For some reason I was not permitted that strapline.
Wonderful afternoon. Sun. Family Fun. Generations together: doing something that families have done at Hardway since God was a boy.
More pictures here
For some reason I was not permitted that strapline.
Wonderful afternoon. Sun. Family Fun. Generations together: doing something that families have done at Hardway since God was a boy.
More pictures here
I can only imagine this captured the spirit of the man… (taken at the Crem yesterday as I was walking out – it must have been from a funeral earlier in the day).
These flowers, beauties of God’s creation, and costing huge sums of money will now simply rot. What a waste. All those acres of entries in The News, all those letters spelling G-R-A-N-D-M-A which only serve to proclaim to others how you feel, rather like the rich man in the temple and which serve no good in this world. That money would be better sent to charity.
When I die it will be a hessian sack and a single red rose from our own garden. You can spend the money on the parish, or on mission, on a candle in prayer or on a drink in memory of me, or better still, all four.
All I really want to specify, and you are now all my witnesses to this, and I have bored close friends and family with this ad nauseum is a really lovely full-on Requiem Mass: into Church the night before, the beautiful Vespers for the Dead (Black Vestments), Requiem Mass the following day in White Vestments for the Resurrection and then a westward-facing burial – in vestments and biretta if they havn’t already been given away – (as is traditional with a priest – laity are buried eastward-facing as that is from whence Christ will return and priests are buried westward facing towards the people in their cure). Spend no more money on funeral directors than is absolutely necessary, share the sacraments and pray for my soul.
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A Short Introduction
When someone dies, those who are left behind feel many emotions – grief, sorrow, relief at release from pain, fond memories of a life well spent, regret at lost possibilities. Yet, in the face of death, the Church proclaims that God has created each person for eternal life.
The Office for the Dead is a part of the daily cycle of prayer for the church, and through this affirms that death is itself a part of life, and that we are continually joined in prayer with those who have gone before us before the Throne of Grace.
The hymn is said together, and the psalmody is said antiphonally, with the officiant beginning the antiphon to be joined by the congregation. The officiant says the odd verses, and the congregation responds with the even verses. The psalmody is said without pauses, and all end with:
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. World without end. Amen.
THE OFFICE FOR THE DEAD VESPERS
HYMN (SAID TOGETHER)
Merciful Saviour, hear our humble prayer,
For all your servants passed beyond life’s care;
Though sin has touched them, yet their weakness spare.
Refrain: O grant them pardon, Jesus Saviour blest,
And give their spirits light and endless rest.
O gentle Saviour, Lamb for sinners slain,
Look on your brothers, cleanse their hearts of stain:
Your cross has won them everlasting gain. (Refrain)
Lord, at your passion love did conquer fear;
Now share that triumph with these souls so dear:
Banish their sorrows, let your light appear. (Refrain)
PSALMODY (SAID ANTIPHONALLY)
Ant. 1: The Lord will guard you from every evil, he will guard your soul.
Psalm 120 (121)
I lift up my eyes to the mountains:*
from where shall come my help?
My help shall come from the Lord*
who made heaven and earth.
May he never allow you to stumble!*
Let him sleep not, your guard.
No, he sleeps not nor slumbers,*
The Lord is your guard and your shade;*
at your right side he stands.
By day the sun shall not smite you*
nor the moon in the night.
The Lord will guard you from evil,*
he will guard your soul.
The Lord will guard your going and coming *
both now and for ever.
Ant. The Lord will guard you from every evil, he will guard your soul.
Ant. 2: If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt, Lord, who would survive?
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord,*
Lord, hear my voice!
O let your ears be attentive*
to the voice of my pleading.
If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt,*
Lord, who would survive?
But with you is found forgiveness:*
for this we revere you.
My soul is waiting for the Lord,*
I count on his word.
My soul is longing for the Lord*
more than watchman for daybreak.
Let the watchman count on daybreak*
and Israel on the Lord.
