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The Parish Magazine
of Saint Faith's Church, Great Crosby

Saint Faith’s Prayer for Mission

God of unchanging power, your Holy Spirit enables us to proclaim your love in challenging times and places:
give us fresh understanding and a clear vision, that together we may respond to the call
to be your disciples and to rejoice in the blessings of your kingdom;
we ask this in the name of Him who gave His life that ours might flourish,
your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

If you would like to receive a postal copy of Newslink  each month, free of charge, email the Editor 

March 2008

From the Vicar

Recently I met up with some friends who had spent Christmas in Australia. No roast turkey, cold weather and snow. Plenty of sun and sand, and Christmas lunch was a BBQ on the beach! “It didn’t feel like Christmas” my friend said.

I thought to myself, what should Christmas feel like? Is it a time for feelings first and foremost, or for being challenged by a particular event and message in our salvation history? For we do not need cold weather, dark nights and ice to be challenged by the message of the Incarnation. We only need look at the news headlines and see atrocities in various parts of the world, people dying of hunger, homelessness and gun crime (to name but a few things) to realize that as Christians the challenge is to recognize God in all events of life because that is the Christmas message. It is not a message governed by a thermometer! Try singing Christmas Carols in August. It may not feel right, but the message is no less real and challenging!

I guess I am saying all this because at the time of writing (a dark evening in early February) it is a little difficult to focus on Easter. It has come too early this year (Lent certainly has!) But perhaps I am suffering the same problem as my friend: trying to link a Church Festival to a particular season as we do in our part of the globe.

If the Christmas message applies each day then also the message of Christ’s death and resurrection applies to life 365 (or 366) days of the year, and soon we will have the opportunity to travel again through the great events of Holy Week.

Please do make an effort to be present at the different liturgies and to make time to come closer to God and understand what He has done for us in Jesus Christ. If the message isn’t clear to us then we can be fairly certain we won’t have much to hand on to others. These services should never be seen as optional extras – something for religious fanatics or sad people who haven’t got anything better to do! A firm commitment to the Holy Week services can only deepen our faith in the living God as we recall the great events of our salvation, and importantly we do so as a community of people seeking to deepen their commitment to each other.

We can be excellent at turning up to church, but how good are we at finding space and silence to pray outside the liturgy? Worshipping God means making quality time for him. Any relationship or friendship or marriage can only grow when people give time to each other. Problems occur when selfish attitudes arise. Commitment is needed in our relationship with God. So too reflection is needed.

The hymn “Dear Lord and Father of mankind” puts it so well:

Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace.

Order is needed. Not chaos. Order will lead us to God. Chaos will lead us to ruin! Our prayer life, and our participation in the liturgy, both require us to make time for God; that we make him a priority. We need to prepare for an encounter with Christ. We need stillness and that can be very difficult – partly because we often lead such busy lives, partly because we don’t know how to handle silence. We can be afraid of it. And of course the more time we spend in silent prayer and meditation the more we come face to face with our shortcomings and our sins. No wonder we don’t make time for silence!

In his book entitled “The mystery of the Cross” the late Cardinal Hume writes:

“Darkness and coldness are part of the spiritual life. Every hermit knows that, and so do all who try to take prayer seriously. Love is tested by absence, and desire for God is awakened as much in periods of trial as in moments of spiritual ease. That is why so many people do not persevere in prayer. There can be no substitute in the spiritual life for being alone with God.”
Worship however must never become escapism. The reality of the world is there to be faced. But we never face it alone. We carry Christ with us and I pray that as Holy Week approaches we may be prepared to give up time to spend with Christ in prayer and worship. In doing that our Easter celebration will be more joyful – whatever the weather – and will lead us, hopefully, to bring some of that joy to those around us.

With my love and prayers,

Fr Neil


There will be an opportunity, for those who wish, to make their Confession during Holy Week in preparation for the Great Feast of Easter. If anyone wishes to avail themselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation at any other time during Lent please contact Fr. Neil.


The Thursday of Holy Week gets its title from the Latin word ‘mandatum’ meaning ‘command’. On Maundy Thursday we recall the great command of Jesus. It is not, however, the command to celebrate the Eucharist, to ‘do this’ in remembrance of Christ, although we do so. The title ‘Maundy’ Thursday comes from the other command Jesus gave:  ‘Love one another, as I have loved you.’

That command is portrayed in the liturgy by the Washing of the Feet, the first of four significant parts of the Maundy Thursday liturgy. The Gospel according to S. John is read, Chapter 13, and as it is read the ceremony of the washing of the feet is carried out with the priest and 12 assistants portraying the words we hear in symbolic gestures.

In a serious attempt to get the message across to his disciples, Jesus showed the kind of love he was talking about by kneeling down and washing the feet of the disciples. That powerful action demonstrates clearly that if we are truly to love and serve people as disciples of Christ, then nothing should be beneath us. Christian Service is not about wealth, or power or status; it is about a genuine humility. That is the Christian ‘manifesto’. That is our mandate. Going the extra mile. Sometimes perhaps feeling uncomfortable in doing so. The washing of the twelve feet (probably already showered and powdered in advance), is a challenging way of realising the depth of Christ’s love.

