Posted on the 2nd April 2020 in the category Statements
During the current situation with Coronavirus, whilst churches are closed, we are working with The Society to provide a range of resources for use by people that will help them to pray at home.
Praying At Home Booklet
We have produced a booklet of prayers and devotions that people can use to aid their prayer life at home. This resource can be downloaded and printed as a booklet, and we encourage people to use these prayers during this time. The booklet can be downloaded HERE.
Praying in Church
As churches are permitted to open for private prayer, we hope that this resource will be helpful to people. You can download the resource HERE
Praying with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament
As churches begin to open for private prayer, it is an opportunity for us to pray with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, either during exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in a monstance, or in front of the Tabernacle. A resource from the Church Union and The Society has been produced to help you with this. You can download the resource HERE
Father Christopher Johnson, of St Peter's Church Horbury, has also produced a resource that wil help you spend an hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament and you can download this HERE
Saints of the month for August
Although we are praying and worshipping in our homes, we never pray alone. We pray with the Church around the world and our prayers are joined with those of the company of heaven. In this booklet there are a selection of biographies of saints and holy people whose feast days occur this month, as well as prayers you might find helpful. You can download the booklet HERE
Sacred Heart Resource
Images or statues of the Sacred Heart of Jesus are found in many homes and churches. The Sacred Heart devotion shows the great love that Jesus has for us, and can be a great comfort in both happy times and more sorrowful times. In this resource you will find prayers, poems, hymns and reflections that help us grow closer the the Sacred Heart in our day-to-day lives and find an outpouring of God's love. You can download the booklet HERE
Praying for the Dead Video
The Covid-19 pandemic has, tragically and often cruelly, thrown the issue of grieving for the dead into sharp focus for too many in our society. While in no waydetracting from that grief, the Christian faith has always offered a message of hope; a hope which finds its source in Our Lord's Resurrection. Our belief as Christians is that death is not the end and that, by praying for the dead, we not only aid the souls of the deceased in their journey to the next world, but we also gain spiritual benefits for ourselves. For we too shall make that journey one day.
In this short film on praying for the dead, The Bishop of Fulham gives a powerful reflection on this challenging topic, accompanied by music and a scriptural reading on the same theme. The Bishop rightly reminds us that Christians have always prayed for the dead and that it is at the heart of our Christian faith that we should continue to do so. Over the last ten Thursday evenings, it has been wonderful to witness the country coming together to clap its carers. We now urge people to unite spiritually in praying for the dead at this time of crisis.
For more information, and for more resources on praying for the dead, then please visit www.guildofallsouls.org.uk
You can watch the video HERE
The Bishop of Fulham has produced some excellent resources to help us in praying the Rosary. You can watch Bishop Jonathan explaining how to pray the Rosary by clicking here and there are also some downloadable resources HERE
Praying at home with the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Society of Mary has produced a booklet of readings, reflections and prayers that focus on some of the themes that are important at these times; and how Mary is an example for us, as well as someone who prays with us and for us. You can download the booklet HERE
Stations of the Cross
This resource will help us to meditate and pray the Stations of the Cross at home. We are grateful to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham for allowing us to reproduce these meditations from the Pilgrim Manual and Fr Philip Barnes for writing the introduction.
