Pademelon, Frogmouth and Platypus: Praise be!

A Tawny Frogmouth

Pademelon, Frogmouth, Platypusnot words from Hogwarts but words on a postcard the e-postman has recently delivered to us at St Chrysostom’s

My sister first caught sight of the peculiar  bird sitting pretending to be a piece of bark on a palm tree in front of her house . Eventually we identified it as a tawny frogmouth; we’ve named him Frances and we see him as our guardian angel.

Australia is full of such wondrous creatures, of which I am learning more  on this visit .

During my trip to Tasmania , the island state of Australia , I watched a pademelon, a small kangaroo like creature hop across my friends’ lawn and I visited a centre breeding that oddest of all animals – the platypus, a mammal which suckles its young , is covered with fur but has a duck like bill and lays eggs . 

All of which makes me feel grateful for this diverse extraordinary world . And right now I’m feeling extra grateful because it is raining and this dry land needs the rain.

And since I now come from Manchester and have many Muslim friends I find myself using Arabic and saying  Alhamdulillah Praise Be!

Sandra, in Australia

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An Ignatius Quiz

The Author of Sherlock Homes

What is the full name of the author of the Sherlock Holmes stories?

That was Question 6 of a light hearted St Ignatius (of Antioch) Quiz, written by Fr Ian for a gathering of the Manchester Chapter of the Society of Catholic Priests, held on St Ignatius’ day (18th October). Points were given for creative or correct answers.

Why not try the quiz yourself? (Answers in the comments section below).

  1. Ignatius, born about the year 37, is said to have been a disciple of whom?
  1. Ignatius is said to be the third bishop of Antioch, who is said to be the first?
  1. In which modern country is ancient Antioch?
  1. Can you name two other saints who, by tradition, came from Antioch whose feast days are September 13th and October 18th?
  1. For which of the following was Ignatius Bonomi (1787 – 1870) famous ?
    1. Being the first railway architect
    2. The architect of Durham prison
    3. Being husband of the author Charlotte Bonomi, author of the moralising novel Agnes Grey
  1. What was the full name of the author of the Sherlock Holmes stories?
  1. Botticelli’s painting of Ignatius shows the removal of the saint’s heart. What is written on the heart?
  1. Hannes Ignatius was a famous general, in which country: Germany, Austria, Prussia or Finland?
  1. Can you find the name of a country from letters in the name Ignatius?
  1. According to St Ignatius when is the Bishop most like God?
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Insights from Inside

Insidean exhibition at the Royal Festival Hall, gathers art from prisoners’ entries for the Koestler Awards for works of art by people in the UK’s criminal justice system. For this year’s awards participants were asked to respond to the theme Inside, set by the curator of the exhibition, Antony Gormley.

When I worked as a chaplain in a maximum security prison I became aware that several  insights of prisoners, given through word and through works of art, spoke directly to the whole human condition. I was reminded of this when viewing this exhibition.

Here are reproductions of three works of art from the exhibition, the last two with the prisoner’s comment about their work.

Fr Ian

The Woodland Beyond

A striking watercolour from HMP Channings Wood, which emphasises the blandness of prison life, and the (perhaps slight) hope that seeing beyond the prison can bring.

Writing Home

‘My sister sent me 3 little watercolour papers every couple of months and I used those things thoughtfully… every bit is cathartic and helps to confront the guilt of letting loved ones down. Being able to pour out one’s feelings is completely invaluable.”

Cornflower Blue

‘I find embroidering incredibly relaxing and it relieves my stress. While everything around me turns to rubble I can remain calm.’

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Celebrating 140 Years

St Chrysostom's in the nineteenth century

St Chrysostom’s in the nineteenth century

We’re coming up to St Chrysostom’s Church’s birthday, so here’s some information about  the consecration itself

St Chrysostom's Foundation Stone Have you seen it?

St Chrysostom’s Foundation Stone
Have you seen it?

By the 1870s Victoria Park and the local area had grown so much that it was decided it needed its own church. The site had been allocated in the original Victoria Park plans of 1836 but it wasn’t until 40 years later that building began upon it. On Friday 18th 1874 Sir William Reynell Anson laid the foundation stone in the presence of the Bishop of Manchester and other dignitaries. By 1875 a portion of the church had been completed and was used for worship and by 1877 the Church was ready for consecration. 

At 11.30am on Saturday October 13th 1877 Bishop James Fraser consecrated the new building and preached a sermon on Christian Tolerance which was widely quoted at the time.

The Manchester Courier's account of the Consecration

The Manchester Courier’s
account of the Consecration

At the end of his sermon the Bishop told the congregation £990 was still needed to defray the total cost of the Church, which, inclusive of building, furnishings and site had amounted to £13,000. Two generous members of the congregation immediately met that shortfall.

The immediate area around the church at the time housed people of wealth, but the parish also served narrow terrace houses nearby – from its foundation it served a population new to Manchester, some wealthy, some poor, some seeking a new future. Many of the families came from countries other than England. From the beginning St Chrysostom’s welcomed a wide variety of people from differing backgrounds and cultures.

Today St Chrysostom’s continues to rejoice in variety and take prides in its welcome.

Long may it continue.

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Vida Dutton Scudder

IMG_0352 Women, and especially lesbian women with partners are sadly rare in churches’ calendars of saints and holy ones. Here’s a woman to honour, from the Calendar of the Episcopal Church of the US.

