Each week, since the lockdown began in 2020, Fr Ron has been writing a mid-week letter, initially sent out by email when we had no services in church, but now published here every Wednesday. Here are all his letters.
Letter 71 – 28th July 2021
Last week I considered the incredible influence that the sea has on our mental well-being and how important it is for many of us to be near the sea and those who have great skills that ride the gigantic forces that the sea exudes and the way in which people are renewed by its effect and power.
Whilst walking by beautiful rivers this same effect can be evident not just by the beauty of the reflection of the water from the sun or the swarms of fish and insects who live in rivers like the Test in the UK or the Dee in Scotland. But because water is actually emblematic of us. St Francis said in his famous Canticle, “Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water, which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste”.
You see when I say water is us, we know water makes up 60-75% of the human body weight. A loss of just 4% of total body water leads to dehydration, and a loss of 15% can be fatal. Likewise, a person could survive a month without food but wouldn’t survive 3 days without water. This crucial dependence on water broadly governs all life forms. We are then naturally drawn to water’s essence because we are mainly made up of this crucial compound, and maybe its swirling free effect reminds us that we are born to be free thinking in Christ and free acting individuals governed only by love, in a creation which is without doubt a moral universe. Within our moral universe it is being said by some Christian thinkers that the Corona Virus pandemic is a test. It’s a test of medical capacity and political will. It’s a test of endurance and forbearance, for believers a test of religious faith. It’s a test, too, of a different kind of faith, in the strength of the ideas humans choose to help them form moral judgments and guide personal and social behaviour. The epidemic forces everyone to confront deep questions of human existence, questions so profound that they have previously been answered, in many different ways, by the greatest philosophers. It’s a test of where all humans stand.
Pope Francis invoked sympathy for the most afflicted as he addressed a prayer to an empty St. Peter’s Square.
“We have realised that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other”.
Rowing together as Christians means that we can overcome the evils of the day, it means that we can work at the commandments of our God of the universe, by caring for others, feeding the hungry, taking the homeless off the streets, comforting the broken, and caring for the sick.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:31-40 NIV)
Most High, good Lord,
You reveal to us through the creation
that all creatures are related as brothers and sisters.
Grant us, Lord, the grace to see Your beauty and likeness
in created things, that we may grow closer to you in loving and serving them and in showing care for you creation.
Fr Ron Corne
Letter 70 – 21st July 2021
The sea for me is a force of renewal and delight, therefore living on Tenerife tends to show this spectacular element dressed in many guises, from deep blues and greys, to foaming whites. I’ve mentioned before standing with other observers astounded as the youngsters leap off the rocks and into its frothing glory, which is both terrifying and exhilarating. The young seem to have little fear of this powerful force, which although never placid, appears welcoming, but, of course, it is unpredictable and totally autonomous in the way it may decide to respond to the forces which pull and push its voluminous mastery. Davey Jones’ Locker supposedly contains all those who have fallen to grief in its swirling inviting presence.
This week a friend sent me some tremendous and extraordinary pictures of him windsurfing in the sea off Tenerife. He appears to be able to balance his weight against the forces of nature and use the vast crashing sea as a hitch hiker would use a lift. He has the ability to ride the waves knowing how to balance his weight against the surface of the water whilst riding its mighty force he is able to be at one with the sea. Rather like the tiny creatures called Remora, who have front dorsal fins and have evolved to enable them to adhere by suction to smooth surfaces and spend their lives clinging to host animals such as whales and sharks, yet one snap and they would be gone. Yet if truth be known any of us is only but tolerated by the elements and you never know when in a split second it can swallow you whole into the chasm and its innards!
To me the greatest wonder of all of this is that God is the skilled Master who has brought this creation into being, and he saw the creation, and proclaimed that it was good. The surfer, you and I are all in the mind of this amazingly creative force. God who made, the sea, and the deep black sky at night. This is the same creator who sent someone who was so stunning into the creation that he was the very pinnacle of creation, for from the heart of Jesus Christ flows love, healing and fathomless wisdom and a touch that brought the dead back to life!
At All Saints Church Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife, we have the enormous privilege of worshipping and serving this Lord of Life our Jesus Christ. As we all emerge from the most devastating pandemic in living memory, we are given the opportunity to work at creating a church whose welcome is truly genuine, a place of healing and restoration for all who enter its doors.
Lord who through the gift of your Son and the eternal Sacrament has demonstrated the deepest of love for us, please walk with us daily and help us to face life and its difficulties in the sure knowledge that you can cause us to balance on the waves of life with both confidence and joy.
Fr Ron Corne
Letter 69 – 14th July 2021
I have never really got into football, although my sons have always taken a great interest. However, this time with England getting to the final I have been following it and the closer it got the more excited I became. I found myself actually very involved in each game even shouting out when I thought the footballer had made a mistake! Who am I to know anything, but I still had a very enthusiastic opinion about the mistakes I thought professional Premier League footballers had made! I must admit it was good fun, and I really enjoyed the England teams playing and I could at last see suddenly what others had enjoyed for years. When the final game came, we were all tense with excitement and with an estimated viewing figure of 44 million! That’s a lot of tension and joy and for some terrible disappointment.
As we think of our participation in the game its nothing new, “I have finished the race” says St Paul to Timothy: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). The apostle wrote these words near the end of his life. These three statements reflect Paul’s struggles in preaching the gospel of Christ, and his victory over those struggles. We would say this week, we have played the game, we have done all we could in trying to obtain the prize of the European Cup, but Italy won the prize!
In the 1st century, the Romans celebrated both the Olympic Games and the Isthmian Games. Competitors would spend up to ten months in arduous physical training. Because the Corinthians were very familiar with these events, Paul used the games as an analogy for a believer’s life of faithfulness. He wrote to the church in Corinth saying, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training, (ask our footballers). They do it, to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25). Paul’s exhortation is that believers should be as focused and dedicated as those ancient runners in the games, and as our England footballers were this week. Our motivation in serving Christ is much higher; we “run” not for a temporary crown, but for an eternal one.
In his letter to Timothy, Paul is not commending himself for having “run the full distance”; rather, he is simply describing what the grace of God had enabled him to do. Isn’t that amazing – he says the grace of God had enabled him to achieve these goals. In the book of Acts, Paul says these powerful words: “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24). So, by declaring “I have finished the race,” Paul is telling Timothy that he had put every effort into the work of proclaiming to all the gospel of salvation. He had completed the course set before him; he had left nothing undone. He was ready to cross the finish line into heaven.
Like our footballers, in a race, only one runner wins. However, in the Christian “race,” everyone who pays the price of vigilant training for the cause of Christ can win. We are not competing against one other, as in athletic games, but against the struggles, physical and spiritual, that stand in the way of our reaching the prize (Philippians 3:14).
Every believer runs his own race (1 Corinthians 9:24). Each of us is enabled to be a winner. Paul exhorts us to “run in such a way as to get the prize,” and to do this we must set aside anything that might hinder us from living and teaching the gospel of Christ. The writer of Hebrews echoes the words of Paul: “Lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
It’s a good week to remember these words and so, may we be diligent in our “race,” may we keep our eyes on the goal, and may we, like Paul, finish strong.
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Fr. Ron Corne.
Letter 68 – 7th July 2021
Falling into the hand of another can be either an affirming or a devastating experience. Letting ourselves fall and being caught in that fall confirms trust. But we always know that we are vulnerable and are consigning our well-being to another. Let’s face it how many of us have been let down and fall expecting either an individual or an institution to step up to the plate and then realising that an individual or even the most respectable institution can be without feeling or wisdom.
Taking action and deciding to help is the first move. I remember many years ago hearing an accident outside my house and seeing a young man who had crashed his motor scooter into a car. I immediately and instinctively called an ambulance, whilst others stared, time is of the essence. We can do something or look the other way; we can be what Christ has called us to be or we can descend into self. Walking past people slumped in heaps on the streets of our big cities in the freezing cold in the UK before the Pandemic was a mark of how society can deteriorate, compared to our calling to be really human, we are all guilty of looking the other way.
But even the everyday can be transformed by a caring hand to someone who will assist us when in need. This week after arriving for blood tests at a local clinic, and not speaking much Spanish, the nurse called out to me in the queue orina! I thought she meant someone in the queue called orina! No, of course, she was asking me for my urine sample! I was soon guided the right way and through to blood tests with care and sensitivity. Not knowing and being vulnerable happens to all of us. We grow most when we care for others, we are at our best when we are serving and being someone else’s hands.
“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you”. – John Bunyan
In the extraordinary biblical epistle known as Philippians, the Apostle Paul probes the great mystery of Christ that in self-giving love we discover Christ, and it is in Christ that the fullness of the nature of God is revealed.
“Our actions have a tongue of their own; they have an eloquence of their own, even when the tongue is silent. For deeds prove the lover more than words”.
St. Cyril of Jerusalem [315-386]
Fr Ron Corne
Letter 67 – 30th June 2021
Have you taken a close look at some of the roots on the trees that grow near you? The tropical trees here in Tenerife need to take roots seriously else they would soon be drought ridden and blown away by the strong gusts we often get off the Atlantic or the mountains. Certainly, there is one such tree near the Parsonage which has four sturdy roots, these roots are broad and resilient and have somehow managed to reach out from the base, burrowing powerfully into the ground, strong enough to split the volcanic substrata of a volcanic island.
When I visited the Botanico Gardens in Puerto de la Cruz, a place filled with the most gorgeous of plants and trees, there I witnessed astounding trees of all shapes and sizes, some which seem to take sheer delight in forming other worldly root formations which fire long wooden pointers at various intriguing angles and others like wild fantastic wizardry making a canopy of strange wooden webs with pointing fingers emergent and rooting in the ground. These trees are saying they mean business and no tropical storm or blast of wind is going to take them out not that is without the most incredible struggle!
Being rooted in a place gives stability and sends a message I’m here to stay! Maybe this is what the builders of All Saints Tenerife thought when they built the solid dark-stoned edifice of the church with its walls made of volcanic rock and its timbers of hardwood as strong as stone. To this day All Saints stands like a church that’s been scooped out of the English Lake District and placed in Tenerife, declaring a Christian presence with unfamiliar names for a Spanish island inscribed in stone into its walls like Reid and Long Boreham. The roots of All Saints like the trees dig deep into the substrata , as the church has seen generations rise and fall, and many have found their final resting place in the English Cemetery in Puerto de la Cruz and more recently in the small plot of land alongside All Saints.
Ongoing relentless history has brought many changes to the world around All Saints but the message that the founders wished to promulgate is the same that they placed their eternal hopes in all those many years ago, that is Jesus Christ, is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The building named after all the Saints still calls people to worship and fellowship each and every week. The message of Christ is preeminent, and the purpose is the same, to lead people into faith and a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, to build community and to be a place to rest and become refreshed for the journey. To offer through Word and Sacrament the everlasting answer of Jesus Christ to the human condition which otherwise is brief and fleeting, dissolving without permanence or meaning.
St Matthew 7:24-27 states “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
Lord of Eternity
Blessed is the man
Who walks in Your favour
Who loves all Your words
And hides them like treasure
In the darkest place
Of his desperate heart,
They are a light
A strong, sure light.
All I ask, all I desire
Is to live in Your house all my days.
Fr. Ron Corne.
Letter 66 – 23rd June 2021
Sitting watching an incredible sunset last evening from the top of Taoro Park, I was treated to the often-seen but always varied and stunning moment of the Sun giving her outrageously elaborate displays of startling colours and brightness. The Sun seems to play with the earth and all the elements of earth fire water and air. The sky can appear blue grey which then causes the sea to mimic its colour. Then the Sun will reveal deep oranges and bright yellows with brilliant areas of white and a final backdrop of orange, as the yellow disc just half-seen sinks into the edge of the sea sinking away as the earth moves to light up the other half of the globe. It reminds me of the beautiful evening hymn which I have so often sung at evensong, The day thou gavest Lord is ended, and the words:
“As o’er each continent and island, the dawn leads on another day, the voice of prayer is never silent, nor dies the strain of praise away. The sun that bids us rest is waking our brethren ’neath the western sky, and hour by hour fresh lips are making, thy wondrous doings heard on high.”
The constant momentum of the creation of earth, sky, sea, air, fire, and the essential ingredient of prayer seems to reveal God’s life and presence through the kaleidoscope of creation, reflecting God’s tremendous vigour and joy in his creation. This then overflows into our souls if we but let it and certainly as we pray and worship, we are given eyes to see and through the eyes of faith, revealed before us is the whole meaning and purpose of life, that is God’s love. However, we all aware that the creation is often stricken with suffering and loss even in all its beauty these other elements are often stalking us but strangely they can become the very building blocks of our souls. In the last year or so three of my very special friends and confidants have passed into God’s care. They were all a good age it must be said but youthful within and full of wisdom. The hours we spent together talking, giving, and receiving advise and spiritual guidance. As a Christian I thank God, that my faith informs my soul we will meet again and just as the Sun sinks away to reveal new life and brilliance elsewhere so one day, we will join those whom we have lost this side of the horizon in that brighter light beyond.
From the last part of the service of Nine Lessons and Carols:
“Lastly let us remember before God all those who rejoice with us, but upon another shore and in a greater light, that multitude which no man can number, whose hope was in the Word made flesh, and with whom, in this Lord Jesus, we for evermore are one.”
Fr. Ron Corne
Letter 65 – 16th June 2021
It’s an interesting experience travelling now, whereas once you felt rather modern and technologically advanced and certainly at the forefront of life, even as you joined those who were taking a budget flight, you had a certain panache, you were cutting edge! Now with masks and dire warnings from Governments you are not sure if you are an escaping convict or a strange invertebrate that lives above the skyline whilst the rest of the populace remains grounded on Covid stricken earth.
A stark reminder was the shoeshine seats at Heathrow airport no longer inviting the wearers to sit and be buffed now they are taped off like some bizarre murder scene. Yet my return flight on BA to Tenerife no longer required a negative Covid test and apart from a Spanish health locater form which without the assistance of Kath our Church Secretary might have found me grounded, the flight was relatively normal even you might say both unfortunately busy and mundane. Besides leaving at a rather uncivilised time of 8.15 am at Heathrow, which means a 6.15am check-in and for me a totally sleepless night, which results in grumpy babies on the plane and slumbering passengers once the bird is air-bound all seemed rather dull. In many ways I missed the sanitised atmosphere of travelling with twenty people on an empty jet. World leaders avoid cantankerous old folk and the cries of passenger’s offspring.
Whilst flying I am reading The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli. “The rush of seconds, hours, years that hurls us towards life then drags us towards nothingness …” he says, “We inhabit time as fish live in water”. He tells the reader that a clock placed on the floor runs more slowly than a clock placed on a table. Perhaps that’s why when we disembark from an aircraft, we feel rather exhausted! Of course, as a Christian Priest I cannot agree with his statement that we are being dragged towards nothingness, because I believe, of course, that all time belongs to God who is, Alpha and Omega, the Beginning, and the Ending of all time. We live in God’s space and although a gift that passes like a watch in the night, we then I believe, do not tumble in nothingness, but rather into the loving arms of the Saviour and into the eternity that is God the Father’s creating.
Last week I spoke of sitting quietly encapsulated by the enormity of Winchester Cathedral with its ancient bones of Kings and Queens and its depictions of angels in flight. I feel very much in this race of life towards eternity we are being directed into landing by the angels of God’s eternal purposes. We of course are unaware of the ultimate destiny, but we can only but go by God’s own instruction manual that is holy Scripture. In the Book of Revelation, we are told there will be a new heaven and a new earth, where the old has passed away, and where there will be no more death or dying, mourning or crying, but an entering into eternal life with Christ. All this pilgrimage is preparing us for high flight of a different kind. Being higher may indeed make us quicker and the ultimate height is surely heaven where life bursts the bubble of what was, and introduces us into what will then be.
An ancient evening prayer from the Desert Fathers on heaven.
St Macarius the Great (300–391 AD)
O Eternal God and King of all creation, who has granted me to arrive at this hour, forgive me the sins that I have committed today in thought, word and deed, and cleanse, O Lord, my humble soul from all defilement of flesh and spirit. And grant me, O Lord, to pass the sleep of this night in peace, that when I rise from my bed I may please Your most holy Name all the days of my life and conquer my flesh and the fleshless foes that war with me. And deliver me, O Lord, from vain and frivolous thoughts, and from evil desires which defile me. For Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Fr. Ron Corne
Letter 64 – 9th June 2021
Whilst sitting quietly in prayer in Winchester Cathedral a glance to the sky reveals a ceiling of over a thousand carvings, in wood or stone, that cover the joins between the stone ribs of its vaulted ceilings. Marvellous 13th-century leaf designs, Renaissance images of angels, animals and beasts, heraldic badges and emblems of Christ’s Passion, and resting in mortuary chests above me were the mortal remains of pre-Conquest kings and bishops. A major development in 2015 revealed that the bones in these chests were from the late Anglo-Saxon and early Norman periods. These findings confirmed that the bones date from the same periods as the names on the chests, which include eight kings, two bishops and one queen. It is not yet certain, but these bodily remains could be those of Queen Emma, daughter of Richard I , Duke of Normandy, the wife of two successive Kings of England, Ethelred and Cnut, and the mother of King Edward the Confessor and King Hardacnut. She was a powerful political figure in late Saxon England, and her family ties provided William the Conqueror with a measure of justification for his claim to the English throne. Completely unexpected was the discovery of two boys who had died between the ages of 10 to 15 years in the mid-11th to late 12th-century. they were almost certainly of royal blood.
