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 Newslink                November 1999

The Windows

Lord, how can man preach thy eternal word?
He is a brittle crazy glass:
Yet in thy temple thou dost him afford
This glorious and transcendent place,
To be a window, through thy grace.
But when thou dost anneal in glass thy story,
Making thy life to shine within
The holy preachers; then the light and glory
More rev`rend grows, and more doth win:
Which else shows watrish, bleak, and thin.

Doctrine and life, colours and light, in one
When they combine and mingle, bring
A strong regard and awe, but speech alone
Doth vanish like a flaring thing,
And in the eare, not conscience ring.

George Herbert
 The Temple

 St Faith’s Centenary Window Dedicated Sunday October 10th, 1999

From the Vicar
November 1999

November has traditionally been regarded as the month of the departed  the month of the Holy Souls. At the beginning of November, Tuesday 2nd, we keep the Feast of All Souls. At 8 pm on that day we shall have a Solemn Mass by Candlelight and during the course of the liturgy we shall remember, by name, our departed loved ones. After the names of the departed have been read out, people will be invited to come up and light a candle, to place it in a tray of sand, and each candle lit will symbolise a prayer for our departed loved ones. The prayers by candlelight will then follow, incorporating some Taize music. Also included in the service will be the very moving piece of music the Russian Contakion of the Departed and the service will conclude with the singing of Faure`s In Paradisum (from the Requiem). I shall be sending invitations to all those who have been bereaved during the past year, and to whom we have ministered, in the hope that they will join with us in praying for our departed loved ones and in sharing our common belief in the hope and promise of eternal life.

Death is still the great unmentionable in today’s society. Any ideas about the fragility of human nature, being weak and vulnerable, do not sit comfortably with the understanding that so many have of life being about power, success, status, money and achievement: the I can do, or be, whatever I want mentality. We find it difficult to talk about death, yet the reality is that after birth, it is the one common experience we share with every human being, whatever our age, religion, belief or lack of belief.

How do you view death? Have you planned your own Funeral Service? One of the most difficult experiences as a priest is visiting a family before a funeral only to find out that they have no idea whether their departed loved one wanted to be cremated or buried, a service in Church or straight to the Cemetery  and the amount of arguing and debating that goes on over what hymns should be sung!

For the practising Christian, the Funeral Service should be a marvellous celebration of the faith which has sustained them on earth and which, by God’s mercy, leads them from this earthly life, into the gateway of everlasting life in God’s Kingdom. Planning the details of our own funeral does not have to be a morbid exercise. It can save our loved ones much heartache when we have died. Certain questions have to be asked: Will the service be in Church and will it be within the celebration of the Eucharist? This is always to be recommended for those who are regular communicant members of the Church. What special readings or prayers would you like? What hymns are to be sung? Should the coffin be brought into Church to rest in peace the night before the funeral? This is the traditional way of preparing for a funeral. We should make some plans and keep our requests with someone close to us (family, solicitor or in the Church safe). Funeral Services should be as much as possible joyful celebrations of our life and faith. If you would like to talk to me about writing down some requests then please feel free to do so. My own funeral plans change regularly  almost every time I hear a new hymn I like! On a serious note, I know it is important that I have made them.

With angels and archangels, and with all the company of heaven. November reminds us all of our ultimate destiny  to be with our Creator, to love him and worship him ceaselessly in heaven. We thank God for those who have gone before us, we pray that they may rest in peace, and rejoice in the hope that one day, in God’s time and in His Kingdom, we shall all be reunited together again. That is God’s promise, and it is our hope.

With my love and prayers.
Fr. Neil

A prayer to use during the month of the Holy Souls

Father of all,
we pray to you for those we love,
but see no longer.
Grant them your peace,
let light perpetual shine upon them,
and in your loving wisdom and almighty power,
work in them the good purpose of your perfect will;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Holy Days in November

Su 31 Oct       ALL SAINTS` DAY (transferred from Nov. 1st)
                      8 am Eucharist
                      10.30 am HIGH MASS followed by wine

Tu 2               ALL SOULS` DAY
                      Commemoration of all the faithful departed
                      7.30 am  Eucharist (said)
                      10.30 am  Eucharist (said) at St. Mary’s, Waterloo
                      8.00 pm SOLEMN MASS by Candlelight

The usual All Souls list will be placed at the back of the Church, on which people may place the names of their departed loved ones. Invitations for this service will also be sent to the families of those whose funerals have been conducted by the Readers and Clergy of Saint Faith’s over the past year. Please be here to welcome them.

