Tag Archives: safety

6 March, Lenten Pilgrimage III: Bring us into your haven.

Give us the mind of Jesus,
something of his brave heart, 
as we sail over the waters of experience.
And days of sunshine.
And favouring winds.
And stars to be our guide when the sun is set.

Yet this is but half our asking.
Lord of pity, 
when trouble rises, as a storm,
turning our trust to fear,
bring us into the quiet place of thy presence
and be our haven.

From Hebridean Altars by Alistair Maclean.

Wherever we are, let us follow the guidance of a star as surely as the fisherman away up in the islands. Let us pray for the grace to be quiet in God's haven, letting him turn our fears into trust.

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O key of David – how often do we think of the freedom our house keys give us?

Here are the ‘O Antiphons’ shared by Fr Valentine Erhanon, and below, his homily for the 4th Sunday of Advent. Fr Valentine is the parish priest of Saints Simon and Jude, Streatham Hill, London.

Saturday December 17
O Sapientia [O Wisdom]
O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love:
come to teach us the path of knowledge!

Sunday December 18
O Adonai [O Lord and Ruler]
O Leader of the House of Israel, giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:
come to rescue us with your mighty power!

Monday December 19
O Radix Jesse [O Root of Jesse]
O Root of Jesse’s stem, sign of God’s love for all his people:
come to save us without delay!

Tuesday December 20
O Clavis David [O Key of David]
O Key of David, opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom:
come and free the prisoners of darkness!

Wednesday December 21
O Oriens [O Rising Dawn or Morning Star]
O Radiant Dawn, splendour of eternal light, sun of justice:
come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Thursday December 22
O Rex Gentium [O King of the Nations]
O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:
come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!

Friday December 23 – Mass at 9am
O Emmanuel
O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law:
come to save us, Lord our God!

Homily for the Third Week of Advent,

17/18 December 2022 by Father Valentine Erhahon

First Reading: Isaiah 7:10-14; Psalm 23 (24); Second Reading: Romans: 1:1-7; Gospel: Matthew 1:18-24

Finally, what is going to happen …

For the past four weeks, we have starved ourselves from saying/singing the Gloria at Mass. Over two billion Catholics have
deliberately deprived themselves of singing those words of the Angels that we hear at Mass every time and have gotten so
used to. The intensity of this abstinence is growing in our hearts. We are longing, yearning and waiting to sing the Gloria for
the very first time on Christmas Eve, on the 24th of December, first at the Children’s Mass at 5.30 pm and then at the Solemn
Mass at 10 pm.

We will join millions of other Catholic Churches from Shanghai to Abu Dhabi from Panama to Benin City; from Kansas to
Kerala, from every part of the continent right to London, to Streatham Hill, anywhere the Catholic Church is: in chapels in
villages, in palaces, and cities, in small towns, in grand cathedrals or humble churches, on this most solemn of nights, the
Gloria, the Glory to God in the Highest will resound – in our Churches. What great joy! As tradition demands, all the Altar
Servers will ring all our bells, as we cry out joyfully to God in the Gloria. One by one, our Altar Servers will light the six ancient
candles you have been looking at in the sanctuary wondering when they would be lit. Read Revelation 1:12ff to discover the
significance of these candles. You will notice in the book of Revelation there are Seven candlesticks – look out of the last one
on the sanctuary: He is the word of God and the light that shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”
(John 1:5.)

Our two parish Angels: Cherubim and Seraphim, have now left their station where you normally see them guarding the Holy
of Holies in our Tabernacle. They too have come down to welcome the arrival of the Godchild and keep guard next to Him.
You will also notice that in our lectern the four creatures in Revelation 4: 6-8 are now displayed: each representing the four
gospels: Matthew: the winged man; Mark: the Lion; Luke: the Ox; John: the Eagle.