Much less important is my cabinet in my little house which contains many relics of my own, and memories of important moments, some handed on to me from my elderly aunts. My glass from Venice, my aunts pretty ornaments and the mug commemorating the Coronation on the 12th May 1937 of George VI, and of Queen Elizabeth. These things like those mortuary chests are important to us as transient human beings. Touching or seeing them remind us of a time and a moment of how it was as we move through life. They point to a moment in time which was important then and now for most, long forgotten.
The dynamic and incredible truth for the Christian is that although the eyes that originally captured these images may have long passed there is someone who is with us who was at each of these important events in history, from the Anglo Saxons to this very moment. This someone is of course Jesus Chris,t eternal in the heavens, the Wonderful Counsellor, the Mighty God. The one who passes to us something that is an eternal touchstone to grasp as we move through life that is his Word in the scriptures.
St Jerome, who lived between 342-419 AD, wrote: “You are reading? No. Your betrothed is talking to you. It is your betrothed, that is, Christ, who is united with you. He tears you away from the solitude of the desert and brings you into his home, saying to you, ‘Enter into the joy of your Master.’
O Lord my God, most merciful,
most secret, most present,
most constant, yet changing all things,
never new, and never old,
always in action, yet always quiet,
creating, upholding, and perfecting all,
who has anything but what you have given?
or what can any man say when he speaks about you?
Yet have mercy on us, O Lord,
that we may speak to you, and praise your Name.
Jeremy Taylor, 1613–67 (from St Augustine) in Daily Prayer.
Fr. Ron Corne.
Letter 63 – 2nd June 2021
There is a certain feeling when you are part of a group of people who are all feeling in a similar way, be that happiness or the reverse. Some time ago I was looking at old Second World War photos of celebrations in London – everyone was so joyful as they climbed lamp posts and danced in the streets, and although we didn’t go that far yesterday the spirit of joy was certainly blowing through the land. Certainly, yesterday in the UK, which was a Bank Holiday, things were very busy in Winchester. People in groups talking and laughing some eating ice-creams or sat in the Cathedral Close. There were others on the high street browsing stalls looking at all the usual paraphernalia of old prints to dog toys, or even visiting the shops. There were street musicians playing and singing. I bought some beautiful local honey, as the stall owner said, “open the jar and smell the aroma”, which I indeed did before putting some on my morning porridge. There was very little mask wearing outside though it is still required in restaurants unless you are eating and in the shops. I can only call the atmosphere one in which like the fresh honey you could smell the sweetness of impending relief for those who were being let out of captivity after so long. It was light and airy, happy, filled with relief and joy, let’s hope this really is the beginning of the end of this horrific virus which has been affecting life in such a devastating way. Today a report that it’s the first day in the UK when there were no Corona Virus related deaths, since March 2020! The astoundingly successful vaccination programme has been proving the knockout blow to Covid, we pray!
Human beings are both physical and spiritual and this virus has literally squeezed the living daylight out of us, like each spike on the Covid Virus causing damage to our cells physically in the same way it has affected us spiritually. It is a virus of darkness, and its effects are manifest.
Jesus said “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”(Jn 8.12). We are made you see for light, for life for health and for joy. Let us thank God for the scientists and those who have worked so hard to combat this virus, and for those still deeply affected by it and for the opportunity that science has given to us that soon we will be able to live fully again.
We are not people of fear:
we are people of courage.
We are not people who protect our own safety:
we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety.
We are not people of greed:
we are people of generosity.
We are your people God,
giving and loving,
wherever we are,
whatever it costs
For as long as it takes
wherever you call us.
Fr. Ron Corne.
Letter 62 – 26th May 2021
Having travelled back to the UK for the first time since last September for several important reasons, I was to experience travel unlike anything witnessed in previous ages. Covid tests, checks, forms, and a general feeling of strange emptiness. The most remarkable experience was an aircraft with enough spare seats to accommodate a football squad and quite a few of their supporters! This new experience reflects something of the hollowness that the Covid Pandemic has brought upon the world. It has made a sort of massive break in the continuum whereby our expectations and to a degree our anxieties can be multiplied, because all that we once thought was progress and normality has been fractured for this moment in time. Coming from a generation where the only word we ever used was progress and scientific forward momentum, we suddenly seem to have hit a weakness, a fracture in what we would have seen as our way forward.
As we emerge from the Pandemic we will need to reassess where we are in our place in the creation. It will without doubt change in a deeply profound way our perception of whom we are and why we are here. It will also bring considerable reflection upon what it means to realise that we are not separate from the creation, but we are intrinsically part of this mysterious and incredible place called earth on which we live and have our being.
I have mentioned before the great Saint Francis of Assisi, who knew instinctively that we should be caring for the creation and not just exploiting its animals and natural resources. We are beginning to take note that although time may be free, it is also the most precious part of everything we have. St Francis saw this centuries ago and he offered an example of genuine and deep respect for the integrity of creation. As a friend of the poor, who was loved by God’s creatures, Saint Francis invited all of creation the animals, plants, natural forces, even Brother Sun and Sister Moon to give honour and praise to the Lord. This may well be our way of salvation and a surer way of reenergising and recreating the way we are with the creation. Having visited Assisi and myself looking down upon the place from a convent in the hills just as St Francis of Assisi looked out of his cave and down to Assisi from the heights of Mount Subasio, it was as if the whole of creation were spread out beneath his cave, and God’s goodness rushed in upon him. He could only think of that pure Goodness and how God shares his life with us. Everything good and beautiful comes from God. Jesus the Christ, who came among us as Jesus, the carpenter’s Son from Nazareth. Jesus was one of us, and yet he was more. He came to show us how to praise God, how to love God. St Francis knew the two stories of the beginnings of things in the book of Genesis. One story emphasises human beings’ dominion over all lesser creatures. The other story was about humans’ care and nurturing of all creatures, including Earth itself. Francis loved the second story more. It appealed to who he was and how he saw his relationship to the world around him. So, he would praise God through Jesus Christ with all creatures, for all creatures, and in and by means of all creatures. And he would care for them and nourish them, as God’s words in Genesis said he should. That is an economy Francis could understand: God gives all good; humans in return praise and care. He knew he had to praise, or he wouldn’t be able to care and nourish. And he had to care and nourish, or his praise would be empty. That was to be his story. That is our deepest story.
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice.
let the sea roar and all that fills it.
let the field exult, and everything in it.
Then let all the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the Lord.
– Psalm 96, 11 – 13a
Fr Ron Corne
Letter 61 – 19th May 2021
Last Thursday we celebrated the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ into the heavens and next Sunday its Pentecost or Whitsun, where the powerful flames of Pentecost swoop in from heaven to transform the human soul from temporal to eternal! Amidst all this Heavenly activity we have the disciples and believers being shaken and woken up to the reality of God, though not too real as human beings cannot take too much of the pure thrilling burning transforming life of God, but lovingly given to each it restores the human soul to life. When I was teenager if I put pure petrol into the tank of my BSA Bantam instead of adding the squirts of oil the engine would seize up and overheat, similarly if you add pure Holy Spirit to the soul l don’t believe it would be able to cope with the real life and reality that is Jesus Christ.
St Augustine said, The happy day has dawned for us on which Holy Church makes her first radiant appearance to the eyes of faith and sets the hearts of believers on fire. It is the day on which we celebrate the sending of the Holy Spirit by our Lord Jesus Christ, after he had risen from the dead and ascended into glory. In the Gospel it is written: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, rivers of living water shall flow from his heart.” (Jn 7:37-38).
As we see the Holy Land once again immersed in conflict and pray for peace we remember that conflict and tension are nothing new for Jerusalem, in fact in ordinary times when there is no war there is always a tension which exists where the three great faiths come together with Jews, Muslims and Christians in one place. The city has been built sacked and rebuilt over the centuries. The Western Wall is all that is left of the original Temple. Like a shaft from heaven to this place its where the faithful pray at the wailing wall. It carries something so powerful within its walls. Yet each religion has its own unique claim to Jerusalem. It is also a deeply Holy place for Christians who see the place where Christ, lived preached and died and is Resurrected, with the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which was consecrated on 13th September 335 covering the place where Jesus was Resurrected.
It is also the acutely sacred place of the Muslims; Umayyad Caliphs commissioned the construction of the al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock on the site. The Dome was completed in 692 CE, making it one of the oldest Islamic structures in the world. The Al Aqsa Mosque rests on the far southern side of the Mount, facing Mecca. The Dome of the Rock currently sits in the middle, occupying or close to the area where the Holy Temple previously stood.
Having visited Jerusalem and leading pilgrimages on a number of occasions I can say that without doubt it really is one of the most extraordinary places in the world. As a Christian Priest to me it is of course a place where even though two thousand years have passed it carries the deep fragrance of the life of the eternal one Jesus Christ our Lord.
A Prayer – from St. Irenaeus of Lyons (c.130-202)
I appeal to you, Lord, God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob and Israel, You the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Infinitely merciful as You are, it is Your will that we should learn to know You. You made heaven and earth, You rule supreme over all that is. You are the true, the only God; there is no other God above You.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Fr Ron Corne.
Letter 60 – 12th May 2021
On Saturday a fellow Priest and myself went up to the Roques de García, the amazing rock formations which are located in Mount Teide National Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage centre. If you live in Tenerife, you soon discover that the giant Teide is always watching you and it is the largest volcano in Spain and the third tallest in the world and stands at 3,718 metres. Millions of years of erosion have served to create stunning rock formations which have then split the large volcano into two craters which look like chimneys. Apparently over time the rock formations have absorbed other volcanic materials that belonged to a vast very ancient volcano that existed prior to Mount Teide, wow the mind truly bogles!
One, the Roque Cinchado or the Stone Tree, is one of the most famous rock formations on Mount Teide, it is widely known as the Finger of God.
Looking at the latest images being beamed back from Mars Perseverance is like looking at these amazing Tenerife craters as the spacecraft sits in a desert and rock like landscape with a Martian breeze blowing over the surface, but no other sound – an empty and barren land.
But I look out of my Parsonage window as I write this letter and I see beautiful trees purples, whites, greens, yellows, reds, and colourful birds in flight, with clouds billowing down over the mountains and a pink house in the hills and the loud calls of birdsong, even the café in the park with voices and laughter. God has truly given to us on earth a most astounding creation, he’s not given us the barren wasteland of Mars but the earth that sustains and nurtures us. As all we need to do is to be good stewards of this amazing earth and to care for one another the creatures and the creation as we enjoy the stunning benefits that God has given to us.
St. Francis’s Canticle of the Sun
O most High, almighty, good Lord God,
to you belong praise, glory, honour, and all blessing!
Praised be my Lord God with all creatures;
and especially our brother the sun,
which brings us the day, and the light;
fair is he, and shining with a very great splendour:
O Lord, he signifies you to us!
Praised be my Lord for our sister the moon,
and for the stars,
which God has set clear and lovely in heaven.
Praised be my Lord for our brother the wind,
and for air and cloud, calms and all weather,
by which you uphold in life all creatures.
Praised be my Lord for our sister water,
which is very serviceable to us,
and humble, and precious, and clean.
Praised be my Lord for brother fire,
through which you give us light in the darkness:
and he is bright, and pleasant, and very mighty,
Praised be my Lord for our mother the Earth,
which sustains us and keeps us,
and yields divers fruits, and flowers of
many colours, and grass.
Praised be my Lord for all those who pardon
one another for God’s love’s sake,
and who endure weakness and tribulation;
blessed are they who peaceably shall endure,
for you, O most High, shall give them a crown!
Praised be my Lord for our sister,
the death of the body, from which no one escapes.
Woe to him who dies in mortal sin!
Blessed are they who are found walking by your
most holy will,
for the second death shall have no power to do
Praise you, and bless you the Lord,
and give thanks to God, and serve God
with great humility.
(St. Francis, 1182-1226)
Fr. Ron Corne
Letter 59 – 5th May 2021
Have you ever had that terrible feeling of falling whilst you are asleep?
One of the theories for this spontaneous movement is that this sudden awakening allows us to check our environment one last time, an opportunity to ensure that it really is safe to go to sleep by creating a startle-like response. In our distant past we might have started to fall asleep somewhere dangerous, such as a high place and so to check the stability of our body position before we fell into deep sleep, the jerk would allow us to test our “footing” before unconsciousness set in.
Last week I visited the caves of Cueva del Viento in Tenerife, which is a volcanic cavity located in the district of Icod de los Vinos. This underground system was formed some 27,000 years ago in the basaltic lavas from the eruptive phase of the Pico Viejo volcano, next to Mount Teide. These are known as lava tubes; one is known as the Cave of the Wind from the powerful draughts that flow through it. It is in fact the fifth longest in the world, others are found in places such as Hawaii. It is a huge labyrinthine network of underground passages, with many unexplored branches that will undoubtedly add to its overall length in the future. The cave has no artificial lighting, so helmets fitted with headlamps are worn on the tour. We were treated to seeing formations of “sculpted” rock formed by advancing lava. It is in fact rock in its flow that has been instantly melted at vast temperatures and then cooled and frozen in time. Like an immense giant sea monster that has been instantly frozen in time we looked upon solid rock which has suffered melting like butter in a furnace of heat by the eruption and then sculpted into waves and channels on differing levels. At one stage we were standing in absolute darkness (when we turned our helmet torches off) and in utter quiet , where you could hear profound silence. Here we stood in the outer arteries of this vast rock system known as Tenerife and were very starkly reminded of the fragility of ourselves and the enormous unquantifiable power of the creation when it decides to erupt, and our tiny existence where our puny resistance would count for nothing.
As I was walking through these dark silent tubes in a line of explorers, I started to tumble backwards and I was caught by one of our companions with just one steady palm which stopped me, and just like the feeling of falling in your sleep it was scary and over in a few moments.
We are reminded by Jesus, that although we may at times stand in total darkness in the vast chasm of the creation. Although our existence seems to count for nothing at times, and where we cannot see the way forward even falling into the chasm of life and death, where there it seems is no visible way or light, that at this very point that a prayer and a hand reaches out for us and a light, which the darkness can never overcome, envelopes us and that is Jesus Christ.
(Jn.8:12) Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (1 Chronicles 28:20) And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD.
We beseech You, Master, to be our helper and protector.
Save the afflicted among us; have mercy on the lowly;
Raise up the fallen; appear to the needy; heal the ungodly;
Restore the wanderers of Your people;
Feed the hungry; ransom our prisoners;
Raise up the sick; comfort the faint-hearted.
St Clement of Rome, 1st century-101 AD
Fr. Ron Corne.
Letter 58 – 28th April 2021
When I was visiting my eldest Son’s school some years ago, I remember on Parents Evening conversing with my Son’s tutor saying he doesn’t know what he wants to do as a career! His tutor responded with well neither do I! Again a few years ago although more recently I suffered from a very painful inguinal hernia, to walk was painful and at times it produced a burning sensation and considerable pain. A good friend and parishioner said you are not waiting for that to be fixed and out of great generosity sent me straight into a private hospital where I saw the consultant within a week who operated within another week. When I woke up the pain was gone, I was seemingly almost cut in half, with a bandage halfway around my waist but beautifully stitched together and within a month I was fine. I remember saying to God, I know what I want to do now, I want to be a Surgeon and a Priest!
Last Saturday I went for my Covid jab, I received the one dose Janssen. Vaccine. After a couple of days of mild symptoms and paracetamol I am fine. I am so grateful to have received the vaccine as a step for all of us on the road to freedom and normality, again we thank the scientists for their enormous skills and knowledge in developing these lifesaving vaccines and releasing us from the Covid curse and virus bondage. We look to the future but at the same time must do everything we can to make sure the world is also free and vaccinated! Today as the vaccine rollout continues to be administered across the world, we thank God for the enormous gift of science and the great healing power of medicines, surgeons and doctors working to make us healthy and well in body mind and spirit. We should be praying for all medical staff and most especially with all that Covid is and has put them through.
