Next week sees several important commemorations, which I commend to you for your prayerful attention.
The first is on Monday 21st September. This is the day the church gives thanks for the life, witness and legacy of St Matthew, the apostle and evangelist.
Matthew was born in Capernaum and was working as a tax-collector when Jesus called him. He is thought by some scholars to have written an early version of his gospel in Aramaic, a precursor to the Greek version we now have. He is also said to have preached in the East.
Thursday 24th is Our Lady of Walsingham. Our Lady, to whom I know many of you have a great devotion, is an example to us of obedience and faithfulness. She shows us how to stay close to Jesus to the last, no matter what happens in life, so that we can grow more like him and like her – trusting, welcoming and co-operating with God in every aspect of our lives.
As many of you will know, we have a statue to Our Lady of Walsingham in St Alban’s church, and an altar dedicated to her in All Saints’. Before lockdown, many visitors to All Saints’ used to leave prayers on that altar, which were prayed through at our monthly cell of Our Lady of Walsinham. Pray that we may one day be able to resume this important ministry providing, as one member of our congregation described it, “pastoral care for the world”.
Wednesday, Friday and Saturday are all Ember days. These are the 4 sets of three days of prayer and abstinence, spread throughout the year, and which are designed to be used as a kind of “spiritual check-up”!
On ember days, we give thanks for the gifts of nature, and ask God’s help that we may use His gifts in moderation and in order to assist the needy.
Ember days are also the times of year which are traditionally set apart for the ordination of clergy.
Due to the Covid pandemic, ordinations have had to be postponed and very much scaled-back this year. Instead of being great celebrations in cathedrals throughout the country, this year they will be taking place in the churches where individual deacons and priests will be serving.
Please pray for all about to be ordained in this and in other Dioceses, especially Hannah Barraclough, who will be ordained Deacon on October 11th and who will be serving at Newport Minster.
My love and prayers,
The image above dates from the 11th century and is by an unknown author Creative Commons CC0 License