St Jerome, Doctor

Job 38.1,12-21; 40.3-5; Psalm 138; Luke 10.13-16

Jerome (Hieronymus) (c342-420) was born in Strido (now in Croatia, then part of the Roman province of Dalmatia) and studied in Rome. As a student he lived the life of sexual escapades and experimentation common at the time, but, convulsed with guilt, he began visiting the tombs of the Christian martyrs, and, entering their crypts, he felt he had experienced the terrors of hell. He was baptised in Rome, and having decided to devote himself to a life of ascetic penitence he retired to Syria to live as a hermit, where he also learnt Hebrew under the tutelage of a converted rabbi. He was ordained in 378 or 379 at Antioch. He returned to Rome and worked on a revision of the Latin translation of the New Testament.

In 385 he left Rome for Antioch, and by 388 he had established himself in a cave in Bethlehem, where he spent the next thirty-odd years translating the Old Testament out of Hebrew into Latin and writing many commentaries on scripture, the second most voluminous writer (after Augustine of Hippo) in Latin Christianity.

SS Michael, Gabriel & Raphael, Archangels

Apoc 12.7-12; Ps 137; John 1.47-51

Three archangels are named in Scripture; a fourth, Uriel, is named in the apocryphal book
II Esdras. Prior to 1969 each of the three had his own feast day. The suffix
-el in each of their names means God; Michael means ‘Who is like God’, Gabriel ‘Strength of God’, and Raphael ‘Healing of God.’ Gabriel is the announcer of the births of John Baptist [Luke 1.11-20] and of Jesus [Luke 1.26-38]; he is also mentioned in the book of Daniel [9.16]. Michael is named in Daniel [10.13; 12.1], in Jude {verse 9], and in the Apocalypse, where he is the captain of the heavenly army who will defeat Satan and vindicate God’s people. Raphael is a major character in the Old Testament book of Tobit and is thought to have been the “disturber” of the waters of the pool of Bethzatha whose action made them efficacious for healing. [John 5.2-9]

This feast (which originated at the dedication of a Roman basilica in honour of St Michael) reminds us of the angelic world and of their constant ministrations to our world. With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God; they are the “mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word.” [Psalm 102(103).20] Their song of praise at the Incarnation of the Son of God [Luke 2.13-14] was the terrestrial manifestation of their continual song of praise [Isaiah 6.2-3] in which we are invited to join as that Incarnation is repeated and the Son of God comes down from heaven to be present on earthly altars.

St Wenceslas

Job 9.1-13,14-16; Psalm 87; Luke 9.57-62

Wenceslas (c911-35), the “good King” of the familiar Christmas carol (which has nothing apart from its wintry setting to do with Christmas), was born in the castle of Stochov near Prague and became Duke of Bohemia in 921; he remained in office until his assassination in 935. His younger brother, known as Boleslaus the Cruel, was implicated in his murder. He was posthumously declared to have been King by Otto I, the Holy Roman Empire, and he is considered the patron saint of the Czech people.

The carol speaks of Wenceslas’ strong faith and his concern for the poor, and throughout the Middle Ages he was taken as the primary exemplar of a righteous King, his strength revealed not simply in his princely valour but through his consummate piety.

On this feast day in 1958 Karol Wojtyła (later Pope St John Paul II) was consecrated Bishop of Ombi, Poland. On this feast day in 1973 Pope John Paul I died after thirty-three days as pope.

St Vincent de Paul

Job 3.1-3,11-17,20-23; Psalm 87; Luke 9.51-56

St Vincent (1581-1660) was born the third child of a peasant family in the village of Pouy in southwest France. At the age of 15 his father sent him to a seminary, raising the fees by selling his oxen. In 1597 Vincent entered the Faculty of Theology of the University of Toulouse. He managed to pay for his studies by tutoring. He was ordained on 23 September 1600 at the age of 19, against the decrees of the Council of Trent which stipulated a minimum age of 24. He was appointed parish priest of Tilh, but a lawsuit was filed to prevent the appointment because of his young age. Rather than fight the matter in court, he resigned and continued his studies, receiving the Bachelor of Theology degree from Toulouse in 1604; later he received a Licentiate in Canon Law from the University of Paris.