The Church since early times has been involved in healthcare and even today it provides thousands of clinics and hospitals located in developing countries. Jesus Christ instructed his followers to heal the sick. The Benedictine rule holds that “the care of the sick is to be placed above and before every other duty, as if indeed Christ were being directly served by waiting on them”. During the Middle Ages, monasteries and convents were the key medical centres of Europe and the Church developed an early version of a welfare state. They encouraged the important discoveries which aided the development of modern science and medicine.
The Christian artist Michelangelo developed great knowledge of anatomy in the field through sketching cadavers. I was privileged to see an exhibition of these intricate drawings when on an exhibition in London. You may not know that he acquired his first human skull in 1489, and between 1510 and 1511 carried out twenty autopsies at the University of Pavia in collaboration with the professor of anatomy Marcantonio della Torre. By 1513 he had dissected around thirty corpses. Many of Da Vinci’s wonderful drawings and notes were not discovered until the early 1600s; about 600 of his surviving drawings were bound in a single collection and later discovered by William Hunter at Windsor, in the British Royal Collection.
A Prayer for our healthcare professionals and all who work to care for and cure the sick.
Lord Jesus Christ, you are the great Physician of our souls. During your life on earth, you healed the sick and even brought the dead back to life. From your heavenly abode, continue to be the Divine Physician for your people and bless the noble work to which you have called our doctors and scientists. Make them truly wise in their medical judgements and lovingly sympathetic in their work with the sick. Amen.
Fr. Ron Corne.
Letter 57 – 21st April 2021
Disasters come upon us very often suddenly and without warning.
A 9-year-old boy sat a classroom sees adults enter the room to speak to the teacher and he then has to get up and go home, that boy was me. Upon arriving home, I am told by my Father that my mother had died. To be honest I had no understanding of what that meant or the implications this would have for me or my sisters in the years to come.
On another fateful day at 8:45 am on September 11, 2001, John Murphy, the CEO of Oppenheimer Funds, was out for a run-in lower Manhattan’s Battery Park. He was thinking about the company’s reorganisation plan, which he had announced the day before, when suddenly he saw an explosion near the top of the north tower of the World Trade Centre. He stopped to watch black smoke pour from the place of impact—an awful lot of smoke, it seemed, for what was probably a small plane that had lost its way. He thought of his own employees in the neighbouring south tower and made a mental note not to renew Oppenheimer’s lease in that building. “First the bombing in 1993 and now a plane accident,” he thought. “What’s next?” He continued jogging, now in the direction of the office.
Outside the main doors of All Saints church Tenerife North we have a rose garden which commemorates an air disaster when a Dan Air Boeing 727-46 G-BDAN crashed into high ground whilst on approach to Tenerife North Airport. The crash, which occurred on 25 April 1980 in a forest on Tenerife’s mount La Esperanza in an area of very high ground, resulted in the aircraft’s destruction and the deaths of all 146 on board, 138 passengers and eight crew. This Sunday 25th April 2021 we will be remembering this disaster after the main 11am service outside at the Rose Garden, with prayers and reflection.
Where do we find any answers when tragedy strikes us, what does God say to us in the scriptures when tragedy, sickness, hardship or death occur.? It can be a natural reaction to ask where is God? Perhaps you have asked that question when faced with a heart breaking loss. How could God let this happen to me? Yet God loves you (John 16:27) and I personally and paradoxically have found that love more powerful at such times and that God remains true despite the circumstances. God has assured us that he will work in all things to our good (Romans 8:28), and nothing can change that truth.
A Prayer From St. Clement of Rome, (c. 35-101)
We beseech You, Master, to be our helper and protector. Save the afflicted among us; have mercy on the lowly; Raise up the fallen; appear to the needy; heal the ungodly; Restore the wanderers of Your people; Feed the hungry; ransom our prisoners; Raise up the sick; comfort the faint-hearted.
Fr. Ron Corne.
Letter 56 – 14th April 2021
My earliest memories of my Father was of a very young slim blonde man who was very agile and strong and could work all day and still come home and dig our vast garden as he loved growing vegetables. As a young boy to pick those peas fresh from the pod, fresh as the moment when the peas when pop as an old advert used to say. The taste of those fresh peas was divine, in fact you could work your way along the line munching peas popping the pods before Mum shouted hey stop! Mum would cook fresh peas runner beans new potatoes fresh carrots and maybe mashed parsnips with chops how yummy was that!
Many people said that my Dad as a young man looked like Prince Philip and indeed, he did, they were from that same generation who had been through a calamitous war and although in very differing circumstances, those old pictures of men in uniform marrying their sweethearts is in many an old album. You see we were all in it together. I was born after the war was finished but my Sisters were on the cusp of rationing and the monochrome look of a country that had fought and won and yet now had to rebuild our shattered cities and towns. I must say I knew little of any of it as I was born as we were looking ahead to a new world, with a young Queen Elizabeth and her dashing husband that was all I and my friends at school knew as we stood to sing the National Anthem at school, we were all together. I thought that all Kings and Queens were young and beautiful like our Queen and Prince Philip as they were portrayed on all the stamps and the coins. I was an avid collector of stamps and the Royal Mint issued many new collections, so from King Edward stamps which my dear dad had in a tin for posting letters home to Mum from the war to the little penny Queen Elizabeth stamps and later World Cup Winners, I saved them all avidly getting my stamp hinges and sticking them in! There is a super one of the Silver Wedding Anniversary with the Queen and Prince Philip side faced showing a united couple who faced the world in heading up our Royal Family.
Now that our Prince Philip has died, we are reminded that Prince Philip had a strong Christian faith himself converting from the Greek Orthodox faith to the Church of England upon marrying Queen Elizabeth 2nd. Prince Philip was baptized into the Greek Orthodox Church and brought up in a devoutly religious family. His great- aunt died for her faith, while his mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, became a nun after she was widowed. She created a private chapel for herself in Buckingham Palace which was dismantled following her death in 1969. She can be seen dressed as an Orthodox nun on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in photographs on various public occasions in the 1950’s. Her remains were buried at a Russian Orthodox convent in Jerusalem, as she had wished.
Therefore, for many of us post war children Prince Philip has been like a constant senior member of the family and his passing brings us time to stop remember and reflect.
A Prayer to our unchanging God.
Psalm 102 vs 25-27
In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
Like clothing you will change them
and they will be discarded.
But you remain the same,
and your years will never end
Fr. Ron Corne.
Letter 55 – 7th April 2021
ou know the smell of freshly laundered white sheets which have been pressed and put on the bed, or of the sea in the early morning at sunrise on the beach and a beautiful day or of the total freshness of a cool breeze blowing over the mountain tops! The Garden of the Resurrection where Mary first encountered the Risen Christ must have had a very new smell. The smell of a new creation and of the Resurrection! Luke 24 says, On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!
The smell of death had been turned into the aroma of resurrection! They came with spices to anoint a dead body they are greeted with the most abundant life that ever has or ever will live. The women are surrounded by angels gleaming brilliantly wearing the clothes of heaven, and with the aroma of resurrection. They arrived in the darkness and they left in the brilliance of a new dawn a dawn of resurrection.
You know what it is like when you enter different people’s homes, they sometimes have the aroma of the person who lives there! In many places we have beautiful, scented sticks or candles in case the smell isn’t quite what we would want!
As we move into these days of Easter this year, I want us to be carrying something of the aroma of heaven and the spices of new life and the hope that is within us. 1 Peter 3 says…be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. Then we become to God “the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved”.
We are an aroma that brings life.
I call to you, Lord, come quickly to me;
hear me when I call to you.
May my prayer be set before you like incense;
may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.
Fr. Ron Corne.
Letter 54 – 31st March 2021 – Holy Week
This week I was almost cuddled in a greeting, but then we were both in fear of Covid regulations and so an arm greeting was used, so the thought was there! This morning I received a beautiful Easter card from my daughter in England… although it was a Funky Pigeon creation the words were hers and so were the thoughts and the effort of ordering it, which is no small task, so that small thing made my day!
You see you and I were created for relationship, as scripture reminds from Genesis 2.15, ff, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul…. And the LORD God said, it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
I’ve quoted the whole section as it is so powerful and important, for out of relationship comes love and personal fulfilment. But you notice that our relationships can be with the creation itself including the love of plants and flowers, for others the love and companionship of animals. In Tenerife I think everyone has a dog, as there is every type of dog, I have ever seen being exercised in the park next to the Parsonage.
This week we move powerfully into the Paschal Triduum. The time when God totally proved his relationship with you and me. The Latin word triduum refers to a period of three days and has long been used to describe various three-day observances that prepared for a feast day through liturgy, prayer, and fasting. But it is most often used to describe the three days prior to the great feast of Easter: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday and the Easter Vigil. The General Norms for the Liturgical Year state that the Easter Triduum begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, reaches its high point in the Easter Vigil, and closes with evening prayer on Easter Sunday. The three days of the Triduum are our “high holy days,” our “pilgrimage feast,” and we ought to make pilgrimage from our homes to church to commemorate and honour how the Lord Jesus laid down his life for us, his friends, for our salvation.
A Prayer for these days for us:
O Saving Victim opening wide
The gate of heaven to all below.
Our foes press on from every side;
Thine aid supply, Thy strength bestow.
To Thy great name be endless praise
Immortal Godhead, One in Three;
Oh, grant us endless length of days,
In our true native land with Thee.
(St. Thomas Aquinas)
Letter 53 – 24th March 2021
Last Sunday we reached Passion Sunday, where Jesus traditionally turned his face towards his ultimate sacrifice in Jerusalem. It seems for us that we too have turned our faces this Lent to face the ultimate conclusion of freedom and release as we await our Covid vaccination. This journey and this Lent has been so different from previous more comfortable times, that it truly has been a journey through the deserts of life. It has been a Lent that has lasted for over a year forced upon us in the form of a Covid Pandemic. Last year we awaited an Easter that never arrived, Covid steamrollered Lent through Easter breaking its normal boundaries of joy and hope with suffering anxiety and a fight against the disease. We were forced into the unknown horizon consuming every celebration and festival, every baptism and wedding and even every funeral in its invisible wake. Like a bad dream we long for the Easter release, looking to the possibilities especially in the form of a vaccine which we await. It fits well then that the word Lent derives from the middle English word lenten, meaning springtime – the time of lengthening days. Therefore we look ahead over the horizon to lengthening days to our release but it still requires us to understand afresh the form of waiting and patience, a new form of learning and understanding. Ecclesiastes 3 says, “to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted… a time to heal…A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance”.
Coming from an age just a year ago when most things were instant, we have had to learn afresh the skills and the art of waiting in the patience of faith. We have in fact needed to commit our lives to eternal values. Waiting, praying, longing, looking, listening and hoping. We are all changed like the rain drops which fall to the ground watering the earth which bring life to the creation, so the eternal values are now at the forefront of our lives, watering and transforming us. What will this mean for the world when this crisis is over. What will it mean for all those who have been forced to stay at home, our children and our young people who have been denied education, others who haven’t seen relatives and loved ones for months and even a year and more? How will it change people’s values and what will this watering mean as priorities are changed beyond all recognition? You see we just cannot be what we were, as we are changed and we are growing into what we will be, in the light of what we have experienced. Easter is coming, Resurrection isn’t far away, how will we handle our new freedom when it comes?
Lord, I believe in you: increase my faith.
I trust in you: strengthen my trust.
I love you: let me love you more and more.
I am sorry for my sins: deepen my sorrow.
Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Fr. Ron Corne
Letter 52 – 17th March 2021
I have taken to growing things on the Parsonage roof in some little containers. Cherry tomatoes, lettuce, strawberries, and they are doing quite well, I have even managed to harvest some for lunch now and then, which is always a special delight, eating your own produce. When I had a Rectory Garden in the UK with an acre of ground my favourite was runner beans and Jersey Royals, delicious with a Sunday roast! What you must do with all these plants is to make sure you keep your eye on them, and daily on my roof I water and feed and check how they are doing.
We are already on the fourth Sunday of Lent and how are you doing? Are you managing to take a bit of extra time in prayer or is life taking you over and you are just not getting there? If that’s the case don’t worry. On the subject of plants, I remember moving and finding a dried-up plant in a box a year after moving, I watered it and it came back to life! So, it is certainly not too late, as like the plants we do need to attend to our spiritual lives. We do need the attention of the refreshing water of Prayer and Worship and Sacrament. A daily time with God just being with him in prayer and watch the changes take place, you might start sprouting new leaves for God!
Don’t forget Holy Week is coming, when we have a number of services through from Palm Sunday to Easter Day, as we prepare to welcome in the celebration of Easter.
Here is a prayer from an Early Church Father, St Clement of Rome, 1st century-101 AD.
We beseech You, Master, to be our helper and protector.
Save the afflicted among us; have mercy on the lowly;
Raise up the fallen; appear to the needy; heal the ungodly;
Restore the wanderers of Your people;
Feed the hungry; ransom our prisoners;
Raise up the sick; comfort the faint-hearted.
Fr. Ron Corne.
Letter 51 – 10th March 2021
I have watched the Megan and Harry interview which has caused enormous controversy across the world. Yet one of the most difficult things to resolve in life is family disagreements, mainly because they touch the deepest levels of our emotions. But when we are hurt, we usually don’t respond well.
Our first instinct is to get defensive. Our second is to wound back or withdraw. It takes a deep change in our hearts to give up taking offense, but we have to be willing to let go of our anger, which is easier said than done. Sometimes being angry feels like a right. Someone has mistreated us, and we feel we deserve to be angry, indignant. We let it roll around and grow into huge hurts, grudges and bitterness because we are so focused on ourselves. But that only hurts us and damages our relationships. I have taken weddings and funerals where you could cut the air with a knife when emotions are already running high. One careless word can ignite a vast argument, and people take sides, and the hurt deepens.
As Christians we can have an important part to play in healing the wounds of deep hurt. “Peacemakers are people who breathe grace, they draw continually on the goodness and power of Jesus Christ, and then they bring his love, mercy, forgiveness, strength, and wisdom to the conflicts of daily life. God created us for relationship. Do not let unresolved conflict rob you of the joy that healthy relationships can bring. Then, “go and be reconciled” (Matthew 5:24 NIV) to your brother, sister, friend, and family members.
A Family Prayer.
You know, God, we are not a perfect family.
The stresses of our lives cause us to bring each other hurt and pain.
This is not the way we choose to live with each other.
Yet, all too often, it is how we are living.
We ask that you guide us in your Providence back to a better and more loving way.
Please help us to bury anger and return to the seed of our love.
Please help us to value each other as you value us.
Through Jesus Christ. Amen
Fr Ron Corne
Letter 50 – 3rd March 2021
We reach the Second Sunday in Lent and things seem to be as busy as ever. The thing about life is it is both relentless, life-giving and life-draining all at the same time.
When in England in ministry I have through the years stayed at Alton Abbey. This is an Anglican Benedictine Monastery set in the heart of the countryside. Once you walk into the buildings you are aware that this is a place that is dedicated to something other than the rush of the world. It doesn’t mean that the monks do nothing, quite the contrary they start at 6.30 am with Morning Prayer and finish at 7.30pm with evening prayer and the day is very structured with prayer, Eucharist, study, and work, which may be gardens or cooking the supper and so on. But the beauty of staying with the community is that you share in the worship in the church, and share their supper, and you can have time to be at peace with the Lord in your room, the church, or the grounds but someone else takes responsibility. When you are in ministry you are giving of yourself at each point of the day whether that is in church or just being with people, which is of course is both a great delight and the responsibility of giving.
At Alton Abbey one of the monks is a specialist in painting and writing icons and they indeed have some beautiful icons in the church. The word Icon comes from the Greek word eikon meaning image. It is the word used in the Bible in Genesis – “God made man in His own icon“. That is, in His own image. And again, St. Paul tells us that Christ is the image, Ikon, of the invisible God (Colossians 1.15). Their silent strength and stillness make a lasting impression on those who look upon them, demanding that we stop, be still and listen – in the presence of the Holy. There is a great deal to Icon writing or painting – even the colours have significant meaning: Blue: eternity, infinity. Green: earth and humanity, Brown: humility, Red: royalty, exalted, dignity, White: wisdom, innocence or invisibility.
The important thing in Lent is to try and make some time for yourself, that might be walking by the sea which I do here in Tenerife, or being in a place you know refreshes rather than drains you, and perhaps taking a favourite prayer with you. A time to fast from noise and distraction. The atmosphere of silence is not merely negative – the absence of speech. It is also highly positive – an attitude of attentive listening to the voice of prayer in our hearts. I like to listen to the sea as it crashes against the rocks here in Puerto, that in itself is a prayer.
