Sunday, 18 May 2008

The Most Holy Trinity

Another week end over at St John’s. Friday’s visit to the hospital brought me in touch with a lady who has lived several years in this country but is an Armenian Christian. Her faith is really moving and her dedication to the Armenian Church equally impressive. She spoke so passionately about Armenia being the first Christian nation ever and how much her faith is intertwined with culture. Her outlook in life is informed and directed from the faith. What an example. Another patient at the hospital is the great grandson of an Anglo-Catholic priest who suffered in the East-end of London from the hands of the Mr Kensit brigade. He was presented with a difficult reality but he is accepting it and leaving it in the hands of God. His family and he are very much in my prayers. I gave out to some patients medals of Our Lady and they received them so gladly. Many times these medals unlock a secret and hidden gate and lead to conversations that many a times change into prayers of thanksgiving and confession. I consider these medals as little seeds that need sowing, the discipline is not to expect any reaping, but when it happens give thanks to God from whom all good things proceed.
In the afternoon I enjoyed Sacred Space. This is the time (twice a week here) when we expose the Blessed Sacrament on the High Altar for adoration. On Friday this ends with the Office of Readings, Vespers and Benediction. Fr Mark and I where joined by a member of the congregation whose life of prayer is an inspiration for me. At the same time Stuart was busy in the office producing the weekly pew sheets. So we had both Martha and Mary!
After Mass on Saturday morning the final preparations for Sunday were made. At home the final touches for the Corpus Christi liturgy book were done and also the first draft for the Funeral Mass of Margaret who died a week ago today. A little bit of reading and then some friends arrived and we had a very good afternoon and evening.
I have learnt from a communication from our Archdeacon that the Bishop of Rochester was to be the focus of a protest by a group called IDAHO. Reading their website I am confused a little bit. They expect Bishop Michael to go and greet personally Gene Robinson from “The Episcopal Church” (is this the only Episcopal church in America; is it still a church?) Why should Bishop Michael be asked to do this especially when Gene Robisnson, as far as I know, was not invited to Lambeth? This group also seems to take issue with Bishop Michael’s stand on the teaching of the Bible and the Tradition of the Church as regards sex (there you go again). Why should a Bishop of the Church of God be made a target of protest when he stands for the Faith received from the Saints? Is freedom of speech a one way traffic only? Then again, the Beloved Voice said something on the lines that we are not of the world and the world will not understand us. Bishop Michael must be on the right track! This blog salutes Bishop Michael and is full of admiration towards him: Thank you Bishop for standing up for the Faith – we are behind you on this and our prayers are with you. Bishop Michael, being a very courteous person, has issued a statement on Friday, the day before the protest was scheduled for – did it happen? The statement is this:

Statement regarding the demonstration on 17 May 2008

I acknowledge and respect the equal dignity of all - regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation. There is no place for the harassment or persecution of anyone for whatever reason.

We are thankful that in this country there is freedom of meeting and expression for all.

The Bible and the Church teach that the proper expression of our sexuality is in the context of marriage. This has to do with God’s purposes in creating us, respect for persons and the importance of the family as a basic unit of society.

+Michael Roffen:

The May 2008 Communications Update from the Church of England was very interesting because of what was left unmentioned. A list of very interesting items like investments of the Church Commissioners (do I have a pension?); a plea to stop spinning (no not the Alistair Campbell type but as in Spin Dryer) and even an item about Women Bishops which I promised myself to read only after I write this blog. But absolute silence on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Bill. Goodness me if standing up for life and defending it comes after spin dryers and climate change – who are we saving the planet for? Dear Reader, if you have done nothing yet I beg you to send an e-mail to your MP and ask him to go to Parliament on Tuesday and vote NO! Some people are presenting this as Church vs Science. They are trying to stir an old phantom to save their position – that in itself says a lot. This is an argument between Science and Science and we Christians MUST stand up for the Culture of Life!
It was a joy (as ever) to celebrate Early Mass today which I offered for a friend. Good attendance and a quiet, reflective mood. The shining sun helped a lot. I enjoyed meeting the faithful after Mass two of whom are looking forward to join the Holy Land Pilgrimage in 2009.
Fr Mark, Frances and I shared Lauds and saw that all was in place. The choir rehearsed today’s anthem and some Music for Corpus Christi on Thursday. If you do not live far away do consider joining us on Thursday at 8pm. The celebrant and preacher will be the Bishop of Richborough.
Fr Mark celebrated the Sung Mass and I preached. We considered the Trinity as being a Mystery of Love before being a Mystery of Faith and that the language of love is the language that best speaks to God and about God in order for us to fulfil the commission given to us in today’s Gospel of making disciples in all nations.
I enjoyed meeting parishioners and even welcoming two new families. During drinks in the Hall we also had a plant sale organised by the Edmeads in aid of the Walsingham Cell; my wife Claudia brought some tomatoes – are we going green? Better not ask.
In the afternoon Fr Mark kindly covered the hospital visit, Rosary and Benediction so that I could go to the Forward in Faith (Rochester) AGM. The AGM started with a reading, a homily by Fr Bill Beer, an outdoor procession of Our Lady and Benediction. This was followed by strawberry tea in the Hall (very English!) and the AGM itself. Jim Cheesman, the Lay Chairman, led the meeting and gave a very encouraging talk to those present. Fr David Herbert, the FiF Regional Dean, is retiring from his Parish next April so this was his last AGM. He was thanked for his hard work and inspiration and all those present showed their admiration by a very hearty applause.
Tomorrow morning we shall have Sacred Space between 10 and Noon. I am looking forward for some space in silence with the Lord, amidst all the hassle and bustle, amidst all the plans and projects, it is important to guard oneself from what Pius XII described as the heresy of the apostolate. As we prepare for Corpus I must learn more to “be still and know…”

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