You will also notice that we have brought out the Joseph’s baby wooden chair, made for the Word of God; and on it: our
newborn King – the Word of God – will seat on it – in his manger on Christmas Eve: O Come, Let us Adore Him Christ the Lord.
The Book of the Gospel is already opened in Joseph’s baby wooden chair to the very page of the Gospel of the night.
Before then, of course, we have the first of the three Great Processions of the night, with the ancient chant that recounts the
history of our salvation – informing us of how in the fullness of time, God himself decided to intervene in human history by
bringing forth his son, born of a woman to save us. Next will be the second Great Procession where the infant King will come
into his Church. I will not put into words what this would feel like because it will lose the value of its significance and
meaning. It is meant to be experienced. The Third procession of course will be at the end of Mass when with lit candles we
will make our procession to the Nativity Grotto. Arriving at His Grotto on this most Solemn and Holy night, which many on
Streatham Hill have been visiting each day, I will bless the Grotto – the Stable – the Manger and our Lord and God will spend
the night in his stable in the cold. On Christmas Day, He will return to the Church – where we will adore Him and celebrate His

Every day from Christmas Eve until the end of Christmastide, our Lord will stay in His Grotto facing the streets
of Hillside road, giving hope to all. During Mass, He will return to His Church to bless us. We remember though: that while our
Grotto may look nice and pretty, Jesus will be sleeping in the cold like many homeless people. Instead of being in a hospital
bed or a nice room, he will smell animals, straws and hay on his first night in this world as a baby. There is no warmth in the
manger, no proper safety from harm or infection. We remember when they arrived in Bethlehem for the census, Mary and
Joseph could not find a home to rent. No one could let them into their home. We remember, in pain, hardship and poverty,
our God came into the world to save us, but no one opened their door to the Holy Family. Would we have let Mary and Jesus
into our homes that night for Jesus to be born in our home? Do we let him into our hearts today? Do we have time for Jesus?
Do we allow Jesus into our thinking process and our decision-making in our personal and daily lives? Or like he first
experienced on the night of his birth, we have closed the door and have no space in our lives to accommodate him, so we
send him away out, back into the cold because our lives are full of ourselves; we are distracted; conflicted; unable to commit.
I will come back to this discussion in my homily on Christmas Eve when we will see all those who make up Jesus’s ancestry.

For now, we begin our last countdown to Christmas with the 0 Antiphons. To prepare for Christmas in a few day’s time: today – one by one, the Altar Servers, and then the children will place their Roses of Thanksgiving in the manger to thank Saint Joseph for doing the will of God, by taking Mary into his homes. Today our Mother Mary is heavily pregnant, she is on a donkey with Joseph who is protecting and looking after her; it is cold and windy outside. Today they are approaching Bethlehem. Join them on this procession of doing God’s will, and go behind them to offer them support. Walk with them. Together as a parish community, we are going to Bethlehem to adore the Infant King on Christmas Eve and to present our very self as a present to him for his birthday so that he can transform us to become truly like him in the Great exchange of Gifts on Christmas Day – between God and humans, between Love and love.

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8 September, Season of Creation X: This means you!

Level crossing without barrier or gate ahead

Canterbury had a railway link to London before 1850, engineered along the Stour Valley from Ashford, a relatively flat line which needed few road bridges, over or under. However, there are a number of level crossings, two of them in central Canterbury, capable of holding up road traffic for minutes at a time in queues 100m and more long.

Sad to say, most cars and motor vehicles (but not the local buses) have their engines left on at this time, wasting the drivers’ money in fuel burning uselessly. That we might say is their problem, but it’s everyone’s problem when the air on St Dunstan’s Street is so often polluted above safe levels; it’s everyone’s problem when greenhouse gases are unnecessarily emitted into the atmosphere to add to global warming.

Please think about switching off your engine when traffic grinds to a halt at a crossing or other hold up.

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5 February, Praying with Pope Francis, Violence against women.

