The Parish Magazine
of Saint Faith's Church, Great
Saint Faith’s Prayer for
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
your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
If you would like
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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
“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,
THE SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION
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 LITURGY OF MAUNDY THURSDAY
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.
THE WATCH OF PRAYER and WASHING OF
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
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 &
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
for Holy Week and Easter
Sunday March 16th PALM SUNDAY
9.30 am Sung Eucharist and Reading of the
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
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
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
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
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
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!
in Panto Land
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,
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.
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.
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
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
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
of the Resurrection
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
From The Times: “The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have joined
forces to tell Anglicans to get down on their knees – and polish their
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
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 www.facebook.com
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
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)
- Matthew Hardy (trumpet) and Neil Kelley (piano)
Birkdale High School Jazz Band
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 –
www.merseyworld.com/faith - or see us on Facebook.
We look forward to seeing you again at these popular recitals.
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
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.
Group Retreat – Marske 2008
by Phillip (a
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
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?
Father, all is Forgiven…
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
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.
Reflection for Lady Day
From the Community of the
Resurrection’s Quarterly Review 1992, written by a former Superior, Fr
Contributed by Fr Dennis
THE SECOND SPRING
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
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
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)
Club: February Winners
1 140 Joan Tudhope
2 100 Kari Dodson
3 75 Graham McFadyen
4 50 Dennis Smith
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
‘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.
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
With thanks to Rick
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.
THIS IS THE FACE OF GOD, IN ALL HIS GLORY.
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.
‘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
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.
St Faith’s: April, 1973
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