Wed 10         St. Leo the Great, Bishop of Rome, Teacher of the Faith, 461
                     10.30 am Eucharist in St. Mary’s, Waterloo

Thur 11         St. Martin, Bishop of Tours, c. 397
                      7.30 pm  Eucharist

Tues 16         St. Margaret, Queen of Scotland, Philanthropist, Reformer of the Church, 1093
                     9.30 am Eucharist

Sat 20            St. Edmund, King of the East Angles, Martyr, 870
                     10.30 am Eucharist

Sun 21         CHRIST THE KING
                     8 am Eucharist
                     10.30 am HIGH MASS followed by wine

Tues 23         St. Clement, Bishop of Rome, Martyr, c. 100
                     9.30 am Eucharist

Sun 28         ADVENT SUNDAY
                     8 am Eucharist
                     10.30 am SUNG EUCHARIST
                     6 pm ADVENT CAROL SERVICE

On Time

When as a child I laughed and wept, Time crept,
When as a youth I waxed more bold, Time strolled,
When I became a full-grown man, Time ran,
When older still I daily grew, Time flew,
Soon I shall find in passing on, Time gone;
O Christ wilt Thou have saved me then?  Amen.
(Canon Henry Twells 1823-1900; in Chester Cathedral)

A thousand years in your sight are like a day
that has just gone by or like a watch in the night.
You sweep men away in the sleep of death
They are like the new grass of the morning
though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered ...
Teach us to number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
(Psalm 90: 1-6, 12)

How to Live Twenty-four Hours a Day

You wake up in the morning, your purse, magically filled with twenty four hours of the unmanufactured tissue of the universe of your life, is yours. It is the most precious of possessions ... no one can take it from you. It is unstealable. And no one receives either more or less than you receive, you cannot waste tomorrow it is kept for you. You cannot lose the next hour; it is kept for you. You have to live on this twenty-four hours of daily time. Out of it you have to spin health, pleasure, money, respect, and the evolution of your immortal soul.
Arnold Bennett

Lord help us to use today’s time to do what we know
we ought to do, lest by leaving it is never done.

Teach us to take each moment as a gift
which we can fill with light.

The Vicar of Wakefield
Chris Price

On Wednesday, September 30th some forty members of St Faith’s braved the elements to cross the Pennines and help our late vicar, Fr Richard Capper, celebrate the 25th anniversary of his priesting at Wakefield Cathedral where, as  Canon Capper, he is Vice Provost.

The occasion was a splendid one: a large congregation from Wakefield and from Richard’s three parishes took part in a dignified, moving and colourful ritual, complete with bell, book and candle and plenty of incense. The music was inspiring, ranging from Taize chants to Schubert`s Mass in G, and a fine collection of hymns about angels (it was Michaelmas!). Canon Malcolm Forrest preached wisely and wittily and Richard himself was in fine voice, although his alleged newly-learned skills in singing were sadly not called upon  although it was wonderful to hear once more that resonant always at the end of the final blessing!

After the service, wine and nibbles were served, and it was all cakes, cards. presents and flowers. All three generations of Cappers were there and in fine form to greet old friends, with the central figure sporting, for the very first time, a new cassock impressively adorned with a plethora of purple buttons and all the trimmings.

It was very good to share this auspicious occasion with so many other friends of the Cappers, and to spare a moment, as we get into gear for the exciting future at St Faith’s, to look back in gratitude to our recent past and to  remember how much we owe to Richard and his family. We will be welcoming them next year when the Canon comes to preach to us in what promises to be a splendid final Centenary Celebrations year.

Fr Richard has written to thank all those from St Faith’s for their good wishes, cards and gifts  and for supporting his special occasion in such large numbers. Ed.

A Reflection for All Souls` Tide
Fr Dennis

It is told of Francis of Assisi that when his physician said to him that he was soon to die, he stretched out his hands and cried aloud with joy, Welcome, Sister Death! In his last hours he added this verse to his lovely and devout Canticle of Brother Son:

 Praised be my Lord for our Sister, the bodily death,
 From which no living man can flee.
 Woe to them who die in mortal sin,
 Blessed those who shall find themselves
 in thy most holy will.
 For them the second death shall do no ill.

Francis could write of the second death because he felt he had died a first death on that day when he leapt down from his horse, to embrace the leper. It was on that day that he believed he had entered into eternal life. It was on that day that he found himself in God’s will, and it was in that will that he died.

And shall we not therefore dare to say, that being in that will then, he still is now?

