Friday, 29 June 2012

If only things had gone differently

after the visit of Pope John Paul II to Canterbury in 1982, the following video might have been more than the record of another ecumenical visit. We know to whom we have to thank that it didn't - something to do with an agenda of some kind?

St Peter & St Paul

With golden splendour and with roseate hues of morn, 
O gracious Saviour, Light of light, this day adorn,
Which brings to ransomed sinners hopes of that far home
Where saints and angels the praise of martyrdom

Peter Keybearer, Paul the Teacher of mankind,
Lights of the world and judges sent to loose and bind,
Alike triumphant or by cross and sword-stroke found,
In life's high senate stand with victor's laurel crowned.

Good Shepherd, Peter, unto who the charge was given
To close or open ways of pilgrimage to heaven,
In sin's hard bondage held may we have grace to know
The full remission thou wast granted to bestow.

O noble Teacher, Paul, we trust to learn of thee
Both earthly converse and the flight of ecstasy;
Till from the fading truths that now we know in part
We pass to fullness of delight for mind and heart.

Twin olive branches, pouring oil of gladness forth,
Your prayers shall aid us, that for all our little worth,
Believing, hoping, loving, we for whom ye plead,
This body dying, may attain to life indeed.

Now to the glorious Trinity be duly paid
Worship and honour, praise and service unafraid,
Who in unchanging Unity, one Lord sublime,
Hath ever lived as now and to unending time.


And  the Vatican website reports on the visit to Rome of the Westminster Abbey Choir which this morning has sung  alongside the Sistine Chapel Choir at the Papal Mass for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul: ..."Pope Benedict stressed that such an event may serve to encourage the enriching mutual exchange of gifts between the two liturgical and cultural traditions..." [here]

Thursday, 28 June 2012

CBS, the Ordinariate, and the £1 million

"The precise meaning of Anglican Tradition is unclear" - the ironies abound...

The Charity Commission has ruled against the legality of the £1,000,000 donation by C.B.S. to the Ordinariate. The full decision is  [here]. 
Our review concluded that:

  • The decision to make a grant to the Ordinariate was taken at an inquorate meeting, the majority of the trustees having a (financial) personal interest in the decision. It was also in breach of the charity’s governing document.
  • The meeting being inquorate, the decision was invalid. There was no valid exercise of the power to make a gift to the Ordinariate and the payment was unauthorised.
  • The gift is held upon constructive trust by the Ordinariate for the Confraternity.
  • The objects of the Ordinariate are wider than those of the Confraternity. A gift given to the Ordinariate without restriction could be used for purposes which have no connection with the Anglican tradition at all.
  • The precise meaning of Anglican Tradition is unclear but there is substantial doubt whether the Confraternity could make a grant to the Ordinariate (even with restrictions) which could be applied by the Ordinariate consistently with the objects of the Confraternity.
  • The Commission therefore considered the trustees of both charities were under a duty to take action to ensure the repayment of the money.
Clearly, it would seem that those who challenged the grant were correct in their legal judgement. I still believe, and for the same reasons cited here, that they are misguided in terms of their motivation. We must hope they have a better use for the money and a more viable and 'catholic' strategy for an Anglican future - one they are prepared to impart to us as a matter of urgency. The implications of this decision are wide ranging and profoundly serious in so far as they relate to the future of other Catholic societies and institutions in the Church of England should the eventual passing of the women bishops legislation lead to further division.
So, be careful what you wish for. 
The worst possible outcome to all this is that the Ordinariate in the U.K. should fail for lack of financial resources in its purpose of securing a lasting home for the Anglo-Catholic tradition in the Roman Catholic Church, and that any remaining orthodox expression of the Catholic faith be expunged from the Church of England (and the other Anglican provinces in Britain).
Yet there  seems to be a danger that this could be precisely where we might be heading, probable but ultimately unavailing synodical delays nothwithstanding.
Who will be rejoicing then, I wonder?

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

"You have to get the little silver balls into holes..."

The biggest hint yet that the Church of England may be facing another long delay over women bishops has come from the Archbishop of Canterbury [here]:

“I share the frustration of a lot of people that we’re tangled-up in trying to get the maximum support for it in the Church of England and every move in one direction makes other people move away," he said.“It’s like one of those terrible games you get in Christmas crackers sometimes where you have to get the little silver balls into holes – you always get two of them but then the other one goes off somewhere else.”
Archbishop Williams,speaking to a gathering of young people at Lambeth Palace, also had this to say about the widening gulf over same-sex marriage: 

“Same with same sex marriage, where once more we’re used to being alongside people who are gay; many of our friends may be – indeed we may be – wrestling with that issue ourselves, and the Church is scratching its head and trying to work out where it is on all that, and what to think about it.
“What’s frustrating is that we still have Christian people whose feelings about it are so strong, and sometimes so embarrassed and ashamed and disgusted, that that just sends out a message of unwelcome, of lack of understanding, of lack of patience.
“So whatever we think about it, we need, as a Church, to be tackling what we feel about it.”
I'm not so sure; I think we've come as far as feeling will take us on both these matters. There will never be progress (whatever that implies) towards a resolution of any of the fraught issues now facing the Church as a direct consequence of what many of us believe is the de-christianisation of western society until liberals, progressives - or whatever we choose to call them - stop regarding the views of their opponents as merely evidence of deep psychological flaws, and begin to address, on their own merits, the theological issues which divide us.
We don't so much need to tackle what we feel about the searing divisions which now exist  between the Church and contemporary society, something which is, due to the inroads which  secularist thought has made among both laity and clergy, acutely mirrored among our fellow Christians, but to make a serious and honest appraisal of the intellectual and theological impasse at which we have arrived. This is a gulf which exposes radically divergent views of the nature of God himself, the purpose of humanity and the role of revelation. It is simply dishonest to pretend otherwise.
The repeated resort to cod psychology directed at opponents, combined with the naked flexing of synodical voting muscle and the ruthless exploitation of a friendly 'progressive' mass media, is just another way of avoiding any rational discussion of the real issues at stake. It's much more congenial to present the liberal agenda (and, yes, there clearly is one) as just a minor matter of bringing the Church a little more into step with modern thought, rather than the theological and anthropological sea change which is really being advocated and, if we are to be realistic, has already to a large extent taken hold of the weltanshauung of the Anglican Communion, at least in its western provinces - that is, the people who still control the agenda. 

