Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The Christ Journey launch

A very well attended celebration to mark the publication of our latest book The Christ Journey was held in our London shop on Tuesday evening.

The book contains pictures of a collection of art by the contemporary artist Greg Tricker, each of which is accompanied by a commentary by Sister Wendy Beckett. All the pieces featured in the book are on display in Westminster Cathedral until 15th October, after which they transfer to the Piano Nobile Gallery in London from where they may be purchased. There are plans afoot for the exhibition to tour America.

One of those attending the launch was the writer of the blog A Reluctant Sinner, and his article (found here) on the work of Greg and Sister Wendy and the book is extremely positive and much appreciated.

The book launch was kindly sponsored by Chelsea Funeral Directors to whom we extend our grateful thanks.

The book can be purchased from any of our bookshops, our website or from the St Pauls Publishing website.

Bishop Tom Wright

Don't forget - Tom Wright, the retired Anglican Bishop of Durham and renowned biblical scholar, will be giving a short talk, partaking in a question and answer session and signing books in our Westminster bookshop today, Thursday 29th September from 6 - 7.30pm.

Entrance is free of charge and all are welcome to attend.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Walsingham. Earlier this year, to celebrate to 950th anniversary of the foundation of the Shrine, we published Fr Michael Rear's book

Fr Rear’s meticulous research, fluent style of writing and choice of illustrations have combined to produce what will certainly become the standard work on pilgrims and pilgrimage to the Holy Land of Walsingham. This comprehensive work begins with the pre-Christian era and is brought through triumph and tragedy right up to the present day.

Reproduced below is part of Fr Rear's Introduction to the book.

"Ever since my parents took me on pilgrimage to Walsingham when I was seven years old I have been drawn back there, as many others are, again and again. Mary, under her title, Our Lady of Walsingham, has always been there in my life. Far from being an unnecessary distraction as some have suggested, still less a detraction from the honour we pay to her Son, I have always thought of the Mother and Son together, as they were in their home at Nazareth, and at the foot of the cross, and as they are in the statue that is revered in Walsingham.

Little did I imagine that one day I might have the privilege of living and working in Walsingham, yet this is what I did for nearly twenty years. During that time my interest in the spirituality and history of the Shrine, from its origins until its destruction at the Reformation, grew. I learned a good deal about its restoration by Roman Catholics at the Pontifical Shrine in King’s Lynn and in the Slipper Chapel, and by Anglicans at the Shrine and Holy House in the village, and the reason why thousands upon thousands of pilgrims and visitors consequently come to this beautiful small Norfolk village.

The medieval village was built for pilgrims, and its history has come full circle. In their literature each Shrine naturally focuses on its own history, while invariably mentioning the other, but in lesser detail, yet the restoration of them both actually has a common source and a history that is entwined. In earlier days there was great rivalry and misunderstanding, which has given way to a deepening unity and cooperation, which, as everyone says, is how it should be.

There is only one Holy Mother of God, even though there are two centres of devotion to her at Walsingham. As I realised how much they have in common, and in the light of this growing unity, it seemed to me there was room for a new book which describes the restoration of both Shrines, including some details that have not been written up before, as well as including what is known of the religious history of Walsingham before and after Richeldis built the Holy House in 1061.

Few Roman Catholics know much about the restoration of the Anglican Shrine, and many Anglicans know little about the restoration of the Catholic Shrine, and I hope this book will contribute to a fuller understanding. It is not a history book only, but one which I hope conveys something of the spirituality and prayer of the place, which is what brings pilgrims to Walsingham, and takes us back there time and time again."

“Walsingham finds a worthy historian in Michael Rear, whose own experiences of the shrine and whose scholarly abilities make him ideally suited to the task that he set himself in writing this book.”
From her Foreword to the book, Dr Sarah Jane Boss, Senior Lecturer in Theology and Religious Studies, Roehampton University

"Michael Rear loves this place, and is uniquely equipped to tell its story. We thank him and have much pleasure in commending 'Walsingham: Pilgrims and Pilgrimage'."
From their Preface, Bishop Lindsay Urwin O.G.S. Administrator, Anglican Shrine and Fr Alan Williams S.M. Director, National Catholic Shrine.


Thursday, 22 September 2011

Congratulations to Lion Publishing

Today, Lion Hudson Publishing celebrated their 40th anniversary with a service of thanksgiving in Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford.

Lion Publishing was founded in 1971 by Pat and David Alexander. As we heard during the service, their inspired objective was to make Christian books available via secular bookshops. Their success in achieving this during their early years surpassed their hopes and expectations. This success later extended to an international market, and their books are now available in over 200 languages.

The first book they published, The Lion Handbook to the Bible, is still in print 40 years on and a limited edition, bound and cased copy was given to everyone who attended todays celebration.

The Lion Hudson range of books of bible stories for children are second to none. If you are looking for a gift for your child, godchild, niece or nephew, ST PAULS can recommend nothing better than a book from the Lion Hudson range.

