The comfort of the Rosary

The rosary of my grandfather - Joseph Cockayne

The rosary of my grandfather – Joseph Cockayne

I was pleased when Paul suggested that we invite people at church, and beyond, to say a decade of the rosary, for a day, or a few days in October, traditionally called the month of the holy rosary. This suggestion is a way of encouraging a chain of prayer, and helps us to see ourselves as links in that chain.

The connection is not only made among the living. Within my family the rosary of my great great grandmother (born 1843) is carefully preserved. I treasure a rosary which belonged to my grandfather who died at the young age of 26 in 1937.

My mother, who loved saying the rosary, kept her father’s rosary close to her pillow throughout her life, and now I do the same. For me this rosary is a physical reminder of the value of prayer in, and for, our families, and through the generations.

For many Anglicans the rosary is an unfamiliar and infrequently used form of prayer. Encouragingly in some Anglican circles it is becoming more used. We are fortunate to have a parish rosary group. My experience, from parish, university and prison ministry, is that young people, and the unchurched, are often very willing to try saying the rosary, and find the touch and the repetition helpful.

For myself when my mind can seem too restless, and the whirl of modern life seems endless, I value the steady, familiar rhythms of the simple prayers of the rosary. They bring stillness, and a connection with others around the world and, indeed, with past and present generations. The rhythms and familiar words often bring a peace similar to that one can get when watching gentle waves on an open beach. It is a peace which leads to openness to God.


Beatrice Emma Parsons, The Annunciation (1897)

On the first day of the month of the rosary, as I pray the first of the mysteries, I shall take time to pause and look at an image of the Annunciation to Mary. It will be encouraging to think others I know are praying the same prayers and mystery. I shall pray that I may be as attentive to God’s messengers as Our Lady was, and with this in mind I shall pray the decade’s ten Hail Marys, the Lord’s Prayer and the Glory be. Who knows I may be lead to pray another decade or two after that…

Fr Ian

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Opening a vision of heaven

Angels and Archangels are a wonderful feature of the Anson Chapel at St Chrysostom’s Church. It could rightly be renamed the Angels Chapel. The angels are painted in the panelling, in the reredos, and are there abundantly in the stained glass windows – and we join them at Mass in worship!

A selection of Angels and Archangels in the panelling of the Anson Chapel, St Chrysostom's

A selection of Angels and Archangels in the panelling of the Anson Chapel, St Chrysostom’s

29th September is the Feast of St Michael and all Angels. For the feast here is  a quotation from ‘The Lives of the Saints’ (1875) of that prolific and energetic Victorian priest Sabine Baring-Gould:

The angels are pure spirits created by God to love and serve him. According to Dionysius the Aeropagite, they are arranged in the following hierarchy; Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominations, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels and Angels.

The festival of S. Michael and All Angels opens to us a vision of Heaven inhabited by a vast multitude. All is order; all is harmony. Yet in this very order there is variety, and harmony implies diversity.

No existences, as they leave the hand of God, are identical. If God is the God of concord, God is the God of variety as well.

The Angelic host follows this rule. Each angel differs from his fellow, as each man differs from his fellow, as each beast or flower is various.

The Collect for the Feast of S. Michael and All Angels


Angel musicians in the Anson Chapel

Everlasting God,
you have ordained and constituted the ministries
of angels and mortals in a wonderful order:
grant that as your holy angels
always serve you in heaven,
so, at your command,
they may help and defend us on earth;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

… and why not try our light hearted Angel quiz – click here.

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Praying together in October

During October this year at St Chrysostom’s we’re encouraging one another in prayer in a simple and special way. 

 What are we doing? It’s really simple, and anyone can join in, wherever they are.

October is designated as the month of the Holy Rosary. Each day of October a volunteer is saying a ‘decade’ of the rosary and focussing on one of the rosary ‘mysteries’ (scenes from Our Lord our Our Lady’s life). On Fridays we’re looking for volunteers to say a complete set of  five mysteries.

At the end of this post you will see an image showing the allocation of mysteries to days of October.  Our facebook page announces each daily mystery, day by day.

We’re inviting anyone who wishes to join in (such as you, dear reader :)). Whoever you are, wherever they are…. its an ‘inclusive’ prayer activity!


What do you do? It’s simple.

  • Wherever you are pause for a moment or two, and be still.
  • ‘Announce’ the mystery selected for that day, for example, ‘The Visit of Mary to Elizabeth’ and imagine the scene and let it help stimulate thought and prayer for you – let it help you form a particular prayer intention.
  • With that prayer and thought in mind simply and gently say the Lord’s Prayer, ten Hail Mary’s, and Glory be. It only takes a few minutes, or you can take much longer if you wish. Whatever such a pause in the day is wonderful.

It’s great to know others are praying with us in this way, and so each morning in October a post goes on our church facebook page reminding us of the mystery for that day. Anyone is welcome to comment on the mystery, or ‘click like,’ there.

Want to join in? Please do. You are very welcome to let us know a specific day you will join in our ‘Decade a Day’ and let us know who you are, where you are and the date or dates you will pray. Do this by commenting on this post below or on our church facebook group or  facebook page.

Not sure how to pray the whole Rosary? Don’t worry. Give it a go, just try. There are lots of websites to help you. Here is one example. And we’ve said the rosary in different ways, and places at church – including by Skype.

