Tag Archives: illness

Going viral : Christmas is planned!

Mary and her Child, St Mildred, Canterbury.

I had to collect a couple of things from Saint Mildred’s. It was good to see the church all empurpled for Advent, the place is truly beloved.

Rev Jo Richards was in evidence too, alleluia. She has been isolating, even from her family, after a positive test for Covid-19. Sharing meals with the family via Whats App took some getting used to, but the rectory has an annexe that could have been designed just for this.

Not being able to get out and about enabled Rev Jo to spend time preparing for the next few weeks. As she told me: ‘Advent is planned, Christmas is planned!’

Thank God neither Jo nor Jenny, her curate, had many symptoms of the disease, and are both back at work. And let’s pray for all those who continue to be affected by the disease, and all for whom Christmas will mean an empty place at table which cannot be replaced by Whats App.

And may all who have died from the disease rest in peace, Amen.

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15 November: digesting grief III. Can salt lose its taste?

It was caring for a mutual friend that brought Dermot and me together, so far as she allowed anyone to care for her, that is. Dermot and Margaret did more than most, living opposite. But our friend had to go into a care home, and finally to hospital where she died. Soon after that Margaret’s cancer returned and she went to her Maker, and now Dermot’s brother Joe has died.

‘Everyone that made me laugh has gone’, he told me, and all younger than me.’

He carries on, taking on the responibilities his wife had had around their home, adrift at times, but ever ready for a few words of conversation, for he has hope, despite the encircling gloom.

LEAD, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom
          Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home—
          Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene—one step enough for me.


I was not ever thus, nor pray'd that Thou
          Shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path, but now
          Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will: remember not past years.


So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
          Will lead me on,
O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till
          The night is gone;
And with the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.

John Henry Newman

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6 October: Up in the air.

640px-Hot_Air_Balloons_,_Albuquerque_,_Ektachrome_by_Scott_Williams.jpg (640×428)
Photograph by Scott Williams via WIkipedia

Doctor Johnson, unwell and soon to die, is visiting his home town, and answering letters from London. The recent flights of a hot air balloon attracted much attention in London, and set Johnson thinking. Around 200 years later I was in Lichfield when a hot air balloon flew over. We called to the old lady next-door but one, who was glad to have seen it. but even in the 1980’s, even in the 2020’s indeed, their course cannot be directed so as that it should serve any purposes of communication, a hot air balloon is simply an amusement. But Asthma is better understood; perhaps the relatively clean air of Lichfield helped Johnson’s breathing.

Lichfield, Sept. 29.

On one day I had three letters about the air-balloon: yours was far the best, and has enabled me to impart to my friends in the country an idea of this species of amusement. In amusement, mere amusement, I am afraid it must end, for I do not find that its course can be directed so as that it should serve any purposes of communication; and it can give no new intelligence of the state of the air at different heights, till they have ascended above the height of mountains, which they seem never likely to do.

I came hither on the 27th. How long I shall stay I have not determined. My dropsy is gone, and my asthma much remitted, but I have felt myself a little declining these two days, or at least to-day; but such vicissitudes must be expected. One day may be worse than another; but this last month is far better than the former; if the next should be as much better than this, I shall run about the town on my own legs.

October 6.

The fate of the balloon I do not much lament (it had been destroyed by fire): to make new balloons, is to repeat the jest again. We now know a method of mounting into the air, and, I think, are not likely to know more. The vehicles can serve no use till we can guide them; and they can gratify no curiosity till we mount with them to greater heights than we can reach without; till we rise above the tops of the highest mountains, which we have yet not done. We know the state of the air in all its regions, to the top of Teneriffe, and therefore, learn nothing from those who navigate a balloon below the clouds. The first experiment, however, was bold, and deserved applause and reward. But since it has been performed, and its event is known, I had rather now find a medicine that can ease an asthma.’

From Life of Johnson, Volume 4 1780-1784 by James Boswell.

Photograph by Scott Williams via WIkipedia

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4 October: A Franciscan Vocation

model of a favela township, CD.

It is the feast of Saint Francis, so here is the story of a Franciscan vocation, beneath a model of a Franciscan parish in South America, sent in by Brother Chris. The story is that of Brother Martin, a Capuchin Franciscan: we share the first paragraph, the rest can be read here.

The Lord calls people in various ways and I heard His invitation when I was 17. Few years prior to that I became seriously ill and in search of treatment. I ended up moving from my home country of Poland to England. Dreams of studying languages changed into the hope of studying medicine. During my preparations for A’ levels, however, another event occurred that made me set out on a totally different course in life – I came across a person known to the world as Padre Pio, a Capuchin saint. Through his intercession I was partially cured of my illness and a desire was born within me to be a religious. I had no idea what that would entail, but I thought it cool to wear the habit, have a long beard, do penance whilst living conscious of the presence of God all the time!