Death is as terrible for a Christian as for anyone who loves and who watches a loved one die. There is indeed a terribleness of human grief. But for a Christian the sound of the silence which death brings  the silence when no word is heard because no word can now be spoken  for the Christian the sound of the silence of death is not a sound of emptiness, but a filled silence. It is a silence which Christian imagination in art, and poetry and music, has made resonant with the songs of angels and of the whole company of heaven; they who rest not day and night from their perpetual song:

 Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts;
 heaven and earth are full of thy glory;
 glory be to thee, O Lord most high!

What do we mean by this word glory?

We mean that where a bond is forged in this life between a human soul and his Creator, where bonds of love unite a human soul to the sources of the life that is eternal, then that relationship is such that bodily death cannot sever it. He who is in that will, this side of death, is still in that will, we believe, beyond death. We believe in the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.

We do not speculate too much as to what this might mean. We cannot penetrate the silence. But to the listening ear of faith, the sound of this silence is a voice which is familiar, a voice which says,

Because I live, you shall live also.

I have long valued and been inspired, moved and encouraged by words of the late Father Hilary Beasley, priest of the Community of the Resurrection who, in mid-life, contracted a paralysing and debilitating long-term illness, eventually confining him to life in a wheelchair in the Mother House at Mirfield. He writes:

I believe with all my heart that we are all one with God and all the living and departed, so I am not afraid to die. For in death will be opened up all the wonder and the joy, the love and laughter of eternity. We shall be living in full the life we have now (but are so often too blind or selfish or lazy to see and enjoy), for his sake and for others that all men may share the fullness of the Risen Lord.

Father Hilary concludes his statement of belief and affirmation in the Resurrection life with a quotation from Robert Browning`s Rabbi ben Ezra (words I have often found poignant and helpful when taking funeral services):

 Grow old along with me!
  The best is yet to be,
  The last of life for which the first was made:
  Our times are in His hand
  Who saith A whole I planned,
  Youth shows but half; trust God:
 see all, nor be afraid!

More from Malawi
Margaret Houghton
the concluding part of Margaret’s account of her visit to Malawi.

I mentioned  the Academy last month. This is Kamuzu Academy, founded by Dr Hastings Banda in 1981, on the lines of an English public school, as Dr Banda admired the discipline and excellent academic grounding these schools offered. Not that Dr Banda was born into a wealthy family  far from it. He was a village boy, who, like vast numbers of Malawian children today, walked for an hour each way to school from the age of six. His first classroom was under a Kachere or wild fig tree, in Mtunthama, where he learned the alphabet from a missionary evangelist. When older he walked 1,600 km to the Republic of South Africa in search of further education. Until recently the best scholars from Malawi villages were given the opportunity of education at the Academy, but sadly, since the withdrawal of financial backing by the government, it is rapidly becoming an elitist establishment. It was to teach here that my brother, Macdonald Forsyth, took early retirement from his deputy headship at Plymouth College  not just to teach at the Academy, but this position enabled both him and his wife Dot, to offer much- needed assistance to the local community. This they are doing with tremendous dedication and we were fortunate to be part of this community for a short while. The school uniform is gold, green and grey, the colours chosen by Dr Banda in memory of the Kachere tree under which he was first taught. Grey is for the bark, green for the leaves and gold for the first fruit.

We too visited the Kachere tree, the area around which is being turned into a national museum. Beyond the perimeter fence still exists the outside school, where 25 teachers endeavour to teach 1,325 children to read and write. Not only in Chichawa, but also in English. The first three years schooling is received in a classroom under the trees; when each grade is passed the child can move on to the next grade.  Secondary school is not compulsory and costs money, therefore not a lot of children manage education beyond primary. On our visit to the school, the children clustered round until we were surrounded about 8 deep, all eager to be photographed.

The next visit was to the clinic, with more goods donated by St Faith’s. The queue for the under-fives clinic was the most colourful, happy queue I have ever seen. Babies strapped to mums backs, toddlers at their sides. The queue seemed endless. The babies were weighed in a cardboard box fitted into a cats cradle made of string, then suspended from a meat-hook, but it worked. I was delighted that all parents are offered vaccinations for their babies, particularly measles. This is of course when the vaccines are available.

