Tag Archives: family

12 May: Excited about Chocolate!

Three reasons to be excited about our partnership with Mars                                      

Yesterday’s post was ‘Honour the Lord with your wealth’. This Fair Trade story was sent to us recently and we wanted to share it with you because it resonates with that idea in very different circumstances. This is just a taster of the post; read the whole story here.

THREE REASONS TO BE EXCITED ABOUT OUR PARTNERSHIP WITH MARS

Mars, Fairtrade and ECOOKIM – a collection of cocoa farming co-operatives in Côte d’Ivoire have announced plans to deepen their partnership, through an innovative $10m programme to raise farmer incomes, called LEAP (Livelihoods Ecosystem Advancement Programme). Taryn Holland, Head of Programmes at Fairtrade Foundation, picks out three elements of this partnership to look out for.

1. FARMERS ARE AT THE HEART OF OUR WORK TOGETHER

Fairtrade first started working together with ECOOKIM farmers and Mars over two years ago, to identify the most effective ways to raise cocoa farmers’ incomes and help farming households thrive. Farmers themselves know better than anyone else both the challenges they face – such as climate change and long-term low prices – as well as the sorts of solutions that can best tackle these challenges.

Because no two farmers are the same, the LEAP approach will support different types of farmers with tailored packages to move towards a living income, regardless of their starting position.

2. BUILDING ON FAIRTRADE SOURCING

Mars have been sourcing Fairtrade certified cocoa from ECOOKIM for many years, with products in the UK including Maltesers and Mars bars proudly bearing the Fairtrade Mark. Mars will continue to source cocoa on Fairtrade terms from ECOOKIM, and make additional investments that help improve farmer incomes even further over the long term.

3. SHARING AND EMBRACING LESSONS 

A female farming leader at the forefront of the programme, Aminata Bamba, Head of Sustainability for Fairtrade co-operative ECOOKIM, said: ’For us, Fairtrade is not just a certification, it means so much more for farmers. Fairtrade helps pull producers out of poverty. It means a woman can flourish because she knows her rights, she can earn extra money to support the family and pay for school fees, she can buy medicines when her child is sick. All the changes we’ve made are thanks to the Fairtrade Premium, so it’s important that consumers continue to enjoy Fairtrade chocolate. We’re so excited to announce the next steps in our journey with Fairtrade and Mars.’

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7 May: The Holy Land is here.

A street of 19th Century homes in Canterbury.

Bishop Claude Rault is writing about respect for life. A timely reminder of our responsibility to the Planet and for each other. May we be peacemakers, children of God.

The tiniest baby, dying at birth in the furthest corner of the Planet, in the eyes of God is worthy of respect … is unique, created by God’s will, sacred, loved by Him. All of creation is sacred, all of Creation is a Holy Land. It is wrong to limit the Holy Land to one single region since God became flesh of our flesh. All the Land is Holy, and it is a noble vocation to seek to safeguard and develop it. Our Christian commitment is a commitment to safeguard life, to watch and waken life. It is not enough to respect life and admire creation, we must be engaged on every field where life is threatened and despised. Respect for life does not stop at protecting the unborn, but must include opposing all oppression, all forms of violence and of war. The non-violence advocated by Gandhi has its roots in the Beatitudes, is part of our Gospel heritage: Blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called the children of God. No war can be counted as legitimate or justified in the name of the Gospel. Non-violence is part and parcel of the creative act of God.

Claude Rault, Jesus, l’Homme de la rencontre, Marseille, Publications Chemin de Dialogue, 2020, pp46-47.

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3 May: In the Gloom of the Evening.

Doctor Johnson is on his travels in the Isle of Skye, in Autumn of the year 1773. The places named were homes of the local gentry who unfailingly welcomed Johnson and his friend James Boswell.There were no roads on Skye at this time and a trusted guide was absolutely necessary for safety.

More than 200 years later, I cannot help but think of the violence, terror and uncertainty that so many unwilling travellers have experienced in recent months, and the welcome they have received from strangers in their unexpected hour of need. Let us hope and pray that a ‘degree of cheerfulness’ may be granted them through the kindness of others, enabling them to sustain their children and vulnerable dependents.

