This blog is maintained by Carolyn, of You will find the blog at Art and Prayer Blog.

Feast of St James The Great 25th July

St James (? - 44)
He was the brother of St John and, like him, a fisherman. He was one of the witnesses of the Transfiguration and one of those who slept through most of the Agony in the Garden. He was the first of the apostles to be martyred, being beheaded by King Herod Agrippa I to please the Jewish opponents of Christianity. He was buried in Jerusalem, and nothing more is known about him until the ninth century.
  At this time we learn of a tradition that the relics of St James were brought to Spain some time after his martyrdom, (perhaps early, perhaps as late as 830), and his shrine at Compostela in Galicia grew in importance until it became the greatest pilgrimage centre in western Europe. In every country there are churches of St James and known, well-trodden pilgrim routes. In Paris, the Tour St Jacques marks the start of the route and the Rue St Jacques points straight towards Compostela. In England, pilgrim routes lead from all parts of the country to the major ports that were used on the pilgrimage. This network of routes is a vital witness to the fact that the Middle Ages were not the static stay-at-home time that we often think them to be: everyone must have known someone, or known someone who knew someone, who had made the pilgrimage. The scallop-shell, the emblem of St James, has become the emblem of pilgrims generally.
  In 1987 the pilgrimage routes to Compostela were designated by the Council of Europe as historical cultural routes of international importance. The Confraternity of St James continues to work to restore and upgrade the refuges on a route which is still in active pilgrim use today.
(painting by Georges de la Tour, photo by wiki gallery)

Feast of St Philip Neri 26th May

Saint Philip Neri (1515 - 1595)He was born in Florence in 1515. At the age of eighteen he went to Rome, and earned his living as a tutor. He undertook much-needed charitable work among the young men of the city, and started a brotherhood to help the sick poor and pilgrims.
He was advised that he could do more good as a priest, and was ordained in 1551. He built an oratory over the church of San Girolamo, where he invented services, consisting of spiritual readings and hymns, which were the origin of the oratorio (tradition is a good thing; but innovation also has its place). He continued to serve the young men of Rome, rich and poor alike, with religious discussions and by organising charitable enterprises. He had a particular care for the young students at the English College in Rome, studying for a missionary life and probable martyrdom in England.
He inspired other clergy to emulate him, and formed them into the Congregation of the Oratory. Oratorian foundations still flourish in many countries today. He died in Rome in 1595.
St Philip Neri was an enemy of solemnity and conventionality. When some of his more pompous penitents made their confession to him (he was famous as a confessor) he imposed salutary and deflating penances on them, such as walking through the streets of Rome carrying his cat (he was very fond of cats). When a novice showed signs of excessive seriousness, Philip stood on his head in front of him, to make him laugh. When people looked up to him too much, he did something ridiculous so that they should not respect someone who was no wiser – and no less sinful – than they were. In every case there was an excellent point to his pranks: to combat pride, or melancholy, or hero-worship.
Laughter is not much heard in churches: perhaps that is to be expected... but outside church, Christians should laugh more than anyone else – laugh from sheer joy, that God bothered to make us, and that he continues to love us despite the idiots we are. Everyone is a sinner, but Christians are sinners redeemed – an undeserved rescue that we make even less deserved by everything we do. It is too serious a matter to be serious about: all we can reasonably do is rejoice.
Very many of the saints, not just St Philip, have an abiding terror of being looked up to. For they know their imperfections better than anyone else, and being revered by other people is doubly bad. It is bad for the others, who should be revering God instead, and for themselves, because they might be tempted to believe their own image and believe themselves to be worthy.
We are not saints yet, but we, too, should beware. Uprightness and virtue do have their rewards, in self-respect and in respect from others, and it is easy to find ourselves aiming for the result rather than the cause. Let us aim for joy, rather than respectability. Let us make fools of ourselves from time to time, and thus see ourselves, for a moment, as the all-wise God sees us.
(from Universalis)

First Sunday of Advent Year C

Letter from Fr. Richard
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
Advent is that season in the church’s Year when we look forward, as well as looking back. We look forward to celebrating the great feast of Christmas; we look forward to that day when Jesus Christ will come again. We look back on past history – to those figures who were so necessary for the Christmas event to take place at all. Isaiah & John the Baptist, Mary the Mother of Jesus and Joseph
her spouse.  Did God really become Man? That is a question which we have to answer for ourselves. If he did, why? Surely to engage on a more intimate level with us human beings. Can we make room for Jesus in our lives? He stands at the door....and he knocks....
Have a good Advent. 
Fr. Richard


Christ The King - last Sunday of the Liturgical Year

Letter from Fr. Richard

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

We finish the Liturgical Year with the Feast of Christ the King. An upbeat end to our
journey of faith year. A reminder of Julian of Norwich’s encouraging words, “All will be well, all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.” What a lovely thought that the sufferings imposed on us by others, can be used if we so wish, to wish them well. We can ask God to let our suffering become redemptive of the very persons who have hurt or harmed us; by joining them to those of Jesus....and then shall good really prevail in the world.
Have a good week. 

