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October 2002

A Hymn for the Patronal Festival

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.

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.

(verses of the hymn written for the Patronal Festival during St Faith‘s Centenary Celebrations)

From the Ministry Team         October 2002

Dear Friends,

Long before I came to Saint Faith‘s part of the discussion surrounding the centenary celebrations was the idea of a pilgrimage. Towards the end of 1999 this idea had grown and two pilgrimages have been made to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. Many people expressed some real sadness when, for genuine reasons, this year‘s Walsingham Pilgrimage had to be cancelled. Pilgrimage is an exciting adventure, or should be! The idea of pilgrimage is, and always has been, at the very heart of the Christian Faith. We are all on a pilgrimage, ‘from the cradle to the grave’. That’s how life is.

It is always special to make a pilgrimage to a place where there is a particular devotion or connection in our lives. At the time of writing this, some 40 or more people have expressed an interest in going on Pilgrimage to Conques in October 2004.  I had never heard of Conques before coming to S. Faith’s. I had never known much about S. Faith and must confess that when asked I would always say dismissively, ‘there isn‘t much to know about her…”.   More honestly I should have said ‘I haven‘t bothered to find out much about her”. Since visiting Conques, reading some of the history of that place as well as the life of Faith herself, I have learnt much.

Saint Faith was only 13 years old when her father denounced her to the Roman proconsul Dacien because she refused to forswear her then-forbidden Christian faith and make a sacrifice to the goddess Diana. She was tortured, beheaded and buried at Agen in the year 304 AD; five centuries later, her remains were brought to the Benedictine Abbey at Conques. The Abbey is a place of immense peace, calm and holiness, hidden away almost in the wonderful surrounding countryside. The presence of God is so real; in that place where so many people have offered their prayers and given their lives to God, one cannot help but be drawn closer to the living God.

When we went on Pilgrimage to Walsingham in 2000 we had just celebrated our centenary. A wonderful celebration with Bishops and Archdeacons, High Masses, processions, Low Masses, concerts and just about everything else. For me, being at Walsingham afterwards was a necessary reminder that Saint Faith‘s was not the only parish in the Church of England. There are some who haven‘t heard of Saint Faith‘s Crosby! We are but a very small part of a very much bigger picture. When we come together with Christians from other parts of the world, other traditions and outlooks, pilgrimage helps us to discover that afresh. Pilgrimage is, or should be, a humbling experience.

October is a special month for us at Saint Faith‘s as we give thanks to God for our Patron Saint and ask her prayers for our Parish and our life together. When we were baptised, we were not baptised just into the Church of England, or the Church in England, we were baptised, as Christians, into God‘s family, those on earth who have committed themselves to him, and those who love and worship him in the glory of heaven.

So the saints are part of our family - we are part of them. Just as sure as you and I, through Baptism, are brothers and sisters.  As we seek to grow in our Christian lives we must try to learn about the saints - not just the more famous ones - there are many unsung heroes with fascinating lives.  The saints pray for us and we must never be ashamed of asking for their prayers, for ourselves and our loved ones. Let the saints be our friends in heaven.

The saints point us to God and they should be an encouragement to us on our earthly pilgrimage. May Saint Faith pray for us and may God give us his richest blessing at this Saint Faith’s-tide.

Rejoice in God‘s saints, today and all days:
A world without saints forgets how to praise.
In loving, in living, they prove it is true ™
the way of self-giving, Lord, leads us to you.

With my love and prayers,
Father Neil

Confirming the Family!

Sunday, September 8th was a special day for the congregations of St Faith‘s and St Mary’s. It was St Mary’s Patronal Festival, and the two churches combined to worship at St Mary’s at the civilised compromise time of 10.30 am.

The Sung Eucharist was also a Confirmation Service for candidates from both churches, with Bishop James making his first visit to St Mary‘s. But the day was extra special for the Jones family, with four of them being confirmed at the same service. Father and mother, Philip and Elaine, were joined by son Philip and daughter Chelsea.

Our warmest congratulations to all four Joneses on this splendid and unusual family occasion.

