Tag Archives: War

8 May: VE Day

Sheep under cherry trees, near Faversham, Kent.

I seldom revisit reflections in Agnellus Mirror but an old friend sent a springtime video with fallen cherry petals, which reminded me of this post from two years ago.

We began with lines from Edward Thomas:

The cherry trees bend over and are shedding
On the old road where all that passed are dead,
Their petals, strewing the grass as for a wedding
This early May morn when there is none to wed.

Two years ago the weddings were put off because of covid-19. In Edward Thomas’s time it was war, and today, it is war once again that darkens the horizons of our hopes and aspirations. But there will be a May wedding at St Mildred’s, and there was one on the last day of April 2022. Kentish men are not being called on to fight, but we can see the horrors of war in Ukraine. It is hard to read Bishop Claude’s words from yesterday without asking, in bewilderment and grief, ‘What is the wise course of action?’ What does a peacemaker do in these times? Please revisit the old post by the link, and then here is Bishop Claude again.

Respect for life does not stop at protecting the unborn, but must include opposing all oppression, all forms of violence and of war. The non-violence advocated by Gandhi has its roots in the Beatitudes, is part of our Gospel heritage: Blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called the children of God. No war can be counted as legitimate or justified in the name of the Gospel. Non-violence is part and parcel of the creative act of God.

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7 May: The Holy Land is here.

A street of 19th Century homes in Canterbury.

Bishop Claude Rault is writing about respect for life. A timely reminder of our responsibility to the Planet and for each other. May we be peacemakers, children of God.

The tiniest baby, dying at birth in the furthest corner of the Planet, in the eyes of God is worthy of respect … is unique, created by God’s will, sacred, loved by Him. All of creation is sacred, all of Creation is a Holy Land. It is wrong to limit the Holy Land to one single region since God became flesh of our flesh. All the Land is Holy, and it is a noble vocation to seek to safeguard and develop it. Our Christian commitment is a commitment to safeguard life, to watch and waken life. It is not enough to respect life and admire creation, we must be engaged on every field where life is threatened and despised. Respect for life does not stop at protecting the unborn, but must include opposing all oppression, all forms of violence and of war. The non-violence advocated by Gandhi has its roots in the Beatitudes, is part of our Gospel heritage: Blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called the children of God. No war can be counted as legitimate or justified in the name of the Gospel. Non-violence is part and parcel of the creative act of God.

Claude Rault, Jesus, l’Homme de la rencontre, Marseille, Publications Chemin de Dialogue, 2020, pp46-47.

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26 April: Who should not live?

Leeds University War Memorial, Eric Gill.

It makes no sense that having Down’s syndrome is considered reason enough for an unborn child to be aborted. Not if you know one or two people with Down’s; and as Adam Rutherford reminds us:

None of the worst crimes of humanity … was perpetrated by people with Down’s syndrome … If we truly wanted to reduce the sum total of human suffering then we should eradicate the powerful, for wars are fought by people but started by leaders.

Adam Rutherford: Control: the Dark History and Troubling Present of Eugenics.

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15 April, Good Friday: a Compassionate Presence.

Strasbourg Cathedral

Here is an extract from last year’s Good Friday homily of Archbishop John Wilson of Southwark. Every day is somebody’s Good Friday. Let us pray for the grace to respond if it falls to us to be beside them in an hour of need, like Mother Mary, Mary Magdalene and John, silent beside the Cross.

Dear brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ

A few years ago I read an account of medics working on the border between Cambodia and Thailand in the midst of dreadful warfare. With bombs falling uncomfortably near, two doctors, one older, the other younger, attended to wounded refugees. Their first patient was a young woman. She was barely alive, her body almost severed in two by a mortar fragment. The older doctor made a quick diagnosis: ‘I thought there was nothing to be done, he said, ‘and went to another victim. When he looked back, the other younger doctor had knelt down. He was cradling the woman’s head and caressing her hair. In the older doctor’s words, ‘He was helping her to die. He did it very naturally. There was no public, no cameras, no one looking. The bombing continued, and he did this as if he was all alone in his humanity.’ 

Certain events render us speechless. They may or may not be overly dramatic or especially tragic. But some experiences are literally beyond words. There is nothing that can be said to make any sense. There is no difference to be made by talking. The only possible response to some situations is to be present to them: a compassionate presence, a loving presence, a silent presence.

