I am a fan of Marcus Rashford

Marcus Rashford: At least 100 organisations join Premier League star's free  school meals push | UK News | Sky News

I am a great fan of Marcus Rashford.

He is quite simply a wonderfully inspiring young man. He comes from a working class family, and was brought up by a single mother who had to do several jobs to raise the family and would skip meals so that her children could eat.

Rashford began playing football from the age of five and has had a remarkable football career which led to him being a key player for Manchester United by the age of 18.

What makes me a great fan of this young man is how he has used his influence and position for the benefit of others. This work has been remarkable and inspirational, not only to young people, but to me and to all generations. In 2019, working with Selfridges he set up a campaign to give the homeless essential items at Christmas.

During Covid days Marcus Rashford has been a shining light in our country. At a time when so many church leaders lost direction, retreated behind closed doors, were seldom seen in the public arena and said very little, this 23 year old black man set up campaigns to help end child poverty, and to feed the hungry of our country.

Speaking simply, directly, and from his own experience, he challenged the government to extend free school meals through the holidays, and later went on to encourage and challenge people to extend provision for children through the holidays. With the local backing of the Mayor of Manchester he worked to provide a local food voucher scheme which was copied in other parts of the country.

Earlier this year he highlighted the unacceptable quality of some of the official food packages which were being provided to children in lockdown days and in April, with the chef Tom Kerridge he announced the launch of videos and recipe cards for simple nutritional meals, the idea being that children and adults could make these at low cost, and not go hungry.

This is incredible service to the community.

Marcus Rashford's petition to end child food poverty passes 1 MILLION  signatures | Daily Mail Online

In the Euro final on July 11th Marcus missed a spot-kick penalty. It was such a sad moment for him, and the hearts of his fans, me included, went out to him. Later he said “All I can say is sorry. I wish it had of gone differently…” He suffered horrible racial abuse because of the missed penalty. However he remained brave and held his head up and spoke of how the community and his family supported him. He said:

“I’m Marcus Rashford 23-year-old black man from Withington and Wythenshawe, South Manchester. If I have nothing else I have that. For all the kind messages thank you. I’ll be back stronger. We’ll be back stronger.”

One of the letters of support to Rashford said: “I hope you won’t be sad for too long because you are such a good person. Last year you inspired me to help people less fortunate. Then last night you inspired me again, to always be brave. I’m proud of you, you will always be a hero.”

I am a not a football fan but I am a great fan of Marcus Rashford who ‘helps the less fortunate’ and is ‘brave’ and is an inspiration to so many people of all races and backgrounds. He is an inspiration too to the church and her leaders inspiring all to step out from behind closed doors and to personally serve the needy.

Fr Ian

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Don’t be shy, say ‘Hello’

James Cash Penney (1875 -1971) was a US businessman and entrpreneur

#HaveaChat Let’s smile, speak to, and chat with people! We’re encouraging one another to do this here at St Chrysostom’s. We’re not talking here about church people talking to church people, but rather us having small but friendly interactions with people we come across in our day to day lives.

This was the subject of our last post here in the church blog. Shortly after we had posted it Valerie Preston sent a lovely reply on the theme. Valerie tells us she is very happy for her thoughts to be shared here:

“I have just read the latest blog and very much agree with the sentiments.  I spend most of my day alone but do not feel lonely.  

Over the past month I have returned to my weekly session of volunteering at Stepping Hill Hospital. I try to speak to as many people as  possible.  Staff as they pass to the offices generally greet us with a “Good Morning” and slowly by surely they are stopping at the desk for a short chat.

When I go out to my wheely bins I will call a greeting to any one passing by.  It is funny the looks of astonishment I get.  Yesterday a young mother and her daughter actually stopped and called to me first.  I think I have seen them once before.  

Pippa and Grace sometimes call when they are passing, we have a chat and go on our way. A smile goes a long way but sadly they are not visible so an Hello is the next best thing.  

