The continuing Epiphany

The glorious Epiphany window faces us in the Anson Chapel, at St Chrysostom’s. The window is part of the outstanding Burlison and Grylls stained glass at St Chrysostom’s.

The Epiphany in story and image celebrates the showing of Christ, the Son of God and Son of Mary, shown to all the nations of the world – represented by the three magi (‘wise men’) who worship and present their gifts.

In the window we see St Joseph in the left hand window with one of the magi, in the centre we see Our Lady seated with Jesus standing on her knee – a relaxed and gentle image. On the right the other two magi offer gifts and worship. Above the scene are a range of angels enriching the worship with music and colour, and higher, above is a glimpse of the worship of heaven in a roundel window of angels.

The window very appropriately is above the tabernacle in the Chapel containing the Reserved Sacrament of the Body of Christ – in which Christ is celebrated among us today.

Speaking of the Feast of the Epiphany in the fifth century pope St Leo the Great reminds us that the Epiphany begun at the visit of the magi continues and we are encouraged to be part of it:

This is the day which David sang of in the psalms: ‘All the nations you have made shall come and worship you, O Lord, and glorify your name;’ and again, ‘The Lord has made his salvation known; in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.’

This indeed we know to be taking place ever since the three magi were called from their far-off land and were led by the star to recognise and worship the king of heaven and earth. And surely their worship of him exhorts us to imitation; that, as far as we can, we should be at the service of this grace which invites all to Christ.

You ought to help one another, dearly beloved, in this zeal, so that in the kingdom of God, which is reached by right faith and good works, you may shine as children of the light, through our Lord Jesus Christ…

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Guide #FollowTheStar

It seems that we rarely need to ask the way to strange places these days because of modern technology. In earlier times the compass was used. Often guides for spirituality are suggested too.

Fr Chris comments in the #FollowTheStar series on the word ‘Guide’ 

But does this help us as much as we think? I ask this because these all need us to be able and aware of how to use technology, or in the case of the compass the ability to read a map. They all enable the user to find the way if they already know how to do so.

I don’t think that to be the case in our relationship with Jesus Christ. I don’t think that we need to know how to “work” him, how to use the correct program or app to get our desired outcome.

I don’t dispute that we all need a sense of direction, a sense of purpose in life – as the old saying goes “if we don’t know where we are going, how will we know when we get there?”! But, we can so often complicate the issue. I often reflect on the complications which we addicts in recovery put onto our recovery – in my case I avoid alcohol, which is simple and straightforward – but I have heard many addicts struggle with what ifs – what if I need to drink a toast, what if I need to celebrate a birthday and so on.   Just avoid alcohol and say no is the simple answer.

So it is I feel with faith and direction. Bishop Nigel some years ago reminded us of the need to “look to Jesus as the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 7:1).

We don’t need to complicate our faith, and see it a intricate and complicated.

Lets keep it simple looking to Jesus Christ and passing on his faith, hope and love. I used to play squash (believe it or not!) and one thing I was always being told was to keep my eye on the ball – so it is with our Christian Faith we need to keep our eye on Jesus.

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2020 Veni Creator Spiritus: God Knows!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! 

In 1939 the then Princess Elizabeth gave to her father, King George VI, a copy of a poem. It became famous when the King quoted it in his 1939 Christmas Broadcast. The poem,  God Knows is by, Minnie Louise Haskins. It encourages hope and trust in God at a difficult time. The section the King quoted was:

opened-gate 1And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

Hope and trust in God, leading us into the future, are appropriate things to ponder and pray for at the beginning of a New Year. They are qualities to encourage in ourselves and others.

At Mass on New Years Day at St Chrysostom’s we join with Christians all over the world in following the Christian tradition of singing together, Veni Creator Spiritus, asking for the Spirit of God, to inspire and guide us as we begin a new year. We pray for hope and trust in God.

VENI, Creator SpiritusWhy not, as part of your personal prayer, join your voice with other Christians and pray this ancient hymn perhaps in the traditional form of John Cosin, (Come Holy Ghost our souls inspire). You can listen to it sung at St Paul’s Cathedral, here,  from time to time at Mass at St Chrysostom’s we use the less well known but also poetic version of John Dryden, (Creator Spirit by whose aid).

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Te Deum Laudamus! Give thanks for the past year

Giving thanks with Angels The Angels window in the Anson Chapel at St Chrysostoms

Giving thanks with Angels
The Angels window in the Anson Chapel
at St Chrysostoms

So often the news seems to be disturbing or even upsetting.  

It’s hardly surprising that some people wish a year to end. However, let’s be careful in case we slip into being too negative. We’d not want to be people who find it difficult to see what is good and beautiful.

There is lots of good news. This positive and encouraging website lists 99 reasons why one year was a good year in the world, in so many areas. It offers a positive perspective.

Why not try this personally? Can you list reasons why last year was a good year in your life? We may not be able to reach 99 reasons but we will surprise ourselves by how many reasons we can find. It is a good and honoured Christian tradition to ‘count our blessings,’ many of them simple and everyday.

As the year ends it is ‘good to give thanks and praise.’ Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures for ever. (Psalm 107.1)

Saying ‘Thank You’ to God is at the heart of the Christian faith, and it’s at the heart of our worship. Another name for the Mass is Eucharist, a Greek word meaning thanksgiving.

One good tradition many Christians follow at the end of the year is to say or sing the ancient hymn Te Deum Laudamus (We Praise you, O God). It’s found in many prayer books of many Christian traditions.

