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Weekly Email – All Saints' Festival Sunday

Friday 4 November 2022 at 13:30


Dear friends,

As I write, we are halfway through our All Saints’ Festival week. How wonderful it has been to celebrate our communion with all God’s angels and saints, and to pray for our faithful departed, in the magnificent liturgies of the past few days.

A huge thank you should go to all those who have helped make our celebrations such occasions of joy and welcome. I am particularly grateful to Kate Hodgetts and Chris Self, and to everyone who has contributed to the refreshments we have served after several of our liturgies. The parish party after our All Saints’ Day High Mass was splendid and I was personally very grateful to all the volunteers who served drinks at the book launch after first Vespers of the feast on Monday. Thank you to all who helped us welcome so many friends and visitors to our parish.

We also owe thanks to Huw Pryce and to Paul Weston for all they have done to run the online streaming of our worship over the past week. I am so pleased such impressive numbers have been able to join us online. We owe Huw so much and are very grateful to him for all he does to enable our parish’s online ministry.

The liturgies themselves have as their organisational backbone our splendid choir and serving team. What a wonderful series of Masses they have helped us to offer over the past few days. Our First Evensong was much better attended than previous years and has gone down a storm online with nearly 1000 viewers in just a few days. The St Nicholas Mass we heard on All Saints’ Day was simply beautiful – and it was very good to hear the Mass in full with the Credo, which was magnificent. Many have commented to me already how moving they found the Victoria Requiem for All Souls’ Day. Our choir have really been wonderful and we are so grateful for all they contribute to our parish’s life.

It has also been very heartening to see so many members of our serving team at all the liturgies. I am grateful to them all for the way in which they have so prayerfully and so carefully offered our liturgy to God in the service of his people. A huge thank you to our Director of Music, our organists, choir and servers!

I have particularly enjoyed listening to the preachers who have visited over the past few days. It was good to have Bishop Jonathan with us to preside and preach on All Saints’ Day. In his homily, he explored the question of where our Christian identity truly resides. Our most fundamental character as Christians is defined by the graces we receive in baptism and the call to holiness as God’s daughters and sons. This is the essence of sainthood. You can listen to his excellent sermon here and read the text here.

On All Souls’ evening, Fr Andreas Wenzel, Vice-Principal of St Stephen’s House, Oxford preached for us. He spoke about what, in the Christian theological tradition, has been described as the ars moriendi, the art of dying well – in other words, living with such trust in the saving power of Christ’s death and resurrection that death comes as the natural gateway to eternal life. He compared secular ideas of mourning with how Christians should regard death, confident in Christ’s promise of Resurrection. You can listen to the sermon again here.

I look forward to our Festival Sunday this weekend, when we will conclude our celebrations of the feast of All Saints. The High Mass will include the baptism of Aviendha Jacka. It will be a particular joy to celebrate the sacrament by which we are incorporated into the communion of the saints on our feast day. The preacher at the High Mass will be Fr Nigel Palmer, the assistant priest of St Michael’s Croydon. The setting at that Mass will be Caplin’s Missa Omnium Sanctorum, with Ashfield’s The Fair Chivalry as the offertory motet. In the evening, we can look forward to Evensong with Benediction and Te Deum before the Blessed Sacrament. It really is a wonderful way to complete our parish festivities, and I urge as many as can to join us in the evening for Howells’ Collegium Regale, Bullock’s Give us the wings of faith, and Stanford’s Te Deum in B-flat. Both liturgies on Sunday will be live-streamed.

I can’t wait to see so many members of our wider parish family on Sunday at our Festival Sunday celebrations, and ask you to give thanks with me for all God has done in our parish over the past year. I wish you all a happy feast!

Fr Peter


We are grateful to Bishop Jonathan for celebrating and preaching at our High Mass for All Saints’ Day. 


Book launch

I would like to say a huge thank you to every one who attended the book launch on Monday night of my recently published monograph on the Transfiguration, and especially to all those who helped with the preparation and serving of refreshments. I would also like to thank Huw for all his help with the audio-visual equipment on the night. I am very grateful indeed.

