The Director’s Cut
To mark the start of the new calendar year, there has been an outpouring of advertisements for new diets and lifestyles, holidays in the sun, financial planning products and so much more. It seems like a good moment to stop and think what 2022 might really mean for us.
To start with what’s close to home, you will have noticed that New Directions has had its own facelift. We hope you like the new presentation but do let us know if you think any improvements can be made. The contact details are as below.
Even closer to home, I have had neighbours and visitors ask me what the chalk marks ‘20 + C + M + B + 22’ above my front door could possibly mean. One guess was some sort of an instruction to utility companies and another a mathematical equation which needed solving. The reactions have been bemused rather than hostile, and the explanation has been received with polite interest.
That thought brings me on to what we as Christians of our tradition can do in 2022 which says something of our priorities and which we can share with us others as a means of explaining what we stand for. You will be glad to hear the list is mercifully short and comprises two items.
Firstly, Her Majesty the Queen will celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of her accession to the throne just as this edition of New Directions arrives on your doormat, with some of the civic celebrations planned for a special holiday period in early June. We should give thanks to God for the remarkable service and witness of Queen Elizabeth II, noting the fortitude she has displayed over many decades of public service, often in tumultuous and challenging circumstances.
It is so refreshing that someone in the very highest echelons of our society has the strength of character and integrity to speak with conviction and sincerity about their Christian faith. Her Majesty the Queen has done exactly this and we should give thanks for that in our churches and in our cities, towns and villages throughout the land.
Queen Elizabeth and her father King George were both very familiar with the following lines of poetry at a time of crisis for this country and they still act as a source of great inspiration:
‘And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown”. And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way”.’
Secondly, the Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham celebrates this year the centenary of its restoration with a Year of Jubilee. On 6 July 1922, the people of Walsingham, led by Fr Alfred Hope Patten, the parish priest, carried into their parish church a replica of an ancient carved image of Our Lady. We give thanks to God for Fr Hope Patten’s remarkable vision and witness and for all those who supported him in that endeavour, and who continue that work still today.
This Year of Jubilee has, as you would expect, a full programme of events which is published elsewhere in this edition of New Directions but we should particularly note the Walsingham Festivals being held in Exeter Cathedral (21 May), Blackburn Cathedral (18 June) and in Durham Cathedral (15 October). Among other things, these Festivals represent an excellent antidote to the charge that too much of what we do is focused on London and the south-east.
There are so many other ways in which we can support the Shrine at Walsingham – we can visit it, we can stay at it, we can buy its merchandise, we can become a member, and we can donate to it. And, most importantly, we can pray for the Shrine, for all who work and volunteer there, and for all who go on pilgrimage there seeking God’s blessing.
Pray, O Holy Mother of God, for the conversion of England, restoration of the sick, consolation for the afflicted, repentance of sinners, peace to the departed. O Blessed Mary, Mother of God, Our Lady of Walsingham, intercede for us. Amen.
This column has previously referred to the Shrine at Walsingham as ‘the jewel in the crown’ of our movement. That phrase seems a fitting way in which to draw together the two strands of this month’s column. I wish you a happy and holy 2022, and much to which we can all look forward.