Fr. Richard


28th Sunday of the Year

Mark 10:17-30

Jesus was setting out on a journey when a man ran up, knelt before him and put this question to him, ‘Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You must not kill; You must not commit adultery; You must not steal; You must not bring false witness; You must not defraud; Honour your father and mother.’ And he said to him, ‘Master, I have kept all these from my earliest days.’ Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him, and he said, ‘There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ But his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.
    Jesus looked round and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!’ The disciples were astounded by these words, but Jesus insisted, ‘My children,’ he said to them ‘how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ They were more astonished than ever. ‘In that case’ they said to one another ‘who can be saved?’ Jesus gazed at them. ‘For men’ he said ‘it is impossible, but not for God: because everything is possible for God.’
    Peter took this up. ‘What about us?’ he asked him. ‘We have left everything and followed you.’ Jesus said, ‘I tell you solemnly, there is no one who has left house, brothers, sisters, father, children or land for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not be repaid a hundred times over, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and land – not without persecutions – now in this present time and, in the world to come, eternal life.’
(Painting by Vladimir Kush)


27th Sunday of the Year

Letter from Fr. Richard

Dear Brothers & Sisters,
I am filled with wonder and awe at some of mankind’s achievements.  I am filled with wonder and awe at the engineering of the Hoover Dam, the Aswan Dam and the other like works.  I am filled with wonder and awe at the achievements of civil engineers, Brunel and all who follow him.  Our bridges, our roads, - so much…….. And these are the achievements of man – man’s creation.
We can imagine then how God feels about His creation and the pinnacle of His creation MANKIND.  It is from this point of view we must view all that Jesus says:  He is saying revere one another, treat one another with respect.  My creation is something you should not disrespect.  God views us with wonder and awe.  We can learn to do likewise.
Have a good week!
Fr. Richard


Friday 2nd October The Holy Guardians

First reading
Exodus 23:20-23

The Lord says this: ‘I myself will send an angel before you to guard you as you go and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Give him reverence and listen to all that he says. Offer him no defiance; he would not pardon such a fault, for my name is in him. If you listen carefully to his voice and do all that I say, I shall be enemy to your enemies, foe to your foes. My angel will go before you.’


Prayer is the Light of the Soul by John Chrysostom

I came across this recently and wanted to share it with you: 
 Prayer is the light of the soul
"There is nothing more worthwhile than to pray to God and to converse with him, for prayer unites us with God as his companions. As our bodily eyes are illuminated by seeing the light, so in contemplating God our soul is illuminated by him. Of course the prayer I have in mind is no matter of routine, it is deliberate and earnest. It is not tied down to a fixed timetable; rather it is a state which endures by night and day.
Our soul should be directed in God, not merely when we suddenly think of prayer, but even when we are concerned with something else. If we are looking after the poor, if we are busy in some other way, or if we are doing any type of good work, we should season our actions with the desire and the remembrance of God. Through this salt of the love of God we can all become a sweet dish for the Lord. If we are generous in giving time to prayer, we will experience its benefits throughout our life.
Prayer is the light of the soul, giving us true knowledge of God. It is a link mediating between God and man. By prayer the soul is borne up to heaven and in a marvellous way embraces the Lord. This meeting is like that of an infant crying on its mother, and seeking the best of milk. The soul longs for its own needs and what it receives is better than anything to be seen in the world.
Prayer is a precious way of communicating with God, it gladdens the soul and gives repose to its affections. You should not think of prayer as being a matter of words. It is a desire for God, an indescribable devotion, not of human origin, but the gift of God's grace. As Saint Paul says: we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.
Anyone who receives from the Lord the gift of this type of prayer possesses a richness that is not to be taken from him, a heavenly food filling up the soul. Once he has tasted this food, he is set alight by an eternal desire for the Lord, the fiercest of fires lighting up his soul.
To set about this prayer, paint the house of your soul with modesty and lowliness and make it splendid with the light of justice. Adorn it with the beaten gold of good works and, for walls and stones, embellish it assiduously with faith and generosity. Above all, place prayer on top of this house as its roof so that the complete building may be ready for the Lord. Thus he will be received in a splendid royal house and by grace his image will already be settled in your soul.
A reading from the homilies of St John Chrysostom (Hom 6 on Prayer)

1st October Feast of St Therese of the Child Jesus


Gospel Matthew 18:1-4
The disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ So he called a little child to him and set the child in front of them. Then he said, ‘I tell you solemnly, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’

The Little Way
"I will seek out a means of getting to Heaven by a little way—very short and very straight, a little way that is wholly new. We live in an age of inventions; nowadays the rich need not trouble to climb the stairs, they have lifts instead. Well, I mean to try and find a lift by which I may be raised unto God, for I am too tiny to climb the steep stairway of perfection. [...] Thine Arms, then, O Jesus, are the lift which must raise me up even unto Heaven. To get there I need not grow; on the contrary, I must remain little, I must become still less." (from Manuscript C of her autobiography).