Stations of the Resurrection
In this devotion we follow Jesus and the disciples from Easter morning through to Pentecost. They follow the same pattern as the Stations of the Cross, with a scripture reading, meditation and a prayer. Through these scenes we share in the disciples’ doubts, their misunderstandings, their fears, but most of all their joy in the Risen Jesus. It is the Resurrection of Jesus that, in these very strange times, is our strength and hope. You can download a copy HERE
An Act of Contrition
Many of us will normally want to meet Jesus in the Sacrament of Reconcilation at this time of year, and to leave our sins at the foot of the cross and hear the comforting words of absolution from a priest. This will not be possible this Holy Week and Easter, so we recommend that during Holy Week you make an 'Act of Contrition'. There is a booklet for this HERE
Guild of All Souls
We know that many parishes are investigating live streaming of Mass and the offices during this time. There is some excellent guidance from the Church of England website on how to do this. You can find this guidance by
One of the issues that. people have with live streaming is the quality of the sound. There is a useful guide to getting the best audio results HERE
Worship with children
Clare Williams is offering weekly emails to support parents with activities for Faith at home during the next few weeks - links to resources, specific and seasonal resources all available. Please sign up by emailing Clare by CLICKING HERE
Clare has also set up a blog which gives suggestions for worship as a family and some further resources. You can access the blog HERE.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham’s schools resources page also has some good resources for use at home during this time. You can find them by clicking HERE there are some more suggestions of resources from the Shrine HERE
The Church Union’s ‘Foundations’ resource has material for use on Sundays which you might also find helpful. You can find the free download HERE
Resources from the Church of England
There are lots of resources available from the Church of England and these are being updated regularly. You can find the link HERE
The Church of England has also produced a guide for maintaining good mental health during this period. You can click HERE for this resource
The Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has produced some other resources to help us pray at home during this time. Click here for more details.
Mass in a time of pandemic
New prayerbook from the Vatican
A new prayerbook has been produced by the Vatican for these times. This can be downloaded HERE
Apps you might find helpful
For those who have a smart phone or tablet, the following list of apps (available for download from your App Store) might be helpful in your daily prayer life. This list is not exhaustive and if you have come across any other good resources, please email Fr Adam by CLICKING HERE
Please be assured of the prayers of all of us at The Church Union at this time.
Posted on the 18th December 2019 in the category News
Adoremus Pilgrimage 2019
Walsingham, my home of: solace, reconciliation, companionship.
I made my first journey to Walsingham having been encouraged by the words of Pope Francis. His exact words I do not remember unfortunately but I ‘listened’ and what an invaluable experience it has been.
Adoremus is a wonderful weekend experience which brings together young adults in deepening our faith – on the topics of vocation, evangelism, and living out our Christian faith. Not only do we get to learn from the great model of young Priests, we also have the chance to share our thoughts amongst ourselves. Many of us on Adoremus come from parishes where the lack of other like-minded young people makes these discussions even more enlightening! I am constantly simply overjoyed being in the midst other young Christians and more so, Anglo-Catholics; with whom I have formed great friendships.
The first visit to the Holy House always leaves me in awe; to Our Lady’s courageous declaration in saying ‘Yes’ to God. Walsingham is my home where I renew this Yes with the Blessed Virgin Mary, being my constant guide.
During the course of the weekend, we have the opportunity to receive the healing ministries through the laying on of hands, anointing with holy oil, sprinkling at the Well. You are encouraged to ‘come as you are’ because in proclaiming the gospel no one is ever excluded! How wonderful it is to know this!
The Sunday perfectly coincides with the glorious Feast of Christ the King, with mass attended at St Mary & All Saints Church. This I find keeps the flame of our faith burning as we journey on - to forever proclaim Christ as our one true redeemer.
The teachings on Adoremus have positively moulded my life immeasurably:
“Go to church on Sunday” – It not only feeds us, as only Christ will nourish our souls but it also sets us apart not because we are superior, but as God's chosen children. This is a constant reminder of our identity in Christ and the duty that comes with it; making Him known to the world through our lives. And as we see Christ present in the Eucharist, so must we see Him in the poor.
“No vocation is ever better or less than the other”
No matter what my calling is, in this very moment I know we are all called to holiness, to love. I have since begun to take an active participation in the church and I am thankful to have had an incredibly supportive Vicar, Fr. Phillip Corbett, who has enabled me to do so.
My dear young people, through our baptism we are called to a greater mission. Christ is always calling us and Walsingham welcomes you, and we have each other to help us on the way!