+ John Wilson, Archbishop of Southwark, Good Friday 2021

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3 April: Today Spring Arrived!

abel.barrow

Sheila Billingsley has had her eyes open! On the edge of Saddleworth Moor, spring has arrived! She gives this poem the title ’14th March 2022′. We hope Spring is enchanting your eyes, ears and sense of smell. Those cherry trees . . .

14th March 2022.

Today Spring arrived! 
Slipped in!. . . Quietly! 
Bright blue sky, 
Pushing out thoughts of rain,
 . . .   until tomorrow! 

The cherry tree in the lane is in blossom. 
Delicate, tiny, hardly pink blossom. 
Not the blowsy in-your-face Japanese, 

Oh no! 

Today the gardener arrived too, 
To clear  the detritus of winter. 
Cheerful and happy within his whiskers. 

Did many thank you? 
Did many even notice? 
That your world was still struggling to obey you, 
Despite what we do?
At least your world obeys you, 
While we fight and kill and poison. 

Do they know that you exist ? 
And love,
And forgive. 

Do they know that you suffer? 

                     I just wanted to record that Spring arrived today.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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31 March or Mars: The God of War

War Memorial, Leominster RM.694

This post was composed before the invasion of Ukraine last month, when I was wondering how to close the month of March for this year. Even before a tank rolled across the border, before a shot was fired, the thought had occurred to me: why do we celebrate the Roman god of war for 31 days each year? Remember that Mars is the French name for the month, and other European languages share the same root.

You might argue that we don’t really celebrate Mars in his month, indeed we never give him a thought, even when eating the eponymous chocolate bar, and that would be quite true. Yet his grey presence still irritates the back of my mind.

What particularly came back to me was this hymn by the Conservative MP John Arkwright, which I first saw carved into the war memorial in Leominster, Herefordshire.

O valiant hearts, who to your glory came

1. O valiant hearts who to your glory came
Through dust of conflict and through battle flame;
Tranquil you lie, your knightly virtue proved,
Your memory hallowed in the land you loved.

2. Proudly you gathered, rank on rank, to war
As who had heard God’s message from afar;
All you had hoped for, all you had, you gave,
To save mankind—yourselves you scorned to save.

3. Splendid you passed, the great surrender made;
Into the light that nevermore shall fade;
Deep your contentment in that blest abode,
Who wait the last clear trumpet call of God.

4. Long years ago, as earth lay dark and still,
Rose a loud cry upon a lonely hill,
While in the frailty of our human clay,
Christ, our Redeemer, passed the self same way.

5. Still stands His cross from that dread hour to this,
Like some bright star above the dark abyss;
Still, through the veil, the Victor’s pitying eyes
Look down to bless our lesser Calvaries.

It seems to me that Arkwright is confusing the god of War, calling men to fight and die – he does not mention the fact that they will be ordered to kill other men – with the Creator who will send out the angels for that last clear trumpet call. And to say that Christ, our Redeemer, passed the self-same way – well, the conscripted soldier, too, went where he was forced to go, even unto death. John 21:18. But Jesus refused to take up arms for his Kingdom.

There is no need to be a total pacifist to feel uneasy about conscripting God as recruiting officer for war, nor to deplore the glorifying of conflict and battle.

Let’s pray for peace, and an end to conflicts between nations and civil wars and terrorism.

Let us pray, too, for the grace to resolve our own personal conflicts and disagreements without escalating them.

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Pope Francis’s prayer for Peace in Ukraine.

Crucifix in WInchester Cathedral.


Pope Francis shared this prayer at his weekly general audience on 16 March. It was written by Archbishop Domenico Battaglia of Naples.

