Tag Archives: sharing

22 June: Of a Piece

The brick-built Roper chapel at St Dunstan’s, Canterbury. Here Margaret Roper brought the head of her father, Saint Thomas More, which she rescued from London Bridge where it was impaled after his execution.

Here’s something to ponder on, today being the feast of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More, two martyrs with Kentish connections: Cardinal Fisher, bishop of Rochester and More, chancellor of England, both fell foul of Henry VIII. The post is taken from a footnote to The Life of Johnson, Volume 5 by James Boswell.

Addison says:—’The end of a man’s life is often compared to the winding up of a well-written play, where the principal persons still act in character, whatever the fate is which they undergo…. That innocent mirth which had been so conspicuous in Sir Thomas More’s life did not forsake him to the last. His death was of a piece with his life. There was nothing in it new, forced, or affected.’ *

Young thought, or at least, wrote differently.

‘A death-bed’s a detector of the heart.
Here tired dissimulation drops her mask.’+

More’s innocent mirth was able to bubble up at his execution in large part because he had been able to prepare himself for this moment, and to approach it fully conscious.

On the other hand, a deathbed may be a scene of agitation for the patient and distressing for witnesses because physical decay impacts upon thought processes and muscular self control. Scenes at the end of life do not necessarily reflect the true state of the principal character; those who lived with the dying person should and will remember many precious, shared moments. And it is to be hoped that the right medical care will make the patient as comfortable as possible, so that they can approach death with serenity.

But let us pray for the grace to be ready to die at any moment, accepting that we will always leave behind plenty of unfinished business.

* The Spectator, No. 349;
+ Night Thoughts, ii. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Unity, Daily Reflections, PLaces

13 June: Today this is my vocation I

walking together

Sister Johanna’s reflection yesterday reminds me of the time when, talking to Philippe, a Missionary of Africa, I described my work with children and teenagers who were excluded from school. His response was, ‘First of all, you have to love them.’

Talking to my colleagues over the years, I came to realise how true this was of all of them, though they would more likely have spoken about ‘getting alongside’ the young people and their families; loving is not a recognised professional activity. Yet some tutors kept a supply of children’s clothes and shoes, either for their pupil or a sibling; I’ve known outgrown bikes and beds to be supplied by tutors, while home-made cakes and preserves showed that we cared without ‘giving charity’.

All this contributed to establishing trust between families on the margin and professional teachers; a trust that could not be taken for granted. The young people and their parents were often Sister Johanna’s

so-called “sinners” … people who were thought to be involved in all sorts of iniquitous practices, whose entire life-style was considered morally dubious at best. I daresay that then as now, there were people relegated to this group who were essentially honest but had fallen on very hard times, people for whom earning a living had proved impossible, and for reasons beyond their control. But many will have been truly as dishonest and even criminal as they were thought to be, and all were deeply wounded people for one reason or another. This is a crowd of seeming failures – if you judge success by the sleek appearance of it. And this is something Jesus never did.

I would not have you see my families as stained glass saints, far from it: in many cases they really were dishonest and criminal, and not necessarily skilled crooks, so they tended to get caught. One father was later murdered by a drug dealer; a dear boy was murdered by his stepfather; assault and theft were not uncommon. More than once I was warned not to visit alone, but then the question ‘What would Jesus do?’ was easy to answer: this is my job today and today this is my vocation.

‘Will, you come and sit here and tell me I’m a good mum. You know I’m not!’

‘That’s not what your children say, is it?’

Her children did not judge her by appearances. Part of my job, my vocation, one of the parts not mentioned in any job description, was to vindicate her children by helping that mother find the good mother in her heart. Perhaps we should dare to remove the masks and let Jesus breathe on us, then take his healing grace to the battered souls crowding around us.


Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace

11 March: Going Viral: Friendship and a shared table

A multinational shared meal at the former Franciscan International Study Centre, Canterbury. CD.

This letter from Dean Adrian of Lichfield Cathedral is about friendship and suggests what we may be missing, almost without realising it, and how Jesus made friends with all sorts of people, with ‘sinners’.

The Gospels are full of instances where Jesus is “moved with compassion”.  No translation in English quite conveys the force of the original: a deep and visceral movement from the bowels, the entrails, the depth of the heart where the strongest emotions originate.  For Jesus this feeling of compassion often extended itself into acts of healing and the restoration of the inherent dignity of people on the margins, often in things as simple and straightforward as a conversation or sharing a meal.

Albert Nolan OP in his splendid book “Jesus before Christianity” says: “It would be impossible to overestimate the impact these meals must have had upon the poor and the sinners.  By accepting them as friends and equals Jesus had taken away their shame, humiliation, and guilt.  By showing them that they mattered to him as people he gave them a sense of dignity … The physical contact which he must have had with them when reclining at table … must have made them feel clean and acceptable”.