Because with the Lord there is mercy*
and fulness of redemption,
Israel indeed he will redeem*
from all its iniquity.
Ant. If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt, Lord, who would survive?
Ant. 3: As the father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son gives life to anyone he chooses.
Canticle: Phil 2:6-11
Though he was in the form of God,*
Jesus did not count equality with god as a thing to be grasped.
He emptied himself,
taking the form of a servant,*
being born in the likeness of men.
And being found in human form,*
he humbled himself and became obedient unto death,*
even death on a cross.
Therefore God has highly exalted him*
and bestowed on him the name which is above every name,
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,*
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
And every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,*
to the glory of God the Father.
Ant. As the father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son gives life to anyone he chooses.
SCRIPTURE READING 1 Cor 15:55-57
Death, where is your victory? Death where is your sting? Now the sting of death is sin, and sin gets its power from the Law. So let us thank God for giving us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
R: In you, O Lord, I take refuge. Let me not be lost forever. Repeat R:
V: I will rejoice and be glad because of your merciful love. R:
V: Glory be. R:
Let us pray to Christ who gives us the hope that our mortal bodies will become like his in glory.
R: Lord, you are our life and our resurrection.
Christ, Son of the living God, you raised your friend Lazarus from the dead; – grant life and glory to the faithful departed, redeemed by your precious blood. R: Lord, you are our life and our resurrection.
Compassionate Saviour, you wiped away all tears when you gave back to the widow of Nain her only son; – comfort those who mourn because the one they love has died. R: Lord, you are our life and our resurrection.
Christ, our Redeemer, destroy the reign of sin in our mortal bodies; – let us not receive the wages of death but the reward of eternal life. R: Lord, you are our life and our resurrection.
Christ, our Saviour, look on those who live without hope and do not know you;- let them believe in the resurrection and the life of the world to come. R: Lord, you are our life and our resurrection.
You restored sight to the man born blind and opened the eyes of his faith; – reveal your face to the dead who have not seen your glory. R: Lord, you are our life and our resurrection.
Lord, be merciful to us when we leave this earthly dwelling; – make for us a home in heaven that will last forever. R: Lord, you are our life and our resurrection.
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come; thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
Grant, Lord, we pray,
that as our faith is built on the Risen Christ,
so too may our hope be steadfast, as we await the resurrection of your servant N. from the dead. We make our prayer through our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ
The priest and the people depart in silence.
A vigil may be kept by the coffin.
Text: Matthew 13:24-43
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like…”
In the name of the +Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I have heard it said that Heaven really must be a wonderful place, because no-one has yet come back to complain!
It is certainly something which we think we have an idea about, it is certainly our goal and perhaps through the grace of God, it will be our reward also. But we do not properly know what the Kingdom of Heaven will be like: cartoon images abound of clouds and angels with halos and wings compete with pastoral images of rolling golf courses and big houses.
Christ spoke frequently of the kingdom of heaven and its relationship to this earth, but only obliquely described it in practical terms. It was far more important for him to outline the nature of heaven than its substance. For us, it is the nature of heaven which should be our concern, not the substance.
Thus, this pericope, or gobbet of scripture serves to bring together two explorations of the Kingdom of Heaven by likening it to something familiar to the people of the age. Both times in this reading he uses the phrase “The Kingdom of Heaven is like…”
We should be careful not to overstep our understanding of these similes, for Christ does not say “The Kingdom of Heaven is”. We are not ready yet for what the kingdom actually is, and so it is revealed to us in language and concepts that we mere human beings can handle.
Both of these examples gives us a glimpse of an aspect of heaven, but without the full picture. Christ, who came from heaven to earth is the only one who is gifted with that full picture.
When we are always with our children, we don’t really notice them growing. One moment, they are light and easy to pick up and the next… One moment that blazer engulfs them and in the twinkling of an eye it is halfway up their arm. Those marks on the door post serve to prove what their Aunties remark when they havn’t seen the children in a while: ooooo – havn’t you grown.
