Piddingworth Greg Benton
|Honour all men.
Honour the King.
|'This noble and elegant site
is both a tribute to a family's
history, and to a national
heritage.' --Daniel J. Cassidy Sunlit Uplands
|Swifter far than summer's flight --
Swifter far than youth's delight --
Swifter far than happy night,
Art thou come and gone --
As the earth when leaves are dead,
As the night when sleep is sped,
As the heart when joy is fled,
I am left lone, alone.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
|'The Last Walk' by Greg Benton, 2010|
|Let us then move
in discharge of
our mission and
and nothing else.
Sir Winston Churchill
|Stanmer Churchyard, Sussex|
|In the midst of life we are in death:
of whom may we seek for succour,
but of thee, O Lord, who for our sins
art justly displeased?
Yet, O Lord God most holy,
O Lord most mighty, O holy and
most merciful Saviour, deliver us not
into the bitter pains of eternal death.
Burial Office, The Book of Common Prayer
| Dixi, custodiam. Psalm xxxix.
LORD, let me know mine end, and the number of my days; * that I may be certified
how long I have to live.
Behold, thou hast made my days as it were a span long, and mine age is even as nothing in respect of thee; * and verily every man living
is altogether vanity.
For man walketh in a vain shadow, and disquieteth himself in vain; * he heapeth
up riches, and cannot tell
who shall gather them.
And now, Lord, what is my hope? * truly my hope is even in thee.
Deliver me from all mine offences; * and make me not
a rebuke unto the foolish.
When thou with rebukes dost chasten man for sin, thou makest his beauty to consume away, like as it were a moth fretting a garment: *
every man therefore is but vanity.
Hear my prayer, O Lord,
and with thine ears consider
my calling; * hold not thy
peace at my tears;
For I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, * as all my fathers were.
O spare me a little, that I
may recover my strength, * before I go hence, and be no more seen.
|JESUS said, Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God,
believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions:
if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again,
and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
St. John xiv. 1.
|THE VICAR OF PIDDINGWORTH
1996 - 2010
|Come, ye blessed children of my Father,
receive the kingdom prepared for you from
the beginning of the world. Matthew 25.41
|GAME OF DRONES|
|Drones, i.e., UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) are aircraft controlled either by Ďpilotsí
from the ground or by autonomously following a pre-programmed mission.
Leon Panetta, the former Director of the United States CIA has referred to drones as
'the only game in town'.
There are many types of drones but they may be divided into two basic categories:
1. Those used for reconnaissance and surveillance
2. Those armed with ordnance, e.g., missiles and/or bombs.
Both types are currently very active, not just in war zones, but over many neighbourhoods.
For military purposes the advantage of the drone is that it can deliver its cargo
without putting an air crew in peril. The disadvantage, some might say, is that
it makes killing so anonymous that it has resulted in an almost cavalier mind-set
that disassociates the 'pilot' from the deaths inflicted; often on the innocent
who happen to be in the area. Unlike the massive bombing used in previous wars
where thousands flew their aircraft into enemy territory, there is no exchange of
fire with those on the ground but simply the discharge of a weapon. It is said
that there are at least 32 drones in the air over Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan
at any given time.
Although here is also increasing controversy for the use of domestic drones over
the issue of 'privacy', these robots are as well widely used in agriculture, policing,
search and rescue and for the delivering of supplies, especially medical, to
otherwise inaccessible places. Not surprisingly, these UA Systems that come
in a variety of sizes and structure are used in filmaking and photography as
one can see in the video above.
As in most things, and certainly with respect to technology, these incredible
robots, controlled by humans, are therefore subject to use for good or ill
and are hardly a 'game'.
One can simply marvel at the ability of the drone to enter the magnificent
Basilica Santa Maria La Nuova di Monreale in Sicily and capture a vision of the
beautiful Norman-Byzantine 12th century mosaic and from close range. The video
seen on Italian television was made at the invitation of the Archdiocese of Monreale,
produced and directed by Alexander Spinnato, as a way to highlight the mystery
of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit: The Blessed Trinity.
|THE LOVE OF A MARTYR|
|Valentine, along with Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and Jack O'Lantern, has
been designated in popular, secular culture, as another excuse for the vulgar and common
habit of self-indulgence. Indeed, the rather messy reality of the Saint(s) Valentine
is all but lost these days where romantic love has been reduced to 'hooking up'
and the love of a martyr who has given his life for his faith in Jesus Christ, regarded as 'extreme'
at best and at worst 'irrelevant' in a hyper-narcissistic culture.
At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early
martyrologies under date of 14 February. One is described as a priest at Rome, another
as bishop of Interamna (modern Terni in Italy), and these two seem both to have suffered in the
second half of the third century and to have been buried on the Flaminian Way, but at different distances from the city.
