St Michael and All Angels Church, Bedford Park

Clarion Articles from 2008

A selection of articles is published here.
February 2008
March 2008
June 2008
July/August 2008

November 2008

A message from Mother Katherine Hedderly, former curate at St Michael's:

We have been blessed these last few weeks with the most wonderful Autumn, making up perhaps for the absence of anything like a proper Summer this year. It has seemed like a last flush of youth, an opening up for us of the glories of the season; rich oranges and reds of turning leaves, the crunch underfoot of foliage that has curled and dried, the wide skies, the lower but richer light, the nip in the air and the nights drawing in. All the majesty of Autumn that speaks to us of transformation; as nature
draws in on itself for a time. It is a time of endings where the Church also turns, as it celebrates All Saints, All Souls and Remembrance Sunday, to contemplate death and the transformation that it brings.

Living in a culture that is so much in denial about death, it is disconcerting to be reminded of it so starkly on All Hallows Eve, when images of death are so openly displayed, as children dressed as skeleton’s knock on doors for tricks or treats. But rather than a time for ghosts and ghouls, in this season the Church celebrates the life and witness of the departed, those we have known and loved and the Christian saints who have gone before us.

Our pace of life today is moving on so fast that we barely have a chance to pause and reflect on what we have, let alone whom and what we have lost. Apparently in London before WW1 two large retailers sold nothing but clothes for those to wear whilst in mourning. After the war they quickly closed down: with a society facing so much death, the focus was for life to go on. We too have that same urge to keep moving on, but in this month the Church urges us to stop and reflect and rejoice and remember.

One of the most moving parts of taking funerals is when, as the coffin is driven from the church, the master of ceremonies will often walk for 50 yards or so in front of the hearse, holding up all the traffic. This is a bold statement that says to the world for a brief period of time, that nothing is more important than this person and their life; and that here is death, and it has its place in the busy bustle of Chiswick. In the face of death we should all stop and notice… life should stand still for a while, as we grieve and share our sadness and sense of loss. All too quickly however life does move on
again and the bustle of the street continues, this brief interlude in the day quickly covered over and forgotten to most.

This month is a little like that time, where we slow the pace, and turn to look with love upon all those whom we have known and loved and upon all the saints that have gone before us. We remember them, we give thanks for them, we cherish all the joy that we shared with them and we hold them up in prayer before our Heavenly Father. It reminds me of Rowan William’s comment about prayer being like sunbathing. ‘When sunbathing’ he said, ‘you simply have to be there where the light can get at you.’ As we pray for the departed, we offer them into that light, of the love and mercy of God.

Following on from All Souls throughout the month we continue to offer Requiem Masses for the departed. Having the names of those we love included in the Church’s great prayer of thanksgiving puts their death into the context of Christ’s death and resurrection. Coming and taking part in these services unites us with them, as God’s love is revealed for us in Christ’s his offering of himself for us. The Feast of Christ the King, which marks the end of Ordinary time, echoes this theme as we anticipate
how our vulnerable humanity is taken up into the divine, in our risen, reigning Lord.

So let us pause for a moment to hold others up to God’s light, aware that in doing so we ourselves turn to where his light can get at us