Rosary Prayers

An Introduction to the Rosary

The Rosary is a method of prayer that is all about concentration. We use repeated prayers, and a tiny physical action to focus on biblical scenes; the repetition and the physical activity help us to concentrate, and drive away distractions. This technique could be used with more or less any words, but here I describe the traditional format, which links our prayers with the prayers of Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
You don’t have to have a set of rosary beads to do it, though they are helpful, but it is a good idea to hold something in your hands while you are praying, perhaps a crucifix or a cross. The rosary beads help because they are set out in the way they are so that they match the format of the prayers, and they help you to know that you are doing the prescribed number of prayers, but that matters much less when the rosary is being led by someone else. An ordinary set of beads, or even a beautiful stone, could work, as could a cross, but you should have something to occupy your hands.

The Scenes
The Rosary is all about contemplating scenes, which are called “mysteries” (not like murder mysteries, but like “the mystery of faith”). The mysteries come in sets of 5, which is how the beads are laid out. The traditional sets are the Sorrowful Mysteries, the Joyful Mysteries and the Glorious Mysteries, to which have been added in recent years the Mysteries of Light. The Sorrowful Mysteries, appropriate to Lent and Passiontide, are: Christ’s agony in the garden, his scourging, his crowning with thorns, his carrying the cross, and his crucifixion.

Praying the Rosary
It’s normal to start a session by making the sign of the cross, and then reciting the Apostles’ Creed, followed by the Lord’s Prayer, 3 Hail Marys, and a Glory Be (the words of all these are at the end of this document). That’s the introduction, settling yourself down, and as you do that it’s good to think of an intention for your prayers, if you’re offering your prayers for a particular purpose, or for someone in particular; the leader may also offer a general intention. If you’re using a set of rosary beads, this all happens on the small chain at the end, starting from the crucifix.
Having done the introduction, you then start on the first mystery, which the leader will announce, and perhaps describe. You then contemplate the scene while reciting a Lord’s Prayer, 10 Hail Marys, and a Glory Be. If you’re using the beads, then you start on the connecting bead or medal for the Lord’s Prayer, and then simply go round. After the group of 10, there is a single bead, where you say the Glory Be, and the Lord’s Prayer for the next mystery after it is announced. Each set of 10 is called a decade. When you get to the end of the fifth mystery, the leader will recite a final prayer to end the session, and end with the Grace.
When prayed collectively in church, people sometimes divide the prayers in half, so the leader says the first half and then everyone else says the rest, but obviously when alone you say it all, and it is perfectly normal to say the whole of all the prayers together.

The Prayers of the Rosary
Sign of the Cross.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, Our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Hail Mary
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Glory Be
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen,

Fifth Sunday in Lent

The Parish Mass Sunday 29th March 2020
Fifth Sunday in Lent


Welcome to St Mary Magdalene’s.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.

The priest introduces the service, and then says:
Christ himself carried up our sins in his body to the tree, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds we have been healed. Let us confess our sins.

Lord God, we have sinned against you;
we have done evil in your sight.
We are sorry and repent.
Have mercy on us
according to your love.
Wash away our wrongdoing
and cleanse us from our sin.
Renew a right spirit within us and
restore us to the joy of your salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent, have mercy upon you, pardon and deliver you from all your sins, confirm and strengthen you in all goodness, and keep you in life eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Opening Prayer

Gracious Father, you gave up your Son out of love for the world: lead us to ponder the mysteries of his passion, that we may know eternal peace through the shedding of our Saviour’s blood, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

First Reading (Ezekiel 37;1-14 )

A reading from the book of the prophet Ezekiel.
The hand of the LORD came upon me,
and he brought me out by the spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, ‘Mortal, can these bones live?’ I answered, ‘O Lord GOD, you know.’ Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD.’ So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.’ I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude. Then he said to me, ‘Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.” Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken and will act, says the LORD.’
This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Psalm 130
With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord, Lord, hear my voice! O let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleading.
With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.
If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt, Lord, who would survive? But with you is found forgiveness: for this we revere you.
With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.
My soul is waiting for the Lord, I count on his word. My soul is longing for the Lord more than watchman for daybreak. Let the watchman count on daybreak and Israel on the Lord.
With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.
Because with the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption, Israel indeed he will redeem from all its iniquity.
With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

Praise and honour to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Praise and honour to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord; whoever believes in me will never die.
Praise and honour to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

The Gospel (John 11;1-45)

Hear the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus
Christ according to John.
Glory to you, O Lord.
A certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ But when Jesus heard it, he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judea again.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?’ Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.’ After saying this, he told them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.’ Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’ Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow-disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’ When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’ When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, ‘The Teacher is here and is calling for you.’ And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’ Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’ Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.
This is the Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.