Posted on the 30th October 2019 in the category News
As ‘ear-worms’ go this was a pretty good one for the five-hundred or so young people who attended this year’s Walsingham Youth Pilgrimage to get stuck with. “I can see the fingerprints of God when I look at you” they sang with great gusto, expressing the conviction that each one of us is ‘Wonderfully Made’ in the image and likeness of God, “covered with the fingerprints of God” called to reflect his glory and a masterpiece of creation.
Each year a team of us plans the five day Youth Pilgrimage to carefully reflect some of the challenges and questions that our young pilgrims bring with them. This year we wanted to pick up the theme of self-image, which can take such a battering from the pressures of Social Media and the celebrity culture that looks for ‘perfection’ in a limited understanding of what is beautiful.
Walsingham is an extraordinary place to ask that question “who am I?” as it presents us with a joyful affirmation of human dignity and destiny in the vocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a dignity which rests not on fame and fortune but on the call of Almighty God and our response to that call.
We gathered as a diverse group of pilgrims, from different social backgrounds and settings, but the striking thing about the Youth Pilgrimage is that it gives to all the security to enjoy one another’s company, to be challenged by the gospel, to grow in confidence as a Christian, and to grow. We strive to provide ways that these young Christians can meet one another, and ‘The Hub’ – a café style space for them to socialise together- is one of the places this happens; one afternoon there I noticed a Chaldean Catholic Deacon from Iraq talking to Swedish Lutheran teenagers –at an Anglican pilgrimage!
The devotions so familiar to all Walsingham pilgrims formed the framework for teaching and led our young pilgrimages on a journey of exploration and discovery. As we gathered together for the First Visit on the Monday evening we heard those astonishing words of Psalm 139 that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”, and as each pilgrim entered the Holy House they could look into a large mirror bearing the words ‘Wonderfully Made’ to see the reflection of themselves and the image of Our Lady of Walsingham – both called and loved by God.
Our Mass on Tuesday morning looked at what we mean by saying that we are created in God’s image, before moving on in the evening to think about how we are made for relationship with God and one another as we made a rather soggy Holy Mile procession to the Shrine grounds, there to fall silent in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament to receive Christ’s blessing at Benediction. We can sometimes talk easily about Walsingham being a ‘thin place’, a place where heaven and earth are met, and as 500 young people knelt silently praying, seemingly oblivious to the rain, the reality of that was plain to see.
Wednesday’s theme was the incarnation and God’s taking of human flesh – filling it with the dignity of his life. After an afternoon of fun activities we gathered again in the ‘Big Top’ marquee where all our worship is held to celebrate the healing graces that abound at Walsingham, and in response to a challenging sermon from Bishop Philip North our pilgrims received the water from the well, prayed for wholeness and healing with the laying-on of hands and anointing, and received that joyful assurance of the forgiveness of sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation – and the queues of penitents will have been a cause of great joy in heaven.
Bringing a group to the youth pilgrimage can sometimes be tiring and hard work, and for the Shrine it is a tremendous undertaking and responsibility, but if ever encouragement were needed it comes from the knowledge that during this week lives are changed, hope is renewed, and the fire of faith is kindled in many young hearts. We’re conscious that this grace comes as a gift from God, and that many are joined with us in prayer and generosity –not least through the ‘Godparents’ scheme, and we are hugely grateful for this.
We anticipated the celebration of Mary’s Assumption into heaven on Thursday, seeing in that glorious ending to her earthly life a sign of our own call to life with God for ever. The message of closing Mass was summed-up by Bishop Philip North in just six words: “Eat the body, be the body“. We focused on belonging to the Church as members of the Body of Christ, fed by the Body of Christ.
After Mass the pilgrims left the big top, still dancing and singing “covered with the finger prints of God”.
It’ a truth we hope they never forget.
