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Showing posts from August, 2017

Maximilian Kolbe (1894 - 1941)

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Maximilian Kolbe died in Auschwitz Concentration Camp on 14 August 1941. He died horribly after volunteering to take the place of another prisoner selected for death by dehydration and starvation. You can read a brief version of that story in 'Man in Striped Pajamas'.
During World War II as a Polish Franciscan Friar, Maximilian Kolbe sheltered refugees from Greater Poland, including 2000 Jewish people in his friary at Niepokalanów. Using amateur radio he also actively spoke against Nazi activities. Such actions led to his arrest, imprisonment and death.
He was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1983 as a 'martyr of charity'. At the ceremony in Rome, perhaps the most significant person present was Franciszek Gajowniczek. He was the prisoner whose place Maximilian took in offering his own life in exchange. That man survived Auschwitz and lived until 1995, aged 93.
You can read an interesting biography of Maximilian Kolbe in the Jewish Virtual Library. From that I learnt a l…

Clare of Assisi, Founder of the Minoresses (Poor Clares)

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Who was Clare of Assisi?
Was St Clare a teenage rebel who ran away from her wealthy home in Assisi?
If that's what St Clare did in the early 13th century, why is she still remembered today, the day of her death, 11 August?
Why is Clare of Assisi also known as St Clare?
And what is her connection with St Francis of Assisi?

Are you like me, you don't know much about St Clare?Would you like to know more? And you don't want to get bogged down in too much theological or academic writing?

Is so, you will find a simple starting point on the 'Our Roots' page of 'The Poor Clare Monastery, Hereford. This tells you a little about St Francis as well.

It is hard to understand Clare of Assisi without knowing something of the inspiration for simple Christian living that Clare found through the preaching of Francis of Assisi. The way of Francis, following in the way of Christ, inspired St Clare to found an order of contemplative nuns, known in her lifetime as 'the poor ladies of …

Mary Sumner, Founder of the Mothers' Union

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Who was Mary Sumner (1828 - 1921)?

She is best known as the founder of the Mothers' Union.

If you were to go to her grave at Winchester Cathedral, England on 9 August you might find flowers placed there that day by Mothers' Union members. That is because this is the day when she is commemorated in the Church of England calendar, although she actually died on the 11th not the 9th August 1921.

Born Mary Elizabeth Heywood in 1828 in Manchester, she married George Sumner in 1848. He was a Church of England clergyman. For many years she supported her husband's work in the parish of Old Alresford near Winchester, Hampshire, England.


Mary Sumner saw the need for a supportive group of mothers.She wanted to bring together women who could support and learn from one another about how to be a good example to children and keep prayer central to family life.

In the summer of 1876 she convened the first group meeting in the Rectory of Old Alresford, inviting 40 local women from all social cla…

What is a holiday?

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What is a holiday? What do holidays mean for you? A change of scene or routine? An escape from work or study? A chance to spend more time with family and friends or retreat to be alone?
What is a holiday?Your answer may not be the same as mine. We are all different.
What is common to all is the human need to balance work with regular recreation and rest. What does the word 'holiday' mean?The origin of the English word ‘holiday’ is the Old English ‘halig daeg’ (holy day). ‘Holy’ means ‘set apart’. So a day of holiday is a day that is different from other days.
A ‘holy day’ is a day set apart from ordinary days.On a 'holy day' the usual demands of work are suspended to free up time for celebrating an aspect of faith. For example, for Christians, the 'holy day' of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus. In the Hebrew Scriptures the 4th of the '10 commandments' is to remember to keep a regular sabbath day. This is an ancient commandment but its principle i…

The Transfiguration of our Lord

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Have you ever had an 'awesome' experience?
Many of you will say 'yes'. Some may say 'lots of times'. As an adjective, the word 'awesome' has become debased. It is now often used for anything someone likes, enjoys or admires. I dislike this modern usage.

I think that truly 'awesome' experiences are rare.
I understand a truly 'awesome' experience to be one which leaves people awestruck, brought to their knees in silent wonder or paralysing fear, or prostrate on the ground, completely overwhelmed.
'Awesome' occasions may be deeply emotional.Think of an athlete completing a spectacular victory, or collapsing on the ground at the finish of a long gruelling race and hearing the roar of the crowd.

'Awesome' events may be moments of spiritual illumination.
This can happen as we gaze at a beautiful landscape or painting, watch an amazing sunrise, or listen to great music that stirs the soul.
'Awesome' moments may be absolutely dr…