Thursday, 26 September 2013

Encounter with Fr F W Faber

My husband had a great devotion to Bl John Henry Newman and I do believe that Newman was with him as he died.  He certainly helped prepare him for death in a very personal way. Newman was present, Newman helped.  Whenever my husband called out to him in mental or physical anguish, he was there.  In his last months he took to reading from Newman's Meditations and Devotions whilst sitting on the edge of the bed before we went to sleep.  Newman's insights leapt from the page, Newman brought comfort, Newman was such a gentle teacher in the ways of suffering and death.

I was tempted to place the book of Meditations and Devotions in the coffin but didn't.  I pick it up from time to time, it is still there by the bed, but I have yet to find it the source of inspiration that it was when it was being read to me by my husband.  A portrait of Newman stares at me from the mantelpiece.  I smile, yet I can't get close.  We have a common bond in our love for one particular soul and Newman hasn't left me as I plod through life. But a lot of the actual help that I get in my day to day spiritual growth has come from a most unexpected source.....

After a hospital appointment in London some time go, I'd popped into the Brompton Oratory to pray. I was a bit emotional and at something of a low ebb.  I find the Brompton Oratory a bit overwhelming and probably not in a good way.  Trying to find a quite corner in which to collect my thoughts, I stumbled upon the resting place of Fr Faber and found myself saying a rather odd prayer.  "Fr Faber, I don't know much about you, but I feel drawn to be here next to you and I ask you to pray for me as I pray for you (if you need my prayers, that is)".  There may have been a reply to this, but it may have been my imagination, so I'm not putting it in print.

The reality is that Faber has become something of a friend through his writings, but it may go deeper than that.  In all honesty, I shouldn't be drawn to him; he's a Scotist and his language is often sentimental and flowery.  However, such gentleness and love flows out of it and I have really felt like he acting as a friend along the way.  I am genuinely now extremely fond of him.  And I'll leave you tonight, the anniversary of his death with a few words of his from his Creator and the Creature:

...we are free, and we are in earth's fair sunshine, and our heart is full of a little but most true love of God, and a whole world of God's blessed love is resting on our single heart, - and shall we doubt, shall we hesitate, shall we tremble, shall we be chilled in the midst of all these fires of love?  O my Creator, my Eternal love! O my Heavenly Father! weary yet full of trust, worthless but truly loving Thee, on earth still and very far from heaven, my home and my rest are still in Thy Fidelity!  In te, Domine; speravi, non confundar in aeternum!*
* From the Te Deum and Ps 70:  O Lord, in thee have I trusted : let me never be confounded.

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