Saint Josephine Bakhita

Universal Intention: – Violence Against Women

Pope Francis invites us to join him this month in praying for women who are victims of violence, that they may be protected by society and have their sufferings considered and heeded.

Sadly, many women suffer in silence and their neighbours are unaware of the situation. Saint Josephine Bakhita, who died in 1947, had 144 scars of physical abuse over her body when she was released from slavery.

Things have hardly improved since her time, but the diocese of Westminster has established a refuge in her name. Read more about it here. Sometimes it is important to offer open ended help to someone who is suffering, it needs energy as well as confidence to be able to move on. That energy grows out of the love the women are enwrapped in at Bakhita House.

Saint Bakhita’s feast is 8th February, and you can read previous reflections by entering Bakhita into the search box on this post. We have a few more postings on slavery over the next few days.

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18 December: Stay Awake!

“Stay Awake” is a good Advent Motto and it comes from the mouth of Jesus. We are not simply waiting for a warm, safe commemoration of his birth, though warmth and safety would be welcome this year, but we are preparing for when He comes for us in death. Over to the clear-sighted Sister Johanna.

You may be quite sure of this, that if the householder had known at what time of the night the burglar would come, he would have stayed awake and would not have allowed anyone to break through the wall of his house.

Matthew 24:43

I have never been happy with the notion of heaven as sleep nor taken much comfort in the prayer, “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.” Paradise as a place of eternal rest makes me think irreverently of mattress advertisements. I sometimes wonder why the idea of rest has settled so firmly into the collection of metaphors we use to refer to eternal life.

These are thoughts I’ve been revisiting as I meditated recently on the text of Matthew quoted at the beginning of this post. When we think of death – if we think of death (mostly we try to avoid doing so) – it is hard to view it with anything other than dread: that moment when we are wrenched out of this painful, but familiar, existence where we are at home, and bundled into the next life – a life of which we have no first-hand knowledge. In this parable, the Lord himself brings up that subject we would rather avoid and refers to himself as the “burglar.” He can only be doing this to try to help us to view our death in another light. What is he trying to tell us?

If we are frequent readers of the gospels, this burglar image may have lost some of its freshness and originality for us. But think about it. That the eternally sinless Son of God should use the metaphor of a thief to describe himself is, along with being slightly humorous, also very unconventional. But, if we decide to take his word for it and think of him for a moment as the thief, then what – or who – is the loot? Well, us. We are what he wants to ‘steal’. And his desire for us is so intense that he likens himself to the lawless burglar, who just wants what he wants what he wants, and whose method is therefore to snatch and run with the goods.

But, if we had been awake, the parable implies, we might have prevented this ‘theft.’ I think the Lord may be employing the literary device of irony here. We cannot, in this life, be ‘awake’ enough to prevent this robbery. He will come. We will die. That is a certainty. But, in light of this parable, in no way is death to be seen as a descent into ‘sleep’. On the contrary, the parable makes me think of my death in terms of a diamond heist, with the Lord as its great mastermind, and maybe ending with a thrilling chase scene, in which he gets away with me, his diamond. One can hardly sleep through that.

The Lord’s words about staying awake, then, encourage us to think about what ‘being awake’ actually means. It strikes me that being awake, as we experience it in this life, has degrees. Awake as the mere opposite of being asleep is perhaps the lowest degree. A bit higher is the idea of conscience: keeping our conscience always ‘awake’ so that we never depart from the way of virtue. Better. But not the best. How about this as the highest level: the experience of love? Don’t we feel most deeply ‘awake’ when we love deeply? This deep love awakens parts of our being that had previously been ‘asleep’ and that we didn’t even realise we had. This must be the key to understanding heaven’s type of awake-ness. So, for me, the Lord’s words about being awake are inseparable from the experience of love. Love will ‘open us up’ as it wakes us up in heaven when God surrounds us and we are filled with his loving life, when we see with his eyes and love with our hearts perfectly attuned to his own heart. We do not know the hour when the ‘burglar’ will break in, snatch us, and wake us up to eternal love. Indeed, we cannot know when. But we can know something about what, about heaven’s fulfilment. We can know something – not everything, but something. We know it, even now, when we are awake in love.