Vincent’s motivation in entering the priesthood had been to better his financial condition, but on hearing the confession of a dying peasant he underwent a dramatic change of heart and devoted himself to ministry to the poor. He founded the Sisters of Charity and he was appointed Chaplain among imprisoned galley slaves in Paris. This led him to found the Congregation of the Mission (the Vincentians, known in France as the Lazaristes), a congregation of priests dedicated to ministry to the poor in smaller towns and villages. He became known as a conductor of retreats, inspiring the clergy to deeper devotion and to higher standards of moral life. He pioneered training of the clergy and established many seminaries. He died in Paris on 27th September 1660.

SS Cosmas & Damian

Job 1.6-22; Psalm 16; Luke 9.46-50

These two brothers, reputedly twins, born in Arabia in the 3rd Century, were eminent for their skills in medicine and surgery. They never accepted money for their services, for which reason they are known as Anargyroi (‘without silver’), and they cured blindness, paralysis, and reportedly drove out a breast serpent. They were arrested by Lysias, governor of Cilicia (modern-day Çukurova, Turkey), around the year 283, during the Diocletian persecution of the Church, because of their faith and their fame as faith healers. According to legend they remained true to their faith despite the gruesome tortures inflicted on them, including being hung on crosses, stoned, and shot by arrows. Finally they were martyred by beheading. They are invoked in the Roman canon, and are the patron saints of pharmacists.

Newsletter for 26th Sunday of the year (25th September 2022)

The Ordination of Two Deacons in Clifton Cathedral

Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:8; Psalm 89(90):3-6,12-14,17; Luke 9:43-45

Today in Clifton, two are being ordained as permanent Deacons, Eric and Richard. Let us pray for them today (this prayer is from the Rite of Ordination and is said by the Bishop):

Almighty God, be present with us by your power. You are the source of all honor, you assign to each his rank, you give to each his ministry. You remain unchanged, but you watch over all creation and make it new through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord: he is your Word, you power, and your wisdom. You foresee all things in your eternal providence and make due provision for every age. You make the Church, Christ’s body, grow to its full stature as a new and greater temple. You enrich it with every kind of grace and perfect it with a diversity of members to serve the whole body in a wonderful pattern of unity.
You established a threefold ministry of worship and service for the glory of your name. As ministers of your tabernacle you chose the sons of Levi and gave your blessing as their everlasting inheritance. In the first days of your Church under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit the apostles of your Son appointed seven men of good repute to assist them in the daily ministry, so that they themselves might be more free for prayer and preaching. By prayer and the laying on of hands the apostles entrusted to those chosen men the ministry of serving at tables.

Lord, look with favor on these servants of yours, whom we now dedicate to the office of deacon, to minister at your holy altar.
Lord, send forth upon them the Holy Spirit, that they may be strengthened by the gift of your sevenfold grace to carry out faithfully the work of the ministry. May they excel in every virtue: in love that is sincere, in concern for the sick and the poor, in unassuming authority, in self-discipline, and in holiness of life. May their conduct exemplify your commandments and lead your people to imitate his purity of life. May they remain strong and steadfast in Christ, giving to the world the witness of a pure conscience. May they in this life imitate your Son, who came, not to be served by to serve, and one day reign with him in heaven. 

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


Ecclesiastes today reminds us that we all shall grow old, and that this brings its problems with health, agility and looks all fading from us! Enjoy them while you are still young - but remember that they are all vanity - meaningless as a puff of wind. We have, again, to trust in God, and let God do his work.

In about a years time, more are expecting to be ordained as Deacons, including your present author. For us this seems to be Gods' calling. I can think of no better way for me to be doing God's work. I certainly know that I used to feel that I had skills and abilities to do much: I now know those vanities  were nothing compared with the work God has done in my life and will do through this gift of ministry that opens up.

If God is calling you - listen. Respond, while you have the gifts of physical strength to do so. The formation program is a continual path of discernment - several I know have started and not finished, others started and took time out, and have returned. Enquiring now is not a commitment that can not be backed out of. Feel free to discuss with myself - John Andrews.


