During the German Occupation, Monsignor Saliège, the Archbishop of Toulouse, worked to improve the Jews’ situation in the detention camps of southwestern France. When he learned about the first deportations from there to the Drancy transit camp, on Sunday August 23 1942 he ordered all priests in the archdiocese of Toulouse to proclaim without comment this message, drafted with the women setting up networks to protect Jews:
Et clamor Jerusalem ascendit.*
“Women and children, fathers and mothers treated like cattle, members of a family separated from one another and dispatched to an unknown destination – it has been reserved for our own time to see such a sad spectacle. Why does the right of sanctuary no longer exist in our churches? Why are we defeated? . . . The Jews are real men and women. Foreigners are real men and women. They cannot be abused without limit. . . . They are part of the human species. They are our brothers, like so many others; no Christian can forget this fact.
“France, our beloved France, you hold in the conscience of your children the tradition of respect for the human person; chivalrous and generous France, I have no doubt that you are not responsible for these horrors.
“Lord have mercy upon us.
“Our Lady, pray for France”
The document became a manifesto; hundreds of thousands of copies were circulated by the Resistance throughout France. Saliège’s protest turned French public opinion against the Vichy government and led to practical action. Saliège instructed the clergy and religious in his diocese to hide Jews, particularly children. The Ministry of the Interior threatened priests who read out Saliège’s message. The authorities tried to undermine his authority with slanderous propaganda, but they did not dare to silence Archbishop Saliège.
* the cry of Jerusalem has gone up. Jeremiah 14:2.
Thank you for the world so sweet,
Thank you for the food we eat,
Thank you for the birds that sing,
Thank you God, for everything.
in 1937 Ernest Claxton published a photograph album by Harold Burdekin based on this grace, all six verses illustrated by scenes from childhood in soft photogravure.* He wrote: ‘This simple grace … is so full of praise, so beautiful, that it at once brings home the joyful message of the Giver of all good things.
‘Natural and happy hours in a child’s life may be linked up with the realisation of God’s love. If this is done at an early age, children will learn to know that He is a loving Father.’
Two years on, children were being evacuated to the countryside from London and other cities; similar scenes were played out across Europe. The war in Ukraine is by no means the first since then with families forced into refuge away from home, away from their native land.
At this holiday time, let us pray for the wisdom to know how to bring natural and happy hours to the lives of children in our families, among our neighbours, at home and across the world.
*E. E. Claxton, H Burdekin (photographer), A Child’s Grace, London, Dent, 1937;
Christianity is not just an ethic. Yes, it is true, it has moral principles, but one is not Christian with only a vision of ethics. It is more. Christianity is not an elite of people chosen for truth. …Christianity is belonging to a people, a people chosen by God, freely. If we do not have this consciousness of belonging to a people, we will be ideological Christians, with a tiny doctrine for affirming the truth, with an ethic, with a moral code – that’s fine – or with an elite… If we do not have a consciousness of belonging to a people, we are not true Christians.
Pope Francis, Homily “Being Christians means belonging to the People of God”, 07.05.2020
General Secretariat for Synod of Bishops Via della Conciliazione 34 00120 Città del Vaticano
Yesterday we visited L’Arche; today we share a prayer for the people of Ukraine, published by L’Arche Kent. We remember especially the two L’Arche communities there, who with international assistance have been able to help their neighbours with essential supplies.
hear our prayers for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine.
Lord, we ask for peace for those who need peace,
reconciliation for those who need reconciliation
and comfort for all who don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
Lord may your Kingdom come,
and your will be done.
Lord God, we ask for you to be with all
– especially children –
who are suffering as the crisis in Ukraine deteriorates.
Lord, we pray for those who are anxious and fearful.
For those who are bereaved, injured or who have lost their lives.
And for those who have lost loved ones.
Lord hear our prayers.
