Category Archives: Mission

30 November: Blest Fishers

For so our Lord was pleased when  
He Fishers made Fishers of men;  
Where (which is in no other game)  
A man may fish and praise his name.  
The first men that our Saviour dear  
Did chuse to wait upon him here,  
Blest Fishers were; and fish the last  
Food was, that he on earth did taste.  
I therefore strive to follow those,  
Whom he to follow him hath chose.  

W. B. (from "The Complete Angler 1653" by Izaak Walton)

Today is the feast of Saint Andrew, fisher, Apostle, missionary, martyr, patron of Scotland. Izaak Walton was the first biographer of George Herbert, whose poetry we read yesterday. Jesus also chose a civil servant in the person of Saint Matthew, and he 'hath chose' you and me as well, so let's enjoy the light-heartedness of this verse!
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29 November: Advent Light III: enable us to return!

St Mildred’s Church, Canterbury.
Let us pray,
God and Father, 
to those who go astray you reveal the light of your truth 
and enable them to return to the right path. 

Grant that all who have received the grace of baptism 
may strive to be worthy of their Christian calling 
and reject everything opposed to it. 

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, 
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

We can all, each and every one of us, go astray; indeed, we all do go astray, day by day. Let us consider one miss-step we have made today, and turn again from it back to the path: Repent!

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26 November: Jesus was Praying Alone, III.

Jesus realises the truth of his passion and resurrection before meeting the disciples at Easter.

If you are just joining us, I invite you to scroll back to the posts of the last two days. We are looking at Luke 9:18f, and we’re considering the interrelation of the two questions Jesus asks his disciples about his identity. We ended yesterday with the realisation that the crowds’ opinion of Jesus’ identity was much tamer than that of the disciples. Yet, these very crowds would finally prove to be murderous. This is the real issue Jesus is raising here, I believe. He wants the disciples to begin to grasp that following him means that they will be putting their very lives in jeopardy. Would the disciples have the strength for what would come? Would they be able to hang on to their conviction about Jesus’ divinity no matter what the crowds thought and did?

The short answer is no. When Jesus was arrested, tried by a rigged jury and crucified, the disciples, with few exceptions – and those mostly among his female followers – caved in. Jesus already foresaw it. I imagine that this was the subject of Jesus’ prayer on the occasion we are reflecting on. He emerged from prayer knowing that he needed to try to prepare his men for the kind of courage that would be asked of them. We can see Jesus’ delicacy here. They will be asked to undergo their own passion in imitation of him after he has died, risen and ascended. He doesn’t force this information upon them in all its brutal detail yet – it would be far, far too much for them. They cannot yet grasp Jesus’ own passion, much less are they able to contemplate theirs. But he asks them questions which would enable them to, as it were, eventually tumble to the truth. Subsequent events show that it takes the disciples a very long time to reach that truth – and when then do, they do only because Jesus has ascended and sent them the Holy Spirit, the Counsellor, to lead them to all truth.

What can we learn from all this? We can learn that we are invited to be courageous – way beyond what we may imagine. We learn that we need to hold fast to our belief in Jesus’ divine identity. Jesus is the Christ of God. Jesus is God. Like the original twelve disciples, we are doing well if we believe and profess this. But we, like them, stand beside Jesus in this gospel passage as he emerges from his prayer and turns to us with serious eyes and a grave heart to tell us that we will be challenged deeply in our life of discipleship.

Our relationship with ‘the crowds’ will not be a comfortable thing. Now, as ever, there are few members of ‘the crowd’ who really accept Jesus’ divinity, or give full weight to its implications. Popular opinion may think of Jesus as a prophet and a wise man, but such notions do not demand much of those who hold them. We, on the other hand, have committed ourselves to follow Jesus with our whole being, and to accept, in an absolute sense, everything he said and did. There will be plenty of people who will have a platform from which they will speak of their disbelief, elevating it into a sort of alternative theology, and giving it crowd-appeal because of its fine-sounding catch-phrases and use of popular jargon. They will accuse true disciples of being behind the times and of making demands that have been superseded by the demands of the modern world. They may even become murderous towards us.

We see from this episode that Jesus prayed, and then he asked his disciples two interrelated questions of greatest magnitude. We, like Jesus’ first disciples, are asked to see the implications of these questions for our discipleship. Jesus’ solemnity in asking them warns us that it will never be easy to be his disciples “Who do you say that I am” is the most important question we must answer in our life with the Lord. Maintaining our commitment to this answer – no matter what the crowds may think – is the most important thing we will ever do. Are we ready?