The Lord of the Rings: a Rave Review      Chris Price

Over forty years ago, just before taking up my teaching career, I sat with Angie at the farewell lecture at Oxford of the Merton Professor of English Language, a certain J.R.R.Tolkien. Although his epic trilogy had been published a few years, and he was already becoming something of a cult figure among undergraduates, it was as a great academic figure: linguist, mediaevalist and scholar, that he was still best known, and it was on these subjects that he gave his final lecture. He suffered from something of a speech impediment, he tended to mumble, and was scarcely a charismatic figure, but he held everyone‘s attention. Among his parting pronouncements was a plea for the greater use of the colon in English punctuation: one at least of those present has carried that torch to this day. Forty years later, literally during the last hours of my teaching career, we watched, spellbound, the DVD of Peter Jackson‘s superb film of the first part of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ Trilogy: ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ (note that colon again…). In the intervening four decades, as the wheel has come full circle, I have lost count of the number of times I have read the books, together with almost everything else, both works of fiction and works of scholarship, that Tolkien wrote, and not a little of what has been written about him and his writing.

Literary critics have often been critical of Tolkien’s stories; they have seethed at their popularity and spluttered indignantly when on more than one occasion, surveys have voted ‘The Lord of the Rings‘ as the greatest book of all time. And the book has been the foundation of many weird cults and sad second-rate imitations. Tolkien himself deplored this following, and neither he nor his family were at all happy at the idea of filming the epic. And indeed, with the exception of an unfinished and patchy animated version, it has not been filmed until now, when New Zealand director Peter Jackson assembled an amazing cast, enlisted an awesome battery of gadgetry, sought out and created wonderful locations and sets and produced, in one blaze of creative energy, three three-hour films of the entire trilogy. The first was released last December: the other two will follow this winter and in 2003; the accompanying DVDs, with a wealth of fascinating supporting material, are now on sale. Already sales are reaching for the sky, and I would not be surprised if, by the time the releases are complete, the ‘Lord of the Rings‘ trilogy of films were not rated the most successful, and of its kind certainly the greatest, ever made. The films have almost entirely silenced the critics: the reviews have been full of nothing but praise.

Whether or not you have read the book, the first film can stand by itself as a towering achievement. If you have read the text, the film will win your approval for its devoted fidelity to the book, while at the same time you will admire the skill of the adaptation, and the necessary processes of condensation and alteration. If you haven‘t read the book, the film will make you want to, and I envy you the resultant delight of getting lost in the ultimate ripping yarn. Mind you, the book is far more than mere story. It creates and sustains an incredibly detailed world, complete with its own mythology, theology and languages (one of whose elegant scripts I once, briefly, learnt to write). And the tales have a strong moral basis. Tolkien was a lifelong committed Christian, and, although the books contain no recognisably Christian teaching or specific doctrine, and indeed the author strongly denied that they were in any way allegorical, they are firmly based in a recognisable and praiseworthy morality. In this vast unfolding epic journey, good is pitted constantly against evil and the values of love, friendship, loyalty, fellowship and freedom are defended, often to the death.

It would be an unrewarding task to explain the story. Read the book if you haven‘t. Read it again if you have. Above all, go and see the film or the video/DVD, and surrender to an evening of mind-blowing entertainment. The acting, by a distinguished cast, the scenery, the effects, the incredible attention to detail, the music, combine to create something literally out of this world. It is a sustained act of homage by an army of assorted craftsmen, all of them committed to and absorbed in its making, and, more than half a century after Professor Tolkien‘s imagination and scholarship fused together in a unique creation, it has succeeded in enriching a legend and creating something  awe-inspiring for a new century.

Achtung! Alles Lookenspeepers!

Das Computermaschine ist nicht fur Gefingerpoken und Mittengraben. Ist easy schnappen der Springenwerk, blowfusen und poppencorken mit Spitzensparken. Ist nicht fur gewerken bei das Dummkopfen! Das rubbernecken Sightseeren keepen das cottonpicken Hans in das Pockets muss; relaxen und watchen das Blinkenlichten.

