Thursday, 27 November 2014

Advent: Christ is Near

On a brief visit to London at the October half-term, I learned a little about the Cardinal Hume Foundation, based at Westminster Roman Catholic Cathedral, and providing practical support for the Homeless, and those who are vulnerably housed. While we will be supporting the work of Crisis, providing a similar service around the Country in our Christmass Retiring collections, I would like to ‘borrow’ a saying of Cardinal Hume’s, and use it as our Advent theme this year:

In Christ: Each Person Matters. No Human Life is ever redundant.

Because Jesus took our human flesh, all of us have the potential to shine with the Light of Christ, to be fully human, fully alive. ADVENT is a time of practical and spiritual celebration for the great Festival of Christmass. Advent is a time of journeying and a time of pilgrimage, strengthening our call as baptized Christians to walk in the light of Christ. Some will keep Advent as a ‘Little Lent’, with an element of fasting and penance. Yet above all, this is a time of expectation and joy. The Advent candles show us the grounds for our joy, as we look for the Light of Christ.

The first red candle is a symbol of Hope and represents the Patriarchs such as Abraham and David.
The second candle stands for God's Peace, as we are reminded of the prophets, especially Isaiah,          who looked for the Messiah.
The third candle is for 'Love'. John the Baptist baptized Jesus, who is perfect Love.
The fourth candle symbolizes 'Joy'. We are able to share in the joy of the Blessed Virgin Mary,           Mother of Jesus and Mother of the Church.
The fifth white candle, is for the Christ Child, and is lit at the Eucharist on Christmass Day.

Advent Sunday is often described as the Church’s New Year, for on that day we begin a fresh cycle of Readings from the Scriptures. This Year we enter Year B of the Lectionary (Book of Readings), the Year of St Mark’s Gospel. John Mark was a Jew and, according to Paul's letter to the Colossians, was cousin to Barnabas. He is mentioned in Acts, accompanying Barnabas and Paul on their first missionary journey. Afterwards, he went to Cyprus with Barnabas and to Rome with first Paul and then Peter. Mark's gospel is generally regarded as the earliest and was most likely written whilst he was in Rome. It was probably based as much on Peter's preaching of the good news as on Mark's own memory. Mark's gospel has a sharpness and an immediacy about it and he does not spare the apostles in noting their weaknesses and lack of understanding that Jesus the Christ would suffer for the world's redemption. Sharing in the glory of the resurrection means sharing in the giving of self, even to death.

Picking up on the description of the four creatures in the Book of Revelation, Mark’s symbol is a winged Lion. Our Coptic Christian Brothers and Sisters in Egypt claim him as the founder of the Church in Alexandria, while the Medieval Republic of Venice claims to hold his relics.

I hope you enjoy your Advent! It’s easy to get distracted in Advent. It’s too easy to let the busyness and the unnecessary commercialism be a substitute for what this time is really about. Enjoy the carols and the glitter by all means, but may there be a little time for sharing in the spiritual pilgrimage of the season. You may wish to use one of these collects every day in your own prayers

For Advent

Almighty God,
give us grace to cast away the works of darkness
and to put on the armour of light,
now in the time of this mortal life,
in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;
that on the last day,
when he shall come again in his glorious majesty
to judge the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

For the 12 days of Christmass

Lord Jesus Christ,
your birth at Bethlehem
draws us to kneel in wonder at heaven touching earth:
accept our heartfelt praise
as we worship you,
our Saviour and our eternal God. Amen

Please pray that Christmass will be a true hope for humanity, and that the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will. Remember all families, may parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith. Thank You for all you do for the Life of God’s Church here in Elland, May the Lord bless you, and may you know the peace of the Christ-Child in your hearts, this Christmass-time.

May the Lord when he comes, find us watching and waiting, Amen.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Our Grand Days Out

To York Minster, at the heart of England's Northern capital, and the spiritual heart of the Northern Province, for the Consecration of the two new Area Bishops for our Diocese, Toby Howarth for Bradford, and Jonathan Gibbs, the first Bishop of Huddersfield, for our Episcopal Area.