30th September Feast of St Jerome

Entrance Antiphon
Cf. Ps 1: 2-3
Blessed indeed is he
who ponders the law of the Lord day and night:
he will yield his fruit in due season.
(St. Jerome by Jusepe de Ribera)

St Jerome (340 - 420)
He was born in Strido, in Dalmatia. He studied in Rome and was baptized there. He was attracted by the ascetic life and travelled to the East, where he was (unwillingly) ordained a priest. He was recalled to Rome to act as secretary to Pope Damasus, but on the Pope’s death he returned to the East, to Bethlehem, where (with the aid of St Paula and others) he founded a monastery, a hospice, and a school, and settled down to the most important work of his life, the translation of the Bible into Latin, a translation which, with some revisions, is still in use today. He wrote many works of his own, including letters and commentaries on Holy Scripture. When a time of troubles came upon the world, through barbarian invasions, and to the Church, through internal dissension, he helped the refugees and those in need. He died at Bethlehem (from The Universalis).

26th Sunday of the Year

Letter from Fr. Richard
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
The church is not an exclusive club, or an elitist society.  It is a universal society, all embracing of the human race.  Our tendency is to exclusivism.  If God does not call others in the same way as us, we tend to think that their calling cannot be genuine.  There is a saying: NO SALVATION OUTSIDE THE CHURCH.  It sounds soexclusive………… but WHEREVER THERE IS SALVATION, THERE IS THE CHURCH.  That does not sound so exclusive.  Jesus is saying as much in the Gospel today………wherever the SPIRIT OF GOD BLOWS, there is salvation at work.
 Have a good week!
 Fr. Richard
(Painting by John Singer Sargent of Eldad and Medad)

17th September

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 7:36-50.
A certain Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table.
Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner."
Jesus said to him in reply, "Simon, I have something to say to you." "Tell me, teacher," he said.
Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days' wages and the other owed fifty.
Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?"
Simon said in reply, "The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven." He said to him, "You have judged rightly."
Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair.
You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered.  You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment.  So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.  "He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."  The others at table said to

themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"  But he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
(Anointing of Christ by Bradi Barth see )


Tuesday 15th September Our Lady of Sorrows

Our Lady of Sorrows
Entrance Antiphon
Cf. Lk 2: 34-35
Simeon said to Mary: Behold, this child is destined for the ruin and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign of contradiction; and your own soul a sword will pierce.
(painting by Master of Stauffenberg Altarpiece, Alsace 1455)
also see

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Brother's & Sisters,
At the beginning of the Baptism Rite, the deacon or priest asks the parents: Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?  The answer is: we do.  The same question is assumed and answered when we embark upon marriage, or ordination.  An inner voice always says within me: No you don’t!  In fact, how can anyone know what they are undertaking when they embark upon a new direction in life?  However, I can always answer with conviction if I believe that God is on the scene.  I know that He will be my sureness in my doubt, my strength in my weakness and my resolve when I am like jelly.
 Peter answers with conviction because he knows he wants above all to follow Jesus……. But how, he does not yet know.  All of us have to answer the question: Who do you say I am in our way or other, at many stages of our lives.  May our answer be: Jesus the Saviour of the world and my saviour.
Have a good week!

Fr Richard
(The Annunciation by Dame Warburg Welch, see


Feast of The Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary 8th September

 Come, all you faithful, let us hasten to the Virgin: for long before her conception in the womb, the one who was to be born of the stem of Jesse was destined to be the Mother of God. The one who is the treasury of virginity, the flowering Rod of Aaron, the object of the prophecies, the child of Joachim and Anne, is born today and the world is renewed in her. Through her birth, she floods the church with her splendor. O holy Temple, Vessel of the Godhead, Model of virgins and Strength of kings: in you the wondrous union of the two natures of Christ was realized. We worship Him and glorify your most pure birth, and we magnify you. 

(The Book of Hours of Catherine of Cleves 15th century) 
The painting in the Arena Chapel, Padua is by Giotto 13th century.  
In this painting, the Virgin is depicted twice: the main image shows 
the birth and on the left, She is depicted being handed to Anna.

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 7:31-37

Returning from the district of Tyre, Jesus went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, right through the Decapolis region. And they brought him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they asked him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, put his fingers into the man’s ears and touched his tongue with spittle. Then looking up to heaven he sighed; and he said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ And his ears were opened, and the ligament of his tongue was loosened and he spoke clearly. And Jesus ordered them to tell no one about it, but the more he insisted, the more widely they published it. Their admiration was unbounded. ‘He has done all things well,’ they said ‘he makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.’
(painting by El Greco, Metropolitan Museum of Art)


16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

To gain balance in our lives is not always easy.  The disciples had returned from the mission Jesus had sent them on, and they returned quite tired from the experience.  Jesus said that they needed to come apart and rest awhile.  Wishful thinking – He saw the crowds following them and took pity on them.  Even in the Life of Jesus good intentions had to be shelved for “the great good”.  Even though our lives may not have the balance we would like, God can still be there in the middle of our struggle, accompanying us in our difficulties.