(Another spoof internet-originated message: this one is in ‘cod’ German, but you won‘t need a translation... Ed.)

An October Reflection

This month Fr Dennis contributes an extract from Robert Ellsberg‘s ‘All Saints‘, for the Feast Day (October 1st) of St Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897), Carmelite Mystic.

‘I am only a very little soul, who can offer very little things to our Lord‘

The story of St. Therese is lacking in outward drama. She was born in 1873 to a middle-class family in Lisieux, a small town in Normandy. Her mother died when she was four, and Therese and her four older sisters were left in the care of their father, a watchmaker and a man of marked piety. Therese, it seems, was his favourite child. When she was fifteen she received a special dispensation (in light of her young age) to enter the Carmelite convent of Lisieux, where two of her sisters had already preceded her. The rest of her short life was spent within the cloister of this obscure convent. She died of tuberculosis on September 30, 1897, at the age of twenty-four. It might be supposed that the memory of such a short and uneventful life would remain within the walls of the convent. Instead, her name quickly circled the globe. In response to popular acclamation, her canonization was processed with remarkable speed. She was declared a saint in 1925. Her feast is on October 1st.

What lay behind these developments was the posthumous publication of her autobiography, ‘The Story of a Soul’, in which she described her experience and her distinctive insights into the spiritual life. It is a book that might well have been subtitled ‘The Making of a Saint’, for essentially it is about the path to holiness in everyday life. Despite the somewhat cloying and sentimental style of her provincial piety, Therese presents herself as a woman possessed of a will of steel. As a child she had determined to set her sights on the goal of sanctity, and she went on to pursue this objective with courageous tenacity. She called her method of spirituality ‘The Little Way’. Simply put, this meant performing her everyday actions and suffering each petty insult or injury in the presence and love of God.

As a teenager she had literally stormed heaven to win acceptance into the Carmelite convent. Once inside, as her book reveals, she was not content merely to fulfill the letter of her religious rule. Seemingly driven by an inner sense that little time was available, she tried to accelerate the process of sanctification. Devoting herself body and soul to Christ, she offered her life as a  victim  of  love  for  the  salvation  of  souls.  So  acute  was  her  belief  in the Mystical Body of Christ that she believed each act of devotion, each moment of suffering patiently endured, might be credited to other souls in greater need.

Therese considered herself to be of little account — literally a ‘Little Flower’ — though for this reason no less precious in the eyes of God. She also called her Little Way the way of spiritual childhood. But she believed that this way might transform any situation into a profound arena for holiness, and that one might thus, through the effect of subtle ripples, make a significant contribution to transforming the world.

Therese writes of her feeling that she was called to all vocations. She felt a powerful vocation to be a priest — but also a warrior, an apostle, a Doctor of the Church, and a martyr. ‘I would like to perform the most heroic deeds. I feel I have the courage of a Crusader. I should like to die on the battlefield in defense of the church. If only I were a priest!‘ The passage of time has not dulled the challenge of this heartfelt confession. But ultimately Therese came to realize that her vocation was nothing less than Charity itself, a virtue embracing every other vocation. ‘My vocation is love!... In the heart of the Church, who is my Mother, I will be love. So I shall be everything and so my dreams will be fulfilled!‘ At another point she described her mission as simply ?to make Love loved‘.

In  1894 Therese woke on the morning of Good Friday to fine her mouth filled with blood. She rejoiced privately in the thought that she might soon be on her way to heaven. ‘I was absolutely sure that, on this anniversary of His death, my Beloved had let me hear His first call, like a gentle, far-off murmur which heralded His joyful arrival.’ But instead this sign simply heralded the onset of a protracted period of agonizing pain as well as spiritual desolation. Before the end her sufferings would constitute a virtual crucifixion.