Many Christians (including the Archbishop of Canterbury) are finding Pope Francis an inspirational christian for our day. Pope Francis said recently: Mary joins us, she is at our side. She supports Christians in the fight against the forces of evil. Especially through prayer, through the rosary. Hear me out, the rosary… 

The allocated mysteries for October 2016:a-decade-a-day-in-october-2016

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A Box of Promises

During the Crimean War (1853-56) groups of soldiers’ wives in England regularly met together for mutual prayer and comfort. They found that sharing and encouraging one another strengthened them in difficult days. One useful way the women found was to think about the promises of their faith, which they found in the Bible. They exchanged Bible verses with one another and talked together about the strength and comfort they derived from the verses.

An old example of a Promise Box

An old example of a Promise Box

From this Promise Boxes began to be developed. These were boxes containing many verses from scripture, each individually rolled and placed tightly in a box. Using a pair of tweezers a verse would be drawn at random from the box and reflected upon or discussed, and used in prayer.

An Anglican bishop describes how as a curate he had had a rather difficult day when, walking home, a lady seeing him in a despondent state, invited him into her home and asked him to select a verse from her Promise Box, which she then spoke to him about. He found the unusual event both encouraging, and inspiring.

To some this may seem simplistic or naive. However, the random selection of scripture verses isn’t to look for a magic formula to address life’s ills, but is rather an encouragement to reflect, through differing words and insights, on the hope and the goodness of God. In this way using the Promise Box can be a way of spiritual strengthening through life’s ups and downs.

At Mass today Canon Alma introduced the idea of the Promise Box (versions of which can be purchased online, see, for example, here.). A text was selected at random and Canon Alma spoke on it, and all were invited to reflect upon it though the coming week.

with_you_mt_28_20The selected text was Jesus’ words: I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. (Matthew 28.20) 

Why not think and pray about those words, and imagine how you would talk about the comfort the words bring.

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Giving mystery space

Following a recent conversation with Hector, a member of congregation, Fr Ian invited him to write a blog reflection on why he travels to St Chrysostom’s:

hm_3On a Sunday morning when I was living in Crieff in Scotland I regularly travelled for two hours on public transport to attend High Mass in Old Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church in Edinburgh.  Quite a pilgrimage, but a pilgrimage that paled into insignificance when I learned that an elderly couple in the congregation made the journey from Inveraray every Sunday morning.

My pilgimages to St Cs from Darwen are a mere walk in the park by comparison.

What is it about these churches that draws me, regardless of the miles of travel involved?

Anglo-catholic worship: yes;

liberal theology: another tick;

a dusting of “decent doubt”: undoubtedly;

quirky congregations: I think so . . .

hm-2But I feel that it is more than the sum total of these things.  I think that it’s because both of these churches give the mystery at the heart of our faith room to breath and to take hold of our souls. Some churches, in my opinion, do not allow this to happen because they are too busy trying to waylay possible boredom in the congregation.

I can hear many of my friends saying, “fanciful, as always, Hector.”

What do you think?


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Two challenges of Chrysostom

Statue of St John Chrysostom on Lichfield Cathedral

Statue of St John Chrysostom on Lichfield Cathedral

In our recent celebration of our patron saint, St John Chrysostom, Fr Ian suggested two challenges for us today arising from Chrysostom’s life:

St John Chrysostom came from a distant part of the Empire to the imperial city of Constantinople. He was a stranger from a distant place. He saw things differently to the ‘residents’ and openly and robustly challenged what he felt needed reforming, while affirming what was good.

Have we the wisdom to listen to the voice of the ‘stranger’ – the person of difference from a distant place, and seek to discern the truth and goodness within what they are saying?

St John Chrysostom built on what was good in the city, and did not hesitate in speaking out against injustice, inequality and lack of hospitality. As Christians encouraged by his example we affirm what is good in our society and cooperate with those who build up what is good. At the same time we also take courage to speak out against injustice and do what we can to make our local society, and the world a more just and caring place.

What can we do as individuals, and as a church, to affirm the good in our world? How can we challenge the injustices and inequalities that disturb us in the world today?

We hope, through our church blog, to offer some responses to these challenges.

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Chrysostom sightings

The name Chrysostom crops up in some unusual places.

Here are a few. Please report any further sightings🙂.

A view of Chrysostom Street, in the suburbs of Perth, Western Australia

A view of Chrysostom Street, in the suburbs of Perth, Western Australia

What was Mozart’s full name? Johann Chrysostom Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Chrysostom is Greek for ‘Golden Mouthed’ so perhaps it is understandable that there is a Chrysostom Family Dental Practice in West Columbia.

Mr and Mrs Chrysostom Lorton are characters in the splendid humorous novel poking fun at self righteousness – Augustus Carp, Esquire by himself. (Being the autobiography of a really good man). Mr Chrysostom Lorton lives in “Paternoster Towers a concrete testimony to the worth of his enterprise.”

Cyril Chrysostom, and his wife ‘Mrs Chrysostom’ are characters in the Utopian novel Through the Eye of the Needle by the American author, William Dean Howells.

The former head of the Malankara Marthoma Church,  Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom, may well be the longest serving bishop in the world. He is also noted for his jokes and wisdom.

A photo of Folly Beach, S Carolina from Jared Chrysostom photography, of Folly Beach

A photo of Folly Beach, S Carolina from Jared Chrysostom photography, of Folly Beach

Chief Chrysostom Kihagi is a Kenyan chief from the Rift Valley area of Kenya.

Dr Sathiyaseelan Chrysostom (‘Dr Chrys’) is a doctor in the Hilltops medical centre, Milton Keynes, England, whilst Dr Jason Miller runs the Chrysostom Mental Health Service at Santa Paula, California.

Chrysostom J Anderson has published a book of devotions to the Infant Jesus of Prague.

CHRYSOSTOM- LEVEL 80 UNDEAD PRIEST Can be viewed by clicking here

In the Dark Age of Camelot Chief Chrysostom, a centaur, can be seen here.

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