CANON RICHARD PRICE mentored a young ordinand long ago, and then received the skinny young Curate to serve in his parish in 1982, and has remained friend and encourager ever since. It took him only a moment to discover that we’d both turned for Advent re-reading to William Charles’ Basil Hume Ten Years On when he was here the other day. Trainer and trained share a number of heroes!
What will Advent and Christmas bring to the physically hungry and thirsty parts of our world? What will Advent and Christmas speak of to the spiritually hungry and thirsty? Father Basil’s nephew recalls that the Cardinal’s life was changed irrevocably by a visit to Ethiopia. “Each Christmas I find myself calling to mind my visit to Ethiopia” (p179)
Father Basil, one of the world’s most wonderfully human and humane priests, told of having to leave behind a ten year old boy who had clung to his hand, rubbing it against his cheek, since their first meeting:
I can see him now – feet astride, his hands on his waist, and looked at me almost with reproach. I could see in his face, ‘Why are you leaving me behind?’ I felt awful because there was no way I could take that little boy and bring him back to England.
I realised that when you’re lost and are very hungry, and you are abandoned, you have a craving for two things: for food and drink and for love
What sort of Holy Communion do we imagine Jesus would have in mind for such a little boy and his countless millions of brothers and sisters, some physically and some spiritually hungry and thirsty? Would Communion be made in church or temple at the hands of a priest? Let us hope so. Would it not also be made, though, in ordinary eating and drinking, and in ordinary sharing and humanly-priestly loving, wherever we lived, whatever our religion, or politics, or the lack of either?
Dear God at the heart of all created things, dear God at the heart of Basil Hume and at the heart of his oft called to mind young Ethiopian, may it be so. Whenever we eat and whenever we drink let there be a precious calling to mind; that the world’s hungry and thirsty might be remembered and fed.
See also: in Words Out Of Silence