Second Week in Ordinary Time and the feasts of St Sebastian and St Agnes

Painting depicting slain St. Sebastian

Painting depicting slain St. Sebastian

SUNDAY 15th January – Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Having read about Orford Priory, dissolved in 1539, I walk to it in twilight, the vague winter shadows focussing the light on the green bumps that are all that remains of the Priory. A forgotten shadow of history. I wonder what lives the six nuns lived; ones of great poverty and devoutness? I suspect we can only see their lives remotely as we see that of Christ.

“Seeing Jesus coming towards him, John said ‘Look, there is the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world’”
John 1: 29.

MONDAY 16th January

I ask a question about high street banks being stripped from market towns, like so many other local services.

“… and nobody puts new wine into old wineskins”
Mark 2: 18-22.

Apparently this was not new wine as we understand it, but fermenting wine.

TUESDAY 17th January

When I tell David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, that we should “loyally support the Government”, Hansard reports “laughter”.

Psalm 110
“The Lord keeps his covenant ever in mind”.

WEDNESDAY 18th January

The chamber is packed for PMQs. I stay behind to ask about the persecuted Karen people of Burma.

This line in Psalm 109 stays strangely in the mind
“you are a priest for ever, a priest like Melchizedek of old …”

THURSDAY 19th January – St Wulstan

I ask a question about the siting of the Holocaust Memorial Museum, it should be at the Imperial War Museum, and I take questions for the Public Accounts Commission. Always enjoyable to be answering rather than asking for once.

In the chapel of St Oliver Plunkett at Downside Abbey, a nice place to pray in front of the martyr, there is a stained glass window displaying a picture of St Wulstan being distracted by the smell of roast goose. A very English distraction. He prayed that if the distraction passed he would never eat meet again.

FRIDAY 20th January – St Sebastian

All we know about poor St Sebastian is that he was almost certainly not killed with arrows, though the myth has created some sublime pictures. Why should myth not be more powerful than fact?

We are in Lincolnshire for surgeries. I walked on a glorious day of blue sky to Nettleham and back, hurrying to arrive back to watch President Trump sworn in; a bombastic speech strangely out of tone with the quiet and lonely Wolds walk.

SATURDAY 21st January – St Agnes

We have lunch with friends at Knaith and go afterwards to the little 11th Century church of St Mary’s nestling on the side of the River Trent. Once, Viking boats probed the river as far as here; now there are only quiet fields and distant power stations. There are distant echoes.

Poor St Agnes was only 12 when she was martyred. We know nothing about her.