Dire warnings before the Mass began over the use of mobiles, but I did manage to sneak, and Tweet, this picture of the Archbishop of Canterbury preaching. His words were based on Philippians 3.7 & 8, 'I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ my Lord.'

'A Bishop, he said, is not a senior manager in a convenient administrative unit for putting together administration, payroll and deployment of staff. A Bishop is above all a shepherd, carrying a cross, leading the sheep.'

Bishops Toby Bradford, (left), Jonathan Huddersfield (right)

Today's Liturgy reminded us of St Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr. Prayers were offered for the persecuted, and the challenge and commission given to our new Bishops, and to each one of us there, to die to self, and live for Christ alone. 

York Minster is one of my favourite buildings. Today was Fr Miguel's first ever visit to the City, as we entered the Minster in procession. 

The Great Heart of Yorkshire Window, at the Cathedral's West End. 

Last Sunday afternoon, we had another grand day out, as it was over to Dewsbury Minster, in the footsteps of St Paulinus, for the Licensing of new Readers, and a welcome to Lynn Lord, Diocesan Reader for the Parishes of St Mary's and All Saints, Elland, pictured here with Bishop Tony. 

Friday, 3 October 2014

October Reflections

Sometimes it’s good to have relatively simple, easily memorized words for prayer, that we can turn to if time is short, or if we are struggling to get heart and brain in gear! One such example is these words, prepared over a century ago by James Huntington, an American Anglican Monk. Originally intended for the use of a young person who said there was no time to pray in the morning, and easily memorized, in little more than twenty words, this prayer sums up our response to God in praise, in self-giving and in petition

I praise my God this day

I give myself to God this day

I ask God to help me this day

Now, if that is all we have to offer in our prayers, then perhaps our relationship with God will only be a fraction of what it could be, but it may give us all a good place to begin, and to return to. 

My second discovery, is rather a re-discovery, being a contemporary translation of a mediaeval text, which I knew and treasured a long time ago, and am delighted to have again. It seems to have been written originally to encourage Christians in time of difficulty, but I think could apply to each and every one of us, in summing up what it means to try and live out our Christian faith:

Remember, Christian soul,
that today and every day you have:

God to glorify,
Jesus to imitate,
The Angels and Saints to invoke,
Salvation to work out with fear and trembling.
A body to use rightly,
Sins to repent,
Virtues to acquire,
Hell to avoid,
Heaven to gain.
Eternity to hold in mind,
Time to profit by,
Neighbours to serve,
The world to enjoy,
Creation to use rightly.
Slights to endure patiently,
Kindnesses to offer willingly,
Justice to strive for,
Temptations to overcome.
Death perhaps to suffer,
In all things, God’s love to sustain you

Autumn is in many ways my favourite time of the year. There is often a benign quality about late September and early October, the light golden, and the air soft, the ‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ as the poet Keats wrote, at least before November days begin to die down towards the end of the year. Our Church month begins with the Harvest Thanksgiving, and ends with the observance of our Churches’ Dedication Festivals, as we give thanks for the Love of God in Creation, and for that Love which inspired our forebears in the faith to build Living Stones to God’s praise and glory. In all things, may we know the Love of God, and be thankful,

Thursday, 4 September 2014

The Lord's Prayer

Let us pray with confidence as Our Saviour has taught us:

Our Father, who art in heaven,....

It is the most familiar of Christian prayers, usually included somewhere in every Christian liturgy, though rarely in the precise form we find it in the Gospels. Taught for Centuries to every child in the land, it has steadily disappeared from most British Schools since the 1960s. Attempts to lightly revise it into contemporary English continue to cause controversy, and it may even be John the Baptist’s prayer in the first instance. (See Luke 11.1). It is a prayer that all of us, I trust, use every day, and certainly a prayer that many of us instinctively turn to in times of need, or great stress. We rightly honour and treasure the Lord’s Prayer, as a prayer that Jesus used, and as a model and example of how we should pray; praise God, seek forgiveness, and only then ask for what is really needed.

