Thursday, April 2, 2020


James Edmeston (1791-1867), was an architect and surveyor by profession, who loved literature and wrote over 2,000 hymns, at one time writing one hymn every Sunday.  In the architectural world he became known for his training of Sir George Gilbert Scott, the first in a family line of eminent architects whose grandson, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott designed The Salvation Army’s William Booth College at Denmark Hill and the UK’s iconic red telephone box, among other projects.

‘Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us,’ is sometimes known as the Hymn to the Trinity, with each of its three verses addressing a different person of the Trinity. I feel that the first verse is a wonderful prayer for today, with its reference to this world’s tempestuous sea. How we long for God to lead us over those seas that would otherwise threaten to sink us. 

It calls on God to guard us, to guide us, to keep us and to feed us, four things that are very much on our minds just now, with an awareness that there is no-one who can really help us but God himself. None of the experts around the world really know where all this is leading and what life will be like on the other side of all of it.

Yet, the truth is that whatever we may lose, if things are never the same again, and life never returns to how once it was, we are still richly blessed. We want for nothing if we are truly God’s children having been adopted into a deep intimate relationship with God our Father, through the wonderful work of his Son our Saviour, Jesus. 

Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us
O’er the world’s tempestuous sea;
Guard us, guide us, keep us, feed us,
For we have no help but thee,
Yet possessing every blessing
If our God our Father be.

God bless and keep you all.

Howard, Webber Major (retired)        

Tuesday, March 31, 2020


Francis Jane (Fanny) Crosby 1820-1915, wrote over 8,000 hymns and gospel songs even though she was well into her forties when she wrote her first one. She was just six weeks old when she had an eye infection which was mistreated by an unqualified doctor. It resulted in her total blindness. 

But she wasn’t going to let that spoil her life. At the age of eight years she wrote:-

O what a happy soul am I!
Although I cannot see,
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be.

How many blessings I enjoy
That other people don’t,
To weep and sigh because I’m blind
I cannot and I won’t.

Fanny was usually a very cheerful individual, but she went through a very dark period which resulted in her crying out in prayer what is one of my favourites of her hymns. It reminds me of how dependent I ought to be on God, but frequently have not been, except when things have become dark or difficult.

Hold thou my hand! so weak I am and helpless,
I dare not take one step without thy aid;
Hold though my hand! for then, O loving Saviour,
No dread of ill shall make my soul afraid.

The SA, UK

Monday, March 30, 2020


Don Guiseppe Berardelli, 72 years of age, had been a priest for 47 years. He was the Archpriest of Casnigo northeast of Milan, population 3,200, and had been suffering for some years with a respiratory condition. His parishioners had purchased a ventilator to help relieve the condition of their much loved priest.
When he then contracted Covid-19, Coronavirus, his ventilator might well have brought him much needed relief and even been a life-saver but, with the shortage of ventilators in that part of Italy, he chose to put others before himself. He gave up his ventilator to save the life of a young person.

In the newspaper FarodiRoma, Clara Poli, the mayor of Fiorano, where Don Guiseppe spent many years, remembers him as being “A great person.
I remember him on his old Guzzi motorbike. He loved his motorbike, and when you saw him go by he was always cheerful and full of enthusiasm. He gave peace and joy to our communities. He was a priest who listened to everyone. He knew how to listen. Whoever turned to him knew that they could count on his help.

He passed away in hospital in Bergamo Like many in this part of Italy, he had no funeral, but as his body was taken for burial people came out on to the balconies of their homes and greeted him with applause.

“Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

Howard Webber, Major SA (retired)

Thursday, March 19, 2020

We were 12 - Jorge said marry me, or it's the priesthood...