On the same subject, and highlighting the fact that these stark divisions are not just an Anglican or mainstream protestant problem, here is the Telegraph's commentator Tim Stanley on the subject of those American nuns (some of them anyway) who have taken to the highway:
"...In short, the Catholic Church cannot change and it cannot indulge rumours of past error. Arguably, it doesn’t have to because it has never been proven theologically wrong.If this is obvious to a layman, then why do the American nuns persist with their theological innovation? Alas, the answer is that some of them simply aren’t very Catholic. Or, at least, their Catholicity takes a second place to their political liberalism...."
"...The LCWR has endorsed Obamacare, despite the fact that it threatens Catholic liberty and teachings by compelling Catholic employers to provide contraception coverage to their employees. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, because several members of the LCWR had been active campaigners for reproductive rights. Moreover, they have embraced a theological ethos that goes beyond Catholicism – and even beyond Christianity itself. One of their key note speakers at this year’s convention was Barbara Max Hubbard, who “has been called ‘the voice for conscious evolution of our time’ by Deepak Chopra … She has launched the “Agents of Conscious Evolution” training and is forming a global team to co-produce a global multi-media event entitled, ‘Birth 2012: Co-Creating a Planetary Shift in Time’ … a historic, turning-point event; awakening the social, spiritual, scientific, and technological potential of humanity.” Hardly St Augustine, is it?...       [here]

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

No more 'Propagation'

The Anglican mission society, U.S.P.G. (The United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel - website here),  is to change its name. Once upon a time in the Anglican world, catholic parishes supported the more sacramental and ecclesial  (U)SPG, while evangelicals or low churchmen tended to channel their funds to C.M.S. Those days are, of course, as with so much else, long gone, as the following report illustrates: 

"Our new name, Us, is directly derived from USPG, so it speaks to our heritage, but it also speaks about inclusivity. There is no “them”; we are all “us”. Our work – in partnership with the churches of the Anglican Communion – is for the benefit of the whole community, regardless of ethnicity, culture, gender, sexuality, age or faith. No-one is excluded.’ The new strapline for the charity is ‘Every person. Every community. A full life.’ This is designed to underscore the concept of inclusion and point to a vision of the future, where the words of Jesus in John 10:10 become a reality - the experience of life in all its fullness."
Canon Linda Ali, chair of USPG’s Trustees, explained: ‘We are very proud of our heritage and take seriously our remit to work through Anglican Churches to help global communities tackle poverty.‘We were founded in 1701. To put this into historical context, in 1701 the composers Bach and Handel were still young men! The original title given to us by our founder, the Revd Thomas Bray, was The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, which was later abbreviated to SPG.‘No doubt this name worked well in its day, but words like “propagation” are simply out-dated in the twenty-first century. So it was time for a change. [ACNS here]

So the word 'propagation' is outdated - they're not gardeners then. 
Or, perhaps, musicians - Bach and Handel don't seem to have lost any of their immediacy or popularity, even to those who accept the potent myth of linear historical progress. [Although musically speaking, I've always been something of a fogey - even if not, in this case, Gaga enough) 
And if I were tempted to, as some I'm sure might think, make a rather cheap shot, one doesn't need to be particularly eagle-eyed to notice that in the change of acronym the word 'Gospel' has also gone AWOL.
But let;s not single out USPG or 'Us'  for any undue criticism - it has a long and proud record of missionary endeavour and continues to do much good work throughout the developing world.
As with so many other bodies, Its current fashionable stance only reflects the contemporary face of the Communion it serves.

Monday, 25 June 2012

An age of disarray and shifting allegiances

Signs already [here] of the predicted disarray in the wake of the recent Church of England statement on marriage. One awaits with dread the 'compromise solution' which will inevitably emerge in a body which now believes (in practice, at least) that doctrinal and moral truth are matters of horse-trading. It shouldn't have taken the gift of prophecy to anticipate that the marriage submission [here] would be too robust for many. 

A welcome acknowledgement by Pope Benedict of the former episcopal ministries within Anglicanism of Frs Barnes, Silk and Mercer, all named as monsignori [here
As it has been said, this honour isn't exactly  unknown in terms of high-profile Anglican converts in the past, Mgr R.H. Benson and Mgr Ronald Knox being notable examples, but these latest honours seem intended as a recognition not only of former individual Anglican ministries, but of an entire tradition, one which, if not exactly dead, is increasingly peripheral to the life of the Anglican Communion itself.

On that subject, a marginal existence is now all that can be hoped for by those Anglo-Catholics  who will remain Anglicans. In the Church in Wales particularly, as the deepening financial crisis - caused mainly by spiralling worshipping numbers - forces the Province to reduce drastically the number of stipendiary clergy, those remaining paid clergy, operating in ever larger 'ministry areas' will be forced into the uncongenial role of administrators and co-ordinators of lay ministries, even if the needed unpaid volunteers to run such a structure in their spare time - people who are already likely to be heavily involved in other respects in the life of local parishes - will be forthcoming. The commissioning of large numbers of lay eucharistic assistants ('ministers' is now the approved term - but more of that later) will reduce priests to mechanistic consecrators of the Blessed Sacrament, a development which will rapidly, I suspect, lead either to  yet more calls for lay celebration of the Eucharist, or a further downgrading of the formation of the ordained or both. My own guess is, despite current intentions, that the future will see, particularly in the countryside, a further diminution of eucharistic liturgies of any kind in favour of what has become known (notoriously)  as 'all-age family worship.' 

It may - just - be possible to maintain a "catholic' sacramental  presence under such circumstances, but again only for the space of a generation, until the present Anglo-Catholic 'recusants' (an anachronistic, even impertinent, description, but it seems to fit) retire or die. They will not be not be replaced. Then we will see the final triumph of the Reformation in Anglicanism, albeit in its most liberal protestant development.
If we put our minds to it, surely it is possible to come up with models of pastoral ministry which are both more faithful to the past and capable of addressing the needs of the present than the kind of future envisaged by the 'official church.' The difficulty remains that being faithful to the tradition is a less and less treasured objective in the faith community of which we are a small and declining part. Even so, informal or internal structures may be more enduring than anything designed by a revisionist establishment which, if we are correct in our theological analysis, is in any case doomed to failure. There is considerable mileage, I think, in looking to the 'remnant' theology of Fr Martin Thornton for our own inspiration for the future.
In the meantime, if modern 'Morebaths'* are to exist, we need a recognisable and active network of Anglo-Catholic clergy and laity  who can help and support each other practically and spiritually in the emerging situation. Perhaps the various Catholic Societies (if they are serious about continuing as Anglicans) could usefully perform this role, rather than endlessly re fight yesterday's lost battles at the expense of any future, even if temporary, existence - after all, this life is itself only a temporary experience. "In the long run," as J.M. Keynes said, ".......