In our way to Armidel (Armadale) was Coriatachan, where we had already been, and to which therefore we were very willing to return.  We staid however so long at Talisker, that a great part of our journey was performed in the gloom of the evening. 

In travelling even thus almost without light thro’ naked solitude, when there is a guide whose conduct may be trusted, a mind not naturally too much disposed to fear, may preserve some degree of cheerfulness; but what must be the solicitude of him who should be wandering, among the craggs and hollows, benighted, ignorant, and alone? The fictions of the Gothick romances were not so remote from credibility as they are now thought. 

In the full prevalence of the feudal institution, when violence desolated the world, and every baron lived in a fortress, forests and castles were regularly succeeded by each other, and the adventurer might very suddenly pass from the gloom of woods, or the ruggedness of moors, to seats of plenty, gaiety, and magnificence.  Whatever is imaged in the wildest tale, if giants, dragons, and enchantment be excepted, would be felt by him, who, wandering in the mountains without a guide, or upon the sea without a pilot, should be carried amidst his terror and uncertainty, to the hospitality and elegance of Raasay or Dunvegan.

Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland by Samuel Johnson.

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29 April: The deaths of Gerontius and others

Passion flowers speak of the resurrection

A little while ago on BBC Radio the composer, Sir James MacMillan, was discussing Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius, based on Saint John Henry Newman’s poem. In his exploration of the oratorio he recalled his experiences as a young altar server, experiences I could share. Gerontius, he said, lays out the Catholic attitude to death and the world to come in ‘most beautiful music’.

He and I, in Scotland and England, served at funerals where there were many mourners, and in a few cases where there were one or two, even none; so many of our fellow Catholics then had left home and family to come to the United Kingdom. (Thank God for today’s regular parish midday Mass in Canterbury, where there is always a good-sized congregation to support the bereaved!)

Most of the people Sir James and I helped to bury would have been hurt by the Second World War, and knew suffering and death intimately. Loss of faith and friends, great sorrow, compounded in this new bereavement. The First World War had undermined Elgar’s faith, said MacMillan, yet he still composed this searingly beautiful music, giving form to the feelings of mourners.

Children had been more aware of death, even in the 1950s and 1960s. I can see myself, holding the processional cross beside an open grave, as a red-headed Irishman, tears streaming down his face, laid to rest the tiny coffin of his twin babies.

It’s no use saying I should have been protected, prevented from witnessing that. I disagree: I am sure Fr MacDermott was wise to ask me to serve, to represent the Church, the body of the second Adam, the Crucified whose image I was carrying. Far rather having to cope with that intimate vision than the callous slaughter of the innocent of Ukraine.

The hymn ‘Praise to the Holiest in the height’ is taken from the Dream of Gerontius; the oratorio can be found on Youtube.

1 Praise to the Holiest in the height,
and in the depth be praise:
in all his words most wonderful,
most sure in all his ways.

2 O loving wisdom of our God!
When all was sin and shame,
a second Adam to the fight
and to the rescue came.

3 O wisest love! that flesh and blood,
which did in Adam fail,
should strive afresh against the foe,
should strive and should prevail;

4 And that a higher gift than grace
should flesh and blood refine,
God’s presence and his very self,
and essence all-divine.

5 O generous love! that he, who smote
in Man for man the foe,
the double agony in Man
for man should undergo;

6 And in the garden secretly,
and on the cross on high,
should teach his brethren, and inspire
to suffer and to die.

7 Praise to the Holiest in the height,
and in the depth be praise:
in all his words most wonderful,
most sure in all his ways.

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23 April: lighting a candle. (Going Viral CV.)

Saint George, whose feast falls today, famously rescued a young woman from being devoured by a dragon, not an everyday problem in Canterbury today, but there are many of us nursing sorrow and distress, often unknown to others.

One such is my friend Marie. Though we go into town at about the same time as each other, we may not see each other for months, especially under covid restrictions. I realised not long ago that it had been at least three months since our paths had crossed, and looked out for her often.

