Sunday, 17 August 2014

Dashwood's Birds

 A tern with a view

After Mass this morning Jane and I went to Ringwood to take some of our Ordinariate publicity material to Fr Tony Pennicott's church (his is in the farthest-flung part of our Avon/Stour district). We had a little lunch in the town, then set about finding one of the Hampshire Open Studios which are taking place during the next fortnight. A narrow lane led us eventually up a hill to Geoffrey Dashwood's gallery. It is next to his house, set in a garden with spectacular views across the North Hampshire countryside. It is the ideal setting for some of his larger bird sculptures. We had seen some of his work, and heard him speak, when he hd an exhibition in the Museum and Aft Gallery in Lymington.

Some Owl!
Monumental is the right word for some of his bronzes. Yet he also has very small birds too - the trouble isthat none of that none of the prices are very small.  It would be lovely to have a Grebe or an Owl of his dominating the garden - but without a spare £20k or so I fear it is unlikely we shall get one. Instead today provided an opportunity for seeing some of his creations in his garden. If you search for Geoffrey Dashwood, Sculptor, on line, you will find many more pictures of his work, and details of one of his pieces at present on display at Hatfield House. His gallery near Ringwood  is also open for one more weekend this month.

Some birds in the Gallery

It had been a good morning in Iford - everyone was ready to volunteer to distribute invitations to our Open Day  - our part of "Called to be One" on September 6th . We also tried to find out how many will be going to Westminster Cathedral for September 20th. Unfortunately the cost of travel makes it impossible for many - even with a senior railcard it will be about £40 a head if you include getting to the station, parking, and using the tube in London. And that's before buying a meal! For all that we hope a dozen of us might make it. That's a decent number from our small membership, and everyone will have already given up a day on September 6th to welcome visitors to St Thomas More.

If you should be in the Bournemouth vicinity, you will be very welcome at that Open Day. It begins with an Organ Recital (on the splendid instrument we bought when we first joined the Ordinariate - and are still paying for!). That's from 1.15 until 2 p.m. The church is open through the afternoon, and there will be Sung Evensong and Benediction at 3.30, followed by tea and cakes in the hall. Best of all, it is FREE! The church is in Exton Road, a suburban street near the river in Iford: if you's satnav just put in the postcode: BH5 5QG.  If you can't make it, please pray for us, and for all the other forty or so Groups which are holding events on the same day (details on the Ordinariate Website).

Great bird in a great setting

Monday, 28 July 2014

Busy week

Dejeuner sur l'herbe

Busy week: the Bournemouth Ordinariate had a bring-and-share lunch party, in the home of Mary and Martin Taylor. Their garden was lovely in the perfect summer weather, so we were able to spread ourselves through house and garden. The pictures will tell it better than my mere words . It was especially good that Fr John Lee was able to be with us (along with several other old friends). Fr John prepared most of the members of our Group for reception into the Catholic Church, and has been a great pastor and counsellor to many of us. Soon he is to move on from his parish in Christchurch to a parish in Maidenhead, in the far north of the diocese. We shall miss him greatly.

Fr John makes a point

Our Welsh grandson was staying for a few days while his parents went on a course together - learning how to build eco-homes with straw bales (honestly). Huw and I went swimming together in the sea at Barton a couple of times (no pictures from there, mercifully) and on Friday had a great day at Marwell Zoo - pity we need the excuse of a young person to visit such places. Besides the animals there were diverse model Dinosaurs which roared and flapped wings and generally looked terrifying. Great fun  

Tererible Lizard - deino-saur

Huw joined us at Mass on Sunday and at the lunch party afterwards; and approved of it all. Everyone was very friendly, he said, and the food was great. From a 14 year-old Welshman that is real praise. Which set me thinking that perhaps one of the less acknowledged bits of our Anglican Patrimony is hospitality. I do hope so for if anything can win English men and women back it will be food and friendship – that and a solidly based faith, with a readiness to share it without any hard sell. We hope the Ordinariate's Open House on Sept 6th will be just such an exercise.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Il Faut Cultiver NotreJardin

Overtaken by Nile Lilies - Agapanthus

Some while ago I was posting what might be thought marginally political matters: and I was told by a very senior member of the Ordinariate that I would be well advised to stick to gardening - which you, dear reader, will have noticed I have done. Nothing about the present state of the Church of England, no comments on the 'ordination' of women as bishops. So it came as something of a surprise - a pleasant surprise I must own - to find Mgr Burnham breaking his own rule and blogging about the Church of England's recent adventure in modernity. 

