As schools return, so Autumn overtakes the former balminess of summer.
Nature, already preparing itself for previous drought,
Converts leaves to a golden brown in readiness for whatever lies ahead.
The sun’s rays decline and daily diminish
as we head for a winter of shortest days and longest nights.
The world of TV entertainment promises to fill our longer nights with treats – “All Creatures Great and Small”, “Call the Midwife” perhaps, and various permutations of Masterchef.
And as I speak perhaps Lord Sugar is gathering together a collection of entrepreneurs, young and successful in their field, who are hoping to be picked to become his apprentice, his business partner?
This week, two apprentices have come under the international spotlight;
one, the newly-proclaimed King Charles,
who until yesterday’s Accession, Monarchy’s equivalent of Indenture,
had been apprenticed to Queen Elizabeth II for over seventy years,
and has at his own admission learnt a great deal from his mother;
and William – whose apprenticeship, by the law of averages,
should be of a shorter duration than that of his Father!
The duration of Elizabeth’s apprenticeship was much shorter than she hoped.
She was plunged prematurely
into the spotlight under which she was uncomfortable,
but it was her conviction of loyalty and service,
inspired by her deep Christian faith,
that underpinned her in the seventy years of her reign.
At the end of her reign, the Lord can be heard to say to her:
“‘Well done, good and faithful servant…….
Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:23).
Even before the outset of her reign, Queen Elizabeth pledged herself
to serve the people of this nation and the commonwealth of nations,
and asked us, her soon-to-be subjects,
to accept, each one of us, the crown of humility and service:
The much-quoted 21st birthday broadcast –
“I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short
shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family
to which we all belong. But I shall not have strength to carry out this resolution alone unless you join it with me, as I now invite you to do:
I know that your support will be unfailingly given.
God help me to make good my vow,
and God bless all of you who are willing to share it.”
Many years later, in her Christmas Message of 2008, she said
“Jesus of Nazareth makes it clear that genuine human happiness and satisfaction lie more in giving than receiving; more in serving than in being served.”
King Charles III in his first broadcast on Friday vowed to follow the steps of his mother, and 'uphold the constitutional principles at the heart of our nation,
and above all to follow his mother's example of "lifelong service".
He said: “Queen Elizabeth’s was a life well lived; a promise with destiny kept,
and she is mourned most deeply in her passing.
That promise of lifelong service I renew to you all today.”
And what of us? We are to be apprentices in the faith, just as our Queen was,
doing our best to follow the simple and straight-forward Christian rule of life,
of regular attendance at Mass, of daily prayer, and the reading of scripture.
As Catholic members of the Church of England, it is our duty to support King Charles III in our daily intercession, to implore the patron saints of our nations to pray for him, and to ask on his behalf the intercession and protection of Our Blessed Lady.
God save the King. Amen.