I do take issue, however, with those in authority who now maintain that the lay people who are not now in some way involved in running parishes, those who 'merely' come to church to receive the Sacraments, should somehow all be shamed into becoming, again if you forgive the term, 'religious activists.' If Christians are to act as a leaven in the world, does everyone need to hold down an ecclesial 'job' of some kind merely to keep a failing system on the road? 
Being present at mass and receiving the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament on a Sunday and spending the rest of the week in employment and / or with one's family is a valid and valuable Christian vocation, too - perhaps the most valuable of all in a secularised, faith-averse culture where the 'professional' voices of the Church are less and less heeded. 
No one has to be 'dignified' with the title of one active lay 'ministry' or another to be fulfilling his or her baptismal vocation and faithfully following Christ, yet that is what we seem to have come to expect.
Of course, within establishment Anglican circles there has been over recent years a deliberate blurring of the boundaries between the lay and ordained state. We have now 'Directors of Ministry' in every diocese, yet the word 'priesthood' is hardly ever mentioned except deliberately to promote the (somewhat dubious - as it has become understood) concept of the 'priesthood of all believers' at the expense of the traditional Catholic (and, indeed Anglican) theology of the ministerial priesthood.

[*Thanks to a valued correspondent (now in full communion with Peter) for this analogy - referring, of course, to Eamon Duffy's research in his book, 'The Voices of Morebath,' on the experience of the Tudor priest, Sir Christopher Trychay, in his Devonshire parish throughout the changing fortunes of the English Reformation - he was not the prototype 'Vicar of Bray' but someone altogether more honourable]

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Time for reflection

It’s been a busy few days, but quite deliberately a non-blogging week. From time to time it’s important to take a step back and take a look at life not through the prism of the internet and what seems like our compulsive concern with news and comment, most of which – I hope I can say this without giving offence – sometimes constitutes little more than gossip, chatter and endless speculation

Writing out a baptism certificate for tomorrow, I find myself even hesitating over writing beside the date ‘The Nativity of St John the Baptist.’ 
Many of us now hold ministerial office in a Church which seems determined to eviscerate its own life and to abolish any distinctions there may still be between itself and the world. We see this in the way modern liturgies are written and redesigned – the (unfortunately) revised ‘contemporary language’ Church in Wales baptism liturgy is a case in point, with its patronising reluctance to use theological language in a theological way. 
There is now little sense that in following Christ one is also entering another world, a world in which values and culture are different, a place in which the distinctions between time and eternity become blurred, a place where the veil is thin. 
'Accessibility' is now the only game in town, yet there is no sign that easy accessibility of language and concepts attracts; in fact, quite the reverse.  
The problem with being an Anglican blogger, and one with pretensions to doctrinal orthodoxy, is that the ecclesial environment in which we live and breathe has become for us so toxic that it’s increasingly hard to hold on to the hope to which we are all called in baptism. The present is bleak, the future unimaginable; where in our part of the visible Church do we find that hope? The temptation is to concentrate obsessively upon negative developments until the sense of crisis and bereavement enters one’s very soul. One doesn't need to have the dangers of that spelt out.
It could be that this blog, rather like the theological viewpoint it has sought - wholly inadequately - to represent, is struggling to an inevitable end, or else the struggle to survive could itself become all-consuming.
If this site has been of any kind of benefit to those in a similar predicament, or who have been in search of sources of information other than the increasingly ‘spun’ official channels, then it has served some kind of a purpose. 
As to the future, well, we shall see.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

'Let there be sung Non nobis and Te Deum'

To mark the knighthood given to the actor and director Kenneth Branagh in this year's Queen's birthday honours list, the  moving post-battle scene (Act 4, scene 8 in the play) from his film of Shakespeare's Henry V - almost anti-war in its graphic realism.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Truly the culture of death

We missed this report from earlier in the week - many thanks to the correspondent who brought it to our attention. It's a salutary warning that as the Church now opposes Government plans to redefine marriage*; so we could soon be at loggerheads with the British medical establishment over euthanasia. Relativism and the culture of death are taking over our society by stealth. 
It should be remembered that the editor of the British Medical Journal [press release here] does not speak with the authority of the British Medical Association itself, but the voicing of these views, along with the BMA's shifting stance on 'assisted dying' (indicated by what happened in 2005 but reversed the next year) ) are indications of what may be to come. The key sentence in the report is surely this: 
"If assisted dying was [sic] legalised, effective safeguards could not be implemented without the involvement of doctors. It is therefore appropriate for doctors to voice their views on this issue.”  
The involvement of doctors in such 'procedures' would, of course, reverse an ethical tradition which is traceable to ancient Greece. 

From The Telegraph:.  