Vida Dutton Scudder (feast day 10th October) was born in India, where her father was a missionary, in 1861. She moved with her mother to Boston, USA, following her father’s tragic death through drowning. She was educated privately in Boston, and was fortunate to be able to travel as a tourist around Europe. She graduated in America, and was later one of the first American women to attend Oxford University. She later taught in American Universities becoming a Professor at Wellesley College in 1910.

From the age of 27 she was active in politics, and was also a member of the Companions of the Holy Cross (a group of Episcopalian women dedicated to Social Reform and Intercessory Prayer). In 1903 she helped to organise the Women’s Trade Union League, and in 1911 she attempted to reconcile Marxism with Christianity. Needless to say, she was a controversial figure with many calling for her dismissal. However, in 1912 whilst supporting striking textile works she stated,
“I would rather never again wear a thread of woolen than know my garments had been woven at the cost of such misery as I have seen and known past the shadow of a doubt to have existed in this town….If the wages are of necessity below the standard to maintain man and woman in decency and in health, then the woolen industry has not a present right to exist in Massachusetts”

From 1919 until her death she lived with her constant companion Florence Converse, and they were buried with one another. In the 1920s she became a pacifist, and the 16-works published by her speak of her vibrant spirituality and intense activism.

Here we have a lesbian woman of immense courage and determination. She challenged the church and society of her day, and is a voice who empowers those on the margins. She was in one respect from a privileged background – but, she stepped out of her space of privilege. Her heart and care was for the unfortunate and dispossessed. She was instrumental in showing the way for educated women to bring about change through social action.

Most gracious God, you sent your beloved Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near:  Raise up in your church witnesses who, after the example of your servant Vida Dutton Scudder, stand firm in proclaiming the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Fr Chris

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Entomology and my Faith

Entomology (noun): The Scientific Study of Insects – and faith.

Since I was a little girl I have always loved being outside among growing things, helping in my grandparents’ garden or playing wildly imaginative games with my cousins in the woods. It only made sense for me to go into Environmental Biology in University when I have loved nature so well all my life.

When I entered university, I joined a research lab immediately that looked at the freshwater macroinvertebrates (a fancy word for insects) that lived in a local stream on a farm where we were monitoring the health of the water through its little inhabitants. I really did not enjoy the constant contact with the tiny creatures at first, but being in a lab for all four years of my time at university was going to look well on any future resume so I kept at it. My favorite parts were the other students I was getting to know, and being outside among the wide grass fields, and the cool sound of the water flowing around me.

My intolerant attitude of insects soon grew into a fascination with bugs as the years passed, and working in a larger lab with other enthusiastic Biologists who loved nature and the world as much as I did intertwined quickly with my faith and a call to love the earth and all its creatures. Even the little ones that most people do not enjoy having around. Learning more about Insects turned my prejudice against them into wonder, interest, and now a deeply faithfully rooted care for the environment we all live in.

There is a larger lesson that can be seen in my life and faith how these insects gave me a model for looking at my own prejudices with a sense of faithful wonder, education, and a commitment to change the way I felt towards something. Living the Gospels faithfully in my life means challenging injustices, including the littlest ones in my local streams and larger ones buzzing around my local neighborhood and country.

Mycah

In 2015-2016 Mycah McNett was our first Volunteer from Time for God to serve as Parish Assistant and came to us from the United States through Young Adults in Global Mission through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She now lives in Virginia, USA where she works at Muhlenberg Lutheran Church.

This is the third in our series of how our studies influence our faith. Previous posts have looked at Metallurgy and my faith, and Mathematics and my faith

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Insights from Iran

+PS uuu

We welcome a wonderfully wide variety of people to St Chrysostom’s. Hospitality is a centrepoint of our church life. Today it was a delight to welcome Persian friends to church today, for a special gathering. Dr Soroush Dabbagh, an Iranian academic currently working at the University of Toronto, gave a lecture. Dr Dabbagh is an outstanding scholar, a well known speaker – and also a devotee of poetry.

He spoke,  in Farsi, of the importance of tolerance in Islam. He talked of the different forms of expression found in Islam and of the value of respecting and appreciating difference.

Fr Ian spoke (briefly, in English!) words of welcome and emphasised the importance of listening to the views of others, giving space for difference, and being true to the light which enlightens all.

St Chrysostom’s was thanked for being a place of openness and diversity.

Many of those present value the Sufi tradition of Islam which places a high value on a close, direct and personal relationship with God – the tradition is often described as mystical.

+ SD

Dr Soroush Dabbagh

After Dr Dabbagh’s talk the Sahba Music Ensemble sang Sufi poetry and other songs in a distinct and beautiful Persian style. The music performed gently, but with passion, conveyed a spirituality of the heart. One of the songs was of the renowned Sufi poet and mystic Rumi whose words have given inspiration to Christians as well as Muslims.

Elsewhere Dr Dabbagh has spoken highly of the modern Iranian poet and artist Sohrab Sepehri (1928-1980), whose love of humanity and nature suffuse his poetry and art. Gathered at St Chrysostom’s this evening one could not help thinking that a sharing of the words of mystics by people of differing faiths would enrich one another’s spiritual life and insight.

A poem of Sohrab Sepehri:

I am a Moslem
My Mecca is a rose
My mosque is a spring, my prayer stone the light

Fields make my prayer rug
I make ablution with the heartbeat of the windows
Moonlight flows through my prayers, the spectrum too

My Kaaba lies by the water,
My Kaaba lies under the acacias.
My Kaaba travels like the breeze,

From one garden to the next,
From one town to another…

The Kaaba, it will be recalled, is the cube-shaped building, which is the holiest site for Muslims, in which direction they face during prayers.

 

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