That day we received some bad news. The Anglican minister’s small daughter Revival, aged 20 months, had been suffering from malaria quite badly and we had been very concerned about her high temperature. Whilst visiting the clinic a houseboy arrived by bicycle to ask that we collect Revival and her mother Eunice, to take them to the Academy clinic, which is, as one would imagine, very well-equipped, with a nurse in attendance even through the long holidays. Revival was prescribed quinine, but was by then very sick indeed. Sadly, although rushed to Kasingu hospital by Mac, she died: a devastating loss to her parents and older brother Emmanuel aged 3. Infant death is common sadly, hardly a family does not lose at least one child.

A few days later we attended All Saints church, Mtunthama, where Mac was preaching. Although Frank and Eunice had only just returned from their home village following their daughter’s funeral, the service was most uplifting. As the church is too poor to provide wine for each communicant, a piece of bread was dipped into a thimbleful of wine, then given to each person, the small children receiving a blessing just as in St Faith’s. The colour and language were different, but the service was exactly the same  although I cannot  imagine  St Faith’s congregation sitting

on a dirt floor for two hours in a church without a door and no windows, without complaint! I was highly amused by the way toddlers just walked out of the church from time to time to play in the area outside, then wandered back as the mood took them. Oh for such freedom and safety for our children.

After the service we were entertained to lunch at the Vicarage. This comprised a mug of tea served with powdered milk, (fresh milk is hopelessly expensive and does not keep), accompanied by slices of dry bread. Courtesy dictated we must accept such generous hospitality but it was hard to take these offerings from such poor people. The vicar’s stipend is 1200 kwacha per month  a loaf of bread costs 20 kwacha.

Again the generosity of these people was experienced when MacDonald, coincidentally the name of my brother’s gardener, was to go to Kasungu to buy his wife some new clothes. She was heavily pregnant and nothing fitted. It was arranged he would meet Mac at a certain time, but knowing that time has little meaning, my brother was expecting a long wait beyond the agreed time. He was most surprised to find MacDonald had arrived at the car before him. But where were all the parcels for his wife? When asked he explained that he had met a friend from his village whose crop of maize had failed and therefore he was in for a very lean time. Whereupon MacDonald had given all his shopping money to his friend. We hoped his wife could cope a little longer with her ill-fitting clothes.

In complete contrast to the general poverty of Malawi was the Livingstonia Beach Hotel, still existing in the colonial part, where we indulged ourselves like tourists, with a strong sense of guilt. Here we were pampered and waited on in the style of another age: a style kept alive by the Malawian charm and  desire to please.

From Lake Malawi we travelled to Zambia, staying in a rondaval: a thatched, round mud hut, from where we set forth twice daily to experience the magic of an African safari. Viewing animals in their own territory from the back of an open-topped landrover has no equal, but if I was offered the opportunity to revisit Malawi, it would not be to experience the luxurious and splendid, but to return to the people; the friends we made in those few short weeks  the special people of Malawi.  They were the experience of a lifetime.

Attitudes Ancient and Modern
or ... Suffer the Little Children

Church is no place for tiny ones;
They are not welcome here.
Their childish chatter quite disrupts
The Sabbath atmosphere.

They grizzle through the Gospel,
And prattle during prayers,
And seem quite unaffected
By my disapproving stares.

The House of God is not the place
For childish smiles and tears;
They even bag my private pew
I’ve had for donkey’s years.

Come park the push-chair in the porch;
Bring in the carry cot:
God’s all-embracing family
Includes the tiniest tot.

They are fully-paid-up members,
For Jesus paid their fee
And sent out invitations saying
Children, come to me.

Revd. Ted Simpson
(Supplied by Ron Rankin)

A Hymn for the Centenary

Lord of our life, we lift our hearts
In thankfulness and praise.
Your guiding hand has kept and held
And led us all our days.
How great your mercies through the years;
How great your love outpoured.
Make of our lives an offering,
Our living, loving Lord.

We have no gifts but those you gave,
No worth except in you.
Yours is the power to heal and save:
In us your gifts renew.
Through daily faithfulness and prayer
We walk our Saviour’s way;
Help us to show your loving care
To others day by day.

Here at the font your sign is given
To mark each child your own;
So as we grow you lead us on
Towards the heavenly throne.
Here we have come to love your word:
Its wisdom, strength and truth,
Lighting the path we tread through the
Uncertainties of youth.

Here at your altar day by day
Your people still are fed;
Broken for us you give us life
In form of wine and bread.
Strengthened for service by your love
In all we say or do;
A living sacrifice to bring
Our daily lives to you.

For those who raised this house of faith
And served it through the years;
Who worshipped in this family
And shared its joy and tears;
Within these walls they found the grace
To see their journey through;
Victors at last in life’s long race,
We gave them back to you.