Just because we don’t notice something, doesn’t mean that it isn’t happening. How often do people blame God for all the bad things that happen in the world and neglect to praise him when something good comes off? How often do we write off God’s blessings on us as the work of our own skill, our brilliance, and forget to thank He who makes all of this possible?
The Kingdom of Heaven has come to earth, in hidden form, before our eyes and we did not spot it, for it came in the form of a man. That Kingdom will come crashing into earth again in the future, and when heaven and earth coincide, and it will be like nothing we have experienced ever before.
A friend of mine was a viticulturist, a grower of vines and the creator of some of the south coast’s best vineyards before he ran away like me to join not the circus, but the priesthood. He spoke of the link between the fermentation of wine and our growth in the spirit: it takes a little yeast, it works in a mysterious way, it works hidden in the dark, and transforms simple grape juice into something so much more.
Just like our love, wine is created in the warmth, it grows under the pleasure of God. It is more than simply for ourselves that we experience this growth, for we have preached this faith for far longer than the modern ‘self-help’ gurus and life-trainers; the faith in Christ moves beyond the personal and into the collective, making us children of God. We are transformed, like wine, in subtle ways, and the ordinary is made extraordinary, fruit sugar becomes alcohol.
Of course, this is what Christ does for us each and every day. He takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary; he takes the bread and wine and gives us his body and blood. He takes our ordinary lives and transforms us.
The humble mustard seed is transformed into a shrub, it expands and takes over, filling the area and beyond. That is growth, growth in the spirit, growth in faith and love, growth in our humanity.
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like…” Well, like nothing on earth really. The Kingdom of Heaven is beyond our human understanding, but on the authority of Christ it will be better than anything we can imagine. It will be broader than the mustard shrub, when heaven crashes into earth it will be beyond belief. It is not us or our values who will decide who is there – for that is God’s choice alone. For now, we must continue to grow in Christ’s likeness.
This is why coming to church, participating in the mass and receiving the Eucharist is more than a duty. This is why the breaking of bread is the unique, the only hallmark of authentic Christian Community It is more than something we do, because we have always done it so. We continue to do this, and to encourage others to do this, because it is a part of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives; we might not be able to see it happening, but it happens under our very noses – transforming us from a seed into a great harvest. This is what the Kingdom of Heaven is like!
Yesterday was a really busy day, my first day back properly from shoulder surgery, first day driving and it seemed that everything that had been on pause over the past few weeks had jumped straight to fast-forward. Shoulder really hurts this morning as a result. Might take it easier today as a result.
After a couple of local pastoral visits, I went up to a regional Prison to visit a parishioner there. We know what the papers think about prison: that it’s a cushy life with three square meals a day and Sattelite TV, but like most common misconceptions, it doesn’t hold up to reality. Anyone who has been inside a prison, either visiting or as an inmate will know of the dehumanising, grinding malevolence that broods in such places. These places are truely the habitations of Dementors, as they rob the soul of any sense of light or peace. Built in Victorian times, this prison exudes the stench of institutional bleach which barely covers the human degredation behind it. What is it about that supposedly clean smell which just seems to suggest that there is something more sinister, nasty and malevolent behind it. It’s not just the sweat, blood, semen and fag smell you get from 600-odd men cramped together in very close proximity, it is also fear, insecurity and grinding hopelessness.
This chap has been on remand for the past 3 months, his case doesn’t even come up until next month, and he is expecting 2 years. He deeply regrets his actions: it was a bad call moment, a momentary loss of judgement (made whilst under the influence), and one for which he must pay a price; and yet we recognise that it could have been worse. It has, however, given him a chance for renewal and redemption. I baptised him only a couple of months before this terrible, sorrowful event, knowing that we was already on a journey to escape the drink and the drugs and to embrace the faith. Since being inside he has remained clean – weekly urine screening for the drugs that are very freely available inside prison have been clear, and he has started some education, and been regular in chapel. The prison chaplain (a female Church Army Captain) tells me that he has been building on the work I started with him: bible study, worship, prayer. This isn’t just ticking boxes to please a magistrate, but a continuation of what God was already doing with this young man.