In both St Luke and St Matthew's Gospel (Matthew 6.9-11) the prayer asks that God should give us bread, 'Daily Bread'. We trust God to provide for our needs, for bread is bread, but for us as Christians today, as for the Early Church as they began to use the prayer, bread is something more. It is a symbol of ourselves, the Church, the Body of Christ, and it is a reminder of the living presence of Christ himself, the bread of Christ, the pilgrim’s food, by which we are fed Sunday by Sunday, Lord's Day by Lord's Day at the altar. It is also a call to forgive and be forgiven; if we are to truly recognise Christ in the breaking of bread, the prayer he gave us to use sets before us the challenge of living as forgiving, and forgiven, Christians.

This month we look forward to our celebrations of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, as we keep St Mary's Patronal Festival, and also as we mark Holy Cross Day, and St Matthew the Apostle. We look forward to the beginning of a New School Year, and pray for our new, and returning, young people and staff. At the end of a summer that has witnessed almost unbelievable human violence and hatred, much of it directed at Christians for no other reason than their faith, then let us treasure our freedom to pray and believe, and to live out that belief on behalf of those who cannot.  

May our thanksgiving for the gifts of God's love at the altar never cease, may we always be grateful for each other, members of the body of Christ, as we pray for the peace and forgiveness that only God gives, as he gives of himself in our daily bread.

Pax et Bonum – Peace and all Good to you! 

Father David

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Thoughts on the Great War Commemoration

You smug faced crowd with kindling eye,
Who cheer as soldier lads go by,
Sneak home and pray you’ll never know
The hell, where youth and laughter go.

From Suicide in the Trenches, by Siegfried Sassoon

The Belgian City of Ypres was the scene of much conflict during the 20th Century’s two World Wars. In particular, by 1918, there was little of it left, and the medieval City Hall and Cathedral, amongst other buildings, were to be totally rebuilt in the 1920s and 30s. Every evening the Last Post and Reveille are sounded at the City’s Menin Gate, a memorial to the Fallen, by members of the City’s Fire Brigades, usually accompanied by Veterans’ representatives and many individual visitors. Along with St George’s Church, a thriving Chaplaincy of the Church of England’s Diocese in Europe, it is the living heart of commemoration of the World’s conflicts, and will play a key part this month as commemoration is made of 100 years since the beginning of the Great War of August 1914.

Yet, in the mid 1960s, all this very nearly came to an end. There were no visitors. There seemed to be an embarrassment about remembering past conflicts, and the City Council debated ending the daily ceremonies, while St George’s future was very uncertain. What saved the day was the beginning of educational visits, a few schools at first, to the point where today many young people from around the world are a part of an educational programme, that has helped us to remember how important it remember. The advent of electronic means of researching ancestors has meant that many families, including my own, have been able to trace forebears involved in the conflict.

Inevitably, much of the commemoration will focus on individual stories of pain, sacrifice and heroism, together with the profound bereavement suffered by families and whole communities. Yet in a world still marred by human hatred and the gun, as Christians we cannot ignore the wider implications. No serious historian nowadays will give any credence to the many myths still trotted out about the Great War; it was not the ‘war to end all wars’, nor was it fought ‘in defence of small nations’ or ‘in defence of civilisation.’  While causes were complex and unpredictable, perhaps the conflict was rather the inevitable outplay of 19th Century imperialism, combined with technological advances in ways of killing. Any meaningful commemoration has to be coupled with the radical demands of the Prince of Peace, and our own Century’s utter failure to learn any lessons from history. The prophet Isaiah gives us a radical vision of God’s Kingdom, where swords are beaten into ploughshares, and spears into pruning hooks, where

            Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
            Neither shall they learn war any more           (Isaiah 2.4)

A broken and bloodied world is in need of rebuilding. As we rightly teach our young people of the futilities and suffering of war, may we remember our mission as the Body of Christ, that all may know the prince of peace.

Lord of the nations,
Saviour and judge of all:
remove from human hearts all bitterness and hate,
grant to those who have died in war your mercy and forgiveness
and bring us all to the peace of your eternal Kingdom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who suffered and died,
and now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end. Amen.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Silver Blessings

A Silver Wedding, and 25 Years of Priesthood. 