Have a good week.
Fr. Richard

The Good Shepherd
by Duncan Grant in Lincoln Cathedral 

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
There is a pattern in the life of Jesus, as portrayed by St. John in his gospel.  Jesus spends time with his Father in prayer; He goes out from that into His public ministry; He reflects – He goes to His Father in prayer – etc.
All of us as Christians are called to do God’s work. We must never be afraid that it will be too much for us, or that we will not have the means. If God asks – He will provide. Dare to think beyond yourself; dare to think that because of you the church, the world, can change for the better.
Have a good week.
Fr. Richard


14th Sunday of the Year

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The feeling of failure is often accompanied by doubts and the “if only” syndrome.  We have a tendency to take ‘failure’ very personally.  It may be we feel we are failed parents, spouses, priests, deacons.  For all those featuring in the Sunday Readings, failure on one level or another is par for the course.  The important thing in life is that we do, at the time, what we consider to be the best in obedience to consciences informed by Christ in his church.  We are rare successes if we can become and remain human in a dehumanising world.  We are rare if we have a lively faith that never fails to trust in the goodness of God.
Have a good week.

Fr. Richard
Image: Ezekiel by Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel,


Saints Peter and Paul Sunday 28th June

Letter from Fr. Richard:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
St. Peter and St. Paul were very different in background, personality, experience of life and especially in their manner of knowing Christ Jesus. Nevertheless, these two were chosen as people upon which the Church of God was to be built. It is encouraging for us to know that Christ’s call is tailored to each individual. It is a cause for mutual respect. We need to value God’s work in us so that we may be encouraged to give of ourselves more. There is a priority of commitment; to husbands and wives, to children, to the family of the Parish and then in ever increasing circles outwards. Do not forget to pray for your Parish family; our Bishop Peter, your Priest Richard, your Deacon John, and all those who make community possible. Thanks to you all, for all that you do.
Have a good week.
Fr. Richard.

The Icon of Saints Peter & Paul is by Caroline Lees.
(Egg tempera & gold leaf 25 x 35 cms Private Commission)

The artist has kindly allowed us to use the image, so do take the time to look at her website.
Please see

Sunday 14th June

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
St. Francis of Assisi said that each one of us should preach the gospel by all means possible and even if necessary to preach it by the word. I think that St. Francis means that the best way of preaching the gospel, the best way of laying the foundation of that 
preaching, is to live the gospel that we preach. Then our word has at least some credibility. It is the same for us; before all else we must try to live the gospel; to see things with the eyes of faith, and believe that in the end “all will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well” (Julian of Norwich).
Have a good week.
Fr. Richard


Corpus Christi

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Corpus Christi, the Latin for The Body of Christ, sounds more exotic than the English. Being ‘spiritual’ sounds better than being human. However, the fact that God became man in Jesus Christ is reason enough for us to celebrate our humanity. The gift of Jesus in Holy Communion reinforces and grounds us in our humanity. We are becoming in Jesus what we are meant to be – fully human – feeling, loving, vulnerable human beings who need one another for life itself – for affirmation, for growth and for wellbeing. We must all learn that what God wants of us is to act justly, to love tenderly and walk humbly with our God.
Have a good week.
Fr. Richard 


Feast of The Holy Trinity, Sunday 31st May

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
St. Thérèse of Lisieux said that the only reason she dared to address God as Father, was that Jesus gave us the permission when he taught us the perfect prayer. The only reason we dare preach the gospel is because we believe in those words of Jesus, ‘Go make disciples of all the nations...’ May our boldness and conviction always come from our faith in Jesus Christ, who lived, died, rose from the dead, ascended to the Father and who together sent the Holy Spirit – that  Holy Spirit who loves to be among us. May we learn to enjoy the company of God as much as He enjoys ours.

Fr. Richard


Ascension of the Lord Sunday 17th May


5th Sunday of Easter 'I am the True Vine'

Eastern Orthodox Mosaic of Christ as the Vine 16th century Byzantine & Christian Museum Athens

In John's Gospel today Christ tells us that he is the Vine shaped by his father and that we - all of us are the branches.  In nature if a branch is dead it should be cut off and discarded.  So to it is with our relationship with Christ - if we do not allow him into our lives we die, cut ourselves off.  To grow vines or plants of any kind is about permanency and stability.  We have to be around at all stages of the plant's life and if we nurture well then the harvest will be fruitful.  Christ reminds us that if we remain with Him, His words remain in us and that whatever we ask we shall get.
When I looked at the first reading again this morning, the Gospel became clearer, for here it describes how after God had cut away the old (the bad bit of Saul, the slayer of Christians) he allowed a new branch to grow, with the help of Barnabus.

