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Lunch at the Priory

Yesterday on the Feast of St John of the Cross I was kindly invited to share in celebrating the occasion at a special lunch provided by the Friars at the Carmelite Priory on Boars Hill outside Oxford. Those who have never been to the Priory have missed a treat, not least because of its location overlooking the city. The premises originally belonged to Poet Laureate Robert Bridges (1844-1930), a devout Anglican who was a doctor and a poet. Some of his hymns are still sung. He was a friend of Catholic poet Gerald Manley Hopkins (1844-1889), and he was responsible for ensuring the publications of poems by Hopkins after the latter died. For a time Robert Bridges' successor as Poet Laureate, John Masefield, lived just down the road. I like to think of all these connections to poetry as I think of St John of the Cross, long ranked himself among the great poets of Spanish and universal literature. At mass before the lunch Fr John reminded us in his sermon of the beautiful teaching of the great and holy poet about finding God in the darkness of suffering. Such a mistake to think that God has abandoned us because our world has gone dark.

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