For photos of this year’s Youth Pilgrimage, follow this link:
Fr Philip Barnes
Posted on the 30th October 2019 in the category News
Priests and people from eight different dioceses filled the nave of Rochester Cathedral on Holy Cross Day, 14 September, as they joined with Bishop Norman Banks for his Richborough Family Festival.
A congregation of over four hundred, including the Bishop of Rochester, first participated prayerfully in a festival Mass, concelebrated by many priest-brothers of the Society of the Holy Cross, which co-sponsored the day as it marked its patronal commemoration.
Younger members of the congregation read and led the intercessions, with gift bags for their junior siblings. All present also took home Richborough Family wristbands, accessories which proved highly popular! In his homily, Bishop Norman reminded the congregation that in the Cross we find life, health and salvation, and thus that we should look for strength to the crucified Saviour in times of trial and distress.
There was time after Mass to explore the cathedral and city, with some pilgrims opting to eat their picnics in the grounds of Rochester Castle, and there to enjoy the day's fine weather. Other members of the Richborough Family visited the arresting "Knife Angel" installation in the cathedral garth, a peripatetic national monument against knife violence and aggression.
But before long it was time once more to worship, at a beautiful service of Choral Evensong with which the Festival drew to its close. Visiting musicians (members of "SiNG - the Travelling Evensong Choir") sang Bruckner, Brewer and Goss, and the diocesan bishop invited Bishop Norman to pronounce the final blessing.
The celebrations continued for some in a number of local restaurants and hostelries, while others boarded their coaches to return to their parishes, full of faith, hope and joy.
A similar celebration is proposed for 2020, to take place at Canterbury Cathedral. Further details will be made available in due course
Posted on the 30th October 2019 in the category News
A record number of people attended the Richborough Family Festival which took place at The Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban on Saturday the 10th of August. For many years the Cathedral hosted a monthly Eucharist ‘Attended by members of Forward in Faith’ in the Lady Chapel and the Richborough Festival grew out of that, with a Sung Mass in the Lady Chapel followed by a picnic lunch in the Bishop’s garden at Parkside House. For the Jubilee Year of Mercy in 2016 the service was moved into the cathedral nave due to the larger numbers expected, and the following year saw the Lady Chapel overflowing with the result that the service moved back into the nave for 2018 and 2019. This year several-hundred people attended, with many parishes organising coaches from as far afield as Bournemouth, Portsmouth and Walsingham.
The observance this year was St Lawrence, which as Bishop Norman reminded us in his homily, is sometimes spelt as Laurence in the Church of England. Lawrence was one of the seven deacons of the city of Rome under Pope Sixtus II who were martyred in the persecution of Christians that the Roman Emperor Valerian ordered in 258. The actual details of his martyrdom are thin; his examiners are said to have insisted he produce the Church treasures, for which he was responsible. He promptly did so: assembling all the poor, he is reputed to have said, “These are the treasures of the Church.” The story of his being put to death on a gridiron is a much later addition to his story, though he is invariably depicted holding such, as is customary for martyrs to hold the implement of their torture.
Following the Mass the majority of the congregation made the short walk to the Bishop’s garden to consume their picnics, accompanied by plentiful amounts of wine, tea and coffee. As has become the custom, a short Bible Study followed, delivered by Bishop Norman from the conveniently placed balcony, a vista not unlike St Peter’s in Rome (a fact not missed by the Bishop who began ‘Urbi et Orbi..’!). A short exposition of St Paul followed, though many of us had half an eye on the sky, the rain having only just held off.
With an hour or so to spare, many went off to sample all that St Albans had to offer in the way of shopping, before returning to the Cathedral for Choral Evensong at 4 p.m., superbly sung by the choir of St Luke’s, Chelsea, the Cathedral Choir being on their summer holiday.
With many of our churches spread far apart, festivals such as this provide an excellent opportunity for both clergy and people to come together and remind everyone of the importance of the Richborough Family.
Fr Benjamin Weitzmann