An Angel Quiz

For several years Fr Ian has prepared a quiz on the theme of angels for a priests’ gathering at Michaelmas. Here is a recent one.  At the quiz itself points are given for humorous, if wrong, answers, as well as correct answers. Why not have a go? (Apologies that some of the questions are very UK oriented)


  1. Which popular hymn contains this seldom sung verse, and how does the verse end?
And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,   ……..

 2. Who according to tradition may weigh your soul on the last day of judgement?

3. a) Who in tradition, will have sounded the trumpet on the last day of judgement? and b) Which religious group believe the archangel Gabriel lived a mortal life as Noah?

4. Which Archangel has the same name as a teenage mutant ninja turtle?

5. Which Archangel, according to some ancient Christian traditions, rescues John the Baptist from the massacre of the Innocents?

13855-angel-musicians-left-panel-hans-memling6  All the following are Angelas, who are they?

i) A former Shadow leader of the House of Commons

ii) The actor who plays the fictional detective of Cabots Cove

iii) A former researcher in physical chemistry and now leading world politician


7.  On which London underground line is Angel station situated?

8. Who sang:

And I said, “Fly on my sweet angel,
Fly on through the sky,
Fly on my sweet angel,
Tomorrow I’m gonna be by your side” 

 9. In which modern novel by a leading Catholic author do these words appear

“I know–from experience–how much beauty Satan carried down with him when he fell. Nobody ever said the fallen angels were the ugly ones. Oh, no, they were just as quick and light”

10. Whose final sermon contained these words:

“Thank God I’m nearer home today than I’ve ever been, Home sweet home where Jesus is, where the great apostles are, where the mighty angels are, where all our blood-washed friends are.”

Want to try some more? Try the 2010, 2011, and 2013 Angel quizzes!

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Poetry, please! A lovely selection of poems

What do Chocolate Cake,  a Teabag and a Turkey have in common?

They were connected by poetry today! This morning, on National Poetry Day, I visited St John’s School and read some poetry in different classes and I asked a variety of children and staff to name a poem they liked.

Dreams by Langston Hughes

Before giving the staff answers here are two nominations from children – Chocolate Cake by Michael Rosen was very popular, and another good choice was William Wordsworth’s Daffodils.

‘In no particular order’, here are the choices of staff who were asked. Mrs Smith chose Alfred Noyes’ evocative and descriptive poem The Highywayman, and an unusual and fun choice from Mrs Froggat was I’d like to be a teabag by Peter Dixon.

Poems remembered from childhood were popular choices, and some staff even enjoyed reciting them there and then. Miss Affonso chose Spike Milligan’s On the Ning Nang Nong and Mrs Mortlock’s choice was Edward Lear’s The Jumblies

They went to sea in a Sieve, they did

I read one of my ‘five favourites’ to one class, Walter de la Mare’s The Listeners, and Mrs Francis, Head of School also chose one by Walter de la Mare, Silver. It had special connections for her as Walter de la Mare lived in a nearby village to her Oxfordshire childhood home.

Benjamin Zephaniah’s entertaining and thought provoking  Talking Turkeys was the choice of more than one staff member. Mrs Rahman chose the lovely short poem Dreams by Langston Hughes. (Reproduced here).

And finally three different ‘classic’ poems. Mrs Gordon’s choice was by the great Irish poet W B Yeats the poignant and challenging poem An Irish Airman forsees his death. Mr Sivori chose a great priest and poet, Jonne Donne, naming a few of his poems and selecting No man is an Island . Ms Thornbury’s choice was by the acclaimed American poet Maya Angelou Still I rise.

What a wonderful selection. Now let’s encourage the staff to do a poetry reading event!

Fr Ian

…and if you remain in the mood for more poetry have a look at the choices of five favourite poems by different people connected with church: Here, and here – from another staff member at St John’s School, and also here.

PS You are welcome to nominate a choice – just put it in comments, below.

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Street Corner Christ

Patrick Kavanagh, the Irish poet, died on 30th November 1967. Born in rural Ireland in 1904 Kavanagh was the fourth of ten children.

“All great civilisations are based on the parish,” Kavanagh wrote, reminding us that in the small, the local, the everyday we can discover the great. Timely words when some churches are considering the role and future of the parish system.