A bad death should be seen in the same way as a botched abortion, the editor of the British Medical Journal has warned, as she called for medical bodies to drop opposition to assisted dying.
By Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor : 14 Jun 20126 
"A change in the law to allow doctors to help mentally competent adults to end their lives is 'almost inevitable', Dr Fiona Godlee said, and the medical profession should not oppose it.
A survey of GPs found almost two thirds were in favour of the British Medical Association and the Royal Colleges adopting a neutral stance to the issue.
Assisted dying is due to be debated at the BMA conference at the end of the month.
Dr Godlee said the debate on assisted dying is similar to that of abortion reform in the 1960s when the main medical professional bodies were against legalisation but concern over botched terminations eventually led to change.
She wrote: "The same is true for assisted dying: doctors hold the means but the decision rests with society and its representatives in parliament. A change in the law, with all the necessary safeguards, is an almost inevitable consequence of the societal move towards greater individual autonomy and patient choice.
"But it may take a while, and it may not happen until we properly value death as one of life’s central events and learn to see bad deaths in the same damning light as botched abortions."
Several countries including Luxembourg, Belgium and Switzerland allow assisted dying however in Britain a bill to allow assisted dying for the terminally ill was defeated in the House of Lords in 2006.
The Director of Public Prosecutions has since issued guidance saying that doctors would be prosecuted.
A poll in the journal commissioned by Dignity in Dying and the Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying (HPAD), found out of 1,000 GPs, 62 per cent wanted the medical organisations to adopt a neutral position on the issue.
Raymond Tallis, Emeritus Professor of Geriatric Medicine and chairman of the HPAD’s said that opposition runs against the idea of patient centred care and the principle of "no decision about me without me."
The BMA’s main opposition to assisted dying is that it is contrary to the ethos of medicine, he wrote “yet the monstrous cruelty of walking away from a dying patient in unbearable suffering seems more obviously contrary to the ethos of medicine.”
International experience has shown that placing assisted dying within the framework of the law would increase, not threaten, patient safety and have an entirely beneficial effect on trust in doctors, he argued.
He wrote in the journal: "Given the overwhelming support for assisted dying in society as a whole — and given also that there are healthcare professionals of good will, different faiths, and expertise in palliative care, with passionate views on both sides of the debate — we believe that the proper stance of healthcare professional bodies is one of neutrality.
"Members of HPAD therefore ask the BMA and those royal colleges that have declared themselves opposed to assisted dying to reconsider their position."
The BMJ also included an article by a doctor who was unable to help her mother, herself a GP who had campaigned in favour of assisted dying, in her final days.
Tess McPherson, daughter of Ann McPherson, described “three weeks of living agony” and being “unable to help in the way that mum wanted.”
In her haunting account she said her mother who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2007 was stripped of all her dignity and wanted to be dead weeks before she finally succumbed in dreadful pain in May last year.
Her daughter wrote: "That was not what she wanted. Mum had seen this happen before and wanted it avoided for future patients and their families.
"It is simple: the law needs to change to allow terminally ill but mentally competent people the right to a more dignified death than my mum was allowed."
Dr Peter Saunders, campaign director at Care not Killing, said: "This article and poll are all part of a carefully orchestrated and well funded campaign to neutralise medical opposition to euthanasia to prepare the way for a private members bill in the Westminster parliament.
"British Parliament and the medical profession have consistently opposed the legalisation of euthanasia or assisted suicide for reasons of public safety.
"Any relaxing of the law will put pressure on vulnerable people to end their lives and this is the very last thing we need at a time of economic recession when many families are under pressure and health expenditure is being cut."
A spokesman for the BMA said: "The BMA’s current policy is firmly opposed to the legalisation of assisted dying.
"There are strongly held views within the medical profession on this complex and emotive subject. It is regularly debated at the BMA’s annual meetings.
“At the 2005 conference, the Association changed its position on assisted dying to one of neutrality.
"In the following year the BMA reversed this neutral policy and in all other instances has maintained its opposition to assisted dying.
“If assisted dying was legalised, effective safeguards could not be implemented without the involvement of doctors. It is therefore appropriate for doctors to voice their views on this issue.”  [here]

[* Cranmer today has this succinct comment about the Conservative junior minister who has, on the front page of The Times newspaper - his loyalty knows no bounds - accused the Church of intolerance:
"Nicholas Le Quesne Herbert MP, Minister of State for Police and Criminal Justice, says: "I consider myself to be a Christian and I've never in my life felt more distant from the Church than I do at the moment."
Which is interesting, because His Grace considers himself to be a Conservative and he's never in his life felt more distant from the Party than he does at the moment.
And he's not alone ."]

Friday, 15 June 2012

Fresh doubts over outcome of Synod vote

From The Daily Telegraph this afternoon [here]

By John Bingham, Religious Affairs Editor

"Members of the Church’s General Synod are due to take a final vote on the historic proposal when it meets in York next month, bringing to an end a tortuous 12-year process.
But senior figures in the Church are now bracing themselves for the possibility that the measure could collapse altogether after the current bishops inserted a last-minute concession to traditionalists.
The Church has struggled for many years to agree a way of ordaining women bishops while enabling those who object to the female authority on doctrinal grounds to stay within it.
The main group campaigning for female bishops has rejected the latest concession as a compromise-too-far and some of the backers have now withdrawn their support altogether.                                                                                                       Speaking in London today William Fittall, secretary general of the Synod, said there was now uncertainty for the first time about whether a final decision could be reached at the July Synod.
He said there was now recognition that the measure might be rejected altogether – meaning that it could not be reconsidered for another five years – or adjourned to be reconsidered by bishops ahead of a special crisis Synod meeting in November.
“What I think has changed over the past few weeks since the House of Bishops met in May is that a new uncertainty has arisen as to whether the General Synod will in fact make a final decision in July,” he said.
He added: “All the previous votes in the synod and in the dioceses shows that there is overwhelming support for women becoming bishops.
“What the Church has struggled with for some years is what particular set of provisions might be best calculated so that the legislation can be good news to as many people as possible and that remains a difficult and contested issue.
“And the fact is that until a two-thirds majority is achieved in each house for a particular piece of legislation the question of admitting women to the episcopate will remain unfinished business in the Church of England.”

The Ordinariate: another step forward

As anticipated, the Ordinariate has been established in Australia as the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross, under the patronage of St Augustine of Canterbury.
Its first Ordinary is former TAC bishop, Fr Harry Entwhistle.

"Fr Entwistle is honoured to have been chosen to lead the Ordinariate and explained that it is a wonderful privilege and step towards unity between the Churches.
“Pope Benedict has made it very clear that unity between Christians is not achieved by agreeing on the lowest common denominator, and those entering an Ordinariate accept the Catechism of the Catholic Church as the authoritative expression of the Catholic faith”, said Fr Entwistle.
“Membership is open to former Anglicans who accept what the Catholic Church believes and teaches; former Anglicans who have previously been reconciled to the Catholic Church but who now wish to reconnect with their Anglican spiritual heritage and those baptised in the Catholic Church who have close family members who belong to the Ordinariate.”
“As the Ordinariate is in organic unity with the Catholic Church, Western and Eastern Catholics are welcome to worship and receive communion in an Ordinariate mass and vice versa”, he said."

Links to the announcement and further information can be found here

Ring any bells?

This is Dan Hodges at The Telegraph commenting on infighting in the British Labour Party, not something, as they say, I usually get exercised about:
"...The Left’s bloodlust will be temporarily sated. Safe havens will be constructed, within which the trembling Blairite survivors will be provided with basic food and shelter. But that will be it. Their existence will be tolerated, but no more..."
Now what does all this remind me of - except for the 'safe havens' bit, of course?


After reading a report [here] on the problems that can be associated with ringing bells, for today's feast-day of the Sacred Heart a short video of the bells of the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur in Montmartre. 
With the British rain lashing down again this morning, it's good to see Paris in the sunshine... 

"Regarde ce Coeur qui a tant aimé le monde et que les hommes n'ont pas aimé en retour"

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Decisions (and a few updates)

Fr Edwin Barnes at The Anglo-Catholic writing on the subject of the Ordinariate speaks of the need for patience [here]  

"...A brief glance at Church History will tell us that what the Holy Father is doing for us through "Anglicanorum Coetibus" he is doing at breakneck speed.  What other former Anglican clergy have been ordained in the Catholic Church within one or two years?  Where else in all history have groups of non-Catholics been received into communion together, and allowed to keep their identity?
We are part of a work in progress, discerning the fulness of Anglican Patrimony, and finding ways of preserving it and handing it on...." 