Therese wrote her autobiography in obedience to the request of her superior. The last chapters were literally written in extremis. During this time her physical torment was aggravated by periods of intense spiritual suffering. Her consciousness was flooded with terrifying images and at times she came close to despair. By continuing to pray and to hold fast to the image of Christ she eventually passed through this dark night. When she died, surrounded by her Carmelite Sisters, her last words were, ?Oh, I love Him!... My God... I love you.‘

The publication of Therese‘s autobiography immediately struck a responsive chord, especially among the ?simple faithful‘. Few are they who are called to do great things,  to witness before kings and princes,  or to  shoulder the cross of martyrdom. And yet, as Therese demonstrated, there is a principle of continuity between our response to the everyday situations in which we find ourselves and the great arenas in which the saints and martyrs have offered their witness. According to Therese, each moment, accepted and lived in a spirit of love, is an occasion for heroism and a potential step along the path to sanctity.

In the years following her death, Therese was credited with an extraordinary number of miracles. It was remembered that she had once said: ‘After my death I will let fall a shower of roses. I will spend my heaven in doing good upon earth.‘

What‘s a Rosary?
From the magazine of St Nicholas, Blundellsands, contributed by JOAN UTLEY

Mainly, but not solely, used by Roman Catholics (Indeed. Ed.) the rosary is a spiritual exercise involving the repetition of familiar prayers and meditation on aspects of faith. The prayers that are used are fifteen ‘decades‘ (tens) of the Hail Mary, each preceded by one Our Father and followed by one Glory be. The rosary beads act as an aide memoire, each bead representing one prayer.

The use of beads to count prayers goes back to Roman times, and is not restricted to Christianity. In the middle ages, people who were unable to read would be encouraged to use the ‘poor man‘s Psalter‘: the reciting of 150 Our Fathers, in blocks of fifty, as a substitute for the psalms. They too had strings of beads, known as paternosters to help them count.

The Conquering Heroes

The concluding part of BILL TUDHOPE’s account of the reconnoitring party‘s expedition last June to the shrine of St Faith at Conques in southern France.

Fr. Neil spotted the Abbey towers first against the backdrop of the hills. The Green Guide can tell you everything you want to know about the place but the actual physical approach through the wooded hill slopes is so striking.  You make your way gingerly up the main cobbled street to halt for a moment outside the hotel to unload cases then creep up the steep slope to park in front of the brand new Centre Européen d‘Art which is built into the hillside.  What a view from there!

After booking in we were anxious to reconnoitre the abbey and see what arrangements could be made for saying mass the next day in the chapel of St Faith.  Only as we rounded the corner leading into the square could we appreciate for the first time the great carved tympanum over the main entrance with its depiction of the Last Judgement.

By sheer coincidence Frère Joël, the Abbey Administrator, was seated outside the small coffee shop opposite the great main door. Arrangements made we explored the Abbey ourselves along with the other pilgrims and tourists getting the feel of the place.  Magnificent!  And the chapel  of St Faith  herself?  Superb! Fr Neil in his element. We found ourselves invited to sung vespers shortly, joining the other Norbertine Fathers on the main altar, with both the Vicar and Margaret making contributions in English, French and musical terms. The Fathers were well impressed with his singing!

Back to the Hostellerie for dinner on the balcony overlooking the great wooded slopes and the hotel gardens. Now we were served by the lady whom we promptly christened Madame Basile (Fawlty) - so focussed and ferocious in her routine. Poor Margaret ordered out of turn and with bared teeth and a snarl was told to wait!  Nevertheless  Madame Basile was a lovely lady when she relaxed and she even let slip with some pride that Monsieur le Prince d‘Angleterre, Charles, had stayed there once, but she did not reveal which room.

A spectacular thunderstorm that night freshened the air for the next morning‘s service and - pleasant surprise - Frère Joël had set out one of the abbey treasures for Father Neil ; a venerable, generations-old chasuble.  So there we were ™ from St Faith‘s, Crosby, in the chapel of St Faith in Conques in southern France enjoying the surroundings as the Vicar said mass. It was a most moving experience' and then to turn around and see how many pilgrims and tourists had gathered and received the blessing at the end of Fr. Neil’s service.

