Tag Archives: Canterbury

7 August 2022, Praying with Pope Francis: small businesses.

Altrincham Market Cross, the 1990 Replica, by Rept0n1x 2013. Notice the small business in the corner! The original Market Cross would have been surrounded by many small businesses. This post comes out a little late to allow us to enjoy in sequence Sister Johanna’s reflections on the rich young man who approached Jesus.

Pope Francis’s prayer intention for August: For small businesses.

We pray for small and medium sized businesses; in the midst of economic and social crisis, may they find ways to continue operating, and serving their communities.

Do you remember when Pope Francis made the headlines for visiting a record shop in Rome to buy a CD? That was support for one small business. I once read that back home in Argentina Cardinal Bergoglio used to take meals in a local family cafe rather than a branch of a big chain. Both those small businesses were serving their local community, rather than anonymous, distant owners.

Some local businesses in our city have closed down in recent times, partly as a result of covid restrictions on trading. Some, of course, were selling cheap souvenirs, something Canterbury was good at from after the death of Saint Thomas until the Reformation led to his shrine being desecrated. No tourists or pilgrims meant no trade.

Well, the continental teenagers are back in town. Let’s hope enough of them like the souvenirs, the ice-creams and refreshments to boost our local businesses. For my part, tomorrow I shall be visiting the street stalls selling fresh local fruit, thereby supporting farmers as well as traders. Not long now till the first Discovery apples appear!

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7 July: Know that I am God; Feast of the Translation of Saint Thomas of Canterbury.

Chapel of Saint Thomas of Canterbury, St David’s Cathedral.

Be still, and know that I am God:
I will be exalted among the heathen,
I will be exalted in the earth.

Psalm 46:10.

The text on the reading desk in Saint Thomas’s chapel invites us to compose ourselves, to be calm as we come before God. This is a quiet corner of Saint David’s Cathedral in Wales, but the saint it celebrates did not live a quiet life. Perhaps he had plenty of time to be still in God’s presence while he was in exile from England after disputes with the King, who wanted more control over the Church.

Archbishop Thomas, however, could not agree to this. God did not depend on earthly kings for his greatness: he was not and is not a tame god, working for a narrow national interest.

Be still, and know that I am God:
I will be exalted among the heathen,
I will be exalted in the earth.

In the stillness of his heart, Thomas accepted this and refused to be King Henry’s puppet. His martyrdom in his own Cathedral of Canterbury was the consequence of exalting God over his earthly lord.

This is the feast of the Translation of Saint Thomas – the day in 1220 when his bones were ‘translated’ to the new shrine in Canterbury Cathedral, and a better day for pilgrims to travel than late December, when he died.

Let us pray for the Church under persecution in so many parts of the world. And pray, too, for the Bishops of the Anglican Communion, gathered for their Conference, and for unity among all Christians, as Jesus prayed. AMEN.

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25 June: What is your name?

This was Rev Jo Richards’ Sermon at the Canterbury benefice of Saints Dunstan, Mildred and Peter, for the first Sunday after Trinity 19 June 2022. We share it with her permission. Thank you, Jo! 19 June was the start of Refugee Week, it closes today. Recently we must all have become more aware of the allied challenges of Exile and Homelessness, which Jo addresses here; the picture shows a camp of homeless people beside Saint Mildred’s church. Rev Jo’s text is Luke 8: 26-39.

May I speak in the name of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit.

Welcome! Young people who are here today, welcome, old people, also those who may be students, welcome, married people and divorced people, welcome; gay people, trans people, welcome; happy people and sad people welcome, every kind of family, welcome. Welcome to those of all faiths and those without, welcome and welcome to agnostics, saints & pilgrims.

Those are the words on our welcome board that you would have passed as you came in today. It says that we seek to be an inclusive community and we care about issues including homelessness, poverty, disability, mental health, the environment, racial justice and lgbtqia+ issues. Those on-line and here in person, welcome; this church is for you.

As this is also refugee Sunday, marking the beginning of refugee week, welcome to all refugees past and present. As Jesus himself was once a refugee fleeing persecution to a safe country.

As we set our sights on Jesus and follow his example, today’s gospel reading gives us insight of Jesus’ inclusive welcome to all.