By visiting him (and this was my second visit), he was reassured that in the world which goes on outside of prison there was a community which was still praying for him, for his partner and their children (whom he misses terribly: they are small and they have had no contact since the domestic incident – just to hear their voices was a sad, poignant moment) and for the whole sorry incident. It was only 45 minutes of encounter: prayer, annointing, absolution and blessing, but it was one which will stay with me for some time. A visceral reminder of the reality of life, the fragilness of our existence in society, the nearness of all of us from stupid, terrible mistakes which we must all face up to. And amid all the hopelessness, lies a small kernal of hope: that this young man can use this sledgehammer-of-an-experience to rebuild his life, stay off the drugs, rebuild some self-esteem and grow his fledgeling faith.
Christ was there in that bland room of the prison chapel. He embraced both of us.
31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Even in the darkness pits of dispair, Christ is with the prisoners. Regardless of their deeds, for which they will receive judgement both on this earth and in heaven, none are beyond the reach of Christ and his all-powerful, all transforming love. Christ was there, amid that stench. Oh yes.
Have to be up at Stupid-O’Clock tomorrow to get a train to Coventry for the next Round Table Discussion on the Fresh Expressions Brand Campaign. Although I remain a little cynical about the corporatisation of these little ragbag collections of individuals, underneath it is a wonderful opportunity for those working in this field to share with one another, to support each other on the journey, to steal borrow resources and ideas from one another, and it gets underwritten by the Church! Blesséd simply wouldn’t have the money to get me to these meetings under my own steam, so for that 0.0000000001% of your quota that has gone to fresh expressions and is converted into a train ticket tomorrow, I thank you all.
Without the Fresh Expressions corporate brand, I would not have had the chance to share a journey with Sue from Visions (and her wonderful music), Ian from Moot (and that brilliant stuff on community life and prayer), Michael from feig and Roderick from Contemplative Fire; Toby and Sally, I knew already, Tim Sledge is an ikon of this field anyway; and many, many others. This has taught me so much, and I consider myself privileged to share a table with them…
Blesséd has always been too badly behaved to be a formal “fresh expression”, it limps from event to event with no formal funding, just kind benefactors and priests who don’t mind too much when we burn a hole in their carpet [mea culpa, Father Draper!. This is the essence of what a fresh expression ought to look like: locally based, poorly funded, shockingly ramshackle and yet filled with a deep yearning for God in its midst. Perhaps that is why I instantly resist the knee-jerk “Fresh Expression? Let’s do a Cafe Church!” unthinking response. More recently that has become “Fresh Expression? Let’s do a U2Charist!”. You can hear me yawning from here. Authentic worship from authentic communities is what we are called to, not a blind aping of someone else’s creativity.
The next task is for us to come together and create a liturgy which is authentic to a number of these small, intimate and distinctly different communities which will be presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury of December 8th in Coventry Cathedral. An entire day of prayer, worship, pilgrimage, eucharistic devotion and reflection: not a conference, but a space in which all those in a Catholic, Contemplative sphere can share and grow. I hope many anglocatholic clergy, readers of this blog, worshippers, community members and all can come up to Coventry for this. I pray that Blesséd may have a contribution in this mass.
…or much more likely, none of the above?
or “one handed typing for beginners”
or “hurrah for mobile internet”
No one in the parish will have failed to miss my frozen shoulder – after all, I have whinged about it for England and all together stopped the Ministry of Lugging* in the parish. Well now, courtesy of the wonderful St Luke’s Hospital for the Clergy and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore I have had it sorted with an arthroscopic capsular release.