Kavanagh’s poetry often sees God in the ordinary stuff of life – in the local parish. He writes of seeds sown in the stony grey soil of the Monaghan hills and of ballad sellers on Dublin’s streets. All point to God, to beauty, to wonder, to Christ. God is in the ordinary of life.  The sacred heart beat of God is in each human heart.

Where do we see Christ today? Where do we find God? Do we stop and look for God ‘in the parish’?

In this poignant and challenging poem Kavanagh invites us to find our …

Street Corner Christ.

I saw Christ to-day
At a street corner stand,
In the rags of a beggar he stood
He held ballads in his hand.

He was crying out: – “Two for a penny
Will anyone buy
The finest ballads ever made
From the stuff of joy?”

But the blind and deaf went past
Knowing only there
An uncouth ballad-seller
With tail-matted hair.

And I whom men call fool
His ballads bought,
Found him whom the pieties
Have vainly sought.

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The Rohingya Crisis

Concern at the Rohingya Refugee crisis is growing. Almost half a million people have fled from Myanmar into Bangladesh. Accounts of rape, murder and looting are appalling. The situation has been described at the United Nations as ‘continuing genocide and ethnic cleansing.’

Rohingya refugees at a camp in Bangladesh

Fr Chris, Sr Lynfa CHN, and Hannah Perks recently attended a meeting at Central Mosque, near church, to express our Church’s solidarity with the suffering peoples of Rohingya. Fr Chris writes:

On Saturday evening I was one of three people from St Chrysostom’s to respond to the Central Mosque’s invitation to a meeting about the situation in Myanmar and the Rohingya.

The meeting, held in the prayer hall of the Mosque, and was attended by the local MP, local Muslim leaders together with representatives of the Bishops of Manchester and Salford, and ourselves from the local parish church.

We heard and listened to one another.  We were all of one mind in that what is happening is wrong. But, who could do anything – should it be the UN, or should the Government, or the EU?

Afzal Khan MP for Gorton addresses the gathering at the Mosque

For me the most poignant speech was that of a young man recently escaped from the persecution.

He spoke of the horrors – death and massacre, mutilation and rape (male and female). He gave many examples amongst them a child left for a few moments alone playing in safety, only to be found dead when the parent returned.  The horrors described were hard to listen to.

It is hard also to know how to respond.  We listened to people for two hours before the time came for the Magrib prayers, and we retired to the library whilst our friends prayed.

In the Library there were four Christians, a Humanist and a Muslim.  We were all at a loss, and speechless – our Muslim friend made a profound statement.  “We can’t do much here,” he said, “but we can all pray. And Prayer changes things!”

Prayer can, indeed does, change things – and that prayer starts with us. Let us keep the Rohingya Genocide in our prayers, and let that prayer result in action.

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Postcard from St Paulet, France

The e-postman has delivered this postcard from the Languedoc region of South France.

Mark and I are away with family at the moment staying in a house just outside the village of St Paulet in southern France. It is very rural with fields full of sunflowers being harvested.

 On a morning run we found the site of a fortress upon which now stands a monument to the Cathar people of that place who died at the hands of Simon de Montfort in the 13th century.

During the 12th and 13th centuries throughout the Languedoc a version of Christianity, Catharism, developed. The Cathars based their beliefs on their understanding of the New Testament and claimed to preach the true message of Christ to humanity. Catharism would not accept that the material world of suffering and misfortune could be the work of a benevolent God.

 The Catholic authorities undertook a huge military operation against the Cathar “heresy”. Pope Innocent III, launching the crusade also passed a canon law giving the heretics’ property to whoever wished to take it. This was a financial and political encouragement to a religious war.

Mark, Sophie and Paul standing beneath the statue of Our Lady which takes centre stage in the local village.

 20 years of these crusades did not manage to crush Catharism and so an Inquisition took place. It is said it would be wrong to think that the Inquisition forced all Cathar people into exile or conversion, many apparently found refuge in the large number of dissident movements which gave rise in the 16th century to the Reformation.

The monument is up at the top of a hill and from it in the distance you can see the Pyrenees, there is a stillness there and I felt so moved that hundreds of years later people made the effort to mark this place where so many were murdered for their beliefs. This for me is a ” thin place” and here I prayed for the Cathar people and all victims of religious persecution. 