Then today, a ring of my bicycle bell and she stopped, just where our ways diverge; ten seconds later and I would have missed her.

After our usual pleasantries, Marie asked, had I heard about Callum. Thinking she meant her great-grandson, I said, no; was he alright? ‘Not little Callum, OUR Callum’: she was talking of her own son. Little Callum’s mother had told me how her uncle had died in his armchair after a family gathering, as the covid restrictions were easing.

Of course Marie wanted to talk about it.

‘It doesn’t feel right, at all’, I said.

‘I speak to him and light my candles, that’s all I can do. But some people are embarrassed to talk to me, they avoid me now.’

‘Well, Marie, I hope I haven’t passed you by without noticing. I would always say hello’.

Lighting a candle, talking to the person who has died, by these actions Marie acknowledges the truth of Easter, of the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.

Let us pray for all those who have died since last Easter, for those they have left behind. Let us pray for ourselves, that we may shake off covid-induced avoidance of human contact and use any opportunity to offer an ear and a few words of comfort, rescuing our friends from the dragon of loneliness and loss, step by step.

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17 April, Easter Day: Taking His Place

A different thought for Easter day. What is the meaning of the feast for us, who live in a very different world to the first century Palestine of Jesus and his disciples? What does it mean to be a disciple today. This Scottish Island farmer from early last century has an answer that can encourage us in our faith and our daily Christian life.

Seven times a day, as I work upon this hungry farm,
 I say to Thee, 'Lord, why am I here?
What is there here to stir my gifts into life?
What great things can I do for others --
I who am captive to this dreary soil?'

And seven times a day, Thou answerest,
'I cannot do without thee. 
Once did My Son live thy life,
and by his faithfulness did show My mind,
My kindness 
and my truth to men.
But now He is come to My Side,
and thou must take His place.'

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Meat free Lent XXXIV: Squash with Walnut Stuffing

Dr Peter Toon – St Stephen’s Church. This is the final meat-free recipe this Lent, and surely one of the best; I reckon it would work well with foraged chestnuts from the freezer.

1 Butternut squash 
I onion, chopped or leeks and/or garlic 
Walnuts 
Dried thyme or other herbs 
Ground almonds 
Tomato or pesto sauce

·       You often need to add an egg to bind the stuffing in squashes, but there is so much flesh in a butternut that you can mix some of it with the other ingredients to bring the stuffing together.

·       Cut the squash in half lengthways and remove the seeds. 

·       Microwave with the cut side down until the flesh is soft (this usually takes about 7-8 minutes but depends on the size and ripeness of the squash, so do it in 2-3 minute bursts and check in between).

·       Using a spoon with sharp edges, scoop out the flesh from the centre of the squash, leaving about 1 cm all round the outside next to the skin. Put the removed flesh in a bowl.

·       Finely chop an onion and fry it in oil (walnut oil is ideal if you have it).  You can also use leeks and/or garlic as an alternative here.

·       Once the onion or other allium is soft, remove and add to the flesh in the bowl.

·       Finely chop and then gently roast walnuts in the oil. Add to the mixture in the bowl.

·       Add a spoonful of dried thyme or other herbs.

·       Mix well. If the mixture is too wet add ground almonds at this point. The mixture should hold together and not be too damp – similar to a soft dropping cake mix.

·       Spoon the mixture into the squash halves.  The preparation up to this point can be done in advance and the prepared squash kept in the fridge for a day or so until needed.

Bake for 40 minutes at 180 C.

Serve with a tomato and pesto sauce (white sauce to which has been added a spoonful of tomato paste and a spoonful of pesto).

I have not given quantities, as this depends on the size of the squash.

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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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Meat free Lent, XXXI: Chickpea Moussaka

Nicky – All Saints’ Church: An old, well-used recipe.

