Happy New Year for 2016 to you all. At this time, I am reminded of that lovely Irish blessing:
May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And rain fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
• At a recent 'Harvest of our Hands' celebration at St Thomas of Canterbury in aid of the Catholic Clothing Guild (which collects new garments and toiletries to make up baby layettes for mothers in difficulties), Father Dominic Curran spoke of strong women in the Church and cited the example of Saint Hilda, whose feast day it was.
She was born in the year 614 and was baptised a Christian at 13. When she was 33, she answered the call of Bishop Aidan of Lindisfarne and became a nun. In 657 she became the founding abbess of Whitby Abbey, which was a double monastery for men and women (who says equality is a modern phenomenon?). The Abbey quickly grew in prestige, so much so that it was chosen to host the synod which established that the Church in England would follow Roman rather than Celtic practice. Hilda was described as a skilled administrator and teacher and by the time of her death in 680, at the age of 66, she had gained such a reputation that kings and princes would seek her advice. She was a truly remarkable woman – arguably a very modern woman – to whom we can well pray today.
• The UCM Friends' Circle of Prayer is for sick or disabled members no longer able to attend normal UCM meetings. It is a way for them to participate from home and express their support for the work of UCM members. It consists of a prayer for the sick and housebound and for peace in the world – a copy of which can be found at the back of UCM diaries. Prayer cards are also available in large print from Sue Bickerstaffe, our stock controller, to give out to housebound members. Perhaps we could occasionally read it out at meetings as it is a lovely prayer and it shows our love for our fellow members.