Thank you so much to everyone who shared our day, and who made it such a special occasion, that will stay in the memory for a very long time. We are so grateful for your love and appreciation

Monday, 7 July 2014

Le Tour, and a Diaconal Ordination

St Mary's all dressed up to welcome Le Tour, and a few more pictures from Fr Miguel's Deaconing at Wakefield Cathedral, courtesy of the Diocesan Website

In Procession

Receiving Letters of Orders

Meanwhile, back row on the right, 'I can say I was there..'

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Welcome to Padre Miguel

Welcome to the Rev'd Fr Miguel Sanchez, ordained today to the Diaconate in Wakefield Cathedral by Bishop Tony, to serve in the Parishes of St Mary's and All Saints, Elland.

Monday, 30 June 2014

A Sermon for a First Mass

I have generally refrained from posting my Sermons here, for two reasons; firstly. the publication of a Sermon for me is its preaching and reception in its Liturgical Context, the Mass, and not on a screen, and secondly for the very practical reason that I prepare addresses in note form by hand and never keep them!

However, last night I was honoured to preach at the first Mass of my good friend Fr Guillermo Cavieses, in St Giles, Pontefract, and given the positive reaction from both priests and people who were present, it may just be I had something helpful to say. Here it is, minus a personal reference or two:

Homily for the Missa Prima of Fr Guillermo Cavieses,                                                                                   St Giles Pontefract, 29th June 2014.

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Fr Guillermo, thank you so much for the invitation to preach tonight, and I am pleased to bring greetings from the good people of St Mary’s and All Saints, Elland, where you undertook a pastoral placement a few years ago.

It is indeed a great joy, for all of us to be here tonight, at the first sacrifice of the Mass to be offered by our newly ordained priest. Here we celebrate and proclaim the living presence of Jesus in the Holy Sacrament, and we pray for the Guidance of the Holy Spirit upon Fr Guillermo’s priesthood; called, as the Psalmist prophecies, to take up the Cup of Salvation, and to call upon the Name of the Lord for us. We pray too for Helena and Magdalena, and join with Fr G in giving thanks for his family, his friends and benefactors and for all that has brought him to this point, for the roots he shares in Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican traditions. Here at St Giles and St Mary’s, you have got to know and appreciate the many gifts Fr Guillermo has to offer as he has served among you as the Lord’s Deacon. Tonight I ask you to Pray for your new priest, that he may be a sign of God’s faithfulness for you.

Now, given Father’s love of Science Fiction and outer space, I would like to shoehorn in an unusual text for a First mass; ‘Heuston, we have a problem’; with those laconic words, the Crew of Apollo 13 initiated a tense and life-threatening situation that was to be safely and successfully resolved. Those words are not to be found in the Scriptures however, yet perhaps tonight’s Evangelist, St John, from whose Gospel we have just heard, had a similar question in mind, ‘Humanity, we have a problem.’ For St John the answer to a torn and broken world, to human sin and unfaithfulness, is to be found in the person and the presence of Jesus, true God and true man. To this Jesus the Christian community is to be a witness, yet not all are willing to hear. ‘Jesus said, I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats of this bread will live for ever;’ yet the Jews disputed among themselves, ‘How can this man give us his Flesh to eat?’ For St John, the Living Bread is the gift of Christ himself, that we too may live as people of faith, faithful followers of our Crucified and Risen Lord.

To his human gifts that you have come to know and appreciate, this morning  through the Bishop’s laying on of hands and the Church’s prayer, he has been given a gift that no priest deserves, but that he is asked to humbly receive, the gift of priesthood, given for the Church and for the world, to join us to God so that we know who we really and truly are. Your new priest will baptize into the death and resurrection of Jesus, will feed you with the Pilgrim’s food, the Body and Blood of Christ, will pray for God’s healing presence, and will declare forgiveness to the penitent, he will be Christ for you, that you may be Christ for the world.
And all through your hands, dear Father, hands anointed by the Bishop, hands that will handle holy and precious things, that you may live up to your calling as Shepherd and Priest. St Francis of Assisi once said that if he met a saint and a Priest on the road, he would respect the saint, but would kiss the hands of the priest, for at these hands we receive and share the mysteries of God’s love. Yet, as a priest, you remain a human being, subject to sin and failure and pastoral misunderstanding, you will sin and fall short, but above all may you be delivered from the besetting sin of the priesthood, of believing and acting that it is about us, and not about God. When we priests believe that ministry is about our own ambition and our achievement, that people are there to serve us rather than the other way around, then we are the cause of a serious tear in the Body of Christ. And may you be delivered from that priestly tendency to tell others off, as Canon Jeremy Fletcher puts it in his essential book, Rules for Reverends, If all you have to say is to tell others what they shouldn’t do, you’ll just sound grumpy. This, he goes on to say, may of course be the effect you are trying to achieve...