Here is a prayer which you may find helpful:
Still my heart so that I may know that you are God, that I may know that you create and sustain my every breath, that you breathe the whole universe into existence every second, that everyone, myself no less than everyone else, is your beloved, that you want our lives to flourish, that you desire our happiness, that nothing falls outside your love and care, and that everything and everybody is safe in your gentle, caring hands, in this world and the next.
Fr. Ron Corne
Letter 49 – 24th February 2021
I have recently been watching the Netflix series entitled The Crown. I must say it is compelling watching, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the series so far. Queen Elizabeth is the only Monarch I have ever known, from postage stamps to listening to the Queen’s Speech at Christmas she is part of my life as she is of our Nations, what you might call a constant in a changing world. It was interesting seeing a few episodes filmed in Winchester Cathedral last year when I was home, and witnessing the enormous resources used to film the series which I was able to see as my little clergy house is opposite the beautiful and historic Winchester Cathedral.
Returning to the Parsonage here in Tenerife the Queen and Prince Philip are on the wall and the history of All Saints the Parsonage and other places in Tenerife are thoroughly connected to those who travelled here from the UK hundreds of years ago. Last week I mentioned the beautiful English Cemetery in Puerto de la Cruz, and we can add to this the English Library, and a number of magnificent British-built mansions like Sitio Litre, steeped in history and home to the most beautiful orchid gardens since it was built in 1730, and purchased by the English merchant Archibald Little.
As we move through this year as present-day members of All Saints, we are reminded that our ancestors also passed through many things from wars to the Spanish Flu Pandemic and that we are a part with them of the history of All Saints and of this island’s history and we thank God for our part in this adventure.
Look upon us, O Lord,
and let all the darkness of our souls
vanish before the beams of thy brightness.
Fill us with holy love,
and open to us the treasures of thy wisdom.
All our desire is known unto thee,
therefore perfect what thou hast begun,
and what thy Spirit has awakened us to ask in prayer.
We seek thy face,
turn thy face unto us and show us thy glory.
Then shall our longing be satisfied,
and our peace shall be perfect.
(Augustine, 354 – 430)
Fr Ron Corne
Letter 48 – 17th February 2021
This week I have revisited our English Cemetery in Puerto de la Cruz in preparation for a burial. The Cemetery situated in the heart of Puerto dates from the 1790’s and certainly isn’t easy to find, but once it is discovered you are in for a treat. It is truly a place of peace, and of its time in history, situated in a garden cemetery of tall white walls within which lie generations of English and other Protestant people who walked this island before us. These early adventurers, souls mostly from England lay in this ground on this island and in a place where it would have taken weeks to travel both to Tenerife and home. Surely these traders and others were rather a brave and impulsive band and they mark time for themselves and for us all.
This Ash Wednesday, in the service at All Saints, and in churches throughout the world the Priest will use ash placed on your head or hand with the words, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return,” while the sign of the cross is marked on the forehead by the recipient. This speaks to us of both humility and exaltation, of death and new life. The ashes signify our inner fragility and poverty, and the cross our salvation in the mercy of God. “You are dust,” These are the words that God said to Adam (Genesis 3:19), recalling how earlier the Lord had “formed the man out of the dust of the earth and blew into his nostrils the breath of life” (Genesis 2:7). As we start Lent, we go back to the beginning so that we might go forward to redemption. We are invited to see ourselves as dust again, to detach ourselves from the things of this world and empty ourselves so that we might be filled instead with God’s “breath of life,” that is, with his eternal Spirit. This season is a time to be converted to the very holiness of God as we pray, “A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me” (Psalm 51:12), and engage in penitential practices like abstaining from food and charitable giving of our material goods. “. . . To dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). Although in creating humanity, God has lifted us up from our lowly state, we are cautioned against pride. It is always sobering when I take a funeral service it always reminds me that all our earthly goods are destined to be lost. Everything we have, my favourite stamp collection, all our worldly possessions, will one day turn to dust, just as the great ancient empires of history even the walls of Jerusalem have crumbled. Even before then, time, age, illness can take away our taste for chocolate or our ability to enjoy a nice car. More to the point, one day our bodies will fail and die.
The beginning of Lent reminds us that this world is passing and that we should put our trust instead in the eternal, in the Lord. The most important thing, the only permanent reality, is God. Rather than storing up earthly treasures, we should seek first his everlasting kingdom (Luke 12:16-34). The blessedness we are promised in Christ’s death and Resurrection “invites us to purify our hearts and to seek the love of God above all else. It teaches us that true happiness is not found in riches or well-being, in human fame or power or any creature, but in God alone, the source of every good and of all love. All this is part of our preparation for heaven. The things of the temporal order are necessarily temporary and will all be for nothing. But if we recognise our humility and empty ourselves, putting the Lord before all else, we receive infinitely more than we fear we might lose. It is in this perspective that the words of Genesis are repeated in the Ash Wednesday liturgy, inviting us to an awareness of our mortal state and our need for penance. By his Cross and Resurrection, though we be only dust and ashes, we will be made a new creation. This takes us back to that white walled English Cemetery where all those fellow travellers have had to pass on into eternity and into God’s love and care.
In Christian love.
Fr. Ron Corne.
Letter 47 – 10th February 2021
Half a century ago something fairly profound happened in the UK because on Monday 15 February 1971, Britain went decimal. As a young person I remember putting a few lines of sparkling new coins all plastic wrapped from the bank into a tin, thinking one day these will be worth something. When I eventually opened them, they had corroded, I would have been better off giving them away they were worth much less than when I saved them. My lovely Aunty Gwen had also given me over a period of two years of birthdays two ten-shilling notes, (a lot of money) which I had ferreted away in an old wallet, guess what – I still have them in the UK!
If you are British, do you remember our old coinage? There were 12 pennies to the shilling and 20 shillings to the pound. There were guineas, half crowns, threepenny bits, sixpences and florins. This old system of currency, known as pounds, shillings and pence or lsd, dated back to Roman times when a pound of silver was divided into 240 pence, or denarius, which is where the ‘d’ in ‘lsd’ comes from. (lsd: librum, solidus, denarius). This takes us back to the time of Jesus and to the Gospel of Mark.12 v 14 and to the tribute penny which was the coin that was shown to Jesus when he made his famous speech “Render unto Caesar…” The Pharisee asked Jesus whether to pay Roman taxes or tribute in order to entrap him into admitting his opposition to doing so. But Jesus upon seeing the dēnarion with the head of Tiberius and the inscription reading “Caesar Augustus Tiberius, son of the Divine Augustus”), said, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”.
In the time of this Pandemic, many organisations are finding themselves in need of assistance, indeed our own church of All Saints is well down on our income, as we have not been able to hold any fund-raising activities. As we approach Ash Wednesday on 17th February and the arrival of Lent, perhaps we can reflect on whether it may be possible to make some of this shortfall up, I know our Treasurer would be deeply grateful for any donations and it would be an enormous help.
Fr. Ron Corne
Letter 46 – 3rd Febuary 2021
Today on the 2nd February 2021 the crèches in our great Cathedrals in the UK are removed. This reminds us that the Christmas stories about Jesus in St Luke come to an end today forty days after Christmas with the celebration of the Presentation of Jesus in the temple (Luke 2:22-40). Therefore, let’s take a step into the first chapters of the Gospel of St Luke which introduces us to different people and events that in themselves provide numerous lessons and themes for further reflection. Obviously, Mary and Joseph are pre-eminent by offering the sacrifice prescribed for the poor: a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons as they bring baby Jesus into the Temple. But out of the shadows step Simeon and Anna two venerable, vulnerable and elderly people dedicated to prayer and fasting, and so their strong religious spirit rendered them able to recognize the Messiah. In this sense we can see in the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple as an extension of the call to those who pray. It’s a day when we can demonstrate gratitude to all those in the community that dedicate themselves to prayer, and to those whom I have certainly met in religious communities such as the Anglican Abbey of our Lady and St. John in Alton in Hampshire where I have often stayed and been spiritually refreshed.
Today we sadly also hear of the death of Captain Sir Tom Moore who like Simeon seemed to literally step up and out of the shadows to help with fund raising for the NHS as it struggles with the Pandemic. Capt. Tom said he was “overawed” to find out he was being awarded a knighthood for his fundraising efforts. The war veteran raised more than £32m for NHS charities by walking 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday in April. Capt. Tom’s initial reaction was “this can’t be true” when told about his honour from the Queen. Tom received the special nomination from the prime minister. Boris Johnson who said the veteran had provided the country with “a beacon of light through the fog of coronavirus”. Here are some of Captain Tom’s statements: he said, “I have been given an outstanding honour by the Queen and the prime minister and I am certainly delighted and overawed by the fact this has happened to me, I’ve always said this won’t happen and it appears it actually has. I certainly never anticipated that this letter would arrive for me.”
The lesson here both with Anna, Simeon and Capt. Tom is plain, never underestimate anyone especially elderly people who are alive with a profound spirit of goodness and life, indeed God tells us to take notice and yes be surprised as he often works through those who the world counts as insignificant.
Let’s use Simeon’s own prayer:
Lord, now you let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled: my own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people: a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Fr. Ron Corne.
Letter 45 – 27th January 2021
A current TV show called, Finding Alice, is a gripping drama. Alice is married to a property developer. They have a teenage daughter, Charlotte. Just hours after moving his family into a smart home, all controlled by WIFI and iPad, Harry is found dead at the bottom of his banister-less smart stairs. Alice spends days not only in shock, but also needing to work out how to open the electronically controlled curtains, find the fridge and adjust to grief. It conveys very well what grief can do to us, how it can mess up our rational thinking, Alice ends up burying her late husband in the garden! This took me back to a couple who asked me to officiate with permission to bury their elderly parents in their large garden. I know all the arguments against but that’s what the family wanted and what we ended up doing, though what the subsequent owners thought I don’t know!
The programme demonstrates how shock and grief can turn a totally normal and rational person like Alice into someone who loses the normal niceties as Alice becomes angry with the police, the credit card company the coroner and the funeral director.
We are often changed by the stresses life places upon us becoming someone we wouldn’t even recognise. Life undoubtedly changes us, and we are nothing like the youngsters we once were even though we may have some of the traits of the past. Indeed, the Covid Pandemic has profoundly affected all of us and I doubt we will realise until its long been over but be assured we are changed.
The most beautiful person that ever walked the earth was Jesus Christ, for his soul determined his actions even when forged by death on the Cross. Our call is to become like him in our responses and actions. To be renewed by the trials and disasters of life. Indeed, for the Christian they are the very fuel that in Christ will cause renewal and rebirth. St Francis of Assisi was one such example as he heard Jesus speak to him at the centre of a church in ruins. Jesus called Francis to the manual labour of repairing the small church of Saint Damiano, but that, as we well know, was a symbol of a much deeper call to repair and renew Christ’s own church in the 13th century. The church needs ongoing and continual renewal through the centuries and needs this renewal today. It is renewal in Christ, renewal in living the Gospel, renewal in spirit. This renewal must begin in each of our hearts, in our own conversion to Christ each day. Francis’ aim must be our aim: to be like Jesus. Saint Francis was truly a living icon of Christ. He has been called “the brother of Jesus.” That’s our calling. This call must begin with our own encounter with the Lord, contemplating Him in the Gospel. To love the Lord intensely and to imitate his virtues.
Fr. Ron Corne
Letter 44 – 20th January 2021
My Mother was a terrible worrier, I think it was because she was so lovely and kind that she carried a lot of other people’s problems on her own heart. Are you a worrier? Do you find yourself being anxious a lot of the time?
I wish I had known my mum longer as she died when I was a just a lad of 10. Are you a worrier like my mum, or do you let it all go over your head and let others do the worrying? Yet the Christian response to worrying has already been tackled by Jesus who said:
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”. If only we could take Jesus’ words to heart it would stop a great many depression tablets being taken and stop so much anxiety. Saint Paul the Apostle, in his letter to the Philippians (4:6-7), tells us to “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God” so that “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Do not look forward in fear to the changes in life; rather, look to them with full hope that as they arise, God, whose very own you are, will lead you safely through all things; and when you cannot stand, God will carry you in His arms. Do not fear what may happen tomorrow; the same understanding Father who cares for you today, will take care of you then and every day.
Fr. Ron Corne.
Letter 43 – 13th January 2021
The New Year we hoped would be brighter and better than the last, most especially when the last one has proven to be so absolutely dreadful. Indeed, it may be, but the days are still difficult for many and there seems to have been little sign of relief with new restrictions and chilly isn’t the word for it even here in Tenerife! I didn’t bring my winter woollies or my long Johns! I also haven’t had to water anything, the plants on the roof are probably waterlogged! I know it’s a blessing as we need the water, but we do like to see the sun and bathe in its warmth. However, the weather forecast is looking much better as far as warmth and sun goes! These are certainly waiting days, waiting for the vaccine, the chance to worship by singing in church, and receiving the chalice. The wonder of seeing family and friends without restrictions and warmer weather to name but a few things.
The Christian Church through the ages has had to wait, to have patience and to be prayerful, focussed on waiting and longing for the return of the Lord, therefore we need resources to assist us in our waiting. The Psalms are a great source of strength when things are difficult, there are over 150 prayers. The whole range of human emotions are found in the Psalms, from “joy and suffering” to “fullness of life. In these Psalms there are manifestations of the soul and faith, and in which everyone can recognise and communicate the experience of a special closeness to God to which every person is called.
Here are a few of the words from the Psalms that you might well know,
Out of the depths I have cried to Thee O Lord! and Let Thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication. If Thou, O Lord! wilt mark iniquities: Lord, who shall stand it? For with Thee there is mercy: and by reason of Thy law I have waited on Thee, O Lord! My soul hath relied on His word: my soul hath hoped in the Lord. From the morning watch even until night: let Israel hope in the Lord. For with the Lord there is mercy; and with Him plentiful Redemption.
Use this prayer book of Jesus throughout these challenging days for as Jesus said in Matthew 6.6, But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Fr. Ron Corne
Letter 42 – 6th January 2021
It is Epiphany or Three Kings Day. Just as the Kings arrive to bring the Christ Child his gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, so New Year has also brought us the awful news of a new variance of Covid in the UK which has resulted in another Nationwide Lockdown and more anxiety just as we were peering over the Covid barricade!
But you see, this is the reason the Christ came, for just as the world was in a hopeless state the Christ Child arrived. The cry of that child was not a cry of despair, but a cry of hope for the world. John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and Jesus points to love, hope and strengthening and renewal. Whilst we await the Covid jab Jesus promises to give us a unique spiritual strength which will help us to fight the disease.
There was a survey done among students at a college of further education, the results were very interesting. People who have a higher faith will have a higher optimism; Self-esteem will be higher for people who respond with a strong belief in God. Optimistic people will also have high self-esteem. How a person currently views their relationship with God will be positively correlated to how happy a person is.There is no longer any doubt that what happens in the brain influences what happens in the body. When facing a health crisis, actively cultivating positive emotions can boost the immune system and counter depression. Studies have shown an indisputable link between having a positive outlook and health benefits like lower blood pressure, less heart disease, better weight control and healthier blood sugar levels. Therefore, the gifts Christ brings on Three Kings Day are powerful and life changing!
Here is a prayer of thanks:
Father of light,
today you reveal to people of faith
the resplendent fact of the Word made flesh.
Your light is strong,
Your love is near;
draw us beyond the limits
which this world imposes,
to the life where Your Spirit
makes all life complete.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Fr. Ron Corne.
Letter 41 – 30th December
We stand on the verge of a New Year; I think most of us will say thank God, let’s get rid of the past year after the most extraordinary times we have ever experienced.
I, like many, have experienced a Christmas of both happy moments and disappointment. To be honest, I will be glad when this year disappears over the horizon, even though we have experienced some lovely worship in church and online, it wasn’t anything like we would have wished it to be. Wearing masks doesn’t exactly help us to either sing or pray.
Families that couldn’t meet, friends who couldn’t gather and the invisible enemy of Covid always in the very air that we breathe. The lockdowns and rules, although necessary to fight the evil Covid disease, have caused a general weariness of so many, and are contributing to a vast issue of mental illness throughout the world. A teacher said on the radio how young people openly wept when told school was once again locked down. What on earth can we do to ease the very great distress and frustrations of not being able to see family and lovely friends? What is the best medicine to apply to this almost impossible running Covid sore?
The Christian faith tells us the best way forward is to seek solace in our prayer and in our Christian friendships. These are so important, and this is why true friendships have implications for all dimensions of the human person – including the spiritual. Throughout the history of the Church, starting with Our Lord himself, Christianity has been spread principally through the one-on-one encounters that have fuelled its dynamic growth from the twelve apostles to billions of Christians today. Among the saints who have championed and exemplified the importance of Christian friendship, was John Henry Newman. Throughout his life, John Newman had a great talent for making and keeping close, Christ-centred friendships. In his sermon on Love of Relations and Friends, Newman drew on the example of Our Lord’s special love for St. John. In one of his Plain and Parochial Sermons he asks, “what is it that can bind two friends together in intimate converse of a course of years, but the participation in something that is Unchangeable and essentially Good, and what is this but religion? . . .The Saints of God continue in one way, while the fashions of the world change.”?
