Tag Archives: saints

17 September,Going Viral XCI: Not yet quite normal.

Rev Jo Richards reported on recent and upcoming events in the City of Canterbury, but Agnellus got a bit left behind! But we’ll start with Rev Jo’s report, noting in passing that it’s three weeks since a ‘going viral’ post. Mrs T and I have been away, forgetting masks and germs, except on the trains, but we’ve also failed to record a few changes in how we come together. But read on to the end of the post!

Will Turnstone.

Rev Jo reported:

On Saturday we had the delightful wedding of Hannah and Sam in St Dunstan’s. It was so good to be able to have a full church and sing hymns – neither of which we have been able to do throughout lockdown with the covid restrictions. So we wish them every blessing on their special day. 

It was also Canterbury Pride, which Jenny and I joined the gathering first thing in the Westgate Gardens, and then later in the day I joined the folk in Dane John Gardens – and it was quite a festival atmosphere, and again a good opportunity to catch up with a number of folk I know from across the city….then stayed up to watch the tennis. It was a late night!!

The first of Rev Jo’s coming events was a return to old routine that I had been looking forward to, the highlight of the day when I worked Fridays at the L’Arche Glebe garden. We used to meet in what was perhaps a chapel or vestry, converted into a parish room but that is too small even for the revised restrictions.


Coffee morning at St Mildred’s Friday 17th September The Friday morning coffee club at St Mildred’s is resuming from this Friday 17th September, from 10.00 – 12.00, thank you to Viv, Vie and Doris. So if you are passing by do drop in and say hello. To give us more space, it will be held in the body of the church. It will be  an opportunity either for some quiet time, or catching up with one another. All from across the Benefice, and beyond are very welcome to drop by.

I was certainly made welcome to the improvised cafe at the West End of the Church itself, joining a few parishioners, including a gentleman I’d not met before. May the coffee morning flourish and welcome passers-by, like the two tourists who were leaving as I arrived.

Kent Vegan Association: We are delighted to announce that Kent Vegan Association will be holding their monthly market in St Peter’s Church on the third Sunday of the month, beginning Saturday, 18 Sep. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to engage with the local community, especially as we are looking to develop St Peter’s as a Community Hub, in addition to a place of worship. An Oasis on the High Street for all.

We’ve mentioned these talks before: https://www.cantcommsoc.co.uk/2021/08/kentish-saints-and-martyrs-600-1600/

Saints & Martyrs 600-1600: All talks begin at 7.30pm. We have on Wed 22 Sep in St Mildred’s a talk on the Anglo-Saxon female saints, on Thu 23 Sep Martyrs of the 16th Century in St Dunstan’s,  and In Becket’s Shadow on Fri 24 Sep in St Peter’s. Please come along and support these events held in our churches, with excellent speakers.

Follow this link.

Have a great weekend!

Will.

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Kentish Saints and Martyrs

The ‘Kentish Saints and Martyrs’ public, free talks begin at St Paul’s church with Dr Sarah James on Saturday 18 September at 7.30pm and conclude the following Saturday at St Thomas’ RC church with Dr Rachel Koopmans. This is a brilliant opportunity for the Centre for Kent History and Heritage to work with Canterbury’s churches and to showcase some fascinating features of these saints and their cults. There are posters around Canterbury and please also see the previous blog at: https://blogs.canterbury.ac.uk/kenthistory/kent-history-in-the-news-talks-exhibitions-and-other-events/ 

You are invited to join
A Week of Presentations in September 2021 about Kentish Saints and Martyrs, from 600-1600.

Each evening at 7.30pm.

The presentations will take place at Canterbury Church venues as listed OR online OR some of each.

Saint Mildred, princess and abbess, with her grandfather, Saint Ethelbert, King of Kent, at Saint Mildred’s church.


