A VERY WARM WELCOME to the Parish Churches of St. Mary the Virgin Stanwell and St. Matthew Ashford, whether you come as a visitor to look at our lovely Churches, to pray where generations of people have prayed before you, or if you come as one looking for a church to make your spiritual home. We are glad to have you with us.
St Mary’s and St Matthew's are parishes in the Spelthorne Deanery of the Diocese of London. We are under the episcopal care of Bishop Jonathan Baker SSC, Bishop of Fulham. We stand within the Catholic tradition of the Church of England, seeking to respond faithfully to the Gospel message in our own age.
We seek to be an inclusive and welcoming Christian community, imposing no conditions on those who come through our doors other than a willingness to be open to the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ.
Being a part of the Church is going to look very different in the days ahead. Our life is going to be less characterised by attendance at church, and more characterised by the prayer and service we offer each day. We may not be able to pray together in the ways that we are used to, but we can certainly pray for people, and we can certainly offer practical care and support. There are resources on the Services page for you to maintain your prayer life if you would like to use them.
The clergy (in isolation) will continue their pattern of daily prayer and Mass - offering these for the whole parish. If you would like prayers said for any specific purpose, please send them to the confidential email: email@example.com
Ultimately we believe God’s plan for us is Love. The goal of the Christian faith, the sacraments, the saints, the teaching of the Church, The example of Mary, our liturgy, all of it is meant to lead us to heaven. What God finally desires for us is participation in his life, the life of love. Heaven is love in the fullest sense, love completed. Paul said that there are three things that last – faith, hope and love – and the greatest of these things is love. Love is the greatest because in heaven, faith and hope will fade away, but love will endure. Heaven is the “place” where everything that is not love has been burned away and hence heaven is the fulfilment of the deepest longing of the human heart.
Our deepest questions are often the hardest to answer. What’s my life about? Where am I going? What can I expect? What do I really need to know? The Church teaches us that the desire to know our meaning and purpose is, in fact, the desire at the heart of every human decision and action, the quiet searching and interior prompting which sets freedom in motion. These questions are ultimately an appeal to the absolute Good which attracts us and beckons us; it is the echo of a call from God who is the origin and goal of man's life. Christians believe that our purpose is to live and grow in love. We believe that our life here prepares us for life after death. The decisions we make ready us for eternal life with God.
We all encounter suffering at some point in our life. Some endure this much more than others. When we are faced with the suffering of another, love can be tested and, loving gets difficult. Whether it is the addiction a family member is suffering, the disease that has crippled a parent, or the accident that has suddenly changed the life of a young person in the prime of their life, suffering is always difficult to bear. Jesus calls us to be close to those who are suffering. The compassion Jesus taught during his mission is the example for all people who seek to follow him. He asks us - what did you do for the little ones, the hungry, thirsty, sick, imprisoned? (cf. Luke 10:30-37). There is no quick fix to suffering. We believe that God is with us as we suffer, just as he was with his Son as he was humiliated and crucified, just as he was with Mary as she looked on and wept.
“Faith recalls the profounder possibilities for good occasioned by illness and pain: for the sufferer, there is a chance for re-evaluation, conversion, growth in virtue, setting things right with God and others, for onlookers there are opportunities for compassion and selfless behaviour, perseverance in generosity even when exhausted”
(Bioethics for a New Millennium. A. Fisher, OP, Cambridge University Press. 2012)