Joseph the Worker Friday 1st May

'Christ in the House of his Parents'
John Everett Millais 1849-50
Tate Britain

Joseph the Worker, is shown working in his carpenter's workshop, making a door and helped by the family, but there are other things also going on.  There is a nail sticking up in the door which the young Christ has just cut himself on - a reference to his Crucifixion. There are other symbols in this painting as well:  a very young John the Baptist on the right carrying a bowl reminds of us of his future role as the Baptist.  There is a reference to Jacob's Ladder, the Holy Spirit and the Trinity on the back wall and what of the sheep in the field?

4th Sunday of Easter

The Good Shepherd by Julia Stankova

This Sunday we are reminded in the 2nd reading, that
we are the children of God.  In John's Gospel we hear
about the role of the Good Shepherd, as distinct from 
the hired man.  Christ explains his selfless and eternally
caring nature as the Good Shepherd.

The painting describes a warmth and gentleness in the
portrayal of the Good Shepherd, with feet planted firmly
on the earth.  This shepherd is with us now.

Notice the IC  XC either side of the head of Christ.  
These Greek letters represent the words Jesus Christ 
and are usually seen on icons.

Saint Mark Evangelist


The winged Lion - Symbol of St Mark

St Mark's Venice.
The book he balances with his paw reads: 'Pax tibi Marce, evangelista meus', "Peace be with you Mark, My Evangelist."

We are in Year B, the year of Mark.


3rd Sunday of Easter

Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio 1601

Since the Resurrection, Christ has been reminding us that he is alive and is with us.  The Gospels have 
been telling us of Christ appearing to the Apostles, in rooms, on the road and on each occasion He has to do something which jolts the Apostles into recognising the risen Christ among them.

Again Caravaggio captures the moment when the Apostles recognise who is among them.


St Anselm of Canterbury 21st April

Altar St Anselm's Chapel, Canterbury Cathedral
by Stephen Cox 2006, Aosta Marble (region of Anslem's birth).

"Nor do I seek to understand that I may believe, 
but I believe that I may understand. For this, too, 
I believe, that, unless I first believe, I shall not understand."

Anselm was a 12th century philosopher and Archbishop of Canterbury 
whose writings argued for the existence of God.

Divine Mercy Sunday (2nd Sunday of Easter)

The Incredulity of St Thomas
by Caravaggio 1602 
Potsdam Museum

....Thomas replied 'My Lord and My God!' Jesus said to him 'You believe because you can see me.  
Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe" (Gospel Jn 20: 19-31)

Caravaggio focuses our eyes 
on Thomas' finger in Christ's side, both with the trick of light and the four heads leading you to that point.


Easter Sunday

The Resurrection
by Grünewald 1512

Grünewald presents us with an explosive image 
of Christ, 
blasting himself back from the death that he has 
conquered once and for all and for ALL OF US.
He appears radiant and triumphant, as the living light 
in our darkest world.  The Lord is Risen, He is Risen Indeed.


St Scholastica - sister of St Benedict

I found this fabulous Hymn  
and wanted to share it with you.

O Christ, the Light of heaven
And of the world true Light,
You come in all your radiance
To cleave the web of night.

May what is false within us
Before your truth give way,
That we may live untroubled,
With quiet hearts this day.

May steadfast faith sustain us,
And hope made firm in you;
The love that we have wasted,
O God of love, renew.

Blest Trinity we praise you
In whom our quest will cease;
Keep us with you for ever
In happiness and peace.

from Stanbrook Abbey

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Job began to speak:

Is it not man's life on earth nothing more than pressed service, his time no better than hired drudgery?  Like the slave, sighing for the shade, or the workman with no thought but his wages, months of delusion I have assigned to me, nothing for my own but nights of grief.  Lying in bed I wonder, 'When will it be day?'  Restlessly I fret till twilight falls.  Swifter than a weaver's shuttle my days have passed, and vanished, leaving no hope behind.  Remember that my life is but a breath, and that my eyes will never again see joy.

Job 7:1-4, 6-7

The Presentation of the Lord

We are to be a light to our church and to the glory of God


The Holy Family

' The shepherds went in haste, and found
Mary and Joseph and the infant lying in a manager '
(Entrance Antiphon Lk 2:16)

by Bernardino Luini


Advent thoughts

It's been a few months, but hi I'm back now and immersed in Advent.  Two Sunday Gospels in and so much to think about.
Do you know about that special moment before dawn?  There always seems to be a rush of cold wind that comes before the first light, like it's heralding a new day.  No matter what the weather, or the season, the anticipation of a new day feels like another God given opportunity for a fresh start and new beginning.  I'm currently working on ideas for The Tree of Jesse and am reading 'Jesus, teach us to pray' 
by Jerome Bertram.


11th July Feast of St Benedict

St Peter's Church celebrating St Benedict's feast day.  The iced cake has an image of St Benedict, taken from a medieval drawing.


29th June Saints Peter and Paul

Alleluia, alleluia!
You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church.
And the gates of the underworld can never 
hold out against it.

