20th November 2011 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 20th November 2011


The Good Shepherd, The King of Love, The Servant King!

It is the end of the Church’s year  (Liturgical Year). The last Sunday of the Liturgical Year, the last Sunday After Pentecost is usually celebrated the Feast or solemnity of Christ the King. . The Christian year takes us through the life of Jesus ... beginning with Advent                       preparation; Christmas to Easter to Ascension to  Pentecost. It ends with the invitation to the vision of Christ returning and sitting on his throne in heavenly glory, as universal King and judge. The feast of Christ the King is a relatively young feast, introduced in the Roman Catholic in 1925 by Pope Pius XI.  It is now celebrated by many Christian denominations including some Anglican Churches. The birth of this feast  was a spiritual response to the social traumas that plagued world at the times: The First World War had just come to an end. Secularism and godlessness were on the rise and dangerous dictatorships were emerging in Europe and across the globe. The world needed a new leader, a new moral compass. Christ  is the  Good Shepherd, our Shepherd par excellence.


The model of Christ’s kingship is quite unusual and unique............

The Eternal King; the Head of the Church; the Judge; the Good Shepherd; the King of Love; the Servant King.........Christ is all of these.

And he invites us to his kingdom!

Our times might not be as different from the days of Pope Pius XI as we would have wished. With our experience of  World War II, The Holocaust, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Middle East, and the many fatal shootings and stabbings in our own towns, cities and communities,  we might consider re-visiting the spiritual, social and ecclesial aims and themes of the Feast of Christ the Universal King.

We might even decide to enthrone Christ in our hearts, our homes, our families, our communities

and Crown Him.....Crown Him......Crown Him Lord of All!     

                                                                  Fr Fred

13th November 2011 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 13th November 2011


Remembrance 2011

Our annual Remembrance Day service is a time to pause and give thanks for those who have lost their

lives in wars down the years whether military or civilian. We also remember those who are presently serving in

our armed services overseas today. Each of us will have our own remembrances on this day.


My thoughts turn today to my Grandfather’s experience of war. He told his grandchildren stories of

his time in the trenches during the First World War. Stories of comradeship and hardship.


Few of us, thankfully, have little direct experience of war.

Yet we can remember those who have suffered through the wearing of a poppy.

So it seemed strange that FIFA should initially ban the English football team from wearing a poppy on their football shirt.

It is good they finally changed their mind because the poppy is not a political symbol or religious symbol.

It a sign of our collective gratitude to those who have died through war down the centuries.


6th November 2011 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 6th November 2011

Archangel Raphael

The canonical scriptures mention three great Archangels amongst the angelic hosts who chant an unending hymn of praise before the glory of the Lord.  They are Archangels Michaelleader of the heavenly hosts, Gabriel the Angel of the annunciation who pronounced ‘Ave’ to Mary and Raphael, instructor, healer and comforter of humankind.

Raphael is regarded as the most human of these three archangels because of the character of his mission.  He brings blessings for both body and soul, this account is recorded in the book of Tobit, Apocrypha Bible.

Most people find it difficult to believe that Angels exist, yet deep within us we take comfort that our guardian angels are constantly watching over us.   It has become all too common to think of angel-talk, as lyrics for sentimental songs.  Over the years we have heard and danced to pop music with angelic lyrics in it,ranging from artists like Robbie Williams to Shaggy……(‘girl you’re my angel you’re my.………’)

St. Raphael appeared to Tobias and brought spiritual blessings of healing and joy to his household.I trust this powerful heavenly friend, do you? Devotions to St. Raphael are mostly done in private, and so in silence a prayer by Bishop John Mark Gannon;

‘O God Who graciously gave the Archangel Raphael as a companion to thy servant Tobias on his journey, grant us, thy servants, that we may ever enjoy his protection and be strengthened by his help, through Christ our Lord’.  Amen.


30th October 2011 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 30th October 2011

October 31st, All Hallows’ Eve - or Halloween, as it’s known!

Opinion seems divided about the practice of keeping Halloween; some people feel that it’s harmless fun while others feel that the idea of poking fun at evil and being frightened should not be encouraged, especially by Christians.

All Hallows’ Eve, that is, the night before All Saints’ (or Hallows’) day, as we see it these days, is no doubt a mixture which has evolved over the years; it may have its origins in an ancient celebration marking the end of summer and some of the features come from cultures which are rather less squeamish about death than the English!

The strange ghoulish faces that we carve in pumpkins and the contorted masks worn by pranksters are said to represent the tormented souls in Hell and the tradition of telling scary stories about witches a reminder of the evil that exists in our world. When children dress up and knock at neighbours homes, the ‘trick’ of their ‘trick or treat’ will be a song or a poem if they’re in Scotland but a mild threat of mischief in London.

Certainly, however it began, the idea has been enthusiastically embraced by party shops and many see it as an opportunity to get dressed up and have fun with no thought of its many layered meanings.

In the modern European experience, we have contrived to make death something that usually takes place in hospital and many would say that evil is what film makers depend on to get good box-office returns; however, Hallowe’en reminds us that, actually, death and evil are all around us and that all our modern gadgets and technologies don’t change that……….but do not be afraid!

Remember how we sang ‘The strife is o’er, the battle won!’ and rejoice and have fun, knowing that our beds are already made up in Heaven and no amount of apple-bobbing can change that!!


23rd October 2011 Newslletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 23rd October 2011


Ducks in a row

                  We spend a lot of our time and energy trying to organise ourselves and our lives so that all is well and everything is in order

and we have prepared for every eventuality – trying to get all our ducks in a row. Then something comes along,  knocks us for six,

and it all goes to pot. All our plans fall apart and we have to start all over again.

It is unlikely to be quite as dramatic as Galilean fishermen being called by an apparent stranger to put down their nets and  “come, follow me” but it can be disruptive and causes us to have a re-think. Sometimes, as Christians, we feel this shouldn’t happen: not to us anyway – we do everything right and try to live responsibly and soberly. But it does and we shouldn’t be surprised when it does. Doesn’t the Bible say something about God causing the rain to shine on the good and the bad? Yes, it does (well, more-or-less, anyway, Matthew 5.45.)

 I am saying all of this because, of course, I had one of these “course-correction”  experiences last week. Not a major calamity

and certainly no personal trauma, but it is an irritation and enough to remind me that ours is a walk of faith and not of sight.

We are not promised immunity from the ups-and-downs of everyday life but we are told that we will be given the strength (and wisdom?) to deal with it. So, the next few weeks should be interesting.