Image and Welcome at Ladyewell

What wonderful weather and what a varied company of pilgrims we were for this year’s Ladyewell pilgrimage. We were joined by members of the Company of Servers, from Blackburn Chapter who kindly served at the Pilgrimage Mass. As ever we were kindly welcomed at the shrine. Here is a selection from the beginning of the Pilgrimage sermon, given by Fr Michael Burgess:

“Many of us have an unreal image of Mary – as if she never got her hands dirty, never made mistakes, never had doubts, never had to struggle against fear, and so on. For Mary we think it was all plain sailing as she journeyed through life and beyond to heaven.

In 1981 an English writer and theologian called Donald Nicholl went to teach at Tantur near Jerusalem – the experience of being in the Holy Land was an eye opener to him in many ways – but one in particular. Because it changed his image of Mary forever.

He wrote a book on his time there and said that his image of Mary was derived from paintings and poems – ‘of some dreamy, ethereal young lady, untouched by human toil.’ But after meeting the peasant women of Galilee he came to a very different image of our Lady.

This is what he wrote, ‘The image which comes now spontaneously to mind is of a woman with strong hands, sinewy through much work; of a face whose skin is rough from exposure to the sun and wind; of feet that are broad-spread through climbing the hills around Nazareth barefoot; but above all of eyes that are steady, and a mouth that is firm, through enduring the sorrows of the refugee, the poor and the oppressed.’

He saw in Mary a strength and a tenderness – courage and compassion – worldliness and wisdom – feet rooted in the reality of life but a heart to God’s guidance.

It was a far cry from that original picture he had of the dreamy young lady floating through life. Now Mary was for Donald Nicholl a woman whose feet were firmly placed in this world of work and service – but whose hands and whose heart were open to welcome all with tenderness and love.”

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Funeral hymn choices: Twitter responses

More on funeral hymns. At present we’re putting a ‘Question for the week’ on Twitter. We particularly invite recent followers of @StChrys to think of their answer to the question.

We recently asked: At this moment what would be your choice of funeral hymn? Here is a selection of the wonderfully varied answers we received

Revd Leslie Scoopmire @scoopexplainsit responded: Morning Has Broken because the image of Jesus in a garden is beautiful to me.

Revd Shuna @shunad  Oooh great question. I have a wee note tucked away with instructions for my family with just this info. ‘I The Lord of sea and sky’ is one choice. A 2nd would be ‘Abide with me’. Since Emile Sande sang it at the Olympics opening I have come to appreciate the words greatly.

Liam Beadle @liambeadle favours a traditional approach: ‘Jerusalem the golden’ to EWING. At a 1662 Funeral, please!

Neil McCleery @tartanbiretta has obviously given the subject some thought: Lead, Kindly Light: tune Alberta. No eulogy, no photos in the Order of Service.

Jane Scriven @mrsjscriv replied: It would have to be ‘Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer’ sung to the tune Cwm Rhondda’. and also sought her husband’s choice which was ‘Let all mortal flesh keep silent’.

Christina Baron @BaronChristina replied: Got to be Thine be the glory…resurrection hymn, great Handel tune, we had it at the funerals of both my parents.

David Sheen @Capellanus hopes for a funeral outside Lent: If my funeral is outside of Lent then definitely having ‘Tydi a wnaeth y wyrth, O! Grist, Fab Duw’

Bryn Snow @BHSnow, tweets from Canada: For All the Saints (Vaughan Williams)

Mtr Nicol Kinrade gives us three choices: Now the green blade riseth, Glory to thee, my God, this night (Tallis’ Canon), Jerusalem the golden (Ewing)

Jayne Ozanne @JayneOzanne writes: Gosh, there are so many but I think it would have to be Amazing Grace…as at the end of the day that’s the truth we stand on, there’s nothing we can do to make God us love us any more or any less – we are Just Loved, passionately, by our Creator God, the Alpha & Omega of us all!

Thank you to everyone who contributed (There were several more, but sadly not enough space here for all).

Here on our church blog we’ve also given some bishops’ choices of funeral hymns, some clergy gave us theirs, we looked at the choice at royal funerals and we gave in detail one RC priest’s choice.

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Processing at Corpus Christi

Together we are journeying through life. We travel in our lives, many here have made long journeys to be in Manchester. We travel forward through time. We travel as pilgrims with no abiding city, we seek the one that is to come.

Through the night of doubt and sorrow onward goes the pilgrim band, singing songs of expectation, marching to the promised land.

In The Bible St Paul tells us we are one body for we all eat of the one bread.

