Sunday, 31 October 2010

Weekend round-up

"Paganism" and the BBC. Two comments from Benedict Brogan here and Damian Thompson here
For the BBC, as with other secularist news services, one made-up religion is as good as another. That's certainly the implication. "What is truth, said jesting Pilate?" Happy Samhain or whatever they call it!

Fr Tomlinson with a hopeful take on Archbishop Rowan's would-be involvement with the Ordinariate process contrasted with Mrs Schori's litigiousness.  Here

Fr Hunwicke on The Catholic League's essential "Anglicans and Catholics in Communion: Patrimony, Unity, Mission"

Montreal, flying bishops and and episcopal oversight here from George Conger.
Time for a Welsh re-think? If only the C in W leadership weren't so chummy with the provinces due south of the border.

The TAC Synod from Fr Chadwick here

And a decidedly politically incorrect cartoon - a Muslim Adam and Eve - anachronistic, but rather amusing, nevertheless and about as silly as the whole western debate about the burqua itself. Who cares what they wear so long as they are not forced into it? Civil rights are either important or they are not.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Clocks and organised irreligion

Just for once, I have to agree with the 'experts.'
Here's a report on the benefits of not putting the clocks back at the end of October.
Ours is not a particularly pleasant climate in winter, wet, windy and cold for much of the time, so why must we make it seem even darker than it has to be? I know the opposing arguments from those in Scotland and the North about road safety and children getting to school in the dark mornings, but I wonder how far they are based on likely reality rather than sheer inertia - Sweden, Norway, Russia, how do they manage?
But I remember this debate and these kind of recommendations from as long ago as my childhood. Nothing, of course, will change and we'll just have to grit our teeth and face the (in part, unnecessary) darkness of the British winter afternoons or, failing that, move to France.
Roll on the end of March! Perhaps I'm just not a winter person.

I was surprised to find in my (free) copy of the Michaelmas edition of Oxford Today, [inside there is an an interesting piece on Geoffrey Hill & a photo of Newman's rooms at Oriel] along with appeals from good causes and all the advertising junk about hearing aids and Greek villa holidays, a membership leaflet from the British Humanist Association, complete with the usual mug shots of Dawkins, Fry, Pullman, Grayling and the late Claire Rayner.
"There's probably no God, but there's more to life than that." So please send us your money...

Obviously in a free society any religious or quasi-religious body has a right to proselytise as best it can, although I have to say "organised irreligion" is not really my cup of tea; my scepticism takes other forms.
So, am I to look forward to the inclusion in future editions of this kind of stuff from every interest group under the sun, religious or non-religious, which has the financial clout and influence to have its mail-shots included: next month, The Watchtower, perhaps?
But who in the publications department of my old university believed this was a good idea? Perhaps they think universal godlessness is an objective worthy of promotion by an ancient university whose motto reads, Dominus illuminatio mea.

Happy All Saintstide!

Friday, 29 October 2010

Before the darkness of an uncertain winter

Half-term week saw a visit to the glorious Westonbirt Arboretum, only about half an hour's drive from here, The trees were spectacular in the intermittent autumn sunshine, the leaves flaming away into the sky, the old year's tribute to the future, before the darkness and uncertainty of winter close in.

It will be an uncertain winter in all kinds of ways, perhaps meteorologically least of all. And in the crisis which envelops us, spare a prayer not just for the clergy (this has gone with the Anglo-Catholic territory for close on twenty years now) but for their wives, who find themselves caught up in a crisis not of their making, and liable to be facing uncertainty on all fronts and, potentially, economic hardship and considerable disruption to their lives. I sometimes think in the midst of the rhetoric on all sides, all the essential need to acknowledge the fact that a priest's vocation has to embrace the cross for the sake of the furtherance of the kingdom, we forget that the real emotional casualties of the years of constant attrition and desperate uncertainty are those who wish to do nothing but support their husbands' vocations through every eventuality. Establishment Anglicanism, for all its propaganda about a married priesthood, pastorally tends to treat its clergy wives very badly indeed (particularly, I have to say, those of the orthodox, who seem to be regarded by many as 'guilty by association.') There are real people involved in all this.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Hard cases and bad law (again)

The current fashionable cause is that of a change in the law on assisted suicide, something being promoted by a highly vocal minority of opinion formers and given huge amounts of publicity, usually in the form of individual "hard cases," by a largely unaccountable and unrepresentative mass media. This is Christina Odone's take on it, from the Daily Telegraph a couple of days ago; here she sums up the fears of many of us:

"Little by little, we would start expecting this acceptance of premature death. Our culture would shift from catering for the disadvantaged to killing them off. The image of Florence Nightingale hovering lovingly by the patient’s bed will give way to another image, of an impatient nurse, looking at her watch, tapping her foot, clearing her throat in a pointed hint: just push off, will you?"
          Read it all here

One of the most frequently heard assertions on the part of those calling for 'liberalisation' of the law on ethical issues has always been that 'slippery slope' arguments do not hold water and are, in effect, a form of patronising scaremongering. According to this line of argument, all that society needs for its continued welfare is yet another grand ethics committee composed of 'the great and the good' to monitor the philosophy of clinical decisions surrounding the end of life and to prevent abuses. The problem, of course, with all such coarsening of society's moral vision, is that we won't be aware of a problem until it's far too late to put it right, and the situation described by Christina Odone has already come about. This is not only about assisted suicide; many think it is about the suicide of a entire civilisation and an embracing of a culture of death, so evident in our attitudes towards the beginning of life.
We tend, perhaps, as Christians to focus far too much of the time on the things which bitterly divide us one from another. Surely this is an an issue which should unite us all, although I have a strange feeling that I may be being too optimistic. See here.
I don't doubt for a moment that those Christians who argue in favour of assisted suicide do so from deeply felt motives of compassion, often prompted by personal experience of knowing those who have suffered agonisingly. The difficulty is that "compassion" now always seems to be defined in a way which subjugates everything (including Scripture, tradition and the experience of many who don't go down this route) to an a priori secular humanist viewpoint, which sees this life as all there is, and the alleviation of individual pain and distress as always the supreme good. Often the opposing view either goes unheard or is toned down and understated. Who, after all, wants to appear to be arguing against "compassion" and in favour of increased suffering?  For obvious reasons a strident tone on the part of those who defend the legal status quo is inappropriate, but a measured and reasoned defence of the the traditional prohibition on assisted suicide, taking in the wider implications for individuals and society of a change in the law, is wholly necessary and , in truth, the only real "compassionate" response.
The problem we have (another, and very closely related aspect of the crisis of authority which faces us)  is that unquestioning and mainly unquestioned secular assumptions have penetrated so deeply even into the heart of many of those Christian bodies which owe their separate existence to the 16th Century Reformation, that on any question, doctrinal or ethical, there is always someone ready to sell the pass -  and, again, for all the 'best' possible reasons.

See also this report on Titusonenine here

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Strange reasoning

This is an explanation from the author of a letter which appeared in the Church Times last week (October 22nd) addressing the decision of the PCC of St Peter's Folkestone to seek to join the Ordinariate,:

"Because of this principle my object was to discourage FiF people from unnecessarily deserting our ranks and giving victory to the liberals.  If their hearts are with unreformed Rome, then they should have gone long ago, as their position is more like third columnists."