On Saturday  I went into Didsbury and on the way back, whilst changing busses, I got into conversation with a young lady,  all because she wearing a very glittery face mask.(where did you get it, is it washable etc.  Yes its washable and Grandma bought it)   When she left the bus in Heaton Moor she made a point of standing to wave as the bus continued.  Do not be afraid to  speak to people.  Its words that are needed to be spread around, smiles are invisible.   So don’t be shy,  say hello its amazing what you will get in return.”

How lovely! Thank you so much to Valerie for her words. – anyone else like to share experiences of smiling and having a chat?

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Smile, wave, #HaveaChat

During lockdown more people in the UK have experienced loneliness than ever before. Loneliness comes at many different ages and places, and in different times. The child going to school, the student going to University, the young mother moving to a new town, the elderly person housebound, the person in a group that feels they don’t know anyone… all real types of loneliness, and in lockdown some of these have become more painful to many.

With loneliness can go a feeling of being uncared for, unwanted, or alone with a problem. With loneliness can go a feeling of not being loved.

Estimates suggest that at any one time there are 9 million people feeling lonely in the UK. Most of us at some time feel lonely. Sometimes we feel lonely for a very long time.

In lockdown days people began to talk more about being alone, and loneliness and this was, and is a good thing. Talking about it can bring a sense of relief and a knowledge that we are not alone.

There are ways we can all help. A friendly smile to a stranger or helping helping a neighbour in what may be a very small way. So often these small actions mean much more than you think.

As Christian people at St C’s we want to love and care for people, so what can we do in the face of loneliness around us?

The ‘Be More Us’ movement, set up to help address loneliness makes five very simple suggestions:

Smile and wave

Even if you’re really busy, taking the time to smile at your neighbour or wave at someone on the street can really brighten someone’s day.

Stop and say hello

Sharing a quick, simple greeting is a great way to make a connection and can only take a couple of minutes. As you do your weekly food shop in the supermarket, try making eye contact with the cashier and saying hello.

Have a chat

Sometimes this can feel overwhelming, especially if you don’t know the person well. But as soon as you break the barrier of initiating a conversation you should feel more relaxed. In fact, people often underestimate just how much the person they’re having a conversation with is enjoying their company. Remember that a quick chat, can mean a lot to someone. If you are stuck on what topic to pick to make a conversation, the weather is always a good place to start!

Asking someone how they are

In our busy lives we sometimes forget to check-in with people. If you have a few minutes, how about asking someone how they are. Call an old friend for a chat, check up on a family member or chat with the waitress, see how they’re doing today. If you know someone who’s living alone, take the time to check-in with them.

Asking someone how they really are

Loneliness can affect anyone, even those you wouldn’t expect. It’s easy to hide how you’re feeling, and with technology being used more than ever it’s even easier to hide your emotions. If you have five minutes or more, take the time to ask someone how they really are.

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God’s cousin?

It must be difficult working in a parish where most of the people are not Christian,” commented a person I was talking to recently. The simple comment made me think. I have not particularly thought of this as a particular difficulty. I’m aware of the relatively high proportion of Muslim faith living in the area. Indeed the majority of the children in our church schools are from Muslims homes. However, I’ve never thought of that as a difficulty, rather I’ve enjoyed the difference and the challenge of it, and the questions it raises about my own faith.

As a very small boy I once asked my father who Allah was. My father rose to the occasion by promptly saying ‘Allah is God’s cousin.’ Now, of course, we could challenge that answer, however it satisfied a little boy. More than that it set in my child’s mind the understanding that another faith was like another family, who may do things differently to the way my immediate family did things but they were still family.

I’m grateful for my father’s comment. Looking back I feel it helped shape my understanding of world faiths. Sometimes when I am interviewing candidates for the church’s ministry I ask a candidate how they see other faiths. I’ve received a wide variety of answers. I will share some of the answers I’ve been given.