Praise and honour to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

The Homily

The Creed

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven and is seated
at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father
and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son
is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic
and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism
for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection
of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.
Amen.

The Intercessions

At the end of each petition:
Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.

After the prayers for the dead the reader says:

Rest eternal, grant unto them, O Lord.
And let light perpetual shine upon them.
May they rest in peace.
And rise in glory.

At the end:
Merciful Father,
accept these prayers for the sake of your son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen

Once we were far off, but now in union with Christ Jesus we have been brought near through the shedding of Christ’s blood, for he is our peace.
The peace of the Lord be always with you.
And also with you.
Let us offer one another a sign of peace.

As the priest prepares the bread:
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you; fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life.
Blessed be God for ever.
As the priest prepares the wine:
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation; for through your goodness we have received the wine we offer you; fruit of the vine and work of human hands, it will become our spiritual drink.
Blessed be God for ever.

Pray, my brothers and sisters, that this our sacrifice may be acceptable to God, the Almighty Father.

May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands,
for the praise and glory of his name, for our good, and the good of all his Church.

Hear us, almighty God, and, having instilled in your servants the teachings of the Christian faith, graciously purify them by the working of this sacrifice. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give thanks and praise.

The priest says the Preface. At the end:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

The priest continues the Eucharistic Prayer;
after the Words of Institution he says:

Jesus Christ is Lord.
Lord, by your cross and resurrection you have set us free. You are the Saviour of the world.

The priest continues the Eucharistic Prayer:

…for ever and ever
Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Lord Jesus, remember us in your kingdom and teach us to pray.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil
for thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
For ever and ever. Amen.

We break this bread, to share in
the body of Christ
Though we are many we are one body because we all share in one bread.

Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world:
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world:
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world:
grant us peace.

Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sin of the world. Blessed are those who are called to his supper.
Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.

Prayer after Communion
Lord Jesus Christ, you have taught us
that what we do for the least of our brothers and sisters we do also for you:
give us the will to be the servant of others
as you were the servant of all,
and gave up your life and died for us,
but are alive and reign, now and for ever.
Amen.

The Blessing

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.

Christ crucified draw you to himself, to find in him a sure ground for faith, a firm support for hope, and the assurance of sins forgiven; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

The Angelus

The angel of the Lord brought tidings to Mary.
And she conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death, Amen.

Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
Be it unto me according to thy word.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death, Amen.

And the word was made flesh.
And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death, Amen.

Pray for us O Holy Mother of God.
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

We beseech you, O Lord, pour your grace into our hearts, that as we have known the Incarnation of your Son, Jesus Christ, by the message of an Angel, so by his Cross and Passion, we may be brought to the glory of his Resurrection, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

The Dismissal

Go in the peace of Christ.
Thanks be to God.

STATIONS OF THE CROSS

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Lord be with you. And also with you.
Lord God, see before you your faithful people for whom your Son was content to be betrayed and crucified. As we follow his steps on the Way of the Cross fill us with your love, that we may be moved to put it into action in our lives. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

1st STATION: JESUS IS CONDEMNED TO DEATH
As we reach each Station we say:
We adore you, O Christ and we bless you. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.
Pilate, the man in public office, the man of power, does what he knows to be wrong, takes the cowardly option.
Lord, may we always have the courage to do what we know to be right, and to stand up for justice. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
As we prepare to leave each Station we say::
We glory in your cross, O Lord, And praise and glorify your holy resurrection: for by virtue of the cross, joy has come to the whole world.
On the way to the next Station we recite a verse of the ancient hymn, “Stabat Mater Dolorosa”:
At the cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful mother weeping,
close to Jesus at the last.

2nd STATION: JESUS IS MADE TO CARRY HIS CROSS
The soldiers mock him and despise him, and force him to carry the instrument of his own death.
Lord, may we never enjoy the humiliation of someone else, but rather choose to stand alongside the one who is mocked. Through Christ our Lord.

Through her soul, of joy bereaved,
bowed with anguish, deeply grieved,
now at length the sw
ord hath passed.

3rd STATION: JESUS FALLS THE FIRST TIME
He falls under the burden of the cross, faint from lack of food and broken by torture.
Lord, make us strong to challenge the scandal of people going hungry in a world of plenty, and help us feed those in need. Through Christ our Lord.
O, that blessed one, grief-laden,
blessed Mother, blessed Maiden
Mother of the all-holy One.

