Ronnie Knox, in a sermon preached at the London Oratory (in celebration of the Golden Jubilee of its Consecration) was considering the ‘gracious showers of consolation which have fallen upon Christian hearts in this place’; and I have been thinking over the last few days about ‘gracious showers of consolation’ which have fallen in the Oratory, and perhaps more importantly will do so in the very near future.
Ronnie continued his thinking Favours bestowed, not always the favours we asked for; difficulties overcome, not always in the fashion we had in mind; strength to undergo the ordeals from which we would fain have been delivered; patience to bear the misfortunes we laboured to avert.
My own experience is that all showers of consolation, the Oratory’s or otherwise, are gracious, and remind one constantly of God’s infinite love and mercy : and yet as one gets older one realizes more and more clearly that there is so much truth in Ronnie’s comment that the consolations one receives are not necessarily what one either expected, or even hoped for.
I wasn’t received at the Oratory; and yet in an odd way it had a lot to do with my eventual reception, if only because of the great charity and concern – and welcoming, yet undemanding, handling of me in the 1970s of a priest of the Oratory now long dead, F. Edward Leicester. He, I think, realized – was it perhaps because of what was happening in almost all the Church in the UK in the early 70s ? – that my journey into the Church would be a lengthy, and perhaps convoluted, one; but that it would eventually succeed not only in bringing me home, but in bringing me home happily and with complete conviction and commitment.
I have to agree with every word of that continuation of Ronnie’s from my own experience; and I also have other friends who have been received at the Oratory who have found that it is absolutely true, yet agree with me that what they have found has been God’s greatest possible gift of consolation . . . thus proving Ronnie’s final comment that The angels of God have been thronging down the ladder too; no prayer ever went up, but some grace came down.
So why do I go on about this ? Well, because on Saturday one of my facebook friends will be received at the Oratory; and another friend – whom I have known better, and still longer – fairly soon hereafter : and I believe that it will be reassuring for them to know now that, despite the uncertainties and moments of concern which will beset them – especially a few days after their Reception – the ultimate evidence is that God will show His love and mercy to them, day by day, until they finally come to join Him in heaven : because no prayer goes up without grace coming down in return.
Do, please, keep these two friends of mine – and particularly the young lady who will be received this Saturday – in your prayers, even without knowing their names.