It was inevitable, then, that Father Neil should seek out the abbey‘s main organ and before long we were treated at first to some quiet Cesar Franck reflections as he experimented with that impressive instrument. Then he let rip with a muscular rendition of Widor‘s Toccata. At this point the abbey visitors and pilgrims turned as one, totally ignoring guides and lectures, and settled down to enjoy the performance. Great stuff! Quite naturally Frère Joël’s response was to invite the vicar back to give a concert some time.

From there we made our way to the abbey treasury, which has a unique collection of Church relics, mainly reliquaries from the 9th to the 16th centuries. Gosh, you should see these! The Statue-Reliquaire de Sainte Foy, particularly,  because it is studded with all kinds of precious stones and gems that have been added over the centuries by pilgrims on their way to St James of Compostella in Spain.

Lunch was taken on the balcony of the Hotel St Jacques opposite the Hostellerie overlooking the cobbled main street with a good glimpse of the abbey towers and the mist rolling up the hills beyond. As the vicar and old Frère Jerome congratulated each other on their anniversaries in the priesthood, ten years and sixty respectively, we bade the Fathers au revoir, promising to return as soon as possible and they looking forward to that.

We took our leave of Madame ‘Basile‘ also in the same vein then headed for Mazamet on the edge of the Parc Regional Du Haut Languedoc.

And so our journey the next day found us making for Carcassonne further south.  The climb into the hills above Mazamet was spectacular and made us pause at one point on the winding road and have a view of the town  below and beyond framed by forested slopes.

From there we wound through mile after mile of luxurious green terrain, climbing all the time, and  headed onwards with the sun breaking through and revealing all this gorgeous land as we approached Carcassonne.  How hot it was as we reached the outskirts!

What a place this is! One of the best preserved mediaeval walled cities in Europe. Absolutely brilliant. After a  spot of lunch in a most pleasant Bar-tabac  off we went.  The afternoon was spent in the heat strolling and well... just looking.

Time to move on to find a  place for the night; we followed the sun west and took the road to Revel for the way to Toulouse.

Looking back, unkind persons  might frown at our excursions into good wine - the Gaillacs, Medocs like the Chateaux de Conques, Bordeaux (Mouton Cadet) - or the range of menus - the Magret de Canard Masala, Escalope de Veau Sauce Aromates, the Paves de Rumsteak au Poivre vert followed by Mousse au Chocolate aux Noisettes et au Whiskey or the Clafoutis aux Apricots - but they can console themselves with the fact that these excursions were undertaken with some reluctance and only in a spirit of pious exploration as pilgrims to ascertain that all was up to standard.

So we did it. The writer has set out one version of the journey but each of us was powerfully affected in a separate and individual way and carries memories that will stay with us always. One thing is for sure. We will be back!

Dinner Merry-go-Round
Saturday 16th November

Enjoy an excellent meal, each of the three courses in a different room, with different hosts and guests at each course, meeting up for coffee with all forty participants at the last venue. Good food, good fun, good company; good value at £12 including wine, and an enjoyable way to boost church funds. Last year‘s event was the most successful ever, so please sign the list when it appears at the back of church. Further details from Linda Nye.

An End and a Beginning  Chris Price

Two successive days in August saw the end of one season at St Faith‘s and the beginning of another. The Saturday was the last of the summer season of open church mornings and recitals. Fr Neil and Ged Callacher entertained superbly on the same piano, bringing down the curtain on a succession of 19 such events. At each of them visitors were made welcome to eat, drink, explore the church and listen to a free recital of half an hour or more. Sales of refreshments and other items, together with income from donations, brought a useful boost to church funds, and the numbers attending were as high as 90 on one occasion, and rarely fewer than 40. Our thanks, as always, to the talented recitalists, and of course the church members who formed teams to prepare and serve refreshments, arrange and introduce the concerts and welcome visitors. This sixth season (we started the open days as a morale-boosting exercise during the interregnum) was the most successful yet, and the programme for next year is already being finalised.

