Horticulture Update...Horticulture Update...

If weeds grow through gravel, how easily do vices!

If weeds, which are unsightly to our eyes, can grow through gravel, or even on concrete, how much easier then can vices, which are unsightly in the sight of God, grow in the soul.

That's the fruit of my meditation, having spent another day on my knees harvesting weeds at St Cuthman's Retreat Centre in Horsham. Let it never be said I am workshy, readers. My knees are killing me.

I am reminded once more than when you spend a day picking weeds out of gravel that when you close your eyes at night, you can still see them. You close your eyes and all you can see is weeds! In order to remove weeds from our soul, we need to confess our sins and be faithful to prayer, examine our consciences and take out our vices by the root.

The Lord removes weeds and sow virtues in our soul. To grow a beautiful garden, with a variety of beautiful plants takes commitment and faithfulness every day. It is no different for us with the soul.

Butterflies around buddleia at St Cuthman's

St Mary Magdalen, when she saw the risen Lord, mistook him for the gardener. The Lord is the Gardener of our soul. We are the garden. We can do not very much to create a beautiful garden in our soul. We must always have recourse to the Head Gardener, who Alone can assist us to tend to our soul, through prayer and the Sacraments.

Anyway, more about St Cuthman's Retreat Centre. This beautiful house with 25 acres of gardens, including a lake infested with duck-eating mink, that all along belonged on human beings as fashionable items of clothing, is owned by the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. I was working next to bees and butterflies today which are attracted to buddleia. It is set in very beautiful surroundings as you can see in the picture below.

Stunning setting with 25 acres of land
Hmm...drink it in! I'm being employed for a few weeks one day a week to liberate the place from weeds. Hermits used to live in these grounds in hermit huts. Now we can see why! They knew they were onto good deal! Apparently the house used to belong to some Anglican missionaries and the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton obtained it. It is now a retreat centre for Catholics and non-Catholics as well. There is a little chapel which houses Our Blessed Lord and they have a priest come and celebrate Mass there more or less every day.

Weeding with England's Gardens
At lunchtime I sit and talk with the staff and others who are there from time to time. Today I talked to a nun who I discovered was a nun when I asked her, 'And what is your role here?' Looking back, she was wearing blue and white clothes and a Cross so I should have guessed. Oops! She belongs to the Sisters of Mercy!

Sadly they don't have many new vocations, though they did have one 40-year-old lady joint them this year, so I told her I what I had heard, that the Orders that seem to attract younger people are those which maintain traditional spirituality and marks of Catholic identity such as the wearing of habits etc, etc. Thankfully, she didn't seem offended at all. She was a very nice lady and I know the nuns at Sisters of Mercy, based at St Joseph's Rest Home next to St John the Baptist Church are very good indeed.

It might not look like I did much, but believe me, the roots in this gravel path are very deep! I wonder whether, in this time of Pope Francis, when the Church is called to reach out to the poor and those 'on the peripheries' of the Church, whether the Church's retreat venues may one day play some role in the service of the poor in England. I've been thinking just recently what the pontificate of Pope Francis, with His Holiness's emphasis on the poor means for Diocesan Bishops and the Dioceses in general. I'm sure the Bishops are brimming with ideas.

I can just imagine coaches of the poor being driven for respite stays at Hinsley Hall and I'm sure Pope Francis would approve greatly of this. What a wonderful witness to the Gospel that would be. Out with the enneagrams, in with the poor!

Hinsley Hall, Leeds, Yorkshire: Does Pope Francis's pontificate herald the time to open wide its doors to the poor?



For the Feast of the Assumption, Fr Ray Blake and I decorated Our Blessed Lady with gypsophelia. We placed our Heavenly Queen on top of a ladder clothed in white fabric and placed on the steps beneath some vases of gypsophelia.

The clever idea was Fr Blake's - the big idea was clouds, what with it being the Feast of the Assumption.

Other parishioners commented on how nice she looked, even if she was literally 'peeping' out of the gypsophelia clouds.

This is a picture of two of the Acolytes at St Mary Magdalen Church, reverencing the Mother of God on the Feast of her glorious Assumption into Heaven.



I am continuing with the work on the allotment. I wish I had taken a 'before' shot. All I'll say is that it was like a wasteland of weeds and grass. From time to time a couple of friends come and assist me, others come and just relax for a while. I'll put up a picture upon its grand opening. It is situated up in Whitehawk and there are amazing views from the allotment over the sea. I don't feel like I'm in Brighton at all when I'm up there. We've had some lovely sunshine here and yesterday George and Diane came up for a while. Here is George giving a thumbs up and Diane doing a rather good impression of St Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower so loved and graced by the Lord Jesus. Say a prayer for them.

I'm currently looking into buying a garden statue of Our Lady, the Sacred Heart or one of the Saints for the allotment. I think St Cuthman's could do with one as well. Let me know if you need any Catholic gardening done. I charge very reasonable rates and always welcome the work.


BJC said…
Some of your stuff is definitely worth publishing. You should send it off to the Catholic Herald and let them edit it down. Its better than a lot of the stuff out there. It's worth a fee of some kind.

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