Lion Publishing merged in 2003 with Angus Hudson Ltd, creating the largest independent publisher of books inspired by the Christian faith.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Bishop Tom Wright

Following the recent publication of Revelation for Everyone, the last title in the New Testament for Everyone series, Tom Wright, the retired Anglican Bishop of Durham and renowned biblical scholar, will be giving a short talk, partaking in a question and answer session and signing books in our Westminster bookshop on Thursday 29th September from 6 - 7.30pm.

Entrance is free of charge and all are welcome to attend.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

SACRED LIGHT - The Christ Journey

A major exhibition of stained glass, paintings, woodcut prints and wood carving by sculptor and painter Greg Tricker will be on show at Westminster Cathedral from 26th September to 15th October.

SACRED LIGHT: The Christ Journey will consist of thirty-five new works exhibited in the St Patrick and St Andrew side chapels on the south side of the cathedral, with five large stained glass pieces to be hung in the nave.

Greg Tricker’s profound and simple style of painting is influenced by the work of Vincent van Gogh. The exhibition focuses on the theme of Christ’s journeys - Nativity, Ministry, Passion, Death and Resurrection and on the journeys of a gathering of saints: Mary the Mother of God, St Francis, St Clare and St Bernadette.

What others have said about Greg Tricker:

"Greg Tricker is a deep painter, somebody possessed by a vision of holiness. He has an extraordinary command of technique, simple, yet charged with meaning beyond the surface. Steadily, quietly, he gleans out and captures his subject with gentle rejoicing." Sister Wendy Beckett

"I particularly love your woodcuts and your stone sculptures. They have such a special quality about them." HRH The Prince of Wales

"I really love the beautiful childlike style which reminds me of Ethiopian icons." Sir John Tavener

"I admired the work . . . I think it has immense presence and ‘Romanesque’ solidity, and I found this very effective applied to more modern subjects like St Bernadette." The Most Revd Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

ST PAULS has published a book, The Christ Journey, to accompany the exhibition, which contains reproductions of the 34 pieces in the exhibition; each piece has a reflection written by Sister Wendy Beckett. Her inimitable style of writing enables the reader to enter more fully into Tricker’s work. Drawing upon her experiences gained from a life spent in prayer and study, she highlights for us the artist’s own spirituality evident in his work, whilst firmly placing the pieces in the context of the Gospels and Christian tradition.

Tricker does not simply provide a retelling of the life of Christ but, as Sister Wendy herself writes, he "… sees Christ as embarking on a cosmic journey through all time, and so he adds images of saints, some from later centuries, especially dear to him: St Bernadette, St Francis, St Clare. He is revealing his profound conviction that the Christ Journey is for each of us, our own journey." (From her introduction).

The book will be available from ST PAULS Bookshop in Westminster and from the Westminster Cathedral Gift Shop from 26th September.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Holy Cross

The exultation of the Holy Cross has been one of the great feasts of the Church ever since St Helena went to Jerusalem and, according to the legend, rediscovered the actual wood of the Cross on which Christ had been crucified. She was the mother of Emperor Constantine, who founded the second Rome, Constantinople, which became Byzantium. For the Orthodox Church it is almost a family feast, for it was Constantine who was the first Roman Emperor to accept the truth of Christianity. What makes this icon so striking is its understanding of means and ends. Jesus is the end, always and only the end, and we honour the Cross solely because of the use He made of it. In itself, the Cross is an instrument of torture. Taken up in love, it becomes the instrument of salvation.

The tall, elongated figure of Jesus dominates the icon. He is seen within the context of His Church, that other means to the same end, a fuller union with Jesus. On either side of Him stand His mother and St John the Baptist, which is another reference to the Church. All Orthodox Churches have as their visual centre what is called the Deisis, that is Jesus with Mary and John on either side, and beyond them, at least six Bishops or Prophets or Doctors. Only Jesus looks out at His congregation. All the holy figures, who represent us as we would wish to be, turn towards Him, to be blessed and strengthened. Jesus stands upon jagged rocks which slope down to a riverbed. The rocks, however, are lit as if from within, perhaps recalling Mount Tabor. At the foot of the little mountain rises a small and almost insignificant cross. Three angels cluster around it and we can see that it stands within a river, thereby consecrating its waters. The reference is to the Pool of Siloam that we read of in the Gospel. The sick came there to be blessed, and here, on either side, we see the mass of the sick and needy. The Gospel story showed Jesus healing the sick by His presence. Now it is the spiritually sick whom He heals, and the wood of the Cross is not merely material but infused with His own redemptive grace.

In becoming man, Jesus has transformed the very nature of matter. He has made everything that exists a potential means of grace. In venerating the wood of the Cross, we are specially honouring the meaning of His death. Suffering, in itself, is no more sanctifying than the dull materiality of wood. But Jesus made wood ‘honourable’, he used it to redeem us. The Cross is a symbol of all that causes us to suffer, in itself a dead end, through grace, blessedly redemptive.

The angels, those heavenly figures of light, clustering around the font (surely the baptismal font?) are eclipsed by the thin frailty of the Cross that rises above them, and that, in itself is only important because of the figure of Jesus. The exultation of the Cross is really the exultation of the Saviour, the redemptive Jesus, who stands within the context of His Church and draws us to Himself.