For to accept the gift of priesthood is to be counter-cultural, to step down, to sacrifice your own ambition; for all that we ultimately have to offer, and the reason why, as did Melchizedek of old in our first reading from Genesis, we bring forward bread and wine, is the Cross of Christ. You are offering your life, not for a programme or initiative of action, certainly not for a Diocese, even for a new One, but for the Crucified Lord. Christ and the Cross and you, and the people for whom you are sent. As the Lord hung upon the Cross, in perfect obedience to the Father’s will, he offered even his last breath to the one in whom he placed his perfect trust. Yet, before you begin to cower under the Altar at the thought of all this, remember, as per St Francis, you have been called to Ordination today, not canonisation; you still have time to work on the latter.

And speaking of work still to be done, may your priesthood give to you new and fresh insights for your work at the University of Leeds on Instruments of Communion. May you find comfort and solace, but also challenge and holy disturbance, in the Holy Eucharist. A little before the ill-fated Apollo 13, Buzz Alldrin of Apollo 11, who followed Neil Armstrong to set foot on the Moon, was moved by the sight of the earth from such a great distance, to speak of the greatness and the unity of God’s creation in verses from Psalm 8, O Lord our God, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! After the Eagle, the Lunar Module landed on the moon’s surface at Tranquillity Base, and before Neil Armstrong’s famous one small step, Alldrin received Holy Communion on the surface of the Moon, possibly the only time NASA have been consulted over the means of Reservation. For at this and every Eucharist, we are in touching distance not of the planets, but of heaven, for as the priest raises the Host it is met by heavenly hands, so that as the host is placed into the hands of those who come to receive, it is touched with the possibility and potential of heaven.

Above all, Fr, never stop giving thanks for the gift of priesthood, for priesthood is not your property, but the Lord’s. And do as St John did, Love the Mother of the Lord, welcoming her into your heart. She will teach you how to love her Son.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

A Cross on the Glastonbury Thorn

Fr Paul Stacey was the second priest in charge of All Saints, from 1905 to 1917, and in later years served in Glastonbury, from whence came a gift of a Glastonbury Thorn. The Tree stands by the West Gate, the Savile Road entrance, and has blossomed beautifully this year, presenting us with a pink and white cross, as seen on the picture above.

We are in the midst of what seems to be another successful Art Exhibition, with plenty of visitors (and sales!), together with candles lit and prayers offered.

Earlier this week, I took part in the first meeting of the College of Canons of the new Diocese of Leeds: West Yorkshire and the Dales, in Wakefield Cathedral, as we dutifully, and prayerfully, elected our first Diocesan Bishop.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Not the Dew of the Morning...

..but plenty of Cherry Blossom on the way to Mass this morning. Where is that Corpus Christi procession when you need it?

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Planting Poppies

Young people from Year 6 at Elland Church of England School, together with Governors and Clergy, planting Poppies at St Marys and All Saints today, in commemoration of the First World War

Friday, 25 April 2014

Surrexit Christus Alleluia!

Illness, and a Family Bereavement have both contributed to the most exhausting Lent I can remember in a long time. Holy Week brought a Farewell to the Diocese of Wakefield and Bishop Stephen, and, in the Lord's good grace, we did make it to Easter Day, (and to a new Diocese..)