May God bless you and your friendships in the year to come.
Fr. Ron Corne.
Letter 40 – 23rd December
I watched a programme several years ago where they filmed a number of families and singles and how they spent Christmas Day. There was the usual and the obvious of some with large families and others in couples but the one who really stood out was the man who purposely spent the day alone. It wasn’t that he ignored the day in fact quite the contrary he made a beautiful Christmas spread on a table which he dressed magnificently. He then served himself up the most delicious Christmas meal, sat and ate it and then enjoyed the rest of the day watching his favourite programmes and resting by a roaring fire. I thought this in some way appealed to a certain more introvert instinct in me, but to be truthful not really my idea of an ideal Christmas. You see I am a sucker for family games, and I do enjoy Monopoly! Watching a good film together and even the arguments are part of the day especially with family and friends. People to me are much more fun than my own company, but if there’s no option and its Hobson’s Choice then make the best of it you can, like the man with his Christmas one-man Christmas dinner.
The survival guide must be to focus on the meaning of the day and that is the birth of a human being who was both the absolute image of God and the complete living example of what we can become. Therefore, Christ is both with the man on his own and the family group gathering for Christmas. The miracle is he is omnipresent, and he is Emmanuel, God with us.
The traditional O Antiphons in Advent help us with this.
This week is the final Antiphon and widely known for its use as the title verse in “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” it is used in the ultimate evening prayer of the Church before Christmas Eve.
O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,
the hope of the nations and their Saviour:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.
Fr. Ron Corne
Letter 39 – 16th December
As we move nearer and nearer to Christmas there is little doubt that with ever-increasing Covid rules and regulations aimed at restricting our freedoms across the world, that the Christian imperative to meet, mix, and to be close to loved ones is so hindered that it becomes for many an impossibility. But perhaps just for this Christmas we must suffer this in order to keep our own loved ones safe and protected as after the storm will come the dawn. In the new year with a Covid vaccine and a new freedom upon us then we will all again be able to visit and love and even cuddle those whom we love. But for now this will be the most extraordinary Christmas we have ever experienced.
C.S. Lewis wrote an essay back in 1954 called “Xmas and Christmas: A Lost Chapter from Herodotus,” in this he worked to separate his feelings about the spiritual side and the commercial side of the season. In this he created a fictional land called Niatirb (Britain spelled backwards) that celebrates two festivals. He says Exmas is a festival of excesses, with participants frantically exchanging cards and gifts, often reluctantly. The other, Crissmas is a much simpler, quieter celebration centred on the birth of a child. In many ways many of us will have to do the one named Crissmas whether we like it or not! Let’s then use the Early Church Fathers to guide us:
St Leo a 4th Century Saint said:
Our Saviour, dearly-beloved, was born today: let us be glad. For there is no proper place for sadness, when we keep the birthday of the Life, which destroys the fear of mortality and brings to us the joy of promised eternity. No one is kept from sharing in this happiness. There is for all one common measure of joy, because as our Lord the destroyer of sin and death finds none free from charge, so is He came to free us all.
We can only say Joy to the world!
Fr, Ron Corne
Letter 38 – 9th December
Advent this year has become an even more intense time for as we are called to look up in hope for the returning Christ, so in hope we have started to receive a dramatic blessing. Today, on Tuesday 8th December 2020 at 6:31 a.m. Margaret Keenan, who is 90, rolled up the sleeve of her Merry Christmas t-shirt to receive the first shot, of a Corona Virus vaccine and her face became a symbol of hope and literally new life across the world. This has caused Britain to become the first nation to begin a mass inoculation campaign using a fully tested vaccine, Margaret said, “I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against Covid-19, it means I can finally look forward to spending time with my family and friends in the New Year after being on my own for most of the year.”
This dramatic happening in a year of fear and sadness has begun the turning around of a situation that just months ago seemed totally hopeless. It appears appropriate that this has happened in Advent the season of hope and longing. We have the Advent Crown in church with five candles which contrast darkness and light. They are lit in succession, one each week, as we count the Sundays in Advent, waiting for Christ’s birth. We are also reminded of those who waited thousands of years for the Messiah. On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, the fifth candle—the Christ candle—is lit. Jesus is the light of the world, and the darkness has not and can never overcome him. The fully lit crown symbolises the fulfilment of Christ’s promise.
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts;
that, we to whom the Incarnation of Christ, Thy Son,
was made known by the message of an Angel,
may by His Passion and Cross,
be brought to the glory of His Resurrection
through the same Christ our Lord.
Letter 37 – 2nd December
One of the paramount pleasures about living in Tenerife is a daily walk or run and many have a long weekly trek across the island. Walking with others adds to the companionship and enjoyment of getting exercise, combined with the fun of exploring new and familiar places. For me it is the daily observation of the sea, watching its different hues, full of power, plus immense primeval strength. The sea around Tenerife has dramatic moods, and colours, deep astonishing blue to a pale greyish tint but with foaming white crashing edges, and it is always a fresh delight to the senses. This brings us to the realisation that no second in God’s creation is ever still or unremarkable, but it is always a living, breathing thing with active and dying moments, constantly in flux.
Yet there is one thing in the creation that is never changing and is constantly reliable, that is God, for god is holy (Isa. 6:1-4), and His character never changes (Jas. 1:17). “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
The wonderful hymn, Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise says: “We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree, And wither and perish — but naught changeth Thee.” Not only does God not change, but His truth does not change. “Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.” – Ps. 119:89 “But you are near, O LORD, and all your commandments are true. Long have I known from your testimonies that you have founded them forever.” – Ps. 119:151-152 “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” -Isa. 40:8. Remember, God always has been and always will be, God is the Sovereign Lord of the universe, and when are united with him, we are enjoined to eternal life and we rest in this truth!
Letter 36 – 25th November
Advent begins this coming Sunday. The word Advent comes from the Latin and means “Coming;” its purpose is to look forward to the coming of Christ to the Earth; it is a season that is focused on waiting. We have all been through so much this year that in many ways this longing for Christ’s return is stronger, “The Lord will come, and not be slow, His footsteps cannot err; Before Him righteousness shall go, His royal harbinger”, (John Milton, 1648).
So, “Advent means something new is coming. The dawn of a new and better era. This is really what the Christmas season is all about, isn’t it? It’s the celebration of the Advent of a new era. God broke into time and space and entered our world” This is where we prepare for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, no longer as a child but as Lord, King and Judge. Imagine, if you will, that glorious moment when Christ appears, in what is known as the Rapture of Christ. In this, the rapture—which is the transformation and catching up of all Christians, dead or alive, to meet Christ in the air—will be secret, for it will be unknown to the world of unbelievers at the time of its happening, (read 1 Thessalonians).This coming will put an end to the misery of sickness and wrong and of course Covid, and many other horrors that are inflicted upon us all. But in this season of waiting and wanting we are reminded that we still have a purpose you and I, and that purpose is to live as Christ lived and love as Christ loved. This Christmas which Advent takes us to is looking to be a very challenging time, where Covid regulations worldwide are causing families to be split up, where the lonely become more vulnerable and where money and insecurity is be the watchword. What can we do? Through prayer, we can enter into God’s presence and ask Him to prepare our hearts the way he prepared all of history to receive the gift of his Son. Ask the Father to use this time during Advent to cut away the distractions and make your life a place of warmth and openness.
A Prayer: O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; rulers stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.
Fr Ron Corne
Letter 35 – 18th November
I have and will be spending a fair bit of time planning the liturgy and discussing the music for the forthcoming services of Advent and Christmas, which includes the Carol Service. Time seems to be running so quickly – no sooner is one week completed and we are into the next. In one way this is a good thing as no one wants time to drag, but to be honest it seems time is speeding up. They say as you get older that time passes more quickly, it can often feel like time goes by faster and faster. This speeding up of subjective time with age is well documented by psychologists, but there is no consensus on the cause. … Like a slow-motion camera that captures thousands of images per second, time appears to pass more slowly. Research shows your brain’s internal clock runs more slowly as you age–which means the pace of life appears to speed up. Other research suggests that the perceived passage of time is related to the amount of new perceptual information you absorb; when you’re young, everything seems new, which means your brain has more to process…which means the perceived passage of time feels longer. There’s biochemical research that shows the release of dopamine when we perceive novel stimuli starts to drop past the age of 20, which makes time appear to go by more quickly. Well as 20 for me was a long time ago no wonder I am feeling the passing of time so intensely!
Jesus said, I am the alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, (Rev 22.13) One of the meanings of Jesus being the “Alpha and Omega” is that He was at the beginning of all things and will be at the close. It is equivalent to saying He always existed and always will exist. It was Christ, as second Person of the Trinity, who brought about the creation: “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3), and His Second Coming will be the beginning of the end of creation as we know it (2 Peter 3:10). As God incarnate, He has no beginning, nor will He have any end with respect to time, being from everlasting to everlasting. He was there when you were in the womb and will be there when you pass from this life to resurrection. Now that’s a promise worth noting no matter how old you are!
Fr. Ron Corne
Letter 34 – 11th November
This week we have had the wonderful news that a Covid vaccine is proving to be 90 per cent effective! This is indeed shockingly wonderful news especially after all the trauma the world has and still is going through. We have been told that people in the UK are likely to be among the first in the world to receive a coronavirus vaccine with care home residents and staff given ‘top priority’ the Health Secretary has said. It looks like a seven-day week plan will be employed to roll out the vaccine from December. We look forward to hearing when Tenerife will also receive supplies of this new vaccine. Our hearts are lifted at the prospect of being free again. Free from masks and gels and distance, disease and sadly death and disruption.
We are though, not the people we were, we can never return to pre-Covid minds and attitudes, for we have a passed through a major trauma, the likes of which our generation has never seen. Will this trauma, which caused imposed isolation on millions and the deep loss of being unable to hold and see loved ones bring change into our hearts? Yes, I have no doubt it already has and will continue to do so. I believe the fragility of the creation and of its care has become front of stage and compassion for so many of the dispossessed will we hope grow more evident. It is like the scales falling from our eyes as they did with St Paul, “And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he arose and was baptized; and he took food and was strengthened”. (Acts 9.18)
Letter 33 – 4th November
How are you with heights? I am not very good, but I must admit the longer I live in Tenerife, the more I become accustomed to either driving or being driven along narrow roads which are simply up the sides of mountains! We do get used to things quite quickly, and the extraordinary can become the norm. We can quickly forget how things used to be and get accustomed to the unusual and even the peculiar. This is rather like wearing masks! How many times have you suddenly realised that you are walking into a shop or restaurant without wearing a mask and then rushing back to the car to put one on? A year ago, you would ever have believed that you would be shocked at not wearing a face mask! I’ve even seen a Tenerife cow statue with a mask on!
These then are snapshots of the life we are living. Someone I know is a wonderful photographer. He walks everywhere taking pictures. He almost never shows the results to anyone. I don’t think he even looks at them very often himself. He says the point of his photography is not so much the photograph he produces. The point of his photography is to cause him to see. Without the discipline of a camera there are so many beautiful and mysterious things we rush past and never notice. The camera causes the photographer to stop. The camera causes the photographer to pay attention, to notice, to look more carefully.
We must stop in our lives and really see what is happening and in those snap shots of stopping and seeing, be it the beauty of a sunset, a full moon, extreme heights or facemasks to take note. As Christians we can offer our prayers in these snapshots, we can also decide to take practical action to assist if help is required. We can certainly take note, like the photographer, to notice what is going on in the outer and the inner life, in our relationship to the world around us and to God.
Fr. Ron Corne
Letter 32 – 28th October
Fr Ron Writes . . .
Have you had your flu jab yet? It is quite simple and amazingly painless, yet it can protect us from the worst of the flu bugs and may even save our lives. I’ve had mine and as always can breathe a sigh of relief once jabbed! I expect you thought like me if only we had a jab for Covid the world would be transformed overnight! We await our rescue!
The human body is such an incredible miracle, yes even yours and mine! Your Kidneys filter 1.4 litres of blood in every minute and we pass 1.5 litres of Urine per day. A single hair can hold the weight of a hanging apple irrespective of size and dimension of the Apple. The number of bacteria in a person’s mouth is equal to the number of people living on the earth or even more and your blood is 6 times thicker than water.
So, don’t get fed up with your body, its beautiful and it’s the temple of the Holy spirit so look after it and don’t abuse it, which, by the way we all do. 1 Cor. 3 verses 16-17 tells us, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So, glorify God in your body.”
This is why it’s a Christian imperative that we care for our bodies very well, we look after ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually, getting both rest and good nutrition and exercise. For our bodies in their superb complexity glorify God in their very existence. Psalm 139 vs 13-16 says, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
Fr. Ron Corne
Letter 30 – 21st October
Yesterday I celebrated another birthday! Oh my goodness! As the woman who was asked about elections said, “What another one?” They seem to come around more quickly as you get older and the speed of them may be something to do with what’s been going on in the year that’s passed! For each birthday is a milestone, which is why some people just ignore them, others a bit like me, like to celebrate as you might as well there’s no getting out of ageing no matter how many moisturisers we use.
As a Father of three grown up children, it seemed that birthdays were on the agenda, almost monthly! On one such occasion we invited a clown to entertain the kids! It’s always a way of taking the pressure off the parents and it seemed like a perfectly good idea! Unfortunately, he seemed unprepared for this particular little group of 7-year olds and they took over the act, the clown walked out, the fifty quid was paid, and we never saw him again!
Luckily when you get to my age, we tend to have much more civilised affairs with a nice meal and maybe some wine, and lots of good wishes and cards! But what are we actually doing? We are marking yet another precious year which has past, and this last one can hardly be marked down as precious, or can it?
What did you think of lockdown, as an introvert I seemed to thrive in working from home and doing a daily walk. Contacting people through zoom meetings, including online services and having the family play bingo on multiplayer Whats app.
Birthdays can then be a time of reflection as well as celebration, of remembering loved ones who are no longer here to share the birthday and celebrating those who have sent a card or a good wish.
When the Son of Man came, he ate and drank, and everyone said, ‘Look at this man! He is a glutton and wine drinker, a friend of tax collectors sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” (Matt 11.19). One of the most wonderful things about Jesus is that he was real, he was flesh and blood, he was genuine and not a pretence. Which means we can go to him with anything, even the clown who ran away from the kids could go to him and say, look Lord I’ve had enough!”
Why because Jesus is a real human being not a false image. He lived and died and was Resurrected, which is why you can place your absolute trust in him.
Fr. Ron Corne.
Letter 29 – 14th October
This morning, in between meetings, I had a chance to combine my morning exercise walk with my haircut. Once down all the steps towards the beautiful deep blue of the sea surrounded by flowering plants, I could see the barber shop door was open with the familiar sign outside. Mark Twain once wrote: ‘What one experiences in a barber’s shop the first time he enters one is what he always experiences in barbers’ shops afterwards till the end of his days’. He couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, there was a time when barbers were more akin to surgeons than hairdressers and provided much more than a simple shave and a haircut. Until the late 18th century, barber-surgeons (as they were often called) performed a variety of services: they lanced abscesses, set bone fractures, picked lice from hair and even pulled rotten teeth…no lice in my hair don’t worry! None of which I’d recommend you ask your barber to do today! Hence the barbers sign: the red represents arterial blood; the blue represents venous blood and the white represents the bandages. Spinning barber poles are meant to move in a direction that makes the red (arterial blood) appear as if it were flowing downwards, as it does in the body!
What is most appreciated by me is the time my barber takes and the care he uses in cutting and shaving and shaping. Using differing clippers with efficiency and attention. You may say well that’s normal, but I would say no its not. In many barbers, not in Tenerife might I add, it’s a number 2 all over. Not here things are done well and crafted well, and you can see the difference even when there isn’t much to see. Ladies would never accept what goes on in some barbers they like their hair done well and it’s an opportunity for a natter, or has been before Covid, it may well be now.
Paying attention to someone as my barber does is a great prized Christian gift, indeed St Paul says in the gifts of the sprit every gift is needed to make up the body because bodies are made up of eyes and ears, hands and feet, arms and noses (and hair!). Thus, no member of the church can be an isolationist. The whole body can’t be an eye or a head because then there is not a body at all. We are to think reasonably about how God has gifted us and avoid unrealistic and inflated conceptions of our gifts or notions that we are worthless and have nothing to offer. We recognize that the diversity of gifts comes from God himself. We are not to worry about the gift we possess, because God has sovereignly ordained the gifts we possess (1 Cor 12.11). We are tempted to think that the gifts we have stem from ourselves, but Paul reminds us that gifts are gifts! They are given to us and not earned by us. We trust that God has formed the body with great wisdom and love. Remember, in Church or out of church when someone wants to talk to you, pay them attention, it’s a form of Christian love.