The point Nolan drives home is that Jesus isn’t a friendly social worker or dispenser of charity “doing good to someone” but is rather participating in a person’s experience. He stands in solidarity and makes community with people in their woundedness; he is deeply affected by the pain of others, and he can do nothing other than to alleviate pain and suffering.  This was received as healing and salvation with relief, joy, gratitude, and love.

Thank you, Dean Adrian.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Unity, corona virus, Daily Reflections, Lent, Mission, PLaces

14 October, Going Viral XLVII: shared leadership continues

St Dunstan’s Church with the brick built Roper chapel where Thomas More’s head is buried

Another glimpse of Anglican parish life in pandemic times.

Good morning to you all on this autumnal morning.

Would you be interested in joining the PCC? As I mentioned last week, we have our APCM’s  in which amongst other things we elect members to the PCC. Both of our PCC’s have vacancies.

We are one Benefice, but two Parishes: Parish of St Peter and St Mildred, and Parish of St Dunstan with Holy Cross. Each Parish has a Parochial Church Council (PCC). The role of the Parochial Church Council is to provide an official, partly-elected team that shares leadership responsibility for the Parish with its Incumbent. It is the shared responsibility of the incumbent and PCC to consult on all matters of general concern and importance to the Parish. Together, they co-operate to promote and provide leadership of the whole mission of God in this place:

  • In prayer – both personal and corporate. 
  • in pastoral ways – looking after individuals. 
  • sharing the Good News of Christ 
  • in social concern – helping all in need, especially disadvantaged and persecuted members of society. 
  • ecumenically – encouraging fruitful relationships with other Christian denominations.

This requires mutual support, understanding, and an open discussion of ideas and plans, leading to shared responsibility and  decision making.

Membership: The PCC is composed by law of:The incumbent, churchwardens, any persons on the electoral roll who is a member of the deanery synod, diocesan synod, or general synod. in addition there are elected members and co-opted members. Elected means chosen at the APCM, co-opted are chosen in the course of the year, normally if someone leaves. The number of elected members is dictated by the size of the electoral roll. In both of our cases we are permitted 9 elected members.It has previously been decided that PCC members in both Parishes are elected for a year. If they wish to stand again then they are elected at the APCM.
PCC meetings are held quarterly, and members are also encouraged to be actively involved in one of our subcommittees, which all operate under the umbrella of the PCC.
A person who is elected must:

  • Have been on the electoral roll for six months
  • Be over 16
  • Consent to being appointed
  • Have taken communion at least three times in the previous year

Please do give this prayerful consideration, and for those who are current members, if you wish to stand again for a further year please do let Elizabeth Turner know asap, unless you have already done so.
Thank you to all those who are currently on our PCC’s and for all the work that you do – much appreciated by us all.
God Bless
Jo

Rev Jo Richards

Rector of the Benefice of St Dunstan, St Mildred and St Peter, Canterbury

Leave a comment

Filed under Autumn, Christian Unity, corona virus, Daily Reflections, Mission, PLaces

13 August. St Thomas’, Canterbury: FR SYLVESTER’S FARM.


Fr Sylvester is leaving Saint Thomas’ Canterbury at the end of August. To show our appreciation of the 2 years he has spent with us, we are organising a collection which Fr Sylvester would like to go towards his Farm project in Nigeria. If you wish to donate and write a cheque please make it payable to Fr Ibitoye Sylvester Adeniyi. Any donations made directly to our parish bank account should clearly be marked “Fr Sylvester’s Farm” please. There will be a special red bucket collection for Fr Sylvester after all Masses this weekend for cash collections.

A bit about the farm…
In 2015, a sizeable portion of land was given to Father Sylvester by the community of the Irawo people, in appreciation of the successful completion of other projects, most notable of which was the building of a bridge across a large river to ensure accessibility, even during the long
months of monsoon rains, thus removing the many difficult and sometimes dangerous complications caused by living in a very isolated area. The Spiritans Springs site is rich agricultural and forested land, boasting not only a river but also beautiful lakes that are well-stocked with fish. Such diverse habitats require careful stewardship: this is both a responsibility and a joy. Spiritans Springs is a community whose mission it is to provide for the welfare of every person we can reach. They do this through the creation of an enabling environment to support the spiritual, physical
and practical needs of all. They know we have received the Divine Mercy as a gift. Jesus is that gift: the son of God who died on the cross that we might have everlasting life. In His name, we welcome all to share the gift of Divine Mercy by caring for His children and creation.

To find out more, Fr Sylvester has a website on the project which can be seen here: www.spiritans-springs.com

Thank you. Fr Anthony

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, Laudato si', Mission

22 July: A kerfuffle in Canterbury

We were about to sit down to a family lunch in the garden, with all the furniture arranged for social distancing, when there was a mighty clamour from the roof of next-door-but-one. That roof has a hole, some 20cm square, where a tile has fallen. This has been a godsend to the sparrows who seem to be on the increase locally; they’ve moved back into a hole under our eaves which was abandoned for a few years and found a new spot at the back of our house. Two sparrows in particular are tame enough to come near to our al fresco table and suggest that we might spare a crumb. How could we say no?

