St George the Martyr, Goodwood
THE CHURCH’S YEAR MOVES SLOWLY ON. As the seasons have their equinoxes and solstices, the Church year, with its ancient rhythm, echoes that. Last month, September, was the equinox of the year, the time of equal light and dark in a day. The feast of Michaelmas falls around this time and it was anciently known as the quarterday as a result, to mark another quarter of the solar year.
September also had the feast of the Holy Cross, which commemorates the discovery of the relics of the true cross in Jerusalem by the Empress Helena in 327. The legend of the Cross was one of the great stories of the Middle Ages. The story, called the Golden Legend, was so popular it was one of the first books published in English by William Caxton in 1483. I have included the full story further down in the magazine.
Here Holy Cross has another significance; this is the time in the garden when our wisteria is at its best. There has been a wisteria in front of the Rectory since Fr Wise’s time, and in later years Vic Waples, when he was gardener, built a new frame for it. Now it is a delight every year, alas only for about two weeks around Holy Cross day.
Gardening on TuesdaysOur new gardening group has also been busy during September preparing the garden and this year promises to be one of the most beautiful for our grounds. If you have time on Tuesday morning, do join us: there is mass at 10 am, then a coffee up the street, and then about an hour’s work.
St Francis & Burying Ashes of Pets – 4 October
October starts with the feast of St Francis on Sunday 4 October. We have a small statue of him near the pulpit and we offer our grounds on his day to anyone who wishes to bury the ashes of pets. St Francis is one of the most popular saints from the Middle Ages, and his love of animals is shown in the carvings of him with a bird perched on his shoulder. Although, as one wit has said, if he loved the birds so much he should have preached to the cats. We will bless any animals present at the 10 am mass and bury ashes afterwards.
Taizé Service – Friday 23 October
This month we will also have a Taizé service here at St George’s, organised by Mother Joan Claring-Bould. Joan has a long association here, and was a student here in Fr McCall’s time before her ordination. This quiet meditative service will be on Friday 23 October at 6 pm.
All Souls – Monday 2 November
Looking ahead on 1 November we will have the feast of All Saints and then on 2 November the feast of All Souls’. There will be two masses that day, on 8 am and 10 am.
The covid restrictions continue to alter. We are now prohibited by the Archbishop from having hymns to minimise the possibility of community transmission. However, thanks to our choir, we are enjoying instead at the 10 am mass some beautiful Latin settings for the mass and plainsong hymns. Our Chant Group continues on Thursdays.
My thanks for the generous response to our Organ Appeal – we now have raised enough and more for the emergency repairs to two stops. However, we are now in need of a new high altar cloth, so we will need to purchase some fine linen for that. Fortunately, a parishioner will be able to sew it up.
The Story of the Cross
Adam, feeling the end of his life was near, entreated his son Seth to make a pilgrimage to the Garden of Eden and secure from the angel on guard at the entrance the Oil of Mercy which God had promised mankind.
Seth, following the directions of his father, discovered the Garden of Eden without difficulty. The angel who guarded the gate permitted him to enter, and in the midst of the garden Seth beheld a great tree, the branches of which reached up to heaven. The tree was in the form of a cross, and stood on the brink of a precipice which led downward into the depths of hell. Among the roots of the tree he saw the body of his brother Cain, held prisoner by the entwining limbs. The angel refused to give Seth the Oil of Mercy, but presented him instead with three seeds from the Tree of Life (some say the Tree of Knowledge). With these Seth returned to his father, who was so overjoyed that he did not desire to live longer. Three days later he died, and the three seeds were buried in his mouth. The seeds became a sapling with three trunks in one, which absorbed into itself the blood of Adam, so that the life of Adam was in the tree. Noah dug up this tree by the roots and took it with him into the Ark. After the waters subsided, he buried the skull of Adam under Mount Calvary, and planted the tree on the summit of Mount Lebanon.
Moses from it cut the magical rod with which he was able to bring water out of a stone. But because he failed to call upon the Lord the second time he struck the rock, he was not permitted to carry the sacred staff into the Promised Land; so he planted it in the hills of Moab. After much searching, King David discovered the tree; and his son, Solomon, tried to use it for a pillar in his Temple, but his carpenters could not cut it so that it would fit; it was always either too long or too short. At last, disgusted, they cast it aside and used it for a bridge to connect Jerusalem with the surrounding hills. When the Queen of Sheba came to visit King Solomon she was expected to walk across this bridge. Instead, when she beheld the tree, she refused to put her foot upon it, but, after kneeling and praying, removed her sandals and forded the stream. This so impressed King Solomon that he ordered the log to be overlaid with golden plates and placed above the door of his Temple. There it remained until his covetous grandson stole the gold, and buried the tree so that the crime would not be discovered.
From the ground where the tree was buried there immediately bubbled forth a spring of water, which became known as Bethesda. The angel of the pool became the guardian of the tree, and it remained undisturbed for many years. Eventually the log floated to the surface and was used as a bridge again, this time between Calvary and Jerusalem; and over it Jesus passed to be crucified. There was no wood on Calvary; so the tree was cut into two parts to serve as the cross upon which the Son of Man was crucified. The cross was set up at the very spot where the skull of Adam had been buried. That is why a skull is still often below a crucifix, such as in our Stations of the Cross at St George’s. Later, when the cross was discovered by the Empress Helena, the wood was found to be of four different varieties contained in one tree (representing the elements), and thereafter the cross continued to heal all the sick who were permitted to touch it.
The Prayer of St Francis
To finish off, as we celebrate St Francis this Sunday, I include his famous prayer.
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life. Amen.
8.00 am Mass
10.00 am Solemn Sung Mass
Monday Fr Scott’s Day Off
Tuesday 10.00 am Mass, followed by gardening
Wednesday 8.00 am Mass
Thursday 12 noon Mass
7.30 pm Chant Group
Friday 8.00 am Mass
Saturday 8.00 am Mass
2 The Guardian Angels
3 George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, Ecumenist, Peacemaker, 1958
4 FRANCIS OF ASSISI, FRIAR, DEACON, FOUNDER OF THE FRIARS MINOR, 1226
5 Augustus Short, First Bishop of Adelaide, 1883
6 William Tyndale, Translator of the Scriptures, Martyr, 1536
7 Blessed Virgin of the Rosary
9 Denys, Bishop of Paris and his Companions, Martyrs, c258
9 Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln, Philosopher, Scientist, 1253
9 John Henry Newman, Priest, Teacher, Tractarian, 1890
10 Thomas Traherne, Poet, Spiritual Writer, 1674
11 PENTECOST 19
12 Elizabeth Fry, Prison Reformer, 1845
12 Wilfrid of Ripon, Bishop, Missionary, 709
13 Edward the Confessor, King of England, 1066
15 Teresa of Avila, Teacher of the Faith, 1582
16 Hugh Latimer, Bishop of Worchester and Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London, Martyrs
17 Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, Martyr, c107
18 LUKE, EVANGELIST AND MARTYR
19 Henry Martyn, Translator of the Scriptures, Missionary in India and Persia, 1812
23 6 pm Taizé Service
24 United Nations, Inaugurated 1945
25 PENTECOST 21
26 Alfred the Great, King of the West Saxons, Scholar, 899
26 Cedd, Abbot of Lastingham, bishop of the East Saxons, 664
28 SIMON AND JUDE, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS
29 James Hannington, Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa, Martyr in Uganda, 1885
31 Martin Luther, 1546 and other Continental Reformers