From Father Alistair – This weekend (2nd/3rd October) we have another Pastoral Letter from Bishop Richard. Inevitably, when Pastoral Letters are received at short notice, clergy will already have prepared a Sunday homily.
Rather than let my homily lie fallow for three years until we are once again at the Twenty-seventh Sunday on Ordinary Time in Year B (Gospel of Mark), and given that we are in still in Creationtide, I thought I would offer the bare bones of what I had prepared as a source, perhaps, for continuing seasonal reflection or meditation.
Whenever I lead a retreat or give days of recollection, I often follow one favoured, tried and tested methodology based on the truth that scriptural texts capture the imagination and can inspire extraordinary expression across a whole range of artistic media and form: uniting the original source of inspiration with the subsequent artistic expression can help us relate to scripture in new and exciting ways. Culture, so-called, whether ancient or modern, often draws upon the scriptures.
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“So from the soil the Lord God fashioned all the wild beasts and all the birds of heaven. These he brought to the man to see what he would call them; each one was to bear the name the man would give it. The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of heaven and all the wild beasts.” (Genesis 2:18-20)
The scene described in these few verses has been repeatedly expressed, depicted and portrayed throughout the centuries in frescoes, lyrics, mosaics, murals, music and words. So, a few examples:
Many of you will know The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis and be aware of their strongly Christian themes. Lewis seems to draw inspiration from both accounts of creation in the book of Genesis:
Can you imagine a stretch of grassy land bubbling like water in a pot? For that is really the best description of what was happening. In all directions it was swelling into humps. They were of very different sizes, some no bigger than mole-hills, some as big as wheelbarrows, two the size of cottages. And the humps moved and swelled till they burst, and the crumbled earth poured out of them, and from each hump there came out an animal. The moles came out just as you might see a mole come out in England. The dogs came out, barking the moment their heads were free, and struggling as you’ve seen them do when they are getting through a narrow hole in a hedge. The stags were the queerest to watch, for of course the antlers came up a long time before the rest of them, so at first Digory thought they were trees. The frogs, who all came up near the river, went straight into it with a plop-plop and a loud croaking. The panthers, leopards and things of that sort, sat down at once to wash the loose earth off their hind quarters and then stood up against the trees to sharpen their front claws. Showers of birds came out of the trees. Butterflies fluttered. Bees got to work on the flowers as if they hadn’t a second to lose. But the greatest moment of all was when the biggest hump broke like a small earthquake and out came the sloping back, the large, wise head, and the four baggy-trousered legs of an Elephant. And now you could hardly hear the song of the Lion; there was so much cawing, cooing, crowing, braying, neighing, baying, barking, lowing, bleating, and trumpeting. (“The Magician’s Nephew”, C.S. Lewis, Chapter 9)
“My children,” said Aslan, fixing his eyes on both of them, “you are to be the first King and Queen of Narnia.” The Cabby opened his mouth in astonishment, and his wife turned very red. “You shall rule and name all these creatures …” (op. cit., Chapter 11)
The scriptural verses have inspired rich visual interpretations. If you are ever in Bath, I recommend at visit to the Holburne Museum, go and find “Landscape with Adam naming the Animals” attributed to Circle of Roelandt Savery, it’s a miniature marvel. There are other popular renderings of the subject matter by Ruthart and Brueghel the Younger. The version with which I’ve been most familiar since I was given a postcard of it is the one below:
Adam Naming the Animals by John Miles of Northleach (1781-1849)
A former parishioner who had been a teacher of both English and R.E. introduced me to the writing of Anthony Hecht (1923-2004) among whose many wonderful poems and letters you may find:
Naming the Animals
Having commanded Adam to bestow
Names upon all the creatures, God withdrew
To empyrean palaces of blue
That warm and windless morning long ago,
And seemed to take no notice of the vexed
Look on the young man’s face as he took thought
Of all the miracles the Lord had wrought,
Now to be labelled, dubbed, yclept, indexed.