I'm sure he's right on this. The most vocal critics of the seemingly slow progress of the Ordinariates seem to be  those who could but haven't joined them - a real danger of a self-fulfilling prophecy then?
On the other hand, sixteenth century parallels suggest (as Eamon Duffy both in the seminal The Stripping of the Altars and The Voices of Morebath illustrates)  these decisions are rarely simple nor made overnight and sometimes, in isolated rural backwaters, not at all. 
Even the most illustrious 'convert' from Anglicanism of the last few centuries, Blessed John Henry Newman (not that any comparisons should be made), took three years at Littlemore to come to a mature decision as to his ecclesial future. 
For Anglicanism each age seems to bring its own crisis. Yet for those of us in the twenty-first century - appropriately enough perhaps for the 'post modern' era - the historical parallels don't work any more. Contemporary synodical decisions irrevocably repudiating the apostolic tradition mean that this time within the Anglican Communion, as it has become, there can be no future Caroline or Puseyite 'Anglo-Catholic' revivals. Today, however long the process takes to work out individually and collectively, decisions of one kind or another will need to be made.

Another (and radically different) take on the recent child abuse evidence given to Parliament. From Brendan O'Neill [here]

Martyrdom: the reality facing Christians in many parts of the world [here]

Also from The Catholic Herald: Dr Oddie on the increasing eccentric figure of Hans Küng  [here]

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Why on earth..?

Whatever convinced the BBC to think it a good idea to run the risk of alienating much of its Radio 4 audience by broadcasting a grotesquely extended 'personal essay' in twenty episodes by the former Christian, Bishop Richard Holloway * at 1.45 p.m. each weekday? It is a good indication that the Corporation (which is paid for by U.K. taxpayers - or rather, licence-payers) has a fashionable agenda to promote with regard to the Christian faith - that is all over but for the sneering of its detractors. 
Neither is it clear why it should be the BBC's role to add to what it obviously perceives as " the melancholy, long, withdrawing roar" of the Sea of Faith. 
Bishop Holloway is, of course, right to view religious experience, in the modern world particularly but not unknown in the Gospels (cf St Mark 9.24) , as a matter of sometimes almost unbearable tension between faith and doubt. It's debatable, though, whether someone who has come down, shall we say, rather definitively and enthusiastically on the side of doubt is the best person to present a  programme of this kind. [Here is a more nuanced treatment of the perennial yet contemporary problem by a theologian who takes an opposite view...]
But for all the publicity, Richard Holloway's personal survey - so far at least - has added nothing to the conventional critique of religious belief which has been such a corrosive part of the world-view of the British cultural elite for many generations. 
The other pertinent question is, of course, whether we can imagine this degree of indulgent latitude given by the BBC to, say, a prominent convert to Christianity, or to a former Muslim commenting critically on the tenets of Islam?

*Of course, traditionalists in Wales have no reason to think kindly of the former Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, who once denounced those opposed to women's ordination as 'miserable buggers' from the pulpit of a Welsh cathedral. That his radical honesty has led his philosophy to take a decidedly agnostic turn is perhaps both entirely fitting and very predictable.

New dark ages

We are warned from time to time about the possible advent of the 'new 'dark ages.'
If the truly shocking evidence recently presented to the Home Affairs Committee of the House of Commons is accurate, they are already upon us. [Here]

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Obsessed with sex?

On the BBC's Today programme, in a debate with the Bishop of Leicester on the long-running gay marriage story, a spokesman for the campaign group Stonewall accused the Church, and the C of E bishops in particular, of being "obsessed with sex."
This accusation always seems to win a deal of support, but it is, of course, at best a half truth and at worst a deliberate misrepresentation. In a world which continually bombards us (largely under the influence of commercial advertising) with explicit sexual images and references of a most unsubliminal kind, the Church, far from being obsessed with sex, is merely having to deal with society's rejection of traditional Christian restraints.

Here is the Church of England's response  to the Home Office Consultation; below are the express concerns as to the legal status of a possible opt-out by the Church:

21. Even if they did, it must be very doubtful whether they could withstand a human rights law challenge. Whereas the European Court of Human Rights has upheld the right of states to retain marriage as the union between a man and a woman it seems extremely doubtful that it would uphold the right of a state to retain gender inequality in civil partnerships once the state had legislated for ‗equal marriage‘. We say more about this in the Annex to this paper and should be interested to see the Government‘s legal analysis of this issue.
22. Given that Parliament has already legislated to enable civil partnerships to be registered in religious premises where the relevant religious authority has so agreed (paras. 24 and 25), some rationale is needed for the current proposal to preclude same-sex marriages from being solemnised in religious premises on exactly the same terms. This appears to be a consequence of the fallacious assumption that ―religious‖ and ―civil‖ marriages are distinct. We do not believe that the current proposal would in fact prove tenable.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Beginning with an American perspective on the Queen's Jubilee

From Fr George Rutler:
[I've  heard the anecdote before, only concerning Lady Thatcher when she was Prime Minister, but the point is well made]

"...In an age of short attention spans, celebrities fade quickly. Rare is the personality who becomes, in the term wrongly and tiresomely used by writers with limited vocabularies, “iconic.” An ephemeral perception of things makes it hard to understand public significance apart from celebrity-based “popularity” and “approval ratings.”
I mention this because of the continuing celebrations of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. It is the nature of her office, and confounding to anyone who does not understand the institution, that she did nothing to earn her position other than being born. But that notion is reassuring to all of us who are made heirs of salvation by the gratuitous mercy of Christ the King...
.... Elizabeth II has displayed a constant sense of duty and responsibility, knowing that with the perquisites of her office comes an unrelenting publicity that will not cease until her last breath – far different from public figures who may hope to retire and play golf. The example of growing old gracefully and publicly is another gift of a monarch in contrast to mere celebrities who use the limelight to create an illusion of agelessness. It is said that when a Hollywood starlet, about to be presented to the Queen, worried that the colors of their dresses might clash, she was told that Her Majesty does not notice what others are wearing ..."