(Gospel Acclamation)


24th June The Birthday of Saint John the Baptist

'Apart from Mary and Joseph, John the Baptist is the only saint in the calendar who has two feasts to himself. One, in August, celebrates his death, and one, in June, celebrates his birth. And this is as it should be, for as Christ himself said, John was the greatest of the sons of men.
  The greatest, but also the most tragic. A prophet from before his birth, leaping in the womb to announce the coming of the incarnate God, his task was to proclaim the fulfilment of all prophecies – and thus his own obsolescence. And he did it: with unequalled courage he spread the news that he, the greatest of all men, was the least in the kingdom of heaven. His disciples, and the devil, would have preferred him to fight, to build his sect, to defeat this upstart whom he himself had baptized, to seize his place in history. But he did not – and so, rightly, he has his place, and he has glory in heaven.'  from 

'John Baptising Christ' by Mother Joanna Jamieson (Stanbrook Abbey)

31st May The Visitation of The Blessed Virgin Mary

I tell you, when your greeting sounded in my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy.  
Who am I, that the mother of my Lord should visit me Alleluia. (Responsory Office of Readings)
The Visitation by Giotto, Lower Church, Basilica of St. Francis, Assisi.

29th May Ascension Day

This day our risen Saviour reigns
Creation's undefeated King,
While angel's in resplendent light
With mighty voice his triumph sing.


St Augustine of Canterbury – 27 May 2014

St Augustine icon

Augustine, proclaimer of the word of salvation, a teacher who brought the faith: look down from heaven and visit the vineyard which your right hand planted, alleluia. (Magnificat antiphon).


13th April Palm Sunday


Giotto 'Christ's Entry into Jerusalem'
Scrovegni Chapel, Padua
1305 - 06
200cm x 185cm

And the crowds that went before him
and that followed him shouted,
'Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the Highest!'

extract from The Gospel according to Matthew Year A


6th April 5th Sunday of Lent


'The Raising of Lazarus' by Duccio, 13th C.
tempera on panel

Duccio's painting is still partially in the Byzantine style 
- almost Icon-like, but when you look closely at the figures 
you get the sense that there are real people emerging and 
reacting to the loss of a great friend and neighbour.
Even the smell of death some days old now is displayed 
in the man in an ochre cloak covering his nose.

'I am the Resurrection and the life.
If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he 
will live, and whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.  Do you believe this?'

22nd March Journeys Through Lent

The first session on 10th March was called '40 Something…… Symbolism & Significance'.
One of the issues discussed was Christ's stay in the desert.  Something Tony White mentioned at the end of that session has stayed with me since.  It was a comment related to the desert, a contemporary desert: a poverty stricken society and if we ventured in would we find Christ there…. maybe it would be easier to see Christ there than in a glitzy society.
I want to introduce you to Khayelitsha, just outside Cape Town.  One of the biggest Townships in South Africa, which grew out of the white South African man's hatred for black and coloured races.  It started life in the 1980's as an attempt to reduce overcrowding in other townships and was once seen as a haven of depravity, violence and corruption and murder was a daily event.  The expansion has also been created by blacks arriving from other areas of Africa, to a land that they believed would give them everything they had dreamed of.
Gradually the tin shacks are disappearing, government support enables people to build their own houses, schools and craft centres are springing up and the churches are thriving.  The new thinking, gives people hope and aspirations become realised.  The downtrodden are educated and small communities of businesses are taking off.  There is a community atmosphere of empowerment, of hope and belief in a new Africa.
These images give a flavour of the past and recent developments.



16th March 2nd Sunday in Lent

'The Transfiguration' (Holy Trinity Church, Butte, Montana 2003-06)
'Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them
up a high mountain where they could be alone.  There in their presence
he was transfigured: his face shone like the sun and his clothes became
as white as the light.  Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared to them; they
were talking with him………….' (extract from Matthew 17: 1-9)

Icons are 'written' as opposed to painted.  The role of the Iconographer
is to convey the word of God: they are theologians in God's service.
There is no room for self expression as their work is a visual connection
Heaven & Earth.


5th March Ash Wednesday

George Shaw
'Ash Wednesday 8.30am'
91cm x 121cm
oil on canvas
2004 - 5

If you do away with the yoke,
the clenched fist, the wicked word,
if you give your bread to the hungry,
and relief to the oppressed.

Your light will rise from the darkness,
and your shadows become like noon.
The Lord will always guide you,
giving relief in desert places.

(from Isaiah 58: 1-12)

12th January Baptism of the Lord

Entrance Antiphon: After the Lord was baptised, the heavens were opened and the spirit descended upon him like a dove, and the voice of the Father thundered: "This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased"

The Baptism of Christ 1450 by Piero della Fransceca 168cm x 116cm, National Gallery, London.

Piero's mastery of mathematics and perspective present us with a very staged and symbolic account of Christ's baptism. The trees, figurative groups and the river, intensify the very moment when Christ is baptised and the image of the Holy Spirit hovers directly above Christ as the water is poured over his head.


