Many parents despair at the company their children keep. I suspect there were times when mine were no exception. As the feast of All Saints’ is approaching as I write this, I would like to make two comments about ‘company’.
The first has to do with the company we keep in church when we attend worship. One of the significant features of Christian worship is that it is carried out in the company of whoever happens to turn up. And it may be the case that some of those who turn up on any given occasion are not people we might choose to spend time with otherwise. Our company in church is that of ‘all sorts and conditions of men’ as the phrase goes in the Prayer Book. Some of the people we meet in church might be in various ways disagreeable, loud, vulgar, dirty, full of themselves, aggressive, arrogant or just plain ignorant. The list is almost endless and there is the possibility that we might find ourselves on somebody else’s list – a salutary thought. Although this is obvious it serves to emphasise how important it is to worship in person as part of a congregation. Broadcast services fail to transmit the characteristics of our fellow believers, agreeable or otherwise. A similar comment could be made of our lives outside church too.
The second has to do with our lives of prayer and specifically concerns the saints. I can only illustrate this by referring to the company I keep, and have kept in part, for many years. It goes without saying that our Lady is first on the list, not least as Queen of Clergy. Priests of the Society of the Holy Cross have a devotion to Our Lady at the Cross, to St. Vincent de Paul our mentor, to St. John Vianney patron saint of priests, Blessed Charles Lowder our founder and the priests of the local chapter (in my case St. Alban and St. Amphibalus). The icon of St. Andrew, my name saint, has travelled with me for many years ever since I used to visit St. Mary Magdalene’s, Bradford. The patron saints of the churches where I have served have of course always been significant.
So much is obvious, but there are also saints who have joined me on the way through life and who have been significant for specific reasons. I am never quite sure whether I have picked them up or they me, but either way there has been a connection. ‘Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith… (Hebrews 12: 1-2)
With these saints I am conscious of being on a shared journey in faith and ministry.
The first is St. Katharine of Alexandria who has accompanied me in learning from my undergraduate days. It is a great privilege to be able to study the Scriptures and the writings of the Church and to do so with the prayers of one who stood steadfastly for the truth of the faith and who gave her life for it. The second is St. Bertram of Ilam, an Anglo-Saxon hermit, who reminds me of the need for silence and for a patient commitment. The third is St. Oswald of Northumbria, a great Christian king and a supporter of missionary work. He reminds me of the importance of bravery and generosity and is an encouragement to pray for those in authority. I once lived opposite his well and the church dedicated to him in Durham. His resting place was yards away in the cathedral.
The fourth is St. Ninian, a great missionary bishop from the 5th Century. He was known as the Apostle to the Picts and his prayers support me in all my missionary endeavours, especially in the midst of change and trial. The fifth is St. Therese of Lisieux, a French Carmelite who died in 1897. Her devotion to Jesus and the simplicity of her life continue to inspire. She had a commitment to pray for priests (very necessary). The sixth is St. Bernadette of Lourdes. Although famed for her visions of the Blessed Virgin, she was actually beatified for her commitment to the truth of what had been revealed to her. She inspires me particularly because she used her gifts (which were extremely limited in the eyes of the world) completely selflessly and despite severe illness. As a theatre assistant at the hospital at Nevers during the Franco-Prussian War she supported the surgeon operating on horrific injuries. She did her duty and never made a fuss; she was just a simple, faithful believer.
I am grateful for the continued company of all these saints and of many others – many of whom, like you – are still walking amongst us! Why would anyone want to be alone in the life of faith? Jesus trod the winepress alone so that we don’t have to. We journey together, both here and hereafter so may we endeavour to keep good company. Rejoice with our Lady, St. Peter, St. George and St. Christopher who are associated with our parish church. Rejoice with St. Alban, patron of this diocese. Thanks be to God for their company and for eachother!
From the diary
Wednesday 2nd November, 10.00am Mass
Friday 4th November, 7.00pm Mass
Sunday 6th November Trinity 21 / Third Sunday before Advent
Wednesday 9th November, 10.00am Mass
Friday 11th November, 7.00pm Mass (St. Martin, Bishop of Tours)
Sunday 13th November Trinity 22 / Remembrance Sunday
In addition to services at 8am and 9.30am: Family Service at 11.15am
Wednesday 16th November, 10.00am Mass (St. Margaret of Scotland)
Thursday 17th November, 7.30pm Bushey Inter-faith Forum at Bushey United Synagogue
Friday 18th November, 7.00pm Mass
Sunday 20th November Trinity 25 / Christ the King
Wednesday 23rd November, 10.00am Mass (St. Clement of Rome, martyr)
Friday 25th November, 7.00pm Mass (St. Katharine of Alexandria, martyr)
Sunday 27th November Advent 1
Wednesday 30th November, 10.00am Mass (St. Andrew, Apostle)
Friday 2nd December, 7.00pm Mass
Saturday 3rd December Christmas Feast in the Parish Hall (details to follow)
Sunday 4th December Advent 2
Charitable Donations 2022
The following charities will benefit from this year’s charity budget, most of which is provided by profits from the Spring Fair.
Barnabas Fund (£250)
Church Army (£250)
Mission Aviation Fellowship (£250)
The Additional Curates Society has received £130 from the Lent boxes and in addition it was agreed that the following collections would be donated to charity:
Christingle: Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice
Carol Service: New Hope and Watford Peace Hospice
St. Peter’s also supported Red Trust Bushey at Harvest and throughout the year with gifts of food and toiletries for the food bank.
Thank you very much for a magnificent celebration of the harvest.
Particular thanks to all who helped with the Harvest Lunch which was enjoyed by all who attended. Thanks to your generous donations of food and labour, we raised £95.
Pray for the renewal of the Family Service and the Parent and Toddler Group.
Pray too for all those who yearn for good government, including the people of Sri Lanka.