 4oz/110 g chickpeas 
12 oz/340g aubergines 
12oz/340g potatoes scrubbed 
1 tbsp olive oil 
1 onion peeled & chopped 
2 garlic cloves 
14oz/400g can tomatoes pureed 
2 tsp oregano dried 
1 tsp fresh mint 
1-2 tbsp tomato puree 
          Topping: 
1 tsp cumin seeds 
natural yoghurt 
1 small egg beaten

1.       Drain chickpeas and bring to the boil in fresh water.   Boil fast for 10 mins, simmer 35-45 mins.

2.       Prick and trim aubergines and bake at 180 C for 20 mins, then slice.

3.       Boil potatoes until tender, slice thickly.

4.       Gently fry onion for 5-7 mins.  Add garlic and cook for 1 min.

5.       Add tomatoes, oregano, mint, tomato puree and chickpeas. Cook gently for 10 mins then season.

6.       Grease deep dish and fill in layers of aubergine, potato and chickpeas sauce.

7.       For the topping:

Roast cumin seeds, mix into yoghurt and add egg.  Spoon over moussaka.

Bake in preheated oven, Gas Mark 4 for 25-30 mins.

35

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8 April, Stories of hope: Emma

Hope! You might well think it’s in short supply these days, with climate change and all the storms, with wars and threats of war, and terror and division. We can only do what we can, where we can. The Irish Chaplaincy was established to do what it can, where it is needed in England. Here comes a Hope-full story. As ever, it is told by Eddie Gilmore.

A conversation on a train station platform reminded me of both the power of stories and the power of hope, and it linked as well with a forthcoming campaign of the Irish Chaplaincy.

Francis, who spent his working life as a clinical psychologist in the NHS, told me excitedly that he was reading my book * and I was equally excited to learn that he had bought not just one but three of them (not all for himself)! “I like how you use narrative,” he explained and he recalled how years ago if he had only a short time to get across the details of a ‘case’ with a senior policy-maker he would usually choose to tell a story about the person in question. This was, in his experience, the most effective means by which change might occur.

When I told Francis about our #storiesofhope campaign to be launched in Lent he remarked, “Hope is about the power to make a difference.” Here is the first of those stories of hope. It is Emma’s story, as told by Breda who features strongly in it, and it is told with Emma’s permission.

A Reason to Live 

Our wonderful team is currently supporting a 35-year-old woman who in February 2021 just days after her release from prison was airlifted to hospital and put into a medical coma for 28 days. Emma had a rare but serious bacterial infection that affects the tissue beneath the skin and surrounding muscles and organs which resulted in the amputation of her left leg. Her mother was told that her daughter had a 2% chance of survival and was advised to turn off Life Support. She declined! Initially Emma had no use in both arms but this is slowly improving with intensive therapy at a care home; however she struggles with the use of her right leg as it remains severely damaged. Although Emma’s long-term prognosis isn’t yet fully known, what is certain is that she will need lots of care for many months if not years and will have to endure years of skin graft operations.

Thankfully, the team at the Irish Chaplaincy has been able to support both mother and daughter: practically, by advocating on their behalf to statutory bodies; financially, with small donations for telephone credit, travel assistance as well as essential sundries; emotionally, with visits from two of our caseworkers, who are also available at the end of the telephone anytime for either mother or daughter; and spiritually, through prayer. Additionally, with the help of our friends at Caritas, who when they heard Emma’s story provided a mobility scooter, she is now able to get around better, saying, “I feel like I have my legs back.”

Both mother and daughter are extremely remarkable and humbling; truly inspirational and doing their best to stay positive. They are an absolute pleasure to work with and the essence of our Chaplaincy’s purpose. We would be so very grateful for your thoughts and prayers to help them get through this difficult time and to help us continue in the work we love to do in supporting those most in need. Emma said to one of those who came to visit her: “You’ve given me a reason to live.”

The latest chapter in this story is that with the help of the Irish Chaplaincy Emma has managed to secure suitable accommodation where she can live with her mother after her mother is released from an open prison in a few months’ time. Now Emma not only has a reason to live, she also has her own place to live in!

More such stories of hope are coming soon…

* The link is to our review of Eddie’s book, Looking ahead with Hope; Francis was right, it’s a good read!

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