“When the Mass is over, the Service begins”. If we truly want to encounter the living Christ then we need to embrace the poor, the vulnerable, the weak, the dispossessed, the stranger and the outcast. Or we stick to our own more comfortable view of Christ. We make God in our image rather than accepting that he has made US in HIS. We are called to service through our Baptism and nothing or no-one should ever be beneath us.
The second significant part of the liturgy is the Commemoration of the Last Supper. In order to try and recapture something of the intimacy of that first holy meal we have for many years at Saint Faith’s gathered together as one family around the Nave Altar. Altar rails are removed and there are no barriers between presider and people. It is a poignant moment. The words of the Eucharistic Prayer change slightly. Instead of saying “who in the same night he was betrayed…” the priest says “who on this night he was betrayed”. This is the moment. This is the last meal He shares with His disciples before He is led to His crucifixion. This is my body. This is my blood. His presence is real. All that has been feared is about to happen.

After the Eucharist has been celebrated and we have received the precious Body and Blood of our Saviour the lights are turned out. People’s candles are lit. The Blessed Sacrament is placed in the monstrance and in the candlelight we remain kneeling as the choir sings that beautiful anthem “Panis Angelicus” – wondrous Bread from Heaven. A chance to pause and reflect before the harsh reality to follow.

The third part of the liturgy – The Procession to the Altar of Repose. The priest leads the procession with the Blessed Sacrament and we all follow. We try to cram into the Lady Chapel which has been prepared with candles and plants (more offers of plants please again this year) and the Altar becomes the Altar of Repose, the place of rest in the Garden of Gethsemane. In S. Matthew 26:30 we read, “then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives”. We recall how Our Lord took his disciples to a place called Gethsemane and asked them to watch and pray. For centuries Christian people have marked this by a Watch until Midnight (in times past, and indeed in some places the watch continues throughout the night). In a couple of weeks’ time a list will be placed at the back of Church for you to indicate that you can “Watch” for some of the time. If you have never done this before please do so this year; it is very moving.

The Blessed Sacrament is placed on the Lady Chapel Altar. The servers, choir and Sacred Ministers depart, not in a solemn dignified manner, but abruptly and noisily recalling those horrific words of Scipture “And they all forsook him and fled”.

Immediately that is said the final part of the liturgy begins. The stripping of the Altars. Fair linen, Altar frontals, banners, hangings, crucifixes, in fact anything and everything is removed from the church and placed out of sight. The church is made bare for the Solemn Commemoration of the death of Christ the next day. Psalm 22 is sung to plainsong whilst this is happening “my, God, my God, why have you forsaken me…?” This final part of the liturgy signifies the stripping of Christ before his crucifixion. For many centuries the priest has washed the Altar with water and wine signifying the blood of redemption and the water of regeneration. It reminds us of the water and blood that flowed from Christ’s side. The Church washes the Altar because Our Lord’s body was sprinkled with blood and water on the cross.

The liturgy helps us to enter deeply into the mystery of the Passion in a way which we cannot grasp simply from reading words on a page. You will miss a huge amount if you are not present at this service. No-one can fail to be moved by it.

Maundy Thursday involves everyone. It includes everyone. It demonstrates the abundance of God’s generosity and love for the world whilst at the same time reminding us of the cost involved. A costly sacrifice of God’s only Son. But costly too for us if we are to truly take up our cross and be His disciples.


If you wish to participate in the Washing of Feet at the Maundy Thursday mass please sign the list at the back of church. 12 people are needed. Also, if you are able to be in church for some of the Watch of Prayer after the Maundy Thursday mass please sign the list at the back of church.

Special Services during Lent

'Aspects of Christian Living'
A series of sermons at the 11am Sung Eucharist

Lent 3 (24 February)
Christian Living and Worship                  Fr Neil, Diocesan Adviser on Liturgy & Worship                                                
Lent 5 (9 March)
Christian Living and Sacrifice                 The Revd Kath Rogers, Senior Resources Officer
Palm Sunday (16 March)
Christian Living and Discovery               The Revd Dr Jeremy Duff,  Director of Lifelong Learning

Fridays in Lent
in S. Faith’s or S. Mary’s at 6.30 pm
Stations of the Cross and Holy Eucharist
29 February   S. Faith’s (*)
7 March         S. Mary’s
14 March       S. Faith’s
(*) this service will take the form of a meditation on the Way of the Cross with poetry and music (classical and contemporary)

Saturdays in Lent
in S. Faith’s at 10.30 am
Lent talks by Brother Tom Cullinan

1 March        The Trials
8 March        Crucifixion
These talks will be followed by coffee prior to the 12 noon Eucharist