Fr Ron Corne.
Letter 28 – 7th October
Fear can be a very powerful force; it can become totally disabling. I believe most countries in the world have been struck with this disabling fear emanating from at first the Corona Virus Pandemic, and secondly the immense penalties through lost diagnosis of sickness due to the disabling of the health services, strict lockdowns and freedoms which have been lost at the stroke of a pen. We see and hear of the ramifications as companies large and small announce closure as good and economically sound ventures become insolvent and bankrupt. This erosion of freedom to live, freedom to breath, freedom to work and build a future and to be creative and even spiritually vital is tainted by this stifling fear. It causes a change in the psyche making people more willing to take extreme action as a way of solving problems.
We know certainly in the UK and Europe that many people are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and the calls to organisations which assist in depression and child abuse has risen exponentially. Insecurity rains high as the stock market plummets and firms announce redundancies many people are adopting the let’s bunker down and rush to get supplies, toilet rolls sales are an outworking of this deep underlying insecurity. Its fight or flight and most are adopting the flight and survival mode. This takes away the natural spontaneity of the human soul and the need to encounter the unknown is powerfully hindered and it basically destroys the adventurer and could crush the entrepreneurial spirit within us. Yet reality tells us that so much of what we spend our time worrying about never even happens. Living under the weight of the “what if’s” is a hard place to dwell. We can all struggle with fear and worry but through time, we often find that the things that once would have brought us down an anxious spiral, no longer has the same effect.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:6-7
Fr. Ron Corne
Letter 27 – 30th September
A hard clunk near to me whilst walking Jack my dog along College Street in Winchester brought me up to a start!
I was in deep reflection up to that point thinking of the services coming up at All Saints Tenerife and the planning for differing things as I return on Friday. Upon close examination of the pavement I discovered a beautiful shiny deep brown conker; the seed of the horse chestnut tree and it was a whopper!
It was a conker that my eldest Son James, who went to the Cathedral School nearby, would have called a tenner. This was a sure fire killer of ten in the game of conkers and with string drilled through and attached this conker could crack many an opponent. James and I used to go conker hunting at this time of the year, yet this tree hiding under our noses behind the ancient walls of Winchester College was never detected.
I immediately picked up this shiny handsome conker, looking at its beauty and its deep brown polished exterior, smooth and perfectly formed it reminded me of the great Christian Mystic Mother Julian of Norwich.
Julian was inspired by divine love; she decided to live in a cell located near the church called after St Julian, in the city of Norwich. The anchoresses or “recluses”, lived in their cells, devoted themselves to prayer, meditation and study. In this way they developed a highly refined human and religious sensitivity, which earned them the veneration of the people. Men and women of every age and condition in need of advice and comfort would devoutly seek them. It was not, therefore, an individualistic choice; precisely with this closeness to the Lord, Julian developed the ability to be a counsellor to a great many people and to help those who were going through difficulties in this life. My own dear friend and spiritual counsellor Bishop John Dennis died a few months ago of Covid, and I miss him greatly along with his wise deep and practical advise.
Mother Julian said this, as she, looked upon a hazel nut in the palm of her hand:
“And in this he showed me a little thing, the quantity of a hazel nut, lying in the palm of my hand, as it seemed. And it was as round as any ball. I looked upon it with the eye of my understanding, and thought, ‘What may this be?’ And it was answered generally thus, ‘It is all that is made.’ I marvelled how it might last, for I thought it might suddenly have fallen to nothing for littleness. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasts and ever shall, for God loves it. And so have all things their beginning by the love of God.”
This is deep God given inspiration, which Mother Julian proclaims means that we too can look upon a flower, a beautiful stone or anything, which you feel, is a gift from God. You also can be caught up in the wonder of the creation, so tender, so beautiful yet robust because God has loved it and us. This reminds us not to focus on Covid but on the astounding wonder of God’s love for us in a creation that was brought into being through his love.
Fr. Ron Corne
All Saints, Tenerife
Letter 26 – 23rd September
To be a Christian Priest who heads up a church or any other Christian organization today means a dual reliance on the Holy Spirit and those with whom you work and minister. It means dealing with the nitty-gritty of real human life at its most glorious and its most tragic, its most mundane and its most testing. It is both the greatest gift and the most onerous responsibility. It calls on the depths of the soul, and the heights of the spirit. Shepherding Christ’s flock involves most everything a human being has to hand, every skill and every intuitive gift that you possess. As the years go by you may bring with you all the experience of years of service and wisdom, but you soon discover that each new encounter means not just drawing on the past but upon the reliance of the living spirit of Christ, for without that daily encounter your ministry will soon become hollow and empty.
The late Michael Ramsay who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1966 until 1974 wrote the stunningly insightful, The Christian Priest Today and he said about his own ministry, “People ask me, sometimes, if I am in good heart about being Archbishop … My answer is ‘Yes’ … But the phrase ‘in good heart’, gives me pause, because after all, we are here as a church to represent Christ crucified and the compassion of Christ crucified before the world. And, because that is so, it may be the will of God that our church should have its heart broken and perhaps the heart of its Archbishop broken with it.”
I have found these words echo the great truths of a priest and a man who knew the truth, and indeed they can be translated not only to the priest but also to the Christian people who make up the congregation. We as a church are standing on the cusp of the great tragedy of Covid and we are witnessing the most mighty countries being brought to their knees through this pandemic, as we all seek an inoculation to protect us from this vile infection. Our Job as Christian communities is to stand with those whose hearts have been broken and to affirm those who are fearful and yet to hold onto the strength that is of Christ which rises high above all human endeavour and yet returns to strengthen and enrich it like a golden thread with goodness and love.
Fr. Ron Corne.
Letter 25 – 16th September
I am on leave at the moment in Winchester, and I take my usual exercise walking on my familiar route with my dog Jack.
The route takes me past the high walls of Wolvesey Palace which for hundreds of years has been the official residence of the Bishops of Winchester. It is a handsome and grand structure but even so it is but a fraction of the castle and palace that once formed the Bishop’s residence. It is full of history and times of extreme disturbance and gentle peace. It was built by Bishop Morley in 1684.
Surrounding the building are beautiful and ancient walls some of which once formed the battlements of the Castle and Palace. To walk along this route it is easy to forget those antiquated walls have stood in place for many hundreds of years and have witnessed terrible and fascinating events including the burning down of Winchester in times of war and intrigue.
Every age has its difficulty and our present one reflects part of a history of human endeavour, victory and failure. The pandemic that we are living through today is another part of the history of the struggle of humankind, its neither unique nor unusual, it is life.
In the Gospel of St Luke it says, When Jesus came near the place where the road goes down to the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:37-40 NIV)
The churches task in these so strange times is to cry out! To literally shout out that God still loves you, that this pestilence will pass and love will always defeat evil. This is was and always has been Jesus’s command to his Church to go forth even in these times and proclaim that God still loves us and wants us to be free of this pestilence, and to take time to pray for a renewal of trust in his word and that his love for you has never and will never change.
With Christian love
Fr. Ron Corne
Letter 24 – 9th September
Where is my home? This is a question I have been struggling with moving from the UK to Tenerife. Many at this time are asking the same question we just need to observe all those fleeing across borders in every direction, refugees in tiny boats turning up on the coasts of the UK and of Tenerife; these people are risking life and limb seeking new homes.
This issue faces all of us in different ways, from those of us who live in countries that are not our own to those who want to live in the West where is home? Like the postage stamps I saved as a boy, they are printed with the country of their issue, and franked with the postmark of their departure, just to touch them you know they have come from somewhere “other” and that is the excitement of philately. Like the stamp somewhere deep within us is the place of our birth, we only have to open our mouths and reveal not only which country but that are we southerners or northerners or from majestic Scotland. The first thing we ask someone when we meet them, after their name, is where they are from, or the much more interestingly-phrased “where’s home for you?” We ask, not just to place a pin for them in our mental map of acquaintances, but because we recognize that the answer tells us something important about them. Susan Clayton, an environmental psychologist, says, “For many people, their home is part of their self-definition. For better or worse, the place where we grew up usually retains an iconic status”.
A chaplaincy like ours in Tenerife is a home from home, built by the British in a very different age, yet the chaplaincy serves the same functions for which it was built. It provides a place where the sacrament is celebrated and where we can sing Christ’s praises. The Chaplaincy provides a place where we can gather for fellowship and a place, which welcomes everyone, from whatever home they come.
Yet God tells us in scripture, that here we have no lasting home:
2 Cor. 5.6 says, “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens”.
While we may live in our homes for a season or 50 years this is still a temporary thing, for our earthly home is not our true home, because we have a better home, and an abiding one, in heaven,
“Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Heb 10.34). If we love, follow, and serve Christ, wherever we live in this world, we know we belong somewhere else. That does not mean we cannot treasure our homes they are very important. As you enjoy this dwelling place for this allotted time, prepare your heart and family to live forever at home with the Lord.
Fr. Ron Corne
Letter 23 – 2nd September
Have you ever dreamt of having your own private jet, especially when you have been previously pressed into seats like a sardine on the economy flights of the major carriers? How about having your own Presidential Jet? Having taken a necessary flight to the UK for some important house and other issues as part of my leave, (missing Tenerife already), I found the airport at Tenerife was open and providing coffees and snacks, it wasn’t at all crowded and everyone was careful and respectful. The boarding of the aircraft was fast and efficient, and everyone was wearing their masks correctly, which was different to what you hear at times in the press and everyone was safe distancing. Once aboard I was invited to take a seat with extra legroom, something I have never had to bother with as most people are tall to me! No one sat next to me, indeed four seats away was my nearest side passenger and I could luxuriate in having seats to place things on, and could spread out, claiming the surrounding area as my own! This must be how it feels to fly business class, the only thing missing was the glass of champagne! Well done Ryanair your crew were excellent, and your plane was spotless!
There is so much anxiety about at the moment both in governments and in people, clinging on to the latest set of Covid numbers and the fear of being locked down again and shut in, rather like a sentence of solitary confinement, for something you haven’t done, and from an unseen virus which is both silent and deadly and which the whole world is trying to fight and find a cure.
“According to the Bible, there is nothing wrong with realistically acknowledging and trying to deal with the identifiable problems of life. To ignore danger is fooling and wrong. But it is also wrong, as well as unhealthy, to be immobilised by excessive worry. Such worry must be committed to prayer to God, who can release us from paralysing fear or anxiety, and free us to deal realistically with the needs and welfare both of others and of ourselves.” (Dr. Gary R. Collins, Christian Counselling, p. 66.)
Fr. Ron Corne
Letter 22 – 26th August
In 1977 a film was released entitled Close Encounters of the Third kind. Basically, it was a Sci-Fi film about engaging with aliens through music and a series of flashing lights. Absolutely basic in today’s technologies terms, but as a youngster I loved it as many others did, it was another Steven Spielberg hit of its day! But you know I have realised since then that human beings are much more fascinating than the flashing images of that alien film.
One of things I love to do here in Tenerife is to walk in the early mornings and in the evenings and as I do to stop and talk. Close encounters of the parish kind! Wesley Carr the once Dean of Westminster Abbey wrote a book entitled, Say one for me, in which he points out that where the priest is, there he or she is saying one for you. Offering to God the delight of meeting people and the wonderment of God’s stunning creation not just in the dramatic views of Teide or the deep blues of sea and sky, but in the people we meet. The wisdom and knowledge of so many people with all the joys and sorrows of their lives. It is such an amazing privilege as a Priest to come to know them and indeed to offer them in prayer in the Eucharist.
A Prayer from Holy Scripture: O God, the Father of glory, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom every family in heaven and earth is named, thou who hast set the solitary in families, grant to all members of this family and to all the members of our different families, that, according to the riches of thy glory, we may be strengthened with might by thy Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith; that we, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that we may be filled with all the fulness of God; through the eternal Christ our Saviour.
Amen. (Ephesians 1:17; 3:15-19).
With Christian love
Fr. Ron Corne.
Letter 21 – 19th August
The other evening, I went into my bedroom in the Parsonage in the dark, and went to draw the curtain across, and something jumped – I screamed obviously! I decided I should leave that bedroom to the new occupant! It was of course a gecko, and I now know where it is, and that it hides behind my shutters. After doing some research I realise that these lizards with sticky feet and bulbous eyes are thought be good luck, although you could have fooled me when I was making a bed in another bedroom late at night! I have watched some you-tube videos with people who keep these little fellas, who feed and water them, and this made me feel a little better. Although his protruding eyes staring at me like something out of a sci- fi movie, in the dark it still gives me the collywobbles. I am going to attempt to see him as my insect eating friend and not take on a cat to savage him or to hunt out these little critters!
Fear, you know, is often a by-product of modern life and one we just can’t avoid. Our jobs are often in jeopardy, especially in these Covid times, marriages are under stress, and children struggle with social pressures we could not even have imagined at their age. Let’s face it, the world is a dangerous place. These stressors, according to the experts, have produced an age of unprecedented anxiety.
For people of faith though, the Bible and prayer is our rock and our protection.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
Fr. Ron Corne.
Letter 20 – 12th August
Last evening the sun was backlighting the clouds which were gathered along the coastline looking across from Alberto’s restaurant to the sea and the mountains. The clouds and mist had taken up a scarlet hue in the heights above Puerto de la Cruz. Colours and shapes are all part of the landscape of Tenerife, and Tenerife and La Palma are some of best spots in the world to observe the sky, along with Chile and Hawaii. If we add to this characteristic the geographical situation of the world’s largest solar observatory, located at an altitude of 2,390 m, the result is that the Teide Observatory concentrates the best European solar telescopes. In the mix of all this so many people live on the island and normally there are vast numbers of tourists and visitors, but due to Covid things are quieter and less busy.
In the Book of Genesis, we are told that God created our good earth and God saw that it was good. The Canary Islands are all a part of that on-going creation. As human beings just as Tenerife was formed from a Vulcanic explosion, so we are thrust into the world through birth which is almost as traumatic and through nurture and care we too like the island are a mix of colours and at times darkness. But remember most of all that we are God’s creation, and as such whether we are on the mountains or in the valleys, God is still our God, and one prayer will connect us to the great creator of all the colour and all the the variety of life. Most of all Jesus told us whatever we ask in his name that prayer will be answered. What better resource could we have than being a Christian with a promise like that!
For reflection: Psalm 139: 13-16
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Fr. Ron Corne
Letter 19 – 5th August
Exercise seems to be one of the great pastimes in the park by the Parsonage, indeed I can hear people running by in the dark in the early morning and late at night! In the morning it’s the signal to get up and get moving. Other people’s good actions are an encouragement, it gets me fired up for my daily walk, with the promise of a coffee at the end. My iWatch tells me my heart is beating which is a relief and the device tracks my distance and counts the calories expended.
One of the great pleasures of living here is of course not having to worry too much about the weather because we don’t get a lot of rain and you can walk in shorts and trainers. Exercise is of great importance indeed it is one of the ways to ward off Coronavirus if unfortunately, we contract it.
As Christians both our bodies and souls are important. We know that God created human beings and we have two interconnected parts, the health or sickness of one can influence the health or sickness of the other. God made us and redeems us as whole persons, and it’s a Christian distinctive to care about it all — not just the soul, but the soul and body.
But valuable as both parts are, the apostle Paul goes a step further to help us understand the priority. The central passage on this topic is in his first letter to Timothy. Exhorting him to be “a good servant of Christ Jesus,” Paul writes, Train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, (1 Tim 4.7-9)
Just as the athletes encourage us to exercise, I hope seeing people coming to worship at All Saints will encourage others to come to the training for eternal fitness in the Kingdom of heaven.
Letter 18 – 29th July
As I walked into Puerto the almost deafening sound of the sea was apparent with the rumbling, rushing noise of water as it sucks over the deep dark black pebbles of the shore. Each pebble made smooth by thousands of years of water erasing its Volcanic surface. Tenerife is surrounded by sea, that’s obvious you might say as it is an island. But every now and then you come across huge vistas of blue which when interacting with the sky is almost indistinguishable between water and air.
This Volcanic island with its stark contrasts of dark and light and breath-taking drops into the ocean, reminds us that creation is both harsh and beautiful, both tragic and gentle. The crashing waves remind us that we have only borrowed this land from the vast ocean from which it once arose in a violent volcanic eruption.
John’s Gospel prompts us with the eternal words that, “In the beginning was the word”, and in the beginning was the whole meaning of life, that was Jesus Christ. The creation with both its foreboding and its stark beauty was brought into being so that insignificant human beings could develop eternal souls that could merge into a relationship with Jesus Christ, and with the freedom to either say yea or nay. Like the pebbles being shaped and pushed by the sea, our lives are shaped and made smooth by life, and the interaction of the eternal Christ.
