Monday, 13 October 2014
In memory of Richard Collins
Having once been at a funeral where the distraught wife had to spend much of her time comforting a complete stranger who'd managed to get swept up in the feelings of the occasion, I'm conscious of not wanting to pretend to anything other than a marginal connection with Richard. My main purpose here is simply to offer my prayers for the repose of his soul and for the comfort of those who were close to him.
However, I have always felt an odd link to Richard and his blog, Linen on the Hedgerow. His was one of the first Catholic blogs I read and I have gone on reading it regularly. He was one of my earliest followers and we have exchanged friendly comments over the years. It sounds like little -and indeed, in the wider scheme of things, it is. But a few friendly words and attention from a more established figure can mean a lot when you're starting to expose yourself to the public, and I've remained grateful for that support.
There were two aspects to his blog that always struck me. (Well, actually three: I always thought it was a terrific title for a blog!) First was that sense of anger (or perhaps sadness?) for those years after Vatican II when good, ordinary Catholics found the traditions of the faith ripped out of their hands. Perhaps I wouldn't put it exactly like that, but I think Richard would or near enough. And his perspective reminded me of all those people I have talked to over the years who have stories to tell of Church furnishings sitting in skips waiting to be taken away, or priests who have wrecked parishes by wilful eccentricity (a euphemism). It's easy for a convert like me to ignore those wounds, but they're there and they're real.
Secondly, we seemed to share a devotion to Blessed Miguel Pro (see here for some of his posts on this). Quite apart from the personal qualities of this martyr, the photographs of his death are, for me, some of the most moving images of sanctity I have ever come across. I'm extremely disorganised in my devotions as in much else. But I could rely on Richard's annual posts to remind me of his feast day.
My prayers for and best wishes to his family and friends.
Beate Michael Pro, ora pro eo.
Requiescat in pace.
[The image of Richard Collins has been downloaded from the blog, Ora Pro Nobis.]
[Update: Mary O'Regan's appreciation of Richard is really lovely: here]