Services for Holy Week and Easter

Sunday March 16th    PALM SUNDAY
9.30 am      Sung Eucharist and Reading of the Passion (SM)
10.30 am    Blessing of Palms at Merchant Taylors’ School  and Procession
11.00 am    High Mass and Reading of the Passion (SF)
                   Preacher:    The Reverend Dr Jeremy Duff (Director of Lifelong Learning)
7.00 pm      Compline and Benediction (SF)
Monday March 17th   MONDAY IN HOLY WEEK
6.00 pm     Evening Prayer (SM)
8.00 pm     Stations of the Cross and Eucharist (SF)
10.00 pm   Compline (SF)
Tuesday March 18th   TUESDAY IN HOLY WEEK
9.30 am     Eucharist (SF)
6.00 pm     Evening Prayer (SM)
10.00 pm   Compline (SF)

Wednesday March 19th  WEDNESDAY IN HOLY WEEK
10.30 am   Eucharist (SM)
6.00 pm     Evening Prayer (SM)
8.00 pm     Eucharist with hymns and address (SF)
 (after which the Sacrament of Penance will be available for those wishing    
  to make their confession in preparation for Easter)
10.00 pm   Compline (SF)

Thursday March 20th   MAUNDY THURSDAY
10.30 am  Chrism Eucharist with Blessing of the Oils in the Cathedral and 
   commitment to Ministry, to which all are welcome
7.00 pm    Holy Eucharist in commemoration of  Last Supper & Washing of Feet (SM)
8.00 pm    Solemn Eucharist of the last Supper, Washing of feet, Procession to the
                 Altar of Repose and Watch of Prayer until midnight (SF)

Friday 21st March   GOOD FRIDAY
10.00 am   The Way of The Cross (SF) (especially for children and families)
11.00 am   Churches Together in Waterloo Act of Witness at Crosby Civic Hall
12 noon     The Way of The Cross (SM) (especially for children and families)
1.30 pm     The Solemn Liturgy of the Day (SF)

Saturday 22nd March   HOLY SATURDAY
2.00 pm    Sacrament of Penance (SM)
8.00 pm    Joint Easter Vigil, Service of Light and First Mass of Easter (SF); followed 
                 by champagne, Easter biscuits and fireworks!

Sunday 23rd March   EASTER DAY
9.30 am    Blessing of the Easter Garden, Sung Eucharist, Holy Baptism and children’s
                 Easter Egg Hunt (SM)
11.00 am  Procession, Blessing of the Easter Garden, High Mass, Holy Baptism and
                 children’s Easter Egg Hunt (SF); followed by wine
6.00 pm    Festal Evensong, Procession and Solemn Te Deum (no sermon!)

Monday 24th March    EASTER MONDAY
12.00 noon    Solemn Eucharist (SF) followed by champagne in the Vicarage

Pantomime Time
Fr. Neil

By the time you read this we will have enjoyed yet another fantastic pantomime by our United Benefice Dramatic Society. Next month there will be full reports and pictures to give a flavour of what you missed if you didn’t see it! I simply want to record at this stage my grateful thanks to all who have given up so much time, talent and skill to work together to produce it. The team work is second to none as I’m sure you will all agree. And before we know it, Leo will be casting the next one….. oh yes he will!

Panic in Panto Land
Chris Price

Not long ago it was the furore about the deadly practice of throwing sweets for children in pantomime audiences to catch. Now another crisis looms, reported in the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian (yes, the editor does occasionally sample other papers!).

This time it is the danger posed by the use of plastic cutlasses and swords in a West Country production of ‘Robinson Crusoe’. Bowing to the relentless demands of health and safety regulations, the village amateur dramatic company has had to lock up and register its two plastic spears, six wooden spears and a toy gun and appoint a ‘responsible guardian’ for them. Battles on Captain Hook’s pirate galleon will be supervised by a fight coordinator from Liverpool (yes, honestly!).

One of the production staff told the press ‘in some scenes pirates hit each other with frying pans and saucepan lids but there’s no problem with them.’ The neighbourhood beat officer said solemnly: ‘We have been informed about this. It seems a bit unusual but other forms of replica weapons have been used to carry out crimes and the consequences have been very serious.’ The toy gun at the centre of the storm cost £2 from a joke shop. When you pull the trigger a flag flicks out saying ‘Bang!’ You couldn’t make it up.

RIP Jenny Kemp, M.B.E.

It was with great sadness that the people of  St Faith’s heard, on Sunday, February 10th, of the death earlier that day of our old friend Jenny Kemp. We will carry a fuller tribute to her in our next edition.

RIP Naomi Shepard

Some members of St Faith’s will remember Naomi Shepard, wife of Ron, late Head of English at Merchant Taylors’. Sadly, we have to record the deaths of both Shepards towards the end of 2007. Naomi was an active member of St Faith’s during Fr Charles Billington’s incumbency. The editor, who of course knew them well, has sent condolences and best wishes to their son Tristram on behalf of all who knew her at St Faith’s.