In William of Malmesbury's time what was known to the ancients as the
Flaminian Gate of Rome and is now the Porta del Popolo, was called the Gate of St. Valentine.
The name seems to have been taken from a small church dedicated to the saint which was in the immediate neighbourhood. Of both these St. Valentines some sort of Acta (ancient texts)
are preserved but they are of relatively late date and of no historical value.
Of the third Saint Valentine, who suffered in Africa with a number of companions,
nothing further is known.
Nevertheless, the one attribute that is given to each of these Valentines is that they,
along with so many other Christian martyrs, witnessed their faith in Christ supremely through
suffering and death. You can read more about the early Christian martyrs here.
It's incredible, especially because you never heard it on the evening news, that
there have been more Christian martyrs in the 20th and 21st centuries than in
all of the previous centuries combined; including those remembered from the
early days of the Church. The persecution of Christians around the world
and even in a neighbourhood not far from you has become so commonplace
and acceptable that a massive blind eye has been turned towards them.
Indeed, in the 'civilised' western world, the mocking, isolating and oppression
of Christians and the Church is not only permitted but even encouraged.
The recent effort by Barack Obama to run roughshod over the authority
of the Catholic Church to govern itself and the Christian conscience in general
is but one example and, for the Church in America, a serious one.
In the scriptures we find the comfort of the words of our Lord and of St. James:
You will always have your trials, but when they come, try to treat them as a happy privilege;
you understand that your faith is only put to the test to make you patient but patience too is
to have its practical results so that you will become more fully developed, complete,
with nothing missing.
Happy the man who stands firm when trials come. He has proved himself and will win
the prize of life, the crown that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
(James 1:2-4, 12)
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Fatherís commandments and remain in his love.
I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you
and your joy be complete.
This is my commandment:
love one another as I have loved you.
A man can have no greater love
than to lay down his life for his friends.
You are my friends, if you do what I command you.
I shall not call you servants anymore,
because a servant does not know his masterís business;
I call you friends,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learned from my Father.
You did not choose me, no,
I chose you;
and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit,
fruit that will last;
and then the Father will give you anything you ask him in my name.
What I command you, is to love one another.
The popular customs associated with Saint Valentine's Day undoubtedly had their origin in a conventional belief generally received in England and France during the Middle Ages,
that on 14th February, i.e. half way through the second month of the year, the birds began
to pair. Thus in Chaucer's Parliament of Foules we read:
For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne's day
Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.
For this reason the day was looked upon as specially consecrated to lovers and as a proper
occasion for writing love letters and sending lovers' tokens. Both the French and English literatures
of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries contain allusions to the practice. Perhaps the earliest to be found is in the 34th and 35th Ballades of the bilingual poet, John Gower, written in French;
but Lydgate and Clauvowe supply other examples. Those who chose each other under these circumstances seem to have been called by each other their Valentines. In the Paston Letters,
Dame Elizabeth Brews writes thus about a match she hopes to make for her daughter
(we modernise the spelling), addressing the favoured suitor:
And, cousin mine, upon Monday is Saint Valentine's Day and every bird chooses himself a mate,
and if it like you to come on Thursday night, and make provision that you may abide till then,
I trust to God that ye shall speak to my husband and I shall pray that we may bring the matter
to a conclusion.
Shortly after the young lady herself wrote a letter to the same man addressing it
"Unto my rightwell beloved Valentine, John Paston Esquire".
The custom of choosing and sending valentines has of late years fallen
into comparative disuse.
It is good to embrace the happiness for lovers and even to indulge in some chocolate,
but it is even more important to remember the source and meaning of all love.
G.B. February, 2012
(with portions from New Advent, The Catholic Encycopedia)
|Through my correspondence with Floyd Block of Wisconsin, a friend of Piddingworth and brother in Christ who served in the United States Air Force, I was reminded of this presentation of 'High Flight' that I remember seeing as a boy in the 1950's at the operning and closing of the day on American television.
Because we lived near the Pease Air Force Base (Strategic Air Command) in New Hampshire, we were familar with the daily sight of aircraft flying over our house; including those great B-47 and B-52 bombers. The awesome power of these jets carrying nuclear weapons in those tense years of the Cold War vividly remains in my memory. Many of the pilots and air crew and their families lived in our neighbourhood and were our friends.
The poem 'High Flight' was written by Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr., an American who, before the US entered the second world war, chose in 1940 to go north and enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force where he became a Spitfire pilot. Sadly, he was killed in 1941 as the result of a mid-air collision over Lincolnshire.
This celebrated, moving and even haunting poem continues to express the heart of all those who fly; especially in the air forces of the United States and the Commonwealth.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward Iíve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, ó and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of ó wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hovíring there,
Iíve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air....
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
Iíve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew ó
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
- Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
Floyd Block and his wife Nancy have an interesting personal website on Shutterfly and is found here