Garlands and poverty

This morning I travelled up to London with the daily commuters on the 07.15 from New Eltham to Charing Cross. From there I took the Bakerloo Line to Paddington and then the "Heathrow Connect" to Southall, arriving just in time for 9am and the first session of a day for the Juniors of the Missionaries of Charity (Bl Mother Teresa's sisters) on the sacraments.

During the day we had a time of exposition and Mass for the feast of St Anthony. There is a special room for visiting priests where I took my midday meal alone. To be honest, I would rather have been with the sisters who are the most joyful and exuberant community I know. Before I left, the sisters sang me a "Thank you" song and put a garland round my neck. I asked the Provincial if I could take some photos. She looked a bit nervous so I thought I had better make it clear that I wanted to publish them on the internet. She was not keen because the Missionaries of Charity avoid any impression of public fundraising.

The house of the Missionaries of Charity in Southall is a model of the life of poverty. Everything is very simple, including the chapel which is the centre of the house. At the same time, their reverence for the Blessed Sacrament is very moving. It is a little embarrassing to be given things to eat (like chocolate biscuits) that I know are specially kept for visiting priests. Lunch is very wholesome but there is far too much for me to eat. I try to leave things in good condition because I know that what I leave will be re-used.

It was most interesting to reflect on the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation and the different ways that we live out the royal, priestly and prophetic calling of these sacraments. I spoke a little about the way of life of the Carthusian, the working parishioner, and the secular priest, in comparison to the life of the Missionary of Charity who cares for Christ in the poorest of the poor and in the work of catechesis. We are all called to holiness in our own vocation. (But I think they do pretty well in comparison to most of us!)

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