The key word there seems to be 'unnecessarily.' It is not then possible, according to this line of argument, for some one's mind to change in a Rome-ward direction due to the contemporary collapse of authority within Anglicanism itself? That is certainly my own experience, and the complete inability of the traditional Anglican (Anglo-Catholic?) sources of authority, Scripture, patristic tradition, informed reason, to stem the revisionist tide has lead many of us to re-examine positively the need for the gift of the papacy and the magisterium.
As for Anglo-Catholics leaving for Rome leading to the victory of the liberals, look around you, it's rather late in the day to say that. They have won; as the Americans say, ' period.'
And as to "unreformed Rome," Trent and two Vatican Councils seem to have escaped the writer's notice. The author's comments on the supposed illegitimacy of the Oxford Movement reveal his true intentions; according to this rationale neither Keble nor Pusey would be considered authentically Anglican.
I had no idea 'Zs' still existed.

But far more seriously the implication of bad  faith, treachery or duplicity on the part of those considering the Ordinariate (being 'third' or even fifth columnists?)  is silly, unfounded and unworthy, reminiscent of nothing more than Kingsley's attack on Newman for being an active 'Romanist' while still an Anglican. But time has moved on since then, and this is to ignore the Anglo-Papalist assertion that it is precisely in union with the See of Peter that the authentic vocation of the ecclesia anglicana is fulfilled.
The Ordinariates themselves offer a way of being faithful to the 'Anglican tradition' (or at least one strand of the Anglican tradition - who could be faithful to more than one of our diverse, competing and contradictory traditions-within-a-tradition?) yet reunited with the Catholic Church from which we were originally separated, not out of a desire for a "Reformed Catholicism," (an ex post facto justification convenient to all shades of opinion) but by self-interested and coercive royal fiat against the better judgement both of Church and populace.
Yet the Anglican tradition did prove capable of nurturing true holiness and developed a recognisably Catholic theological / historical method and a liturgical and pastoral style all of its own.
By the establishment of  the Ordinariate, at least one of Anglicanism's traditions is, in fact,  being preserved by Rome from those who are in the advanced process of destroying it within the Anglican Communion itself. As historical ironies go, this is up there with the greatest of them.

There's an interesting post on what we could call Pope Benedict's "big tent" on the English Catholic here 

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

White smoke?

As a (fairly non-judgemental) non-smoker married to someone who smokes, here's a story (non-story?) from the Daily Telegraph again.
Apparently, the Pope, or so it is said, (resolutely un-PC to the last) smokes the same brand.
As someone who is often mistaken for a smoker because of the regular "walk of shame" to the cigarette counter on my wife's behalf, I'll never complain again. It's also guaranteed to endear the Holy Father even more to my wife.

Here's the last part of Andrew M Brown's story He has an awful mock-up of a photo of Pope Benedict smoking whilst fully vested - well perhaps not, and I won't include it here, although the smoke looks genuine enough, if generated by another source!

"And persistent reports over the last few years indicate that Pope Benedict XVI enjoys an occasional cigarette – Marlboro Red, it is claimed – in quiet moments, away from prying cameras. For this reason I am reproducing the distasteful photograph above, which I found on the internet: I apologise if it causes offence to anybody. During World Youth Day in Australia in 2008, a bodyguard claimed that the Holy Father had smoked three cigarettes in quick succession. To think of the Pope enjoying a relaxing draw on a King Size cigarette packed with smooth Virginia tobaccos… it only makes me admire him more."

Not the photo on the Daily Telegraph blog

Nothing new?

"On the other hand, the influx of scores of Anglican converts during the 1840s and early 1850s was a phenomenon which aroused feelings of wariness and suspicion among the bulk of English Catholics; and this for a variety of reasons, understandable if not always quite fair.
Probably the least fair of their suspicions was a questioning of the sincerity of those who had chosen to join them. How genuine, they were inclined to wonder, was the faith of those who had been rejected by their own communion and who seemed to be seeking the refuge of the One True Fold out of mere expediency."
from David Newsome's The Convert Cardinals  (John Murray 1993)

Cardinal Manning

Sunday, 24 October 2010

A few apologies & weekend links, and things

Important & developing news from Scotland about the Ordinariate from Bishop Edwin, writing on the Anglo-Catholic here.
 In fact I agree with him entirely about the Ordinariate (only that, sometimes, "slowly slowly catchee monkey") and  my spectacular & extremely intemperate over-reaction a couple of days ago was aimed elsewhere - but sincere apologies to everyone. Perhaps I'm not coping too well with uncertainty.

And if you needed to be reminded of the importance of the Ordinariates, here's part of a communication from our local C in W diocesan 'Inclusive Church' group:
 "We'll be having our next "Inclusive Church" meeting on Tuesday 2 November at my place (address below). We agreed at our last get-together that the theme this time would be "Naming God".
Some of us may find that familiar ways of addressing God (for instance in hymns, liturgy, prayers etc) use language that does not always encompass everything we know and experience. Are there alternative images and words that avoid inappropriate assumptions, broaden our understanding and deepen our spiritual life? Please come along and share your views over a cup of tea!"
 I do have some ideas, at this moment all of them rather blasphemous.

On a similar theme, this is from 'Virtue Online':
"In the ongoing world of TEC political correctness, VOL has learned the following. For future reference, please know that the Presiding Bishop has made it clear that she does not care for the title "Mrs." as she, like many women, does not consider herself an appendage of her husband. If a similar form of address is needed, she commends the use of "Ms."
Whatever. At least it's more theologically accurate than "Bishop."

A helpful post by Fr Sean Finnegan on his blog Valle Adurni here  aimed at those worried by the reception they may receive on the other side of the Tiber. It's also now available on the Anglo-Catholic 
He also reports news about the forthcoming launch of the Ordinariates in England and Wales

A theologian of convergence? More here on Stanley Hauerwas via La Nouvelle Theologie
"The last thing in the world I'd want is a personal relationship with God. Our relationship with God is mediated. Without the church we know not God. No Israel, No God, Know Church, Know Jesus. Our faith is a mediated faith with people formed through word and sacrament. So I'd never trust myself to have a personal relationship with God...."

I missed this first time around: Fr George Rutler wrinting on liturgical "experts" and those actually responsible for celebrating the liturgy. From First Things: read it all here
Just two excerpts:
"I do know that if I followed the guidelines of one liturgical commission, suggesting that I greet each penitent at the church doors with an open Gospel book and then lead a procession to a reconciliation room which looks more like an occasion of sin than a shrine for its absolution............."

 "But none of this matches the torture of the trans-gendered RNAB which manages to neuter every creature except Satan who remains male. Our Lord sometimes sounds like the Prince of Wales: “What profit is there for one to gain the whole world …?” and other times like a bored anthropologist: “Two people went up to the temple to pray….” But then the inevitable pronouns kick in and we find out that even after the liturgical gelding, these were men..........."