Capriol Singers’ Spring Concert

Saturday 15 March 2008 at 7.30 pm.
St. Nicholas Church, Blundellsands.

Gounod ~ St Cecilia Mass
Andrew Carter ~ Benedicite

With the Orphic Singers.
Soloists: Sarah Helsby-Hughes; Nick Hardy; David Usher
Organist: Stephen Hargreaves; Conductor: Jim Cooke

The St Cecilia Mass is a richly melodic nineteenth century setting of the mass which has deservedly gained a great deal of popularity in recent years.

The Capriol Singers first performed Benedicite over 10 years ago where it was enthusiastically received by the audience. It is an infectious, uplifting rhythmic work with many light hearted moments, some of which will be performed by the talented youth choir, the Orphic Singers.

Tickets: £8 (concessions £7, under 19s, free) including refreshments, and are available in advance from Pritchards Books, choir members, or can be booked by ringing 01704-876754, or by e-mailing

Stations of the Resurrection
Fr Neil

Last year we experienced for the first time at St. Faith’s a new service entitled “Stations of the Resurrection”. The book “Times and Seasons” which was published the year before last says of this service:

“As with the Stations of the Cross, we move from station to station, reading an appropriate Bible passage and meditating on it. By using the resurrection appearances as a focus for reflection and meditation we have an opportunity to appreciate and celebrate the Easter mysteries of the resurrection of our Lord. The resurrection appearances are more than just stories or history, they are a record of personal encounters with our risen Lord, so silence and space should be given to allow the liturgy to enable that encounter to happen today”
                                      (from “Times and Seasons” © The Archbishops’ Council 2006)

Last year a number of people came along on a Saturday evening and it is good to think that when our ‘Lenten’ discipline is over we can move to an ‘Easter’ discipline of ‘something extra’ too. We can use this service as a preparation for our sharing in the Eucharist the following Sunday morning. Both classical and contemporary poetry and music are used at these services, which last around 30 minutes. Come and join us: during Eastertide at Saint Faith’s we shall celebrate the Stations of the Resurrection at 6pm beginning on Saturday 29th March.  All are welcome.

Networking on ‘FACEBOOK’

From The Times: “The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have joined forces to tell Anglicans to get down on their knees – and polish their neighbour’s shoes.
Dr Rowan Williams and Dr John Sentamu are backing a church Facebook group urging members to find time in their busy lives to complete 50 actions over the seven weeks of Lent, which begins with Ash Wednesday next week. The aim is “to help you become a better neighbour and transform your world for the better”. Actions include polishing someone’s shoes on Maundy Thursday, a reference to Jesus’s washing of the feet of His Disciples; making someone laugh; and leaving a thank-you note for the postman. Most are deemed “appropriate for those of all faiths or none”.

The Facebook group, Love Life Live Lent, appears today along with sites on MySpace and the photo-sharing website Flickr, in the Church of England’s first significant entry into online social networking. It is hoped that members of the networks will upload photos of themselves doing the Lent actions.

Bloggers will help to spread the word through cyberspace. They include the Rt Rev Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham, and Dave Walker, of the CartoonChurch website and blog.

Dr Sentamu, who will be giving up all alcohol for Lent when he adopts a 40-day vegan diet, told The Times: “Lent is a time for sober reflection but that doesn’t mean being dour. These actions help people to think globally and act locally, to broaden their world-view and to be good neighbours.”

We have now established a group on Facebook for “Friends of St Faith’s Great Crosby”.  Numbers are growing steadily and we will be able to send out news of events and services taking place at St Faith’s.  There are links to our Diary of Events and the Saturday Summer Recitals.  Brother Tom’s Lent talks have been advertised and there are a few photographs on the site too.  We hope to see you there and become a Friend. If you’ve not yet signed up to Facebook (it’s free!) log on to register at

David Jones

Thank You

Rosie and Rick Walker would like to thank their many friends at St Faith’s for their love and sympathy after the loss of Rosie’s sister.
Our thanks also to Fr Neil for the lovely mass which he said in her memory.

The Saturday Lunchtime Recitals

The early Easter this year has another bonus: our ever popular Saturday Lunchtime Recitals start early too on Saturday, 29 March with – almost by tradition – Stephen Hargreaves, our Acting Director of Music, giving an organ recital.

The calendar this year also means that we get an extra 3 concerts in the season.  We will be welcoming some new musicians and have responded to last year’s customer feedback by adding in more soloists – as well as bringing back some of our favourites, including the youth ensembles, jazz band and choirs. We are also delighted to announce that, on 23 August, we will be welcoming back our former Director of Music, Ged Callacher, for an organ recital.

The programme for the first four weeks is:

    29 March    -    Stephen Hargreaves (organ)
    5 April        -    Matthew Hardy (trumpet) and Neil Kelley (piano)
    12 April            Birkdale High School Jazz Band
    19 April            Liverpool Brass Ensemble

The church will be open on concert days between 11.00am and 1.00pm and light refreshments will be on sale.  The recitals begin at 12 noon, last about 30-40 minutes and are free – but donations are gratefully accepted towards expenses and church fabric costs.