Tagore also recorded an instance where he himself showed great respect to a person that someone in authority might have disdained to take any notice of. Tagore also knows how to tell a story well, so enjoy! KALIGRAM, 1891. Yesterday, while I was giving audience to my tenants, five or six boys made their appearance and stood in a primly proper row before me. Before I could put any question their spokesman, in the choicest of high-flown language, started: “Sire! the grace of the Almighty and the good fortune of your benighted children have once more brought about your lordship’s auspicious arrival into this locality.” He went on in this strain for nearly half an hour. Here and there he would get his lesson wrong, pause, look up at the sky, correct himself, and then go on again. I gathered that their school was short of benches and stools. “For want of these wood-built seats,” as he put it, “we know not where to sit ourselves, where to seat our revered teachers, or what to offer our most respected inspector when he comes on a visit.”
I could hardly repress a smile at this torrent of eloquence gushing from such a bit of a fellow, which sounded specially out of place here, where the ryots* are given to stating their profoundly vital wants in plain and direct vernacular, of which even the more unusual words get sadly twisted out of shape. The clerks and ryots, however, seemed duly impressed, and likewise envious, as though deploring their parents’ omission to endow them with so splendid a means of appealing to the Zamindar.
I interrupted the young orator before he had done, promising to arrange for the necessary number of benches and stools. Nothing daunted, he allowed me to have my say, then took up his discourse where he had left it, finished it to the last word, saluted me profoundly, and marched off his contingent. He probably would not have minded had I refused to supply the seats, but after all his trouble in getting it by heart he would have resented bitterly being robbed of any part of his speech. So, though it kept more important business waiting, I had to hear him out.
ryot, raiyat: peasant farmer, or agricultural worker.
From Glimpses of Bengal Selected from the Letters of Sir Rabindranath Tagore.
Maggie Scott recently wrote about her work bringing children face-to-face with nature. I remember the joy of growing up, and of being alive in streams and forests, with or without our parents; not to mention the joy of sharing nature with my own children, and now grandchildren, but not all then or now are so blessed, growing up in big cities.
Here’s an extract from Maggie Scott’s short article, which you will find here.
Working as an educator at a New York wildlife refuge, I had the pleasure of educating children about the environment, especially regarding the plants and animals native to my home state. During my work, I encountered many children with little to no prior exposure to undisturbed nature, since they lived in cities without much accessible green space. They had never been exposed to the species that I recognized from my own childhood growing up on Long Island.
Slowly yet all at once, I realised the gravity of what I was witnessing.
A press release from the General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops Cardinal Grech highlighted some of the dangers facing refugees from Ukraine during his visit to Poland on behalf of Pope Francis.
Ukrainian women and children at risk from traffickers – 20.03.2022
Ukrainian women and children at risk from traffickers “Ukrainian women and children must be ‘protected’ from human traffickers when they arrive in our countries from Ukraine”. This is the alarm launched by Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, whilst meeting journalists on the sidelines of a visit to two Centres for refugees run by the Diocese of Warsaw.
Accompanied by Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz and Mgr Piotr Jarecki, Cardinal Grech visited on the afternoon of Saturday 19 March Cardinal Grech visited the centre of St Margaret’s parish in Łomianki, a small town just outside Warsaw with 15,000 inhabitants, where 2300 refugees, especially women and children, are hosted by families from the parish, and the centre of “Dobre Miejsce”, the diocesan house for spiritual exercises transformed for the occasion into a home for 100 refugees. There, Card. Grech spent time there, especially with the children, listening to their stories and witnessing to them the closeness of Pope Francis. These meetings with the Ukrainian refugees took place during a four-day visit in which the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops is meeting with clergy and parish contacts for the synod of the Warsaw archdiocese to discuss the synod process with them. Addressing the more than 500 priests gathered at the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Warsaw, Card. Grech reiterated how the success of the synodal process “depends very much on the bishops and priests”. On the day of the release of the Letter to Priests (signed jointly with the Prefect of the Vatican’s dicastery for the clergy), Grech recalled the fear that arises among many priests that “excessive insistence on the importance of the People of God may cause us to lose sight of the importance of priestly service in the Church”. Instead, the Synod Secretary reiterated that “it is not a question of opposing priests to the People of God, because priests are also part of the People of God, by virtue of their baptism.” The action of Pope Francis is aimed, instead, at grasping ever more fully the ecclesiology of the People of God, that is, at understanding the Church as the People of God, with the conviction that the “flock” has a sensum fidei to discern the new ways of proclaiming the Gospel that God suggests to the Church. The meeting concluded with the celebration of the Eucharist presided over by Card. Grech (homily in Italian).