Lord, for a century of praise
Here on this holy ground;
For Faith in whose strong sacrifice
Our watchword still is found,
We give you thanks, and ask your grace
For holiness like hers:
To serve your world and keep the faith
Throughout the turning years.

All of our life, in every step,
By you is known and planned;
All of the future, yet unknown,
Is safely in your hand.
Here we remake a living story:
Here we your grace implore;
Christ be our light, our power, our glory,
Now and evermore.

Jenny Raynor
Chris Price

Funny You Should Say That

Half way through the vicar’s lengthy sermon, he noticed a man leave church. He returned just before the final blessing and the vicar challenged him as to why he had walked out.

I went to get a haircut, was the reply.
But. said the vicar, why didn’t you do that before the service?
Because, the man said, I didn’t need one then.

(Courtesy of the CyberCheeze internet daily bad joke supply site)

What They Didn’t Mean to Say

Vicar is on holiday. Massages can be given to the church secretary.

The sermon this morning: Jesus Walks on the Water. The sermon tonight: Searching for Jesus.

Today the vicar will preach his farewell sermon, after which the choir will sing: Break Forth into Joy

(from the Wakefield Cathedral News, editor Angela Capper!)

G O D Spells...?

Young Tommy practises his spelling by putting magnetic letters on the fridge door  CAT, MUM and DAD have all been proudly displayed for all to see.

One day he rushed up to his mother with outstretched hands holding the letters G O D and said, look what I can spell!

That’s wonderful, she said, put them on the fridge for Daddy to see when he gets home. She was just thinking to herself that Kate’s Junior Church was having the right kind of impact on Tommy’s education, when a little voice called from the kitchen :Mummy, how do you spell ZILLA?±

On the Threshold of Change
Peter Ryan

Monsignor Peter Ryan, who preached a Centenary Sermon at St Faith’s last February, was a server and later an ordinand at St Faith’s (his brother was Churchwarden here in the 1960s), and went on to the Anglican priesthood before being received into the Roman Catholic church and, in due course, its priesthood. Upon his recent retirement, he preached a farewell sermon remarkable for its charity towards the church of his origins and its frank critique of his adopted church. It has been widely read and admired, and it therefore seems appropriate to reproduce substantial selections for St Faith’s readers.

Today in this parish we are on the threshold of a period of change, and, as we all know changes can be painful. For me, personally, it’s a time of new beginnings as I look forward to my retirement  and it’s also a time for looking back over the years I have spent in the ministry  first as an Anglican Priest and then as a Catholic Priest. As most of you know, I was brought up in the Anglican Church and I have always been very conscious of my debt to that Church for nurturing me in the Christian faith. In that church I was ordained as a Deacon in Carlisle Cathedral in May 1956 and I was then appointed to serve as a curate in St Peter’s parish in Kells, Whitehaven.

Anglicans who were ordained had much more control over their destinies than Catholics did, and I was able to choose my first parish. It had been suggested to me by the chaplain at Lincoln Theological College where I was trained. He said that the vicar, Ryley Eckersley, was a good man and that under him I would get a good training  and how right he was. In my first year at St Peter’s, Ryley tried to leave each morning free for me so that I could read  thus establishing good habits from the start. In that first year I was only asked to preach once a month and Ryley went through my homily beforehand and then again after I`d preached  making lots of useful points. We met for morning and evening prayer each day and also for a celebration of the Eucharist. Ryley was married with three children and though I lived in digs I was made very much part of his family. When he moved 14 miles north to another parish, in Maryport, he asked me to go with him  perhaps an indication of the good relationship with each other that we enjoyed. I owe Ryley Eckersley a tremendous amount for the good training that I received and I’ve never ceased to be grateful for it.

In Maryport I had another three good years with Ryley  but it was during my time at Maryport that I began to feel more and more uncertain as to my position as an Anglican.

Eventually I decided that I must resign from the Anglican ministry. In 1963 I made my decision to become a Catholic and in the autumn of that year I went to Rome to study for the Roman Catholic priesthood. When I came back to the Archdiocese as a newly-ordained priest in the summer of 1967 I was appointed to be an assistant priest in the Cathedral. I was there for eight years  and what good years they were.

This was the period immediately after the Second Vatican Council, and the Catholic Church was in the throes of an exciting period of renewal and development. Things on the ecumenical front seemed to be moving forward with great rapidity and there was a tremendous feeling of hope in the air. At that time I was still quite a new boy in the Catholic world and still very much in the process of developing my understanding of the Catholic Church. I think I was lucky to live in a Presbytery where there was such openness and where each priest kept up with his reading.

