St Aidan and St Gregory the Great

Monday 31st August – St Aidan (+651) and the Saints of Lindisfarne

Aidan, a native of Ireland, was a monk on Iona. When the Christian King Oswald returned from exile on Iona to his kingdom of Northumbria, he invited the monks of Iona to provide missionaries to instruct his people in Christianity. After initial difficulties, Aidan was consecrated bishop and sent with a group of Irish monks to begin this task. He established a monastery on the island of Lindisfarne which became the centre of a major missionary effort in the North of England. The monastery also became a valuable centre of learning and an important training ground for the education of English boys who would continue the work of evangelisation. From Lindisfarne Aidan journeyed throughout Northumberland, usually on foot, and working closely with King Oswald who found him to be a wise adviser and a good personal friend. After Oswald’s death in 642, Aidan continued this work under his successor, Oswin, but when Oswin himself was killed nine years later, Aidan did not long survive him and died two weeks later in 651. According to St Bede in his History of the English Church and People, St Aidan was a man of great gentleness and moderation, outstanding for his energetic missionary work. His influence on the North of England was enormous, and his wise promotion of Christian education among the native English laid the solid foundation for the spread of the Gospel in the centuries which followed his death.

Thursday 3rd September – St Gregory the Great (540-604)

Gregory was born in Rome and followed the career of public service that was usual for the son of an aristocratic family, finally becoming Prefect of the City of Rome, a post he held for some years. He founded a monastery in Rome and some others in Sicily, then became a monk himself. He was ordained deacon and sent as an envoy to Constantinople, on a mission that lasted five years. He was elected Pope on 3rd September 590, the first monk to be elected to this office. He reformed the administration of the Church’s estates and devoted the resulting surplus to the assistance of the poor and the ransoming of prisoners. He negotiated treaties with the Lombard tribes who were ravaging northern Italy, and by cultivating good relations with these and other barbarians he was able to keep the Church’s position secure in areas where Roman rule had broken down. He was a liturgical reformer, and a great musician – Gregorian Chant gets its nomenclature from his encouragement of music in the liturgy. His works for the propagation of the faith include the sending of St Augustine and his monks as missionaries to England in 596, providing them with continuing advice and support and (in 601) sending reinforcements. He wrote extensively on pastoral care (his Pastoral Rule was later translated into Anglo Saxon by King Alfred the Great as a guide for his bishops), spirituality, and morals, and designated himself ‘servant of the servants of God’, a title still used by the pope. He died on 12th March 604, but as this date always falls within Lent, his feast is celebrated on the date of his election as Bishop of Rome. He is accorded the title ‘Apostle of England’ for having sent St Augustine of Canterbury to these shores.

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear friends,

I hope you haven’t all got webbed feet, after all the rain we’ve had this past week!

As you know, we are currently able to have mass on Second and Fourth Sundays, so this is to draw your attention to the fact that, as there is a 5 week month in August, the next mass at All Saints will be on Sunday 13th September. Fr Alan Swanborough has kindly agreed to preside and preach, because Fr Gregory will be away; and at St Albans I will be providing a service of Extended Holy Communion on that day.

I also have some good news to bring you about All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days for you to put in your diaries!

As we were disappointed that, due to the lockdown, we were unable to welcome +John Hind to lead the Easter Triduum for us, I thought I’d ask him whether he would be willing to come over for the All Saints’ Patronal Festival on Nov 1st– and he’s said he will!

He will be staying in Ventnor until the following Tuesday, and so has also agreed to say mass at St Albans at 10am on Nov 2nd to commemorate All Souls.

Other news is that Dennis has told me that we will shortly need to have the grass cut in the All Saints’ churchyard. This is an important piece of maintenance, because it is good to be able to keep the churchyard looking tidy for people to come and pay their respects to loved ones who are buried there.

The cost of having the grass cut will be about £545 and, as you know, our church income has been very badly affected by not being able to have the church open during the period when we would usually have received a lot of revenue from tourists. If you felt able, and would like to donate some money for the grass-cutting, please let Dennis know (01983 840591). Cheques should be made payable to Godshill PCC, or you could make a donation directly into the All Saints’ account: Nat West Sort code: 54-41-31 A/C no: 07403488.

Finally, on Thursday next week, 3rd September, a much-loved member of the St Alban’s congregation, Valerie Pye, will be laid to rest. There will be a Requiem at St Alban’s at 2pm, with Fr David Lawrence-March presiding and me assisting, followed by burial at Ventnor Cemetery. If you would like to attend, please let me know. 07775628593.