The end of the Llandaffchester Chronicles? Here  Sad -  they'll be missed -  a gleam of mischievous light in a darkling world. If we can take this at face value, someone urgently needs a sense of humour transplant.
The latest oxymoron: 'Anglican tolerance.' I wonder who will be next?
Anyway, having very nearly become one, I can - just about - get away with reproducing this (admittedly very elderly) joke from America about lawyers - apologies in advance to friends in the legal profession - but this is aimed particularly for those in the service of the illiberalism of the ecclesiastical 'liberals'- in whatever part of the world they are found.
"The National Institute of Health (NIH) announced last week that they were going to start using lawyers instead of rats in their laboratory experiments. Naturally, the American Bar Association was outraged and filed a suit. Yet, the NIH presented some very good reasons for the switch.
1. The lab assistants were becoming very attached to their little rats. This emotional involvement was interfering with the research being conducted. No such attachment could form for a lawyer.
2. Lawyers breed faster and are in much greater supply.
3. Lawyers are much cheaper to care for, and the humanitarian societies won't jump all over you no matter what you do to them.
4. There are some things even a rat won't do."

Something I should have realised, having been largely brought up in what was still, then, a mining area, and that is that St Lawrence is the patron saint of miners, something obviously not much talked about in a 1970s - 80s secular culture which was largely a cross-fertilisation of dying methodism, fossilised Labourite socialism and an Arthur Scargill (remember him?) brand of marxism. Still, the parish church (now recently closed) should have had a statue of St Lawrence...or even a window... or something.... So much for inculturation & Anglicanism's (lack of) identification with the working classes..
Here  he is (St Lawrence, not Arthur Scargill) on this link, complete with miner's hat and lamp

The photo (below) is from the Chappelle des Mineurs in Faymoreau

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Our Lady on Saturday

Not the Wye Valley in autumn, but the River Mere in the Vendee as it winds its way through the Mervent Forest - here not far from the Grotte du Pere de Monfort.

"Chosen soul, provided you thus carefully cultivate the Tree of Life, which has been freshly planted in your soul by the Holy Spirit, I can assure you that in a short time it will grow so tall that the birds of the air will make their home in it. It will become such a good tree that it will yield in due season the sweet and adorable Fruit of honour and grace, which is Jesus, who has always been and will always be the only fruit of Mary. Happy is that soul in which Mary, the Tree of Life, is planted. Happier still is the soul in which she has been able to grow and blossom. Happier again is the soul in which she brings forth her fruit. But happiest of all is the soul which savours the sweetness of Mary's fruit and preserves it up till death and then beyond to all eternity. Amen. "Let him who possesses it, hold fast to it."
St Louis Marie Grignion de Monfort

Friday, 22 October 2010

The patron saint of the misunderstood

Does anyone know who he or she might be? A few prayers wouldn't go amiss.
It's an occupational hazard for bloggers, but I wish people would read carefully what has been written (however imperfectly expressed) rather than just respond - not on this blog - either with sarcastic questions or with a flood of emotionally charged rhetoric.
O.K., trying to find common ground and keep the peace (even more than slightly tongue- in- cheek, something which seems to have gone completely unnoticed) was probably a silly thing to do, you just get shot at by both sides.
I haven't made any secret about where my ultimate loyalties now lie, but I still maintain that the things we have in common are more numerous than the ones which divide us, and that trying to keep doors open is far more productive than just slamming them shut. To put it crudely, where do we think the 'second wave' of the Ordinariates is going to come from - those who have taken temporary refuge with SSWSH (because there is nowhere else for them to go) or from the members of WATCH?
But the only sensible response is just to shut up and bite my tongue - permanently seems quite a good idea at the moment. That's far too thin-skinned, I know, but expect a few more photos of autumn foliage in the Wye valley for a while...

Do SSWSH and the Ordinariates need one another?

Despite the rhetoric being bandied about  in this rather unreal period before the Ordinariates are set up, and as the situation in the Church of England itself becomes ever more confused, when persuasion and recruitment are never far from the top of the agenda and everyone is concerned to justify their own personal reactions to the Anglo-Catholic endgame, could it be that SSWSH and the Ordinariates, far from being warring rivals for the remnant of those in the tradition of the Oxford Movement, may turn out to be complementary and even part of the same journey of faith?
Much of course will depend upon the attitude of SSWSH's episcopal leadership. Will they attempt to rubbish or even downplay the structures which will be set up as a result of  Anglicanorum Coetibus, or will they (as I hope) keep their powder dry and their options open? They must have been given food for thought by the recently restated opinion of the Archbishop of Canterbury (see a previous post), presumably speaking as the leading spokesman of the Anglican Communion as a whole, that women's ordination is a 'second order' issue. From the  addresses and interviews he has given in recent months, the worrying truth seems to be that even Dr Williams himself has no visceral  understanding (sympathy is another matter, no one questions that) of those for whom the whole concept of "second order" issues makes very little sense, particularly when applied to matters which have a bearing on the nature of communion and the validity of sacraments.  Purely on an empirical level if women's ordination really is a second order issue for the Anglican establishment (although their attempts to relegate it to the status of 'adiaphora' have run into an ecumenical brick wall) why then has it become such a test of loyalty and even qualification for office in our church? Given that, the question needs to be asked how much real generosity could ever have been expected and how much leeway will the Society of Saint Wilfred and Saint Hilda be given now by the C of E establishment, when the very premise for the Society's existence is so profoundly misunderstood even by those of our opponents we thought did, to an extent, understand us? Because without that leeway, the SSWSH bishops will have to resort to illegality and defiance (how much appetite there will be at this late stage for that is anyone's guess - not much is mine) and ultimately will be forced out of the Church of England altogether.
Again, Reform and the Catholic Group should be extremely wary of placing too much confidence in knife edged votes in General Synod. As in England in 1991, we experienced the same degree of over-confidence in Wales in 1996, and the most surprising people either changed their minds, abstained or absented themselves for all kinds of reasons, genuine, confused  or self-serving.
On the other hand, SSWSH could very well, if it is regarded by its leaders and members as a kind of half-way house for those who realise they will in time have to leave the familiar shores of the C of E to swim either the Tiber or the Bosphorus, help to keep alive precisely those liturgical, theological  and pastoral traditions which the Ordinariates hope to repatriate within the Catholic Church, and which are rapidly being ditched by the western Anglican mainstream.
For the Ordinariates themselves, hoping to grow steadily, the presence of a well-disposed anglo-catholicism, even on a C of E life support system, could in all kinds of ways be more advantageous than one which has been suddenly put to death. Even if I am being consciously over-optimistic and resolutely non-confrontational in saying all this, such an situation can only have the shelf-life only of one generation of clergy. Votes in synods will see to that, given that Anglicanism has now been revealed in the words of one blog as "a fallible denomination whose essentials are up for votes." Some might think that in itself is reason enough for considering leaving.
Surely the task in which we all believe is the defence and the setting free of the Catholic tradition within Anglicanism, the attempt if not to save Anglicanism from itself (it's now too late for that) then at least the setting up of an authentic, orthodox and evangelistically effective alternative to the present doctrinal and ethical chaos. (Many would wish to add that in order to achieve this, union with the Successor of Peter is essential, not optional) So, then, we should be singlemindedly serious in pursuing that strategy and not allow ourselves to be distracted and divided from one another by the short term political tactics necessary for even temporary survival in the quasi-parliamentary governing structures of contemporary Anglicanism. Whichever side of the Tiber we find ourselves in a year or so, we will still have more in common than that which separates us, the battles are essentially the same, and our divisions more about time scale than anything more theologically substantial.