I have said that the Cathedral House was a happy place to live in, but that doesn’t mean everyone there was totally content and uncritical about the Church. On one occasion we were talking about vocations, and I remember that one of the priests said that, thinking over his experience of priesthood he could not in conscience encourage a young man to enter the ministry. I remember thinking what a sad comment that was and that perhaps he had a rather jaundiced view of things. But as the years have gone by I have come to understand more than I did the reasons that lay behind his remark. Some priests do have a very difficult time.

The powers-that-be are often insensitive in the way in which clerical appointments are made and some priests do seem to suffer from a series of bad appointments, in which they have to serve under parish priests who do nothing to develop their abilities and potential. More than once at the Council of Priests I have said that the first five years of a priest’s ministry are vital, and that in the making of a priest’s first appointment the first priority should be that he is placed in a parish where he will get a good training and in which foundations for his future will be well laid. Some Parish Priests should be recognised as good trainers and help to develop this talent. As far as I can judge this kind of policy still doesn’t seem to be followed on a consistent basis and far too many unhappy appointments are still made.

In those distant days in Maryport in Cumbria, when I was still an Anglican, I remember one little incident. The Vicar of a neighbouring parish was friendly with a Roman Catholic Priest in the south of England and in a letter to him he had mentioned that I might become a Catholic.

In his reply this priest wrote to my friend: Tell Peter that if he decides to join us he’ll be joining a very dishonest church. My friend duly passed the message on to me. At the time I took no notice of the warning. My knowledge of the Roman Catholic Church at that time was very theoretical  based on wide reading but little experience. But as the years have gone by I have come to realise more and more what he meant. There is still a deplorable lack of openness in our Church. We pretend to a unanimity of viewpoint that doesn’t in fact exist and we are still far too afraid of open discussion. The classic case, I suppose, is that of artificial contraception. It is quite clear that the Catholic laity, certainly in the western world, have made up their minds on this topic and by and large have accepted artificial contraception as a legitimate practice. I can’t remember anyone mentioning this subject in confession; yet the Pope and the Bishops still speak in public as if there were no doubt about the question. It’s still hard to envisage a gathering of Catholics in which laity and bishops could speak together about this subject in an open way, with each side trying to listen and respect one another.

Peter Ryan continued his farewell sermon with a strong denunciation of the continuing practice of delation, whereby disgruntled lay people and priests will sometimes anonymously delate bishops and priests to the Vatican for some alleged deviation, and sadly, such anonymous delations are taken note of. He quotes Roman Catholic journalist Clifford Longley as saying No normal person would write a secret letter denouncing his bishop for some minor and often imaginary transgression of the party line (and usually there is a sexual component, which should make one even more wary). Delation allies the Vatican with some of the most disturbed and unsavoury individuals in the entire Church. The practice of secret delation  and I am sorry to have to use such language  is a scandal to the faithful and a disgrace to the papacy.

I reach the end of my full-time ministry as a priest well aware of all these unsavoury things. I recognise that the Catholic church is as full of human failings as any other. But I also retire full of gratitude for the wonderful depth of spirituality and faith to be found in the church. Never for one moment have I regretted that decision I took way back in 1963 to become a Catholic. I was attracted to the Church by many things but perhaps amongst the chief attractions was the deep Eucharistic devotion to be found amongst Catholics and I rejoice in the privilege of sharing in it.

In every parish I’ve been in I’ve found men and women of profound faith and such people have taught me a tremendous amount and have helped to uphold my own life of faith. Whenever I’m tempted to feel depressed by the latest folly of the Vatican or of the official church at the local level I remember that the Church is the whole people of God  not just the Powers-that-be  and I think of all those countless men and women of faith and great goodness who abound in every parish; and when I think of them, my spirits lift again.

When I was in the Cathedral parish there was an old lady who suffered badly from arthritis and who moved about with great difficulty and in considerable pain. And yet despite of everything she always managed to struggle along to the 9 am Sunday Mass. On one occasion I saw her making her thanksgiving after Mass and I went over to have a word: I said: You know, I think you are marvellous the way you manage to get to Mass each Sunday despite all your pain. She smiled at me and then she pointed to the crucifix and said, He did all this for me, it’s little enough I do for him.

Such people as that are the backbone of the Church. I have met them in every parish I’ve been in, both Anglican and Catholic, and tonight I thank God for them.

