July 2024

I had intended to write a note this month about grace which was the theme of the Diocesan Clergy Conference at the beginning of June. Unfortunately there wasn’t any although speakers noted that the word appeared in a popular hymn and…well that’s about it. There were nice sausages for breakfast though so I suppose that is some compensation. I shall have to look elsewhere for inspiration.

The Dominican theologian Eduard Schillebeeckx wrote,

The Church on earth is the visible presence of the work of fulfilment in which Christ is now engaged in his glorified body and also in his Spirit. This visible presence of grace and consequent bestowal of grace in the Church is achieved in a two-fold manner: through the apostolic office in virtue of the character of the priesthood, and through the faithful in virtue of their character of baptism and confirmation.

(Christ the Sacrament, 1963, Ch.2, 1, ii).

I have used this quotation in an attempt to develop an understanding that grace is not an abstract concept, but a description of the gift of God himself to his creatures. This is a gift which is freely offered out of God’s love for us and is something that we can never merit. It helps to define the truth about the nature of God: he is not identical with the creation as pantheism claims nor is he a disinterested being who does not relate to or communicate with his creatures as the deists think. Instead the existence of grace is a proof of the theistic understanding of God which orthodox believers hold. This is the doctrine which is found in the teaching of the New Testament summed up in its simplest and most direct form in words from the Fourth Gospel,

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3: 16)

This defines God for us. He is a God of grace who gives of himself (uncreated grace) and is present amongst us.

Such an understanding of grace is not limited to the things which God gives to us and which are described in the New Testament epistles, principally by St. Paul (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12). These graces are manifold and ensure that for the faithful it is Christmas every day: gifts galore! It is an understanding that also includes St. Paul’s writings on the virtues (1 Corinthians 13, Galatians 5), the characteristics of the Christian. Such virtues are imparted sacramentally through the working of the Holy Spirit. In baptism (and confirmation) we become Christ’s and share his life through the reception of Christ’s body and blood in Holy Communion.

Expressed simply the grace of God makes us who we are. Through the grace that we receive we know who we are  and where we belong; we know to whom we belong, what our relationship is with him and how we relate to him in prayer and worship. Thus grace establishes us in the Kingdom of God. Although that may hard to define, it is best thought of in terms of freedom. In Christ the faithful are free from sin and free to be the people they were always intended to be. In Christ his people can freely respond to his call and, established as the Church, can stand against the prince of this world. There is nothing abstract about that: Christians are called to exercise a dynamic grace in the world, working for the Kingdom by bringing healing and declaring truth. That is the work of Christ who comes to us and who is with us through grace.

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

Wednesday 10th July, 10.00am Mass
Friday 12th July, 7.00pm Mass

Sunday 14th July, Trinity 7
In addition to services at 8am and 9.30am: Family Service at 11.15am

no mid-week services

Sunday 21st July, Trinity 8

8.00am no service
9.30am Parish Mass (Father Leslie Drake SSC)

Wednesday 24th July, 10.00am Mass
Friday 26th July, 7.00pm Mass (St. James, Apostle, tr.)

Sunday 28th July, Trinity 9

Wednesday 31st July, 10.00am Mass
Friday 2nd August, 7.00pm Mass

Sunday 4th August, Trinity 10

Jenny Birch, Douglas Jackson and Enoka David organised an extensive exhibition of their paintings over the weekend of 8th and 9th June. Our thanks go to them and to all who supported them by stewarding and organising refreshments.

You will be pleased to know that the proceeds from the event were as follows:

  • Artists’ contributions    £200
  • Refreshments                £375
  • Sale of plants               £48
  • TOTAL                         £623

Beyond the merely financial the principal benefits of the weekend were the opportunity for members of the local community to ponder at length the many and varied works of three talented artists and the opportunity to visit and spend time in our beautiful building. In conversation many visitors expressed their surprise, delight and appreciation.

Parish Picnic

Saturday 3rd August from 1.00pm
at Reveley Lodge, Elstree Road, Bushey Heath

Please bring your own lunch/drinks, or purchases can be made from The Garden Cafe. Entrance is free.
The invitation is open to all your family and friends too!

Pray for this nation; for wise and Godly leaders.

Image by Greg Weaver on Unsplash