As for the prospect of a joint C of E / CBEW Committee in order to better facilitate the setting up of the Ordinariates, the critics are right. It's an excellent idea if it could be concerned with the transfer of property and resources, and with resolving any disputes arising from that. Failing that, some offers of "help," however well-intentioned, are best declined.
Some animals lose their essential nature if they are domesticated.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

A period of uneasy calm

from the Piano Concerto for the Left Hand in D major (Concerto pour la main gauche en ré majeur)  It was commissioned from Ravel by the Austrian pianist, Paul Wittgenstein, who lost his right arm during World War I.

We are experiencing a quiet period of autumn weather here, sunny by day but now with the first light touch of frost by night: the reflective calm before the storms begin and the cold really sets in.

“Perhaps hell is for those who ask for it; to those who claim their rights God gives their deserts, the rest he handles not in accordance with their merits but in accordance with his mercy. We all think we have rights – rights to so much pleasure and ease, rights to be let alone, rights to spend most of our money on ourselves, rights to receive apologies, rights to get our own back, rights to neglect other people’s cares and concerns unless we have a fancy to meddle with them.
Having rights is damnation; salvation is the receiving of Christ’s body and blood, as paupers existing on the dying charity of the Son of God. We are not our own; we are bought with a price.”
Austin Farrer: from The Crown of the Year

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Interview in 'The Hindu'

"Yes, what I was trying to say in Rome last year was that, actually, we had within the last 30 or 40 years achieved an extraordinary level of agreement about how we understood the ordained ministry and the sacraments. And I was still rather puzzled by the fact that this one question – who can be a priest? – suddenly emerged as the only one that mattered, as it were. Whereas, in fact, I think I said the glass is half-full, not half-empty. We have, in fact, dealt with a great deal of substance there and I suppose I really then wanted to remind both my own Church and our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters that we had established a common language for talking about priesthood and about the sacraments. And we shouldn't suppose that our disagreement about the status of women simply invalidated all of the rest of that! "
Archbishop Rowan Williams: from an interview in The Hindu (October 20th) Read it all here
The highlights are mine

Respect him greatly, as many of us continue to do both as a theologian and a pastor, this is ultimately why, even with Archbishop Williams, we feel we are speaking another language altogether with regard to ecclesiology and the theology of the sacraments.

As has been said before, the ARCIC agreements are, as it were, in the bank for future use, although we now need to ask the question who will, in fact, be able or willing to use them? The Ordinariates? The non-WO parts of ACNA and the Global South?
And this is precisely the issue: these "disagreements over the status of women" - and this is a highly contentious way of expressing the problem - are really disagreements, not over the status of women at all, ontological or societal, but over ecclesial communion and the nature of the Church herself, and the normative authority of Scripture and apostolic tradition within her life. They do not 'invalidate' all that has been achieved, and it is good for the Archbishop to remind the Anglican Communion - particularly its more ardent revisionists - of that fact, but they do preclude any further progress being made. And the difference in practice in terms of achieving visible unity between that and the agreements being invalidated is......between decomposition and cryogenics.
The Archbishop isn't the only one who is puzzled.

Frank Martin : Agnus Dei

From the Mass for Double Choir

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Just when you thought things couldn't become more complicated...

Damian Thompson has this on the situation in the Church of England after the Synod elections, and these comments on the Ordinariate

And this is the report from Christian Today:

Fissure over women bishops deepens in Church of England

"The faultline running through the Church of England over women bishops has widened after the Bishop of Fulham’s departure to Rome and the outcome of elections to the Church of England General Synod.

Opponents of women bishops say they have gained ground in the General Synod and estimate that 66 clergy (32.10%) and 77 laity (35.46%) will vote down draft legislation on women bishops unless it is amended to include more provisions for those who in conscience cannot accept women in the episcopate.
Rod Thomas, of orthodox Anglican group Reform said: “Only 34% is needed to block this when it returns from the dioceses. For the first time, it can and will be blocked by both fully elected houses.
“In the clergy only a further 1.81% is needed, and that’s just one person. There are 21 new evangelicals on this new synod, and one out of a possible 58 undecided is a given!”
He said the outcome of the elections suggested that the Bishop of Fulham, John Broadhurst, had been “too early” in making his decision to join an ordinariate in the Roman Catholic Church.
His view is shared by the Catholic Group in the Church of England, which said it deeply regretted Bishop Broadhurst’s decision to leave the Anglican fold.
Reform’s interpretation of the Synod results has been refuted by Women And The Church, a group that supports the consecration of women.
It said Reform’s claims were “premature”, as many candidates had not declared their views on the draft legislation for women bishops prior to the elections."
Read it all here

Meeting of minds

The Chief Rabbi on meeting the Pope - 'an epiphany'  here
One of the reasons Pope Benedict's visit to the U.K. was such a resounding success was that people realised the complete  inaccuracy of the media's portrayal of him - not 'God's Rottweiler' or any of the other anti-German and anti-Catholic nonsense, but a gentle and intellectually compelling advocate of the Christian message.

Vaclav Havel denounces "atheist civilisation"
Clearly, not the sort of thing The Guardian expects playwrights to do.  Here
I suspect Andrew Brown mentions only Archbishop Rowan Williams (who undoubtedly deserves the accolade, but who has been for a long time, & for obvious reasons, the left-leaning luvvies' favourite churchman) because it just wouldn't do to quote............. ..someone else who has been saying these things more consistently and for rather longer.
But - Deo gratias - yet another instance of a coming together of serious minds.

Up to a point...
Stanley Hauerwas, John Gummer, Mary Warnock and Raymond Tallis on religion, politics and morality.
Fascinating, but better if they all spoke English - and I certainly don't mean Hauerwas! The last couple of minutes say it all.  The BBC is not all bad!

Or not.....
Alongside the genuine excitement and joy many people feel about the Ordinariates, there is a certain fear and trepidation concerning both the reception they might meet on the other side of the Tiber and the manner in which they are treated as they leave the church of their baptism.
There are those Catholics, understandably in the light of post-reformation British history, who are taking positive delight in reminding potential Anglican converts of the various implications of Apostolicae Curae and the undoubted inconsistencies of Anglicanism and its very chequered past.
However, it is precisely these things which lead some people to become converts. If Anglicanism were an ecclesial paradise on earth would anyone wish to leave it?

There are also critical Anglicans, themselves having no problems with the revisionist future but desperately hung up about the question of "validity,"  and with Rome's condemnation of Anglican Orders and with the unwillingness of the East to recognise them. That is, they seem to want their cake and eat it; they want to be free to depart at will from the apostolic deposit of faith, yet at the same time demand recognition as catholic priests from Rome and the Orthodox. There are even those who see a laughable contradiction between, for eaxmple, Bishop John Broadhurst's calling the General Synod 'fascist' and preparing to leave the C of E as being 'too liberal;' but this is a schoolboy debating point: as if the "liberal" agenda were not being imposed by extremely illiberal methods.

I'm sure we understand the impeccable logic of those bloggers who clearly take pleasure in referring to converting Anglican bishops as "Mister," (there are far worse appellations, of course) but one has to wonder about the psychological motivation behind the all-too-eager attempt at discourtesy and public humiliation.
Yet there is a world of difference in meaning between the phrase used by one conservative (cradle catholic?) commentator, "from Lie to Truth, not from one truth to another one" and Bl John Henry Newman's "Ex Umbris et Imaginibus in Veritatem." Even shadows and images (or 'phantasms') can contain enough of reality to impel someone in the direction of the truth, as Newman's life itself testifies.
Still, it was Bishop (later Mgr) Graham Leonard who described his and others' approach to Rome in the early 1990s by saying, "we come as supplicants." I don't know of anyone today considering the Ordinariates who would differ essentially from that view.
But in other respects times have changed.  Anglicanorum Coetibus is a "prophetic gesture" on the part of the Pope of Christian Unity, making provision "to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared." Reading these words, it's hard to agree with those who on the one hand think the past should be completely discarded as utterly worthless, or on the other hand that this is merely a sectarian move, involving those who will take up the invitation abandoning all hope of real pastoral care or active evangelisation.