Christ is the light of the world who gives meaning to what otherwise would be a meaningless creation. When Christ is added to the equation the rumbling sea and the haphazard cosmos is lit by a true meaning, that is the love of God.
Fr Ron Corne
Letter 17 – 22nd July
Whilst I was in Puerto the other evening, I noticed a group of young people who were jumping from the rocks at a great height down into the sea way beneath. Firstly, I am not good with heights and secondly, I cannot swim, so in both incidents that would have been the end of me. Added to this my own time of youth left me long ago and the vigour of youth which informs the young tends to be replaced with caution and hopefully wisdom. It is like so many of these pursuits from abseiling to parachuting it would probably be a no no for me. It doesn’t mean that I am without taking risks but as you get older those risks are weighed up much more carefully than we are young. Proverbs 18:15 says, “An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” Let’s face it though, not many daring endeavours would get completed if the world was just full of older people. God made us all different we are all a great mix of personality types and physical appearances. We are all genetically unique, this is how God has created us. We do things in our youth we would never do as we are older. We do things as Christians we would never do without Christ.
This is an important lesson for us that God has filled our churches with a variety of changing interesting and sometimes challenging people. We have congregations that are not static and in life in general it is the learning of how to accept one another for who we are, and indeed learning to actually take a further step than all of this that is to actually love one another with our differences. When Jesus suggested this over two thousand years ago it was as much an alien concept as it is today. Love one another he said as I have loved you. Loving as Jesus loved is not a simple thing to do, because if we loved as he loved us, we would be willing to go to the cross for a stranger and yes for you and me and all those who were to follow him.
Fr. Ron Corne
Letter 16 – 15th July
Names are very important things, we are identified by our names, we respond to our name and when we think of someone, we picture them once that name is mentioned. Sometimes we are not happy with our given names and we might use our second name or even ‘in extremis’ legally change our name completely. A man with a strange name called Devil Law was brought before a judge for drug possession and crashing his car into a bus.
God tells us that he knows us all by name and, in Isaiah, God says, ‘But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine”’. God calls us by name and he knows us individually. God gives us something that even our parents could not give us – he gives us “an everlasting name”.
When looking around our churchyard at All Saints Tenerife, I noticed many names of those who have died, some recently and others long ago. In a similar way I noticed on a bench in Winchester a plaque which says, “Hannah Baker, Loved you yesterday, Love you still, Always have, Always will. Someone who truly loved and missed Hannah. Even more than this God says: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. (John 3.16)
With Christian love
Fr. Ron Corne.
Letter 15 – 8th July
How are you feeling as you witness the gradual easing of lockdown? How has this dramatic and altering experience changed you? As we move through life, we are changed by the natural ageing process, for better or worse this will cause our bodies to change and the youthful slight figure of decades before that stares out at you from that old photograph becomes a distant memory. The new person we have become with its wrinkles and scars has been born out of the joys and troubles of this life and it is like a deep gushing river rather than a shallow pool.
It may be that we have become much more reflective and have a depth and a brilliance much stronger than the younger you will never have recognised. There is a saying that youth is wasted on the young, in other words to have the wisdom of age and the vigour of youth would be a mighty strong combination. Indeed, our pre Covid modern culture was obsessed with youth, with anti-aging with keeping things young. But you see this was never God’s plan, for he is the gardener and we are the creation that he is tending.
When I was a boy, I remember helping my Uncle, a milkman, on his milk round, would make a whooping sounds or give a whistle to let people know he was about. Selling groceries as well as milk he was a great asset to the elderly indeed, he was the pre cursor to the food deliveries of today. On one occasion we visited an elderly couple who always made him a cuppa and gave me an orange squash. They were so old I thought how did they get into the state they were as I looked at them through my very early teenage eyes. Is the glass clean, why is this place so ram shackle? Now I know, and I appreciate as I get older who these old folks were, they were in fact the “me” we are all becoming sometimes full of foolishness and other times sometimes deep wisdom.
I believe the times we have just passed through have so changed us all that at the moment we are unsure how. For many it has been a time of suffering and illness, for others of acute loneliness and boredom. For others a time of self-discovery and blossoming and for me it has been a time where I found creativity easier, in the stillness and the peace for preparing items for the church or just planting some sunflower seeds and watching them grow into differing and enormous blooms, one has five heads! I have spent precious time with family and at one stage we were all on a zoom bingo call all feverishly trying to get to shout bingo!
I believe the changes in you and me it has brought about will gradually blossom like the sunflowers. I believe that the world will not return to what it was, it cannot for our very souls have been reshaped, for like the Damascus road experience we are all changed forever and our goals may no longer be what they once were, and you will be surprised by the way in which you have grown in strength and inner beauty.
May God richly bless you on this journey.
Fr Ron Corne.
Letter 14 – 1st July
I have mentioned that I have a certain amount of Scottish, Welsh and Irish blood in my veins, which I think is why I am quite attracted to the Celtic Christianity of the those shores. The damp, the winds, the rain and the harsh crashing of the seas can be invigorating and inspiring. Even the heat of the desert has its place in Celtic spirituality. It was born in those rugged and wild places and developed in the early fifth century during the development of the monastic tradition. Many of these practices have roots in desert spirituality; Celtic monks considered the teachings of the desert fathers essential wisdom. Celtic Christianity can be characterized by a strongly incarnational theology: The natural world, in particular, reveals the sacramentality of all creation. Hence when I see the peregrine falcons dipping to and throw in the sky I am aware of the Holy Spirit which blows where it will and sustains us as the birds are sustained in flight. Therefore Matter is infused with the divine presence and offers glimpses of the world behind the surface of things. This spirituality celebrates the human imagination, cultivating creativity through various art forms such as manuscript illumination and vibrant metalwork. The Winchester Bible is full of gorgeous illumination held in Winchester Cathedral; although medieval it has flamboyant illuminations one is the Morgan Leaf, and fantastic would be an understatement.
As I walk my dog and look at the surface of water, I am aware that there is a surface a threshold which must be broken to enter the world of the water. The Celts referred to thresholds. Thresholds are the spaces between when we move from one time to another, as in the threshold of dawn to day or dusk to dark; from one space to another, as in times of pilgrimage or in moving from secular to sacred space; and from one awareness to another, as in times when old structures start to fall away and we begin to envision something new. This surely is happening after the pandemic that has inflicted us all. The Celtic peoples had a love of edges and boundary places, most likely as the result of living on an island, but they also held a keen sense of the Otherworld as a place just beneath the veil of this one.
Celtic Christian monks were also drawn to edge places, inspired by those who fled to the desert. Indeed in daily life becoming aware each time you cross a threshold. This might be across a doorway, in moving from one activity to another, or the thresholds of the day, especially at dawn and dusk. Pause at each of these and offer a short prayer of gratitude. As the Lord says, Thus says the Lord: Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls —Jeremiah 6:16.
As we prepare to enter our Church of All Saints in Tenerife after a long absence, remember we are entering a Holy Place and a Holy Space. But remember spiritually it is cleansed and a consecrated place and space to the Lord. It is a place where our ancestors of the 1880’s had a dream and built a place of worship and fellowship, a thin place, which exists between heaven and earth and rejoice that you are soon to enter it again.
Fr. Ron Corne
Letter 13 – 24th June
Jesus said, “But whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
Water is without doubt the pre-eminent force that enables life to exist. No wonder Jesus, a man of Galilee and of the great lake, would mention water so many times in his teaching of how to gain life. Christians in Baptism use water, in holy water in the Eucharist, and in the whole symbolism of cleansing and new life.
Watch a river as it flows and watch its life giving force as it attracts animals, birds and insects to its banks and refreshing waters. Where fresh water flows there you will find life. Even when you look out to space you might think is there any water or life out there? If you look at Saturn’s rings, these are thought to be pieces of comets, asteroids or shattered moons that broke up before they reached the planet, torn apart by Saturn’s powerful gravity. They are made of billions of small chunks of ice and rock coated with another material such as dust. The ring particles mostly range from tiny, dust-sized icy grains to chunks as big as a house. A few particles are as large as mountains.
Water and the Holy Spirit of God are entwined and linked, for without water creation cannot exist and in the same way, without the creative moving powerful spirit of God moving over the waters and the creation, nothing, not even water would exist. Add the Holy Spirit and water together and in the great Christian theology of the Church life explodes into being and for us as human beings a new dimension of life, for its life imbibed with Jesus Christ.
Two thousand years ago “the organizational structure, the great institution of the church—signified by complex hierarchy—simply wasn’t there. There was an apostolic band of followers. There were missionary efforts in major centres, first in Jerusalem, then Antioch, then Rome, but certainly no sense of a headquarters. Instead you had this tiny, vulnerable, poor, often persecuted group of people who were on fire with something.” What were they on fire with? Simply with the Holy Spirit, which drives us forward as believers.
Life existing then where water and the Spirit dwell, as Christians and as priests we too speculate on life in outer space. The Catholic Church has a Chief astronomer, as Christians you might say we have our own men in black! The pope’s own Jesuit astronomers; they have long been active in discussions about extra-terrestrial life, the ethics of space exploration and the religious significance of a universe that could be teeming with life. Writing in the Vatican newspaper, the astronomer, Father Gabriel Funes, said intelligent beings created by God could exist in outer space. Father Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory near Rome, is a respected scientist who collaborates with universities around the world. The search for forms of extraterrestrial life, he says, does not contradict belief in God. The official Vatican newspaper headlines his article ‘Aliens Are My Brother’. Just as there are multiple forms of life on earth, so there could exist intelligent beings in outer space created by God. And some aliens could even be free from original sin, he speculates.
All fascinating and pointing to us as Christians, to you and to me, for when we kneel before God in prayer we are kneeling before the Creator of the whole of the universe, and that means we are joined into what is the meaning of the creation with all of its wonder and creative force.
We better get praying so why not use the Lord’s Prayer:
As Archbishop Rowan says: “The prayer is often introduced in the worship of the church with the words “as our saviour Christ has taught us, we are bold to say”, or “we dare to say” – we have the nerve to say “Our Father”. We need to remember that it’s a bold form of address to God. And Jesus has given us the nerve to call God Father and you sometimes hear it introduced as “as our saviour has taught us we take heart and say“, we sort of summon our strength and resource and, yes, we have the confidence to say these words.”
May God bless you in your prayers.
Fr. Ron Corne
Letter 12 – 17th June
On my morning walk I often see a mother hen duck sat with her five ducklings on the river. The ducklings are in a slumber under her wings, whilst the mother hen sleeps with one eye open watching for predators. Ducks can actually sleep with one eye open and can turn off half their brain whilst keeping the other half alert for predators!
This surely reminds us of who installed this wonderful technique into the mother duck. Jesus said,”Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37 / Luke 13:34). This instinct of God is from the heart and it is to protect and care for us. If we decide this is not what we want, we can of course reject his loving care, as that is freedom in action. But God never turns a blind eye to us; it is always an eye of watching out for his children.
In these days through which we have been passing, it may seem that God has let us get on with it, with the terrible suffering and shocking loss of life. But never at any moment has that been the case. He has been working in the lives of the medical and caring professions, of individuals and family members, of people worldwide trying to assist the sick and the dying, as they work to care and save lives. He is working in the lives of the scientists desperately seeking a cure.
The physicist and Christian theologian John Polkinhorn says, “I’m very sympathetic to the idea that God is the one who holds the world in being, the creation of the world is not the performance of a fixed score, but more like an unfolding improvisation in which God, as the great conductor of the orchestra, and also the individual creature players each have their roles”
In other words, God is working through us to bring about the care and the answers. He is inspiring the individuals to greater heights of love and discovery. He is always at hand and always watching his creation, ever like the mother duck, always alert to our needs and inspiring those who are open to him in the ways of healing and of truth.
A Prayer from the Prayer Book.
O God, you know us to be set in the midst of so many and great dangers,
that by reason of the frailty of our nature
we cannot always stand upright:
grant to us such strength and protection
as may support us in all dangers
and carry us through all temptations;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
With Christian love.
Fr. Ron Corne.
Letter 11 – 9th June
A couple of Christmases ago my Daughter bought me a DNA test kit as a Christmas gift. If you have received or used one of these test kits they are quite something and can reveal so much of your past. Anyway I went ahead and after sending the samples off behold, back came the results. Who am I? I discovered that I am 84% Southern English with a smattering of Irish and Scottish, but 7% Swedish….I knew it! I always thought I was a Viking! Now I know what my ancestors got up to fraternising with the invaders! Some were the invaders.
Then came lots of contacts with 3rd 4th 5th cousins which I never knew I had, Some in Guernsey, others in Canada some in the States and so on. One who contacted me informed me that one of my many many way back Grandfathers was a close friend of Charles Dickens and that there are letters written to Thomas Corne born in 1779 and that he was a straightforward and honest chap… oh, that’s alright then, how interesting! Others were not quite so quite so decent!
I have always enjoyed Dickens books especially, A Christmas Carol. Dickens knew what it was to be in need coming as he did from a large family – his parent’s finances were a constant concern for the family. Despite the family’s financial struggles, young Charles dreamed of becoming a gentleman. In 1824, when he was 12, it looked like his dreams would never come true. That year, the family sent Charles to work in a blacking or shoe-polish factory. Charles was deeply marked by these experiences. He rarely spoke of that time of his life. Dickens eventually made very good, but he was so concerned with the poor and needy that, when his pen touched the paper, he had deep insights into the lives of the poor and the dispossessed. A Christmas Carol, probably the most popular piece of fiction that Charles Dickens ever wrote, published in 1843, reflected this to such an incredible extent.
This is also the wonder of Jesus Christ, as he knew what it was like to live this life for real as he passed through, experiencing everything from family, a loving mother and helping those who came to him, instilling love and compassion wherever he went. No wonder we can turn to Jesus in prayer with anything on our hearts, as he is part of our very DNA, in fact the very instigator of it.
Fr. Ron Corne
Letter 10 – 2nd June
One of the most miraculous things to witness is the birth of a child! If it is your own child, you will have been mentally preparing for that moment for nine months and you will also have been waiting and wondering to see what this little person is like. This little being previously only seen through scans and the odd feel of a kick!
At the moment of birth the first thing the child does is gasp for air. At the birth of my first Son he was rushed away to clear his airways so that he could breathe properly. We breathe without noticing it, it is spontaneous, it is life giving, it is so natural that we take it for granted.
This terrible pandemic virus, which the world has suffered, has very often caused those who are infected to gasp for breath, and to need a respirator in order to survive. Now we are told we can’t get too close to people without masks and even the act of singing in church is at the moment not allowed.
When Christians are born into faith they are also spiritually gasping for breath, they need the oxygen of the Holy Spirit; as to live the Christian Life without it is not possible.
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:21-23).
Breathing the Spirit into their souls resulted in the Apostles becoming energised with a new life-giving force which granted fresh ways of telling the wondrous acts of God. They became empowered with the dynamism of the creative life of God, doing the works of Christ. This again reminds us that at the creation itself the Spirit of God moved over the waters and the ruach, a Hebrew word meaning ‘breath, spirit’, the very essence of the Spirit of God breathed the new life of birth into everything it touched.
We pray and long for these days of pandemic to be ended, so that we can all again breathe the fresh air of being with others in the miracle of friendship and families. Being together without stepping back and when we can sing the praises of God and our life-giving creator.
But we all are changed forever because of what we have experienced. Perhaps the rush of life will be changed whereby we treat animals with care and love and respect. Perhaps there will be a greater realization that time isn’t money but time is a deeply precious gift. Perhaps we will take more occasions where we can walk and take awhile to see that incredible horizon, the colour of the sea and the sky, the wonder of the creation and how we must care for one another and the good earth.
Fr. Ron Corne.
Letter 9 – 27th May
“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed– in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-52.
These powerful words from St Paul proclaim the change that will take place when the Lord comes at the end of time. It may not yet be the end of time, but this pandemic has brought upon us massive change in almost every way. In fact a deep crisis, not only in the financial markets but in the way people think, so many are changed from within.
If I had told you in January, that by March you would witness a shut-down world with most of the world’s aircraft grounded, the loss of countless loved ones to a pandemic and most everything different, you would have called me a mad man. Yet this is dramatically what has happened. In other words this experience has helped us to realise that life is fragile, that our human lives are precious and vulnerable, and that, as St Paul said, things can change in the blink of an eye. The world cannot return to how it was, in fact we are living through the emergence of a world that is basically up for grabs. We need to figure out what now is important to us?