My general air of 'wrecked-ness', and a heightened sense of the common priestly feeling of 'I should have being doing this 3 weeks ago,', have conspired more than ever to leave me struggling for anything to say, and there is nothing less helpful I think than a priest always making excuses. Yet we have been carried, by the affection and prayers of those who have been willing to understand what has been going on.

Thank you to Andy Freeman for the picture of the Cross planted following Good Friday's Procession and Act of Witness, and to the good folk of Elland who were willing to accept an Easter Egg and a copy of the Easter Story from me.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Lent, Holy Week and Easter 2014

This Year's Lent Leaflet is available here

Friday, 7 February 2014

The Priests Retreat and Pilgrimage to Walsingham

The View from my room, on the balcony of the Milner Wing, as dawn breaks over the Shrine Grounds on Thursday morning. 

'Standing on the Borderlands of the third light', Bishop Lindsay's quotation from John Donne setting the tone for the Deacon's and Priests' Associate Pilgrimage and Retreat to Walsingham. Taking the theme of Pursuing Holiness, Bishop Rowan Williams encouraged us to follow the Rule of St Benedict, where holiness is undemonstrative, suspicious of technicalities, deadpan and down to earth. The tools of holiness demand steady, regular use, but allow the beatific vision to break through. The the raw material of holiness is the ongoing ordinariness of the circumstances of our ministry.

The Packhorse Bridge in the Abbey Grounds and the Snowdrop Walk

Fr Philip North traced the journey of Holiness through the Life of St Vincent de Paul, for priests involving personal renewal, service of the needy and the pursuit of justice, and a passionate belief in the ministerial priesthood.

Another Early Morning View

Fr Paschal Worton encouraged us to take heart from St Francis of Assisi, and to look beyond the parody of bird bath Franciscanism. He spoke of Francis' love for the church, of his compassion and mercy, and of his desire to praise in good and bad. 

Remains of the East Window Arch of the medieval Abbey, the site of the original Holy House being just to the left

Bishop Lindsay reflected on Shy hands; the Shy hands of Mary, offering Jesus; the shy hands of a deacon in preparation, of a priest in offering what does not belong to us, but is essentially wrapped up with what we are. He warned us not to get in the the way of the grace given in the Sacrament, but to be be its channel.

I always find being here exhausting, perhaps its the rigour of the journey along the A17, but am immensely grateful for all I have received this week, of which I have barely given a taste, but which will sustain me for many months to come. 

In other news, the worst kept secret in the Church of England was finally announced this week, with the news that Bishop Nicholas Baines is to be the first Bishop of our new Diocese of Leeds: West Yorkshire and the Dales. May he know the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the gift of Holy Wisdom, and, whatever else our new Diocese is to be, may it be a fellowship of prayer

Loving God, pour upon us, we pray Your Holy Spirit and prepare us for the new Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales. We pray for our new bishop and pray You will lead and encourage us, bind us together in love and faith and open our hearts and minds to new possibilities of welcome, witness and mission. In Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Bishop in Mitre

And, in other, other news, 10 weeks of withdrawal symptons are finally over as, after a superb Rugby League World Cup 2013, the new Rugby season kicks off tonight, even if the mighty Leeds Rhinos have to wait till next weekend to begin the title challenge.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

The Blessing of St Blaise

Saturday: The Sabbath. Morning Prayer was offered in the Rectory, before the regular administrative and preparatory tasks of the day, photocopying and the like to set up for Sunday. Tomorrow, after our 8am said Eucharist at St Mary's, I will celebrate the Solemnity of the Presentation in the Deanery at both Ripponden and Dean Head, (both churches, unusually for these parts, dedicated to St Bartholomew), during their Interregnum, before our Evening Vigil of Light back at All Saints, and the Candlemass Procession with Candles.

Mass this morning was of St Brigid, Abbess of Kildare, with prayers for the Irish Churches, and also, as is our usual practice on the first Saturday of the month, the Laying on of Hands and Anointing. Today, was also a chance to give the Blessing of throats, in honour of St Blaise. Blaise was a 3rd Century Armenian Bishop, grimly martyred by being torn with wool combs. As Patron of woolcombers, he has a named stall in both Wakefield & Bradford Cathedrals.

