Monday, 10 December 2012

Advent 2

Last evening we went to hear Meditations on Icons with liturgical singing at the lovely traditional parish of St. Martin, Roath, Cardiff. This was led by Dr. David Woolf and interspersed with anthems for the season by the St. Martin's liturgical choir. In two words "absolutely beautiful". Well done to David for his scholarly and passionate presentation. The words that keep resounding : "each stroke laid down in the Icon painting is a prayer in itself". The choir exceptional, with tender renditions including Con­di­tor al­me si­de­rum (Creator of the stars of night) and Alma Redemptoris Mater. The Rachmaninov in Latin exquisite. The Icons are well worth seeing there. Also see the lovely new Cloister entrance, putting the church on the busy pavement with a presence hitherto undreamt of; inspirational. Help support Fr. Irving Hamer and the musical tradition by visiting their website HERE and supporting the musical academy. Music is so important to the Anglican patrimony and brings alive the faith of Jesus Christ in the soul as well as the heart.

Catching Up

Some things that have been happening:

Nov. 1st Anniversary of Death. 
A lovely Requiem for the soul of Fr. Jeremy Winston on the day one year on from going to be with the Lord (see here). Not at his parish church of 17 yrs or the cathedral where he was Dean for so short a time but over at his friends, and ours, at Our Lady and St. Michael Abergavenny with grateful thanks to Fr Richard Simons OSB (Belmont Abbey) whose introduction to the Mass was welcoming, intuitive and instructive of Fr. Jeremy's extraordinary ministry.
I can't help wondering with the announcement of the Bishop of Monmouth's retirement in June 2013 what might have been...? RIP Jeremy.

2. November. St Hubert's Day.

Blessing of Hounds in the parish of St. Deiniol, Itton within our group.

By the intercession of St. Hubert, patron saint of hunters, may you always honour God the Creator, who set man in dominion over all the animals.
May the Lord God make you an honorable hunter who respects fellow hunters, the animals, and all creation.
May He keep you safe and all who share the field or the forest.
May He make all hunters proud of the traditions entrusted to them, generous and thankful in all circumstances. And May Almighty God bless you: +
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

3. Remembrance Sunday 2012.

Homily. Remembrance Sunday Requiem Mass.”..and I will raise them up at the last day” Jn.6. 37-40

As I was re-reading the letters of 1943-1945 which my father sent home from his artillery regiment (191/64 L.A.A. Regt. RA), which I get out every year at this time, I was struck yet again by the ability of those sent out to overcome the evils of those days by their adaptability and belief that, in spite of all the horrors of war, what they were doing was right and they would overcome; that good would prevail over evil, light over darkness. He was writing firstly from the British North African Force stationed in the desert (Tunis), then from the Central Mediterranean Force in Greece where they were embroiled at the end of the war in the Greek Civil War, shot at by snipers and factions from all sides. I wonder if I may here quote from one of his letters sent from the Mediterranean front:

The padre is magnificent. He walks about in his cassock puffing his pipe indifferent to the snipers, tanks and barricades. He always turns up for meals but in between there is no hot spot he does not visit. He seems to have complete faith in the immunity provided by his dog-collar...or perhaps it's his complete faith."
He also writes on the end of hostilities that finally came.. 

" I walked back to my HQ in the late afternoon hardly able to believe it. It was this silence that was so odd. It made it seem like some awful nightmare from which you are just waking up. The sun was shining on the hills. The birds were singing. But there on the pavement was the body of a dead girl and there were the craters of those two mortar bombs which just missed the Colonel and I, and there in the garden a soldier's grave."  

There is never any glory in war and fighting, only sadness at the tragic turmoil and loss of life and the suffering it inflicts on military and civilian souls alike as is clear from his letters. The ultimate sacrifice was given by those whom we especially remember today who fought and those who suffered death in two world wars but also in later conflicts, which as we know living so close to Chepstow army barracks, continues in the world even today. This season of All Saints, All Souls and Remembrance Day are poignant as the leaves die and fall from the trees and the death and darkness of winter begin to take hold. However, just as there is a belief that this will be followed by spring, new life, warmth and light so does today’s Gospel remind us that God gives the offer of a new life and resurrection to us when all here on earth appears to be lost and gone. Jesus says this and promises us “I will raise you up at the last day”. At this celebration of Requiem Mass for the souls of those who have died, as in every other celebration of the Eucharist we recall, remember and offer back to the Father all that he promises for us.

The sacrifice of the death of himself through his Son on the cross, where he truly suffered persecution, torture and death only makes sense when we know that he then was resurrected to new life and opened the path to everlasting life for us all, overcoming all death, forever and for all time. The incarnation of God as man in Jesus has to be true to achieve this.

As we remember with horror the evils and killings, the genocides, the horrific holocaust in concentration camps and the tortures of war we can today through this sacramental act together take part and help to make effective those saving, transforming and enlightening acts of God that overcome evil and give new life and new meaning to our time. We today pray for their souls as they pray for us too. We believe that through the Act of Remembrance especially at this Eucharist, this holy thanksgiving, we will share and link the divine action of Christ in his words, “do this in remembrance of Me” with all the living and the departed and help to pass salvation on to this current generation and the one’s to come. We do this through faith, the faith in Jesus Christ who saves and transforms this imperfect world, our imperfect lives and makes them holy. Let us be clear, the church is crucial to this, it must never become only a lifestyle choice, and it is the key to all life and makes sense of everything within it.

Let us then always remember, let us never forget and let us make known and make sure to give thanks to God for our deliverance from war, deliverance from evil and deliverance from earthly death through the sins of mankind which lead to it. Rejoicing in resurrection to new life, to new beginnings, new light, bathing in the warmth of the great love that the Father has for us and for those whom he has restored to Eternal Life, remembering his words:

“and I will raise them up at the last day”. +                       Fr. Mark Zorab.

 4. December. Re-roofing at St Arvans.

Lots of dust and inconvenience but hopeful that we will keep the Lord's house safe and dry for generations to come.

5. Visit to St Chad's Birmingham

Pondering on the advice that some procedures are a "blunt instrument".

6. Advent.

Some images from this holy season of waiting and watching upon the coming of God as man. The deep blue of the sky the colour of divinity in icons and the colour of Our Lady. We are pregnant with expectation as she is with holy child. Taken in the two and a half mile regular walk to Church across the fields and woods of the parish. Truly blessed...

"All we like sheep have gone astray."

" Every Valley...."

"Be it unto me according to Thy Word"

7. Caught!

Fishermen love to show photos of what they caught so here you are! What you don't see is the days and weeks and sometimes years it takes in not so holy waiting to get one!
12 lb. Salmon.