Action Zones 

 Reflections for February

as published in Great Yarmouth Parish Life

 

Pam Spychal

images courtesy of Google Images

 
ST VALENTINE
Those with a romantic nature will have a dilemma this month, as the commemoration of Saint Valentine (14th) falls on Ash Wednesday this year.  Little is reliably known about Valentine, other than that he was martyred in Rome in the third century.  As red is the colour for martyrs, more roses and fewer chocolates might be appropriate
 
The first two days of the month mark the end of the sea­son of Epiphany, with The Presentation of Christ in the Temple (Luke 2:22-40) on the 2nd. The beautiful canticle Nunc Dimittis, which we hear at Evensong, originates from this passage.  This day is also known as Candlemas, half way between the winter and spring solstices, when tradi­tionally candles were brought to church to be blessed
 
ST BRIGIDThe 1st of February is the commemoration of Saint Brigid of Kildare (450-523 AD).  Again little is known for sure about this saint.  One story is worth retelling:

Brigid led a group of women who had decided to become holy nuns and she asked Bishop Mel to bless their taking of the veil. Brigid held back out of humility, but the Bishop saw the Spirit of God descend upon her and called her forward. Laying hands upon her, he said, “I have no power in this mat­ter. God has ordained Brigid” (From Celtic Daily Prayer, The Northumbria Community)

 
A Grace for use before meals is associated with her:

God bless our food;
God bless our drink.
And keep our homes and ourselves
in Your embrace, O God. Amen

 
The second half of February forms the first two weeks of Lent, a time of preparation for Good Friday and Easter. A time of ‘self-examination, penitence, self-denial [and] study ... to which almsgiving has traditionally been added’  www.churchofengland.org
 
Regarding almsgiving, there is information about the Bishop’s Lent Appeal on the Diocesan website www.dioceseofnorwich.org.  Locally, of course, there are lots of opportunities to give time, money, or in kind, to a range of worthwhile causes
 

*No doubt the ministry team will be offering opportunities for study and reflection elsewhere in this edition of Parish Life. Last year I attended a Lent Group at St Paul’s. Not wishing to sound too dramatic, I found the experience life-changing (it was more subtle than dramatic)
 
The official Church of England calendar provides us with a full list of festivals and commemorations for February which again is well worth exploring.  Most of the names on the list were not familiar to me
 
Having resorted to Wikipedia and other internet sources I have selected some highlights. Their lives exemplify the themes of mission, holy living and mar­tyrdom, throughout the centuries.

4th Gilbert of Sempringham (1189) was the founder the Gilbertine Order, the only Englishman to found a conventional order
10th Scholastica, sister of St. Benedict, was the foundress of women’s Bene­dictine Monasticism, 543
15th Sigfrid, Apostle of Sweden, was born in Glastonbury, 1045
15th Thomas Bray, Priest, was founder of the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge, 1730
17th Janani Luwum, Archbishop of Uganda, 1977. He was arrested for opposi­tion to the Dictator Idi Amin. His body was later found riddled with bullet wounds.
27th George Herbert, Priest, Poet, 1633. We regularly sing George Herbert’s hymns in Church. One of my favourites is:

Teach me my God and King, in all things thee to see...’ and my favourite line is ‘who sweeps a room, as for thy laws, makes that and the action fine’. I call it The Housework Hymn!

 

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