I can understand how this unprecedented response by the Holy Father to the request of traditional Anglicans could offend conservative Catholics with long historical memories. I can equally appreciate the concerns of those who think Pope Benedict is poaching clergy and laity from another "communion" (although how exactly one can steal something which has already been discarded as being surplus to requirements is another issue) but it would seem that the Pope, exercising his ministry of care for all the churches and (as he himself said in his address at Westminster Abbey)  "charged with a particular care for the unity of Christ's flock" is more concerned to "gather up the fragments which remain so that nothing is lost," rather than waste precious time in playing silly games of any sort.

Enough. Perhaps St James 1.20 ought to be inscribed over every blogger's computer screen, mine included.

Turkey: embracing capitalism isn't the same thing as accepting 'western' values, much less those of Christianity. Here   I would back Pope Benedict over Boris Johnson or even David Cameron any day. No surprises there, then.

And from the surprising & not so surprising to the positively bizarre:
One for Dr Williams & all Simpsons addicts everywhere.
Homer has already crossed the Tiber! Report here

Monday, 18 October 2010

Salve Regina: Naji Hakim

Antienne (Salve Regina) from Mariales (1993)

The nature of a caravan

This has been prompted by one or two comments on the blog

The Ordinariate "caravan," as Bishop Andrew Burnham has described it, is a process, a journey; it will take longer for some than for others to reach their intended destination. As the provisions of Anglicanorum Coetibus explicitly state, this is an open-ended invitation to enter into full communion with the Successor of Peter, there are no time limits imposed on it; we all have different timetables by which we are able to operate.

In Wales the response to the announcement of the Anglican Ordinariates has been muted (to say the least) for several reasons. Yes, there has been widespread scepticism and the pouring of gallons of cold water. But in fairness, apart from those who will never, under any circumstances, be prepared to leave the Church in Wales (which they persist in believing - somewhat against the evidence I have to say-  remains the ancient catholic church of the land)  a lot of people simply can't see how any new structures will operate. Some are unsure as to what all this talk of Anglican patrimony consists of and whether, if they can identify it, they can identify with it. Many people don't know in any detail what is being proposed. Others may feel they need more time and information in order to discern their future and make plans. It isn't only the clergy who will be fearful of being uprooted from familiar people and places.

It's in the nature of the Catholic Movement that many lay people look for guidance to their clergy. For two years now (thanks to the collective decision of the Diocesans) we have all lacked episcopal guidance; many priests are themselves hesitant and demoralised, not convinced of the support of their own congregations and worried about their future and those of their families, if they have them. Some, in view of what has happened in North America and Australia, might be wary of launching what could be interpreted as any kind of 'recruitment drive' for fear of being charged with abandonment of communion, or whatever the local term might be for what, in the hands of the unscrupulous, is an infinitely malleable concept.

If in Wales there are laypeople out there (who will inevitably be scattered among different parishes and over a wide area) who are interested in forming a group to explore the Ordinariate further - with no pressure, no immediate commitment and for however long the process might take -  perhaps it would be a good idea to get in touch (and in total confidence) with someone they know to be sympathetic -  if you see what I mean. Just a thought.
Comments here are moderated.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

More comment

More comment on the Forward in Faith Assembly
From Bishop Edwin here and Fr Ed Tomlinson here
On the whole I'm rather glad I had a wedding and a concert in the parish this weekend. That also spared me the usual British public transport experience.  - bad and prohibitively expensive.
The problem we have here with FiF is that the Welsh Anglican situation - a totally different legal / synodical procedure in a small disestablished church (and the fact that we seem to be rapidly becoming an oupost of TEC) - can hardly be addressed, as it is, realistically, just a sideshow. I don't see how SSWSH can operate in Wales at all (I'm deeply sceptical as to whether if it can operate in England either, regardless of any other issues) so ultimately it's a choice between the Ordinariates (which many see as fulfilling the true vocation of Anglo-Catholicism, even if we have failed to move the rest of the church along with us) individual conversion to East or West or, after the present generation of non-juring clerical "dissenters"  is allowed to die out - and that's the optimistic scenario, to knuckle under to the status quo.
We traditionalists in Wales, lacking a common 'ecclesial'  identity and uncertain of widespread lay support, haven't been that keen so far to rock the boat or appear disloyal, much less to 'deliver on our own rhetoric.'
 Let's all be gentlemen - it was an honourable way of acting, but if your opponents neither shared your values nor your scruples, potentially, and as it has turned out in reality, suicidal. Truthfully, it's now too late to do anything else.

Update: From the Forward in Faith website: Fr Geoffrey Kirk sums things up perfectly here

Whatever happened to levelling up? Another indictment of the educational establishment. How did our culture become like this? Here

Friday, 15 October 2010

Bishop of Fulham to join Ordinariate

"The Anglican bishop of Fulham and the chairman of Forward in Faith International has announced he will resign before the end of the year to join an Ordinariate.

Speaking at Forward in Faith’s National Assembly today, Bishop John Broadhurst, who is a senior figure in the Anglo-Catholic movement, said he intended to tender his resignation before the end of the year and join the Ordinariate in Britain when it is established. He has said that he will remain the chairman of Forward in Faith, which he says is not an Anglican organisation.
Bishop Broadhurst is a suffragan bishop of the Diocese of London. He said the Bishop of London would likely appoint someone new to fill the post Bishop Broadhurst is vacating.
He is the first senior Anglo-Catholic to announce publicly that he will join an Ordinariate when it is founded."

From The Catholic Herald; full report here

Update. Some early reactions: from "Thinking Anglicans" here. So far only a couple of poisonous comments - that has to be a record. Everyone else seems to be asleep or, unlike me, actually at the National Assembly.
Also from Valle Adurni here and Fr Ed Tomlinson here

Perhaps Damian Thompson will eat his words now?

Audio of the speeches and proceedings of the Forward in Faith National Assembly can be found here


The situation which now faces Anglo-Catholics as the process gathers pace to allow the consecration of women bishops is unique. We have never faced a crisis of this magnitude before. This is the defining crisis. Yet many still point to 1991 and its aftermath, or to 1845 and what happened in the years after Newman's conversion, for comparable examples offering the hope that life can go on as before.
The situations are not even remotely analogous. After Bl John Henry Newman's succession from the Church of England in 1845 many were convinced that all was still to play for: the provinces of Canterbury and York could still be recalled to their Catholic inheritance. After the General Synod vote in 1991 there was still hope that under the Act of Synod it might be possible to preserve and develop a Catholic identity within the Church of England and from that position (ecclesiola in ecclesia) move towards a different ecumenical future than that desired by the C of E's main body. (The situation in the Church in Wales was of course much less secure, but many of us had hoped for a similar outcome.)
Neither of these hopes now remains as even the remotest possibility.
I recently came across this quotation from Henry Manning, written in 1839 just before he became Archdeacon of Chichester:
"...The English Church  is a real substantive Catholic Body capable of development and all perfection - able to lick up and absorb all that is true and beautiful in all Christendom into itself ....."