Before an addled mind and puddled brow,
The feathered nation and the finny prey
Passed by; there went biped and quadruped.
Adam looked forth with bottomless dismay
Into the tragic eyes of his first cow,
And shyly ventured, “Thou shalt be called ‘Fred’.”
(from Collected Later Poems by Anthony Hecht, published by Waywiser, 2004)
You may remember the media coverage (well, perhaps more of a furore) when Bob Dylan was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature. Whatever the opinion at the time, it remains true that his song lyrics feature in university literature, communications, music, and culture courses. He, too, was inspired by these verses of scripture:
Man Gave Names to All the Animals
Man gave names to all the animals
In the beginning, in the beginning
Man gave names to all the animals
In the beginning, long time ago
He saw an animal that liked to growl
Big furry paws and he liked to howl
Great big furry back and furry hair
“Ah, think I’ll call it a bear”
Man gave names to all the animals …
He saw an animal up on a hill
Chewing up so much grass until she was filled
He saw milk comin’ out but he didn’t know how
“Ah, think I’ll call it a cow”
Man gave names to all the animals …
He saw an animal that liked to snort
Horns on his head and they weren’t too short
It looked like there wasn’t nothin’ that he couldn’t pull
“Ah, think I’ll call it a bull”
Man gave names to all the animals …
He saw an animal leavin’ a muddy trail
Real dirty face and a curly tail
He wasn’t too small and he wasn’t too big
“Ah, think I’ll call it a pig”
Man gave names to all the animals …
Next animal that he did meet
Had wool on his back and hooves on his feet
Eating grass on a mountainside so steep
“Ah, think I’ll call it a sheep”
Man gave names to all the animals …
He saw an animal as smooth as glass
Slithering his way through the grass
Saw him disappear by a tree near a lake . . .
(Copyright © 1979 by Special Rider Music)
The idea of “naming” has become a discipline; we talk of the Linnean system of zoological nomenclature; many other fields of science have their own systems of nomenclature. The word itself comes from the Latin nomenclatura (the calling of names), nomen in name. (Not to be confused with taxonomy which comes from the Greek and is partly derived from the word nomos, meaning “law” or “science”.)
God calls us by name in baptism. God revealed the divine name, firstly to Moses, in the theophany of the Burning Bush (Exodus 3:1-6). God will give a new name to some:
… to those who prove victorious I will give the hidden manna and a white stone – a stone with a new name written on it, known only to the man who receives it. (Revelation 2:17)
In a matter of weeks, when we begin the season of Advent, we will be preparing to celebrate again the coming of the One described by the Lord appearing a vision to Joseph:
She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)
In the ancient world, there was one sense of power in bestowing a name, and a different sense of power in being told and entrusted with the name of another. We may sometimes presume that we have power over creation to shape it and adapt it to our will but any false sense of power is far surpassed by the responsibility we have for this inestimable gift from God.
(As this was intended for spoken presentation only any errors in properly attributing copyright will be mine alone, and for any there are I apologise.)
Children’s Liturgy of the Word is back at Cranleigh Sunday 11am Mass
Cranleigh children’s liturgy is open to all children who have not yet received the Sacrament of Communion [FHC]. It takes place each Sunday during school term at the 11am Mass. It is designed to bring the Word of God to young children at a level they can easily understand.
With their families the children begin the 11am Mass in the Church and are called forward for a Blessing, they then process the “Book of the Gospels” to the Parish Hall. They return to Mass at the Offertory and join in the remaining celebration of the Mass.
During children’s liturgy we light candles for special intentions chosen by the children, sing songs and listen to the gospel reading, discussing its meaning with the children afterwards. We finish with an activity which usually includes colouring in pictures from the gospel.
Children aged from 3 years can be left to enjoy children’s liturgy, leaving Mums and Dads to attend Mass. However, parents are more than welcome to stay with their children as help with supervision is always gratefully accepted.