4th STATION: JESUS MEETS HIS MOTHER
His mother can do nothing more for him than offer her helpless compassion.
Lord, help us to be like mothers, full of compassion and love, for those who are rejected and lacking all support. Through Christ our Lord.
O that silent, ceaseless mourning,
O those dim eyes, never turning
from that wondrous, suffering Son.

5th STATION: SIMON OF CYRENE IS COMPELLED TO HELP CARRY THE CROSS
The soldiers pick on Simon, a foreigner, an African, and force him to help in the ghastly business.
Lord, may we never pick on the outsider or exploit the powerless, but respect their dignity. Through Christ our Lord.
Who on Christ’s dear Mother gazing,
in her trouble so amazing,
born of woman, would not weep?

6th STATION: VERONICA WIPES THE FACE OF JESUS
Standing at the roadside, she does what she can to ease his suffering in a simple human gesture, which is said to have been rewarded by a divine gesture, in the mark of his face on her cloth.
Lord, give us the will to act to alleviate the suffering of others, especially when they are very near. Through Christ our Lord.
Who on Christ’s dear Mother thinking,
such a cup of sorrow drinking,
would not share her sorrow deep?

7th STATION: JESUS FALLS THE SECOND TIME
Jesus slips on the hard pavement of the city and goes down a second time.
Lord, help us to see in our own city those who aren’t coping, those who are overwhelmed by the burdens on them, and to help them. Through Christ our Lord.
For his people’s sins, in anguish,
there she saw the victim languish,
bleed in torments, bleed and die:

8th STATION: THE WOMEN OF JERUSALEM WEEP FOR JESUS
The women, as so often, are the ones who bear the grief; Jesus prays for them as they must weep for their own children.
Lord, help us to work for the oppressed women of the world, to console them in their grief, and to stand alongside them. Through Christ our Lord.
Saw the Lord’s anointed taken;
saw her child in death forsaken,
heard his last expiring cry.

9th STATION: JESUS FALLS THE THIRD TIME
His weakness overwhelms him, and he collapses at the foot of Calvary.
Lord, give us the strength to help those who are weaker than us; may we always support the weak and damaged. Through Christ our Lord.
In the Passion of my Maker,
be my sinful soul partaker,
may I bear with her my part;

10th STATION: JESUS IS STRIPPED OF HIS GARMENTS
Jesus’s humiliation is complete as he is stripped naked, and his tormentors gamble for his clothes.
Lord, help us to stand alongside people who are exploited and humiliated by the sex and gambling industries and free us all from shame. Through Christ our Lord.
Of his Passion bear the token,
in a spirit bowed and broken
bear his death within my heart.

11th STATION: JESUS IS NAILED TO THE CROSS
They hammer home the nails through unresisting flesh; they are only obeying orders, and Jesus forgives them.
Give us the wisdom and strength, Lord, to resist being carried along by evil, and help us to look with pity on those who are the tools of cruel systems. Through Christ our Lord.
May his wounds both wound and heal me,
he enkindle, cleanse, anneal me,
be his Cross my hope and sta
y.

12th STATION: JESUS DIES ON THE CROSS
Even on the cross his concern is for others: the soldiers, the thieves, and finally his mother and friend whom he commends to one another.
Lord, give us the courage to look beyond our own lives, and to enter into the lives of others with love and concern. Through Christ our Lord.
May he, when the mountains quiver,
from that flame which burns for ever
shield me on the judgement day.

13th STATION: JESUS IS TAKEN DOWN FROM THE CROSS
Concerned friends take his body down and he rests for a moment on the lap of his grieving mother.
Lord, make us bold to support those who are grieving, to overcome our reticence, to do what we can and to stand alongside them. Through Christ our Lord.
Jesu, may thy Cross defend me,
and thy saving death befriend me,
cherished by thy deathless grace;

14th STATION: JESUS IS LAID IN THE TOMB
The lifeless Jesus is laid hurriedly in the rich man’s tomb, and the door is sealed.
Help us, Lord, to recognise the forces that entomb us in our daily lives, and give us the courage to work for freedom. Through Christ our Lord.
When to dust my dust returneth,
grant a soul that to thee yearneth
in thy Paradise a place.