A few say none Christians are misguided and wrong and so definite material for Christian conversion. This view says that to be ‘saved’ the person must be a Christian believer, and often a ‘born again’ believer.

Others say goodness is found in none Christian faiths, for God is not confined to Christianity. However the full light, it is argued, is in the Christian way, the ‘true’ way, and more people should be encouraged to come to ‘know Jesus.’ This approach, I find, is the view many candidates move towards.

For others Christianity is the light for their path, and the Christian church is one of many, valuable and helpful faith paths we can follow to God. In this view God’s light is shed over all equally, though it may be imperfectly expressed by people. This is my view. As I look back over my understanding of faith this is the view I have held all my life. It’s a view that makes me wary of some church initiatives, and some models of church growth. It’s a view which invites me to look for that which is of God in the people I meet, irrespective of their personal faith.

I believe that God creates and loves creation, and the work of creation and evolution continues and we move forward in creation to God. I believe God’s light, God’s word, the sacred heart beat of divine love, permeates all creation, and Christians, limited by human words, name this as Christ who became human in Jesus. I believe God inspires, encourages, and invites all into a community, a kingdom, of love, and the church should be an instrument to help bring this about. I believe I am called to value and be true to my beliefs and I am called to help others be true to their honestly held faith and God’s calling to them, whatever that is.

I don’t find “working in a parish where most of the people are not Christian” difficult for that reason. I find it fascinating. I find it both challenging and enriching of my own Christian faith.

Fr Ian

During lockdown Fr Ian posted a few blog posts in the form of entries in ‘Fr Ian’s Lockdown Diary.’ Times have changed and the diary’s title has changed to ‘Fr Ian’s Parish Diary’

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Adoring Christ in Sacrament and Service

Fr Admos spoke at our Corpus Christi Holy Hour, as part of #Adorate2021. Here is the text of his brief homily:

We begin our celebration of the solemnity of Corpus Christi, the Most Holy Body and Blood of our Lord. It is a feast to reflect on Christ’s words from John 6:56: whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in that person. Although it is a solemn reminder of the passion of Christ, it also gives renewal and reassurance that God is still WITH us and IN us.

Our gathering tonight to ADORE Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is a fitting way to begin our celebration of Corpus Christi.  We praise and thank God for MASS in this gathering. The Society for Catholic Priests has been running some very informative short videos on Facebook. Do watch these if you have not done so already. I like these as collectively they relate adoration to our individual relationships with God.

In his compilation: An African Prayer Book, Nobel Prize Laureate and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu relates the story of a farmer who used to come into a church and sit quietly in church for long periods of silence before the Blessed Sacrament. When he was asked about this practice, he replied, “I look at him and he looks at me and it is enough.” In other words, the value of adoration is not in its simplicity but in the direct relationship with Christ it builds.  Christ is present with US and in US. In the farmer’s words, God is in HIS presence and he relates to him in real time. You can almost feel this interaction in the way this is expressed. We probably all feel the same tonight. When we come to adore Christ in the Blessed Sacrament we are doing more than just looking and him and being looked at in return. We are cultivating a relationship with Christ by being in HIS presence. In HIS presence we can be ourselves, bare our souls and bodies. We are also listening to what Christ is saying to us in return. The Eucharist nourishes and transforms us.  It nourishes us and creates bonds of continuity with those before and those who will come after us.

Our Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is ongoing and will go on forever because each one of us as individuals day by day continue to discover new aspects of God’s beauty, holiness and goodness that calls for adoration. After a year like we have had with Covid-19 and as we slowly emerge from what one of our witty parishioners called ‘collective house arrest’, we have new reasons to adore Christ even more! Many of us have received Holy Communion after a year, what a special feeling of presence this has been! To be in Christ’s physical presence. In Christ’s presence we bring our souls and bodies to be spiritually strengthened, to be healed and to be renewed to continue to do more of God’s work. Beyond the sacramental, the best way to ADORE Christ is in service. As our patron saint St John Chrysostom’s has said:

“What good is it if the Eucharistic table is overloaded with golden chalices when your brother is dying of hunger? Start by satisfying his hunger and then with what is left you may adorn the altar as well.”