Read it all here

He is right about the contrast. 
But what is most evident, to this observer at least, is how much, during the Queen's sixty year reign, things have changed. We have moved from the essential optimism of the early 1950s, (even after the social, political and economic exhaustion in Britain  following Hitler's war) with all its talk of a 'new Elizabethan age' in which it was still possible to hold ambitions for the culture similar to those discussed by T.S. Eliot in his 'The Idea of a Christian Society.' (1939)  to our own atomised post-Christian, post-modern societies where we now as 'people of faith'  feel our way delicately through the wreckage of much of what seemed so enduring. 
That the Queen is still there, with her vocation as a Christian monarch clearly intact and her sense of sacred duty in no way diminished by the passing of the years, should be reassuring and say something to us about the resistance and durability of older, "pre-democratic" values. Yet if we look behind the facade, we become only more aware of the great contrast between the  faith of the Sovereign herself and the spiritual and ethical relativism of so many of those who last week were waving their Union Flags so enthusiastically in celebration of her Diamond Jubilee. 
We also are brought to recognise the sheer impossibility in 2012 of  even conceiving of an idea of a Christian society (in Eliot's phrase, "some notion of where we want to go before we arrange to start upon a journey")  which would be practically possible to implement in a deeply relativistic, multi-cultural context. There is no going back. 
There are some reasons for optimism in the rediscovery of a 'hermeneutic of continuity' across various traditions (alas, probably too late for some) but under the all-pervasive and therefore largely unconsciously operating  influence of secularisation our Christian divisions are undoubtedly sharper focused  than they have been for many generations, thereby minimising the possibilities of cooperating in the implementation of a single social agenda on the part of the Church. If we are reading the social and cultural barometer correctly, worse is to come - perhaps even the 'totalitarian democracy' of which Eliot warned. 
We should refuse to despair: the Faith has a remarkable propensity (that of the Holy Spirit himself) to renew itself in the face of seemingly inevitable decline and disaster. The great evangelistic movements of the middle ages, founded by St Francis and St Dominic, are obvious examples of this. Closer to our time, who could have predicted the influence of the Oxford Movement on a church slipping inexorably into erastian heterodoxy? Things which have become forgotten or hidden or overlooked for generations, have a habit of bursting into new life if even a small remnant takes the trouble to keep them alive. But we are now in imminent danger, in this corner of the ecclesial world at least, of losing much and of closing the doors on what will not be recovered.

I was sent this quotation from Eliot, again from The Idea of  a Christian Society. You probably know it - it's one of those passages which, once read, remains always beneath the conscious mind:
"If Christianity goes, the whole of our culture goes. Then you must start painfully again, and you cannot put on a new culture ready made. You must wait for the grass to grow to feed the sheep to give the wool out of which your new coat will be made. You must pass through many centuries of barbarism. We should not live to see the new culture, nor would our great-great-great-grandchildren: and if we did, not one of us would be happy in it."
There's an interesting treatment of these and related issues at The Imaginative Conservative [here

An image from a week ago: The Jubilee Beacon ablaze at Kilgwrrwg

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Forced marriages - of another kind

No, this post has nothing to do with the welcome Government proposals to outlaw forced marriages in the U.K.[here], but everything to do with 'forced marriages' in another sense.

Cranmer here has some interesting news about the now mandatory use of  Denmark's established (Evangelical Lutheran) churches for same-sex marriages (with the usual fig leaf of a [temporary] opt-out clause for those individual clergy opposed in conscience); this will inevitably be the future in Britain if the Con-Lib Coalition gets its way in the wake of its present 'consultation.'.
Not that this will necessarily have to be 'forced' on some non-established churches - in the light of the presidential address at its Governing Body meeting in April, I fully expect the increasingly theologically anchorless Church in Wales to move in this direction without any coercion from the State.

Not quite a forced marriage, its dioceses perhaps forced to come together by common adversity, but certainly a strange voluntary liaison of the theologically disparate, the ACNA, (The Anglican Church of North America) is urged by Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) to reform itself by returning to the faith of the Undivided Church (abandoning women's ordination and any residual elements of Calvinism, and dropping the filioque clause in the Nicene Creed) as a condition of ecumenical progress:
Here's a taste:
"...There is a radical cultural shift away from traditional Christianity, toward something unrecognizable.   The “Secularists” (for lack of a better, non-pejorative term) reject the virgin birth of Christ, the resurrection, even His Divinity; that His words are recorded in the Scriptures and that the Scriptures are even relevant to our days; rather they are oppressive and keep humans in darkness.  Another Episcopalian bishop, a certain Mr. Spong, wrote that “Christianity must change or die,” referring to traditional orthodoxy, espousing the radical secularization of the Episcopal Church and all Christianity.   It is my prediction that it is not the Orthodox Churches that will die..."
The full text can be read here

Ave Verum - Mozart

For Corpus Christi, Mozart's Ave Verum  sung by the Choir of St John's, Cambridge

"The apostles will have received their thrones as the judges and patriarchs of the New Israel. They will be seated with their Master, who is himself the Apostle of the Father, at the Messianic Banquet, which, because it is the banquet of his crucified and ascended Body and Blood, is at the same time the perpetual Liturgy where in the Father is glorified by the Eucharistic offering of him who is the son by nature and who includes within himself all those who, because they are his members, are the sons of the Father by grace and adoption, and who in their organic unity are his mystical Body and Bride the Catholic Church, one flesh with him. And in this perpetual Liturgy, wherein the Church will for ever contemplate and adore the Father, gazing at him as it were through the eyes of Christ who is her head, everything will be transformed but nothing will be destroyed..."
 E.L. Mascall, Corpus Christi (Longmans 1953) 

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Some good news

In contrast to the clear triumph of revisionism in the Scottish Episcopal Church, some good news about the survival of orthodox Anglican patrimony north of the border: the website of the Ordinariate in Scotland is here 

Thanks to Fr Ray Blake's blog  for this video of Fr Aidan Nichols O.P. speaking about the future of the Catholic Church south of the border.. He has some important things to say which concern all of us, not least about the 'unfashionable' and, as he says, quoting Shaw, the 'unreasonable' precept of the 'Conversion of England' to the Catholic faith, something of concern to Anglo-Catholics too, wherever we may find ourselves ecclesially. 

For all who have an interest in Anglican liturgies, and who are less than enamoured of recent 'official' Anglican developments, there has been an announcement of the forthcoming publication of  some (interim?) Ordinariate liturgy, the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham, edited by Mgr Andrew Burnham and Fr Aidan Nichols [here] - it would seem from Mgr Burnham's description to be a convincing response to those observers, both friendly and unfriendly, who have expressed views that the Ordinariate seemed insufficiently conscious of  traditional Anglican liturgical patrimony. 

Friday, 8 June 2012

To end the week of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, the hymn, 'All People that on Earth do Dwell', arranged, with fanfares, by Ralph Vaughan Williams

This was the message of congratulation sent to her by Pope Benedict:

"I write to offer my warmest congratulations to Your Majesty on the happy occasion of the Diamond Jubilee of your reign. During the past sixty years you have offered to your subjects and to the whole world an inspiring example of dedication to duty and a commitment to maintaining the principles of freedom, justice and democracy, in keeping with a noble vision of the role of a Christian monarch.
"I retain warm memories of the gracious welcome accorded to me by Your Majesty at Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh at the beginning of my apostolic visit to the United Kingdom in September 2010, and I renew my thanks for the hospitality that I received throughout those four days. Your personal commitment to cooperation and mutual respect between the followers of different religious traditions has contributed in no small measure to improving ecumenical and inter-religious relations throughout your realms.
"Commending Your Majesty and all the royal family to the protection of Almighty God, I renew my heartfelt good wishes on this joyful occasion and I assure you of my prayers for your continuing health and prosperity".

