Tag Archives: illness

17 May, Pauline Jaricot Novena IV: ‘Prayer is the kingdom of God within us’.

What is it about prayer that we find so hard to grasp? ‘The raising of the heart and mind to God’ is one definition, easy to remember, but insufficient. What about the image coming to me, unbidden, of someone dear? It certainly wasn’t my conscious mind that brought her there, perhaps it was seeing a head of hair like my friend’s … Or what about the walk down town to Mass, neither mind nor heart actively involved; do I only begin to pray after entering the church or is my body praying as it transports the rest of me to Mass, or to work, or to visit somebody? Pauline Jaricot’s body failed her through illness; what did that do for her prayer life?


For many years, Pauline was passionate about many successful charitable ventures. But serious illness at the age of 35 curtailed her ability to work. Such an impact affected her mental health but through prayer and the Eucharist, Pauline discovered a new spiritual fruitfulness. She would build God’s kingdom with prayer and encourage others to join her in this mission.

Let us pray… 
Our Father. 
Hail Mary. 
Glory be… 
Blessed Pauline Jaricot, pray for us!

To find out more about Pauline Jaricot, visit: missio.org.uk/Pauline

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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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1 April 2022, Praying with Pope Francis: health care workers

Photograph by CD

We pray for health care workers who serve the sick and the elderly, especially in the poorest countries; may they be adequately supported by governments and local communities.

Closed doors at the end of a corridor. Inside consulting rooms, doctors, nurses, therapists still see patients, one-to-one, even if under covid-19 many appointments are on line or over the phone. It’s easy to forget that behind those doors are people working harder than they should, for longer than they should.

Let us be conscious of the sacrifices they are making, day after day, to keep us all safe; also of the stress, exhaustion and burn out they endure; of their families who see less of them and see them at the end of their tether, trying to summon the energy to be a spouse, partner, parent.

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4 March 2022, Praying with Pope Francis: bioethical challenges.

Maize is a crop that has received many genetic modifications to make it resistant to problems such as insect attack, drought or weedkiller chemicals, but at what cost?

This month Pope Francis asks us to pray for a Christian response to bioethical challenges.

We pray for Christians facing new bioethical challenges; may they continue to defend the dignity of all human life with prayer and action.

Of course it’s not as straightforward as pronouncing on the ethics of medical or cosmetic procedures. I had chosen the photo before I absorbed the words ‘ the dignity of all human life’, then wondered whether it was appropriate. I decided that it was. All human life includes the subsistence farmers who find themselves choosing between traditional crops and modern ones that are resistant to disease or insect attack. These are expensive to buy and need their fields to be sprayed with the expensive pesticide they can resist but the pests cannot.

And what of the long-term effects on the land and its ability to produce crops?

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15 February, Going Viral CII: God still has more work for me. My vocation today XIII.

Clare Boehmer

Clare Boehmer is a member of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ. She is now retired after 60 years of active ministry, which included teaching English and computer science, serving as a librarian, and developing a computer center for teenage girls living in an emergency shelter.

She reflects on her recent covid-19 infection. Read her whole article in Global Sisters Report. Highly recommended; here’s part of her introduction. Click on the link and enjoy!

I have realised that the entrance of the corona virus into our world has changed that world dramatically. Our pre-COVID-19 “normal” is not something that we can return to completely.

So what’s new? Sister Clare gives a few pointers.

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11 February: What is amiss, let us amend.

A queue for covid vaccinations at Lichfield Cathedral. TB.

Feb. 11, 1784.

TO MRS. LUCY PORTER, IN LICHFIELD.

MY DEAREST LOVE,

I have been extremely ill of an asthma and dropsy, but received, by the mercy of GOD, sudden and unexpected relief last Thursday, by the discharge of twenty pints of water[11 litres]. Whether I shall continue free, or shall fill again, cannot be told. Pray for me.

Death, my dear, is very dreadful; let us think nothing worth our care but how to prepare for it: what we know amiss in ourselves let us make haste to amend, and put our trust in the mercy of GOD, and the intercession of our Saviour.

I am, dear Madam,

Your most humble servant,

SAM. JOHNSON.

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

Lucy Porter was Johnson’s stepdaughter; he had married her widowed mother but she had died after just a few years. Although he lived and worked in London – the man who is tired of London is tired of life is his saying – he kept in touch with family and friends in Lichfield, his home town, including Lucy. At the time of writing he was an old man and sick; dropsy is now called oedema, a swelling of soft tissue especially in the legs, and may be an indication of heart failure – so carrying 11 kilos of extra weight in fluid was not good. Johnson does not say how his relief was brought about.