The following day was the audition session for the February 2003 pantomime. Over 90 people crowded St Mary‘s hall to audition for parts in ‘Cinderella‘, to offer their services in other ways or just to soak up the atmosphere (‘the roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd…’). There was much healthy competition for roles, and inevitably many had to be disappointed, but eventually Ugly Sisters, Prince Charming, Buttons and the rest of the crew were cast, scripts and rehearsal schedules given out, and we were ready to get the show on the road. Devotees of the United Benefice‘s past productions will be reassured to know that the jokes will be every bit as bad as in past years, and the performances no less outrageous. Last year was a sell-out, so when tickets go on sale get in there quick or face disappointment. It‘s going to be quite something (Oh no, it isn’t! Oh yes it is!)

Bishop James Hannington     First Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa

Barbara Wolstenholme

My name is Hannington. I‘ll show you to your room. You will be able to sit on the balcony and watch the herds of buffalo, zebra and elephant coming to the water-hole.

We were at the lodge in Tsavo West game park in Kenya, almost half-way between Mombasa on the coast and Nairobi.

I remember a Bishop Hannington who was murdered,  I replied.

I am named after him. He was a very brave man.

I thought immediately of my great-grandfather‘s diaries. Thomas Wakefield became the first Methodist missionary in East Africa in 1862, setting up a station at Ribe, about 15 miles from Mombasa. For many months, Thomas laboured alone, clearing and planting 30 acres of land, trying to learn Kiswahili, building reservoirs, and preaching the Gospel. He suffered from diarrhoea, indigestion, fever and boils and, during these early days, he was most grateful for the kindly support of a Church Missionary Society minister, Revd. Johann Rebmann, who had arrived in Africa in 1846 and was based at Rabai, just a few miles from Ribe.

By 1885, Wakefield‘s diary reports many bright and happy episodes. No longer were we a small company of Europeans amongst the surrounding Africans.

He describes his first meeting with Bishop Hannington who had come out to his African See:

One evening whilst conversing with the CMS missionaries, steps and voices were heard in the darkness outside the house. A tall travel-stained figure entered the room and we saw for the first time James Hannington, Bishop of Equatorial Africa.

Our next meeting was at Zanzibar, where he had come to make arrangements for what proved to be his last journey. We bade farewell, never to see him again in this life.

In February 1886, at sunrise, just as the Rabai Christians were going to church the Bishop‘s caravan arrived, but without the Bishop — at the front, a man carrying a blue pennon, the African symbol of mourning with ICHABOD in white letters. Weeping and distraught women accompanied a straggling line of limping sorry-looking men, weary, and travel-stained.

Bishop Hannington had left for Uganda the previous July to see if a route through Maasai country were practicable. When just four days from Uganda, the entire party had been arrested and imprisoned. A few days later all except four men who escaped were massacred.

Bishop Hannington was 38 years old when he was murdered. At the time, there were some, eager to criticise, who felt that he had rashly thrown away his life. In the Anglican Cathedral in Mombasa, a brass plaque states that the dome was constructed in memory of The Rt. Rev. James Hannington, D.D., the first Bishop of the Diocese of Eastern Equatorial Africa who was murdered in 1885. Perhaps more important than the plaque is the fact that his name is revered and his sacrifice still remembered by African Christians today.

Ichabod — Hebrew for ‘the glory is departed‘ — see 1 Sam.iv 21.

A Welcome Guest                   Joyce Jones

I was intrigued by the above-titled poem (writer unknown) contributed by Mike Homfray to the September Newslink, and wondered just how I would react if Jesus visited unexpectedly.

Hearing the knock at the door I would open it and, to coin a phrase, would be gob-smacked. I‘d like to think I would recover sufficiently to welcome Him, invite Him in, and offer a drink (tea, coffee, perhaps something stronger) and then offer Him the opportunity to have a wash and rest after his long journey and, assuming He would accept this, I would get on with preparing a meal. With having Jewish friends I am well acquainted with their dietary laws, and I always maintain a well-stocked larder and freezer.