5th January The Feast of the Epiphany

'The Magi saw the star and said to
one another: This is the sign of the
great King; let us go and seek him;
let us offer him gifts: gold,
frankincense and myrrh.'
Magnificat Antiphon
(Evening Prayer for the Epiphany)

This image was made for Autun Cathedral by
the 12th century sculptor Gislebertus.  It shows
an Angel telling the sleeping Kings that they should
follow the star (seen above their heads),
which will lead them to the stable in bethlehem.


3rd January The Holy Name of Jesus


At the name of Jesus,
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth
and on under the earth,
and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
                         Entrance Antiphon Phil 2:10-11


1st January 2014 Happy New Year

Today is the Solemnity of Mary,
The Holy Mother of God

Lord God and Maker of all things,
            Creation is upheld by you.
            While all must change and know decay,
            You are unchanging, always new.
            You are man’s solace and his shield,
            His Rock secure on which to build.
            You are the spirit’s tranquil home,
            In you alone is hope fulfilled. 
            To God the Father and the Son 
            And Holy Spirit render praise:
            Blest Trinity, from age to age
            The strength of all our living days.

               Sext Hymn from The Stanbrook Abbey Hymnal 
                detail: The Ghent Altarpiece by Jan Van Eyck c. 1432  


29th December The Holy Family

'The Lord honours the father in his 
children, and upholds the rights of 
a mother over her sons. Whoever 
respects his father is atoning for 
his sins.he who honours his mother 
is like someone amassing a fortune.'

extract from the Collect of the day.

This sculpture can be seen at the back 
of the church above the Baptismal Font.  
If you know anything about this sculpture 
or when it came to St. Peters, please tell us.

27th December St John the Evangelist

"This is John, who reclined on the Lord's 
breast at supper, the Blessed Apostle, to 
whom celestial secrets were revealed 
and who spread the words of life throughout 
the world" (entry antiphon).

In art he is often portrayed as an eagle 
(as seen in the bottom roundel 
in this photograph of our Tabernacle).


14th December St John of the Cross

"He is like a rich mine with many
pockets containing treasures: however
deep we dig we will never find their
end or their limit. Indeed, in every
pocket new seams of fresh riches are
discovered on all sides."

St John of the Cross
Painting by Salvador Dalí Drawing by St John

20th November: More thoughts on a visit to Buckden.



19th November:Thoughts on a visit to Buckden Towers.


13th November All Saints OSB

(from the Liber Scivias of Hildegard of Bingen)
Today is the Feast of All Saints of the Benedictine Order.
' Scripture brought me to the gate of Paradise and the mind, which is spiritual, stood in amazement and wonder as it entered, the intellect grew dizzy and weak as the senses were no longer able to contain its treasures - so magnificent they were - or to discern its savours and find any comparison for its colours, or take in its beauties so as to describe them in words.'
 (1st paragraph from the Hymns of Paradise VI by St Ephrem of Syria)


11th November St Martin of Tours

St-Martin-of-Tours-at-Mass-1St Martin Celebrating Mass - 15th century unknown Hungarian artist ' Martin new long in advance the time of his death and told his brethren that it was near.  Meanwhile, he found himself obliged to make a visitation of the parish of Candes.  The clergy were quarrelling and he wished to reconcile them.  Although he knew that his days on earth were few, he did not refuse to undertake the journey for such a purpose, for he believed that he would bring his virtuous life to a good end if by his efforts peace was restored in the church.'       from a letter by Sulpicius Severus

10th November Remembrance Sunday

Chapel of Christ in Gethsemane - Coventry Cathedral


4th November St Charles Borromeo 1538 -1584

An important reformer of the church, who gave much of his property to the poor. He set up the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine to teach children the faith: it was the beginning and inspiration of the Sunday School movement. When famine struck the province, he fed 3,000 people at his own expense for three months and inspired others to do likewise. When plague came, he prepared himself for death, made his will, and went to the hospital where the worst cases were. After enormous amounts of nagging, preaching and persuasion the secular clergy followed his example.  (from Wikipedia)
Stained glass window St. Stephen's Church Skipton (photograph by Lawrence OP)


2nd November All Souls


Gerhard Richter b.1932
oil on canvas
80cm x 65cm

Wherever you may fall, you will fall into my hands and I will be there even to the
gates of death. Where no one can accompany you any longer and where you can
take nothing with you, there I will wait for you to transform for you the darkness into light.

(taken from weekday missal 2nd Nov)

1st November All Saints

Fra Angelico (National Gallery, London)
This section forms part of the Predella (the bottom section of an Altarpiece), which was in the church of San Domenico, in Fiesole.
First Reading        Apocalypse 7:2-4,9-14                                                                                                   
I, John, saw another angel rising where the sun rises, carrying the seal of the living God; he called in a powerful voice to the four angels whose duty was to devastate land and sea, 'Wait before you do any damage on land or at sea or to the trees, until we have put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.' Then I heard how many were sealed: a hundred and forty-four thousand, out of all the tribes of Israel.
  After that I saw a huge number, impossible to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe and language; they were standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands. They shouted aloud, 'Victory to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!' And all the angels who were standing in a circle round the throne, surrounding the elders and the four animals, prostrated themselves before the throne, and touched the ground with their foreheads, worshipping God with these words, 'Amen. Praise and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and strength to our God for ever and ever. Amen.'
  One of the elders then spoke, and asked me, 'Do you know who these people are, dressed in white robes, and where they have come from?' I answered him, 'You can tell me, my lord.' Then he said, 'These are the people who have been through the great persecution, and they have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb.'