Scotland votes down the Anglican Covenant

'The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church today voted against the adoption of the Anglican Covenant. Following a variety of views expressed by members of General Synod, the Motion that Synod agree in principle to adopt the Anglican Covenant was put to vote - 112 votes against; 6 votes in favour; 13 abstentions. The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, The Most Rev David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane then presented a resolution on the Anglican Communionin support of Motion 27, saying “The Anglican Communion matters deeply to us in the Scottish Episcopal Church. We invoke the history of Samuel Seabury, consecrated in 1784 by the Scottish bishops as the first bishop of the church in the United States of America. We want to be part of the re-founding - the bringing to birth of a new phase of Communion life.”'
From Episcopal Cafe here
There will be great rejoicing in 815 Second Avenue, not to mention Llys Esgob.
But the question which is on everyone's lips is what sort of beast is being brought to birth - shades of W.B. Yeats, maybe? 

Pastoral letter from the catholic bishops of the C of E

from Forward in Faith:
"As Bishops standing in the Catholic tradition of the Church of England, we write to encourage and support all those who stand in that tradition.The celebrations of the Queen’s diamond jubilee have reminded us of the important bonds that exist within our nation between the monarch, the Church, and the people of this land. The celebrations have also underlined the value of tradition as something that is always alive and dynamic, while remaining true to its character and inheritance. 
A sense of the dynamism of Christian tradition is familiar to us from other celebrations and texts. We speak of our inheritance of faith as one which “the Church is called upon to proclaim afresh in each generation.” These words are declared before every bishop, priest and deacon and congregation at ordinations and when new ministry is authorised by the bishop’s licence. 
Remaining faithful and obedient to this commission is a challenging task. The ordination of women has opened up divisions over what is and what is not a legitimate development of our inheritance. We shall see those divisions played out again at the General Synod in July. We believe that the Church of England must keep its pledge to recognise that many in the Catholic tradition cannot in conscience receive the sacramental ministry of women priests and bishops. How are we to face the tensions of that debate? What positive message do we as Anglo‐Catholics have to give to the Church and to our nation about our distinctive contribution to the dynamics of our Church, and particularly the call to holiness, a growing into the likeness of Christ, which has been so much part of the tradition of catholic spirituality?......."
Read it all here

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Read this

Anglican Curmudgeon on the social reality of trying to engage with those formed by a culture of post-modernism [here
"Something is going on all around us, and we need a name for it if we are to be able to deal with it.Sorry for the paranoid-like opening, but this is serious -- deadly serious.People are lost to the faith all the time, I know -- it is nothing new. So it's not just that the people I am talking about are either losing their faith, or are turned off by professions of faith, or whatever.It is that one can see their minds going, going, going... until they are gone. Gone, to the dark side.To the side where "reality" is nothing objective any more, where "reality" is simply whatever they choose subjectively to make of it.
Here -- let me try to give an example..."

I'm sorry, but this is profoundly irritating

Does anyone else find it somewhat disappointing that when some (thankfully, by no means all) of our friends and former 'colleagues' find a new ecclesial home they begin to refer to 'Anglican ministers' or 'vicars' instead of the terms they would once unfailingly have used to describe those in Anglican orders? It becomes even less explicable when they are part of a body which makes an entirely convincing claim to be able to offer a secure and lasting place for orthodox Anglican patrimony and the only guaranteed safe haven for the Anglo-Catholic tradition.
I understand the precedents; didn't Bl John Henry Newman use precisely this kind of terminology? Yet this is not the nineteenth century; the provisions of Anglicanorum Coetibus go out of their way to recognise the displaced catholicity of many in the Anglican Communion, not to mention the undoubted progress that had been made towards reconciliation before 'the dedicated followers of fashion' threw additional roadblocks in its path.
Before anyone comments, I'm fully aware of the  statements of the Catholic Church on the subject of Anglican orders from Apostolicae Curae onwards. I'm also aware that because of Anglican innovations (the historical irony is painful - so much for 'the constant Tradition of the primitive church' in Bramhall's phrase) the subject will never now be re-examined. Yet those who were once in Anglican orders know better than any that, even if they now have reasonable doubts about the form or intention of their erstwhile ordinations, they were originally ordained as 'deacons' or 'priests', not 'ministers' or 'vicars.'
I say this extremely reluctantly and without any wish to be confrontational or to seem in any way whatsoever 'anti-Ordinariate', just to point out that the minority who express themselves in this way are in danger of provoking unnecessary antagonism among those who wish them and Pope Benedict's initiative only well. If someone so sympathetic to the Ordinariates can have this reaction, what must be its effect on those who are more undecided?
Of course, it may be said (by some it is often said) that the truth is meant to hurt, and that an uncompromising expression of the ecclesial realities may prove a spur to immediate action, yet the first impression given to those on the receiving end is one of a calculated rudeness and discourtesy, and perhaps to sense in those concerned to dole out this 'speaking of the truth in love' more of an overriding desire to find acceptance in their new home rather than any more pressing evangelistic motive towards those they have left, hopefully temporarily, behind.
I would guess that most Anglo-Catholics (for want of a better term) who remain pro tem in Anglican structures are concerned less about the possible defects of Anglican ordinations than about the contemporary and - because of its loss of even a claim to apostolicity in holy order - irrevocable apostasy of a Communion which seemed to be on a path of  theological convergence both with Rome and Orthodoxy.
But the last word on this should probably go to St Francis de Sales, not an unsuccessful evangelist in the heartland of Calvinism itself, who remarked that you can catch more flies with a spoonful of honey than with ten barrels of vinegar.