This morning, the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops will meet the parish referents to dialogue with them on the role of the laity in the process. On Monday 21st, Card. Grech will travel to Częstochowa to entrust the synodal path to Our Lady.
The invasion of Ukraine by Russia is a devastating, unjust catastrophe – which has capsized the lives of many millions of people and is challenging the sense of peace and security in which we all have the right to live.
At a time when so many of us were beginning to hope of new freedoms, a brighter future, our hearts have been broken afresh with the news we are seeing and hearing. So many people are yearning to do whatever they can to help the people of Ukraine.
We have been overwhelmed with people asking how they can make a difference – so we have sought to bring all avenues of help together here in this special edition of the Briefing mailing and on this webpage. Please consider how you can help – prayer is a wonderful place to start, but there is so much else we can do as well. During a time when we are focusing so much on how we might live generously as a diocesan family, here are a whole load of ways in which you might be able to make a difference.
Thank you so much for all your kind words, support and love,
Kent Refugee Projects Officer
Care packages: Supplies needed by 16 March, 9am On Wednesday 16 March from 9am to 5pm, we will help TeamLovelight to make up ‘necessity bundles’ that will be shipped to Ukrainian people. If you could supply any of the items listed below, please deliver them to Diocesan House by Wednesday 16 Marchat 9am. We also hope to include prayers in the packs – see below for details.
Female packs: baby wipes, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, sanitary towels, small hair shampoo, soap, flannel/sponge Male packs: razor, small shaving foam, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, flannel/sponge Children packs: children’s toothpaste, toothbrush, flannel, baby wipes, small toy if possible.
Prayers for children’s care packages We know that children’s hearts have been touched by the devastating images of the war in Ukraine. To help them make connections beyond borders with those children caught up in the conflict, we would welcome short prayers and messages of support and solidarity to be included in the Children Packs that we’ll be packing on Wednesday. Can you help? An example could be:
I pray to Lord Jesus for you and your family I pray for you and your family I care for you and your family I love you and your family
Please write and draw on an A5 piece of paper or card, include first names only, age and simply add ‘England’ as the location.
The Ukrainian children may not be familiar with the English language but we hope they would be able to discern the meaning of the text and pictures. If you can drop them in to Diocesan House by Wednesday morning, that would be great. Alternatively please do post them to us as they will be included in the next shipment of parcels we send to families in Ukraine.
Post to: Domenica Pecoraro, Kent Refugee Projects Officer, Diocesan House, Lady Wootton’s Green, Canterbury CT1 1NQ
USPG and the Church of England Diocese in Europe have also launched an emergency appeal to get aid to people in desperate need because of the invasion of Ukraine. Find out more here www.uspg.org.uk/ukraine
Join our Diocesan Welcome Team We are expecting Ukrainian families arriving via the Ukraine Family Scheme route in the coming days. This scheme allows family members of British nationals, UK settled persons and certain others to come to or stay in the UK. We will be registering offers of support from churches and members of congregations across our diocese who would like to be involved in welcoming them. Specifically, we are looking to build a Diocesan Welcome Team and would like to hear from those who:are Ukrainian/English speakers have teaching experience work coaches or can help with employment linkshave a working knowledge of the benefit system are interested in befriendingare interested in providing homework supportcan help sourcing emergency suppliesWe would also love to hear from those who are unsure on how they can be involved but want to be involved in a Welcoming Journey in some way. For more information, please get in touch with Domenica by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep Praying LentJoin us for our third Lenten Focus – the Widow’s mite. This week our reading is taken from Luke 21:1-7.
