The Feast of All Saints 2021
31 October 2021
Today’s Readings: 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12.
Let us pray.

Almighty God,
you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship
in the mystical body of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord:
grant us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living that we may come to those inexpressible joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.


A Reflection from Anita Compton

The Feast of All Saints is celebrated today to remind us of the great stream of witnesses to God’s love, it enables us to see that we are part of a much bigger story into the kiss of grace, mercy and truth that draws ordinary men and women into an eternal embrace.  

They, like us, are flawed individuals whose lives are often compelling. We can relate to them even if their achievements in the service of God, seem extraordinary. They include well known canonized saints, martyrs persecuted for their faith and unknown people who have followed Christ faithfully despite difficulties they faced in time, circumstances or place.  

We are gathered here now, because in our own ways we are drawn, called by and attracted to Jesus. Barbara reminded us last week that an encounter with Jesus, changes lives and our role is to be witnesses. John’s letter tells us of the great love that God the Father has lavished on us, (a love that is beyond proportion) that we should be called ‘children of God; that when Jesus appears we will know him as he is in all his splendor and will be like Him.

1 John 3:1-3. Knowing our failings, it is hard to imagine yet the Saints give us examples of how to be children of God and how to put the Beatitudes into practice which is no easy task.

Let me illustrate this with three people you may not have heard of.

First from the USA Father Emil Kapaun (1916-1951) who was an ordained priest and US Chaplain to the troops fighting in the Korean War.  Described as a man with ‘a will of iron and a soul like velvet’ he is currently honoured by the Church as the Servant of God.   

He risked his life recuing and carrying the wounded and ministering to the shell shocked, half starved, exhausted men, serving on the front line in the Korean War.  He said mass, praying for them in foxholes administering sacraments to the dying, hearing confessions, retrieving wounded soldiers and burying the dead, ally and enemy alike, with dignity. Numerous times he barely escaped with his own life. He kept up the morale of the soldiers and was calm no matter how intense the fighting- radiating a sense of peace in the intense time of war. His concern was not only for the men but also their families, writing personal letters to the next of kin who died in battle He laundered the clothing of the sick, bathed incontinent men, picking out the lice from their clothes and bodies.

Public prayer was forbidden by the Chinese which did not deter Father Kapaun, who would sneak stealthily into prisoner’s huts to comfort and pray with them. Just for him to be there gave the men hope and his ‘presence in a mud hut turned it into a cathedral’ His ‘selfless’ service created a community of brothers, looking out for each other, carrying the wounded and weak.  When he was taken to the Death House, his crying men saw him bless the Guards and heard him say ‘Father Forgive Them They Know Not What They Do’. He died at the age of 35.

This testimony from the Laperouse family comes from a recent Songs of Praise 5/92021 Natasha aged 16, travelling with her father Nadim and her best friend Bethany, boarded a flight to the South of France. Quickly and unexpectedly she had a serious allergic reaction to a baguette with sesame seeds. When the epi pens did not work Bethany prayed desperately ‘Lord, come Help’ She believed that God would take control and save Natasha. As the flight landed the paramedics boarded the plane trying to save her. Nadim was struck by seeing 5 angels surrounding her body, bathed in a heavenly yellow light with wings. Everything went blank and he shooed them away saying it was ‘not her time yet’ and when they were gone, Natasha had too. Natasha and her mother were Church goers while her father was preoccupied with making money and business, did everything in his own strength and had no need of God. Her family and friends mourned her, but for Tanya, Natasha’s mum, the months were difficult and she was angry wondering if there would have been a different outcome, had she been on the plane too. God told her to forgive her husband- that he needed her love and while Nadim initially raged against God, he too had to find it in his heart to forgive the bosses of the Sandwich chain. After this experience Nadim came to realise He needed God’s grace and came to faith in Jesus Tanya says that only when they forgave the situation and sought Jesus’s grace, could they heal. They campaigned to make things better for allergy sufferers with trustworthy labelling and practices setting up a Foundation in Natasha’s name, also ‘Natasha’s Law which came into effect this month.

My final illustration comes from a Russian Bishop.  Countless in Eastern Europe suffered injustice, torture, persecution and were harassed for their faith as all religion was being eliminated from Russian culture.  The Bishop when a young orphaned boy often accompanied his Grandmother who was the housekeeper of a local parish priest.

The Soviets raided the house to confiscate all religious items arresting the parish priest, leaving the grandmother and her grandson to fend for themselves   A week later they returned to the house looking for papers and incriminating evidence. When they finally finished a soldier sarcastically asked the grandmother if there were any more religious pictures or crosses they could take with them. Smiling she replied ‘Yes, I do have one more but you cannot take it from me’ With that she made the sign of the cross and the soldiers left dumbfounded.  Her courage, joy and strength in the middle of all the injustice inspired her young grandson to dedicate his life to serving Christ and the Church.

‘The Beatitudes in Matthew’s Gospel are the portrait of Jesus his way of life, ….and a path that we too can walk with the grace that Jesus gifts us’ (Pope Francis).