Saturday 18 September: St Paul’s church:
‘An introduction to the cult of saints’
by Dr Sarah James (previously University of Kent)

Monday 20 September: St Martin’s church:
‘Ox jawbones and Blacksmith’s tongs: Saintly Bishops in Early Medieval Kent’
by Dr Diane Heath (CCCU)

Tuesday 21 September: St Paul’s church:
‘St Anselm’s philosophical legacy’ by Dr Ralph Norman (CCCU)

Wednesday 22 September: St Mildred’s church:
‘The importance of locality and identity for the cults of
Kent’s Anglo-Saxon female saints’
by Dr Sheila Sweetinburgh (CCCU)

Thursday 23 September: St Dunstan’s church:
‘Conflicting convictions: martyrs of the 16th century’
by Dr Doreen Rosman (retired University of Kent)

Friday 24 September: St Peter’s church:
‘In Becket’s shadow: late medieval Kentish minor and failed cults’
by Dr Sheila Sweetinburgh (CCCU)

Saturday 25 September: St Thomas RC church:
‘The role of clothing in Thomas Becket’s life and cult’
by Professor Rachel Koopmans (York University, Toronto)

For full details please see https://bit.ly/3s59igM or individual church’s websites
For the sake of vulnerable other people, please bring a mask, thank you.

Donations or any other arrangement will be organised by the respective churches for their benefit.

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17 July, Review: Something nobody can explain.

The Catholic Guide to Miracles: Separating the: Adam Blai

Fifteen minutes walk from my home in England is a gallery in stained glass of healings at the tomb of  Saint Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, murdered in his cathedral. Many miracle stories can still be traced there, almost 500 years since the martyr’s shrine was destroyed under Henry VIII. 

In 2020 a shrine was reinstated in Saint Thomas’s Catholic church, a hundred yards away, but I have not yet heard of any miracles there. On the other hand, there have been occasions when each of my children came close enough to accidental death for me to be immediately and eternally grateful to God for their preservation. Divine intervention? It felt like it!

This is a review of Adam Blai: The Catholic Guide to Miracles – Separating the Authentic from the Counterfeit. Manchester New Hampshire, SOPHIA INSTITUTE PRESS, 2012.

So what is a miracle? Adam Blai starts with Thomas Aquinas’s definition: ‘a true miracle is something that has a cause that is absolutely hidden from everyone, and that nobody, no matter how knowledgeable, can explain’. (p 2) Creation was the first miracle, the Universe made out of nothing. 

Adam Blai takes us through Old Testament Miracles: for example, the healing miracles brought about through the prayer of Elisha and Elijah before him, each restoring to life the son of a woman benefactor. Strangely though, Blai does not acknowledge that many of the Plagues of Egypt have plausibly been ascribed to natural causes.

It is the New Testament that tells of the greatest miracle:

And if Christ has not been raised, then empty [too] is our preaching; empty, too, your faith. (1 Cor. 15:14) 

In the years before the cross and resurrection, Christ performed many miracles, miracles that Blai tells us ‘were proofs beyond His words of who He was’ (p13). Those who see the Church’s preaching as empty will explain them away, and many of the healings at Thomas’s shrine could now be attributed to natural causes. The Church is well aware of this, which is why so few – 60 or 70 – healings at Lourdes in 260 years have been verified as miraculous, a minute proportion of the pilgrims who visit in hope of healing. Blai, like the Church herself, is not naive in the face of healing miracles, but he points out that they are the miracles most open to investigation and so are resorted to in the process of canonisation of saints.

There are, of course, other miracles – he cites the appearances of Mary through the ages, and the healings and other phenomena that people other than the visionaries themselves have witnessed. There are also apparently supernatural events recorded around certain saints: stigmata, levitation, bodily incorruption, and miracles deriving from the Eucharistic elements. Although many such stories were reverently told in my Catholic school, a more mature faith leaves them open to question. Adam Blai accepts God’s interventions but he would not build his faith on these accounts. 

In fact Blai is at pains to point out that there are counterfeit miracles. Discerning the difference between supernatural miracles, counterfeits brought about by demons, and mental illness is an important part of his work for the Church (p129); for example, once correctly diagnosed the mentally ill person may be led to accept appropriate help. Yet there are those whose delusions are deep-rooted but also have the charisma to attract others to what becomes a dangerous cult.

Counterfeit, charismatic faith healers are another dangerous group who use people’s fascination – or gullibility – around miracles to line their own pockets, dividing families in the process. 

A greater concern for Blai in his work, if not for the average believer who may live a lifetime without coming across such people, is demonic possession and fake miracles. A devil cannot produce a real miracle, but can set up counterfeits, and during exorcism may cry out in protest at being evicted.

I knew someone who was using a ouija board which went silent when, unknown to her, the local priest called on her parents; another young woman was greatly distressed to be told that her boyfriend was soon to die horribly in a road accident. The spirit that may be conjured up in such seances cannot be relied on to be truthful, as I told her; the accident did not happen, but the distress was real and hurtful. The reader will find a full exposé of the ouija board in this volume.