The book is entitled, “Patristic Perspectives on Luke’s Transfiguration: interpreting vision.” It seeks to show one very simple thing: that early patristic methods of biblical interpretation were far more nuanced, informed, practical, creative and attentive to the biblical text than has often been assumed by modern scholarship.

It takes the Transfiguration as a case study if you like. Modern scholarship is frankly rather mystified by the narrative. Critical commentators either believe it didn’t happen or explain it away in mythic terms.  Indeed miraculous vision itself is very difficult for modern biblical scholars to understand. Being a completely subjective experience, how can one examine it, or measure it, or prove it in empirical terms?

In the light of these questions, the book looks at early interpretation of the Transfiguration, and at the first depictions of the narrative.  We discover Luke’s version, which in many ways emphasises the visionary character of the narrative has had a much stronger influence on that reception history than many have thought.

We also discover that early Western depictions of the Transfiguration were remarkably inventive in the ways in which they compared the Transfiguration with other visionary episodes in the New Testament. In many ways, I hope this monograph offers a way of rediscovering the beauty and riches of Latin Transfiguration interpretation so often overshadowed by the perspectives of the Christian East on this question.

I realise that, retailing at £85, the book is eye-wateringly expensive. I hasten to add that I don’t expect you all to buy it. It is quite normal for a small print run academic monograph to be published at this sort of price. It will then mainly be bought by libraries. I’m afraid it is unlikely to appear at airport book shops any time soon and it isn’t really the kind of thing you should take to Benidorm for beach reading!

However, there are two ways around the price. First, if you can wait until next year, the book should come out as a paperback at around the £25 mark. You should be able to order it online in all the usual ways.  Second, I get a 40% publisher’s discount on books published by Bloomsbury, which means I can order copies of the hardback book discounted to around £50. If you would like to order a copy of the hardback at that price, please email me and I can put an order in for those who wish to buy the hardback at that discount.

Fr Peter


We are grateful to Fr Robin Ward for speaking at the book launch of “Patristic Perspectives on Luke’s Transfiguration.” We also heard a video recorded at the Catholic University of America by Professor Ian Boxall, who was unable to be with us in person.


All Saints’ Festival Appeal, 2022

Donations to this year’s Festival Appeal will be shared between three charities.

The Soup Kitchen is a resource for the homeless, elderly, lonely and vulnerable in London. They provide free meals, clothing, toiletries and a sense of belonging to nearly 150 people each day and an on-site mental health drop-in centre to help address their guests’ mental health needs.

USPG is the Anglican mission agency that partners churches and communities worldwide in God’s mission to enliven faith, strengthen relationships, unlock potential and champion justice.

The London Churches Refugee Fund enables churches and individuals to donate to multiple charities helping destitute refugees and asylum seekers in London. From your donations we make grants to front-line projects, typically for phone credit, hygiene items, food or fares to access drop-ins, language classes, solicitors, etc. To date, the LCRF has raised and distributed over £250,000.

Donations may be made online at cafdonate.cafonline.org/21806, or by sending a cheque to the Parish Office, payable to Parochial Church All Saints and marked Festival Appeal 2022.

It was good to be able to celebrate together after the High Mass for All Saints’ Day. We enjoyed seeing old friends and welcoming newcomers for our celebration.


All Souls’ Day Catafalque

We erected our beautiful parish catafalque once again for the liturgy on All Souls’ Day. This consists of creating an effigy of a coffin which is placed at the heart of the church.

Even though the physical remains of the faithful departed are not present, the catafalque stands as a sign of their communion with us and as a reminder of our own mortality.

Leander Harding, the Dean of Albany Cathedral has written an excellent article explaining this beautiful and powerful liturgical tradition. To find out more about the theological and pastoral significance of the catafalque, read his article here. 

He writes convincingly of the tradition as a worthy and necessary part of our keeping of the Christian year: “Bring back All Souls’ Day and bring back the catafalque. On at least this one occasion let us see death visible and our beloved dead visible, front and center, taking up space, demanding our attention and prayers. Let the liturgy do its work of bringing us to Christ and Christ to us, now and in the hour of our death.”


