Tag Archives: illness

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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13 November: Should Stevenson ever have been born?

This follows on from Robert Browning’s courting of Elizabeth Barrett, an invalid likely to produce an invalid child. On the other hand, had there been testing for potential diseases and disabilities, would – should – Robert Louis Stevenson have been allowed to live? Chesterton knew his answer. (RLS was born this day in 1850)

What is the good of telling people that if they marry for love, they may be punished by being the parents of Keats or the parents of Stevenson? Keats died young; but he had more pleasure in a minute than a Eugenist gets in a month. Stevenson had lung-trouble; and it may, for all I know, have been perceptible to the Eugenic eye even a generation before. But who would perform that illegal operation: the stopping of Stevenson?

Intercepting a letter bursting with good news, confiscating a hamper full of presents and prizes, pouring torrents of intoxicating wine into the sea, all this is a faint approximation for the Eugenic inaction of the ancestors of Stevenson. This, however, is not the essential point; with Stevenson it is not merely a case of the pleasure we get, but of the pleasure he got. If he had died without writing a line, he would have had more red-hot joy than is given to most men. Shall I say of him, to whom I owe so much, let the day perish wherein he was born? Shall I pray that the stars of the twilight thereof be dark and it be not numbered among the days of the year, because it shut not up the doors of his mother’s womb? I respectfully decline; like Job, I will put my hand upon my mouth.

from “Eugenics and Other Evils” by Gilbert Keith Chesterton.

GKC took the writers Keats and Stevenson as examples of the unhealthy humans that the Eugenicists of his day would have aborted but it was illegal. As for today … I only have to think of our bridesmaids, now departed, who lived a full life with Down’s syndrome, to know how wrong it would have been to prevent their birth; and also the men who were locked away in ‘subnormality hospitals’, yet came out and contributed greatly to the founding of L’Arche Kent.

Stevenson, author of Treasure Island and much more, after years of illness and travelling to find a cure for his lung condition, died in Samoa aged 44 in 1894, where he was buried with this epitaph:

Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
 the hunter home from the hill.

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28 October: End Polio Now!

On Friday Revd Jo Richards told us about Saint Dunstan’s Church being bathed in purple light the next day to feature the Rotary’s drive to ‘END POLIO NOW!

Here are two photographs of the event. Let us hope and pray that infections will continue to fall in the remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan where polio still exists, thanks to vaccines, clean water and safe sewage. And let’s also hope and pray that opponents of the vaccine come to trust the medical staff bringing this killer disease to an end, and not murder or harm them. May they complete their task in peace.

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8 August, Brownings XXI: Ungrateful Vexation.

I am not selfish?’ to me who never … when I have been deepest asleep and dreaming, … never dreamed of attributing to you any form of such a fault? Promise not to say so again—now promise. Think how it must sound to my ears, when really and truly I have sometimes felt jealous of myself … of my own infirmities, … and thought that you cared for me only because your chivalry touched them with a silver sound—and that, without them, you would pass by on the other side:—why twenty times I have thought that and been vexed—ungrateful vexation!

The Letters of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Barrett, Vol. 1 (of 2) 1845-1846.

It’s not always easy to follow Elizabeth Barrett when she’s writing to Robert. So much is understood between the two of them, but we cannot read between the lines. Nevertheless I am struck by how she had felt that he only cared for her because of her infirmities. After accidents and illness she was treated and acted like an invalid, and Robert was forced to marry her privately before taking her to Italy. It’s difficult at times to believe that we are loved, pure and simple; but we were loved into being by our creator and those who have loved us in this world.

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11 July: Going Viral XL, Hope is a muscle we must use once again.

When I taught in a very small school, one of our pupils had cystic fibrosis. Every now and then we would go to the children’s ward of the local hospital to visit and teach him while his lungs were drained under medical supervision. In the previous weeks his energy levels had gone steadily downhill.

This article from Commonweal Magazine tells of new drugs that have been developed since that time; whether that young man was still around to benefit I know not. The writer, Roberto De La Noval, likens the drugs’ effects to the raising of Lazarus: adjusting is more complicated than we might at first imagine. But we are all coping with Covid 19: we must learn to hope for this life and the next. A good read!

Will.

These bell flowers were living a full life in a handful of mountain soil; iced over in winter, full summer sun, just getting on with it, beautifully,

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