We are one body united in the Mass, a sign of unity, a bond of love. We journey on into the different places of our lives with a living and loving faith. We are walking the one path of God, the path into God’s eternity. We are bound together by God’s love, the God who here feeds us, nurtures us, nourishes us, and loves us. Together as sisters and brothers, we live in faith together, we move together, we journey through life together.

Mass today, Corpus Christi, has a special feature – the outdoor Procession. We carry the sacrament, the bread of life in procession out of the church door and into the world. We process together proclaiming we are one in our faith and in our joy. We journey together to God’s heavenly city, our eternal rest. With eyes set on Jesus Christ the pioneer of our journey we process through life to God.

Our Corpus Christi procession is a sign of our life journey, it is a sign of our  faith, our hope to God. And yet, God the end of our journey, who inspires us and calls us on, is also with us, in the journey, among us, in each of us, and today, moving with us in the Blessed Sacrament. This is a day of great celebration, of joy, as we go out of Church today looking journeying together, comforted and encouraged by Christ with us.

So let us walk in Christian faith, today and forever. Let us walk in Christian faith in all the streets of our life. When life is smooth, when life is rough, we journey in hope and faith. Christ is near, among us, the end and the strength is with us.

Today in God’s creation, in God’s love, a procession moves through the paths and streets of our world. It will arrive at its end, its goal. Already, on this blessed feast, in fact, heaven and earth join together and celebrate one blessed hope and feast.

This is a summary of the sermon, given by Fr Ian, at Corpus Christi at St Chrysostom’s this year.

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Funeral Hymns: Royal choices

Which hymns have been chosen for the funerals of Kings and Queens of the United Kingdom?

A few months ago here on our church blog we gave some bishops’ choices of funeral hymns, some clergy gave us theirs, and we gave in detail one RC priest’s choiceNow we ask what hymns have been sung at funerals of royalty here in England?

The final verse of Now the Labourer’s task is o’er

We can often forget that singing hymns at funerals is a relatively recent occurrence in the long history of the church – it began in the Church of England in the nineteenth century. The Royal Family are often conservative when it comes to change and so it is not surprising to discover that congregational hymns were not sung at a royal funeral until Edward VII’s funeral at Westminster Abbey in May 1910. Two hymns were sung. My God, my Father while I stray was sung following the Lord’s Prayer after the internment, and Now the labourer’s task is o’er was sung before the blessing. Such is the changing fashion in hymns that while both hymns were often used at funerals at that time they are very rarely used today.

At the funeral of George V in 1936 one hymn was used, Abide with me. Until then predominantly an evening hymn its use at the King’s funeral popularised it for funerals more generally. It remains a common choice. The hymn had special significance to George V as it was noted that by ‘the King’s special desire’ it was added to the funeral service of his mother, Queen Alexandra, in St George’s Chapel, Windsor in 1925. The hymn was also chosen by George V’s wife, Queen Mary for her own funeral at St George’s, Windsor on 31st March 1953.

At George VI‘s funeral in 1952 The Strife is O’er the battle done was sung, while in the service in Westminster Hall at the laying in state, Abide with me was used.

The funeral of the uncrowned King, Edward VIII, was held privately at St George’s Chapel, Windsor in 1972. At the funeral the hymn Lead us Heavenly Father lead us was sung.

For the funeral in 2002 of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, at Westminster Abbey,  Immortal, Invisible, God only wise and Guide me O Thou Great Redeemer were the congregational hymns.

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A Candidate’s Report from a BAP

Paul recently went on a Bishops’ Advisory Panel to assess his suitability for training for the priesthood. Paul writes about the experience:

I’m pretty good at waiting, I never shake and prod a gift to try and work out what it is before my birthday and I usually deal well with the anticipation of a big event but when it came to attending the Bishop’s Advisory Panel (BAP as it is known) on 8th May, I remember wishing the time away so I could just get there and face the music. The reason why I was uncharacteristically impatient was simple; I felt I had been waiting for so long along with the build up to it, with the completion of forms, interviews with advisors and supportive talks with Priests and others had got me to the point of saying “please God, let me get it over with so I know what you want me to do”.  

Mark drove me down to Shallowford House near to Stone in Staffordshire, an area I know well having been born and bred in the county. We stopped and had afternoon tea in a café beforehand but the butterflies in my stomach did nothing to aid digestion! Mark told me afterwards that he imagined it was how it felt to drop a child off at school for the first time and I was very grateful to him for taking the afternoon out to drive me as spending that time together was the final bit of preparation.