What could be a day case for normal people turns into a 3-day admission, drips, syringe drivers and most alarmingly a complete nerve block which paralyses the left arm from shoulder to fingertips – no sensation, no movement, nothing just a dead weight.
As pain relief it is brilliant, but to be honest with you it is freaking me out. I have to have it elevated and abducted, so it stands lifeless in a roller towel on a dripstand, inert. It must be a bit like what a stroke feels like, and it’s terrible. My prayers for anyone who has had a stroke – you don’t appreciate how much 2 hands matter.
I finally managed to connect my PC to my Orange Mobile N95 so I can sit here and amuse myself. The secret is:
Nokia N95 Modem (for PC) Config for Orange World
Modem Config: Advanced -> AT+CGDCONT=1,"IP","orangeinternet"
Phone Number: *99#
I document it here in case a) I forget it b) it helps someone else.
Phone coverage in Stanmore is terrible, but I can get 115k connection (I used to be happy with ISDN at home once, see how spoiled we are), so it is adequate, and although I have to type right handed (so few capitals and very slow typing, here I am blogging, writing the first draft of the Greenbelt Mass Script, and thinking of new database structures. It’s okay. I thank people for their prayers – received the sacrament this evening from a lovely chaplain, Mother Wendy, the second woman to be Ordained in the Church of England and after we had prayed together and I was healed by Christ’s saving, life-giving body (ah yes, as well – to paraphrase what a wise priest once said to me – God created the arthroscope too, and the hands which bear it), we spoke of GAFCON and of Synod’s historic response to the Holy Spirit earlier this week. Your prayers have certainly helped. Thank you.
Bed soon. How much harder can it be to blag aother cup of tea? I pray I will be home tomorrow, God Willing
*the Ministry of Lugging, along with the Ministry of Photocopying is what a priest really does those other 6 days a week.
I don’t know why I allow myself to get wound up by Patronal Festivals: they should be (and indeed are) a reflection of the charism of the parish. I should just go with the flow on them, and enjoy them more; but I just want it to be right.
Joined in the Sanctuary by a host of Deanery Clergy, a guest preacher – Fr Phil Ritchie from St Wilfrid’s, Chichester (and a fellow survivor of the College of the Resurrection), a whole host of young servers and a newly ordained deacon in the shape of Fr. Steven Threadgill. Add to that an augmented choir, and the sanctuary was full.
We went to town on the glitter of the evening – lights and incense ++
However, having gone through a serving rehearsal, we got to the offertory and spotted that no-one had thought to get out the elements! No host, no wine, no chalices, no – thing!
The MC hurries into the sacristy and starts throwing it together. We have another first verse of Amazing Grace, the offertory hymn, and it comes together! Just like the rest of the charism of St Thomas the Apostle: a little unplanned, slightly ramshackle, but with a good heart and it simply comes off and works. We are truely a parable in action. I can’t believe that I didn’t spot it, and neither can Liam. It was just one of those things, and at the end of the day, I thought the Mass was simply lovely: Christ centred, Spirit filled and a foretaste of the heavenly banquet.
The patronal-festival service sheet is in PDF format (so the pages might look out of order, but they print okay.)
Solid, dependable choices which most people would know.
Fr. Ritchie preached well, and entertainly told us of frightening cats in his underpants whilst speaking of the visceral honesty of St Thomas as illustrated by Carravaggio:
Visual Intercessions – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGCoPkowkZs which went down very well. As the images led the prayers, so Zoe added a sprinkle of incense to a large balti dish of charcoals which filled the small sanctuary.