Very young babies and toddlers [must be accompanied by Mum or Dad] are very welcome to stay and grow with children’s liturgy, so that when old enough they too can join in the liturgy.
We are always delighted to welcome our children and parents and look forward to greeting our new members in the future.
Last weekend we enjoyed the Harvest display provided by St Cuthbert Mayne school and we hope to see more families enjoying the Childrens Liturgy.
A special invitation goes out to those family about to start the First Holy Communion course in October.
Praise be to you,Creator of all things. Come to us, dear Lord and plant the seeds of compassion in our hearts. Grant our leaders wisdom to make the changes we need so that your earth and your people can thrive as you planned. Reach out your loving arms to all your brothers and sisters and renew our love for you, our fragile planet, and all living creatures. Grant us peace in our hearts, as we remain hopeful for change. Guide us with your presence as we continue to commit ourselves to work for climate justice. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
- TRAIDCRAFT SALE – Due to the pandemic there are a number of items in the TRAIDCRAFT cupboard at St Thomas More that have gone out of date. You are invited to come and help yourself in exchange for a small donation to all sizes from small jars to extra-large tins of coffee (caffeinated and decaffeinated), tea, cocoa and honey after 9 am mass on Sunday 3rd October. There are also tissues and loo paper for sale. Please come and support Traidcraft.
If you are unable to get to Mass on Sunday and would like something please ring Louise Healy on 01483 898539.
- Please note there will be NO Mass at St Thomas More on Tuesday 12th October due to a scheduled Deanery meeting which Fr Alistair is attending.
- Cranleigh Tea & Cake – Following Mass members of the Parish host a tea and cake event in the Parish Hall as a way to come together to meet fellow Parishioners. Everyone is welcome to come along and if you would like to volunteer to host one of the dates your efforts would be greatly appreciated, speak to whomever may be hosting at a weekend Mass.
- Does anyone know of a Charity that collects used postage stamps? Aid to the Church in Need no longer wants them and it seems a shame to throw them away. Win Bracking 275573
- If you intend to use the Bramley Parish Hall, please speak with Sandra Hyde in the first instance to avoid double booking.
- The Cranleigh Coffee Morning will recommence on 14th October – all over 50’s are welcome each 2nd Thursday of the month from 10.30 to 12pm.
Bishop of Arundel & Brighton
PASTORAL LETTER for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
On the 10th of October, Pope Francis will inaugurate the preparations for the 16th Synod of Bishops, taking place in Rome in 2023. This journey – the “Synod Path” – will begin in every Diocese on the 17th of October and will be marked at our own Cathedral during the Mass to mark the Feast of our Diocesan Patron, St. Philip Howard, on that day.
This is an important moment in the life of the Church, for Pope Francis is calling us all to reflect on the theme “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission.” The Holy Father is inviting us to take this journey together. As the Preparatory Document for the Synod expresses, “This path of walking together is the most effective way of manifesting and putting into practice the nature of the Church as the pilgrim and missionary People of God.”1
The Holy Father’s invitation is to a path of prayer, discernment and openness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in response to particular questions. The “Synod Path” is not a ‘parliamentary process’ but a call to listening, rooted in prayer and reflection on the Word of God, that our discernment will assist him and the bishops who will gather for the Synod in their deliberations for the good of the Mission of the whole Church.
The Holy Father has outlined the questions on which he seeks our reflection. These questions are wide ranging and significant for the life of both the Universal Church and for our own Diocesan family, since they invite us to deepen our understanding of our own Mission, our Formation for that Mission and the Prayer that must always be the foundation for our lives of Faith and Witness to the Gospel.
We are at a significant moment in the life of the whole Church and the world. The experience of the pandemic and the many challenges facing the global community are a spur to us to examine the best way forward for the effective proclamation of the Good News. This is a ‘golden moment’ for evangelisation and the “Synod Path” will assist us in the Diocese in sharpening our focus on the essential work to which we have been called.