Prayer for this week
God of peace and justice, we pray for the people of Ukraine today. We pray for peace and the laying down of weapons. We pray for all those who fear for tomorrow, that your Spirit of comfort would draw near to them. We pray for those with power over war or peace, for wisdom, discernment and compassion to guide their decisions. Above all, we pray for all your precious children, at risk and in fear, that you would hold and protect them. We pray in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Amen
Prayer from the Church of England
The Disasters Emergency Committe Appeal More than two million people have fled the conflict in Ukraine, that figure is rising every day. The Disasters Emergency Committee (made up of 15 UK charities including Christian Aid and tearfund) has launched an appeal to help those affected by the devastating crisis.You can learn more and make a donation here at dec.org.uk
Offer a PrayerOur Diocesan Prayerbank is an online space where prayers are offered and received. It is a person-centred space aimed at providing spiritual healing and comfort to those who are forcibly displaced from their homes. The Prayer Bank page can be easily shared on social media and has the potential to reach anyone who has access to an internet connection.
Ukraine Humanitarian Sponsorship Scheme The UK government has announced that the “Homes for Ukraine” scheme will open in the near future. In the short term this will allow individuals and families to commit to sponsoring a Ukrainian individual or family to stay with them in their home for a period of not less than six months. Ukrainians who arrive on this scheme will be given leave to remain for three years and will have full access to the labour market, the NHS and to benefits. Volunteers who sign up will have to commit to sponsoring for at least six months and will not be able to charge for rent – but they will be able to receive a ‘thank you payment’ of £350 per month from the Government.
Volunteers will have to be vetted, and those coming to stay will also need to pass security checks. From today, people should be able to register an interest and volunteer in principle to sponsor someone. The Government website link is in the making but we will share it on our Ukraine page as soon as it becomes available.
In time the scheme will be expanded to larger groups and to sponsorship provided by companies, community groups and churches. If you are interested in your church or community group getting involved in this scheme you can register via the Sanctuary Foundation (see below).
Sanctuary Foundation Wrap Around Support The Sanctuary Foundation is a Christian charity asking individuals, community groups, churches, schools and businesses to register their interest in becoming a sponsor when the scheme is developed. To know more about the work of the Sanctuary Foundation and to register your interest please visit the Sanctuary Foundation website. Please note that by pledging support at this stage you are not committing to any specific form of help, as the details of the scheme are yet to be published.
Let us continue raising our consciousness this Lent! Our Proverb takes up an idea from yesterday’s prayer from Eastern Vespers.
A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight.” Proverbs 11.1.
This Nineteenth Century kitchen balance was an heirloom from our next-door neighbour, Kay; it would have been interesting to hear the story of how she came to have it! It came with an incomplete set of iron wights, each one marked underneath with a crown and ‘VR’ to tell that they were trustworthy because they had been tested by officials representing Queen Victoria. Grandson Abel and I use them quite often. Abel takes delight in these just weights, because we get good results when we follow a recipe to cook using them – and I take delight in his delight. A false balance is an abomination to society for obvious reasons. You can read here how Channel Island farmers used big stones chipped down to useful weights to measure produce for sale.
Their old French quintal weights would be no use to Abel and me, and nor would the few pounds and ounces that came with the scales, since he will think in grams and kilos – though his mother and auntie speak about their children’s weights in stones!
Just weights are a form of speaking the truth; the different British, Jersey-French and Metric systems may differ, but by carefully comparing them and using them consistently, we can always get delightful results.
And where Bible texts differ, as in the two versions of the Lord’s Prayer,* we can enjoy carefully and prayerfully puzzling out the differences and so take delight in them.
Rev Jo RIchards writes about the next stage in the pandemic as numbers locally are high amongst school children, teachers and parents. In the three churches of Saints Dunstan, Mildred and Peter this is the new policy for worship.
Easing of covid restrictions
With the easing of restrictions we must remember that the case numbers of covid are still high. Therefore in our church buildings and hall:
Mask wearing is not mandatory but to be encouraged – I will continue to wear mine; Jenny and I also do a lateral flow test before all services.
Sanitise hands on entry
Remain mindful of social distancing – if you prefer not to be close to someone in church, please put bag/coat on seat next to you
Peace from afar
Communion: we will return to people coming forward and the intincting (dipping) of a consecrated wafer, for those who would like to receive, or just wafer only. If you would prefer to receive in your seat, that is fine and we will come to you.
Please note when coming forward at St Dunstan’s – the service is live streamed and recorded and you will be observed coming forward to receive. If you would prefer to remain off-camera please come receive in the Roper Chapel.
Coffee will be served in the hall after the 10.00 service