From the Registers

26 Aug     Louise Bates

Holy Matrimony
28 Aug     Michael Turnbull and Amanda Smith

Burial of Ashes
29 Aug     Louise Bates

To Be a Pilgrim?
Chris Price

When the Centenary Committee first began to formulate plans for the two years of St Faith’s Centenary Celebrations, part of our thinking was the idea of some sort of pilgrimage visit to one of the Christian shrines of our land. Iona, Lindisfarne and Walsingham were mooted, and in recent weeks these plans have settled on the idea of a weekend pilgrimage to Walsingham, in north Norfolk.

An exploratory meeting last month at Chris and Angie Price’s house was well-attended, and saw a fine and inspiring video showing what happens at and around the Anglican Shrine at Walsingham, and what form a parish weekend there might take. As a result, Fr Neil was asked to look into possible bookings and costings, and has booked accommodation for a St Faith’s visit over the weekend of October 13th to 15th next year. The provisional cost is þ65 for accommodation and food, plus the expense of getting there (coach or private cars?): a list for expressing interest is in church.

If anyone who was interested but couldn’t make the meeting would like to borrow the hour-long video, they should see Chris Price.

On a recent weekend visit to the Lake District, I came across this notice in the doorway of Grasmere Methodist Church and thought you might like to read it.
Peggy Mattison

If after Church, you wait awhile
Someone may greet you with a smile.
But if you quickly rise and flee
We’ll all seem cold and stiff, maybe.
The one beside you in the pew
Is, perhaps, a stranger too.
All here, like you, have fears and cares;
All of us need each other’s prayers.
In fellowship we bid you meet
With us around God’s mercy seat.

Advent 1999 and Beyond
Fr. Neil

· Advent, the beginning of the Church’s liturgical year, sees one or two changes at St. Faith’s.

New Lectionary. With the agreement of the PCC we shall begin to use the new lectionary from Advent Sunday. What will that mean for us at St. Faith’s? It means that we will no longer be taking the readings from the ASB but from the new Common Worship lectionary. The readings will still be printed out each week on the weekly sheet for people to follow, and those who wish to purchase their own copy of the lectionary in full will have a chance to do so. We are also very grateful to the person who has anonymously donated a new lectern copy of the new lectionary for use in Church. From Advent Sunday we will be having both the Old and New Testament Readings before the Gospel.

New Liturgy. The PCC also decided to take this opportunity of moving towards the Church of England’s new liturgy  Common Worship 2000. This is something we would have to do next year and it seems sensible to change over at the same time we change the lectionary. In practice it has the following implications:

· The confession will always come at the start of the liturgy and we will remain standing for this.

· The Collect for Purity and Prayer of Humble Access will be used on certain festivals but not each week. (There has to be some trimming down of the service with the addition of a third scripture reading and it is more important that we hear a greater variety of the Bible being read in church: at the present moment there are large periods of the year when the Old Testament is not read at all.) These two prayers will be printed in the new liturgy books so that people can still use them as part of their personal devotions before the liturgy begins.

· We will generally use Eucharistic Prayers A, B and C (A is a reworking of ASB 1  2, Prayer B is ASB 3 with some modifications, and Prayer C is the current ASB 4). Other Eucharistic Prayers may be used on certain occasions (as we have already done for Pentecost, Confirmation and Harvest) but those including a congregation response will not be used on a regular basis.

· We will produce our own home-grown service books so that we can present the liturgy in a more-user friendly way than we do at the present. For example we will be able to say in all honesty that the service begins on page 1 rather than page 119 which you will find at the beginning of the book!

It is a time and transition and change for every parish in the Church of England  please don’t think that we are the only one. In order to help us to use the season of Advent profitably (and to help us keep things in perspective!) there will be a parish Quiet Day on Saturday 27th November. More details later.

Advent may well bring some small cosmetic changes to our worshipping life but I hope that will not detract us from looking forward to the 2000th celebration of the birth of Christ and the exciting opportunities of sharing the Good News of God’s love.

  Glad of tradition,
  Help us to see
  In all life’s changing
  Where you are leading,
  Where our best efforts should be.

  (words by Brian A. Wren)

Toy Service  Sunday 5 December
Fr Neil

What is this, you may well ask?