Paul Pritchard

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Levitation lessons?

St Joseph of Cupertino levitating during prayer

Levitation lessons are requested by the novices at the Benedictine Convent of Oby in Sylvia Townsend Warner’s engaging novel The Corner that Held Them. 

Now there’s a thought!

How splendid it would be to be able to levitate. Jasmine, parish assistant, has suggested it could solve the problem of how to clean the high level windows in St Chrysostom’s. Unfortunately, it seems that those who have levitated as Christians didn’t always have an easily controlled direct flight path – we’d not want someone to crash into the windows.

Branwell Booth, son of William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, told how at Salvation Army Holiness meetings “beyond all question he saw instances of levitation–people lifted from their feet and moving forward through the air.” Some early strands of Methodism record the phenomenon too, but the phenomenon does not seem to have been reported in the Church of England.

St Francis of Assisi was said to be able to levitate, as was the Orthodox saint St Seraphim of Sarov. Perhaps the greatest example is St Joseph of Cupertino (1603 – 1663) – feast day September 18th. It is recorded how this saintly Franciscan during the mass, and the church’s prayers, would levitate. Understandably his religious superiors felt this habit was rather disruptive to the congregation and so he was confined to a smaller sphere of influence.

An image of the Buddha levitating

Several world faiths have claimed examples of levitation among their followers. Examples are found, for example, in Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism and Christianity. However the scientific community understandably remains rather sceptical, and explanations of illusion, hallucination etc are given.

Poor nuns of Oby, it seems then they may not achieve their aim to levitate – unless perhaps they wander into mystical ecstasy.

Perhaps an insight for us all from G K Chesterton, might serve as a first step towards levitation:  Angels fly because they take themselves lightly.

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Mount Carmel

In our sermon series on Hills of the Bible Canon Alma spoke on Mount Carmel. Here is a summary of what she said:

A view of Mt Carmel

Mount Carmel was the dramatic setting for the Prophet Elijah’s confrontation with the prophets of Baal. It was a great showdown – between Gods one prophet and the 400+ devotees of a false religion.

The whole of Elijah’s life was out of the ordinary. Remember, at the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, Jesus was accompanied by Moses and Elijah, the two greatest figures of the Old Testament.

Elijah is God’s appointed prophet to oppose the evil regime that the First Book of Kings describes- that of Jezebel and Ahab. Appalling government and perverted religion- within living memory, the world has suffered terribly from these. There has been Stalinism, Nazism, Apartheid and now Islamic extremism. There have always been a few, sometimes a very few heroes, who have battered against these evil forces- people such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Nelson Mandela. Elijah’s story tells the cost of such a stance. He is sent to prophecy a long drought for Israel as the Lord’s punishment. While the Baal religion dominates and the King and Queen are abusing their power, the nation suffers .

A statue of Elijah at the Carmelite Convent, Mt Carmel

Eljiah goes into hiding, and suffers the despair and fear of his isolation. God sends him food via the ravens, and later by angels. While in hiding with a poor widow, he performs a miracle by providing food during the famine, and keeps them alive. When the widow’s son dies, he brings him back to life. But the great showdown with Baal prophets happens at Mount Carmel, when each prepares a sacrifice and calls down fire from heaven to burn it up. Elijah is so confident of God that he drenches his sacrifice in water. The opposing prophets in a fury, call unavailingly on Baal all day long, even slashing themselves with knives to urge him to act. Elijah, meanwhile, mocked them, telling them to shout louder – perhaps their god is asleep! Of course Elijah sacrifice is burnt up, water and all.

But this triumph does not bring Ahab and Jezekel down nor is it the end of Elijah’s struggle. Again, he flees and is consoled by God with the still small voice, that shows his presence.

He sees the end of the great drought with the sight of a ‘cloud no bigger man’s hand’ in the sky.

So what a film it would make! Lone, victorious hero against tyranny and false religion. Times of fear and despair, when God consoles him. The dramatic showdown on the mountain. The miraculous provision of oil and meal for Elijah and his protector . His raising the boy from the dead and finally his assumption  into heaven

Elijah is a huge hero, and he figures still in Christian and Jewish thought, for all that he fought against is all too evident in our world.

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