Please note that, occasionally, it is necessary to change the programme at short notice but our website is regularly updated – - or see us on Facebook.

We look forward to seeing you again at these popular recitals.

David Jones

Saint Faith’s: Flourishing and Fallen …

The church website contains a large and growing series of pages featuring other churches dedicated to our patron saint. There are more than 50 churches (and other establishments, including a ship and a garage!) with associations to Faith, and I quite often receive information and updates about places on the list – or in some cases not yet on the list. 

Two recent updates feature a Saint Faith’s in decay and another which is very much alive and well, and both are illustrated on our centre pages this month.

The Chapel of the Stanley Royd Hospital, near Wakefield, was first brought to my attention  by Angela Capper. It was simply reported as closed, and as having served the staff and patients of what was originally delightfully termed the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum. Recently, a local resident, Mark Davies, who specialises in recording images of faded architectural glories in his area, contacted me with haunting pictures of this church, now indeed closed and sadly decayed. The vast and impressive hospital complex to which it was attached has now been converted into housing, and St Faith’s itself is up for sale, with its future uncertain. Mark’s evocative pictures show the sad state of the place, and in particular the fine east window, featuring stained glass representations of staff and patients, His pictures may be seen on our website by following the home page links to the ‘Saint Elsewhere’ pages.

The same links will take you to a happier story. The church of St Faith, Llanishen, is the only known surviving dedication to our patroness in Wales. I learnt about it first some years ago from the Revd Gillian George-Rogers, who was then its curate. At that stage its future was uncertain, but a recent gallery of pictures show it to be thriving. Gillian has moved on, and is now retired, but tells us that her old church is very much alive and well now, with a supportive congregation and community. It is a bright, modern building, as the pictures show, and features a banner of Saint Faith. The dedication was chosen not for any link with ‘our’ saint, but as a token of the act of faith with which the church was built: the image is simply that of a young girl kneeling at the foot of a cross. Here again, you can see the photographs and read more by following the website links.

Both churches are seen on and linked from:

There was a time when we believed that there were only a handful of churches honoured by being dedicated to Saint Faith. It is good to know that there are a goodly number, and that although a few have closed, or are decaying and for sale, many more, both in this country and throughout the world, are alive and well and bearing Faithful witness.

Chris Price 

Men’s Group Retreat – Marske 2008   
by Phillip  (a pseudonym! Ed)

The advanced guard set off early for Marske on the morning of Thursday 29th January in order to ensure that the fire at David`s House was burning well before the remaining members of the group arrived. We all met at the Bolton Arms, in Denholme, for lunch before proceeding to our final destination. This gave the opportunity to renew our acquaintance with Yorkshire hospitality and the local fare. Fr Charles availed himself of the opportunity of discovering the latest news from St Faith`s and the author demonstrated how unbalanced his new diet was by tipping part of his meal in his lap.

By time we reached David`s House the fire was burning well, the house was warmed through and a gale was blowing outside. It was still light and we discovered that the snowdrops were carpeting the woods which form the magnificent backdrop to the house; the display was almost as good as those which adorn certain houses in the Crosby area. We were, however, disappointed to see that the tinned custard plantation had not thrived and the burnt-pan plot showed no signs of any growth. The ground must be good, otherwise the trees and snowdrops would not survive, so it is likely that local scavenging animals have disrupted our gardening efforts. Any future jam roll cuttings will need careful protection and we’ll have to ensure we plant our spuds deep.

The first afternoon is always a relaxing time, as is the whole weekend for that matter, and five of us settled into our favourite chairs whilst the catering team prepared the evening meal. Prior to the meal we enjoyed phase one of the annual blind beer tasting festival; I should add that we were neither blind before the tasting nor afterwards: it is just that we did not know the names of the beers we were tasting. As the evening proceeded the wind outside increased to storm force, whistling loudly in the trees which surround most of the house. From time to time smoke from the blazing fire would blow back down the chimney reminding us all of those days long ago when we all had open fires rather than central heating.

Morning greeted most of us with a steaming cup of tea in bed, kindly provided by Kevin. Friday was to be a quiet day, although Fr Charles wanted to visit the local parish church where he was to conduct the service on Sunday. After lunch five of us crammed into Rick’s car and headed the mile along the rough track into Marske; David’s House is actually situated at the end of a rough track in an area called Clints.

St Edmund`s church has been described by Kevin in a previous edition of Newslink, so there is no need to repeat that description here. The box pews are an interesting feature but so are many things, including the fact that, like St Faith`s, one of its sons became Archbishop of Canterbury. After the extended look around the church Fr Charles was taken to for urgently needed, to him anyway, sustenance whilst Ron and I headed back to the house. The wind was still blowing hard and we struggled as we crossed open hillside but eventually made it back to the warmth and calm of our temporary Yorkshire home. Windswept and dishevelled we were but that walk proved that the hair is real.

