An Invitation to pray in May, Mary’s month

Here’s an invitation to join in a ‘chain of prayer’ from St Chrysostom’s in May, traditionally called Mary’s month.

GabrielFor centuries Christians have been praying the Angelus at morning, noon and evening each day. Pausing in the midst of work and life to remember God and to pray. The Angelus particularly remembers Mary’s YES to God. In Easter the Angelus is replaced by the Regina Coeli another simple prayer which reminds us of the Resurrection and invites us, with mary, to share joy in the world.

At St C’s we’ve invited people to choose a day or days when they will say the Regina Coeli (up to and including May 15th) and then the Angelus (from May 16th to the end of the month).

People have done so and now we invite anyone who wishes to join us too. Would you like to join in?

Mary annunciation B GYou can indicate you are, and let us know your chosen day/s, through our Facebook page if you wish. You are welcome to say if you can whether you will pray in the morning, at noon, or in the evening.

We’re also inviting people to post on the Facebook page or in our Church facebook group with a photo (a selfie perhaps), if they wish, saying they have prayed and perhaps saying where they prayed. It’s working already!

We invite people to pray the devotion in this way:

  • Either early morning, noon or in the evening, pause for a moment. Be still.
  • Thank God for the day.
  • Pray for yourself and for your loved ones.
  • Pray for St Chrysostom’s Church and people and any other Christian community dear to you. Pray for joy in faith.
  • Pray for peace – in your heart, your homes, your communities, ourworld.
  • Then say the Regina Coeli / Angelus.

The leaflet given to our church people for May has the words for the Angelus and Regina Coeli click here for a copy.

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Crowning Our Lady’s Statue

May mary 1For many Christians around the world May is ‘Mary’s month’ – a month to celebrate Mary’s joy and holiness. We celebrate her wonderful example as one who listened to God. She generously followed God’s will, and became the “God bearer” to the world.

As Mass ended today today we began our keeping of Mary’s month by placing a veil and crown on Mary’s statue, while the ‘This is the image of the Queen’ was sung. These words were used:

May mary 2We have come here to crown this statue of the Virgin Mother of God.

This ceremony has a lesson to teach us about the Gospel: that the greatest in the kingdom of heaven are those who are foremost in serving and in love.

Our Lord himself came to serve, not to be served; he drew all things to himself when he was lifted up from the earth, and he reigned from the tree by the power of gentleness and love. And our Lady, whose glory we proclaim today, was the humble servant of the Lord when she was on earth: she gave herself utterly to her Son and his work; with him, and under him, she was an instrument in our redemption. Now, in the glory of heaven, she is still the God-bearer to Christ’s brothers and sisters: she cares about their eternal salvation; she is minister of holiness and queen of love.

Then together we sang out the Regina Coeli – Joy to thee O Queen of Heaven.

We pray that May may be a month of inspiration, service and joy for us all.

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Honouring Christina Rossetti

Tread softly! all the earth is holy ground.
It may be, could we look with seeing eyes,
This spot we stand on is a Paradise   (Christina Rossetti, from ‘Later Life’)

The life and spirituality of the Church has been, and is, enriched by Christian poets. Many of the better hymns we sing were written originally as poems, and only later were tunes written or allocated to them.

CR 2Today the Church of England honours the life and poetry of Christina Rossetti (1830 to 1894). On this day her first recorded poems were written in 1842 for her mother, who was a formidable influence on her. Christina was only 11 years old at the time.

In 1857 Christina suffered a serious illness and a crisis of faith, which, she felt, did not allow her to receive the sacraments. From this time comes some of her most profound poetry. She was associated with her brother Dante Gabriel’s painting friends – the Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood. Nevertheless Christina led a relatively quiet life and rarely left an area of a few miles from her home near Oxford Street, in London.

Christina had a deep religious faith, inspired by Anglo Catholicism, and from the 1860s much of her poetry was of a devotional nature. Although of a relatively privileged upbringing Christina knew suffering. From the early 1870s she developed the disfuguring Grave’s disease. On 29 December 1894 she died at home in great pain and anguish, of cancer, having undergone surgery two years earlier.

Her poetry addresses many profound issues and she is perhaps most famous for her poem ‘In the Bleak midwinter.’

Brett Bluebell Hill

UPHILL

by Christina Rossetti

Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
   Yes, to the very end.
Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?
   From morn to night, my friend.
But is there for the night a resting-place?
   A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
   You cannot miss that inn.
Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
   Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
   They will not keep you standing at that door.
 Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
   Of labour you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
   Yea, beds for all who come.
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153 and the beauty of numbers

Sieve_of_Eratosthenes_animation

An animation of the Sieve of Eratosthenes

Numbers have fascinated me since childhood.

I remember being intrigued as a child by the Sieve of Eratosthenes (a very simple algorithm for finding prime numbers), and later in the sixth form being fascinated by my maths teacher’s comment that and 𝝅 were God made numbers, a view which seemed to be supported by the ‘exquisite beauty’ of Euler’s equation

e^{i \pi} + 1 = 0.

A Professor of Mathematics has written like a Shakespearean sonnet that captures the very essence of love, or a painting that brings out the beauty of the human form that is far more than just skin deep, Euler’s equation reaches down into the very depths of existence.

Numers can be very beautiful and powerful for us. Some will know what I am referring to, for others this may seem very abstract! However, this morning a group of primary school children and I talked about what numbers are special to us, and why. The answers were fascinating here are some of them

  • 10 because it is special for me, its the number on my shirt
  • 4 because I was 4 when my sister was born
  • 34 because it reminds me of a special person to me

And we heard how some numbers are special to Christians – 7, gifts of the Holy Spirit, 12, disciples, 3, the Holy Trinity.