I would get a nice meal started, contact my husband (assuming he was not home with me), ring through to the Vicarage to tell Neil of my unexpected guest and ask him to join us for a meal, then dash upstairs to change out of my housework gear: I always seem to be in the throes of the worst possible household tasks when visitors call unexpectedly! Obviously I would be trying to calm down and think of all the questions I wanted to ask, but just where could I begin? My mother and father, my grandparents, my family and friends who have died: would they recognise me when my time came to join them? What exactly happens ‘on the other side‘? What was His life like when he was living on this earth? What did She think of the world as it is today? Will there ever be a time when all nations live together in peace and harmony? What is the solution to so much deprivation and hunger throughout the world? The list of questions is endless.

I would like to think I would serve a meal worthy of my honoured guest, and that She would enjoy spending time in my house.

My next move would be to ask if He would like to meet my close family and dearest friends, visit St Mary‘s Church (St Faith‘s too of course!) and then perhaps visit our two Cathedrals and maybe a general tour of Liverpool.

Alas, this is all wishful thinking. In reality, if I ever answered the knock on the door and saw Jesus standing there, I would be so overwhelmed that I’‘ just buckle at the knees and swoon in a dead faint!

E-prayers, anyone?

‘Church offers prayer service to internet congregation‘ …

... so reads the headline in a recent Daily Telegraph article, reporting on a new service offered by Rosslyn Chapel, a Scottish Episcopalian (=Scottish Anglican) church near Edinburgh. They are thought to be the first church in Britain to take ‘e-prayer’ requests. ‘They have promised to keep individual requests confidential. But e-prayers have so far covered a wide range of topics from exam results and relationships to crises of faith and job interviews‘, says the report The service is an electronic extension of a physical prayer book in the chapel; it allows users to type in their messages online and send them in anonymously. A spokesman for the ‘Piscies‘, rejoicing in the name of Andrew Heavens, said ‘With a physical prayer-book, people might worry someone could see them in church and look at what they have written, but this is totally anonymous. So people have really been pouring their hearts out.‘ Scores of people from as far away as America have already lodged messages on the ‘virtual’ prayer notice board.

Requests are printed out daily and offered to God in the chapel by a member of the 120-strong congregation. The priest in charge of Rosslyn Chapel says: ‘These e-prayers are allowing us to build a long-distance worshipping community. We live increasingly disconnected lives. If this is a way that we can connect people to a church, then it must be a good idea.‘ The weblink is

All Saints‘ and All Souls‘ Tide

Friday 1st November - Eve of All Souls‘ Day

8.00pm  Solemn Eucharist by candlelight and prayers for the departed.
For this service we send out invitations to all who have been bereaved in the past year. Please make every effort to be present. The list of names of the departed is read out at this Eucharist.

Saturday 2nd November - All Souls Day

10am Rosary
10.30am Eucharist of Requiem (said)

Sunday 3rd November - All Saints‘ Sunday

11.00am Solemn Eucharist and Parade Service
7.00pm Sung Compline and Benediction

Friday 22nd November at 7.30pm

Saint Cecilia’s Day Concert

Peter O‘Connor - Flute
Bishop Michael Marshall and Father Neil - Piano Duet

Tickets: £6 (to include a glass of wine)

Thought for the Month
Next time you feel like complaining, remember: your rubbish bin probably has better food in it than those of thirty percent of people in this world.

Ten Things ....

You probably didn‘t know, about the next Archbishop of Canterbury

Since the welcome news of his appointment as 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, the press has gone to town on Rowan Williams, the 52-year-old Bishop of Monmouth and Archbishop of Wales. Here are a few odd entertaining extra facts...