28th October SS. Simon and Jude

'Saints Simon and Jude Converting the People'
13th century stained glass panel from Chartres Cathedral.
Pasted Graphic

For people who could not read or write, stained glass 
became the narrative of the medieval world. The daylight 
shining through the glass seemed to illuminate the word of God, 
as if He was speaking to his people through these images.
Please see:

I Am has sent me to you

The title for this painting comes from the first reading for 
Thursday The Fifteenth week in ordinary time Year 1 
Exodus 3:13-20
The painting mimics the lights with reflections in the recently
refurbished Meeting Room.  It is in oil on a wooden panel
and measures 29cm x 29cm.


13th October 'Edward the Confessor' (1003 - 1066)

The Wilton Diptych (1395) - National Gallery, London
Paintings sometimes make useful historical documents and in this instance we have a representation of Edward the Confessor, portrayed in white: holding a ring, placed between St John the Baptist (on the right) and St Edmund the Martyr (on the left) wearing red shoes and holding an arrow.  The Diptych (2 panels, 4 sides) was used as a portable altarpiece.  The panels are made of oak and each measures 53cm x 37cm.
There is another familiar reference to Edward the confessor in the Bayeux Tapestry.


9th October 'Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman'

Newman wrote this in 1833 (long before he converted to Catholicism).  He was in Italy at the time, ill and desperate to get back to England and work.
Please see :

Fr Guy Nicholls in Newman's library at the Birmingham Oratory


7th October 'Our Lady of the Rosary'

    An Old Woman with Rosary by Cezanne 1895-96 (National Gallery, London)
    Not what you were expecting to see, but it's worth a moment of reflection because of the
    simplicity of the subject matter.  The humble nature and pose of the woman, stooped in
    concentration.  A woman who has outlived her family and can no longer love and care for the
    children she brought into the world and nurtured.  The hands grasping the Rosary say it all.


4th October: 'St Francis of Assisi'

'St Francis renounces his worldly goods.'
This painting is one of 28 frescoes (attributed to Giotto) on the walls of the Upper Church of San Francesco in Assisi, which were painted in the 13th Century. The composition is divided into two halves (the family, wealth and secular on the left and the church and poverty on the right).  In this scene Francis renounces his worldly goods: raising his hand in the direction of the hand of God, seen above the buildings on the left.  Directly below the hand is the figure of Francis' father, dressed in fine clothes, seemingly in a state of dispair at his son's decision.  On Friday 4th October Pope Francis is visiting Assisi.  See:


29th September: 'Saints Michael, Raphael and Gabriel'.

Three Archangels and Young Tobias, Filippino Lippi, 1477
100cm x 127cm Galleria Sabauda, Turin
The Weekday Missal's account seems a good introduction: St Michael (meaning 'Who is like God') is venerated as captain of the heavenly army, victor over Satan, protector of the church and helper of the sick and dying.  St Raphael (meaning God heal's) took care of Tobias on his journey, as described in the book of Tobit and is often associated with the angel of the sheep pool (Jn 5:1-4).  He is a patron of the blind, travellers and physicians and nurses.  St Gabriel (meaning 'Strength of God') announced both the birth of St John the Baptist (to Zechariah) and of Jesus Christ (to the Blessed Virgin Mary).  His greeting at the Annunciation, 'Hail, full of grace,' has become one of the most familiar prayers.
Filippino Lippi was a pupil of Botticelli, hence the grace and delicacy in the rendering of the figures and clothing, so familiar in Botticelli's work.  Botticelli was a pupil of Filippo Lippi (Filippino's father).


26th September 'Saints Cosmos and Damian'

Saints. Cosmos and Damian were brothers, born in Arabia, c.300 AD who were skilled in the science of medicine. Being Christians, they were filled with the spirit of charity and never took money for their services. They are patron saints of pharmacists. 
(Sculptural relief in bronze 1979 by Toni Schneider-Manzell (1911-1996) on the south porch of Essen Cathedral, Germany)


21st September: 'St Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist'

The Calling of St Matthew by Caravaggio
(Painted 1599-1600 oil on canvas 322cm x 340cm)
San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome
Not one of Caravaggio's largest works, but the sense of drama is intense and dynamic. There are 3 distinct parts to this painting: the group of figures seated around the table, Christ and Peter on the right and above them opened window (a device often used to signify an entrance). Apart from the physical structure of the composition, Caravaggio's understanding and use of light and shade (chiaroscuro) ignites the drama and projects the story at the moment Christ calls: 'follow me'.  The hand that points across the room, is echoed by Matthew's hand pointing to himself (in a what me gesture). 

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