Forgive us for the war, Lord. 
Lord Jesus, son of God, have mercy on us sinners. 
Lord Jesus, born under the bombs of Kyiv, have mercy on us. 
Lord Jesus, dead in the arms of a mother in Kharkiv, have mercy on us. 
Lord Jesus, in the 20-year-olds sent to the frontline, have mercy on us. 
Lord Jesus, who continues to see hands armed with weapons under the shadow of the cross, forgive us, Lord. 
Lord Jesus, born under the bombs of Kyiv, have mercy on us. 
Lord Jesus, dead in the arms of a mother in Kharkiv, have mercy on us. 
Forgive us if, not content with the nails with which we pierced your hand, we continue to drink from the blood of the dead torn apart by weapons. 
Forgive us if these hands that you had created to protect have been turned into instruments of death. 
Forgive us, Lord, if we continue to kill our brother. 
Forgive us, Lord, if we continue to kill our brother, if we continue like Cain to take the stones from our field to kill Abel. 
Forgive us if we go out of our way to justify cruelty, if, in our pain, we legitimise the cruelty of our actions.       Forgive us for the war, Lord. 
Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, we implore you to stop the hand of Cain, 
enlighten our conscience, 
let not our will be done, 
do not abandon us to our own doing. 
Stop us, Lord, stop us, 
and when you have stopped the hand of Cain, take care of him also.
 He is our brother. 
O Lord, stop the violence. 
Stop us, Lord. Amen.

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Psalm 94 for Ukraine

Good Evening Friends. My brother shared this post from the URC. Just the beginning here, but follow the link for the rest of it. The author is the Rev’d Andy Braunston.

Daily Devotions from the URC

Ukraine through the eyes of Psalm 94

Dear Friends,

Whilst preparing a reflection on Psalm 94 I was struck by how John Bell’s version is hauntingly evocative of the situation of Ukraine.
You can hear it here.

The opening stanza evokes images of women and children being bombed in Ukraine, babies and elderly killed, and the memorial to Jews murdered by the Nazis being desecrated by Putin’s forces.  Bell hauntingly brings out the cry of the Psalmist urging God to act as those whom God loves are being harmed.  Bell keeps up the punch with the second stanza showing how those who crush God’s people delight and think Heaven is blind to their crimes.  Despite the anger and rawness of the Psalm we still have hope – hope that God will act, hope that even if the courts don’t intervene, even if the guilty smile at their scheming, hope that God will cherish, keep and protect the faithful.  

Read the rest of this reflection here.

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Ukraine: some ways to help suggested by Canterbury Anglican Diocese.

The Briefing: Monday 14 March 2022View this email in your browser
Give – Pray – Welcome
For the people of Ukraine

Dear friends, 

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia is a devastating, unjust catastrophe – which has capsized the lives of many millions of people and is challenging the sense of peace and security in which we all have the right to live.

At a time when so many of us were beginning to hope of new freedoms, a brighter future, our hearts have been broken afresh with the news we are seeing and hearing. So many people are yearning to do whatever they can to help the people of Ukraine. 

We have been overwhelmed with people asking how they can make a difference – so we have sought to bring all avenues of help together here in this special edition of the Briefing mailing and on this webpage. Please consider how you can help – prayer is a wonderful place to start, but there is so much else we can do as well. During a time when we are focusing so much on how we might live generously as a diocesan family, here are a whole load of ways in which you might be able to make a difference. 

Thank you so much for all your kind words, support and love,

Domenica Pecoraro

Kent Refugee Projects Officer

Care packages:
Supplies needed
by 16 March, 9am

On Wednesday 16 March from 9am to 5pm, we will help TeamLovelight to make up ‘necessity bundles’ that will be shipped to Ukrainian people. If you could supply any of the items listed below, please deliver them to Diocesan House by Wednesday 16 March at 9am. We also hope to include prayers in the packs – see below for details.

Female packs: baby wipes, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, sanitary towels, small hair shampoo, soap, flannel/sponge
Male packs: razor, small shaving foam, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, flannel/sponge
Children packs: children’s toothpaste, toothbrush, flannel, baby wipes, small toy if possible.

Thank you

Prayers for
children’s care packages

We know that children’s hearts have been touched by the devastating images of the war in Ukraine. To help them make connections beyond borders with those children caught up in the conflict, we would welcome short prayers and messages of support and solidarity to be included in the Children Packs that we’ll be packing on Wednesday. Can you help? An example could be:

I pray to Lord Jesus for you and your family
I pray for you and your family 
I care for you and your family 
I love you and your family


Please write and draw on an A5 piece of paper or card, include first names only, age and simply add ‘England’ as the  location.

The Ukrainian children may not be familiar with the English language but we hope they would be able to discern the meaning of the text and pictures. If you can drop them in to Diocesan House by Wednesday morning, that would be great. Alternatively please do post them to us as they will be included in the next shipment of parcels we send to families in Ukraine.