If miracles and the supernatural interest you, this book will give substance to your enquiries. It’s important not to get carried away by miracles that add nothing to the revelation of God’s love for all women and men in Christ Jesus. See them as a new expression of his love, for one person or for many, often for a limited time, like the miracles at Becket’s tomb in Canterbury.

I was glad to read this wise paragraph from Adam Blai’s conclusion (p164).

Real miracles are proofs of God, but we cannot build a faith based only on them. We need a living relationship with God through His Church. The main vehicles of grace are the Word of God and the sacraments, instituted by Christ. The center and goal of Christian faith is a living relationship with Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit.

MMB

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19 May: Saint Dunstan

Dunstan, a royal prince of Wessex, became Archbishop of Canterbury in 960. As well as being an outstanding pastor and royal advisor, he was a scholar, teacher, metalworker and artist. This is believed to be his self-portrait, bowing in adoration of Christ.

This post from the British Library by Andrew Dunning includes a number of portraits of Dunstan from mediaeval manuscripts, as well as a prayer written in his own hand, as seen above the kneeling figure in the picture above.

Saint Dunstan’s church, Canterbury, outside the city walls to the north of town.

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10 May: Veils and Stones, Gates XII.

Former Holy Cross church, Canterbury, now the Guildhall.

Moses set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and put water there, to wash withal. And Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet thereat: When they went into the tent of the congregation, and when they came near unto the altar, they washed; as the Lord commanded Moses.

And he reared up the court round about the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the hanging of the court gate. So Moses finished the work.

Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up.

Exodus 40:30-37

There is a connection between the picture and the reading from Exodus! The passage comes at the end of a long, detailed description of how the Tabernacle (the mobile Temple of the Lord) was to be designed and built, according to a divine blueprint. When almost all the construction was complete, Moses finished the work by hanging a veil over the gateway. With all the other hangings and curtains, nobody could see inside and very few people were allowed inside.

Yesterday we looked at the Cross as the gate to Heaven; today we take that idea forward a step. Matthew tells of the veil of the Temple torn from top to bottom, and an earthquake – another dreadful night in that dreadful place – and the appearance ‘of the saints that had slept’, surely good news to those who loved them, to see them alive.

This happened, Matthew tells us, after Jesus’s resurrection; he is setting the scene for Easter morning, and Mary Magdalene and the other women making their way to the tomb, realising there that the stone is rolled away, the veil is irrevocably torn, Jacob’s seed has opened the gate of Heaven.

Jesus again crying with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

And behold the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top even to the bottom, and the earth quaked, and the rocks were rent.

And the graves were opened: and many bodies of the saints that had slept arose, And coming out of the tombs after his resurrection, came into the holy city, and appeared to many. Now the centurion and they that were with him watching Jesus, having seen the earthquake, and the things that were done, were sore afraid, saying: Indeed this was the Son of God.

And there were there many women afar off, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: Among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

Matthew 27: 45-56.

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March 4th: Let us now praise famous women.

4 St Kyneburgha

In recent years Mrs T and I have only seen Peterborough Cathedral from the train. Modern ticketing make it difficult to break a journey for a minipilgrimage or just to stretch your legs. So let’s join Cathedral guide Ann Reynolds as she tells the story of Saint Kyneburgha, who helped found the monastery on this site in AD 653. England and Wales had many redoubtable women church leaders in those times: surely the DNA is still in our women’s veins?

This way for Ann Reynolds’s article. It’s a good read.

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Going Viral LXVII: another cold and frosty morning.

St Peter’s keys

Another glimpse of life in Lockdown Canterbury.

Good morning to you all on another cold and frosty morning – it is very icy out there – going for my walk yesterday I rather glamorously slipped over on the ice, whilst heading up St Thomas’s Hill, all is well but be careful!
Morning prayer: https://youtu.be/E3J53B5PCtk
Today in Morning Prayer, we have been asked to remember another character: St. Scholastica, so a little bit about her… I love how we get to hear of these folk down the ages…
Scholastica (c. 480 – 10 February 543) is a saint of the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Anglican Communion. She was born in Italy. According to a ninth century tradition, she was the twin sister of Benedict of Nursia.Her feast day is 10 February, Saint Scholastica’s Day. Scholastica is traditionally regarded as the foundress of the Benedictine nuns. Ref and more info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scholastica


Plastic Free Lent: With Lent beginning next week, Sami (from St Dunstan’s), Caroline Blamely who heads up our eco-church committee and myself are compiling a series of tips to help us reduce the amount of plastic we use in our lives – so much is changing a habit. So watch this space, as we will be publishing these tips in my daily brief, on our website, twitter account, instagram & Facebook – so watch this space.