 Shallowford is beautiful, it is a large old house surrounded by 9 acres of land with an impressive pond, chickens and best of all a Peacock which from time to time loudly reminded us of his presence. There I met 14 other candidates, all with different stories to tell but with a shared purpose to respond to God’s will. We spent time together in formal activities and in recreation, we supported each other, we willed each other to do well and to coin a modern phrase, we “had each other’s backs”.

At Church: Paul and Mark share a joke with Ann

The BAP was worth the wait, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I knew as I got into Mark’s car for the journey home that whatever the recommendation I would graciously accept God’s will. The time I had spent in Christian fellowship with those 14 comrades, whom I had never met before and will probably never meet again, as well as the amazingly supportive BAP Secretary and 6 Advisors, was a great gift.

A few days after the BAP Paul learned he had been recommended for training. We were delighted to hear this at Church. Congratulations from all at St Chrysostom’s!

(You can read two earlier,and differing, reports from St C’s people who went on BAPS here and here)

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What the Rector does – Prays at 5pm

What does the Rector do?

Here’s the fifth and final entry in my short series of blogs offering a few reflections on some of the ministry I’ve been involved with during the week. I’m choosing one aspect of each day, today…

5. Prays at 5pm

5pm worship is usually held in the Anson (Blessed Sacrament) Chapel

Each day (Saturdays excepted) at 5pm at St Chrysostom’s the Angelus bell rings out and prayers are said. Some days Mass is celebrated some days Vespers is said. Some days a priest leads, some days a lay person is the leader. During August 5pm prayers are said on a rota basis by church members wherever they are.

Of course I pray at other times, and indeed I am not always present at 5pm worship. However, as the Rector it is my duty to ensure that the advertised public worship at 5pm takes place, and it is my duty to regularly pray for the parish and all it’s people.

The daily prayer brings the life and people of our parish before God. Sometimes the intercessions are introduced with the traditional words “We make our supplication to you O Lord, on behalf of this parish…” This is an important reminder that a parish church offers the prayers fort, and on behalf of, the people of the parish – those who worship in the church and all who live and work in the parish. Prayers at 5pm, spoken out, or silently uttered, frequently bring before God those whom we have met and the particular concerns we have encountered. We pray for those for whom prayers are requested.

In this way our thoughts, our lives, the parish, is brought to God in the parish church as we pray “Thy Kingdom come.” We place ourselves and our concerns into the context of the Kingdom of eternal love, the Kingdom of God.

At Mass particularly, yet also in our regular praying of Vespers, heaven and earth intersect, and our concerns – for those in prison, for children of our parish, for those coming for baptism, for those with desperate housing problems, and more – are held before God and embraced, we pray, in God’s infinite love.

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What the Rector does – listens to pastoral concerns

What does the Rector do?

Here’s the fourth in my short series of blogs offering a few reflections on some of the ministry I’ve been involved with during the week. I’m choosing one aspect of each day, today…

4.  Listens to pastoral concerns 

Today I guided a small listening meeting to hear concerns of young mothers of some of the most vulnerable children of our area. The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly and the young mums were open and sincere in their sharing. I was so impressed by the love and dedication they put into their families in such adverse situations – some doing it as single parents.

Our meeting was in the Longsight part of our parish. The leafy streets, and some of the large buildings of our area can hide the intense deprivation found locally. Child poverty is very high, and today I heard yet again of the intense housing problems some face in our area. Here is an example:

Mum is a single parent in a two bedroomed small house with five children, aged 10, 9, 8, 5 and 2. Four of the children have special needs, two severe needs. Mum shares a bedroom with one of the children while the other four share the other bedroom.  Inevitably the cramped housing brings problems of its own, not least tensions in the family and lack of sleep. The danger is the difficulties spiral. Mum has been persistently trying for well over a year for improved accommodation without any success. Waiting lists are very long.

This is not an isolated example. At the meeting many other examples were shared.

What can be done? The problem is enormous, and cannot by solved by an individual or even one organisation.

Of course I can, and do, share my concerns with housing authorities and local councillors. Any concerned christian will wish to encourage action to help those in need in the community. I will also write to the Bishop of Manchester so that he is informed of concerns. I will pray. These are important actions. I would also at the same time not want to undervalue listening, and encouraging sharing. At the meeting I was filled with admiration for the mothers who work so hard for their children and who, even though some were meeting for the first time, showed care and gave support to one another. Hopefully schools, churches and other bodies can help create such gatherings to be a safe space for mutual support by those attending, and to listen, and in doing so respond to the Holy Spirt of love and care.

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