Accordingly, I invite you to take part in discussions in parishes and deaneries during the course of Advent this year, ideally through gatherings in each week of that season. I also invite our school and university communities to engage with the “Synod Path” in the ways most appropriate for them. There will also be an opportunity to respond via an internet link that will be published for the Diocese in the weeks ahead. The Holy Father has given us an invitation to take this “Synod Path” and it will be wonderful for us all to take this journey with – and for – the good of the Universal Church.
Once the results of these discussions have been received and brought together, I shall be sharing our submission to the Synod with all in the Diocese through a webinar on the 16th of February next year. The reflections from our own Diocese will then be joined with those of the other Dioceses of England & Wales and contribute to discernment and discussion in the context of the Church in Europe, leading to the Synod itself.
Further and more detailed information will be available in the coming weeks in the News Section on the Diocesan website, E-news and through parish newsletters. The documentation from the Holy See can be accessed on www.synod.va
I do encourage you to join in the Novena of Prayer that will lead to the beginning of the “Synod Path” and to keep the work of the Synod in prayer, both in our own Diocese and in the Universal Church and to take a full part in our diocesan journey towards the time when the bishops gather with the Holy Father in Rome in 2023. With every Blessing, from Bishop Richard
The Nativity Journey 15-20 December 2021
Walk with Mary, Joseph and the donkey on the winding, steep road to Bethlehem. Register for the census and journey with other travellers, Roman soldiers and shepherds as you enter the stable to watch the miracle unfold. The Wintershall Nativity Journey is an unforgettable experience, bringing the true meaning of Christmas to life for the whole family. Please note that some scenes are performed outside and some inside Holly Barn Theatre, your visit includes a 10 minute walk up a steep hill. Limited disabled parking is available for those who need it most next to Holly Barn Theatre but those parking there will miss the first scene. This must be prebooked by emailing email@example.com. Should a performance be cancelled due to covid we will offer refunds or credits to another event. We hope that you can join us.
Wintershall Gate Street, Bramley GU5 0LR, 01483 892167, www.wintershall.org.uk
Memory Lane was established in October 2018 providing a variety of activities and support for carers and their guests every month until the final meeting before Lockdown in February 2020.
Memory Lane returned with a flourish in this month to the delight of those in a caring role and their partners experiencing dementia. The Memory Lane Team have been liaising by telephone, emails, monthly bulletins and of course with Zoom, with the 40 people on their mailing list throughout the pandemic. All agreed the chance to meet again was extremely welcomed.
One of the new innovations introduced at the September meetings was to have live music at every meeting rather than relying solely on their recording system. Guests now arrive to music being played by Music Therapist Ann Beresford, on a selection of instruments, with songs people remember being sung by Liz Westaway a retired Opera Singer. Their music develops into group singing as people arrive and settle down together. This talented and delightfully understanding couple have brought joy into the first hour of every Memory Lane.
This is followed with Tea & Cakes, served each meeting by Pastoral Assistance, Sue & Celia. This break with a few restful challenges is popular and prior to the final activity sessions for those with dementia.
The afternoon is a time of respite for those who have been caring 24/7 and are able to relax over constant tea and homemade cakes. This is a time of sharing but sometimes with pandering and professional guidance as required.
Carers, Partners and Team will be joined by the ‘Wintershall Singers’ on Monday 15th November on a welcomed return visit following the period of isolation.
Plans have also been made for a joyous meeting in December with Christmas in mind, so in addition to Carol Singing led by Ann & Liz, next month there is to be a production in the John Wagg Hall by the talented actors of ‘Go Perform’ on the 6th December.
Memory Lane meets every 1st & 3rd Monday at 2.15 to 4.15pm in the Cranleigh Arts Centre (GU6 8AS) and welcomes anyone who may be feeling lonely and of course those experiencing dementia and their carers.
For further information just call:- Michael Wild 01483 274398 firstname.lastname@example.org