There is a lot that is unclean in this story; first the man himself. People with mental illness in pre-scientific days, were considered to be demon-possessed. They were condemned and cast out from society and had to take refuge. As they were considered dead and useless to society they were banished as outcasts to live amongst the dead in tombs. This man was homeless, and had no friends not wanted or loved; he was lonely and pitiful. He was surrounded by the pigs, caked in mud, who were also considered to be unclean by Jewish society.

But this man recognises who Jesus is, recognising him as the son of God. Jesus saw this man for who he was; he stops and asks that very natural question. What is your name? He may have been unclothed, alone, tied up and beaten like a mad dog, but once he would have had a name, and Jesus wants to know.

Jesus identifies this person as a human being and by asking him that basic question, what is your name, he is restoring this man’s humanity, this is the beginning of his healing.

Consider the homeless of our cities, who are often outcast with no homes to go to; those who also have issues concerning their mental health; those who live in the tombs of our city, amongst the rubbish; those we pass by who might live in the door way of Poundland, or outside Wilko’s, those who live in the tents at St Mildred’s; those who sleep outside VegBox every night, and those who sit at Westgate Towers, picture them for a moment.

These people are our parishioners, for they live in our Benefice, albeit on the streets, often through no fault of their own. When I was licenced to the Benefice, I was given the cure of souls of all those who live in our Benefice, including the homeless, so I often stop and chat, and ask them their name.

It is often through stopping and listening that you get to hear the back story. To give someone the time of day is the biggest gift we can give, sometimes I buy a coffee, rarely money, but time and conversation doesn’t cost a penny. What is your name?

The other day I was chatting to a chap, someone who wanted to know when St Mildred’s was open as he wanted some quiet time, so I said it was unfortunately shut, but St Dunstan’s was open for prayer. He had with him a beautiful leather holdall. I asked him about it, his mum had given it to him for his tools. He had done his BA in art, then his masters and woodwork was his passion and in it he carried his precious tools and all his worldly goods.

What is your name asks Jesus? Jesus recognises this person as a human being and can see beyond the squalor in which the man in our reading lives. He sees beyond his mental health, he sees a human being with a name, a human being that was once loved, and Jesus heals him.

Consider the bystanders who witnessed this event, who saw this miracle. I wonder why they are afraid, and they beg Jesus to go and the healed man wants to go too with Jesus; but no, instead Jesus commissions this man, who was this homeless down and out, as an evangelist. He tells him to go home and tell others how much God has done for him. Jesus expects him to be a messenger of the good news. I wonder who would listen to him; those who had known him before and their preconceived ideas of what this homeless man can offer, but Jesus knows, sees him for who he really is and commissions him.

On my prayer walk the other day I met this man who was homeless, and he was lying on the wall, so I stopped and had a chat. I asked him his name; he replied, I can’t remember the last time someone stopped me and asked me my name, and said see me as a human being – my name he said is Matthew, as in Matthew Mark, Luke and John.

Paul reminds us there is no longer Jew or Greek, no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus .

So going back to our welcome poster. This church is for you, with our inclusive welcome for all. So perhaps a challenge for us all this refugee week, is to perhaps stop and ask that life changing question, what is your name. Be it to someone over coffee in the hall or someone who sits in the tombs of our city. Amen.


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27 May: Saint Augustine of Canterbury.

There was a time when I felt in two minds about Augustine: Saint Augustine? Saint? Hmm. He was a most reluctant Missionary, delaying his departure from Rome to make his way across Europe in 596-597, and indeed, dilly-dallying on the way. But he did get here and began work with his community. He established the dioceses of Canterbury, Rochester and London, which exist to this day in the Church of England.

And then there was the incident when he remained seated to greet the British bishops who went to visit him. They saw this as grossly insulting. For all that, he founded a Church that has lasted.

Let us pray that we may become the missionaries that Gregory’s successor, Francis, calls us to be, and that, like Augustine, we may co-operate with God’s grace, thriving in our weakness.

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4 May: The English Martyrs of the Reformation

Saint Edmund Campion, whose name Gerard Edward adopted as an alias when he came to Kent on Mission.

Today 4th May we remember all those men and women who were martyred in England between 1535 and 1680. Forty two have been canonised and a further 242 have been declared Blessed but we don’t know the true number of those who died on the scaffold, in prison and those who were tortured for their faith.

We have our own group of martyrs who were hung drawn and quartered in Canterbury. They are known as the Oaten Hill martyrs. They were Blessed Edmund Campion (Fr Gerard Edward), Christopher Buxton, Robert Wilcox and Robert Widmerpool and their execution took place on 1st October 1588.