It turned out that the racket on the roof was from the combined forces of sparrows and starlings, combining to chase away a pair of magpies who were taking too close an interest in the hole in the roof. The magpies left the scene, apparently empty-beaked, and life seemed to return to normal for the little birds.

Except that there was a little chick, still flightless, struggling at the edge of the garden pond. With wet feathers it was becoming more difficult to get out, till Mrs T stretched out her arm and pulled the sorry sodden sparrowlet to safety. The little fellow seemed to know that safety lay in camouflage, hiding in the herbaceous border, but loud ‘feed me’ chirps told us he was still around. The danger from cats has diminished.

I think the sparrow may have been involved in the magpie incident, perhaps pulled out of the nest but dropped to the ground as the bigger birds fled. Let’s hope his devoted parents’ efforts to feed him in hiding were enough to bring him to the joys of flight!

And may we find ways to bring joy to those who have been hiding away from the Corona Virus.


Leave a comment

Filed under corona virus, Daily Reflections, Summer

April 21, Emmaus IX: STAY WITH US, LORD!

tea42

The two disciples still did not recognise Jesus on the way to Emmaus, even when he was explaining to them what had been happening during the last few days.

As they came near the village to which they were going, Jesus walked ahead as if he were going on. But they insisted, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them.

Did you notice in Aylesham Church the picture of Jesus coming to someone’s door and knocking? When he wants to open the doors of our hearts and minds, it’s not like a police raid, smashing down the door. He invites us, with respect.

We see that gentleness here. Jesus could have gone into the pub for himself but he let the two of them invite him to come in.

Yesterday, when our walk was over, we went into the church.

What did we look forward to? What did we do?

Cup of tea.

Chat. Company.

Pray.

Fish and chips.

Rest and later sleep.

Let’s remember the words of those two disciples: STAY WITH US, LORD!

Liis Revell

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, Easter, L'Arche

Going viral XVII: a magnificent magnolia.

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”

PS 34:4

This verse jumped out at me the other morning. This is a single line that needs no context to be understood, but it comes in three parts: ‘delivered me from all my fears’ is the last, not the only part.

First: ‘I sought the Lord’: walking along Orchard Street, I was not consciously seeking anyone, but I had made the decision to get active and not sit around inviting feelings of self pity. Stepping outside myself, then; surely this is turning to God?

Second: ‘He answered me.’ On this occasion with a magnificent magnolia.

Third: Even if only for a moment, enjoying the tree, and the old brick wall beneath, I am set free from my fears. Perfect love casts out fear, and perfect love gave every passer-by, as well as the householder, this beautiful tree. Enjoy the spring so that you can bring your fearlessness – it was there for a moment! – to those around who need it.

Leave a comment

Filed under corona virus, Laudato si', PLaces, Spring

3 January, Praying with Pope Francis: for Peace.

warsaweve1-800x457


Pope Francis invites us to pray this month that Christians, followers of other religions, and all people of goodwill may promote peace and justice in the world. 

The prophet Zechariah wrote about the peace the Lord can give (8: 4-5):

 Thus saith the Lord of hosts: There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem: and every man with his staff in his hand through multitude of days. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls, playing in the streets thereof.

The people of Warsaw can hardly have expected a scene like this when their city was devastated during World War II. Old men and women, girls and boys, and a very un-Biblical ice cream stall! But Zechariah does go on to say (v12):

There shall be the seed of peace: the vine shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew: and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things.

It is God that gives all the blessings of the earth to his people. But it is for us to share and promote his peace (vv 16-17):

These then are the things which you shall do: Speak ye truth every one to his neighbour: judge ye truth and judgment of peace in your gates. And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his friend: and love not a false oath: for all these are the things that I hate, saith the Lord.

There is no magic ‘peace fairy’; judging truth and peace needs hard thinking and openness to the Spirit.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created, and you will renew the face of the earth.

barley-sea-waves-b-w-2-640x477

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, Mission, Pentecost

26 October, Month of Mission: Go Mango!

Another post from the Preda foundation in the Philippines. Father Shay Cullen shares this photo; it’s clear that there need be no conflict between looking after the environment and for the best interests of the human beings who live and work there, including those on the margins, not least these former prisoners. Laudato Si!

There are 3,958  Mango saplings ready for  sharing to the Aeta communities  for planting on  denuded hillsides in Zambales Philippines.

The rich elite cut the rain forest, deprived thousands of species their habitat and the Aeta people also.

They now are subsistent hill farmers and Mango is an important annual income bought by Preda fair trade for mango puree.

Here in the photo Preda boys rescued from jails help in the planting.

Shay Cullen

  Learn more about the Preda foundation.

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, Laudato si', Mission, PLaces