Jesus was Praying Alone

Part III


If you are just joining us, I invite you to scroll back to the posts of the last two days. We are looking at Luke 9:18f, and we’re considering the interrelation of the two questions Jesus asks his disciples about his identity. We ended yesterday with the realisation that the crowds’ opinion of Jesus’ identity was much tamer than that of the disciples. Yet, these very crowds would finally prove to be murderous. This is the real issue Jesus is raising here, I believe. He wants the disciples to begin to grasp that following him means that they will be putting their very lives in jeopardy. Would the disciples have the strength for what would come? Would they be able to hang on to their conviction about Jesus’ divinity no matter what the crowds thought and did?


The short answer is no. When Jesus was arrested, tried by a rigged jury and crucified, the disciples, with few exceptions – and those mostly among his female followers – caved in. Jesus already foresaw it. I imagine that this was the subject of Jesus’ prayer on the occasion we are reflecting on. He emerged from prayer knowing that he needed to try to prepare his men for the kind of courage that would be asked of them. We can see Jesus’ delicacy here. They will be asked to undergo their own passion in imitation of him after he has died, risen and ascended. He doesn’t force this information upon them in all its brutal detail yet – it would be far, far too much for them. They cannot yet grasp Jesus’ own passion, much less are they able to contemplate theirs. But he asks them questions which would enable them to, as it were, eventually tumble to the truth. Subsequent events show that it takes the disciples a very long time to reach that truth – and when then do, they do only because Jesus has ascended and sent them the Holy Spirit, the Counsellor, to lead them to all truth.


What can we learn from all this? We can learn that we are invited to be courageous – way beyond what we may imagine. We learn that we need to hold fast to our belief in Jesus’ divine identity. Jesus is the Christ of God. Jesus is God. Like the original twelve disciples, we are doing well if we believe and profess this. But we, like them, stand beside Jesus in this gospel passage as he emerges from his prayer and turns to us with serious eyes and a grave heart to tell us that we will be challenged deeply in our life of discipleship.


Our relationship with ‘the crowds’ will not be a comfortable thing. Now, as ever, there are few members of ‘the crowd’ who really accept Jesus’ divinity, or give full weight to its implications. Popular opinion may think of Jesus as a prophet and a wise man, but such notions do not demand much of those who hold them. We, on the other hand, have committed ourselves to follow Jesus with our whole being, and to accept, in an absolute sense, everything he said and did. There will be plenty of people who will have a platform from which they will speak of their disbelief, elevating it into a sort of alternative theology, and giving it crowd-appeal because of its fine-sounding catch-phrases and use of popular jargon. They will accuse true disciples of being behind the times and of making demands that have been superseded by the demands of the modern world. They may even become

murderous towards us.


We see from this episode that Jesus prayed, and then he asked his disciples two interrelated questions of greatest magnitude. We, like Jesus’ first disciples, are asked to see the implications of these questions for our discipleship. Jesus’ solemnity in asking them warns us that it will never be easy to be his disciples “Who do you say that I am” is the most important question we must answer in our life with the Lord. Maintaining our commitment to this answer – no matter what the crowds may think – is the most important thing we will ever do. Are we ready?

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25 November: Jesus was Praying Alone, Part II

Yesterday we were reflecting on Luke 9:18f. If you weren’t here, please scroll back and have a look the reflections so that today’s will make more sense to you.

In Luke 9: 18 and following Jesus was praying, and when he stops, he asks the disciples who the crowds think he is. We’re pondering this in light of the fact that in this question Jesus probably wants the disciples to articulate an answer – mainly for their own instruction, rather than his. Given yesterday’s reflections, I now imagine that Jesus already had a pretty good idea of the opinions that were in circulation about him, but let’s listen to what the disciples tell Jesus: ‘Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, others again, one of the ancient prophets come back to life’ (Lk 9:19). Did the disciples give an accurate report? Who knows. The disciples only tell Jesus the opinions that were favourable. Were less favourable opinions being circulated as well? Almost certainly. But, even if the disciples had perceived Jesus’ crowd-appeal correctly, crowds are notoriously fickle; maintaining popularity for any length of time is nearly impossible, as subsequent events would overwhelmingly demonstrate. This was something Jesus knew far better than the disciples did. But the disciples have answered Jesus’ question, and now he has another for them – a question which is more closely linked to his first question than I had previously realised.