Today Bishops of England and Wales have specifically asked us all to remember in our prayers those who are Survivors of Abuse. Pope Francis has asked for it to be a worldwide day of prayer within the Catholic Church. It is a very sobering initiative of the Holy Father and it is right and fitting that we should bring Survivors before the Lord in our prayers that they should be touched by the healing grace of God.

Let us pray

Praise to you Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
the source of all consolation and hope.
Be the refuge and guardian of all
who suffer from abuse and violence.
Comfort them and send healing
for their wounds of the body, soul and spirit.
Help us all and make us one with you
in your love for justice
as we deepen our respect for the dignity of every human life.
Giver of peace, make us one in celebrating
your praise, both now and forever.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Canon Father Anthony

Canon Anthony Charlton, Parish Priest St Thomas’ Canterbury.

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Good Friday gifts

The solemnity of today will be overwhelmed by the joy of Easter, but there were tokens of the coming feast for those with eyes to see.

Before the sun was properly up I was looking into the back garden. What was that hunched figure inspecting the flowerpots? A hedgehog woken from hibernation and going about its business, ridding us of a few pests. That was enough to mark the day.

After the prayerful L’Arche Good Friday service some of us found our way to the Glebe garden, where a shrine had been built of willow wands. If this was intended to be a place of quiet reflection it soon became a meeting place for people who had barely seen each other during covid; another hint of the resurrection to come.

Flitting across the garden was a brimstone butterfly, a caterpillar died but transformed into a creature of beauty no less wondrous for being totally expected.

Then to my task of adorning the church porch. The Easter garden needed the finishing touches, Mary’s jar of ointment and the grave cloths hidden behind the door (a scallop shell to be rolled to one side). What concerned me was the Easter lilies. We had some in flower the last two years, but it had been touch and go this time. Since today was warm, the first flowers were unfurling to be bright and white on Easter Day.

In the evening down to the Cathedral to hear Faure’s Requiem, with its upbeat finish: May the Angels welcome you to Paradise, may the martyrs meet you and lead you to the Holy City of Jerusalem.

Walking home from the Cathedral in the glowing dusk, under the Easter full moon, three blackbirds, singing their hearts out, serenading the new life hatched in their nests. They will be busy tomorrow, as no doubt will I, but by these tokens and by other sure evidence I know that my redeemer liveth.

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Meat free Lent XXXII: Nut Roast

Nicky – All Saints’ Church

Very simple recipe that can be adjusted as required.

8oz/225g chopped nuts 
8oz/225g sliced mushrooms 
1 large onion 
1 large carrot 
3 skinned/chopped tomatoes (or tinned) 
1 free range egg 
2 tsp mixed herbs 
2 tsp yeast extract or Marmite 
2 tbsp vegetable oil

1.       Cook chopped onion and grated carrot in oil for a few minutes until soft. 

2.       Add mushrooms and cook for further 2-3 mins.

3.       Stir in yeast extract.  Mix together all ingredients and place in greased loaf tin.

4.       Press down firmly.

5.       Bake in medium oven for 45 mins.

 You can freeze what you don’t use and either use it later hot or mixed with tahini, tomato puree, chives etc.

Mash it up and call it pâté!

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11 April, Monday in Holy Week: We worship a truly living, loving Lord

This open letter was written by an Anglican Priest, Reverend Iain Taylor, tragically killed in a road accident in Canterbury in September 2021. I’m sure he won’t mind crocuses in Lenten purple: the anthers and stamens are as golden as anyone, bees included, could wish.

PASTORAL LETTER

APRIL 2020

Dear Friends

Returning home recently from a sick visit, I decided to take the route through the Westgate Gardens.  It is some considerable time since I came that way, and I was greatly impressed by the general standard of upkeep throughout the park.  The golden yellow daffodils were, at that time, just in bud and there was a profusion of gold crocuses (or should that be croci?)  Now it is well known that my plant knowledge is very limited, to say the least, and to me one snowdrop looks exactly the same as any other snowdrop.  So I was intrigued to learn from a friend that there are actually over thirty different types of snowdrop – I’m still trying to distinguish them!  As I paused to gaze at the flower beds, I was aware of the forthcoming spring; there were signs of new life everywhere.


