Friday, April 1, 2011
The Supreme Gardener and the Dowry of Mary
This post has been delayed by my visit to Maumont Abbey. I began to think about it as a result of two recent news items, the one being well covered on Catholic blogs, the other less so. Both report growth in a literal and symbolic sense. The less-noticed report involves the Holy Thorn of Glastonbury. Three months after the Holy Father's visit to England, the tree was hacked to a stump by vandals and according to the Daily Telegraph, thus 'destroyed'. The word now proves to have been prematurely applied because the tree has recently been discovered to be budding again. Even had the tree officially been pronounced dead, all would not have been lost. In and around Glastonbury there are several saplings raised from cuttings taken from their violently wounded parent. That parent was itself a cutting from its predecessor which was cut down by Cromwell's Roundheads. We can therefore be fairly certain that there will always be a Holy Thorn of Glastonbury on Wearyall Hill, standing as the most ancient natural symbol of Christianity in England. The Legend of the original Thorn having sprouted from the staff that the wayfaring Joseph of Aritmathea struck into English earth, is in itself a symbol, and we can learn from, and be heartened by it today. The budding of the stricken tree contains a lesson. God is the Supreme Gardener, metaphorically and in reality. The vandals who chopped at the tree last year, represent the 'vandals' who are cutting away at our Christian culture, making 'laws' in the name of a tolerance that has none, laws which prevent a person from living out the Christian faith in true freedom. But the stump remains. It is not dead. In spite of persistent hacking it still lives. Saint Thomas More once said that the laws of England are like a grove of oaks. We cut them down at our peril. Then came the first Mass in York Minster since the reign of Mary Tudor. Organised by the Latin Mass Society, this Mass celebrated the 'Pearl of York', Saint Margaret Clithorow, barbarically pressed to death for the 'crime' of harbouring Catholic priests. One does not know why the local Catholic church was 'not available' for this Mass, but in the absence of support from that quarter, the LMS and the Dean and chapter of York Minster got together with the result of an amazing witness to Catholic faith, both Roman and Anglican. As a Yorkshire woman, I react to this in a very personal way, but that aside, the event means only good for the 'Dowry of Mary'. Who are the four master gardeners that I originally suggested, and who are working with the Supreme Gardener? Saint Margaret Clitherow for one, but guiding her is Our Lady of Walsingham. Added to this there is a factor of which I have been convinced since his election. Our present Holy Father understands England, and that is no mean feat! He came to the country last September with that understanding and he was determined that Blessed John Henry Newman be put in place to head the battle for the Faith. I recommend this to the reflection to those who are surprised by Pope Benedict's granting of private audience to Msgr Newton. It is no surprise to me. Rather, it is a tremendous relief. So those four Master Gardeners are: Our Lady of Walsingham, Saint Margaret Clitherow, Blessed John Henry Newman and Pope Benedict XVI.