Weekly Email – The Second Sunday before Lent
I am writing this week to let you know about the stewardship campaign which our PCC has decided to initiate over the coming weeks during the season of Lent this year.
At the heart of a campaign such as this is one very simple invitation. Can we imitate the generosity which we see at the heart of God? God’s very nature is to be loving and generous, constantly reaching out to us in the life of his Son and through the ministry of the Church. In response to that precious gift, how can we give back to him, so that the life of our parish church is able to reach out to others?
At the meeting of our PCC last week, the final details of our stewardship campaign plan were agreed. Our hope is that this campaign will offer people the opportunity to think prayerfully over Lent about how God is calling them to be generous and support the Church and its ministries.
The background to this campaign is a financial situation I outlined a few weeks ago in this parish email. We have found that the number of people who regularly give to our parish has gradually dwindled over the past decade, whilst costs on nearly every front have increased.
We have dropped from 119 regular givers in 2014 to 87 regular givers in 2022 – that’s 32 fewer now than we had in 2014, which equates to a reduction in income of about £30,000 per annum.
Our PCC initiated a review of all our expenditure last year which resulted in a series of of decisions made last week by our PCC that should produce a significant annual reduction in expenditure through a series of savings, efficiencies and reorganisations of our parish’s organisational life. This will make an enormous difference, but is also dependent on new volunteers being found to take on roles that have often in the past been paid for by our parish.
In the early weeks of Lent, every member of our electoral roll will be sent a letter and an email encouraging them to think about two specific things: the first is how they give of their resources; and the second is how they give of their time.
The challenge our PCC has set for our parish is this: can we encourage every member of the electoral roll to make some sort of prayerful response to our campaign by Easter?
The first of those two questions we want to ask is simply this. If you do not already contribute to the life and work of All Saints’ by a regular monthly contribution through the Parish Giving Scheme, could you please consider doing so. You can do this here, by clicking on the “set up regular payment” option.
The Parish Giving Scheme is the best way of making a regular donation to us. It allows us to collect Gift Aid incredibly easily, and also increases your pledged donation in line with the rate of inflation each year, so that you can be satisfied that the amount you are donating isn’t gradually depreciating with time.
Setting up a regular gift through the scheme is significantly better than giving cash, and means you still contribute financially to All Saints’ life even if you are not present every week at All Saints’ for some reason.
How much you chose to give is very much a decision for you. However, you might find it useful to know that our current average monthly donation is £92. That figure may not be possible for everyone. Some may be able to contribute more, and others less. Nonetheless, it does give some idea of what many contribute. Even if you are not in a position to gave much at the moment, just making a modest regular payment is of huge help to us.
If you already give regularly through the Parish Giving Scheme, could we encourage you to reflect on whether you are able to increase your donation? Again, I realise this may not be possible for all givers, but we would be grateful if you were to give this question some careful, prayerful thought.
The second challenge we will be making is to encourage people to think about whether they could volunteer more of their time in the service of All Saints’ church. Time can be the most precious “commodity” we have. Giving of time to the life of All Saints’ is a hugely important thing. So many of our parish ministries depend on volunteers to uphold the outreach and activities of our church.
Nearly every rota we have is in need of more volunteers. In addition, there are some areas of our parish’s life where an increase in volunteers will mean we spend less for services that are currently undertaken by paid professionals. We need extra help in a wide range of areas: church welcoming; coffee and refreshments rotas; sacristy work and laundering; cleaning and upkeep of the church; opening and closing the building; and staffing our parish bar.
It may be that you don’t have huge amounts of money available at the moment and can’t increase your financial giving, but are able to give more of your time. This would be a terrific contribution to the life of our parish.
We hope that every person on our electoral roll will be able to make some sort of prayerful response to our campaign. These responses will be collated by a group of volunteers who will be spearheading this work. They will be available to respond to any questions parishioners may have, and chase up enquiries.
A third area of our appeal concerns people who are not on our electoral roll. This includes our online congregation, former parishioners of All Saints’ who have moved away from London, clergy who look to All Saints’ for spiritual support and nourishment, those who worship elsewhere but like to come to All Saints’ on certain feast days each year, and all those on our weekly email list.
If you fall into one of these categories, we would like to encourage you to think about joining the Friends of All Saints’ if you have not already. You can find out more about the Friends here. It is a terrific way of supporting our life and means you receive our Parish Paper twice a year. If you are already a Friend, could you have a think about whether you might be able to advance into the next category of giving within the scheme, or encourage others you know to join?
I want to thank you all for the loving, generous and sacrificial way in which you support the life and ministry of All Saints’. Without your help and presence, All Saints’ would be nothing. I ask you to keep our stewardship campaign in your prayers as Lent begins. Please pray that God will move the hearts of all who count All Saints’ as their spiritual home to be as generous and as creative as they can be in response to his call, and to ensure the continued flourishing of the life and ministry of All Saints’.
We are so grateful to Genevieve Gomi for making her delicious Navettes de St Victor for our coffee hour after the High Mass. The Navettes are a French delicacy from Provence made for the feast of Candlemas and have a wonderfully delicate orange blossom flavour. They were delicious!