Which of us now (without the risk of being thought insane) would be able to recognise Manning's description of the Church of our baptism much less echo his (then) hopes for her future development? Given the inevitability of women bishops, of what kind of development is our Church now capable?
Of course, within a few short years Manning himself had changed his mind in the aftermath of the Gorham Judgement and we know the rest of the story.
But Manning's comments quoted above show a typical prescience: this, the attempt to "to lick up and absorb all that is true and beautiful in all Christendom into itself," was precisely what was attempted within the broad Catholic tradition in Anglicanism over the next one hundred years, and not without a considerable degree of success. Yet in the end, this catholicising movement, or series of parallel  movements, has run into precisely the difficulty which sent both Manning (and, to a large extent Newman a few years before him) to Rome: the built-in, institutional inability of the Anglican system to resist the demands of the State and the intellectual fashions of contemporary culture - an inability which dangerously undermines all its claims to catholicity and apostolicity.
That is the rock on which we are now shipwrecked, the reef which has always lain under the surface but which the storms surrounding the 'postmodern' equality and rights agenda have now exposed once again. It is on this rock that find ourselves asking all the hard questions which many of us have, until recently, studiously avoided.


This reaction has been posted on his blog by The Revd John Richardson, a leading conservative Evangelical commentator:

"It may be readily seen that whilst there is a similarity to what is currently available under the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure and the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod, the provisions have been substantially diluted.

Of particular note, I suggest, is that although the diocesan bishop has a 'duty' to make arrangements (section 2), and although the bishop has to take account of the Code of Practice, the arrangements made are entirely local and may be reviewed at the bishop's discretion at any time. Moreover, the Code of Practice may be applied differently in different circumstances, and may itself be altered by the House of Bishops.

This is dilution to homeopathic percentages."

 It remains to be seen what the newly appointed working party on the Code of Practice will do, either to try to strengthen the provisions or dilute them even further.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

It couldn't last

The BBC are at it again. The 'truce' over the period of the Papal Visit just couldn't last. An interview on The World Tonight  relating to a dispute between the Holy See and the Italian State concerning the activities of the Vatican Bank, featured one, David Yallop (the author of the discredited  "In God's Name: An Investigation into the Murder of Pope John Paul I " and, some might say, obsessive conspiracy theorist)
So much for objectivity. Wasn't Dan Brown available?


".....And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course untrimmed......"

The last few days have felt appreciably cooler; it will soon be time to dig out the overcoats from the wardrobe, perhaps along with a heavier-weight cassock.
In the country, weather is still important to us, not just being a matter of wet pavements and remembering to carry an umbrella between buildings. But it's also the time of year for our local amateur weather forecasters to come out of the woodwork and start predicting another hard winter. They don't have any more of a clue about our long term weather prospects than do the professional forecasters of the Met Office, but it's an opportunity to chat about a favourite British preoccupation and, statistically, they have to be right some of the time!
This used to be my favourite time of year. Not now - I prefer the spring -  perhaps because I find  it's harder to escape that rather depressing thought that from mid October onwards we are all heading into the dark and the cold of the year's end. Having said that, liturgically it still is a favourite time of year, with the great celebrations of the Communion of Saints, All Saints and All Souls, coming up at the very beginning of November. This is a time, as the Celtic pagans undoubtedly felt, where we sense the reality of the invisible world and of the life of eternity surrounding us as the natural world heads towards the darkness of winter.

For the Jacobean State, the 'Gunpowder Plot' of 1605 was both a political and cultural gift, something which lead to the replacement of the (by then, by most people, dimly remembered) celebrations of the Saints and masses for the departed with something which is, at least for us, as seasonally evocative, if not as gently compassionate. Although now I can't help but reflect on the feelings of the not-insignificant number (recent scholarship suggests far more than was once thought) of adherents of the old religion who must have seen those fires of celebration and the effigies burned upon them as a threat aimed menacingly at them and everything they held dear.
This is something which has been erased from the collective memory of our country and of our church which, only relatively recently in historical terms, has reinvented itself as an body which values tolerance and breadth of religious opinion. And now its governing synodical process, taking a leading role in the unfolding tragedy of contemporary Anglicanism, shows definite signs of wanting in the name of equality and inclusion to reduce the range of its 'comprehensiveness' and significantly narrow its breadth of view.

So for many reasons, despite affectionate childhood memories, I don't regret the decline in popularity of November 5th's Bonfire Night. I suspect what has destroyed it are those large and impeccably organised and sanitised,  ultra-safe civic firework displays;  the spontaneity has gone, a casualty of the current health and safety industry. Yet  it's a huge debasement of our culture even for this double-edged  historical commemoration to be eclipsed by the faux-pagan, commercial, supermarket-based celebration of plastic bats and pumpkins of Hallowe'en. In itself  'Hallowe'en'  may be fairly innocuous, but even what we may think is harmless fun may contribute to the brutalising of our culture and to the kind of neo-pagan 'background noise' which is more and more a part of our society.
Perhaps we should take the advice of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales to re-Christianise the Eve of All Saints and organise alternative activities and opportunities for people to worship (including encouraging children to dress up as Saints rather than ghosts, vampires and demons - Link).  It won't compete, more's the pity, with the large and extremely tacky commercial displays like the one in our local Tesco, but may at least provide an alternative for those who have eyes to see.

So let's look ahead a couple of weeks. This is the ending of a sermon by Austin Farrer ('A share in the Family')

"Where Jesus is, there is the Communion of Saints: his life never lives, his action never acts, alone: he gives his saints everywhere a part in all of it. Jesus gathered his disciples round him in Gethsemane to pray with him, and they fell asleep. Unsleeping, his saints pray with him in glory, where their whole life becomes a prayer; a holy desire, strong and efficacious, for the fulfilment of Christ's redemption, and the accomplishment of his kingdom; a perfect union of heart and mind with the society of love, of Father, Son and Holy Ghost, three persons in one God."

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Newman: from 'Feasting in Captivity' (1842)

"We know what prophecy promises us, a holy Church set upon a hill; an imperial Church, far-spreading among the nations, loving truth and peace, binding together all hearts in charity, and uttering the words of God from inspired lips; a Kingdom of Heaven upon earth, that is at unity within itself, peace within its walls and plenteousness within its palaces; "a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and without blemish." And, alas! What do we see? We see the Kingdom of God to all appearance broken into fragments - authority in abeyance - separate portions in insurrection -brother armed against brother - truth, a matter not of faith but of controversy. And looking at our own portion of the heavenly heritage, we see heresies of the most deadly character around us and within us; we see error stalking abroad in the light of day and over the length of the land unrebuked—nay, invading high places; while the maintainers of Christian truth are afraid to speak, lest it should offend those to whom it is a duty to defer. We see discipline utterly thrown down, the sacraments and ordinances of grace open to those who cannot come without profaning them and getting harm from them. Works of penance almost unthought of; the world and the Church mixed together; and those who discern and mourn over all this looked upon with aversion, because they will not prophesy smooth things and speak peace where there is no peace. On us have fallen the times described by the Psalmist when he laments, "Thou hast broken the covenant of Thy servant, and cast his crown to the ground. Thou hast overthrown all his hedges and broken down his strongholds ... Thou hast put out his glory and cast his throne down to the ground. The days of his youth hast Thou shortened, and covered him with dishonour..................

