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Sonia Falaschi-Ray’s article in the July Diary June 14, 2018

Posted by nicholastufton in The Diary Monthly letter.
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“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” Oscar Wilde

In the aftermath of a man-made disaster, we tend to crave definitive explanations. How did it happen? Who was to blame? How can we prevent it happening again? Certainty of cause and effect. Clarity regarding culpability. Punishment of any wrongdoing. All of which, hopefully, will lead to closure.

Unfortunately, clear-cut reasons and solutions are often not available, as disasters tend to have multiple contributory causes. The disastrous fire at Grenfell Tower, which cost 72 lives, injuries, trauma and homelessness, has been much in the news as its official inquiry unfolds. The teams of lawyers representing, amongst others, the local authority, building advisors, cladding manufacturers, refurbishment consultants, the Fire Service and, not least, the residents, demonstrate how complex it will be to unravel contributory factors and levels of responsibility. Clarity regarding every aspect is unlikely. Doubts will remain. The truth will have blurred edges, however much people crave certainty.

This is an example writ large of the tensions between truth, doubt and certainty which we all encounter in our lives. Proof of truth can be hard to come by. You may know through feelings and experience that your parent, spouse or child loves you. However, you cannot prove that to me, as I could always offer an alternative, expedient explanation for whatever you describe that they have said or done. But you know. It’s true for you; mostly.

Christian faith is like that. I know through my feelings and experience that God loves me. Jesus said he was, ‘the way, the truth and the life’ and, most of the time, I know that to be the case. You might point out that what I put forward as evidence could have an alternative explanation. However, the consistency of my experiences reinforces my level of certainty.

Why should we believe in a God who loves us unconditionally? It adds an entirely new dimension to life, enriching the fullness of it. It is like adding a sixth sense. People who are blind, or deaf have a limited experience of the world. Life without engaging with God is similarly limiting its potential richness.

Many blessings

Sonia  07747 844265

June article by Ruth Pyke May 23, 2018

Posted by nicholastufton in The Diary Monthly letter.
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A LETTER FROM THE REVEREND CANON RUTH PYKE

It’s a common argument- that religion is the source of all wars. And to be fair many of the conflicts which beset the world seem to be between those of opposing religious understanding. But when we scratch the surface we often discover that different faith groups also have a different political understanding and loyalty which so often is the deeper cause for conflict.

I recently heard a story of a second in command in the Falklands war. At the height of the battle his Commander died and he became responsible for the 2nd Paras. One in six of his men were killed or wounded, they were exhausted and almost out of ammunition. A devout Catholic, he chose to pray. He prayed a prayer of complete abandonment to God which he later described as a terrifying thing to do. Unexpectedly, calm and joy replaced cold and fear. He had complete clarity as to what to do next. He negotiated for peace and achieved an Argentinian surrender which saved hundreds of lives on both sides of the battle. Courageous faith can bring peace.

In June we remember a soldier saint, Alban, who gave the city and our Diocese his name. Alban was a Roman soldier who also acted courageously. He sheltered a Christian priest persecuted for his Christian worship by the Roman authorities in the Roman city of Verulamium – present-day St Albans. During the days that Alban sheltered him, the priest shared the story of Jesus and Alban came to faith. When the authorities banged on the door, Alban went out to face them, giving the priest the opportunity to escape and share the story of Jesus with others. Alban refused to renounce his new faith and was put to death by the sword. He is reported to have said, “I am Alban and I worship and adore the true and living God.”

Alban’s feast day is on 22nd June and each year on the Saturday nearest to this date his story is re-enacted by giant puppets through the streets of the city. The procession involves schools and community groups, adults and children. Following behind the puppets are the Bishops and clergy of the Diocese and at the cathedral there is a festival Communion service and Evensong. There are fun activities for children and a chance to picnic together on the Abbey Orchard or eat out in one of the city’s many restaurants.  Why not come with me and enjoy a day out!

Religion, like all else, can be used for good or for ill. But faith in the living God can enable us to take courageous decisions, live bravely, build peace and justice for all.

The Prayer of Abandonment prayed by Chris Keeble before the surrender at Goose Green:

My Father, I abandon myself to you. Do with me as you will. Whatever you may do with me I thank you, provided your will is fulfilled in me. I ask for nothing more. Charles de Foucault

Ruth

 

Sonia Falaschi-Ray’s May Diary article April 15, 2018

Posted by nicholastufton in The Diary Monthly letter.
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Teenagers’ patron saint, St Pancras (May 12th)

We think of St Pancras as a London railway station. It was built in the medieval district designated as St Pancras, which covered much of what is now Camden. Pancras was a Roman, who had become a Christian, and was martyred when he was 14 years old by the Emperor Diocletian, hence becoming the patron saint of teenagers.

Many teenagers will be taking exams this May, the outcome of which may determine their immediate academic and employment options. The results are often public, and it is hard not to feel judged by success or failure. If you’ve done your best, and things don’t turn out as well as you had hoped, you have nothing to blame yourself for and you will almost certainly find other opportunities. If you have mucked-about, and then got bad results, you might feel guilty at having wasted your chances.

What you shouldn’t have to experience is shame. Shame is embarrassment for who you are, rather than what you do. Who you are, does of course influence what you do, but guilt and shame are not the same thing. Both can be spurs to attempt to live better but shame can generate unhelpful avoidance strategies or projecting blame onto others while going into victim mode. Some people never feel shame. They tend to be psychopaths rather than saints.

Jesus came to enable us to engage more closely with the creator of the universe, who loves each one of us unconditionally. He affirms our worthwhileness as people. Experiencing that, we can become more whole, integrated and able to be open with others without fearing negative judgements. We should still experience guilt at stuff we do wrong, but by apologising and genuinely attempting to rectify matters with those hurt, guilt can be absolved.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, Jesus, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-18

Many blessings

Sonia  07747 844265