Of course, he did not sink so low as to create a blog himself; instead he let Fr Tomlinson do it for him. I was particularly struck by this paragraph attributed to Mgr Burnham:   'The position of those opposed to women’s ordination is respected. Once more they are said to have an honoured place and it would be churlish and discourteous to point out that, in this matter, rhetoric has always been stronger than practice in the twenty years since women have been ordained priest in England. The important difference now is that the language of reception and communion have been largely ditched in favour of the language of tolerance.' All of Mgr Burham's piece is well worth reading, and I trust that the author of "Consecrated Women?"  and the many other Anglo-Catholic leaders who were until very recently saying that "A code of practice will not do" are busily reading it - unless they genuinely are now very happy with the code of practice (for it is nothing more) that has been offered them.

I suppose Mgr Burnham's essay struck me particularly, since like him I had been a flying bishop. How truly he observes that rhetoric has been stronger than practice in regard to giving Anglo-Catholics an 'honoured place'. Like me he will recall the women Directors of Ordinands who made it impossible for men to proceed as candidates for ordination unless they denied their belief that Christ instituted a male episcopate (and presbyterate) when he set apart the twelve Apostles. Like me he will remember battles over presentation to livings of traditionalist candidates when there was a woman Archdeacon overseeing it.

But all that is now over. We sought an honoured place because we thought that the Church of England really was part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and all that was needed was to remind her of her vocation. Now that is no longer possible. Instead of being a voice recalling the Church of England to her roots, Anglo-Catholicism s now reduced to being simply a tolerated minority, expected very soon to die out when it has once experienced the reality of women in the episcopate.

It will be a very gentle process. After all the facilitated discussions of the past year, everyone knows how valued Anglo-Catholics are. They lend a bit of colour to the scene, and because they are so obviously wrong they can be put up with - for a while.

What a relief not to have to concern myself with all this any longer, now that I am a Catholic priest in the Ordinariate. Certainly we must continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in the C of E, especially those of a 'catholic' bent. There was a time when Bishop (now Mgr) Broadhurst would say “don’t trust a bishop – even me”. But of course women bishops will be entirely different, totally to be trusted. None of them will ever bully their priests into toeing any sort of official line. They will be quite different from any of  their predecessors; or indeed from any women in positions of authority in the Church up to now. They will be models of generosity, and no Anglo-Catholic will have anything to fear. He will be treated equally over matters of preferment, there will be a new swathe of traditionalist bishops from both the Catholic and the Reform wing....

Oh dear, I am quite overcome at the wonderful prospect opening out for the future Church of England. I really must get back to my garden.

On this, at any rate, Voltaire was right: get on with the gardening

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Walsingham and Clare

That was some weekend. Our Bournemouth Mission was present throughout, which meant that several events were entrusted too us. One of us read a lesson at the Pilgrimage Mass, others brought up the elements. We led Morning Prayer in the Parish Church a couple of times and on our last evening Benediction was attended by many other pilgrims.

Mgr Keith waiting as the Image arrives at the Catholic Shrine

We had wondered whether our Ordinary would be present; Mgr John Broadhurst was standing by in case he could not make it. In the event he came straight from Liverpool and his mother's funeral. Despite thundery showers all day, the procession from the Anglican Shrine was completed in the dry.

