Monday, 17 November 2014

After the Fall

Mass of St Hilda this morning at Lymington Church (Our Lady of Mercy). I offered the Mass for the Church of England, and especially for my friends who will have found today so hard - I well remember Synod on November 11th 1992, when I had to return to face those at St Stephen's House who really had believed (as I once did) that "the Church of England is part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church". For me, that became an increasingly difficult position to defend .

But what picture could be appropriate for such a day? Maybe a series of lines drawn in sand, with an incoming tide sweeping them all away?  No, too unkind. Instead here are a couple of images from the garden. On this damp and dull day the dying foliage glows with one last burst of splendour. Of course, such visual parables cannot be pressed too far; for the Wisteria and the Maple there may be new glory next year. Institutions, though, simply wither on the vine.


Cheer up, though. There is new life - but maybe not for the branch severed from the trunk. Pope Benedict XVI (blessed be he) found a way of grafting us back into the stock where we belong. That way is still open for those brave enough to ask for it. It is called the Ordinariate.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

A Precious Stone Set in a Silver Sea

The Union Flag at Milford on Sea
Between the two Masses at St Thomas More today, that is after the Parish Mass and before the Ordinariate one, a little Anglican Patrimony. Fr Darryl had us singing "For those in peril", we heard the Last Post (recorded) and he recited "They shall not grow old". We kept two minutes silence, finished with another hymn and a verse of God Save the Queen (sorry we omitted 'Confound their Politicks') and still managed to begin the Ordinariate Mass on time at 11.15. After Mass we met baby Jack (who had slept throughout) who is to be baptized next Sunday.
Trying to catch the tide

After a late lunch we just had time to catch some spectacular moments as the sun set over Dorset and the Isle of Wight. There was even one hardy soul on a paddle board. I could not stop taking photos, so there might be a few more on Facebook.

Thursday, 6 November 2014


Despite leaving the Church of England, I am still in communion with an important part of it - the Pensions Board. After forty-one years of full-time ministry, I was able to sit back in 2001 and take things easy. Until, that is, five years ago Pope Benedict gave us the great opportunity of the Ordinariate.
So since 2011 I have once again been in pretty active ministry, looking after our little flock in Bournemouth and giving a hand in local Catholic parishes.

Our Lady of Lourdes, New Milton
This morning, as most Thursdays, I celebrated in the lovely Catholic parish church of New Milton. This enables the Parish Priest, Fr Marcin Drabcik, to take a day off - though he seldom does, being something of a workaholic. It is always a pleasure to say Mass in his church. Everything is beautifully ordered, and the people are very welcoming. I never leave without one or two people, and usually several of them, thanking me. Today we were about thirty. This is the usual Thursday number, though some weeks it is forty or more. Occasionally I have been able to help on a Sunday, particularly when Fr Marcin has gone to his native Poland. The most recent time was to lead a Pilgrimage from New Milton. Then, as on every Sunday, the church has been packed to the doors

There are Catholic parishes up and down the country welcoming former Anglicans to their altars. Indeed there are churches which might have closed but for the influx of Ordinariate clergy. If there is one message for my Anglican clergy friends, it is that you would be very welcome in the Roman communion, and you would be well used.  I cannot imagine a happier or more fruitful way of spending my declining years. But you don't have to be retired! I wish I'd had this Anglicanorum Coetibus opportunity earlier. In any case, don't leave it too late; you are needed now..

Tuesday, 4 November 2014


Today is the fifth Anniversary of Anglicanorum Coetibus. Ad Multos Annos.

Neil Addison
By a happy chance today there was also a meeting of the Confraternity of Catholic St Patrick's Soho Square, and a number of members of the Ordinariate  who also belong to the Confraternity were present. The occasion for our meeting was a paper presented by Neil Addison on the Church, the Law, and Religious Freedom. The most important part of his talk for me was the advice that if you CAN avoid going to law, then that is the best solution!

Mgr Keith has often commended the Confraternity to us, and it is one of the places where we are able to meet with Catholic Clergy from around the county and not have any need to explain ourselves. From the moment I joined I have felt at home and welcomed. Next year there is a great International Meeting in Rome - I'm sorry that I shall not be able to be there - but there is to be a Retreat after Easter when I do hope to be present.

The meeting today was a local regional event for London and the Southeast. There a few other groups which meet around the country, but apart from London (which is easy but expensive to get to from home) our next nearest is in the Southwest, usually meeting in Exeter.

Today we were guests of Fr Alexander Sherbrooke, who always makes us welcome - we have also been to his Church as the Ordinariate. If you do not know St Patrick's it is, as Michelin used to say, worth the journey. Just round the corner from Tottenham Court Road, it is most beautiful - and most hospitable. Sorry I caught Father looking a little fraught - probably at having such a gang of priests on the premises.

After a good lunch we had a time of prayer and then discussion about the recent Synod of Bishops - but since visitors were arriving in Lymington I had, sadly, to leave early.

Fraternity is one of the Objects of the CCC: today's lunch provided a good opportunity

Friday, 31 October 2014

So, Mr Turner

Turneresque? Or is Turner Creationesque?