Thank you Sister Johanna, I do agree that ‘resting in peace’ does not reconcile me to Eternity and even playing frisbee with golden crowns would pall after a couple of centuries. Let’s wait in hope and see! Will.

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10 October, Little Flowers LXXXII: Dens in the Woods 6.

Mary Mother from Hales Place Jesuit Chapel, Canterbury

And the feast of the Assumption being now come, Saint Francis began the holy fast with great abstinence and severity, mortifying his body and comforting his spirit with fervent prayers, vigils, and scourglngs ; and in these prayers ever growing from virtue to virtue he made ready his soul to receive the divine mysteries and the divine splendours, and his body to endure the cruel assaults of the demons, with whom he oftentimes fought in sensible form.

It befell on a time during that fast, that Saint Francis leaving his cell one day in fervour of spirit and going aside a little to pray in a hollow of the rock, from the which down to the ground is an exceeding deep descent and a horrible and fearful precipice, suddenly the devil came in terrible shape, with a tempest and exceeding loud roar, and struck at him for to push him down thence. Saint Francis, not having where to flee, and not being able to endure the grim aspect of the demon, he turned him quickly with hands and face and all his body pressed to the rock, commending himself to God, and groping with his hands, if perchance he might find aught to cling to. But as it pleased God, who suffereth not His servants to be tempted above that they are able to bear, suddenly by a miracle the rock to which he clung hollowed itself out in fashion as the shape of his body, and so received him into itself, and like as if he had put his hands and face in melted wax, even so was the form of the face and hands of Saint Francis imprinted on the rock; and thuswise helped of God he escaped out of the hands of the demon.

But that which the demon could not then do unto Saint Francis, to wit, push him down thence, he did a good while after the death of Saint Francis, unto one of his dear and pious brothers, who was setting in order some pieces of wood in the selfsame place, to the end that it might be possible to win there without peril, out of devotion to Saint Francis and the miracle that was wrought there, on a day the demon pushed him, while he had on his head a great log that he wished to set there, and made him fall down thence with the log upon his head. But God that had preserved and delivered Saint Francis from falling, through his merits delivered and preserved his pious brother from the peril of his fall; for the brother, as he fell, with exceeding great devotion commended himself in a loud voice unto Saint Francis; and straightway he appeared unto him, and catching him, set him down upon the rocks, without suffering him to feel or shock or any hurt.

Then the other brothers having heard his cry as he fell, and deeming him dead and dashed in pieces by reason of his fall from such a height upon the sharp rocks, with great sorrow and weeping took up the bier and came from the other side of the mountain for to gather up the fragments of his body and bury them. When they were come down from the mountain, that brother that had fallen met them with the log upon his head wherewith he had fallen, and he was singing Te Deum laudamus1 in a loud voice.

1We praise you, O God.

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Going Viral XLV: from the horse’s mouth?

Sign outside the betting shop: STAY SAFE! KEEP YOUR DISTANCE! Sounds like excellent advise to me!

These last few weeks we may seem to have forgotten and foregone our response to the corona corvid viral pest, but we are still here and safe and healthy. This sighting was worth sharing. We hope you’ve had an excellent summer with plenty of free vitamin D from the sunshine. Happy Autumn; keep safe and keep praying!

God bless,


Photo from CD.

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27 July, Going viral XLII: opening doors.

maynards spittal
The almshouses are in the city centre parish and have their own chapel.

Rev Jo is back from her short break and she and her church wardens have their hands full preparing to open their churches.