The catafalque is sprinkled with holy water and then censed at a High Mass of Requiem as a sign of our prayer for the departed whom we remember, and as an acknowledgement of the physicality and reality of our own mortality.


David Robin, RIP

The funeral for David Robin will take place at 10.00am on Tuesday November 8th at All Saints’ Church, Lovelace Lane, West Dulwich SE21 8JY. We continue to hold David and his family in prayer at this time.


High Mass of Requiem at S. Silas’, Kentish Town

The annual High Mass of Requiem according to the Tridentine Rite organised by the Society of Mary will take place again this year on Thursday 10th November at 7.30 pm. Music: Missa Pro Defunctis by Franz Joseph Aumann; and Lux aeterna by Victoria. All are welcome to attend.


An enormous thank you to our serving team for all they have contributed to the liturgies of the past week. We are so grateful to them for the time, care and prayerfulness they put into their ministry in the sanctuary of the Lord.


American All Saints’ Sisters of the Poor

Today, Friday 4th November, is the 150th anniversary of the first sisters leaving Margaret Street to found the American All Saints’ Sisters of the Poor. The first three Sisters were sent from Margaret Street to Baltimore in 1872 (the year before our first Vicar’s death). Do keep the American sisters in your prayers as they keep this important anniversary.

The three sisters from Margaret Street worked in the parish of Mount Calvary, Baltimore, where they built their first convent in 1890. At that point the American sisters became an autonomous province. In 1917 they moved out to Catonsville (a rural suburb of Baltimore), where the Convent still is today.

Eventually, all but two of the sisters were received into the Roman Catholic Church in 2009. Mount Calvary Parish also voted to leave The Episcopal Church, and was received into the American Ordinariate in 2012.

We pray for the American All Saints’ Sisters, and for the vocation and life of their community. We also pray that God, in his own time, will grant the gift of unity to his church. Although the history of the All Saints’ Sisters has involved complexities, departures and partings, we all share a common origin rooted in  that clear vision of Catholic renewal in the Church, and service of the poor and needy, which prompted Fr Upton Richards and Mother Harriet Brownlow Byron’s founding work in our parish.

We send our congratulations and prayers to the American All Saints’ Sisters of the Poor on this important anniversary in the life of their community.


Our Lady of Amersfoort

On my recent visit to the Netherlands to participate in the Anglican Communion’s dialogue and relationship with the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht, I had the fascinating opportunity to learn more about a particular Marian devotion associated with the town in which our meetings were taking place, Amersfoort.

If you go into the Old Catholic Church of St George in Amersfoort, you will find a shrine to Our Lady – except, you discover that the image which is the focus of this local devotion is in fact a pile of dust in a reliquary! What is the origin of this remarkable shrine?

In 1444, a young woman called Geertje Arends was making her way to Amersfoort to join a convent there. She had in her belongings a small image of Our Lady she had made. She was embarrassed that it was so lowly and ugly, so before she reached the convent, she threw the image into a canal.

Our Lady appeared to a maid called Margriet Gijsen, who told her of the presence of the small statue in the canal, which had since frozen over. Margriet miraculously found the statue as our Lady had predicted, under the ice. I was very happy to be shown the exact spot in the canal where this took place by the Archbishop of Utrecht himself! The statue was eventually set up in a church in Amersfoort for public veneration and became associated with many miracles and an annual pilgrimage around Pentecost.

Left: Margriet Gijsen miraculously finding the image of Our Lady in the frozen canal. Right: the exact spot today.

In the 17th Century, devotion to Our Lady of Amersfoort became more difficult as the Protestant Reformation swept through the Netherlands. The coup of Maurice of Orange in 1618 put an end to pilgrimage to Amersfoort, but by 1673, we know the statue had been set up again in St George’s church in Amersfoort, which had briefly returned to Catholic use. By 1693, the image was yet again preserved and set up in a church hidden in an old orphanage by Cornelius Steenoven, who eventually became Archbishop of Utrecht. From this point on the image seems to have remained in the hands of the Utrecht Catholics who would eventually become known as “Old Catholics.”