? He can't drive, and is driven everywhere by his chaplain.
? He is hard of hearing in one ear.
? He was a keen actor at Oxford University, starring as Thomas More in A
    Man for All Seasons.
? He learnt Russian in six months and speaks seven languages (including
? He has had curious fashion tastes, with a particular fondness for black
? He always travels second class.
? He is married to Jane, the daughter of a former Bishop of Bradford.
? Although he has taught in theological colleges, he is the only bishop never
    to have gone through training for ordination.
? When a young schoolboy, he had a permanent note excusing him from all
    school sports.
? He is very fond of classical music, especially Renaissance Baroque and Bach

From the Registers

Holy Baptism
7 July Georgia Anne Poole
 daughter of David and Jacqueline
4 August Christopher Owen
 son of Steven and Tina
1 September Samantha Holly Hughes
 daughter of Iain and Lynn

Holy Matrimony
21 July David Loan and Rebecca Walker
17 August Alex Sinclair and Heather Wilson
7 September Simon Roberts and Jane Dagnall
 Andrew Morgan and Sharon Hughes

Burial of Ashes
14 July Norah Delaney

God is Watching!

Up at the head of the cafeteria one of the nuns had placed a big bowl of bright red, fresh, juicy apples. Besides the bowl she placed a note which read: ‘Take only one. Remember, God is watching!‘ At the other end of the table was a bowl of freshly-baked cocolate chip biscuits, still warm from the oven. Beside this bowl lay a little note scrawled in a child‘s handwriting, which read: ‘Take all you want. God is watching the apples.’

From a Roman Catholic primary school.

Just for Fun
What do these mean?

1. O-ER-T-O-   1. Painless operation
2. minI?LL BE THEREute  2. I’ll be there in a minute
3. atFRANKFRANKra  3. Frank Sinatra
4. OdOoOmOo   4. Dominoes

Poem from (near) the Back Pew     Chris Price

The tragic deaths of Holly and Jessica have left their mark on everyone in past weeks. Watching helplessly as the events unrolled, I was reminded that, just six years ago, the nation was moved by another slaughter of the innocents, when a gunman mowed down little children at a Dunblane Primary school.

Looking again at a poem I wrote in March, 1996, I was struck by the sad parallels: the loss of young lives, the outpouring of a nation‘s grief, and, in the end, the hope that some good may yet come from evil. We have seen powerful witness to the work of the church in Soham and Ely, and evidence of the dignity and resilience of the human spirit. Those qualities were shown also in the aftermath of the Dunblane massacre, and the poem is respectfully dedicated to the people of both communities.

Dunblane Postscript

For the little children of Dunblane
Death came suddenly in the cold morning,
Snatching them from their small bodies‘ warmth,
Scattering them like broken, discarded dolls
On the unfeeling gymnasium floor.
Now, at the gates where their mothers left them,
A thousand fading flowers blow in the wind and the rain.
The world beats its path to their door
With cuddly toys and words of baffled love.

In the face of such unspeakable horror
It seems that nothing can help or heal.
Silent grief is etched on every face
And people who have never spoken before
Hold one another and murmur their inarticulate sorrow.
As another grey morning dawns
On families plundered of their hope and joy,
Ministers and priests prepare their pronouncements
And a quiet cathedral becomes a place of pilgrimage.

No-one can tell us why:
No formula can explain or reconcile
This swathe of carnage cut through a suffering town.
Perhaps only, as the days succeed,
And the world‘s grief and its token silence
Are heard by the Allan Water‘s side,
Something may work its way through;
Speaking of shared sorrow and remembered loss:
The voice of a common humanity at the graveside.

For, in the face of a purposeless and empty evil,
We may yet present a better sacrifice:
A people working to heal and reconcile,
A bearing of burdens too heavy to shoulder alone
And a gospel that may still redeem mankind.
In teacher and worker, parent and child,
We see unrealised strengths of caring love.
Nothing can restore what is lost and must be mourned,
But from it something better may yet flower.

Apologies to Ruth Winder for two mistakes which crept into last month‘s item about her sister‘s illness. This is what should have been printed:

Sincere and heartfelt thanks to St Faith‘s and St Mary‘s clergy and congregations for the concern and kindness you have shown me during my sister Angela‘s illness, and for your prayers for her. Angela is still struggling physically and emotionally, and has a long struggle ahead to make even the sloghtest progress. Please continue with me to pray for her. God bless you all and thank you.

Thank You