Material things come and go, but Thornwood came and went perhaps quicker
than most. I was deeply saddened when I heard the news – who would not
be, who had found there a home. And yet we have no lasting home here on
this earth, for we are all pilgrims journeying toward the Kingdom of
Heaven, before which every kingdom of this earth will fade.
“Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.” This line of one
of Shakespeare’s Sonnets came back to me, and as I thought on Thornwood,
and all the beautiful times that we had known there, I looked around me.
Shakespeare compared the leafless boughs of the forest in winter to the
ruined monasteries that are such a familiar sight here in Ireland and
England. It was not until I came here that I realized the magnitude of
the destruction that the Church suffered: it is hard to travel any
distance without seeing the ruins of some great church or monastery.
Each of these was a house like Thornwood to some religious family, only
often of much greater value, having been built through centuries into a
thriving community, a heart pumping life into the Church. Overnight,
each was snuffed out, the religious expelled, the houses of God that
they had laboured on so lovingly and so long set ablaze, a true
holocaust, a whole-burnt offering for the Lord.
Really, Thornwood is small in comparison.
Why does the Lord allow it? Only He knows, but we can and must be sure
that it is for some greater good. Such loss is always a call to a purer
following of Christ, a trust in the Lord alone, and not in material
And yet we have not lost Thornwood, we can never lose Thornwood, for
what we received there will remain with us forever.
Perhaps it was dearer to me than to most, for it was there, more than
any other place, that I received the Grace to deepen in my love for
Christ, and grow in my commitment to his service. For me it was God’s
chosen place of encounter; he planned it for me, and in His eyes it
would all have been worth it for me alone. And yet I am sure that I am
not alone, but that my experience is shared by hundreds of other
Legionaries who also received the grace to deepen and grow there in
their Love for Christ.
Every house that we have called home on this Earth must pass away, and
yet for us Thornwood will live in forever in our hearts. I will never
forget my debt of Gratitude to that place that God allowed to be for all
of us a home, and to all those who did so much to make it possible.