Friday evening after dinner was devoted to a read through of the pantomime, after all we did have three performers and the prompter with us. Not everyone was word perfect at this stage and to be truthful the script did change a great deal during the evening. It will be fun to attend actual performances to see if the players stick to the authorised version of the script or descend to ad-libbing.

We normally have our Eucharist in the house on Sunday morning but this year we were all going to church to support Fr Charles and so we held the house Eucharist on Saturday morning. Saturday morning traditionally is given over to a discussion with the topic set by our chaplain but this year our discussion preceded the Eucharist and was led by Kevin. The discussion, which covered Love, Hate and Forgiveness, commenced with a moving narration from Kevin about a remarkable woman who had coped with childhood deprivation and difficulties in later life to raise a loving and caring family. Discussions at Men`s Group meetings are normally of a very open nature and we have very few secrets from each other; that is probably one of the reasons for the continuing success of the group and that is why comment about our discussion ends here.

The Eucharist was, as usual very moving, and smoke from the incense was supported by smoke from the fire blowing down the chimney. Fortunately this did not set off the smoke alarms but we did need to open the window. As usual our intercessions included prayers for our families, for St Faith’s and for the growing list of former members whose names are engraved on our communion paten. This year the name of our brother George Smith was freshly inscribed.

After Saturday lunch two parties set off to explore, one to see the local historical buildings and the other, probably more wisely, to test the brews at the local watering holes. However, it should be added that Fr Charles was in charge of hostelry visiting and three times over the weekend he managed to find establishments which were closed or just about to close. Return of both parties was marked by afternoon tea with toasted teacakes and crumpets, after all it was Saturday, St Paul’s day and also Christmas Day. The latter was not on any calendar but Geoff had decided we needed a Christmas celebration and so Christmas dinner was prepared with crackers, paper hats and a Christmas tree. Christmas dinner was followed by drinks and an assortment of quizzes, including a 1960s musical quiz with music provided by Geoff using one of his “real Christmas” presents. Paul entertained us with his recently composed Symphony for Plastic Bucket which the author found quite unbelievable.

In former years, when we were all much younger, Men`s Group weekend evenings would always end with charades which had a tendency to descend into farce. However, we have matured, or are too worn out, and now the hour or so before people drift off to bed is often a time for discussion on a wide range of topics. Being away from home surroundings with nowhere else to go but bed is very conducive to such debate and this is probably what we all need from time to time. We in the Men`s Group are lucky to have such opportunity for Retreat and we are particularly fortunate that we are such close friends and know that our words stay within the group unless we wish them to be more widely broadcast. It is the latter which allows for such free discussion.

Sunday saw a departure from our normal routine, for we were off to church to see Fr Charles perform. Instead of the full English breakfast we made do with cereal and toast although Fr Charles missed his fry-up. Fortunately the wind had abated and the sun was shining as we headed for St Edmund’s. Our presence doubled the congregation and we were made very welcome. Sitting in box pews was new to all of us and it made a change from the open areas of St Faith’s. Each box has its own heater and one can imagine that individual electricity meters would have been very useful in cutting the heating bill of the church. Hopefully attendance at St Edmund’s on a Sunday morning will become a regular event for the Men’s Group. There was no coffee at church after the service but maybe we could introduce that in coming years.

Unfortunately the author and Ron had to leave on Sunday afternoon as we both had commitments elsewhere later in the week. However, four days in Yorkshire with the Men`s Group is better than none at all. I have been told that the next couple of days went well and the garden was visited by many squirrels to consume the food which Michael had kindly put out for them. Nothing is wasted on a Men’s Group weekend, especially time. Maybe it is the squirrels who have caused the problems with the tinned custard plantation and the burnt-pan plot.

That is it but there is always next year and as Kevin will say, “Only 48 weeks”, or even less depending upon when this is published.    (Would we keep the Men waiting? Ed.)    

Father, all is Forgiven…

Chris Price

From the Church Times (reported in The Guardian (there he goes again, reading a liberal paper!) comes a touching story about the quality of mercy – 70 years on.

In 1938 a 14 year-old youngster called Dennis Hibbert was playing cricket for Kimberley Institute Cricket Club when he jeered at a fielder who let a ball through his legs. The report does not specify the offensive language used, but this writer recalls another report saying that young Hibbert unforgivably called his colleague a ‘silly fat fool’.

Whatever the wording, it was sufficient to have him banned from the ground. Seventy years later, the Revd Dennis Hibbert, now 84 and a retired Nottinghamshire vicar, attended a funeral tea in the pavilion last autumn and was reminded that the ban had never been rescinded.

‘I said I was only banned from cricket matches, I wasn’t banned from funeral teas,’ he told the paper. ‘There are very few people who have been banned for 70 years from anything. But now I’ve been purged from my sins and admitted back.’

