newsletter 8th September 2019


5, Cresswell Park, SE3 9RD

Tel. 020 8852 5420



Mass times: Saturday: 6.30 pm (first Mass of Sunday) Sunday: 9.30 am, 11.00 am, 7.30 pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday: 10.00 am Tuesday and Thursday: 7.30 am Eucharistic Service: Tuesday 10.00 am Confessions: Saturday 12 to 1.00 pm

Newsletter 8th September 2019

Today is the Twenty Third Sunday of the Church’s year.

There is a second collection today to support the work of the Catholic Education service.

Normally 8th September is celebrated as the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary but this year the Sunday takes precedence.

To date we have 20 children for the First Communion class. A reminder that the meeting for the parents takes place on 18th September. Are there any last minute applications – forms are still available in the Church.

Saturday is the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. I will try to remember to put out our relic for veneration on this day.

The pool will be emptied this week and put away for another summer. We have had a lot of fun and enjoyment this year but the chill autumn days are approaching.

I suggested 24th September for the parish AGM: I hope that you will not mind if I put it back a week until 1st October as I now find I have to be out of London on the 24th.

A familiar recipe but of late I have made a pot of leek and potato soup; chop the vegetables roughly and stew in equal portions of water and milk. Take care with the seasoning as the flavour is quite delicate.

Keats is inevitable at this time of year:

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?

Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,

While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day.

Give us a sense of humour Lord, and things to laugh about. Help us to laugh, even in the face of trouble. Fill our minds with the love of your Son. Amen.

Some further thoughts about the extension of the Bakerloo line.  On a map there is an almost direct line from the Elephant to New Cross Gate following the Old Kent Road.  At Lewisham the station will need to be underground to allow a connection with South Eastern trains and presumably the line will come out into the open just before Ladywell station. I will observe the plans with interest. Will all the trains go to Hayes or will some turn back at Sydenham?

Best wishes to you all,

Monsignor Nicholas Rothon

8th September 2019.

Every three years we read part of Paul’s epistle to Philemon – I have explained the background to you many times and I am sure that the story is familiar to you. Probably Paul is under house arrest in Rome, waiting for his case to be heard – and he receives a visit from a runaway slave- Onesimus – Paul cannot keep him and he sends him back to his master – Philemon with a letter of commendation, asking that he should be treated with consideration. We have read part of this letter today.

But who are the different people in the story – first Philemon himself – he lived in Colossae in Phrygia, an ancient city in what is now southern Turkey – about 150 miles from Ephesus – he had been converted by Paul – probably during Paul’s third journey and his house had become the centre of the local Christian community – the letter is addressed to Philemon himself but also to his wife, Apphia – and to Archippus who was Bishop of Colossae – there is a suggestion that he may have been the son of  Philemon  and Paul also mentions – the church that meets in your – there is a tradition that at a later date possibly Philemon himself became a Bishop and worked in Gaza – all three were martyred, possibly as late as the year 90 during the persecution of  Domitian.

And Onesimus, the runaway slave. Possibly Paul had first met him when he converted Philemon, and Onesimus, as part of the household, was also baptised. Slavery did not always involve cruelty and hardship – some were employed as tutors for children, as domestic staff and as administrators. But they were owned as the personal property of their master and did not have the freedom to move away or to change their occupation.  A runaway slave could be treated as a criminal and the only solution would be to return him to his master.  And so Paul sends Onesimus back to Colossae with the letter that we he read today – asking that he should be treated gently and with consideration.  Tom Wright in his recent biography of Paul says – as a policy state about slavery, the letter falls short of what we would want – but as an experiment in a one-off, down to earth pastoral strategy, it is brilliant. And it seems to have worked – in his letter to the Colossians Paul refers to Onesimus, that dear and faithful brother who is a fellow citizen of yours.

There is an ancient tradition that following from Paul’s request, Onesimus was freed from his slavery – worked with Paul – and in due time became the second Bishop of Ephesus, succeeding Timothy. He is mentioned by Ignatius of Antioch and probably died about the year 95 AD.  The original letter was probably written about the year 60, so for more than 30 years, Onesimus had kept and treasured this letter which meant so much to him – For so much of the future development of his life resulted from the kindness and the consideration that Paul had showed to him. Possibly the letter is one of the most unusual parts of the New Testament – something very personal – but together with some of the other writings of Paul, it was carefully preserved, possibly in Ephesus, and was included in the New Testament.

I think what we are seeing is something of the real Paul – not just the great preacher and orator, not just the author of extensive doctrinal tracts – but an individual with a wide circle friends who has the time to show care and kindness to each one of them. If this letter had not been included in the New Testament, possibly it might have been filed away in an archive and eventually destroyed as a record of an administrative arrangement.

Yet somehow, as we discover the background and details, there is a fascinating picture of the life of the Church and how it worked from its earliest days – not challenging the social, the political situation of the Roman world as such – but rather finding a way to work within it so as to find a way of showing kindness and practical help for individuals – it cannot have always been easy, but it remains a lesson for our own day.



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