15th STATION: JESUS IS RISEN
Very early on the Sunday morning Mary Magdalene comes with the other women and finds the tomb empty; she recognises her risen Lord when he calls her by name.
Lord, we praise you for the resurrection; help us to have confidence that death is not the end, and to live in that confidence. Through Christ our Lord.

Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us.
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come; thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

Christ crucified draw you to himself, that you may find in him a sure ground for faith, a firm support for hope, and the assurance of sins forgiven; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you, and remain with you, now and forever. Amen.

Back to School Sunday

Sunday 1st September is “Back to School Sunday”, when we mark the start of the new school year with a special Family Service at St Peter’s, Elgin Avenue, at 11am. There is no Mass at St Mary Magdalene’s, as we combine the congregations for this service, celebrating our two church schools and giving thanks for the work of Christians in education.

Bishop Jonathan’s Sermon

Tonight we celebrate the abundant fruits of ten years of visionary thinking, meticulous planning and execution of the highest quality. Congratulations to Fr Henry and his team. And in so doing, we are also celebrating the successful accomplishment of that greatest of challenges: how to remain true to the ideals of founders and pioneers in hugely changed times. The principal architect of this magnificent building, G.E. Street, sometime Churchwarden of All Saints in Margaret Street, no doubt had many objectives and aspirations in mind as he contemplated his schemes and plans for this church, but one little detail speaks volumes. He was determined that there would be no pew rents here; all the seating in the House of God would be free, free for all the People of God. It was to be a church for the poor: the poor who are always our teachers. The realisation and the completion of the works undertaken here will ensure that this remains a place of worship, a place to inspire the heart and lift the soul to heaven, but also a place which is at the heart of the community, as it was always intended to be. The history of this church on your parish website describes it as having been ‘marooned’ after the post-war slum clearances; but now our prayer and our confident hope is that it will not be an island but a hub, with spokes radiating outwards to make numerous connections with local life – life which, in all its richness and diversity, is lived out here in the true Christian sense “in all its fullness.”  

A place of worship; a sermon in stone, to borrow Ruskin’s phrase, himself of course quoting Duke Senior’s vision in As You Like Itof not an urban but a rural paradise – but the phrase remains both resonant and fitting. In his notable essay ‘of the Atmosphere of a Church,’ Sir Ninian Comper, another of this church’s architects and designers – and what a roll call of names to conjure with who have built, adorned and beautified this place, and now new names are added to the roll – writes:

‘A church built with hands, as we are reminded at every Consecration and Dedication feast, is the outward expression here on earth of that spiritual Church built of living stones, the Bride of Christ, urbs beata Jerusalem, which stretches back to the foundation of the world and onwards to all eternity….To enter therefore a Christian church is to enter none other than the House of God, and the gate of Heaven.’Comper prefaces this passage with his exposition of the mass, the offering of this holy sacrifice in which we are now engaged, as the very heart and soul of the church building, its source, its purpose, its entire raison d’etre. He writes:

‘[A church] is the centre of Worship in every community of [those] who recognise Christ as the Pantokrator, the Almighty and Ruler and Creator of all things; at its altar is pleaded the daily sacrifice in complete union with the Church Triumphant in Heaven, of which He is the one and only Head, the High Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedech.’