This portrait presents in summary brushstrokes the Face of Jesus and the nature of the Father. Justice, Mercy, Meekness, Purity of Heart – Peace, offering a picture of communion with Him that accompanies him to persecution and the Cross.

Just as the illustrations we have heard that exemplify some of the Beatitudes lived out by ordinary Christians following the portrait and example of Jesus- they demonstrate and affirm the love, mercy, and grace of God that transforms his followers. The afflicted soldiers were Blessed by the presence of their chaplain, who served Christ, Natasha by the faith of her friend Bethany and the prayers of her church- her parents by forgiveness to heal and the Bishop as a boy by his grandmother’s courage.

Inspired by these, we can wake up the sleeping saints inside ourselves to love God with everything we have and serve likewise.

Organ Voluntary

Arrangement on ‘A Mighty Fortress is our God.’
Watch here

Today’s hymn

For all the saints:
Watch here

Music from Matthew

At the offertory today Sophie will sing this setting of the beautiful words of Psalm 121, by English composer Michael Head. Listen for the expressive lyrical lines supported by sumptuous harmony in the accompaniment.
‘I will lift up my eyes unto the hills’ by Michael Head (1900-76)
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help. My help cometh even from the Lord who hath made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved and he that keepeth thee will not sleep. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord himself is thy keeper the Lord is thy defence upon thy right hand; So that the sun shall not burn thee by day neither the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil yea, it is even he that shall keep thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out, and thy coming in from this time forth for evermore.
Martin Oxenham (baritone), Lee Ward (organ)
During communion, we’ll hear the alto aria from J.S. Bach’s substantial cantata no.75; it was the first piece he wrote in his new post as Kapellmeister at the Thomaskirche, Leipzig, and first performed there in 1723.
‘Jesus macht mich geistlich reich’ by J.S. Bach (1685-1750)
Jesus makes me spiritually rich. If I can embrace his spirit, I will long for nothing more; for my life will grow with it. Jesus makes me spiritually rich.
The Netherlands Bach Society, Damien Guillon (alto), Sigiswald Kuijken (conductor)

Additional Resources for today’s homily

Anita has provided the following links to illustrate her homily:
Father Emil Kapaun
Illustrates most if not all the Beatitudes.
Please see this film about Father Emil Kapaun.  It features President Obama bestowing him posthumously with the Medal of Honour. The men he served who survived, remembering him as he gave them hope, building them up to carry on in the spirit of Christ, encouraging them to keep going. When the Chinese guards came to take him to the death house where he was left to die, he turned around to pray for and bless the guards saying
‘Father Forgive Them They Know Not What They Do’.
Official Website for the process of his canonization.
Songs of Praise 5/9/21: 2 short clips:
Faith after tragedy
Illustrates two or three of the Beatitudes
Blessed are they who mourn
Blessed are the merciful
Blessed are the peacemakers
Forgiveness through Faith

The Liturgy of the Hours

BBC Radio 3 is currently running a "Capturing Twilight" season and this Sunday (31 Oct) will broadcast the eight offices of the Liturgy of the Hours. These short services are said or sung in religious communities and are an established pattern of the Church's tradition. Performed by the Tallis Scholars and introduced by Peter Philips, they will happen at near three-hour intervals throughout the day, starting with Matins at 1am as the clocks change. Compline is the final instalment at 9.45pm. All clergy and cathedrals pray the office each day although, understandably, in a condensed and more practical form. Perhaps join in this weekend and hear the ancient chants and canticles which stretch back to the earliest forms of Christian worship. They will be also available online once broadcast so you do not need to be tuned in at the exact time to catch each one. Link to the BBC page here. Read Bishop Helen-Ann Hartley on the Divine Office here.

Where are the Apostles’ remains?

A not entirely accurate video but still interesting.  The narrator doesn’t mention that St. Bartholomew was flayed (skinned) alive which is why his iconography usually shows him holding a knife.  St. John died in Ephesus, but his remains are/were in the now ruined Basilica of St. John in the nearby city of Selcuk.  It is not clear if the ancient city of Ephesus extended that far.
Watch here

The Feast of All Souls – Tuesday 2nd November 7pm

There is a list at the back of the church for you to add the name of any who have died in the last year and should be remembered in the prayers at the All Souls’ Mass.

Artisan Fair

Tell your friends and neighbours!!

An All Saints’ Day Pep Talk

Watch here

Daily Readings

Monday: Romans11:29-end; Psalm 69:31-37; Luke 14:12-14.

Tuesday: Romans 5:5-11; Psalm 23; John 6:37-40. (All Souls)

Wednesday: Romans 13:8-10; Psalm 112; Luke 14:25-33.

Thursday: Romans 14:7-12; Psalm 27:14-end; Luke 15:1-10.

Friday: Romans 15:14-21; Psalm 98; Luke 16:1-8.

Saturday: Romans 16:3-9,16,22-end; Psalm 145:1-7; Luke 16:9-15.

An Easy Autumn Apple Cake

I came across this German recipe by chance, as one does on YouTube!  It could not be simpler and, like many German and French cake recipes, uses vegetable oil rather than butter.  The only detail omitted is the size of the tin, though it looks like about 18-20cm. (Note that the base of the tin is lined).
Watch here
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