Our celebrations of the HOLY MASS must reflect adoration with service and love for his creation. Through the Mass, Christ comes alive in each one of us inspiring us to demonstrate that love of Christ in action for his creation.  AMEN

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Mary’s statue – a living story of love and prayer

May be an image of 2 people

I was moved to see this photograph of our statue of Our Lady posted in our Facebook group on May 31st, the final day of Mary’s month. The statue is well known and well loved by our people at St Chrysostom’s, Mary is for us a sign of love and companionship in faith. In our church we particularly honour her as Mary, Mother of Welcome, Mother of Hope.

I was moved as I looked and reflected on some of the history of the statue. It was given to us by the neighbouring parish of St Luke’s, once it stood in their church, but they wished to replace it with another and offered it to us. For us it replaced a smaller statue. We decided to have the gifted statue ‘refreshed’ and so Hannah McKenzie worked on it. Hannah is the daughter of Alistair a former organist, and granddaughter of David and Ann Percival Smith long term worshippers at St Chrysostom’s, before their move to Lytham St Anne’s. Hannah chose to darken the original skin colour of the statue, to reflect the ethnic variance in our church, and she chose to use the deep blue and red colours associated with medieval statues of Mary. Hannah’s lovely work makes the statue very distinctive for us.

In May our statue is crowned. At one time a garland of flowers was used, and perhaps it may be so again. More recently we have used a crown and lace veil which has come to us from St Benedict’s, Ardwick, a church which closed some years ago.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-6.png

In our statue Mary holds out her son, Our Lord to us, inviting us to take him, to embrace him, and hold his presence and warmth in our lives. Jesus has his arms open and welcoming to us. Look at his hands. You will notice his left hand is disfigured. Some years ago a careless group using the church moved the statue and in so doing damaged the hand of the Lord. We were going to have it repaired but then felt we wished it to remain as a symbol and challenge of inclusion for us.

In May Ann, who arranges our flowers, often places a rose in Mary’s hand, and there you see it in this photo. A sign of love and beauty, and a sign to us that we offer Mary our love, and she in turn shares her love, her beauty with us.

So for me our statue has a lovely story which I am pleased to share here. It is a living story. Each Sunday worshippers turn to the statue at the end of Mass. The statue becomes a focus for prayer and hope as we join our prayers with Mary’s as we sing the Angelus or the Regina Coeli. Mary is with us on our pilgrim journey of worship and prayer. She is a loving mother accompanying us at the heart of our faith. This moment is an encouragement to our vision of worship – we worship together and with Mary and the saints of heaven. This is a special moment for us at St C’s and made even the more special by the candles people light at the statue as the Angelus finishes.

Mary, Mother of Welcome, Mother of Hope pray for us all at St C’s, and for all whom we love.

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A still, small moment of calm

Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.

The recently confirmed with Bishop Mark

Moments of calm, times of ‘coolness and balm,’ bring peace and great comfort in strange and stressful times. More than this, remembering such times, picturing them in our minds, brings back the comfort and peace.

Yesterday evening a group of us gathered at Church with Bishop Mark for a Baptism and Confirmation, with Benediction. Current restrictions mean that this was a quiet gathering, yet it was also a serene and joyful one. We felt the loving presence of God in the sacraments offered at Church. The still, small voice of calm spoke.

Adam was baptised and confirmed, Michael, Paul, Yasmeen, Refat, Enzo, Raseem and Gianni, were confirmed. Together we all prayed before the Blessed Sacrament and received God’s Blessing in Benediction.

Bishop Mark welcomed all and drew us together. “It was a real example of Holy inclusion that is so characteristic of St Cs!” was a comment received.