My love and prayers,

Dn Corinne

Scripture Readings

22nd-Sunday-in-Ordinary-Time-Readings

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A Reflection

22nd-Sunday-in-Ordinary-Time-Reflection

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The image above is Get Thee Behind Me, Satan by John Flaxman dated between 1783 and 1787 and is to be found in the Yale Center for British Art Creative Commons CC0 License

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Forthcoming Saints Days

Monday 24th August St Bartholomew
He was born at Cana and brought by the Apostle Philip to meet Jesus. Nothing further is known for certain. The great historian of the early Church, Eusebius, speaks of him in India, but the Roman Martyrology has him martyred in Armenia, skinned alive according to the Persian custom. Because his relics were enshrined on the island in the Tiber that is principally used as a hospital, he has become a patron saint of the sick.

Tuesday 25th August St Louis (1214-1270)
He became King of France (as Louis IX) at the age of twelve. He was married and had eleven children, to whom he gave an excellent upbringing. He was noted for his spirit of prayer and penitence and for his love for the poor. He ran his kingdom not only to give peace to the people and economic stability but also for their spiritual good. He founded the University of the Sorbonne and was a friend of St Thomas Aquinas. He was trusted by his fellow-rulers in Europe and often asked to arbitrate in their disputes. He undertook two unsuccessful crusades to liberate Christ’s burial-place and on the second of these he died, near Carthage, in the year 1270. He is the patron saint of France.

Thursday 27th August St Monica (331-387)
She was born at Thagaste in Africa of a Christian family. She was married young, to Patricius, and among her children was Augustine. He had a brilliant intellect and uncertain morals and his wayward spiritual career saw him at one time a Manichee and then a Neoplatonist. With many tears she prayed unceasingly to God for his conversion and her prayers were answered shortly before she died. She had a deep faith and outstanding virtue and is a wonderful example of a Christian mother.

Friday 28th August St Augustine of Hippo (354-430)
Augustine was born in Thagaste in Africa of a Berber family. He was brought up a Christian but left the Church early and spent a great deal of time seriously seeking the truth, first in the Manichaean heresy, which he abandoned on seeing how nonsensical it was, and then in Neoplatonism, until at length, through the prayers of his mother (see above!) and the teaching of St Ambrose of Milan, he was converted back to Christianity and baptized in 387, shortly before his mother’s death. Augustine had a brilliant legal and academic career, but after his conversion he returned he returned home to Africa and led an ascetic life. He was elected Bishop of Hippo and spent thirty-four years looking after his flock, teaching them, strengthening them in the faith and protecting them strenuously against the errors of the time. He wrote an enormous amount and left a permanent mark on both philosophy and theology. His Confessions, as dazzling in style as they are deep in content, are a landmark of world literature, as is his great work, The City of God. The Second Readings in the daily Office of Readings contain extracts from many of his works. He was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Boniface VIII in 1308.

Scripture Readings

21st-Sunday-in-Ordinary-Time-Readings

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A Reflection

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The image above is St Peter Preaching in the Presence of St Mark by Fra Angelico dated circa 1433 Creative Commons CC0 License

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Dear Friends,

I hope you’re managing to find a way to keep cool enough in this sweltering heat and are not struggling too much.

One of the lovely things about being able to be back in church again is that both All Saints’ an St Alban’s come into their own in the summer and provide a welcome respite from the heat!

This Sunday,16th August the Church will be keeping the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and you will see my Gospel reflection is about that.

This weekend will also see the third anniversary of my licencing as Parish Deacon in our churches. I remember that evening in 2017 with great joy, little knowing that, three years on, Fr John would have retired and I would have been given a new license by the Bishop as Interim Deacon in Charge.

It is a great privilege and a joy to serve such lovely people in our worshipping communities; and I am grateful for all the help and support I continue to receive from Churchwardens and others, who enable me to serve you to the best of my ability whilst a new priest is sought. Please keep that process in your prayers.

This Sunday St Alban’s will be open for a time of private prayer from 9.30 – 10.30am, or there may be a lay-led service.

Our next Mass at All Saints’ will be at 11.00am on Sunday August 23rd, with Alan Swanborough presiding and preaching; St Alban’s will have a service of Extended Holy Communion, at 9.30am.