Licensing of Fr Alan Rimmer
We are very much looking forward to the licensing of our new Assistant Priest, Fr Alan Rimmer, which will take place this Sunday (12th Feb) at Evensong and Benediction at 6.00 pm. Please put this in your diaries and make a special effort to attend that liturgy in order to welcome Fr Alan to All Saints’. The service will be livestreamed here.
Fr Alan has already moved into Margaret Street, and celebrated a farewell Mass at St Stephen’s Gloucester Road last Sunday for their keeping of Candlemas. We look forward to welcoming him into the life of our parish.
Zoom Theology: the Sacrament of Easter
Our next online Zoom Theology seminar will take place on Tuesday 14th March 2023 at 7.00 pm, and will be entitled, “The Sacrament of Easter: the Rites of Holy Week”
Fr Jeremy Haselock will explore with us the rich history of the rites of Holy Week: their origins; how we should celebrate them now; and their theological significance. Participants are encouraged to read the excellent work which Fr Jeremy co-authored with Roger Greenacre, “The Sacrament of Easter,” in preparation for this seminar. Zoom link can be found on our parish website here.
All Saints’ Lent Lecture:
Fruits of the Spirit – Art from the Heart
We are very pleased that the curator of the National Gallery’s virtual exhibition entitled, “Fruits of the Spirit – Art from the Heart,” the Revd Dr Ayla Lepine, will give our Lent Lecture in March on the topic of this interesting project. You “visit” the exhibition by clicking on the link here to enter a virtual gallery in the comfort of your own home wherever you are in the world. The lecture will take place at All Saints’ in person and online on Thursday 23rd March at 7.30 pm.
Parish Outing to the National Gallery
On Friday 26th May 2023 at 5.30 pm, there will be a parish visit to the National Gallery to see their forthcoming exhibition on the figure of St Francis. As usual, the visit will be followed by dinner at Le Beaujolais restaurant for those who wish to stay on for supper.
The exhibition is absolutely free, and we will meet at the Gallery at 6.00 pm. Please be in touch with the parish office to book a place. The cost of dinner at Le Beaujolais will be £50. The total number we can take is capped at 20, so book early!
Walsingham National Pilgrimage
The National Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham will take place on Monday 29th May 2023. As usual, we will be organising a coach for the day to take pilgrims to Walsingham and back. It will depart from Margaret Street at 7.30 am, and return to London, setting off around tea time, and arriving back in London by the late evening. The cost is £20 per head. In order to book a place on the coach, please contact the parish office and make a payment to our office administrator, Jonathan.
Please be in touch with Fr Peter if you would like to be baptised and/or confirmed this Easter. Confirmation classes will begin soon for those wishing to receive the sacraments of initiation. The confirmation will take place on Saturday 8th April at 9.00 pm at the Easter Vigil, which Bishop Jonathan will celebrate.
Navettes de St Victor
We were very grateful to Genevieve Gomi for making a wonderful batch of small biscuits in the shape of a little boat, called Navettes de St Victor, which we shared over coffee last Sunday. The origin of these delicious delicacies is to be found in her home town of Marseille. They are particularly associated with Candlemas and are eaten round this time of year.
The little boat recalls the tradition that three St Marys arrived in Provence in a boat 2000 years ago, having gone adrift during a sea voyage from Alexandria. They were St Mary Magdalen, St Mary Salome and St Mary of Cleopas, along with Lazarus. The place where they stepped ashore is now the town known as “Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.”
The Feast of Candlemas is kept with great solemnity in Marseille. A huge procession begins at the Abbey of St Victor where the Black Madonna of St Victor is brought out of the crypt in a special green mantle. The Archbishop then blesses the statue and the city and the people hold special green candles in celebration.
The Archbishop then proceeds to the most famous bakery where the navettes are produced – the “Four des Navettes,” which has produced them since 1781. Here the Archbishop of Marseille blesses thousands of the biscuits. It used to be the case that you were supposed to buy 12 – one for each month of the year – and take them home with your blessed green candles from the Mass for the Presentation.
We are so grateful to Genevieve for introducing us to this beautiful tradition!
The Blessing of throats on St Blaise’s Day
St Blaise’s day falls each year on 3rd February, the day after Candlemas. It is customary to bless throats on his feast using two candles which are applied to the throat of those who come seeking his protection and prayers. This tradition was followed at both of the Low Masses celebrated on St Blaise’s day this year and many of the faithful availed themselves of this beautiful rite.
Very little is known about St Blaise other than that he was a bishop martyr born in 4th Century Armenia, who presided over the Church at Sebastea.
Several admirable legends emerged concerning his life. One recounts that whilst he was being taken by guards to appear before the Roman governor, he saved an old woman’s pig which was about to be eaten by wolves. Once in prison, the old woman brought the bishop two candles to ease his imprisonment and to allow him to read the scriptures whilst in his cell. Whilst awaiting his death, he was also brought a small boy who had a fish bone lodged in his throat. He miraculously removed the bone and the boy was saved.