St. Blaise

He is also the patron of throats and diseases of the throat because he cured a boy who was choking to death on a fishbone. When Blaise was subsequently imprisoned the boy's mother brought him food and candles. From this arose the 'Blessing of St Blaise' which is given whilst a pair of crossed candles is held against the throat – a blessing still practised today, on or around his Memorial, 3rd February, either for the cure or prevention of diseases of the throat, or sometimes for the vocal health of singers and, indeed, church choirs.

Almighty God, who gave your servant Blaise the power to cure diseases of body and soul, and inspired him to love his flock even to the point of martyrdom: give to your Church the same power to love and to heal, and help us to know the joy of your praise and to sing your praise in this life and in the life to come; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. 

The morning continued with our regular monthly Coffee Morning at St Mary's, and, after some family catch uptime, and Hospital Visiting, it will be time for the First Evening Prayer of this glorious Festival of Candlemass. Today is cold, with a biting wind, and, subsequently I have struggled all day with my hands and Raynauds Syndrome, making even turning the pages of a prayer book difficult. It will be in a heated study rather than a cold church where prayer is offered once more

Cross of St Brigid

In grateful remembrance of the hospitality received, some years ago,
by the Cathedral and City of Kildare.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

On the Way

Commemorative Chalices for the Diocese of Wakefield, (126 Not Out but soon to retire hurt...) in production at Bentham Pottery. A Chalice, each of which bears the Wakefield Cross, will be given to each Church in the Diocese following the Thanksgiving Service in the Cathedral on Palm Sunday, as we move towards our new Diocese of Leeds: West Yorkshire and the Dales.

While colleagues continued with the offering of the daily Midday Prayers in St Mary's, during this Octave of Prayer for the Unity of Christians, I was able to spend a helpful Quiet Morning at Mirfield. The Octave has seemed to have more energy this year than it has for a while, and a positive Meeting of our Elland & District Churches Together has produced some creative suggestions for how we might mark our ongoing journey to Unity this year.

After a meeting at the Hospice this afternoon, I arrived back to walk over to All Saints to say Evening Prayer, just in time for the first Hail Storm of the Year.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Why I do this job, and not anything practical or really useful

Why I do this job, and not anything practical or really useful.

Part One in an Occasional Series.

2.59pm, today. (see also following post)

Jovial Delivery Men arrive with new Fridge-Freezer, and begin to measure the doors through into the Rectory Kitchen.

'It won't fit, we'll have to take the doors off'

I begin to move carpets, furniture, cats and other obstacles out of the way of the room doors.

Delivery men walk in with doors from new unit, and return with rest of unit itself.

They meant the doors on the fridge-freezer.......


And that was Thursday....

Conscious that I haven't been here for a while, and aware that today needed to be a day at the PC for reasons I will elaborate on, it seemed reasonable to add a re-appearance on the Blog to today's tasks.

I could blame my online silence on busyness, but conscious that a busy priest is no use to anyone (see here:, together with the inevitable weariness I always feel when all that clergy seem to be able to say to each other is how busy they are, then I am not going there. I do admit to a certain lack of emotional and spiritual energy, given what has had to go into other things recently, which always leaves me doubting whether I really have anything of worth to say. As a preacher, it is something I have lived with for a long time.

However, today was to be the day when the new Fridge-Freezer arrived. Yes folks, the economy is booming, we've spent some money. The retiring machine, having given excellent service for over 15 years and a move, has finally reached some kind of mechanical senility. Money has changed hands, and, for even more money changing hands, the old unit and all packaging was to be taken away and delivery arranged between 11am and 2.59pm, 3pm beginning a new, and even more expensive, time slot. Hence the need to stay at home, and the opportunity to get some stuff cleared.

So, the old machine duly emptied and cleaned, and what won't fit into the back-up freezer all over the kitchen, I waited. 11am, 12noon, 1pm, 2pm, 2.30pm. Hmm. Probably my OCD, but difficult to settle to anything today.

Surely they will be here soon.

Aah! A phone call, nearly here, there's the Van. Time of arrival? 2.59pm precisely.