It just needed a steam tug and the hulk of the Temeraire to make a perfect picture. This afternoon we went to look at the sea, after raiding the local shops This is going to be a busy weekend. The Ordinariate in Bournemouth has a 'bring and share' lunch party, so that we have time after Mass  to discuss some of the things which need decisions - such as how much we can send to Central Funds, and what we are to do about more hymn books, and how we will introduce the Ordinariate Use from Advent Sunday. That luncheon partly accounted for our shopping; the other event (the same day) is a dinner party at home for some Anglican friends.

The Friends of the Ordinariate are making available to us copies of the Ordinariate Use (as produced first for Warwick Street) and Mgr Newton has said he is happy for us to use this version. We need to have enough copies of both the Mass and the English Hymnal to enable us to invite friends from other churches to experience the new Use. There seems to be considerable interest among both Diocesan Catholics and Anglicans who want to see just how it works in practice. After Christmas our Bournemouth Mission will have to decide if and when we continue its use, and if we do, then how often.

But back to JMWT. Last year we revisited Petworth where some of the great works he painted there are still hung. Good to look out on the deer park and realise the great great grandparents of those deer are the ones Turner painted. More recently we went to Greenwich for the wonderful show "Turner and the Sea". People make such a fuss over the French Impressionists, but Turner outdid them all before any of them had laid brush to canvas. I'm rather sorry that the ancient Jews were not a sea-going race - there is far too little about the Oceans in the Psalms, and precious little in the whole Bible (despite Jonah). Others may lift up their eyes to the hills, but for me the Creator's supreme handiwork is the sea. Landscapes change, even mountains are eroded, but the tides have been going in and out ever since the land and the sea were first divided; and they will be doing so long after we are gone. 'When I consider your handiwork, the moon and the stars' - yes, and the seas and oceans too ... 'what is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou visitest him?'

The sea is his and he made it, and his hands prepared the dry land: sunset over Dorset


Friday, 24 October 2014

Margaret Laird

Pusey Wreathed in Smoke
Memory Lane today; a visit to Pusey House for the Requiem of dear Margaret Laird. She was a stalwart of the Catholic Group in Synod, and so highly regarded that she became Third Estates Commissioner. The Celebrant was the Principal, his predecessor, the Bishop of Fulham, was at the throne (you might discern a fifth unbleached candle hiding behind the crucifix on the Altar. And the House was filled with smoke, which won't make it any easier for you!) Bishop Geoffrey Rowell preached - his sermon, when it gets into print, will be well worth reading.

Mother Harriet of Clewer
On the stairs to the Library where the reception was held I came across two of the foundation stones of the Oxford Movement. When Queen Victoria visited the Community of St John the Baptist, Clewer, she asked to do so incognito - no fuss. So she was put out when some of the Sisters curtsied as she passed. When she remonstrated with Reverend Mother she was told "They are not curtseying to you; they are curtseying to me".Seeing her portrait you can well believe the truth of that story. You would not mess with Mother Harriet!

Dr Pusey

An altogether more avuncular figure was the Regius Professor of Hebrew, Dr Pusey: and
here he is too:

But it was the current leaders of the Anglo-Catholic rump who were here today; several of the clergy (like the Bishop of Fulham) former students in my time at St Stephen's House. Look carefully in the photographs and you might spot Sir Michael Colman (one-time First Estates Commissioner) together with several from Forward in Faith. There will be pictures of others  on Facebook: but most important of them all, of course, was John Laird, Margret's devoted husband of many years. They called on us in Lymington, and we had seen them both in Truro from time to time - for despite having a flat in Lambeth Palace and latterly the house of the Chaplain to the Salisburys at Hatfield, Margaret was a Cornishwoman above all. Now John is preparing for another move, this time to the College of St Barnabas in Lingfield. May he have a long and happy retirement there.

John Laird (rt) and friends

Sunday, 19 October 2014

South Coast Religion

Parish Mass concluding
Hurry, hurry, hurry; the parish mass overran a trifle today (9.30 Mass concluded at 11am) and with our Head Server visiting his sister in Leicester-shire, one other server job-hunting and another unwell we were down to a team of two; but they coped manfully, set everything up and we were ready to go at 11.15.

Coffee, biscuits and chate
Fr Darryl had celebrated a Baptism during the Mass which is why things were longer than usual. He is also asking if we will do a Baptism during our Mass. I shall have to discover if this is possible for a mainstream Catholic family. If it is in Advent we will be using the Ordinariate's version of the Roman Mass, and will necessarily then use Holy Baptism from our Occasional Services .. "Dearly beloved, seeing that God willeth all men to be saved from the sinful nature which they inherit &c". So we shall see.

Billows and Beach Huts at Milford

After Mass, the usual bit of patrimony: coffee & biscuits and a good deal of chat. The weather remained fine all day, with a blustery sou'wester, so this afternoon I ventured down to the channel coast to get a few pictures; most of them will be on my facebook page, but here is one as an arrabon (no, I shan't spell it out; ask Father.) Charles (on the left in the picture above) spoke about Fr Simon Heans, a mutual friend. He was an Ordinand at St Stephen's House and is now a priest of the Ordinariate. Charles knew him when he lived in Beckenham. Small world