Every year I have a calling card printed. On one side are my contact details and a greeting and on the other is a prayer that I hope people might find helpful and encouraging. Two that I have used for many years were written by St Teresa of Avilla and St Francis de Sales. There will be quite a few of you reading this who have one or the other and perhaps both. They were both composed many centuries ago but they speak across the years reminding us of the timeless essence of the Faith.

Quite a few years ago I was visiting at Bury Hospice. Having spoken to one of the nurses or the doctors I walk the corridor, knock on a door poke my head around, say hello and then take it from there. On this occasion I went in and spoke to a lady that I did not recognise. As I was about to leave I said to her, “Would you like this card?” The lady replied, “No. I don’t need one of them.” That’s okay, I thought to myself, I’m not trying to be popular. But before I could say anything else the woman said, “I’ve already got one.” I then asked her “Do you mean the same words?” Clearly she didn’t! “No. Exactly the same. You see about nine years ago I was in North Manchester Hospital and a Vicar came in to visit one of his parishioners. I was asleep when he came in but he left that card on my bed table: it’s been pinned up in my Kitchen ever since.”

The Vicar in question was me and the words of the prayer are these; “Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.”

As Christian people we cast the bread of our belief upon the waters of life and we never quite know whom we may be nourishing. So often we may think to ourselves, “What’s the use?” But every now and again we are surprised to see how God does indeed use us to get about his business. I earnestly believe that the effect of our prayers and our Faith is far greater than we might possibly imagine.The thing is that we have to keep going even when we wonder quite why. As Cardinal Basil Hulme once said, “Our perseverance is a proof of our love.”

Be encouraged, keep going!

The Vicar