153We also discussed the mysterious 153 – the number of fish counted in the miraculous catch of fish towards the end of John’s Gospel  (John 21.11).

The number clearly had significance to John and early christians, the reason why is no longer clear.

Although early christian teachers denounce the use of numbers for magical purposes they also say there are special numbers having mystical meaning, so, for example St Ambrose writes “The number seven is good, … the manifestation and division of the grace of the Spirit; for the prophet Isaias has enumerated the principal gifts of the Holy Spirit as seven.”

Today like the children at the school we may like to think about what number is special to us, and why that is. Then, perhaps, we can let our thoughts to turn to prayer.

Fr Ian

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Inspiring vocations in 2016

SCPV16 U1

Is God calling you to ministry in the Church? Think and pray about it!

That’s just what a group of people from all over England (and Holland) did a few days ago at the Vocations Weekend organised by the Society of Catholic Priests and St Chrysostom’s. It was a great time together, and included prayer, discussion of shoes, visiting churches, making friends, laughter, talk, Mass, curry, Benediction and the Regina Coeli! Here are words from four different people who attended:

Truly inspirational, hearing people stories and seeing some wonderful parishes and the work that is being done there. …

I have come away from the weekend challenged, wanting to deepen my study and through the weekend had my calling reaffirmed.

I’ve come away with a lot to explore and think about

EasterC SCPVoc BpM UThe vocations weekend was a great inspiration to me. Well organised, with plenty of information and question time, yet with ample opportunity for informal contacts with wonderful people.

 

and a longer comment from Sibylle:

“I can’t recommend this weekend too highly to anyone going through a discernment process for ordination. This was my first experience of being with others in the same situation, and the opportunity to share information, friendship, prayer has been invaluable. I was worried that being one of the ‘more mature’ members of the group would feel difficult but everyone was so friendly and truly inclusive that it really didn’t matter – the diversity of the group members and the churches we visited was living proof of the CofE being a broad church! My own church’s tradition is very different from SCP and Liberal Catholicism, yet I felt very much at home with the liturgies, and very moved and strengthened by Benediction. The laying on of hands and being prayed for was a very special experience. I shall be looking out for SCP parishes in London and see whether I can join for morning and evening prayer.
The weekend was challenging yet affirming, and I left feeling on a real high with much to process. The journey will continue – but now in the company of friends I made over the weekend. Thank you to you all, and a big thanks to all who helped with the organisation. A job very well done!”

Thank you to all for their comments. If you are reading this and thinking you may have a calling to priesthood look out for the 2017 SCP Manchester Vocations weekend!

scpv16 2

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What happens when the clock strikes 4?

…..when the clock strikes four

Everything stops for tea

So went the song in the 1930s comedy film “Come out of the Pantry”. The final verse enlightens us as to why Schubert failed to complete his 8th Symphony:

Now I know just why Franz Schubert

Didn’t finish his unfinished symphony

He might have written more but the clock struck four

And everything stops for tea

Tea 1Well today is apparently National Tea Day, a ‘celebration of Britain’s national drink,’ and as it is also the Queen’s birthday it seemed appropriate to mark this special day at Church by stopping for a cup of tea, and also to read a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer, for the Queen.

Over the years we’ve built up a small but interesting collection of mugs at church, many of them gifts. The photo shows two of them. Of course we had to include the ‘More tea, Vicar?’ one.

If you are unsure of how to make a good cup of tea The Independent has an article to help you: click here.

The Clergy at Tea

And why not, as a tribute to tea, listen to Jack Buchanan singing ‘Everything Stops for Tea’ – on Youtube here.

And just in case you should think that the connection with tea and the clergy is confined to the Church of England, have a look at this painting. It’s by the Italian painter, Pietro Pavasi from the 19th Century.

It’s entitled The Clergy at Tea. 

But was it 4pm?

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A European Archbishop: St Anselm

The stained glass window of St Anselm at St Chrysostom's

The stained glass window of St Anselm at St Chrysostom’s

Today the Church honours St Anselm. We honour him at St Chrysostom’s in a stained glass window in the north aisle. Also nearby, in Victoria Park, he is the patron of St Anselm Hall, one of the halls of residence of Manchester University.

Anselm was born in Italy in about 1033, in 1078 he became the Abbot of Bec, in north France, and in 1093 he became Archbishop of Canterbury. He died on 21 April 1109.

Anselm experienced frustration and political conflict in his work as Archbishop. He bore it with patience and integrity. He has a foremost place among medieval theologians and thinkers, and was one of the most scholarly Archbishops of Canterbury. He placed an emphasis on the use of reason in faith.  Perhaps his most famous saying is ‘fides quaerens intellectum’ – faith seeking understanding. Anselm calls us to have faith, first of all, but we must also seek a deeper understanding of God and the world.

Think about that. Think about your personal faith. What have you done recently to enrich your life by nurturing faith,  and seeking understanding?

A Song of Anselm

Jesus, as a mother you gather your people to you:
You are gentle with us as a mother with her children;
Often you weep over our sins and our pride:
tenderly you draw us from hatred and judgement.
You comfort us in sorrow and bind up our wounds:
in sickness you nurse us,
and with pure milk you feed us.
Jesus, by your dying we are born to new life:
by your anguish and labour we come forth in joy.
Despair turns to hope through your sweet goodness:
through your gentleness we find comfort in fear.
Your warmth gives life to the dead:
your touch makes sinners righteous.
Lord Jesus, in your mercy heal us:
in your love and tenderness remake us.
In your compassion bring grace and forgiveness:
for the beauty of heaven may your love prepare us.

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