One danger there is, that of our attempting one of these aspects or constituent portions of the Christian character while we neglect the other. To attempt Apostolical Christianity at all, we must attempt it all. It is a whole, and cannot be divided; and to attempt one aspect of it only, is to attempt something else which looks like it, instead of it. "All is not gold that glitters," as the proverb goes; and all is not Catholic and Apostolic which affects what is high and beautiful, and speaks to the imagination. Religion has two sides, a severe side, and a beautiful; and we shall be sure to swerve from the narrow way which leads to life, if we indulge ourselves in what is beautiful, while we put aside what is severe.......

Let us recollect this for our own profit; that, if it is our ambition to follow the Christians of the first ages, as they followed the Apostles, and the Apostles followed Christ, they had the discomfort of this world without its compensating gifts. No high cathedrals, no decorated altars, no white-robed priests, no choirs for sacred psalmody, nothing of the order, majesty, and beauty of devotional services had they; but they had trials, afflictions, solitariness, contempt, ill-usage. They were "in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness." If we have only the enjoyment and none of the pain, and they only the pain and none of the enjoyment, in what does our Christianity resemble theirs? What are the tokens of identity between us?"
John Henry Newman: Sermons on Subjects of the Day

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Funerals again

From an excellent article by Francis Phillips in the Catholic Herald on funeral liturgies. Read it all -  link here
"I was at a Requiem Mass this morning; nothing unusual in that, of course. Yet this Mass was highly unusual in this respect: there was no panegyric of the dead. The deceased man had made it clear to his widow before he died that he wanted the homily to focus on the faith – specifically the theology of death and resurrection, with accompanying prayers for the dead – and not on him........"

And this from earlier in the year and from another perspective, the comments of Peter Forster, the (Anglican) Bishop of Chester (link), but in fundamental agreement. Report here 

It's a growing problem for all of us as the Christian faith loses its grip on the the public imagination, but particularly for those of us who minister in an 'Established Church' context (I know Wales isn't, but sometimes it's hard to tell the difference.)
Far more often than not the expectation now is for some form of 'celebration of the life' of the person who has died. Without a clear lead and the knowledge that one will be supported by one's superiors (difficult to imagine in most cases on this issue) it's hard to make much of an impact on the wider culture.  I admit that all too frequently (and, we tell ourselves, for sound pastoral reasons) we largely go along with popular expectations, perhaps not simply 'giving people what they want,' but coming perilously close to it. Yes, people find these thanksgivings helpful, but in the light of the Gospel is it honest? And we've not even touched on the Protestant / Catholic divide in understanding as to whether funeral rites are merely for us who are left behind, or are concerned with prayer for the souls of the departed who are journeying, we hope, towards a greater Reality.
Fr Tomlinson explored this issue thoroughly  last year in his blog and for his pains ended up being reported in the national press (report here)  - in itself a measure of the task we face.
Probably my worst moment was when a family said to me (a while ago & not in my present parish,) "Can we have something that's not too religious. He didn't have much time for that sort of thing..."
 - a valuable teaching opportunity, or merely setting ourselves up for accusations of insensitivity in the face of grief? Where do you begin? Could this be different in another pastoral setting, I wonder?

Monday, 11 October 2010

Unjust discrimination - and bullying in all its forms

From Ecumenical News International
"Europe's Roman Catholic bishops have set up an organization to defend the rights of Christians as well as monitoring prejudice and injustice across the continent.
"Our first task will be to provide people around Europe with objective and reliable data about the anti-Christian discrimination which is taking place, as well as to alert Catholic bishops’ conferences and other religious institutions," Thierry Bonaventura, media officer of the Council of Catholic Episcopates of Europe, told ENInews.
"But we also want to encourage local church groups to be involved and take concrete steps against intolerance, such as by presenting reports to the United Nations and the Council of Europe, and encouraging them to take appropriate measures."
CCEE's Hungarian president, Cardinal Peter Erdo, said the observatory would also assist evangelisation and "authentic democracy based on equality," by promoting a society "more respectful of religious freedom, and more capable of understanding and accepting its own roots and reality through a healthy secularism.
"When the existence of God is denied at all costs, as some groups seek to do," said Erdo, "the result is always the denial of the possibility of basing life and societal structures on a solid foundation, basing them instead on the opinions of some or on the apparent momentary consensus of certain lawmakers."
The cardinal noted, "Europe needs God. It needs to remember its own roots and thus look to the future with realism and hope. The situation is often not easy for Christians, who seek to bear witness with their lives to the faith and hope that is in them, through a lifestyle that becomes a challenge for others."
The website is here.
And from across the Atlantic, the shocking case of Tyler Clementi. Report here
Unfortunately the utterly ghastly response from the local TEC bishops (here) reads, in its opportunistic sloganising,  more like an attempt at an LGBT recruitment drive than an expression of prayerful sympathy, far less a compassionate restatement of traditional Christian values. 
The bullying of the emotionally vulnerable is disgraceful whatever the context. 
Perhaps during their adolescence in this overheated, brutally simplistic and desperately confusing contemporary culture, young people also have a right to be given space not to be labelled - and not to be remembered just for the label.

And some unfair "political" comment (including, oddly, from those who should know better.) Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, and, of course, Deputy Prime Minister in the coalition government, has been attacked for considering sending his children to the Oratory School. Surely, as someone (even an atheist) married to a Roman Catholic, Miriam González Durántez, he is simply honouring a promise which they would have made to give their children a Catholic education. Or should solemn promises not matter any more? Not hypocrisy then, only hypocritical reactions.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Strawberry Hill

For admirers of the gothic revival, Strawberry Hill, Horace Walpole's extraordinary prophetic vision, has completed the first phase of its restoration.  Here 
Without it, the world would now look very different - no Pugin perhaps, no Cambridge Camden Society.
After my last post, perhaps I should say "Strawberry Hill for ever"

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Just imagine!

I'm afraid I've always been tone deaf to the John Lennon phenomenon. Seventy today, had he lived. Here
Yes, he wrote a few good pop songs in the 1960s, but exactly why he has been such an cultural influence completely escapes me. Perhaps I'm just a couple of years too young to get it.
O.K. the tragic, untimely death - but, then, that's true of Glenn Miller -who didn't think he was more popular than Jesus.
As for 'Imagine' it has to be one of the most dishonest songs ever written.
"Imagine there's no heaven."
 Yes - Hitler, Stalin, Mao et al did just that...
But then Lennon knew, or he should have done if he were all he is cracked up to be...

Bl. John Henry Newman

"I had begun my Essay on the Development of Doctrine in the beginning of 1845, and I was hard at it all through the year till October. As I advanced, my difficulties so cleared away that I ceased to speak of "the Roman Catholics," and boldly called them Catholics. Before I got to the end, I resolved to be received, and the book remains in the state in which it was then, unfinished.

One of my friends at Littlemore had been received into the Church on Michaelmas Day, at the Passionist House at Aston, near Stone, by Father Dominic, the Superior. At the beginning of October the latter was passing through London to Belgium; and, as I was in some perplexity what steps to take for being received myself, I assented to the proposition made to me that the good priest should take Littlemore in his way, with a view to his doing for me the same charitable service as he had done to my friend.