We had a lovely time away in the beautiful Lake District. The scenery was absolutely stunning, and we managed three lovely walks, along with reading, and playing more board games. 
The government and CofE have issued further guidelines about wearing facemasks in places of worship: “We strongly advise that face coverings should be worn by all those attending a place of worship, including ministers, worshippers, staff, volunteers, contractors and visitors, where there may be other people present; remembering that they are mainly intended to protect other people, not the wearer, from coronavirus COVID-19 and that they are not a replacement for physical distancing and regular hand washing.” 
As we prepare to open St Dunstan’s for Sunday worship on Sunday 2nd August for both an 8.00 and 10.00 Eucharist, just to give us some idea on numbers, if you could indicate if you plan to come; thank you in anticipation. If you are unsure right up till the last moment that is absolutely fine. I know many of you are uncertain and or shielding but we plan to live stream the service at 10.00 on FaceBook Live, then upload to YouTube. Towards the end of the week, we will have photos and advice re ‘what to expect’, but if you do have any queries please don’t hesitate to ask. 
In the meantime, I look forward to taking a wedding at St Dunstan’s later today for a lovely local couple. To have our first service back being a wedding is very special.

Street Pastor Coordinator: We have uploaded onto our website an advert and information for a Street Pastor Coordinator for Canterbury, do look up under resources if this interests you.
Bishop Rose’s sermon from yesterday: https://youtu.be/BrOu39ra5gs

Morning Prayer: https://youtu.be/wUlGfZSXXvQ
In the meantime, please do all keep safe, keep connected and keep praying.

God Bless Jo🙏🙏🙏
Rev Jo Richards

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Going viral XLIV: being quiet with Rev Jo.

Every week  Bishop Rose and the three archdeacons for our diocese, along with other members of the senior team have invited us throughout lockdown to join them for a discussion, as to how things are going, with a theme each week – and today we focused on ‘safe places’ – places where we go where we feel safe, where we can be open to God – often in the quietness we hear that voice. For some it is sitting on a beach, or being in a garden or going on a walk; for others it is delving into a book – or a hobby in which we feel safe and secure. For many it is their homes, and very local environment, and the thought of venturing further afield, especially as lockdown eases is itself quite daunting; though one must remain ever mindful that with domestic abuse (and other abuse) the home has not always proven to be that safe place. My ‘bolt hole’ is the Quiet View at Kingston , somewhere where one can be still in the presence of the Lord; and it is important to identify these places – even during the course of the day, to have that Quiet Time. I use a free App: Pray as you Go – which has the gospel reading for the day, prayer and reflection, and is an excellent start to the day, but we are all different and God speaks to each and everyone of us in different ways.
St Thomas More: On Monday we would have had our service in St Dunstan’s Church for St Thomas More, but like so many other things, that wasn’t to be; however Rev. Brian McHenry, who is part of our St Thomas More Committee will be leading a short service 7.00 Monday evening,.
Medieval Pageant: This weekend was also going to have seen our Medieval Pageant pass through the streets, with the focus on Becket 2020 (so much was planned for this year!) However, the team who put it together are doing so virtually, and if interested please follow here: https://www.facebook.com/canterburymedievalpageant/

The weather vane on St Peter’s Church Canterbury shows his Cross Keys.

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Going Viral XLIII: Reopening St Thomas’ Church, Canterbury.

Martyrdom Window, St Thomas’, Canterbury.

A few hundred yards from St Mildred’s, Canon Anthony Charlton’s team are facing simiar dilemmas.

I am delighted we were able to open the church for private prayer this week. Many thanks to all the volunteers who have made this possible. For the moment we are not opening for Mass. We need to organise stewards and a “Track & Trace” system to meet with current obligations. Practically we can only accommodate about 30% of our usual Mass attendance for social distancing compliance & organising is to be agreed.
The obligation to attend Sunday Mass is still suspended and, when we do open, people will be encouraged to attend Mass during the week rather than Sunday to help manage attendance numbers. Sunday Mass, when we offer it, will be shorter. We are asked to keep the homily brief, no intercessions and no singing.
Be assured—Mass will be available soon!

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