‘And you, who do you say that I am?’ Peter speaks for all in his answer. “You are the Christ.” That this opinion was shared by the Twelve is borne out by the fact that not one of the Twelve contradicts Peter – and other gospel passages show that the disciples were certainly capable of breaking into an argument, even at the most solemn moments, had they disagreed with Peter. So: excellent. They have grasped Jesus’ true identity. Perhaps it was only in that very moment that this truth comes home to all of them, we don’t know. But it does come home, and Peter voices this for all. Jesus, in other gospel accounts of this episode, is moved by Peter’s courage and perception, and praises him. But more is at stake here even than Peter’s superb answer to Jesus’ question.

In other gospels, Jesus moves quickly into a prophecy of his passion – and Peter, voicing what all the disciples would feel, is horrified, and tries to talk Jesus out of the whole thing. We know how Jesus responds to Peter: he seems shaken, and very sternly calls Peter ‘Satan,’ and commands him to ‘get behind’ him. But, once again, this is about the disciples – indeed, it is about discipleship. We just heard what the Twelve think the crowd thinks of Jesus. Now, the question that is of supreme importance for them is this: are they capable of being faithful to this astonishing truth of Jesus’ divinity in the face of a public whose opinion about Jesus’ identity is favourable enough, but nowhere near as radical as their own? The disciples had sussed the un-heard-of and shocking, even frightening truth about Jesus himself – that he, a man, was the Christ of God. It is now possible to see that there is yet another question that Jesus doesn’t ask, but that hangs in the air over everyone’s head, which is this: “What would the crowds say about you if they knew what you thought of me?”

We’re not quite finished with this passage, but this seems to be a good place to stop and pray. Tomorrow we will conclude our reflection.


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24 November: Jesus was Praying Alone, I.

Part I

Welcome back to Sister Johanna for three reflections on Luke 9:18ff

Jesus was praying alone, and his disciples came to him and he put this question to them, ‘Who do the crowds say that I am?’ (Luke 9:18; New Jerusalem Bible, Study Edition)

We know how this passage goes on. After Jesus asks his disciples who the crowds say he is, he asks his disciples who they think he is – and Peter comes out with the magisterial statement, “You are the Christ of God.”

There is no way of calculating the number of times in my life I’ve read this passage, but as I was reading it today, I realised that I always pass over the line about Jesus at prayer, which I have quoted here, without thinking very much about it, because the lines that come after it seem so much more important. But today something about verse eighteen of Luke’s ninth chapter was tugging at me as I read it, and so I lingered over the line, repeating it to myself. As I did so, it became apparent to me that all this time I’ve been separating Jesus’ prayer from Jesus’ questions, as though their juxtaposition in the text was a mere accident; I’ve failed to note that Jesus’ questions flow out of his prayer. This made me begin to consider his questions in a different light – more as outward expressions of Jesus’ prayer and less as requests on Jesus’ part for information from his disciples.

So I returned to line eighteen, and the image of Jesus, alone with the Father, at prayer. At first it was the sheer mystery of it that filled my mind. It is not possible to get anyone’s prayer and see what it is like. Even less is it possible to imagine what the prayer of the Son of God was like. But then I thought that perhaps I might imagine, without being guilty of presumption, some of the effects of Jesus’ prayer. We know from all the gospels that Jesus would often go off by himself to pray, so, clearly, prayer gave Jesus something that he could not receive by any other means. We can assume that when Jesus emerged from prayer, he felt that he had been deeply nourished by the Father. I think we can also assume that he would come out of his prayer with a clearer mind about what he needed to do and how he should go about doing it.

As I went on to the next lines of this passage, I began to wonder, for the first time, why Jesus even needed to ask the questions he asks in this episode? It occurred to me that Jesus could have had his questions answered through prayer itself, and in solitude – but instead his prayer seems to have directed him to involve the disciples in these questions. This can only be because Jesus felt that these questions were questions of supreme importance for them – perhaps even more so for them than for him. I thought to myself: Jesus is not enquiring about something he doesn’t know here. He is teaching.