In his talk Bishop Mark reminded us of the disciples in the Upper Room praying for the Holy Spirit. Inspired by them Bishop Mark encouraged us to attend Mass regularly, to rejoice in the gifts God gives us, to pray together with Mary, and to serve one another.

Candidates were invited to choose a crucifix for their rooms as a blessing and remembrance from the day. The crucifixes had special significance. They had all been given by the Sisters of the Community of the Holy Name. We were all touched by this connection, and the knowledge that the sisters though not physically with us were connected to us in this way, and though prayer.

At the end of the evening we gathered around Our Lady’s statue, our shrine of Mary, Mother of welcome and hope.

We indeed felt that each of us had been welcomed by God and new hope was in our hearts.

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Infant Communion?

A baby receives Holy Communion

Throughout her recent pregnancy a mother at St Chrysostom’s received Holy Communion. Of course she was not alone in this. Pregnant women receive the blessed sacrament. Of course they do. As they do so surely we must argue, the child in their womb also receives. We couldn’t possibly say that the sacrament does not ‘reach’ the child – unless, of course, we say that we must understand what we are doing before we can receive.

However, if understanding what we are doing is a criterion for receiving Holy Communion it would oblige us to say that certain adults with limited cognitive ability, as well as infants, cannot receive. We would also be faced with the task of deciding who does understand and who doesn’t and having an agreed criterion for this. This would imply some test should be applied. The implication would be then that all who present themselves for Communion would satisfy the ‘requirements’ of the test, and that those ministering should take care that they do. Thankfully very few ministers of Communion ever check the propriety of adults who present themselves for Communion.

Traditionally in the Church of England, of course it would, at first, appear that there was a test – knowledge of the Church Catechism followed by Confirmation. However, even here it is not so clear. The Book of Common Prayer allows for those who are ready to be confirmed but cannot be to be admitted to receive Holy Communion. Presumably this permission was granted for cases when there is no available Confirmation service. Whatever, in the Book of Common Prayer it is clear Confirmation is not a requirement for receiving Holy Communion.

When the pregnant mother’s baby is born in usual church practice in the Church of England the infant ceases to be allowed to receive Holy Communion. Depending on the local church and the decisions of the diocesan bishop the child can be admitted to communion later, usually after some form of preparation (and so probably when of at least school age), or after Confirmation.

As early as the seventeenth century Anglican Bishops and theologians have puzzled over the issue. It seemed to most of them quite clear that the early church had permitted infant communion. The great Bishop Jeremy Taylor came to the compromising position that infant communion was lawful but not necessary, and so ‘the present practice of the church is to be our rule.’ Understandable perhaps, but not really very satisfactory.

At a baptism at St Chrysostom’s

By the late twentieth century changes were occurring. Some bold mothers took the matter into their own hands and gave their children, of whatever age, a piece of the consecrated host which they had received. The US Episcopal Church General Convention in 1988 specifically allowed Holy Communion (in the form of a few drops of wine) to be administered to babies at baptism. In 2006 the General Synod of the Church of England allowed for infant communion by allowing bishops to permit children to receive Holy Communion, and not specifying a minimum age. At least two bishops spoke favourably then of Communion for ‘babes in arms.’

Infant communion is becoming increasingly common as churches feel called by God to be inclusive and welcome all to share in the meal of God’s kingdom. In addition Christians have come to see more and more that experience of communion is more formative than instruction about it. Hopefully the Church of England will more and more encourage this particualr path of welcome and inclusion.

At St Chrysostom’s let’s move with joy to the position where the pregnant woman having received Communion with her unborn child can continue to share in the sacred meal with her baby when the baby is born, and ALL are welcome to receive the Blessed Sacrament.

Fr Ian

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Model of Patience

We are delighted to have blog contributions from women of many different backgrounds who are offering us insights arising from the Litany of Mary of Nazareth. All the contributors are connected in some way with us at St C’s. First of all, thank you to Angela, Mi Young, for this lovely contribution.

God gave us blessed virgin Mary as a model of all virtues, but for me especially, the example of patience.