We are witnessing that Lockdown has caused clean air and that pollution has declined drastically. People in Venice seeing fish swimming in the canals and others living in Bihar have reported that they can see for the first time in living memory snow-capped mountains and others that they can see the visible peak of Mount Everest.
Can we now see clearly the way forward as Christians? Are we prepared to answer the big questions in life about the environment and the purpose of life and can we proclaim this to those who are seeking? Can we answer the important and fundamental truths of our faith and are we ready to explain to seekers that they too can share in the wonderful message of God’s love for them? That is certainly our task and privilege.
As Spain and other countries proclaim a time of mourning for those who have died let us remember them by going to the garden prepared for the Chelsea Flower Show which itself could only happen online. One of the gardens is based on the 23rd Psalm. The creator of the garden said, “It’s a ‘found’ place in which to escape, to re-engage with nature and strengthen mental health and wellbeing. It has dark valleys and still waters, and has a strong resonace with contemporary life and its stresses. It is a garden that represents a spiritual oasis. Inspired by the landscape of Dartmoor. It’s a ‘found’ place in which to escape, to re-engage with nature and strengthen mental health and wellbeing.
Let us find that place for ourselves where we can sit in prayer with the Lord.
Fr. Ron Corne
Letter 8 – 19th May
Ascension Day in Christian art of the 11th century shows Christ, climbing to the top of the hill and grasping the hand of God, which emerges from a cloud above to pull him into heaven. The Apostles, assembled below, stand looking up watching the event.
In the Book of Revelation it says, “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven.” — Revelation 4. I.
God pulling his Son the Lord of life into heaven, like a mountaineer after great exertion on earth is pulled up to the top of the mount is so refreshing as it is rather like us we so often need a hand up, more often than we would like to admit each one of us needs this tug up! Sometimes it’s an individual that gives us a hand up other times it’s a group of people. Many of us are missing the Church Family with its great variety of individuals who keep us going, and sometimes cause us to think wow that person is so incredible or sometimes, also like every family, the reverse! There is now doubt that these have been very difficult days, filled with change, and for some loneliness, for others a sense of confusion. What will the new normal be, none of us knows but we do know this much you will never dampen the human spirit.
The message of the Ascension is plain, that Christ overcame the world, that he defeated the powers of death and hell and that through showing love beyond our wildest imaginings, his heart became the doorway to heaven, and to life and life in all its fullness here on earth. When I was a youngster I was helping a friend who wanted all his soil sieved because it was full of weeds and rubbish. It took ages sieving that soil, but the result was a beautiful layer of earth ready to receive the roots of so many plants that would flourish. This life is rather life that sieving process, the joy and the pain, can you imagine what life is going to be like one day in that place where Christ has gone before? A place filled with all those people whom you have missed so much in your life, parents, friends, loved ones. For the time being we are called to be part of the sieving process going through the good, the bad, the easy, and the difficult. We will get through these pandemic days and we see again our friends and our church filled to its doors with friends and families and that in itself is but a mere shadow of heaven. As Hebrews 5 tells us, these serve as a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was warned when he was about to complete the tabernacle. For God said, Be careful that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown to you on the mountain.
May God bless you this Ascensiontide.
Letter 7 – 12th May
The first charge to all Christians is this:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)
This means caring for one another to the utmost degree and making sure no one is either compromised or put at risk.
With the slight easing of the State of Emergency in Spain certain possibilities regarding our churches becomes conceivable. These possibilities mean that we may enter our buildings for worship, but with stringent regulations in place in relation to distancing, hand cleansing, maximum capacities, the wearing of masks and gloves etc. etc.
I believe that it is not the time that we should be considering opening our church of All Saints, as many of our people fall into the vulnerable category, including those who will be needing to take on the people-facing roles in our church.
Regulations state we cannot meet before or after the service, and that we may only operate to a third of our capacity (booking system), with the congregation wearing face masks, and the spaces must be disinfected beforehand. The use of blessed water or ritual ablutions, among other measures, will not be permitted, a 2 metre distancing, and no singing, no hymn books, and so forth and so on.
I have decided that we should delay opening until at the earliest July. This will remove a great deal of anxiety at this time, and will reassure everyone that when we do reopen, it will be with a great deal more confidence and that we may be able to learn from those who have gone to church slightly earlier.
We will continue of course to offer our wonderful website with a weekly sermon, plus our live worship online on Sundays and our midweek letter and other worship aides. I will also be continuing to contact and speak to our people and soon to hold a zoom coffee morning …on line – bring your own coffee, sorry about that!
Be assured when we do return to our beautiful church and grounds for worship and fellowship that we will be observing whatever regulations are in operation in July, and we will be taking all the precautions possible to keep everyone as safe as possible whilst still creating a spirit of worship and trust.
We will announce in due time the forward date of opening.
With Christian love and fellowship.
Fr. Ron Corne.
All Saints Tenerife
Letter #6 – 5th May
In these recent days of lockdown we have been given a glimpse of the outside world by being allowed out for a prescribed hour in Spain whereas in the UK this has been the guidance from the beginning. I am wondering how you are using your hour of freedom. There was one young lady on the radio who described breathing in the fresh air as she took to her bicycle. We are certainly not made to be cooped up we are made to be free creatures and the world is our oyster. One way of keeping this freedom even when we return to our homes is to begin our day with prayer, yes I know when you get up there is so much to be done! But if you don’t take the opportunity whilst you are in lockdown when are you going to be able to do it? People have said to me over the years that if they begin their day with prayer they get so much more done and things fall into place whereas if they don’t then the reverse is their experience. Therefore they apply the principle that they have committed the day into God’s hands so they are not to worry further just do their best, Jesus said: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”. (Matt. 6.34)
All good sound advice but have you used these days for the practical things? The jobs you never had a chance to tackle and now you have discovered you have the cleanest house in town, or the tidiest shoe cupboard! On a strictly non practical note I have been watching a few art programmes in the evening and one, which is on channel 4 is entitled Art Club to ‘battle the boredom’ of lockdown. It features Grayson Perry and takes viewers “on a journey of art discovery”.
Different artists one of who is Maggi Hambling who says she rises about 5.30am to listen to the bird song and to look at her work. Another said she is doing a simple painting or a sketch of herself each day of lockdown. I guess that’s a bit like the old Fry’s chocolate five boys bar, which had five boys gradually going from crying to smiling or the reverse. We all look different as each day comes and goes (not just our hair growing longer). Some days are happier or sadder than others. Maggi the artist showed us a painting she was working on with virus each side and in the centre a beautiful magnolia growing. A term she used was we must become familiar with our voice on the paper. Each day then we are offering ourselves into God’s care, we are changing, we are seeking to grow, in the sad and the happy. Jesus used the term “you are to become lights of the world” Matthew 5:14-16. All these experiences cause us to grow, the pain, the joy, the boredom, the happiness and the whole gamut of everything is gradually filling us up with wisdom. That wisdom is filling the soul for now and for eternity. Imagine how you will be when you use all this experience in the future you could find it may even change the whole direction of your life as you will look in the mirror and realise you are a changed person with a different goal than you ever thought you had before the lockdown.
Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”.
With Christian Love,
Letter #5 – 28th April
As we move through the season of Easter I am pondering how much resurrection glory you are feeling as you like me are in Lockdown, a phraseology I had never really pondered until a few weeks ago, strange how things can become the norm after such a short while. Like wearing blue rubber gloves and donning a mask and rubbing hand cleanser into our hands and seeing supermarkets with yellow spacers keeping us back from the person in front and keeping away from those whom we love and those whom we want to comfort. Being in Lockdown means the simple things of life such as noticing the change in nature all around us is lost to a feeling that a virus is in everything thereby losing the usual glory of spring. Each day hearing of the large numbers of those who are ill and those who have so sadly died, and seeing images of exhausted medics and those who have given even their own lives in the battle to save the very ill. If anyone would have told us at Christmas that such things would have been the norm in most of the world we would have scoffed and called the messenger an idiot, yet the truth was stranger than fiction as coined by Lord Byron, in the satirical poem Don Juan, 1823: ‘Tis strange – but true; for truth is always strange; Stranger than fiction.
Therefore I really do believe most of us are suffering from a sort of aftershock, and each one of us will be managing our confinement in differing ways. Some of us are on our own; others may be part of a family but each one of these settings will bring its own challenges and blessings. I’m on my own but I am fortunate as a priest as I am more than busy with church work as we are taking many things online in these strange confined days. It is certainly bringing us all new challenges and for me a steep learning curve, as we develop new ways of leading and being Church online without meeting and without a building.
As a priest I guess our training tends to focus anyway on the discipline of just being including of course doing. But the being, the prayerfulness and the reflection are all keynotes in the life of a reflective priest. I once said to a priest far older than me when I was still wet behind the ears what he was most ordained to do? Do he said, well Pray of course !
Well this counts for all of us for we are praying creatures, God made us for relationship with him and for prayer. One of my most favourite hymns is, The day thou gavest Lord is Ended. The words in the third verse are: As o’er each continent and island the dawn leads on another day, the voice of prayer is never silent, nor dies the strain of praise away”.
I notice there’s a great upsurge in not only how to do all sorts of physical exercises in your house or flat but also a new interest in mindfulness and the art of meditation. The benefits of being still and drawing close to your thoughts are well known such as lowering blood pressure, relieving anxiety, lowering your blood cortisol levels and so resulting in feelings of well-being less stress and deeper relaxation. As Christians though lets add to that as our focus must be on Our Lord Jesus in our prayer and thought. Being still with him in meditation and prayer will bring all the above benefits as well as deepening our relationship with the one from whom all good things flow.
Love is the touch of intangible joy;
Love is the force that no fear can destroy;
Love is the goodness we gladly applaud:
God is where love is, for love is of God.
(Alison M. Robertson from Common Ground)
With many Blessings
Fr Ron Corne.
Letter #4 – 22nd April
In the church grounds of All Saints Tenerife there is a beautiful rose garden which was set apart to remember all those who were killed in the air disaster of Dan Air 1008 from Manchester to Los Rodeos (TFN) on the afternoon of April 25, 1980. Roses are a fitting plant to use for this purpose, as they are a sign of new life and most especially so when they are in full bloom, and remind us of the Resurrection. Although the years pass by every soul belongs to God and his reassuring love will have encompassed them all.
As I think of the roses in Tenerife, it also reminds me of the beautiful English rose which connects so well to the homes of many of those who were so tragically killed. One of my last parishes where I served as Rector and Area Dean of Romsey was Mottisfont where the stunning Mottisfont Abbey on the River Test welcomes many visitors into its manicured grounds. This spectacular building originated in 1201 when William Briwere who was right-hand man to four Plantagenet kings, founded the priory of the Holy Trinity. It held the forefinger of St John the Baptist as a sacred relic, and eager pilgrims came to be blessed by the Augustinian Canons. This Abbey contains stunning walled gardens, which are filled with old English roses. Unlike modern species, old-fashioned roses tend to flower just once a year, so their full summer blooming is an extraordinary sight to see and the perfume is subtle and dream like. This reminds us that our lives blossom like the rose and for all of us life can be both beautiful and painful. But our reassurance is in Christ who covers us with his love both those who have died and us today.
Fr Ron Corne
All Saints Tenerife.
Letter #3 – 16th April
“When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you’. After this he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. (John 20.19-20)
Do you believe in miracles? After a lifetime of being a Christian I can resoundingly say yes I do! The times that Jesus has intervened in my life changing its course and brining his blessings and his very great challenges are many. Its not a simple act of that’s that then prayer answered, no way, this is not how the Lord works, because if God is God and is the Alpha and the Omega then he is outside of time and can see all before it ever happened. He is not the old man in the sky he is the Spirit of new life and renewal, and as that’s the case when we pray to him he can see the consequences millennia ahead. They say that a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world will have repercussions on the other side of the world, my goodness how that is so true, just look at the virus as it’s spread everywhere in weeks.
Want a modern day miracle? Captain Tom Moore walking around his garden with the aid of a walker has raised 12 million for NHS charities so they sent soldiers from his old regiment, The Duke of Wellington’s with a guard of honour. Capt. Moore, who aimed to complete the walk before he turns 100 on 30th April, originally hoped to raise £1,000 but smashed his target within days.
Wow that’s a miracle! He said the right sort of people to encourage him surrounded him. Well Jesus was surrounded by a confused and muddled type of people but they were right as he chose them and he knew what they would all have to go through and now he appears to them at the Resurrection, these are the people who will form his new church.
As we move through the lockdown I must encourage our people from All Saints Puerto de la Cruz to be thinking ahead. Like Jesus did and Captain Moore did. Don’t concentrate on the downside of the Virus, no concentrate on what we can do on what you would like to achieve after the Lockdown ends. I’m concentrating on our church and to ideas for the future.
So keep safe, and as Hughie Green used to say on an old TV quiz show when I was a lad, “Look after your dear old mum!” My own lovely Mum died long ago but I often think of her and remember her and that’s a way of loving people as well.
Revd. Ron Corne
Chaplain All Saints.
Letter #2 – 1st April
One of the great characters of the 1970s was a man called Fred Dibnah, a steeplejack, who spent his life demolishing the vast sturdy brick industrial chimneys of the old cotton mills in the North of England. What a character!
I saw these amazing edifices when in my twenties with a group of friends. As you do, at that age, we hired a canal boat and we took to the Cheshire Ring, a circular canal route in the North West of England. It travels through a varied mix of landscapes between Manchester city center and rural Cheshire, with stunning views of the Peak District and the Cheshire Plain. What most impressed me was looking up at those huge chimneys built of red brick as they soared up into the sky.
It was great fun as we tried to navigate this boat along the canal coming to deep gushing locks, turning heavy lock bars and so enabling the water to flood out of the lock, whilst making sure you didn’t upend the narrow boat keeping the descending boat away from the walls as the boat found its new level.
Back to Fred the steeplejack, as he is seen speaking from a chimney high above the City in the 1970’s. Fred was asked if he worried about falling to an instant death, he said, “no I aren’t worried about that, I will die in me bed with me socks on”.
It was a very different age where health and safety didn’t seem to count for much! He would demolish a vast soaring chimney whilst burning the wood out from the incision he had made at its base, and just as it started to crack he would run to safety sounding the horn after the chimney had started to fall.
Why am I mentioning this man of 50 years ago because watching his work as he precariously balanced off the tops of chimneys in a blowing gale (I hate heights) you realise how far we have come, and how precarious life used to be, and we didn’t bat an eyelid even in my lifetime, as he demolished a chimney with no fencing and kids on bikes not far off.
Life is precarious – it always has been, and to be confronted with an unseen enemy that not only can give you a nasty cold, but much worse even kill you, is for us today an incredible wake-up call.
So take on a bit of Fred’s attitude as you lock yourself in, take precautions as instructed of course, use the time for prayer and reflection, and doing the other things you haven’t had time for in living memory (and some you still wont have time for like me as you will find an excuse) and God willing, as Fred said, this ain’t going to get you! Therefore, don’t focus on the virus, but focus on the good things in life, which make life worth living. For me that is being part of a Christian Community, having family and friends and loved ones in contact by phone or the Internet. It’s also the stunning beauty of nature and in Tenerife seeing the enormous cacti, which can burst into flower in many shades of colour and seeing incredible vistas of the deep blue sea on almost every turn.
Finally a lady called Julian of Norwich, a medieval Christian Mystic at the time of the Black Death of 1348–50, came to the conclusion that, ‘All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.’
Keep safe and many blessings.
Revd Ron Corne.
Lockdown has caused me to be working remotely, but praying directly! This is a great opportunity for us to bring change to ourselves and change to the world. Yes praying directly, as Jesus called us to, being assured he will join us in our prayers through the Holy Spirit. It is interesting in the New Testament that none of the disciples could do anything much until the Holy Spirit came. No one dared move from Jerusalem to proclaim or utter the message along its narrow streets to the multitudes until the Holy Spirit came in baptismal power. John could not utter a word, though he had pillowed his head on Christ’s bosom and caught the pulsations of Christ’s heart, and though his brain was full of the wondrous facts of that life and of the wondrous words, which fell from His lips. John must wait until a fuller and richer endowment than all of these came on him. Mary could not grasp the new beloved Son that Jesus said must care for her in his home, though she had nurtured the Christ and stored in her heart and mind and full of holy and motherly memories, until she was empowered by the Holy Spirit.
In these lockdown days its well worth taking time for the closing of the door and being still with Christ and focussing on him, then deeply on the things which you wish to bring to him. Those you are worrying about, the situation which now confronts us, caring also for ourselves.
You see the coming of the Holy Spirit is dependent upon prayer. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” To His disconsolate disciples, He said, “I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Comforter.” This law of prayer for the Holy Spirit presses on the Master and also onto the disciples as well.
This is one of the great privileges of being a Christian as Jesus told us he would never leave us or forsake us even to the end of the earth!
Revd. Ron Corne.