And so, Jesus’ first question – ‘Who do the crowds say that I am?’ – seemed now to have a different trajectory to the one I’d always given it. It occurred to me now that this would merely be second-hand information – of what use is that to Jesus? It’s rarely accurate, as Jesus would certainly realise. Also, it seemed hard to believe that Jesus didn’t already know what the crowds thought of him. He was too perceptive not to be aware of his audiences’ general opinion of himself. But Jesus does want to know something: he wants to know how the disciples perceive the crowds’ understanding of himself. He wanted to explore, with his disciples, what the disciples thought the crowds thought of him. This was really a question about his disciples, then, and not the crowd. Yes, he was teaching them something, I thought.  

What was it?

We can pause here, and ponder these things until tomorrow, when we will resume our study.

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23 November: Columban Missionary Prayer V: in his own words.

Since we pass through this world
merely as pilgrims
let us keep our sights fixed on the end of the road,
where our real home lies.

Let us strive to please God
who is everywhere present,
so that we can happily pass along the road 
to the home of our heavenly Father.

AMEN.

A prayer of Saint Columban

At the end of a pilgrimage to Saint Edmundsbury is this processional cross. Around the base of the cross are the arrows with which King Edmund was martyred, The cross itself shines as the sun, drawing our eyes up to the crown of thorns – or is it a star? – that calls us to the end of the road that leads us past this little, earthly, devotional pilgrimage to that which Columban evokes: the road to the home of our heavenly Father.

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20 November: An Ecochurch update from Lichfield.

Will Turnstone: The first orchid of Spring.

Congratulations to Lichfield Cathedral on its award for caring for our home planet!

We’ll let them tell the story which follows naturally our short Franciscan season.


Lichfield Cathedral has been presented with its Silver Eco Church Award.


Lichfield Cathedral won the Bronze Award in 2021 and is working hard to achieve the Gold Eco Church Award.The Cathedral also received A Rocha UK’s Partner in Action Certificate in Environmental Excellence. This certificate acknowledges the Cathedral’s dedication to protecting and enhancing species and habitats, engaging the cathedral community in caring for the land, and developing a sustainable, low carbon approach to energy, food, and water use.

The Revd Canon Dr David Primrose said, “we are on a journey from Bronze to Gold. Tasks ahead include robust action plans to reduce our carbon footprint, and improved communications and engagement with others. There is a growing awareness of the connections between loss of biodiversity, the climate crisis, rising energy prices, and the cost of living.As a Healthy Healing Hub, we know the links between care for creation, the common good, and the wellbeing of those who are vulnerable.”

Click here to out the latest information on Lichfield Cathedral’s work for the Environment, Social Justice, and in the community.

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19 November: A space for prayer and reflection.

From Canon Anthony Charlton’s blog, exploring ways to welcome pilgrims to the shrine of Saints Thomas Becket and Oscar Romero in Canterbury.

It was a delight for me one afternoon recently to have eleven groups of students from the School of Architecture of the University of the Creative arts present to us their projects. They were asked to create in our Martyrs Chapel a space that should contain the relics of St Thomas More and St Oscar Romero. As one submission said the “space is without focus, having collected so many relics and icons over the years there is no order to how they are placed, creating a dissonant space which lacks a clear focal point for prayer and worship.”

I was very moved to see how each group presented their designs. There was much inspiration and it was great to see the different ways they found to create a space for prayer and reflection for pilgrims and those who wished to come and pray. Many of the submissions recognised there was a need for more light. One darkened the chapel and explored the relationship between the dark and the light of the relics. Another submission was bold in creating an outside entrance with an antechamber.

The challenge now is for parishioners to meet and decide the next step in creating a beautiful space for the relics of these two great Martyrs.

We look forward to that meeting and to developing the shrine as an accessible, welcoming space in the heart of Canterbury. Thank you, Canon Anthony! And let’s not sacrifice this window in the present shrine.

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More about Fr Tom Herbst’s funeral rites.

56Pentecost'86 (519x640)

For Father Tom, the dividing wall is broken down!

We can now share more details of Fr Tom’s funeral arrangements, thanks to the indefatigable Rob Meredith.

Just to confirm, Fr Tom will be brought into church on Friday 25th at 18.00, Helen has kindly agreed to play some music. The Mass will be at 12.00 on 26th to be followed by the celebration of Tom’s life. It will be held in the Kentish barn in Canterbury Cathedral lodge directly after the service, about an 8 minute walk. There will be a condolence book in church. Please feel free to put your thoughts down, we will send this to the mission in San Luis Re afterwards. Finally, regarding flowers. Fr Ton asked that donations in lieu of flowers be sent to Oxfam.