Ash Wednesday: 17th February: This will be live-streamed from St Dunstan’s in the evening (7.30), 
Meanwhile, keep warm, it’s freezing, and am heading off to Barham Crematorium so prayers for another family mourning the loss of a loved one – it is so tough. Keep connected, keep well and keep praying!

God Bless, Jo

Rev Jo Richards Rector of the Benefice of St Dunstan, St Mildred and St Peter, Canterbury

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24 December: Myrrh


Rather like Saint Francis, Father Andrew, the pioneer Anglican Franciscan, was very attuned to Christmas, and wrote many poems about the feast. I wrote about the gifts a couple of years back.

Kings should offer gold, rich, royal men –
And I am poor and no red gold have I;
Must I stay in the cold, sad shadows then,
While kings in light spread splendours splendidly?

Saints should offer incense, holy men –
My shabby soul is soiled and stained with sin;
Must I wait, shut without the stable then,
While saints join kings to offer gifts within?

Lo, I am not alone, but round me here
In the wan shadows, waiting wistfully
With nothing else to bring but only myrrh,
Stands silent, shy, a grey-glad company.

‘Tis well for us, we of the common crowd,
That we may bring sad symbollings of myrrh,
Where God lies sleeping ‘neath a stable shroud
Of common straw, and leave our offerings there.

We will be glad the incense makes a veil
To hide us somewhat, and the saint’s pure prayer
Goes with the golden gifts where we must fail;
Yet we will dare to bring our meed of myrrh.

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Remembering The Algerian Martyrs.

Bishop Claude Rault M Afr was bishop of the Sahara before retiring. He knew most of the Algerian Martyrs whom we have reflected on before. Their feast day was May 8th, and Bishop Claude preached this homily in Paris. What do you think makes someone a saint?

Here are Vincent Somboro’s reflections on Christian Mission in Algeria today. And here the reflections of Blessed Pierre Claverie, one of the martyrs.

beatification

A banner of the blessed martyrs at the beatification ceremony in Algeria.

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16 March, Desert XIX: Detached lives

crux (427x528)

In the hands of the wicked

Revisiting ‘The Imitation of Christ’ after many years, in my Grandmother’s 1936 edition, I realise that it is very self-centred. Here Thomas A Kempis takes the Desert Fathers and Mothers as examples of the Christian life; ‘They hated their lives on earth that they might have life in eternity. ‘ Is that what the Lord asks of us? Do we have to be strangers to the world in order to be intimate friends of God? I think not. Walking in charity and patience surely demands that we live in the world, and love the people in it and indeed the whole of creation, and our own life in it. Loving God’s creation which we can see, is to love the God we cannot see. Love of creation, rather than contempt for it, will bring us back from the brink of destruction. But here is The Imitation: I hope the time spent reading it is profitable!

Consider the lively examples set us by the saints, who possessed the light of true perfection and religion, and you will see how little, how nearly nothing, we do. What, alas, is our life, compared with theirs?

The saints and friends of Christ served the Lord in hunger and thirst, in cold and nakedness, in work and fatigue, in vigils and fasts, in prayers and holy meditations, in persecutions and many afflictions. How many and severe were the trials they suffered — the Apostles, martyrs, confessors, virgins, and all the rest who willed to follow in the footsteps of Christ! They hated their lives on earth that they might have life in eternity.

How strict and detached were the lives the holy hermits led in the desert! …  They used all their time profitably; every hour seemed too short for serving God, and in the great sweetness of contemplation, they forgot even their bodily needs …

Strangers to the world, they were close and intimate friends of God. To themselves they seemed as nothing, and they were despised by the world, but in the eyes of God they were precious and beloved. They lived in true humility and simple obedience; they walked in charity and patience, making progress daily on the pathway of spiritual life and obtaining great favour with God. They were given as an example for all religious, and their power to stimulate us to perfection ought to be greater than that of the lukewarm to tempt us to laxity.

Taken from the translation by Aloysius Croft and Harold Bolton, Digitized by Harry Plantinga, planting@cs.pitt.edu, 1994. This etext is in the public domain.

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