June 2024

Following my thoughts on the role of Mary last month I have been reflecting on the gift of the Holy Spirit with the intention of writing something about grace. It seems sensible to tie that in with the Church’s understanding of grace in the life of Mary. To that end I wish to concentrate on Mary as corredemptrix. This teaching emphasises the role of Mary in salvation and as such is closely related to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. I think that this aspect of Mary’s role is important to our understanding of the development of ministry in the Church, in particular a ministry of all believers who seek to respond to God’s call.

A debate has raged within the Church for centuries if not from the beginning of Christianity about the role of human free-will in the plan of God for salvation. For St. Augustine salvation was by the grace of God alone, a message which was readily picked up by many of the Protestant reformers and championed in the last century by theologians like Karl Barth. Augustine made his claim in response to the teaching of the Irish monk Pelagius who believed that salvation needed to be earned. No doubt this is a bit of a simplification of both positions, but they represent the extremes which tend to be present within the Church in each generation.

The truth is more likely to lie somewhere between the two camps than with one or the other. It is undoubtedly true that salvation is by grace, not least because it is by the grace of God in Jesus Christ that we are saved, but it is also true that a response is required from each of us. We are all called into a living relationship with God in Jesus Christ and are each called to play our part in the work of the Kingdom so that we can bear fruit as a proof of our discipleship. It is the importance of this discipleship as an act of free-will that is emphasised by the doctrine of Mary as corredemptrix. By the grace of God we share in his work of redemption by our own choice and decision just as Mary said ‘yes’ to God through the Archangel Gabriel at Nazareth. Our own free decision is important in this because we are made by God to have free-will and not to respond as puppets. Only our freely made decision to work in partnership with God can do justice to the central doctrines of Creation and Incarnation. Incidentally only a belief in our free will does justice to the Fall and to our sinfulness which we might describe as our ‘no’ to God.

Mary as corredemptrix leads the people of God in saying ‘yes’ to him as our proper response to his call. In no way does the doctrine imply any equality with Christ who alone is our redeemer, in the same way that a belief in Mary as mediatrix does not diminish the unique role of Christ as our mediator. Both roles belong to Christ, but it is God’s plan that the work is shared with his Church, albeit in a subordinate role. Mary represents the Church and sets the standard which we must all live up to if we are to be faithful to our Kingdom calling.

For me, from these thoughts come a prayer for unity, that by following the example of Mary all Christian people of every denomination may find their true role in the Church and may be drawn into a deeper fellowship and unity in Christ in the company of our Blessed Mother.

From the diary

Sunday services: 8.00am Holy Communion; 9.30am Parish Eucharist

Sunday 26th May, Trinity Sunday

Wednesday 29th May, 10.00am Mass
Friday 31st May, 7.00pm Mass

Sunday 2nd June, Trinity 1

Wednesday 5th June, 10.00am Mass (St. Boniface, bishop, martyr)
Friday 7th June, 7.00pm Mass

Sunday 9th June, Trinity 2
In addition to services at 8am and 9.30am: Family Service at 11.15am

Wednesday 12th June, 10.00am No service due to Diocesan Clergy Conference
Friday 14th June, 7.00pm Mass

Sunday 16th June, Trinity 3

Wednesday 19th June, 10.00am Mass
8.00pm Parochial Church Council in the Parish Hall
Friday 21st June, 7.00pm Mass (St. Alban, martyr)

Sunday 23rd June, Trinity 4

Wednesday 26th June, 10.00am Mass
Friday 28th June, 7.00pm Mass (St. Irenaeus, bishop, martyr)

Sunday 30th June, Patronal Festival
Wednesday 3rd July, 10.00am Mass (Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Elizabeth, tr.)
1.00pm SSC Chapter Mass
Friday 5th July, 7.00pm Mass

Sunday 7th July, Trinity 6

Jenny Birch, Douglas Jackson and Enoka David will be holding an Art Exhibition in Church on Saturday 8th June (10am-5pm) and Sunday 9th June (12noon-5pm).

We would welcome volunteers to serve and sell refreshments on both days and to generally lend a helping hand. If you are able to make and bring some cakes, cupcakes and/or any appropriate savoury bites that could be sold during the exhibition, could they please inform one of the artists or Manora Fothergill or Ranjan David.

All the proceeds from selling the refreshments will be for the church. The artists will also generously donate 20% of the profit from any sales to St. Peter’s.

Hospital Visiting

As a reminder, there is currently no Anglican chaplain serving the West Herts Hospital Trust, but visits from parochial clergy can be arranged through the chaplaincy. Ward staff should be able to arrange this for you.