“Te Deum laudamus! We praise you, O God! The Church suggests that we should not end the year without expressing our thanks to the Lord for all his benefits. It is in God that our last hour must come to a close, the last hour of time and history. To overlook this goal of our lives would be to fall into the void, to live without meaning. Hence the Church places on our lips the ancient hymn Te Deum. It is a hymn filled with the wisdom of many Christian generations, who feel the need to address on high their heart’s desires, knowing that all of us are in the Lord’s merciful hands.”  (Pope Benedict XVI)

Stanford BfSo as the year ends give thanks for blessings received, and why not say a Te Deum Laudamus?

Click here for an English version of Te Deum Laudamus from Common Worship, or if you prefer the traditional English language version click here.

Why not take a moment and pause to listen to it, for example in the glorious version sung at the Queen’s Coronation in 1953 – Stanford in B Flat. (Sung by Winchester Cathedral Choir here). Or if you’d prefer a traditional plainsong version here it is sung by the Monks of Solesmes.

PS if you need further persuading to be thankful researchers have discovered its good for your health too!

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Anysius

Supporting another, being a friend, is a calling of many people, if not most. You and I are called to be kind and friends to others. Jesus, in the Gospels, puts a high value of friendship.

We are invited to support and encourage others, as friends. This is a gentle but very significant calling that it is good to consider and put into practice. Sometimes it is a relatively easy task, sometimes when the friend is in difficulty, or perhaps in serious trouble, it can be a very difficult undertaking.

St John Chrysostom suffered many hardships. Undoubtedly his forthright manner, and willingness to speak out led him into trouble. Sometimes what he said was a great challenge to those in power, sometimes his words were mistaken, and today seem very much out of place. In his difficulties he was supported by friends, amongst them, of course, Olympias of Constantinople.

Anysius of Thessalonica (feast day December 30th) was appointed Bishop of Thessaloica in 383. St Ambrose praised his zeal and said he had high hopes for Anysius’ work as a bishop. Anysius was a supporter, a friend, of Chrysostom. This is not to say he would have agreed with everything Chrysostom said. However, Anysius risked being sent into exile through supporting Chrysostom. He went to Constantinople to speak out in his favour. In 404, with fifteen other bishops, he appealed to Pope Innocent on Chrysostom’s behalf after Chrysostom had been sent into exile from Constantinople. From exile Chrysostom wrote to his friend thanking him for his efforts.

Supporting a friend can be a courageous act, and an act of humility. Sometimes it is not at all easy. A part of the Christian’s calling is a willingness to serve, to place oneself second.

In our prayers: we give thanks for those who support us, for friends. We pray for those we know in difficult circumstances who need support.

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Wonder #FollowTheStar

Shaving foam isn’t a common gift at Christmas for a young girl. However, this year, at our home, one little girl was delighted to receive some for Christmas. She had specially requested it – an essential ingredient in the latest recipe to make slime. ‘Why is slime so special?’ I asked. ‘It’s wonderful, interesting and sticky to make,’ was the reply.

On Christmas afternoon some slime was made and some of the adults discussed its plasticity and its elasticity. A simple object led to wonder and reflection.

Have a look at this image. What do you see? Perhaps a remote landscape? Not quite!

Many years ago after graduating in Metallurgy I studied metal fatigue in iron. The image shows a fatigue fracture surface very highly magnified by the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM). Such microscopic images still fill me with wonder at the complexity, and order, found in materials. Who cannot but be amazed at such extraordinary things within commonplace objects.

An unusual Christmas card arrived at our home. Have a look at the image on it. The card came from the Medical Research Foundation. It is, in fact, another SEM image. This time the fascinating image is of human stem cells. Stem cells possess the extraordinary ability to produce almost any type of cell in the body making them an immensely important tool fin medical research especially for drug discovery and cell based therapies.

Objects around us looked at very closely, even microscopically, can fill us with wonder and awe.

 

It’s good to look, to pause, to wonder and to allow our wonder to change us.

In it’s #FollowTheStar initiative the Church of England is inviting people to think about words from the chorus of the popular Christmas carol We Three Kings of Orient Are. One of the words is WONDER – star of wonder.

The wise men look at the new star with amazement.  In the midst of spectacular creation something new, something different, invited them to look with awe and wonder.

A question for today: What amazes you in creation?

Ian

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Posada 2019

The Posada journey began in November at St John’s School, when I had the fun of working with year 6 children creating the figures.  The children asked lots of questions about Mary and Joseph and were keen to make them ethnically accurate.

Through December Posada has travelled far and wide, not just in terms of distance, but in terms of the variety of places and cultures. Posada travelled many miles to Derby to the Sisters from the Community of the Holy Name and to St Nicholas Church, Newchurch (where Penny, former Parish Assistant is priest) to the Niknam family over in Middleton, where we enjoyed a British/Iranian take on Christmas dinner – delicious.

Posada, has visited a number of organisations that work with homeless and vulnerable people, including Cornerstone, Women’s Direct Access and Stopover (supported accommodation for young women), L’Arche Community, and Newbury House. Posada visited pupils of our two church schools, student of Hulme Hall,  Luther King house and Xaverian College. The figures were the focus of Afternoon Church at St John’s School, where we used the story ‘Refuge’, that tells of the Holy family as refugees fleeing to Egypt. We strengthened our ecumenical links with the SMA Fathers, St Joseph’s Care Home, and Methodist International house with visits.  Our Posada avoided arrest on their visit to Longsight Police Station!

And there’s more…. Posada has been welcomed into the homes of the congregation, giving opportunities to enjoy time deepening relationships with each other.  Posada has provided opportunities for us to pray very intentionally for our parish and beyond.

This Advent, Posada touched the lives of at least 1,250 people of different cultures, ethnicities, people of other faiths and people of none.  It is a wonderful way of connecting – through the story of the birth of Jesus. Through Posada, we have come closer to the lives of many who live in our parish, holding out the hand of friendship and giving people freedom to ask questions, but most of all to be listened to as they share their hopes and dreams.

Mtr Kate

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