The Mass will be live streamed. Follow this link: https://stthomasofcanterbury.com/livestream/

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Later, in California:

A funeral Mass will be celebrated for Fr Tom by the Provincial on Saturday December 3rd at 10.30 a.m. at Old Mission San Luis Re, 4050 Mission Avenue, Oceanside CA. His ashes will be inurned with his family at San Luis Re Cemetery following the Mass. A reception will be held at the San Luis Re Pavilion after the inurnment.

Here is another reflection by Fr Tom in Agnellus Mirror. This one comes from Pentecost, 15 May, 2016. You can find more at Agnellusmirror.wordpress.com then search for Herbst. But read and enjoy this one!

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Many years ago, in my hometown, I had a powerful experience while riding on a bus. I don’t know why I was taking the bus that day, as at that time I drove a motorcycle, nor do I recall where I was going…but, really, all of that is beside the point. The experience I had, while staring aimlessly out the window, remains fresh in my memory, even decades later.

Now, please, don’t misunderstand what I am about to write – as if it were a claim to some privileged mystical experience. Rather, it came in the form of a daydream; a sparkling thought, caught up with an image, all in an instant…that made me blink then smile and begin the first of many re-plays. What occurred was a kind of visualisation that I have come to call the ‘breakthrough’; a great, shattering, re-arranging, expansive, irresistible, all-encompassing force pulsing through a billion shards of what seemed like brightly coloured stained glass, all rushing forward and constantly re-configured in near-endless patterns of dazzling complexity and creative expression. It was also immediately apparent that the thrusting force was purposeful, even rational, and, above all…exuberant.

I reckoned right away that it must have been a manifestation of the Holy Spirit.

Over the years I have remembered and cherished that image, tried (with varying degrees of success) to represent it in art, and have also discerned it in some others’ experience as well. As I have done so, many different dynamic aspects of the fundamental breakthrough have emerged. The first is scriptural and that is of a Triune God on the move; nearly peripatetic, even mendicant. This has always been obvious in terms of the Second Person of the Trinity, first in terms of the explosive creative agency of the Word and then through the itinerant ministry of the Incarnate Word; preaching and working miracles on the many byroads of Palestine- the foxes have holes and the birds build nests but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head. But what of the other Trinitarian Persons? The Holy Spirit blows like the wind, wherever he wills, defying all of our attempts to place God within perceptible perimeters or even (God forbid!) a box. He also dances and flickers like tongues of flame; dead, static religion has no place in that raucous Kingdom. What of the Father? Moving, always moving with his desert people in the great covenantal Ark; a mendicant God for a pilgrim people, sparkling with the guiding light of shekinah even in the dark nights of weakness and despair.

And like Siva in a very different religious tradition, that Spirit of wind and fire, ever moving – siempre adelante – can unmake as well as make. But God being God is necessarily all in all and utterly good. When Love unmakes it is only to pave the way for the exhilaration of renewed freedom. Thus, St. Paul in Ephesians 2:14, For he himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall… I have seen many a wall tumble and, when it is the work of Christ attested by the Holy Spirit, people invariably look up, rubbing weary eyes in wonder at undreamed of promise…fulfilled.

TJH

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Concert of Hope -27 November.

View this email in your browser
The Sisters of Minster Abbey are holding a Concert of Hope, an evening of celebration with local choirs and musicians.
 You are very warmly welcome to join us at St Mary the Virgin Church, Minster
on 27th November at 7pm.
Entrance is free and there will be a retiring collection for the work of
“Canterbury for Ukraine”, an Incorporated Association of volunteers helping Ukrainian refugees to settle in Canterbury and East Kent.

Canterbury for Ukraine have been vital in providing support to enable the Sisters to welcome a Ukrainian family to Minster. We now want to support them so that they can continue to offer assistance to those welcoming our brothers and sisters from Ukraine.

We realise that not all of our friends are local enough to attend the concert on the night but some would like to make a donation. We have set up a Go Fund Me page to make this easy- just click below
 
DonatePlease pray for the success of this Concert of Hope!
We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible on the night!

Love and prayers
Mother Nikola and the Sisters of Minster Abbey

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