Today is also the feast day of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Our Lady of Walsingham
The shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham in Norfolk was one of the great pilgrimage centres of mediaeval times. The lady of the manor of Walsingham, Richeldis de Faverches, had a vision in which the Virgin Mary instructed her to build in her village an exact replica of the house in Nazareth where the Annunciation had taken place. According to tradition this vision occurred in 1061, although the most likely date for the construction of the shrine is a hundred years later.
  The original shrine was destroyed at the Reformation, but in the 19th and 20th centuries, pilgrimage to Walsingham was revived not only for Catholics but also for Anglicans.

Saint Pius of Pietrelcina

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11; Psalm 143(144):1-4; Luke 9:18-22

Ecclesiastes today, provides a reasonably well known poem 'there is a time for everything' - it is often used at funerals to remind us that God's plan includes our death and our resurrection.

Poetically, if 'G; is good and 'B' is bad then the structure is:

  • v2: GBBG
  • v3: BGGB
  • v4:GBBG
  • v5: BGGB
  • v6: GBGB
  • v7: BGBG
  • v8: GBBG

which is pleasingly balanced. Remember Ecclesiastes' way - He asks questions to make us think of the answers for ourselves. Why has God made a world in which Good and Bad both occur? Why not just make all Good? Well - we need to remember that God gave us a choice, so that we could choose Him, and the Bad things happen when we fail to choose God. Also, God is in control - we do need to allow God to be in charge.

We need to remember this too, when studying Christ's life (Luke 9: 22)  ‘The Son of Man’ he said ‘is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death, and to be raised up on the third day.’ All the Bad - is turned over to Good by that last phrase - we will be raised up.

St Pio of Pietrelcina (1887-1968)
He was born in the small village of Pietrelcina in southern Italy, and joined the Capuchin friars at the age of 16. He became a priest seven years later, and spent fifty years at the monastery of San Giovanni Rotondo, where he was very much sought after as a spiritual advisor, confessor, and intercessor. Many miracles were popularly ascribed to him during his lifetime. He died a few days after the fiftieth anniversary of his receiving the stigmata, and over 100,000 people attended his funeral.


Thursday of week 25 in Ordinary Time

Ecclesiastes 1:2-11; Psalm 89(90):3-6,12-14,17; Luke 9:7-9

Today and over the next two, we have three extracts from the short work, known as 'Ecclesiastes'. The author calls it his 'Qoheleth' which Hebrew word means 'assembly', so it is perhaps meant to be spoken to an assembly (and in Mass, it is being so!). Scriptural experts date it as about 3rd Century BC although it is commonly stated to have been written by King Solomon himself. But attribution is common in the old testament - most of the Psalms are attributed to King David, but in fact are from a folk tradition, and our book os Psalms contains only a fraction of the Psalms that were used in ancient times to preserve wisdom and provide messages of courage in difficult times.

In the 3rdC, the prevailing Hellenistic philosophy was one of questioning - one asks questions and explores truth by considering various answers to them, to discern which fit with the evidence. Todays question is about the values we place on things. Vanity, all is vanity!. Think in terms of an inconsequential puff of wind, barely enough to stir a leaf or the dust on  the ground - that is how consequential our efforts are. We need to remember that we are saved by God's work, not by our own efforts.

Watching the news last weekend, one of us observed 'here we go again' as mass graves were uncovered in the forests around Izyum. As Ecclesiastes says, 'what has been done will be done again;. A depressing way to look at things perhaps - but this is the result of human endeavours.

The author is using a style that exaggerates in order to make the point clear: we must let God do the work, we must choose His way, and then repeating the mistakes of the past will not happen again. It is a book for those willing to challenge their own faith with difficult questions - but this is done to strengthen that faith.

Psalm 89 is a good one to read with Ecclesiastes -

You sweep men away like a dream,
  like the grass which springs up in the morning.
In the morning it springs up and flowers:
  by evening it withers and fades.
is balanced, as it should be, with
In the morning, fill us with your love;
  we shall exult and rejoice all our days.
Let the favour of the Lord be upon us:
  give success to the work of our hands.