Each year many churches provide toys and other gifts which can be given to help families in need at Christmas. On Sunday, 5th December, (2nd Sunday in Advent and Eve of St Nicholas’s Day) we shall ask people to bring a toy (unwrapped please) which could be used as a Christmas present for a child of any age. The toys collected will be distributed through Social Services and other organisations in the Deanery. Also, if any can help to sort out and wrap the toys on the mornings of 16th and 17th December, please telephone Val Davies or Judith Ash on 922 3760 to offer help. The wrapping takes place in the Church Hall at St Nicholas’s Blundellsands. There are many families and children who greatly appreciate the help and assistance that is offered. Please respond generously.

Canon Randell and Liz Moll

Father Randell and Liz Moll are moving south at the end of the year. On Sunday 12th December Father Randell will preside and preach at the 10.30 am Sung Eucharist, and after the service there will be an opportunity to say farewell to him and Liz over a glass of wine in the Hall.

This means that from the New Year there is a vacancy in the magazine delivery list! If any one can help will they please see Chris Price.

Waterloo Primary Harvest Celebration
Sarah Foy

Waterloo Primary School were delighted to provide a Harvest Festival Service in St Faith’s  on October 8th, last, in aid of the children of East Timor. Gift parcels, coins and messages have been collected to send over there.

St Faith’s was a wonderful meeting place for the children to worship and sing together. Fr Neil led the service, which stressed how fortunate we are and how under-resourced the people of East Timor are. Waterloo Primary School are delighted to have such strong connections with St Faith’s and look forward to strengthening our links in the future. We are hoping that more links with local schools can be up and running in the near future.

Money, Money, Money ...

Following the launch of the 1999 Gift Day Appeal, we are pleased to announce that the response to date has been most encouraging. At the time of going to press, only a week after some 220 envelopes were given out or posted, 52 have been returned, and, in addition to a good number of welcome offers to increase planned giving and to offer various services to St Faith’s, over þ3,000 has been pledged or given in one-off gifts, several of which are to be Gift Aided.

We are more than grateful for this initial response, which has already made a decent-sized hole in the projected 1999 shortfall of þ8,500. Please, if you have not yet done so, make your response in the next few weeks. When Fr Neil returns from the holiday he is now (we hope) enjoying, all gifts and offers will be personally acknowledged.

 Patronal  `99
Chris Price

The 1999 Patronal Festival has come and gone, marked with much splendour, a Gift Day, goodly numbers attending, and a new window for St Faith’s: altogether a Feast to remember.

The Wednesday evening High Mass was a magnificent occasion. There were many visitors to welcome, lay and clerical; a challenging mixture of fine music, from Langlais splendid, sombre mass setting, through familiar hymns to much that was modern, responsorial and tuneful. The procession featured no fewer than 63 participants; we were challenged by the preaching of our old friend Bishop Michael Henshall  and we survived a record 1 hour 52 minute service to enjoy wine and fine food in the hall. The attendance of some 220 was not only up by almost 100 from 1998, but was the largest midweek number for a good many years.

On the following Sunday, the Dedication service featured a welcome guest appearance from Fr Michael Raynor, the first of a series of sermons on the Sacraments, more fine music and worship and a most encouraging attendance after the service for the first of the series of talks and discussions: on baptism.

Festal Evensong has always been a much-cherished rounding-off of great occasions at St Faith’s, but possibly never in its first century has it featured the dedication of a new stained glass window. The Centenary Window, dedicated In Remembrance of Past Worshippers, had been put in place, after much nail-biting (and the subsequent correction of a date!), a few days before. It features those moving words from the well-loved hymn In our Day of Thanksgiving: These stones that have echoed their praises are holy,/And dear is the place where their feet have once trod. As the centrepiece of another colourful and moving service, Archdeacon David Woodhouse, after a fine sermon, dedicated the window, which was backlit for the occasion by an external floodlight. Following the triumphant procession and Te Deum, there was food and drink to round off a week of very special occasions.

We are so grateful to so many people: to Fr Neil, the clergy and readers for their planning and participation; to the music department for a varied feast of splendid musical offerings; to all who preached, served, read and helped; those who cleaned, adorned and fed the church and its people, and the generous donor whose gift made the splendid window possible. As we stand on the threshold of our actual Centenary Year, we have much to thank God for and much eagerly to anticipate.

You Shall Dance

You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it
unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day
cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death,
open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one,
even as the river and the sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires
lies your silent knowledge of the beyond,
and like seeds dreaming beneath the snow
your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams,
for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd
when he stands before the king
whose hand is to be laid on him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling,
that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is it to die
but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing
but to free the breath from its restless tides,
that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence
shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top,
then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs,
then shall you truly dance.

Kahlil Gibran
The Prophet