From the inside cover of the Mass book:
Was ever another command so obeyed [as “Do this in Remembrance of me? For century after century, spreading slowly to every continent and country and among every race on earth, this action has been done, in every conceivable human circumstance, for every conceivable human need from infancy and before it to extreme old age and after it, from the pinnacles of earthly greatness to the refuge of fugitives in the caves and dens of the earth. Men have found no better thing than this to do for kings at their crowning and for criminals going to the scaffold; for armies in triumph or for a bride and bridegroom in a little country church; for the proclamation of a dogma or for a good crop of wheat; for the wisdom of the Parliament of a mighty nation or for a sick old woman afraid to die; for a schoolboy sitting an examination or for Columbus setting out to discover America; for the famine of whole provinces or for the soul of a dead lover; in thankfulness because a father did not die of pneumonia; for a village headman much tempted to return to fetish because the yams had failed; because the Turk was at the gates of Vienna; for the repentance of someone; for the settlement of a strike; for a son for a barren woman; for Captain so-and-so, wounded and prisoner of war; while the lions roared in the nearby amphitheatre; on the beach at Dunkirk; while the hiss of scythes in the thick June grass came faintly through the windows of the church; tremulously, by an old monk on the fiftieth anniversary of his vows; furtively, by an exiled bishop who had hewn timber all day in a prison camp near Murmansk; gorgeously, for the canonisation of S. Joan of Arc. One could fill many pages with the reasons why people have done this, and not tell a hundredth part of them. And best of all, week by week and month by month, on a hundred thousand successive Sundays, faithfully, unfailingly, across all the parishes of Christendom, the priests have done this just to make the plebs sancta Dei – the holy common people of God.
Dom Gregory Dix, OSB The Shape of the Liturgy
I just love this. It was inside my first mass book.
Finshed with fresh coffee and doughnuts. Hurrah! Deo Gratias – as always – Deo Gratias!
Am knackered now, how will I feel after Saturday’s Summer Fayre. Will be looking forward to shoulder surgery next week as a rest!
It is now on the Greenbelt website: http://www.greenbelt.org.uk/festival/2008/lineup/event/2228
Blesséd has now started to go overground. This is the blurb on their website. Make a date in your diary for 6pm on Monday 25th August. Scary stuff. Orate Pro Nobis
Sacraments with Attitude. Eucharist with backbeats. Unashamedly Anglocatholic, wildly and rabidly inclusive: a sacramental exploration through which we are transformed by a full-on encounter with the real presence of Christ.
Blessed has been shuffling around the back of the Church of England since 2003, causing nuisance and upsetting the calm quiet of evensong. Coming from a distinctly anglocatholic heritage from urban Portsmouth, its mission is to seek the sacramental in all of creation, and to embrace the sacramental life in wildly, rabidly inclusive ways.
Not always eucharistic, but always deeply embedded with sign, symbol and the mystery of incarnation, Blessed has been trying to see what a new ecclesial community without parish boundaries looks like.
Far too badly behaved to be a formal ‘Fresh Expression’, Blessed continues to annoy those who have preconceived ideas about what it means to be catholic, to be Anglican: pushing liturgical boundaries and incurring the wrath of those who are more concerned with vestments than the radicalness of the Gospel; annoying those who like their church wedged firmly between the pages of a book. Come and have a go, if you think you’re hard enough.
GAFCON calls for a reading of Scripture as the unambiguous word of God, without interpretation
It would appear that like ++Jensen, like myself, ++Akinola needs glasses and therefore we are all breaking the Levitical Code. Luckily, I see that Jesus has completed the Law, and therefore superceded it and that the Holy Spirit continues to work beyond a series of man-made rules to ensure ethnic separation which were dressed up in biblical authority.
These Aussies make their point with humour, and grace. God’s love is poured out on all, and the Gospel of Condemnation is not the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ, whose judgement will not be based on where we place our genitals, but where our hearts lie. Sin is not relative, but sin is bound by our relationship with God, not by our relationship with a collection of writings. I love Scripture and draw much from it, but it is not an object of worship, it is a tool of engagement with the living, saving, redeeming, transforming God.
God cannot be bound up within the pages of a book. Any book.