This is heady stuff; it is all true, but expressed in words almost too intoxicating in their strength. But then Comper makes this wonderful, pithy observation:
‘There is then no such thing as a Protestant church. A church is of its very nature Catholic, embracing all things.’This surely could be the strapline for the mission statement for this church and congregation: – ‘Catholic, embracing all things.’ Our Scripture readings this evening fill in the detail. The Spirit of God comes upon the prophet in order that the oil of gladness might be poured out upon the poor, the broken hearted, the prisoner, those who mourn. When Jacob erects a pillar to mark the spot where the Lord God met him in a dream, and promised him that his descendants would fill the whole earth, he pours oil upon it. When we consecrate our altars, to offer (in Comper’s phrase) the daily sacrifice, we pour oil upon them. Oil for holy places and holy things. But oil too, the oil of gladness, for the poor of the Lord, for all who inherit the promise of the year of the Lord’s favour. In Jesus Christ, all the promises of which Isaiah speaks are fulfilled, and in the Gospel reading from St Matthew this evening Jesus Christ commissions his servants, his friends, to go out and bring in the harvest of those who will live in the light of His own coming and be drawn thereby into the Kingdom of God. It is as we know Christ and are known by him, as we share in his life by baptism and through the other sacraments of the Church, that we too can speak the prophet’s words which Our Lord Himself makes his own – ‘the Spirit of the Lord has been given to me.’
What a great thing has been done here. The offer – generous, expansive, and magnificent – which is made here is that of nothing less than life in all its fullness. The prophet Ezekiel sees a river flowing from the threshold of the temple, and the river brings life; just so did a river flow from Eden, divide into four, and water the regions of the earth before even Adam and Eve were made. This church and the Grand Junction (what a marvellous name) which adjoins it will surely bring life, life to this part of London and beyond. Henry James said of London that it was ‘magnificent:’ not agreeable, or cheerful, or easy, but ‘magnificent.’ Lovers of London, among whom I count myself, might find his failure to find cheer here James’s problem and not London’s, but we sort of know what he meant. But, he said, still speaking of London, ‘the biggest aggregation of human life…the most complete compendium of humanity’ is here. What a canvas upon which to trace the outlines of a ministry in the name of Jesus Christ. What an adventure will surely unfold in this place.Today we celebrate St Anthony of Padua, the Evangelical Doctor, a saint hot on penitence, hot against heresy, and hot on compassion for all in need and love for the poor. At the end of this mass we shall offer him lilies, and pray for freedom from evil, the healing of sickness, and the gifts of peace and grace to strengthen us in our weakness. Last Sunday we celebrated the Feast of Pentecost, and the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles gathered in prayer with Mary the Mother of the Lord; the Holy Spirit who drove them out into every corner of the known world, on fire with the love of Jesus Christ and the message of This is heady stuff; it is all true, but expressed in words almost too intoxicating in their strength. But then Comper makes this wonderful, pithy observation:
‘There is then no such thing as a Protestant church. A church is of its very nature Catholic, embracing all things.’This surely could be the strapline for the mission statement for this church and congregation: – ‘Catholic, embracing all things.’ Our Scripture readings this evening fill in the detail. The Spirit of God comes upon the prophet in order that the oil of gladness might be poured out upon the poor, the broken hearted, the prisoner, those who mourn. When Jacob erects a pillar to mark the spot where the Lord God met him in a dream, and promised him that his descendants would fill the whole earth, he pours oil upon it. When we consecrate our altars, to offer (in Comper’s phrase) the daily sacrifice, we pour oil upon them. Oil for holy places and holy things. But oil too, the oil of gladness, for the poor of the Lord, for all who inherit the promise of the year of the Lord’s favour. In Jesus Christ, all the promises of which Isaiah speaks are fulfilled, and in the Gospel reading from St Matthew this evening Jesus Christ commissions his servants, his friends, to go out and bring in the harvest of those who will live in the light of His own coming and be drawn thereby into the Kingdom of God. It is as we know Christ and are known by him, as we share in his life by baptism and through the other sacraments of the Church, that we too can speak the prophet’s words which Our Lord Himself makes his own – ‘the Spirit of the Lord has been given to me.’
What a great thing has been done here. The offer – generous, expansive, and magnificent – which is made here is that of nothing less than life in all its fullness. The prophet Ezekiel sees a river flowing from the threshold of the temple, and the river brings life; just so did a river flow from Eden, divide into four, and water the regions of the earth before even Adam and 

His Gospel. Let us give the last words to St Anthony whose feast we keep, from a sermon which he preached on the Feast of Pentecost.

Let us speak, then, as the Holy Spirit gives us to speak, asking Him humbly and devoutly to pour out His grace, so that we may complete the days of Pentecost in the perfection of our five senses and in the observance of the Ten Commandments. May we be filled with the mighty wind of contrition, and be set afire with the fiery tongues of confession; so that, ablaze and alight in the splendour of the saints, we may be found fit to see God the Three and One. May He grant this who is God Three and One, blessed for ever and ever. Let every spirit say: Amen. Alleluia.

St Mary Magdalene Paddington, 13thJune 2019

 

Important updates for Sunday services

We will be celebrating going back into the Nave for Sunday worship with a mass for the anniversary of the consecration of the church, at 11am on Sunday the 21st October. There will be a party after the service.

From Sunday the 21st all services will return to the Nave and Chancel.

On the 28th of October there will be no Sunday Mass, as we shall be joining with St Peter’s to celebrate their dedication festival.

Also we have a free event on Thursday 25th October, at 6.30pm in church. Celebrated American poet (and civil-rights activist) J Chester Johnson will speak on “Auden, the Psalms and Me” about his time working alongside W H Auden translating the Psalms for the American Prayer Book. This will be fascinating for enthusiasts for poetry as well as liturgy.