But his heartfelt love for his stepdaughter shines through, as well as his apprehension of death and judgement.

What is amiss, let us amend.

Amen to that!

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2 February, Going Viral C: Easy there!

Saint Dunstan’s Church, Canterbury.

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

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1 February, Going viral XCIX: Trying to be as careful as possible. 

Masked plague doctor, St George’s subway, Canterbury.

Careful or care-full? We share this thought provoking story from Plough magazine.

When Masking and Vaxxing Threaten a Friendship

It was she, member of the resistance against both masks and vaccines, who showed me, the vaccinated mask-wearer, how we bridge the rift.

By Jamie Santa Cruz

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13 January: To A Blackbird Singing In London.

Mrs Turnstone likes to remind us that this is the day of the year that the Sun first appears in Greenland. It is also her birthday. While our son is happily settled in London, she feels she has lived there for as long as she ever wants to, but she’ll visit the town, take Abel to an exhibition, or meet up with friends.

After Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who left London to elope with Robert, here is Mary Webb who moved to London to foster her career as a writer. The move brought her little joy, for she was a deep-rooted Shropshire Lass. So here is a melancholic poem from her pen, but one that looks to the ‘stately sun’, symbol of undisdainful death as well as of new life. One of the symptoms of the hyperthyroid Graves’ disease that she endured was swelling of the face which made her feel ‘unlovely’, and aware of ‘slights and lies and unkindnesses’ that more robust souls would have shrugged off.

Despite the melancholy, the blackbird, who is now in good voice, transports Mary to the Shropshire Hills, landing there in Spring, aware in her whole being of Shropshire under the rain and sun. Her kinder life, will it be in heaven only, or also in the golden air of the Welsh borders? I like to think it was experienced on this earth as a gentle preparation for life eternal.

Sing on, dear bird! Bring the old rapturous pain,
In this great town, where I no welcome find.
Show me the murmuring forest in your mind,
And April's fragile cups, brimful of rain.
O sing me far away, that I may hear
The voice of grass, and, weeping, may be blind
To slights and lies and friends that prove unkind.
Sing till my soul dissolves into a tear,
Glimmering within a chaliced daffodil.
So, when the stately sun with burning breath
Absorbs my being, I'll dream that he is Death,
Great Death, the undisdainful. By his will
No more unlovely, haunting all things fair,
I'll seek some kinder life in the golden air.

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Filed under Daily Reflections, Laudato si', PLaces, poetry, Spring, winter

15 December, The heroism required is that of patience: I

It may be argued again that dissatisfaction with our life’s endeavour springs in some degree from dullness. We require higher tasks, because we do not recognise the height of those we have. Trying to be kind and honest seems an affair too simple and too inconsequential for gentlemen of our heroic mould; we had rather set ourselves to something bold, arduous, and conclusive; we had rather found a schism or suppress a heresy, cut off a hand or mortify an appetite. But the task before us, which is to co-endure with our existence, is rather one of microscopic fineness, and the heroism required is that of patience. There is no cutting of the Gordian knots of life; each must be smilingly unravelled.

To be honest, to be kind—to earn a little and to spend a little less, to make upon the whole a family happier for his presence, to renounce when that shall be necessary and not be embittered, to keep a few friends but these without capitulation—above all, on the same grim condition, to keep friends with himself—here is a task for all that a man has of fortitude and delicacy. He has an ambitious soul who would ask more; he has a hopeful spirit who should look in such an enterprise to be successful. There is indeed one element in human destiny that not blindness itself can controvert: whatever else we are intended to do, we are not intended to succeed; failure is the fate allotted. It is so in every art and study; it is so above all in the continent art of living well. Here is a pleasant thought for the year’s end or for the end of life: Only self-deception will be satisfied, and there need be no despair for the despairer.

Robert Louis Stevenson had reason to meditate upon death in 1887, when he was convalescing in the Adirondack mountains from a bout of the TB that would eventually kill him. He calls this a Christmas Sermon, and it was first published in December the following year. ‘We are not intended to succeed’: a sobering thought but a true one. Man proposes, God disposes. ‘Could do better’, says the school report, but we don’t need telling.

In Bethlehem Joseph must have felt a failure when a lowly cattle shed was all he could find for Mary to give birth, but God chose that place to start a new chapter in his story of salvation. Joseph’s failure to find a suitable room allowed God to succeed on his terms, which still look like a failure to us blind creatures.

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