Nobody seems to know exactly how the statue turned to dust. It may simply be that the fragile clay it was made of perished over years of being hidden and moved around. Another story is that it was deliberately ground to dust to prevent it falling into the hands of iconoclast Calvinists!

The remarkable story of Our Lady of Amersfoort is a powerful reminder to us of the physicality of the objects of devotion that God uses to communicate his presence to us. The power of the tiny, original image lies not just in it being an image of Our Lady and Our Lord, but also in the remarkable story of loss and discovery, persecution and survival, religious argument and theological schism that it embodies – so much so that it is preserved simply as a pile of dust now, a powerful image of the fragility of our existence and of God’s capacity to indwell even the most lowly and humble of things to communicate the truth of the incarnation.

Fr Peter

Left: The shrine of Our Lady of Amersfoort in St George’s Old Catholic Church in Amersfoort. Right: the reliquary within the shrine containing all that remains of the original statue, now perished and ground down to dust.


Links for Sunday

The links for the livestream and service sheet for this Sunday’s High Mass are at the end of this email.

Evensong, Te Deum and Benediction is at 6pm on Sunday, with music including Howells’s Collegium Regale Evening Service and Bullock’s Give us the wings of faith. This service will be livestreamed here.


Prayer list

The sick

Fr. Harry Hodgetts, Elizabeth Lyon, James Shrimpton, Gloria Fleming, David Craig, Martin Berka, James Rodger, Amanda Barrett, Barry Mason, Terry O’Neill, Philip Payne.

The faithful departed

Jenny Packham, Beth Hoskinson Rose (2018)

Anniversaries of death

November 6th – Philip Gould
7th – Constance Peters
8th – Dudley Sholté, Arnold Fryer, Barbara Reynolds
10th – John Groves, Alan Bishton
11th – Paul Leyland, Violet Vanbrugh, Malcolm McHaffie Pr., Dorothy Cavan
12th – John Mayo Pr., Miss CFR Keeble
13th – Arthur Hutching

The Friends of All Saints’

November 6th – David and Mavis Cleggett, Graham Colville, Alan Cook, Patrick Cook, Karolyn Cooper
7th – William Cooper Bailey, Tony Coote, Peter Coulson, Steven Cox, Yvonne Craig, Kirill Dashkovskiy
8th – Christopher Davies, Robert Davies, Francis Davis, Jack de Gruiter, Laura Denton, Linda Edwards
9th – Pamela Edwards, John Eldridge, Terrence Ellsworth, Sue Enoch, Carolyn Farrar, Sue Feakin
10th – Adrian Felaar, Julia Fielden, Janice Fielden, Nigel Fisher, Gloria Fleming, Stuart Fletcher
11th – Christopher Forman, Anthony Fox, Charlotte Gauthier, Margaret Goddard, Paul Golding, John Goldsmith
12th – Genevieve Gomi, Fr. Thomas Greene, Fr. Michael Gudgeon, Sheelagh Gudgeon, Ginger and Del Hall, Monica Joan Hall
13th – Roger Hancock, Jill Hargreaves, Patrick Hartley, Eoghan Healy, Fr. David Hobden


Service times this week

Saturday 5th November – Feria
12.00 noon Mass
6.30 pm Vigil Mass of Sunday

Sunday 6th November – All Saints’ Festival Sunday
11.00 am High Mass
5.15 pm Low Mass
6.00 pm Evensong, Te Deum and Benediction

Monday 7th November – Feria
12.00 noon Mass
6.30 pm Mass

Tuesday 8th November – All Saints of England
12.00 noon Mass
6.30 pm Mass

Wednesday 9th November – Feria
12.00 noon Mass
6.30 pm Mass

Thursday 10th November – St. Leo the Great
12.00 noon Mass
6.30 pm Mass

Friday 11th November – St. Martin of Tours
12.00 noon Mass
6.30 pm Mass

Saturday 12th November – St. Josaphat
11.30 Rosary
12.00 noon Mass of OLW
6.30 pm Vigil Mass of Sunday

Sunday 13th November – Remembrance Sunday
11.00 am High Mass with Act of Remembrance
5.15 pm Low Mass
6.00 pm Evensong and Benediction