Post to: Domenica Pecoraro, Kent Refugee Projects Officer, Diocesan House, Lady Wootton’s Green, Canterbury CT1 1NQ

USPG and the Church of England Diocese in Europe have also launched an emergency appeal to get aid to people in desperate need because of the invasion of Ukraine. Find out more here 
www.uspg.org.uk/ukraine


Join our Diocesan Welcome Team We are expecting Ukrainian families arriving via the Ukraine Family Scheme route in the coming days. This scheme allows family members of British nationals, UK settled persons and certain others to come to or stay in the UK. We will be registering offers of support from churches and members of congregations across our diocese who would like to be involved in welcoming them. Specifically, we are looking to build a Diocesan Welcome Team and would like to hear from those who:are Ukrainian/English speakers have teaching experience work coaches or can help with employment linkshave a working knowledge of the benefit system are interested in befriendingare interested in providing homework supportcan help sourcing emergency suppliesWe would also love to hear from those who are unsure on how they can be involved but want to be involved in a Welcoming Journey in some way. For more information, please get in touch with Domenica by email: dpecoraro@diocant.org

Keep Praying LentJoin us for our third Lenten Focus – the Widow’s mite. This week our reading is taken from Luke 21:1-7. 

Prayer for this week

God of peace and justice,
we pray for the people
of Ukraine today.
We pray for peace
and the laying down of weapons.
We pray for all those
who fear for tomorrow,
that your Spirit of comfort
would draw near to them.
We pray for those
with power over war or peace,
for wisdom, discernment
and compassion
to guide their decisions.
Above all, we pray for all
your precious children,
at risk and in fear,
that you would hold
and protect them.
We pray in the name of Jesus,
the Prince of Peace.
Amen

Prayer from the Church of England

The Disasters Emergency Committe Appeal
More than two million people have fled the conflict in Ukraine, that figure is rising every day. The Disasters Emergency Committee (made up of 15 UK charities including Christian Aid and tearfund) has launched an appeal to help those affected by the devastating crisis.You can learn more and make a donation here at dec.org.uk


Offer a PrayerOur Diocesan Prayerbank is an online space where prayers are offered and received. It is a person-centred space aimed at providing spiritual healing and comfort to those who are forcibly displaced from their homes. The Prayer Bank page can be easily shared on social media and has the potential to reach anyone who has access to an internet connection.

Ukraine Humanitarian Sponsorship Scheme
The UK government has announced that the “Homes for Ukraine” scheme will open in the near future. In the short term this will allow individuals and families to commit to sponsoring a Ukrainian individual or family to stay with them in their home for a period of not less than six months. Ukrainians who arrive on this scheme will be given leave to remain for three years and will have full access to the labour market, the NHS and to benefits. Volunteers who sign up will have to commit to sponsoring for at least six months and will not be able to charge for rent – but they will be able to receive a ‘thank you payment’ of £350 per month from the Government.

Volunteers will have to be vetted, and those coming to stay will also need to pass security checks. From today, people should be able to register an interest and volunteer in principle to sponsor someone. The Government website link is in the making but we will share it on our Ukraine page as soon as it becomes available.

In time the scheme will be expanded to larger groups and to sponsorship provided by companies, community groups and churches. If you are interested in your church or community group getting involved in this scheme you can register via the Sanctuary Foundation (see below).

Sanctuary Foundation 
Wrap Around Support

The Sanctuary Foundation is a Christian charity asking individuals, community groups, churches, schools and businesses to register their interest in becoming a sponsor when the scheme is developed. To know more about the work of the Sanctuary Foundation and to register your interest please visit the Sanctuary Foundation website. Please note that by pledging support at this stage you are not committing to any specific form of help, as the details of the scheme are yet to be published.

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A prayer for Ukraine.

Loving God,
We pray for the people of Ukraine,
for all those suffering or afraid,
that you will be close to them and protect them.

We pray for world leaders,
for compassion, strength and wisdom to guide their choices.

We pray for the world
that in this moment of crisis,
we may reach out in solidarity
to our brothers and sisters in need.

May we walk in your ways
so that peace and justice
become a reality for the people of Ukraine
and for all the world.

Amen.

This Prayer comes from CAFOD. Pope Francis had already designated this month as a time to pray for migrants, of whom there are countless thousands now fleeing Ukraine.

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