Letter from Wonersh: November 2018

By Peter Murphy

At the end of this month there will be assignments due for half of the courses, so there is real
study to be done now. It is important, however, to keep the intellectual formation proportionate as
only one part of the four key components of the formation process.

Even in the classroom, while everyone is aware of the demands of the Bachelor of Theology degree programme, there is time to spend discussing and understanding how what we are learning will relate to our lives as priests, and the lives of the people we are being called to serve. One of the subjects where this is especially true is eschatology – the study of ‘the four last things’: death, judgement, heaven, and
hell.

In this year when we celebrate the centenary of the end of the Great War, St John’s Seminary, like
many other places, is preparing to open its doors to people who want to commemorate the lives of
those who died. On the Saturday before Remembrance Sunday, there will be an exhibition looking at
the role of the seminary and the seminarians during the war years. It will also be an opportunity for
fans of the ITV drama ‘Foyle’s War’ to visit the location where a few episodes were shot.

During this month of November, the Church encourages us to pray especially for those who have
died: we remember in prayer those who we have known – our family members and friends. It is also
good, and possibly even more important, for us to pray too for those who have been forgotten.

As well as praying for those who have died, November gives us the opportunity to pray for ourselves
and all those who suffer grief. We can also take this opportunity to pray – as has been the habit of Christians for many centuries – for our own happy death.

The words of Blessed John Henry Newman may help us to make this prayer: ‘O my Lord and Saviour, support me in my last hour in the strong arms of Your Sacraments, and by the fresh fragrance of Your consolations. Let the absolving words be said over me, and the holy oil sign and seal me, and Your own Body be my food, and Your Blood my sprinkling; and let my sweet Mother, Mary, breathe on me, and my Angel whisper peace to me, and my glorious patrons smile upon me; that in them all, and through them all, I may receive the gift of perseverance, and die, as I desire to live: in Your faith; in Your Church; in Your service; and, in Your love. Amen.’