By the time you read this message, we shall be in the season of Passiontide during which we recall how God allowed his Son to go through the hideous ordeal of crucifixion; a form of execution that was normally reserved for the vilest of criminals.  However, it is during this season that we prepare to celebrate the greatest event in the history of the world.  It is the season when God breathes new life into his church, just as spring heralds new life in the world of nature.  As our thoughts turn to the Resurrection of our Lord, we remember with joy in our hearts that on the third day he rose in glorious triumph from the grave.


We worship a truly living, loving Lord, and Easter is a time when we focus on new life, new opportunities and new hope.  Here again the array of those budding young plants in the park comes to mind: the tender spring blooms surely remind us that God is a wondrous God and, as his precious buds, as his body on earth, the Church, we must learn to love and nurture one another, especially those fragile buds who are new in the faith, so that in due time we may all come into full bloom as worthy disciples of our risen Lord.


The most significant change that came over the first disciples after the resurrection was their confidence in Jesus.  They realized that, for about three years, they had been in the presence of someone very special.  They also realized that what he had been teaching was not just a good idea but THE way to live – the life of love and forgiveness, for them and everyone else.
They followed in his footsteps – trusting when things were difficult – getting things wrong (read the book of Acts to see how!) But in due time those fragile buds blossomed into strong blooms and with the help of God’s gift of the Holy Spirit, they set about spreading the Good News of the Gospel, although in some cases it cost them their lives.


The message of Easter is that, just as the spring plants burst into bloom at springtime , so Christ conquered death and burst from the tomb revealing the power, the love and the glory of God in all its splendour.


May the glory of the Resurrection transform our lives that we may become, to use a favourite expression of Archbishop Michael Ramsey, ‘An Easter people’.

Rev Iain Taylor

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Meat free Lent XXIX: Vegetarian Chilli

Lucy – All Saints’ : Vegetarian Chilli

Delicious either served in a wrap with yoghurt or spooned over corn tortilla chips, topped with grated cheese and melted in the oven and served with guacamole and salsa.

Olive or rapeseed oil, for frying 
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped 
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped 
A thumb size piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped (or 1 teaspn ground ginger) 
1 tbsp chilli powder 1 
tsp cumin (ground or bashed seeds) 
1 tbsp smoked paprika 
3 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes 
300g green lentils, soaked 
200g bulgur wheat, pearl barley or brown rice 
1 tbsp cocoa powder 
400g tin small beans (haricot, black or black eyed) or 300g home-cooked 
1-2 litres veg stock 
Salt and pepper

1.       Put your biggest pot on a medium heat. 

2.       Add a splash of oil and cook onion, garlic and ginger for 10 mins or until soft and sweet.

3.       Add the chilli powder, cumin and smoked paprika.  Stir for 1-2 mins. 

4.       Add all the other ingredients, stirring as you go – but start with 1 litre of the stock and keep the rest to add if the chilli starts to look a bit dry. 

5.       Bring down to a gentle boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for 30-35 mins until the lentils and grains are cooked and the chilli is deep and flavoursome.

6.       Season to taste, then serve.

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7 April: what do they see?

Not many Canterbury citizens would pause for a photograph here! I have cropped away some of the street furniture on this corner, but there are still bollards, a bin, contradictory road signs and a public toilet block. Oh, and a cherry tree.

A cherry tree so laden with blossom that these Japanese people have stopped to take each other’s photographs, despite the clutter. They see something we pass by on the other side.

There is beauty in places where we’d never look; sometimes it breaks out and hits us between the eyes. Sometimes we can be shown beauty by a friend, or as here, by complete strangers.

We will soon be celebrating the Man of Sorrows, ‘so disfigured that he seemed no longer human’.(Isaiah 52:14). Let’s cut away the clutter and stand beneath the Tree of Life. Cherry blossom will not take away the horror and evil in this world, and it seems that all we can offer to help is the wiping with a face cloth, the cup of water or vinegar, the money in the collecting bucket.

Let’s not scorn to offer such support, the Works of Mercy; it makes a difference, reminds people that we are one family, sharing one earthly home. There’s something about cherry blossom that touches the Japanese soul: my nephew saw Japanese people photographing each other beneath cherry trees; my wife saw the same in Rome some years ago. It’s a deep sign of home.

The Cross is a deep sign of home, in Heaven for Eternity; through suffering we can be one with the Man of Sorrows who will be lifted up; with him we shall see the light and be content.

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