When I think about Mary being asked to do an incredible service for God, I realise it took a lot of courage but also importantly patience, to accept what angel Gabriel had told her. For months Mary had been silent, waiting patiently, when she was carrying the Son of God. Mary also endured the death of Jesus on the cross, and must have waited patiently and prayed until his resurrection three days after. 

Everyday I am challenged to strengthen my patience, when looking after a child, or especially patience with myself when I fall short. Also in this difficult times we are all going through with the pandemic everyone needs to wait patiently, because we believe there will be light at the end of the tunnel. I need to confess, pray and have the patience to keep going because I know it will be all worth it at the end. 

I sometimes do not follow the commands of God and try to do things in my own way, but the loving God waits for me until I return back to Him. Mary endured some of the hardest things imaginable without getting angry at God or despairing in His plan. Mary wants the same for us as Christians, and she shows us how. 

Mary, Model of Patience, be our guide.

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May Litany of Mary of Nazareth

From the Litany of 1544

The earliest authorised form of prayer in the English language was the Litany of 1544. It was composed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, and followed the great tradition of the Church in providing a litany of prayer to be used at various times, and especially in times of national difficulty.

Cranmer’s litany of 1544 continued to be used, in a slightly modified version for centuries, and is still found from time to time in worship in Anglican churches. As time went on more liturgies were introduced, often for specific occasions. Some were written as hymns, to make singing easier.

Some of us may have come across, and prayed the traditional ‘Litany to the Blessed Virgin Mary’ which dates from the Middle Ages. To say it carries on a beautiful tradition begun centuries ago. However, some of the words used seem strange or even out of date to us today. Titles such as ‘mystical rose’ or ‘tower of ivory’ can be difficult to understand or explain.

Modern litanies are, of course, written. In 1987 Pax Christi, a Christian movement dedicated to justice and peace, issued what has now become a popular litany The Litany of Mary of Nazareth. It was written by two Benedictine nuns to express the needs and prayers of contemporary women and men.

This May, Mary’s Month, at St Chrysostom’s we will be using this litany, and words from it, as a focus for prayer and devotion. Each day a bidding from the Litany will be offered in our facebook page and people are invited to respond there with prayer requests arising in their thoughts from those words from the litany. In addition a variety of BAME women from among us will be contributing as blog post based on words of their choice from the Litany.

The Litany of Mary of Nazareth

Glory to you, God our Creator
Breathe into us new life, new meaning.

Glory to you, God our Saviour
Lead us in the way of peace and justice.

Glory to you, healing Spirit
Transform us to empower others.

Response to the following: Be our guide.

Mary, wellspring of peace
Model of strength
Model of gentleness
Model of trust
Model of courage
Model of patience
Model of risk

Model of openness
Model of perseverance

Response to the following: Pray for us.

Mother of the liberator
Mother of the homeless
Mother of the dying
Mother of the nonviolent
Mother of widowed mothers
Mother of unwed mothers
Mother of a political prisoner
Mother of the condemned
Mother of the executed criminal

Response to the following: Lead us to life.

Oppressed woman
Liberator of the oppressed
Marginalized woman
Comforter of the afflicted
Cause of our joy

Sign of contradiction
Breaker of bondage
Political refugee
Seeker of sanctuary
First disciple
Sharer in Christ’s passion
Seeker of God’s will
Witness to Christ’s resurrection

Response to the following: Empower us.

Woman of mercy
Woman of faith
Woman of contemplation
Woman of vision
Woman of wisdom and understanding
Woman of grace and truth
Woman, pregnant with hope
Woman, centred in God

Our Lady of welcome pray for us

Our Lady of hope, pray for us

Let us pray:

Mary, Queen of Peace, we entrust our lives to you. Shelter us from war, hatred and oppression. Teach us to live in peace, to educate ourselves for peace. Inspire us to act justly, to revere all God has made. Root peace firmly in our hearts and in our world. Amen.

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