St Faith’s footnote.  Much nearer home, a previous incumbent of this parish was, allegedly, sent off from a neighbourhood sports field by a rugby referee – who may well not have been aware of the incumbent’s identity - for violent behaviour on the field of play, with (allegedly) the immortal words: ‘Get off, get off, you b****y animal!’ This writer was not present, so cannot vouch for the truth of this scandalous story. But if it is true, it puts Mr Hibbert’s words and offence well and truly in the shade. For such behaviour (if it ever took place) a ban not for seventy years but for seventy times seven would seem appropriate.

A Reflection for Lady Day
From the Community of the Resurrection’s Quarterly Review 1992, written by a former Superior, Fr Eric Simmons
Contributed by Fr Dennis


Go into any major Art Gallery and you will almost certainly see her, caught in that timeless moment in which she, virgin-daughter of Israel, is confronted by the Angel with his awesome message that through the narrow gate of her body, and made of the substance of her flesh, God seeks entry into our world. Down the centuries, in practically every generation, the story of the Annunciation to Mary, recounted for us in Saint Luke’s Gospel, has never failed to touch the human imagination by its mystery, its beauty and its tenderness, and has been celebrated again and again in painting and sculpture, in poetry and song.

In many of the early representations of it the picture is divided into two halves. Mary is generally on the right-hand side, shown either in her room, or in the loggia of her home in Nazareth. The left-hand side is where the Angel is, often depicted kneeling in grave courtesy as he makes his salutation and delivers his message. The relationship between the two figures is one both of stillness and movement, and of balance and tension. It is as though the artist is trying to convey the meeting of two worlds — the heavenly and the earthly.   

In the holy icons of the Orthodox tradition Mary is sometimes shown holding a distaff from which she is drawing out the thread which is to be used for weaving the veil of the Temple in Jerusalem. This particular detail has its origin in a writing of the second century called the Book of James. In the Western tradition Mary is usually portrayed either kneeling in prayer, or sitting with an open book in her hands or on the prayer-desk in front of her. The book may be understood to symbolize either the prophetic witness of the Old Testament to the One who is to come to redeem his people, or the Word and Wisdom of God ceaselessly at work in creation, and which wills to be made flesh of her flesh. Whichever way we choose to interpret it, we are to understand that all that has been hinted at and foreshadowed in the old dispensation now comes to fulfilment in her.

The Feast in honour of the Annunciation, traditionally among the English called Lady Day, may have been instituted soon after the beginning of the fifth century, when a church was built in Nazareth on what was generally believed to be the site of Mary's home. By the seventh century it seems to have secured its place in the Christian calendar as an annual celebration. It falls on March 25th (unless it is displaced by Holy Week or the Easter Octave, in which case it is transferred to a later date), a few days after the spring equinox, when in our northern hemisphere the long darkness of winter begins to recede before the tide of light, the days lengthen, and new life stirs and quickens in the cold earth. So Mary’s acceptance in faith and trust of what God was asking of her brings light and life to the sin-darkened seed of Adam.

But there are other connections to be noted. Our ancestors in the faith inherited the tradition which maintained that the creation of the universe, initiated by God's mighty command ‘Let there be light’, began at the spring equinox, when light and dark are evenly divided and are 'of equal duration. So it seemed to them to be wholly appropriate that the Annunciation should fall at this point in the rhythm of the times and seasons of the natural year. They saw how God’s word ‘Let there be light ... Fiat lux’ at the very beginning, comes to fulfilment in Mary’s ‘Let it be to me according to your word ... Fiat mihi’. They saw that it is her obedience which makes possible the new creation which is to be brought about by God’s plan of incarnation and redemption.

The Fathers of the early Church pondered deeply on the significance of Mary’s obedience, and spoke of it as reversing the consequences of the disobedience of Adam and Eve as recounted in Genesis 3. According to the old story Eve was beguiled by the serpent into believing that by disobeying God she and Adam would ‘be like God’. At the Annunciation Mary is greatly troubled, and considered in her mind what kind of greeting the Angel's salutation might be. She is afraid of being beguiled in the way that Eve was, and so she questions him, ‘How can this be?’ But having been assured that this is no cunning trick, she freely gives her consent: ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word’. And so the way is open for God to come into our world through the needle’s eye of human birth, and be born as one of us. Formed of the same clay as ourselves, bone of our bones, and flesh of our flesh, he wills that through the Child to be born.

We’re Going Bananas at St Faith’s

Have you ever felt furious at the unfairness of life?  Well here’s  a way of getting back at the ‘system’. During Fairtrade Fortnight, on Mothering Sunday March 2nd to be precise, St Faith’s and St Mary’s Churches are launching their monthly Fairtrade stalls and we will include not only some yummy Easter eggs but for the health freaks amongst us some bunches of FT bananas from Sainbury’s. Why? Because Fairtrade guarantees a lifeline for banana growers who have been given a chance to survive through the Fairtrade Mark. And after all bananas are our favourite fruit – the UK munches its way through 140 million every week! So why not say thank you to the people who grow them? Fairtrade banana growers in the Caribbean have not just survived devastating price cuts in  British supermarket competition but have invested in new schools and hospitals, new roads and youth sporting facilities.  Now that’s something to make you feel good as you unpeel your next Fairtrade banana.   Looking forward to seeing you at our special Mothering Sunday stall after mass on March 2nd.