On October the 8th I wrote to a number of friends the following letter:—

"Littlemore, October 8th, 1845. I am this night expecting Father Dominic, the Passionist, who, from his youth, has been led to have distinct and direct thoughts, first of the countries of the North, then of England. After thirty years' (almost) waiting, he was without his own act sent here. But he has had little to do with conversions. I saw him here for a few minutes on St. John Baptist's day last year.
"He is a simple, holy man; and withal gifted with remarkable powers. He does not know of my intention; but I mean to ask of him admission into the One Fold of Christ …

"I have so many letters to write, that this must do for all who choose to ask about me. With my best love to dear Charles Marriott, who is over your head, &c., &c.

"P.S. This will not go till all is over. Of course it requires no answer."
 Apologia pro Vita Sua

Friday, 8 October 2010

Much as we thought

The announcement of the membership of the C of E's Code of Practice working group is a very clear indication of the kind of recommendations it will make. There is to be just one "traditionalist," Bishop Martin Warner, out of a membership of eight. A report and some reactions from the Church Times here
Of course, in Wales we are waiting for a new bill to introduce women bishops to be brought before the Governing Body following the defeat of the last attempt a couple of years ago. It can only be a (very short) matter of time; there are undoubtedly some in highly influential positions in the Church in Wales who will be determined to reinforce their 'progressive' credentials by stealing a march on the Church of England by successfully reintroducing the bill sooner rather than later. I have heard the suggestion of September next year?
One thing is sure; when that time comes there will be no working party, no code of practice and no need to wait for Parliamentary approval. The latter is just one of the benefits of disestablishment in the eyes of some, although we might think the original framers of the Church in Wales Constitution would be somewhat taken aback at the ease at which this much vaunted (and necessary) freedom from State control  is now being employed in the service of heterodoxy. One doesn't necessarily need to be part of an Established Church to believe in and implement a thoroughgoing 'erastianism.' Who now needs to be forced into following popular opinion? The work of secularisation is so much more smoothly done if one simply steps up of one's own free will to imitate prevailing fashion without troubling to interrogate it by means of scripture and the tradition.
Whatever the problems of the Church of England, disestablishment by itself was clearly never the solution to them.


O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow's wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow! Slow!
For the grapes' sake, if they were all
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost-
For the grapes' sake along the wall.
                                                            Robert Frost 

Thursday, 7 October 2010

This is very funny

Thanks to Damian Thompson at The Telegraph
Please don't watch if you are offended by bad language!

Our Lady of the Rosary

Madonna of the Rosary - Lorenzo Lotto
"Perhaps the place which the Blessed Virgin occupies in the rosary may be a difficulty to some. We can, of course, use the method of prayer in any way we like, and reap great benefit from it. We can substitute other prayers for the Hail Marys, and find other subjects for the meditations. Most of those, however , who use the devotion have gradually come to use it in its familiar form. Yet the rosary is not necessarily a "Marian" devotion. As members of the Church, we consider and pray about the great truths of our faith, not as outsiders but as those who are closely united to our Lord by faith and baptism. We want to live through the events of his life and death with him. That is precisely what Mary did, so she is the type and representative of us all in our relationship with Jesus. When, in the last two mysteries we consider her place in heaven, we think of her as one who has been brought to glory by the grace of God through Jesus Christ. When we pray at any time, we do so as members of Christ, in union with him and the whole Church on earth and in heaven. It is with the prayers of his mother, so closely united with him, and associated with the events of his earthly life, that we especially join ourselves. We western Christians are so preoccupied with the Church as a visible society, that we forget that most of our members, and the most distinguished, are not in this part of the Church at all."
        Charles Smith from  'Praying the Rosary' (CLA 1969)

And this from another former Anglican, G.K.Chesterton, from his poem 'Lepanto' (the naval victory of the 'Holy League' over the Muslim forces of the Ottoman Empire which today's feast, instituted by Pope St Pius V, originally - as Our Lady of Victory - commemorated)

"St. Michaels on his Mountain in the sea-roads of the north
 (Don John of Austria is girt and going forth.)
Where the grey seas glitter and the sharp tides shift
And the sea-folk labour and the red sails lift.
He shakes his lance of iron and he claps his wings of stone;
The noise is gone through Normandy; the noise is gone alone;
The North is full of tangled things and texts and aching eyes,
And dead is all the innocence of anger and surprise,
And Christian killeth Christian in a narrow dusty room,
And Christian dreadeth Christ that hath a newer face of doom,
And Christian hateth Mary that God kissed in Galilee,--
But Don John of Austria is riding to the sea.
Don John calling through the blast and the eclipse
Crying with the trumpet, with the trumpet of his lips,
Trumpet that sayeth ha!
Domino gloria!
Don John of Austria
Is shouting to the ships."

Christina Odone has this report here on worrying attempts on the part of some members of the European Socialist grouping  at Strasbourg to restrict the rights of conscience of medical practitioners within the E.U. More here and a petition to sign.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

A suggestion

My (eagerly anticipated) copy of 'Highlights,' the report of the latest Church in Wales' Governing Body meeting, arrived in the post this morning. One of the articles refers to the advancement of ecumenism in Wales and the work of the Commission of Covenanted Churches.
This clause was added to the motion before the Governing Body:
"that the GB urges the commission to develop creative and bold proposals of ways in which the ecumenical situation in Wales can be transformed and which will move us forward in the quest for Church Unity."
What better way could there be to describe the establishment of the Ordinariates? The Church in Wales, along with its big sister over the border, has now once and for all, concluded the Anglican Reformation debate and foreclosed any period of reception there might be on the the issue of apostolic order. We should genuinely wish them well in what they are trying to do with regard to advancing the unity of the various Protestant ecclesial communities in Wales and not try to hinder it. We should hope for an equal generosity for those whose vocation is to pursue Catholic unity.
I know that old loyalties, even when they are proved mistaken, tug at the heartstrings, but to be brutal, the Anglo-Catholic Movement in Wales must move on. What would be better in the perspective of eternity, to act as a brake on those who are seeking genuine understanding through the Welsh Covenant, or to become part of the most significant development in ecumenism since the sixteenth century through the Ordinariate? The situation is developing, the Holy Spirit is moving, the next phase of  ecumenism, the really difficult yet perhaps the final and most significant stage, can only begin when the present process of realignment is complete.

"a church which seeks above all to be attractive would already be on the wrong path"

"One might say that a church which seeks above all to be attractive would already be on the wrong path, because the Church does not work for itself, does not work to increase its numbers so as to have more power. The Church is at the service of Another; it does not serve itself, seeking to be a strong body, but it strives to make the Gospel of Jesus Christ accessible, the great truths, the great powers of love and of reconciliation that appeared in this figure and that come always from the presence of Jesus Christ. In this sense, the Church does not seek to be attractive, but rather to make herself transparent for Jesus Christ. And in the measure in which the Church is not for herself, as a strong and powerful body in the world, that wishes to have power, but simply is herself the voice of Another, she becomes truly transparent to the great figure of Jesus Christ and the great truths that he has brought to humanity…"
Pope Benedict XVI  from an interview given on 16th September 2010.  Comment here

Tu es Petrus:  James MacMillan