Just a reminder that I am currently drawing up an intercessions list for both churches. Please let me have the names of anyone who would like to be prayed for during our services of public worship.

My love and prayers,

Deacon Corinne

Scripture Readings

The-Assumption-of-the-Blessed-Virgin-Mary-Readings

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A Reflection

The-Assumption-of-the-Blessed-Virgin-Mary-Reflection

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The image is “Assumption of the Virgin” by Andrea del Castagno – From Berlin’s Gemäldegalerie. It was painted between 1449 and 1450, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Del_Castagno_Andrea_Our_Lady_of_the_Assumption_with_Sts_Miniato_and_Julian.jpg

St Laurence, St Clare of Assisi and St Maximilian Kolbe

Monday 10th August St Laurence, Deacon and Martyr (d. 258)

Laurence was one of the seven deacons of the Church of Rome and was executed on 10th August 258, four days after Pope St Sixtus II and his companions, it is thought by being burned alive on a gridiron … By now, few of the facts of his life are known for certain: he was probably a Spaniard from Toledo. A basilica was built over his tomb fifty years after his death, by the Emperor Constantine, and the anniversary of his martyrdom was kept as a solemn feast – with considerably more solemnity than that of Pope Sixtus II (we do not know why). By the sixth century, it was one of the most important feasts throughout much of western Christendom. His name occurs (with Sixtus’) in the earliest Canon of the Mass.

Tuesday 11th August St Clare of Assisi (1193-1253)

She was born at Assisi and came under the influence of St Francis. She left home at the age of 18 and, under Francis’s guidance, began a community that grew to become the order of the Poor Clares (she was later joined both by her sister and by her widowed mother). In its radical attachment to poverty the Rule of the order was much more severe than that of any other order of nuns. In 1215 Clare obtained from the Pope the privilege of owning nothing, so that the nuns of the order were to be sustained by alms and nothing else. Such a rule was (like the Franciscan rule) both a challenge to established structures and a risk to those who followed it, and successive Popes tried to modify it. In 1247 Pope Innocent IV promulgated a new Rule that allowed the ownership of communal property: Clare rewrote it. A later attempt at mitigation in 1263 partly succeeded (perhaps because Clare was dead by then): some communities followed the old, strict rule and some followed the new. Clare was a noted contemplative and a caring mother to her nuns. She died at Assisi on this day in 1253.

Friday 14th August St Maximilian Kolbe (1894-1941)

He was born on 8 January 1894 in occupied Poland: he joined the Franciscans in Lwów in 1910, and was ordained to the priesthood eight years later, as his country became free and independent for the first time in over 120 years. He believed that the world was passing through a time of intense spiritual crisis, and that Christians must fight for the world’s salvation with all the means of modern communication. He founded a newspaper, and a sodality called the Knights of Mary Immaculate, which spread widely both in Poland and abroad. In 1927 he founded a community, a ‘city of Mary’, at Terezin: centred round the Franciscan friary, it attracted many lay people, and became self-supporting, publishing many periodicals and running its own radio station. In 1930 he went to Japan, studied Buddhism and Shintoism, and through the Japanese edition of his newspaper spread the Christian message in a way that was in harmony with Japanese culture. In Nagasaki, he set up a ‘Garden of the Immaculate’, which survived the atomic bomb. He also travelled to Malabar and to Moscow, but was recalled to Poland in 1936 for reasons of health. When the Nazis invaded in 1939, the community at Terezin sheltered thousands of refugees, most of them Jews. In 1941 he was arrested and sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz, where he helped and succoured the inmates. In August of that year a prisoner escaped, and in reprisal the authorities chose ten people to die by starvation. One of the men had a family, and Maximilian Kolbe offered to take his place. The offer was accepted, and he spent his last days comforting his fellow prisoners before being given a lethal injection on 14th August. The man he saved was present at his canonization in 1982. The cell in which he died, in the centre of Auschwitz 1, is now a shrine to his memory. St Maximilian’s martyrdom, however, is possibly the least important thing about him. We are none of us likely to find ourselves in a position to emulate his sacrifice, and speculation as to the heroic way in which we would have behaved in his place is a pernicious waste of time. What is important is that he acted the way he did because of who he was – or, rather, because of who he had become. It is because of who he had become that we revere him as a saint: he would have been a saint (though perhaps not canonized) even if he had not been martyred. And that process of becoming is something we can all emulate. We can all become people for whom doing the right thing is obvious, natural, and easy. It requires no heroism, no special gifts: just perseverance, and prayer. He is the patron saint of amateur-radio operators, of drug addicts, of political prisoners, of journalists, of prisoners, and of the pro-life movement.