The Fairtrade Team

A Shopper’s Prayer

Heavenly Father help me to cherish the chance
to treat someone justly, make a fair decision,
consider someone my equal,
so that I may bring justice, fairness and equality
to a waiting world through the products I buy.


(adapted from a Mother’s Union prayer in Guyana)

The 100+ Club: February Winners

1    140    Joan Tudhope
2    100    Kari Dodson
3    75     Graham McFadyen
4    50     Dennis Smith

Creating Mayhem…

After creating heaven and earth, God created Adam and Eve.

And the first thing he said was ’ DON'T!’'

’Don’t what?’ Adam replied.

’Don’t eat the forbidden fruit.’ God said.

’Forbidden fruit? We have forbidden fruit? Hey Eve, we have forbidden fruit!’

‘Do NOT eat the fruit!’ said God.


‘Because I am your Father and I said so,’ God replied, wondering why He hadn’t stopped creation after making the elephants

A few minutes later, God saw His children having an apple break and He was ticked. ‘Didn’t I tell you not to eat the fruit?’ God asked.

‘Uh huh,’ Adam replied.

‘Then why did you?’ said the Father.

‘I don’t know,’ said Eve.

‘She started it!’ Adam said.

‘Did not!’

‘Did too!’

Having had it with the two of them, God’s punishment was that Adam and Eve should have children of their own. Thus the pattern was set and it has never changed.

If you have persistently and lovingly tried to give children wisdom and they haven't taken it, don’t be hard on yourself. If God had trouble raising children, what makes you think it would be a piece of cake for you?

With thanks to Rick Walker

The Face of God

I’ve never seen God,
So I wonder why I think of Him
Each time I pass by a field of corn,
A laden bough of apple blossom.

I know his hand has touched each flower,
His breath breathed on each living thing.
Close in his arms he’s held the earth,
Pressed to His breast each tiny wing.

His face, then, is no mystery!
It’s there before us for all to see.
The field of corn, the ocean blue,
The golden sunshine, the silver dew.

Ade 1986

This is a prayer or meditation that my dear friend composed. She is now with her Lord. I thought it might be helpful to somebody in church.

Joan Utley

‘Surprised by Joy’?

‘Gloomy’ Wee Frees told to cheer up

So reads the splendid headline over an article by the Daily Telegraph’s Scottish Correspondent, Auslan Cramb. The dour, ultra-conservative Free Church of Scotland, famous for opposing Sunday ferries and chaining up play park swings on Sundays, has been urged to express what the editor of its ‘Monthly Record’ calls ‘serious joy’.

He says that worshippers need to dispel the notion that they are characterised by ‘doom, gloom and joylessness’. In a daring move, they have endorsed the Harry Potter stories, as well as the fantasy film ‘The Golden Compass - both of which have been denounced as ungodly by some Christian groups.

The  Revd  David  Robinson,  recently  appointed  editor,  writes:  ‘The  definition  of a Calvinist as being a person who is miserable at the thought that someone, somewhere, is actually enjoying themselves is sadly all too typical. This is not a plea for frivolity, flippancy or entertainment – ‘fun’ worship. (perish the thought. Ed.)  But please can we have some serious joy?’

They certainly have some ground to make up. The Telegraph reporter recalls the outrage caused when one of their ministers said that the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, in which 226,000 people died, was sent by God to punish ‘pleasure seekers from all over the world’ who broke the Sabbath. And your editor, on visits to the Outer Hebrides, has more than once experienced the contrasts between the gloomy northern islands, where the Wee Frees reign joyless and supreme, and hymns, colour and folk music are frowned upon and the happy freedom of the Catholic southern isles, where life in and out of church is full of colour and joy. And he will not easily forget the locked doors of the public lavatories in Lewis on the Sabbath. No relief there for the sinful…

Maundy Thursday Watch

Tall arches spanning darkness;
High invisible roof: warm still air.
The shadowed crucifix outlined against carved beams.

And light spilling out through the pillars:
Soft radiance from a firmament of flickering candles,
Gold and white in the night, swaying shadows.
Burnished sanctuary lamp mirroring the arc of fire below;
Dark grouped leaves and boughs, and frozen flowers:
Christ on the altar in Gethsemane.

The dull roar of traffic sounds outside the walls.
Silent worshippers kneel or sit to keep their watch,
With only the rustle of a page, the shifting of a chair
To move the soft silence.
Waiting for death to come to their Lord in the morning
To bring them life.

Footsteps echo quietly down the dark aisle. The vigil
Goes on. The faithful watch with Christ.
Outside the cold midnight brings another Good Friday.
Inside, no time, only the soft shadow of eternity.
Surely, God is here.

Chris Price  
St Faith’s: April, 1973

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