At a time when internationalism was threatened, Catherine and William Booth's eldest son, Bramwell Booth remarked that, "The Salvation Army opposes parochial mind sets, racial differences, antagonism between peoples and countries by asserting: "Every land is my land, for each land is My Father's Land."                                         With General Bramwell Booth's missions program at its peak, a commitment of one hundred missionaries from the four Nordic countries was targeted. An appeal in Sweden led to seventy Swedish missionaries who answered God's call and departed their homeland with no assurance of a return. The appeal exceeded two hundred missionaries in the Army's first half century in Sweden. Among that number was a brave band of ten appointed to battle inRussia and beyond.                       Missionaries' departure became common-place each year, most often in the autumn. One or two missionary groups marched out year after year. To begin with it was to India, and then in the mid-1890s, it was Argentina who received the next pioneer group.104                                                      Four Salvation Army officers, God’s soldierwho knew no Spanish, fighting against evil influences in our worldestablished our missionary movement in Buenos Aires. Two years following the Founder’s Promotion to Glory, the Army missionary zeal he’d heralded was recognised as a juridical person in Argentina by Government Decree.                                                                                                       Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, four year old ‘chico’ (lad) Jorge, received his ‘first lesson in ecumenismfrom his paternal grandmother Rosa, when they  encountered members of the Salvation Army!                                                                                                                                 Jorge grew up in Barrio de Flores, a working middle-class barrio  (district) in the centre of Buenos Aires, Argentina. His father was a railway worker, his mother a homemaker. He studied in public schools and in high school obtained a technical certification as a chemist.                                                                                    Amalia Damonte, who grew up in the Jorge's neighborhood, reportedly was briefly the object of his affections. Damonte, who still lives in the same neighborhood, said in interviews that when they were 12, Jorge said that, if he could not marry her, he would become a priesta move which eventually led him to devote his life to God. However, Amalia Damonte (76), said they had a friendship when both were 12-years-old "these were childish things, nothing more"                                                                                                                                                         In 1958, Jorge, age 22, entered the novitiate (is the period of training and preparation that a Christian prospective member of a religious order undergoes prior to taking vows to a religious life) of the Society of Jesus, and two years later he took his first vows as a Jesuit. 
In 1963, on returning to Buenos Aires, he attended the Facultades de Filosofía y Teología de San Miguel (Philosophical and Theological Faculty of San Miguel), a seminary in San Miguel. And, between 1964 and 1965, he taught literature and psychology at a Jesuit secondary school in Santa Fe, Argentina, and in 1966, he taught at the prestigious Colegio del Salvador secondary school in Buenos Aires. The follow year he returned to his theological studies and was ordained a priest on Dec. 13, 1969.                                                                                                       After his perpetual profession as a Jesuit in 1973, he became master of novices at San Miguel. Later that same year, he was elected superior of the Jesuit province of Argentina and Uruguay. From 1979 to 1985,  served as rector and theology teacher at Colegio Maximo, before heading to Germany to finalize his doctoral thesis at Sankt Georgen Graduate School of Philosophy and Theology in Frankfurt, Germany.                                                                                                   In May 1992, he was appointed auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires. He was one of three auxiliaries and he kept a low profile, spending most of his time caring for the Catholic university, counseling priests and preaching and hearing confessions. He was installed as the new archbishop of Buenos Aires Feb. 28, 1998.
As archbishop, he was known simply as "Father Jorge," and he adopted the attitude that the church belongs in the street. He built chapels and missions in poor areas and sent seminarians to serve them.                                                              He spoke out often against injustice, such as the treatment of migrant workers from neighboring countries and those lured into the sex trade, and against social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.
In 2001, he was elevated to cardinal, and in 2005 he began a six-year term as head of the Argentine bishops' conference.(-- Catholic News Service)
Throughout his public life, Father Jorgehas been noted for his humility, concern for the poor and commitment to interfaith dialogueThat  dialogue is reflected in his recent meeting with General Pebble wherein he recalls that encounter with Salvationists a half century earlier: ‘Their example of humble service to the least of our brothers and sisters spoke louder than any words. The holiness that shows itself in concrete actions of goodness, solidarity, and healing speaks to the heart and testifies to the authenticity of our discipleship. On this basis, Catholics and Salvationists can increasingly assist one another and cooperate in a spirit of mutual respect and in a life of holiness as well.’                                              He became the archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998 and was created a cardinal in 2001 by Pope John Paul I
Nationality‎: ‎Argentine (with Vatican citizenship)

Cardinal Jorge, adopted seven years ago today, on March 13, 2013. head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State. Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope since the Society of Jesus was founded nearly 500 years agoPope Francis is also the first from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere, and the first pope from outside Europe since the Syrian Gregory III, who reigned in the 8th century. GENERAL Brian Peddle and Commissioner Rosalie Peddle visited the Vatican today for conversation with His Holiness Pope Francis. During the visit, the accompanying delegation – Commissioner Betty Matear, Secretary for International Ecumenical Relations, Lieut-Colonel Massimo Tursi, Officer Commanding Italy and Greece Command and Major David Williamson, Private Secretary to the General – met with Cardinal Koch, Bishop Farrell and Father Avelino Gonzales of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity. In a warm and open discussion the prospect of continued conversations was discussed and General Peddle underlined the areas where The Salvation Army and the Roman Catholic Church share common challenges in the mission to the poor and marginalised. The discussion focused on effective mission and evangelism and serving suffering humanity.
Following a profitable time of sharing, the delegation then had an opportunity to meet with Pope Francis in the Papal Library. The General had a time of private conversation before the Salvation Army representatives were presented to Pope Francis. General Peddle presented his message and Pope Francis responded. The General then prayed with the Pope.
During the visit, The Salvation Army delegation was given privileged access into the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica.
It is intended that beyond this historic visit there would be a series of meetings, which will strengthen relationships and cooperation in areas of mutual concern and service. 
From a report by Commissioner Elizabeth Matear


General Peddle,
I am happy to have this opportunity to renew to you and to all the members and volunteers of the Salvation Army my grateful appreciation for the witness you give to the primacy of discipleship and service to the poor. This makes you an evident and credible sign of evangelical love, in obedience to the Lord’s commandment: ‘Love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples’ (John 13:34).
As I have mentioned on several occasions – and again just now, when we spoke – it was by encountering members of the Salvation Army that I received, many years ago, from my grandmother, my first lesson in ecumenism – I was four years old!. Their example of humble service to the least of our brothers and sisters spoke louder than any words. I am reminded, General, of the insight expressed by your predecessor when we met five years ago: “Holiness transcends denominational boundaries.’ The holiness that shows itself in concrete actions of goodness, solidarity, and healing speaks to the heart and testifies to the authenticity of our discipleship. On this basis, Catholics and Salvationists can increasingly assist one another and cooperate in a spirit of mutual respect and in a life of holiness as well.
Such a common witness is like the leaven that in Jesus’s parable, a woman took and mixed with flour until the whole mass of dough began to rise (cf Luke 13:21). The gratuitous love that inspires acts of service to those in need is not only a leaven; it also has the fragrance of freshly baked bread. It attracts and convinces. In a world where selfishness and divisions abound, the noble fragrance of genuine self-giving love can offer a much-needed antidote and open minds and hearts to the transcendent meaning of our existence.
As the Bishop of Rome, of this Diocese, I would like to thank The Salvation Army for all that you do in this city for the homeless and the marginalised, of whom there are so many in Rome. I am also aware of your significant involvement in the fight against human trafficking and other modern forms of slavery. May God bless your efforts.
Thank you once more for your visit. Let us remember one another in our prayers, and continue to work to spread God’s love through acts of service and solidarity.
© Libreria Editrice Vatican