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

As many of us will be back in Church on Sunday, both at St Alban’s an All Saints’, this Sunday’s homily will be put on the website once Fr Gregory has preached it!

For those who can’t be with us on Sunday, I will put the readings on the website before then, together with Fr David’s commentary on them, so you have something to be going on with until the homily is on there too.

As you will have seen on the news and in the press, the wearing of face-coverings in church will be mandatory from August 8th; but this does not apply to those who have a medical exemption. Obviously, you will need to remove your mask in order to receive Holy Communion, so please do this using the ear loops and avoid touching the front of the mask.

Given that clergy will be a minimum of 3 metres away from the nearest person for most of the service, our Guidance from the Church of England is those leading worship will only wear masks when we are in closer proximity to members of the congregation. Those of you who were at All Saints’ on July 26th will have noticed I put on my mask for the distribution but didn’t wear it at other times.

I hope you’re all finding ways of coping with this strange way of living and, for those who have been shielding, that you are maybe starting to go out again.

Please let me know of any prayer requests, either for yourself or for anyone who is in need of prayer, but please ask their permission before passing their name onto me.

Love and prayers,

Deacon Corinne

Scripture Readings

19th-Sunday-in-Ordinary-Time-Readings

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A Reflection

19th-Sunday-in-Ordinary-Time-Reflections

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Text of Father Gregory’s Sermon

19th-Sunday-in-Ordinary-Time-Sermon

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The image above is Rettung des sinkenden Petrus by an unknown monk dated in the 10th century Creative Commons CC0 License

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

Firstly, it was such a joy to welcome many of you back into All Saints’ last Sunday, for the first time since lockdown began.

Although we had to make a few changes to the way we normally do things, I am grateful for all the work which has been done on cleaning and signage which made it possible for us to come together as a worshipping community once more; and it was lovely to see familiar faces once again.

We were, of course, conscious of those of you who could not be with us, but we did remember you in our prayers so you were with us in spirit.

It is very good news that St Alban’s will have their first mass since lockdown on Sunday August 9th at 9.30, and we are fortunate that Fr Gregory will be presiding and preaching for us on that day. He will then go to All Saints’ to preside and preach at the 11.00 mass there.

As I have said in other pastoral letters, we intend to start by having worship on 2 Sundays per month at All Saints’ (second and fourth Sundays of the month) initially. It may become possible to increase this as we go into the autumn, but we will have to see how we go.

At St Alban’s the plan is to have worship on second and fourth Sundays, too, but the details are still being worked out as to what form this will take.

Secondly, at Deanery Synod on Tuesday evening, we were told that we are at a crossroads in ministry on the island at the moment, as we face a huge financial shortfall. We were told that most parishes are in a decline in numbers, that giving does not cover the cost of ministry on the island, and that Covid has merely brought forward the need to address these issues seriously and urgently. The Area Dean said it is important that we take the right road at this point, and stressed that everyone has a role to play in helping to decide what that road should be.

To get us started, the Archdeacon posed two questions for us to consider in small groups as part of the Zoom Synod meeting, and he asked us to then relay them to our parishes for consideration and to stimulate discussion.

The questions were:
1) Is our parish sustainable? If not, what changes do we need to make?
2) What needs to be present for mission and growth on our island to be achieved?

I ask you all to think carefully and prayerfully about these questions and to come up with suggestions which can be fed back via the Area Dean for consideration by the Deanery Council.

The Archdeacon said he wanted our “take-away” from the meeting to be that we have his permission to be bold, creative and risk-taking in order to find ways to extend God’s Kingdom on the island.

I would be interested to hear your thoughts in response to these questions and hope we can arrange an informal gathering of PCC members early in September to discuss them.

These are challenging times for all the churches on the island and there are no easy answers. It is important that we try to come up with some ideas, though, in order that we can have some say in what lies ahead for our churches and, hopefully, to avoid having things imposed on us.

With my love and prayers,

Deacon Corinne

Scripture Readings

18th-Sunday-in-Ordinary-Time-Readings

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A Reflection

18th-Sunday-in-Ordinary-Time-Reflections

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Feeding the Multitude by an unknown author dated between 980 and 993 Creative Commons CC0 License