It didn’t take long before elements from these two stories became associated with the invocation of Blaise’s intercession: because of his association with the boy and the fish bone, his protection was particularly sought against afflictions of the throat; and blessings in his name started to be made using two candles, evoking the story of the old woman and the pig, and the gift she brought to his prison cell.
It is said that the inhabitants of Dubrovnik have the greatest devotion to St Blaise. He is responsible for foiling a dastardly attack upon the city by the Venetians in the 11th century. A fleet is supposed to have arrived at the city’s harbour asking for supplies. Its true intend was to spy out the city’s defences in order to organise an attack. Blaise is supposed to have miraculously appeared in the city. He warned its inhabitants in this apparition that the Venetian ships were intent on harm, thus saving the town. Each year St Blaise’s feast is celebrated with volleys of musket fire commemorating the battle, followed by a procession of his relics through the city.
Great debate rages about whether one should light the candles for the blessing or not. In all German-speaking countries, they are unquestionably lit, but it seems to be the Roman custom to use the candles unlit, for fear hair could be singed or dangly earrings damaged. All Saints’ unflinchingly follows the German custom in this question and eschews the feeble Roman usage. Indeed the device used at All Saints’ for the Blaise blessings was bought by me in Vienna and includes special drip trays to prevent any wax falling on the shoulders of those being blessed.
There is a beautiful statue of St Blaise which is almost entirely ignored and unknown, hidden in a dark dusty corner of the entrance hall of the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital in Gray’s Inn Road. The statue is by Cecil Thomas and depicts the rescuing of the boy from the fish bone trapped in his throat. I remember noticing the statue when I had some voice therapy there after an operation on my vocal chords some years ago. Since the closure of the hospital in 2019, I would be very intrigued to know where this statue has ended up. I suspect it might be the only depiction of St Blaise in London.
Attendance last Sunday
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 and Benediction, with the licensing of our new Assistant Priest, takes place at 6pm this Sunday. Music will include Howells’s Gloucester Service and Stanford’s Beati quorum via. Links for the livestream and service sheet are also embedded in this email.
Fr. Harry Hodgetts, Amanda Barrett, Greg Loveday, Theresa Moses, Don McWhinney, Martin Berka, Pete Turner, James Rodger, Andrew Rodger
The faithful departed
Joseph Lavelle (Marist Brother)
Anniversaries of death
February 12th – Charlotte Druitt, Helen Buck, Sister Barbara of All Saints
13th – Charles Lethbridge, Nellie Chapman
14th – Margaret McWilliam, Mary Dick, John Knight Pr., Charles Forker
15th – Marion Clark, Constance Rivington, Henry Hewetson, John Bartle, Alec Rodger, Margaret Menzies
17th – Frederick Howard, Letty Attlee, Jack Hope
18th – Lill MacKay, Angela Thompson, Joan Bowie
The Friends of All Saints’
February 12th – Genevieve Gomi, Fr. Thomas Greene, Fr. Michael Gudgeon, Sheelagh Gudgeon, Ginger and Del Hall, Monica Joan Hall
13th – Roger Hancock, Jill Hargreaves, Christopher Harrison, Patrick Hartley, Canon Jeremy Haselock, Eoghan Healy, Fr. David Hobden
14th – Canon Graham Holcombe, James and Gwendoline Holdcroft, Fr. Andrew Hollins, Edwin Holmes, Bp. David Hope
15th – Roy Hopkins, Richard Hoskinson, Fr. David Hutt, Andrew Jervis, Arthur Johnson, Malcolm Kemp, Alan Kimbrough
16th – Roger Knight, Brenda Koupis, The Very Rev’d Harry Krauss, Deirdre Laing, Graham Last, Christopher Laws, Cornelius Logue
17th – Henry Macey, Dirk Maney, Bp. Michael Marshall, John Martell, Robert Mason, Judith Mather
18th – Fr. Stephen McClatchie, Fr. Peter McGeary, Nigel McNeill, John McWhinney, Colin Menzies
Service times this week
Saturday 11th February – Our Lady of Lourdes
11.30 am Rosary
12.00 noon Mass of Our Lady of Walsingham
6.30 pm Vigil Mass of Sunday
Sunday 12th February – Second Sunday before Lent (Sexagesima)
11.00 am High Mass
5.15 pm Mass
6.00 Evensong and Benediction with licensing of Fr. Alan Rimmer
Monday 13th February – Feria
12.00 noon Mass
6.30 pm Mass
Tuesday 14th February – Ss. Cyril and Methodius
12.00 noon Mass
6.30 pm Mass
Wednesday 15th February – Feria
12.00 noon Mass
6.30 pm Mass
Thursday 16th February – Feria
12.00 noon Mass
6.30 pm Mass
Friday 17th February – Feria
12.00 noon Mass
6.30 pm Mass
Saturday 18th February – Feria
12.00 noon Mass of Requiem
6.30 pm Vigil Mass of Sunday
Sunday 19th February – Sunday next before Lent (Quinquagesima)
11.00 am High Mass
5.15 pm Mass
6.00 Evensong and Benediction