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9 April: Praying with Pope Francis.

Saint Dunstan, Canterbury

We usually post Pope Francis’ prayer intention on the first Friday of the month, but this month it fell on Good Friday, so we postponed it until today.

Pope Francis’s Intention for April: – Fundamental Rights
We pray for those who risk their lives while fighting for fundamental rights under dictatorships, authoritarian regimes and even in democracies in crisis.

One of the fundamental rights is to health care. As we have seen with the covid-19 vaccination programme, there are authoritarian regimes, conspiracy theorists and others with influence, who have been prepared to dissuade or prevent people from receiving the vaccine. Saint Dunstan’s church was illuminated last year to publicise the world-wide programme to end polio, a crippling disease which can be prevented with a childhood vaccination programme. This has been resisted by militia men who attack and kill public health workers, alleging that the vaccination brings on other diseases.

Just one group of people prepared to risk their lives for fundamental rights. Let us pray for them and all who work for people’s rights.

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22 March: Water Day

Photograph from Sister Johanna

I didn’t know about World Water Day until recently, but it falls on March 22 each year, and gives us a chance to reflect on how we use and abuse this precious element, and how some people do not have enough for drinking, washing, farming. What follows is from CAFOD, the English and Welsh Catholic church’s overseas aid arm. The full article with a video explanation of the filter is available here.

Turning dirty water into clean water

Here at CAFOD, we are trying to turn dirty water into clean water.

For many poor communities, the local water source is a dirty pond or stream. Diarrhoea kills a young child every 90 seconds.

CAFOD’s water filter campaign is helping people who face the risk of fatal disease every time they wash, cook or drink – by providing simple, low-cost water filters for them.  

This water filter is a lifesaver. It transforms dirty water into clean, drinkable water in an hour. A lifeline for families without a clean water source. We’ve made sure that it is simple to put together and uses materials available even in remote communities.

Our water filters use just sand and charcoal. Effective, cheap and easy to maintain, they save lives.

By donating today, you can help more people in developing countries protect their health and their lives.

Donate to CAFOD’s water filter campaign

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17 March: Saint Patrick’s Day.

On Saint Patrick’s day we visit Zambia, where a former student at the Franciscan International Study Centre, Canterbury, is now Bishop Patrick Chisanga, OFM Conv; a missionary bishop like his namesake. Many of the Health Care facilities in the country owe their existence to the churches.

BISHOP PATRICK CHISANGA HAILS FRONTLINE WORKERS IN CARING FOR THE SICK

In his message to mark the commemoration of World Day for the Sick which falls today, 11th February, Bishop Chisanga has acknowledged the care and love that the frontline workers demonstrate to the sick and has assured them of God’s blessings.

He has pointed out those who sit by the bedside of the sick in health facilities and homes providing care and support to the sick day and night, saying their efforts are not in vain. God is with them and will reward them .

Bishop Chisanga, who is also the Bishops’ Director for Health of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops, has also commended to the love of God all health workers who in the process of carrying out their duties have contracted the coronavirus and have since died. May they rest in peace.

He has prayed and imparted God’s blessings on all health care givers.

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9 March, Gates II: Kampala’s Gate of Heaven, 1934.

Yersinia pestis, the plague bacteria

We have been living with the covid pandemic for more than a year but treatments are on the horizon. In 1934, before antibiotics were set to work in medicine, the Pneumonic Plague was ravaging Uganda. This appeal by Fr Arthur Hughes, M.Afr appeared in The Tablet, 10 February 1934.

By miracles of temporal healing Our Lord frequently awakened yearnings for eternal remedies: is it, then, surprising that our hospital should be for many the anteroom to the Baptistery and the Gate of Heaven? Generously sacrificing many other cherished projects, the mission has concentrated on the establishment of a very satisfactory and properly equipped hospital, where in circumstances of hygienic perfection and comfort pagans and Muslims, as well as our own Christians, receive medical attention and the services of trained nurses … the hospital is absolutely necessary to the spiritual welfare of the mission. Were we deprived of it, we would risk losing many souls as well as many lives … 

I write this in the room occupied by Father Wolters, who, only last September, returned from administering the Sacraments to five plague-stricken members of the same family, and died of the plague within two days*…Yet our own hospital can neither be recognized nor maintained without the permanent services of a doctor. At present the sisters urgently need £120 per annum for this purpose. So far an Indian doctor comes regularly, although he has not yet been paid … here is a necessity real, urgent, concerning the glory of God, the salvation of souls, the preservation of life, the care and comfort of suffering being very dear to us in the heart of Christ. Dare we hope? 