Picture: Exaltation of the Honourable Wood of the Cross 15th century © Suzdal Museum, Russia.
Text © ST PAULS Publishing. Taken from Sister Wendy Contemplates The Iconic Jesus

Sunday, 11 September 2011

St Pauls Bookshop in York

Three years ago today Bishop Terence Drainey, Bishop of Middlesbrough, officially opened and blessed our bookshop in York. Since that day, we have received tremendous support from schools, parishes and individuals from the Diocese of Middlesbrough and the Archdiocese of York. We would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for this support and hope you will continue to do so in the future.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Our Lady's Birthday

On the cross Jesus fulfilled His duty as a good Jewish son and made provision for His mother. He had no house and no money, but He did have at least one loyal friend: St John. This is the young John we saw in the painting ‘Fishers of Men’. He has followed Jesus and learnt how to be a spiritual Fisher. Now Jesus entrusts to him His mother: ‘Mother behold your son, son behold your mother.’ The Gospel only speaks of Mary once again: she was there in the upper room with the disciples when the Holy Spirit descended, ‘in parted tongues as if of fire’. But if Scripture has nothing more to tell us, tradition is eager to take up the slack.

It has long been held that St John went to preach the Gospel in Asia, making his centre the ancient city of Ephesus, and of course, Mary the mother of Jesus went with him. Ephesus was a famous city, and its Christians were later honoured to receive a letter from St Paul. It was famous in Christian eyes for all the wrong reasons. Ephesus was a great centre of Greek culture renowned above all for its worship of the goddess Diana. Pilgrims to the shrine of the goddess brought in much of the city’s revenue and a great deal of the opposition to the teaching of Jesus sprang from the fear of the craftsmen who made their living from fashioning small replicas of the shrine. Tricker sees a beautiful irony in this goddess-haunted city becoming the final home of the Virgin Mary. She is no goddess, though she is infinitely more powerful than any pagan divinity. She is a simple woman of faith, who bowed her head in submission as soon as the angel announced to her God’s extraordinary message.

Mary Ephesus is a work of great beauty. Above and below her, we see the columns that characterise Greek civilisation with all its splendours. But leaves and fruit are beginning to grow over their majestic solidity. Mary represents a new beginning in civilisation, one based upon the teachings of her Son, teachings of love, joy and freedom. Her tranquil face shows none of the disfigurements of age. She seems still fresh and young, living as she does in the redemptive presence of her Son. She has the hands of a young girl, and they hold within them a patient dove. This is rather like the gesture we saw in the very beginning, in the ‘Christ Boy’, but Mary’s is a more mature dove. It does not look up as if eager to fly but nestles in her gentle hands. Symbolically, she is holding the world’s peace. She holds it for us and she holds it securely.

Tricker regards this work as showing ‘Mary in a more cosmic aspect’. This timeless Mary has moved out of history with its pain and uncertainties into the lucid happiness that is the consequence of faith. Her look is meditative, sweetly combining that happiness with an awareness of, and compassion for, the sorrows that we still endure. This is an image of how we are all called to live, at peace in our certainty of heaven, yet responsive to the difficulties that are still very present to us on earth. It is an instance of the present and future nature of the Kingdom of God: we are there yet only potentially.

Text © ST PAULS taken from The Christ Journey by Sister Wendy Beckett.
Picture: Mary Ephesus by Greg Tricker. This is one of the pieces of Tricker’s work to be displayed in Westminster Cathedral from 26th September to 15th October.

The book, published to accompany the exhibition, will be available from 26th September.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Procession of the Blessed Sacrament

To celebrate the first anniversary of the Beatification of Blessed John Henry Newman and the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Britain, there is to be a Blessed Sacrament procession in London on Saturday 1st October.

The procession leaves Westminster Cathedral at 1.30 pm via Ambrosden Avenue and will go down Francis Street, Vincent Street, Horseferry Road and Lambeth Bridge to St George’s Cathedral Southwark where, at approximately 2.30 pm, Benediction will be given.

This procession is not only an opportunity to commemorate the historic events of twelve months ago but is, more importantly, a witness to the reality of the presence of Christ in London.

You are warmly invited, and earnestly encouraged, to be a part of this historic event.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

The revised Order of Mass

As Mass was offered at altars throughout England and Wales today it was done so accompanied by the revised translation. This will, no doubt, have caused an element of confusion to some priests and people. Having used the same form of words for nearly forty years, it will be difficult for some people to use another.

It is always good to stop and think about what we are saying and why we are saying it. As Fr Alexander Master, Precentor of Westminster Cathedral, said in his homily this morning at Our Lady and the English Martyrs, Cambridge (which was broadcast on Radio 4):

‘In daily life, the words we choose can dictate whether we make someone angry or joyful, or simply indifferent. And, if a fresh choice of words we use in our prayer - as individuals or together as a Church - can lead us to a greater awareness of the presence of Christ, then that is something for which we should offer profound words of thanks’.

ST PAULS Publishing has produced resources to help the laity at this time of transition. These, and many more resources from other publishers, can be purchased from any of our bookshops and from our website.