving which is about a metre in height She has the child Jesus on her lap and in her outstretched hand is a globe, a symbol of the cosmos (you can admire our own miniature La Moreneta - when you visit The Rectory next - on our hail table. who is, incidentally dark in colour due to the changes in the varnish with the passage of time!).

How La Moreneta came to be in Montserrat may be linked to a local legend which tells of the sighting of a vision by some shepherd boys in the year 880.

On a Saturday evening as the sun was setting over Montserrat, the boys saw a bright light shining down from the sky and it was accompanied by beautiful music. The following Saturday they returned with their parents and the same vision came to them again. On the following four Saturdays the Rector of Olesa went with them and everyone saw the vision. According to this legend, the statue of the Black Madonna was discovered in a cave where the light shone.

To be a pilgrim is to be a wanderer on an unbroken journey with a purpose.

We are pilgrims on journey.
Fellow travellers on the road.
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load.

I will hold the Christ-light for you
In the night time of your fear.
I will hold my hand out to you;
Speak the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping.
When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you.
I will share your joy and sorrow
Till we’ve seen this journey through.

When we sing to God in heaven,
We shall find such harmony
Born of all we’ve known together
Of Christ’s love and agony.

Brother, sister, let me serve you.
Let me be as Christ to you.
Pray that I might have the grace
To let you be my servant, too.

Yours,

Richard