Illness was certainly the Gate of Heaven for Fr Wolters, though he received no miracle cure from his plague. But Fr Hughes was thinking more of patients and relatives who would hear the Gospel, in perhaps a new way, when faced with serious illness or potentially dangerous surgery. It can concentrate the mind if you know you might not wake up from the anaesthetic: Prepare to meet thy God! A motto good for any and every day, but a crisis can indeed concentrate the mind.

There is also the experience of skilled, loving nursing care which, of course, can also be administered by Muslim, Hindu or Atheist. Where charity and love prevail, there God is ever found, as we will sing in person or in our hearts, on Maundy Thursday. Let us pray for those who have been putting their lives and well-being at risk in caring for others, and for those who cannot obtain life-saving medicines or vaccines.

The Missionaries of Africa still work in Uganda. You can support them this Lent by sending completed cheques, postal orders and gift aid forms to the following address: The Superior Missionaries of Africa 15 Corfton Road London W5 2HP …

* One of the patients was sick in his face. Fr Wolters came home, sorted his affairs, and prepared himself for death.

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16 January. Going Viral LXIII: Second (or is it third) lockdown in Canterbury.

St Peter’s keys on the weather vane of his church in Canterbury.

How St Mildred’s, St Dunstan’s and St Peter’s in Canterbury are facing the new restrictions. Some day we’ll be glad of the record!

Good morning to you all, and I do hope this finds you well in these difficult times. A lot has been going on behind the scenes – hence today.
Temporary closure of our church buildings

The PCC’s of both of our Parishes, and our ministry team, have agreed that we temporarily suspend corporate worship in our buildings  with immediate effect, and move onto on-line provision, live streaming our services from St Dunstan’s with a 10.00 Sunday Eucharist. This will be the pattern of worship until Sunday February 21st 2021, when the situation will be reviewed, and hopefully more of our folk will have been vaccinated, and the virus less prevalent.  

We are legally permitted to keep our church buildings open for corporate worship, if we feel it is wise and safe to do so. Bishop Rose has advised in a letter to clergy, that this is a may, and not a must. She reminds us that we have a duty of care for everyone particularly those who are vulnerable or who may be most at risk from this virus. 

With the demographics of our congregations being predominantly elderly and vulnerable (over 70),  the safest option for all, in this current climate, is to temporarily close our buildings for corporate worship; particularly in light of the CofE guidance that states, “The Government guidance on the safe use of places of worship makes clear that those attending a place of worship must not mingle with anyone outside their household or support bubble.”

The safety of our vulnerable congregations is absolutely paramount, and with this in mind, we are temporarily closing our buildings and moving our worship online, which folk can watch from the safety of their homes. I assure you that this has not been an easy decision  for myself and the PCC’s, but it is in the interests of keeping everyone safe, and we have hope. 

I appreciate that for some this will be a  huge disappointment; and for others you may feel comforted by this decision. Either way may you be reassured by The Bishop of London’s words – who chairs the Church of England Covid recovery group:  “There is hope. The vaccination programme is underway and, as Christians, we have a deeper hope in God that comforts us beyond fear itself. As we have been remembering this Christmas Season, even in the midst of our darkest fears, that hope brings light.”  
 

May I remind you that although buildings will be temporarily closed, the church is not shut – we are the Body of Christ, the church, and we can love and support one another with phone calls, and prayers, and keeping connected to one another. For those who are in touch with are offline folk, please can you let them know of this decision.


God Bless you all, and please do keep safe, keep connected and keep praying.
Jo
Rev Jo Richards Rector of the Benefice of St Dunstan, St Mildred and St Peter, Canterbury

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18 November: Monastic Hospitality’s unexpected result.

We mentioned Minster Abbey yesterday. Here’s a true story from the Turnstone family archives, going back more years than I can calculate.

One day when Mrs Turnstone was over-tired from sleepless nights with baby Evelyn, I decided to take her on the train to visit the sisters at Minster Abbey with big sister Rosie. While Sisters A & B and I were talking, Rose was demolishing monastic hospitality in the shape of a plateful of custard cream biscuits. They erupted in the middle of the night, undoing the good work of a long siesta for her poor mother! Rose has been off custard creams ever since. It even used to made her feel sick when the train passed through the scent of the biscuit factory on its way into London Bridge!

Is there a moral to this story? Be a better Dad, and give your child only appropriate food, physical, mental and spiritual, and in due season and due quantities. It sounds like one of the easier challenges for a Dad, but …. (No, I can’t blame the sisters!)

Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Matthew 24.45

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