O Taste and See

The beautifully simple and timeless motet by Ralph Vaughan Williams:

from Psalm 34. 8 
O taste and see how gracious the Lord is: blest is the man that trusteth in him.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


When we consider the political reality of regimes throughout the world, Winston Churchill was undoubtedly right when he asserted in 1947 in a speech to the House of Commons that "democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time".
Having said that (and there is more than a hint of this in Churchill's original statement),  democracy by itself, without its being underpinned by other and older systems of values, is at most theoretically neutral and in practice deeply corrosive in its effect on society, leading, it seems, inevitably to a general lowering of standards of social behaviour and of intellectual life and thought and - as we see from our public broadcasting over the last few days - the elevation of mass ignorance into a kind of civic virtue. What mistaken concepts of the role and scope of 'democracy' have done to the Church of England and its daughter Anglican provinces, there are no words to express the sheer magnitude of the disaster. 
There are very few of our leaders, political (to a degree understandably) or spiritual (quite unforgivably)  who are willing to address this issue. 
The present occupant of the See of Peter has been one of the honourable exceptions. This is part of Pope Benedict's address to the leaders of British civil society in Westminster Hall  in September 2010. Despite the almost universal goodwill expressed at the time, it's lessons have not been taken to heart:

"...If the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident - herein lies the real challenge for democracy.
The inadequacy of pragmatic, short-term solutions to complex social and ethical problems has been illustrated all too clearly by the recent global financial crisis. There is widespread agreement that the lack of a solid ethical foundation for economic activity has contributed to the grave difficulties now being experienced by millions of people throughout the world. Just as “every economic decision has a moral consequence” (Caritas in Veritate, 37), so too in the political field, the ethical dimension of policy has far-reaching consequences that no government can afford to ignore. A positive illustration of this is found in one of the British Parliament’s particularly notable achievements – the abolition of the slave trade. The campaign that led to this landmark legislation was built upon firm ethical principles, rooted in the natural law, and it has made a contribution to civilization of which this nation may be justly proud.
The central question at issue, then, is this: where is the ethical foundation for political choices to be found? The Catholic tradition maintains that the objective norms governing right action are accessible to reason, prescinding from the content of revelation. According to this understanding, the role of religion in political debate is not so much to supply these norms, as if they could not be known by non-believers – still less to propose concrete political solutions, which would lie altogether outside the competence of religion – but rather to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles. This “corrective” role of religion vis-à-vis reason is not always welcomed, though, partly because distorted forms of religion, such as sectarianism and fundamentalism, can be seen to create serious social problems themselves. And in their turn, these distortions of religion arise when insufficient attention is given to the purifying and structuring role of reason within religion. It is a two-way process. Without the corrective supplied by religion, though, reason too can fall prey to distortions, as when it is manipulated by ideology, or applied in a partial way that fails to take full account of the dignity of the human person. Such misuse of reason, after all, was what gave rise to the slave trade in the first place and to many other social evils, not least the totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century. This is why I would suggest that the world of reason and the world of faith – the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief – need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of our civilization..."

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Odious and inappropriate

This would-be clever comment by the worst kind of journalistic 'liberal' (a misappropriation if ever there was one)  is doing the rounds at the moment among the British twitterati: “The American head of state grew up with a mother on food stamps. The British head of state grew up with a mother on postage stamps.”
Actually, it was her father, King George VI on the postage stamps, but the real point to be made is that a few years later, the Queen's parents stayed in London surrounded by falling bombs because they felt it was their sacred duty to remain with their people. Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) said this after Buckingham Palace was attacked by Hitler's airforce: 'I'm glad we have been bombed. Now I can look the East End in the face' 
They weren't celebrities or politicians, their lives governed by personal ambition: they had a job to do, and the continuing example over sixty years of their daughter deserves better than this kind of adolescent sneering.

Walton: Te Deum

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Handel Coronation Anthem: 'My heart is inditing'

That '"thy Church may serve thee in all godly quietness"

O GOD, who providest for thy people by thy power, and rulest over them in love: Vouchsafe so to bless thy Servant our Queen, that under her this nation may be wisely governed, and thy Church may serve thee in all godly quietness; and grant that she being devoted to thee with her whole heart, and persevering in good works unto the end, may, by thy guidance, come to thine everlasting kingdom; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

"...thy Church may serve thee in all godly quietness" - now that would be something, rather than importing into her life all the unholy noise of the world....

Saturday, 2 June 2012

The Most Holy Trinity

"For the Son, being present with His own handiwork from the beginning, reveals the Father to all; to whom He wills, and when He wills, and as the Father wills. Wherefore, then, in all things, and through all things, there is one God, the Father, and one Word, and one Son, and one Spirit, and one salvation to all who believe in Him."                                                                                     St Irenaeus 

2nd June 1953

Friday, 1 June 2012


The Revd John Richardson [here] fears he may have been naive:

"I now have it on good authority that the ommission of any qualifications other than ‘maleness’ for alternative bishops was indeed a ‘deliberate oversight’. Attempts were made in the revision stages to give more substance to their qualifications than this, but this was apparently resisted strongly.In other words, people knew what they were doing.Now call me naive, but I’m still a bit shocked by this. I expect us low-lifes to be doing skull-duggery. I genuinely thought that at the higher levels of church management there was a bit more openness and even-handedness.It seems I may have been wrong..."
I'm afraid some of us on the Catholic wing of the Church (in England but most particularly in Wales) came to this conclusion a long time ago.
Naive? Yes, a bit. But we were right to expect better. 
Unfortunately, synodical structures tend to reinforce fallen human nature and seem to lead inevitably to 'parliamentary' behaviour.
"You did not so learn Christ!"

Hitchens gets Larkin

Peter Hitchens on the poet Philip Larkin (with some asides on contemporary religious practice). I agree. I think Larkin's work  will survive and be read a hundred years hence, unlike that of some of his contemporaries. There's a lyricism to his curmudgeonly realism which sticks in the mind and won't go away:

"...He says at one point ( in ‘Aubade’ , another unforgettable reflection on death) that religion is ‘a vast moth-eaten musical brocade, created to pretend we never die’ .
I love the idea of a vast, moth-eaten musical brocade, all faded golds, reds and blues, frayed at the edges and thin enough to let bright sunlight pass through it. And I can easily picture just such a thing hung up in the side-aisle of a little-visited, second-rank cathedral or other great church somewhere in provincial England – perhaps Beverley Minster, close to Larkin’s unbeloved Hull. And it would be hard to come up with a more succinct description of the Church of England as it was before the modernisers got to work. Once again, like all really good poetry, it lodges and settles in the memory without the slightest difficulty.
But what if the brocade, rather than being a pretence and a curtain in front of emptiness, was telling the truth?  What if the brocade was created to proclaim, rather than pretend, that we never die – and that we have come to prefer to believe that death is the end because we do not love the implications of the other idea?
What if the idea that what will survive of us is love, as Larkin suggests in ‘An Arundel Tomb’ is not an almost-instinct, almost true, but the exact truth? What if the trees are coming into leaf, not ‘like something almost being said’ but like something truly being said? Did Larkin ever wonder? I bet he did..."
Read it all here