Our Bournemouth contingent was one of the larger ones attending; there were some noticeable absences this year but for all that the Church of the Reconciliation was comfortably full for the Mass (at which Mgr John preached). Fr Alan Williams, the Administrator, had already left to prepare for his Episcopal Ordination on Tuesday. His appointment to Brentwood is great news for the many Ordinariate priests in that diocese.

This is the latest family to join our Bournemouth group. Here Dennis and Sherlyn and their six lovely children are meeting Mgr Keith. Walsingham is such a good place for catching up on old friends and meeting new ones. As in previous years, Bishop Lindsay made us all very welcome at the Anglican Shrine, and once again many of our Catholic pilgrims found the candlelight procession and evening service which he led one of the highlights of the pilgrimage.

Standing in the new building the Prior explains the developments
One the way home we stopped off at Clare Priory. It is one of only two pre-Reformation houses once again occupied by religious of the original foundation - the other is Aylesford. Clare was the first Augustinian house in the country, and the Friars returned there in 1952. after a break of a little over four centuries. The church was an original monastic building, but was only converted into the Church when the Friars returned - the original Church had, like so many others, been used as a source of building materials by the locals. Last year it was greatly enlarged with a handsome new wing, to accommodate not only visitors but also the local Catholic congregation, for whom it is their Parish Church.

Old church and new addition at Clare

Fr Darryl Jordan (seen here next to the Prior) bore the lion's share of leading our pilgrimage, ably supported by Madeleine Hemsley.
As always, Walsingham was a great opportunity for renewing old friendships and making new ones. What's more the rain held off for our picnic lunches.

Sunday, 22 June 2014


First, our Ordinariate Mission. We were a little worried about moving to a new home. Three members have withdrawn, we hope temporarily. But on our first Sunday a family joined us - they had Anglican connections, became Catholics a few years ago, and now have joined us in the Ordinariate.They are mum, dad and six children. The following Sunday a couple from the Reading Group came to Mass, having recently moved to Bournemouth. Now we are working towards the Ordinariate's open day in September, when we hope to have an opportunity for setting straight some of the misconceptions some people have about us. We ho;pe there might even be some who are moved to join us. We are Catholics, most of us formerly Anglicans, who have found in the Catholic Church the fullness of faith and practice which we had looked for in our former church.

Mgr Burnham expounds on Liturgy to Mgr Lopes
Then on Thursday last we had our Plenary meeting of  Ordinariate Priests at St Patrick's, Soho. Our Ordinary, Mgr Keith Newton, could not be present - he was on his way to Liverpool where his mother had died. Please pray for the repose of the soul of Eva Cowen.

The Ordinariate is taking continuing priestly formation very seriously. It was particularly good to have Mgr Stephen Lopes from the CDF to address us. He is from California, but has worked in Rome for many years now, and had a great influence on the establishment of the Ordinariate - so we are deeply indebted to him. He set us thinking theologically this week, looking at the working of the Spirit in the sacramental life of the Church, and at the Trinitarian nature of it all.

Fr Bennie with Mgri Mercer and Broadhurst
An indication of the importance put on what we once called CME (continuing ministerial education) is the distances people travel for these sessions in London. Fr Stanley Bennie is probably our furthest flung member (from Stornoway) but we come from all parts of the country, and it is good to hear how the Ordinariate is doing beyond our little concern. In Torbay, worship is happening in a former Methodist Church and the Group is well on the way to raising the money to purchase their building.

Fr John Pitchford from Worcesterhire, Fr Simon Ellis from Notts.
So we gather every few months, priests from north and south, east and west; and when we are all together we realise, as we were reminded last week, that in numbers we make up the equivalent of the priests of an English Catholic Diocese. We are gradually becoming an indispensable element of the Catholic Church in this country (to say nothing of North America, Canada, Australia.....

Now we are getting ready for our visit to Walsingham next weekend. We are bringing a coach-load from Bournemouth, and look forward to a very happy visit. At St Thomas More's there will be only one Mass, at 9.30am, for those unable to come on the Pilgrimage.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

British Values

Schools are being told they must teach the elements of being British; which our Leader in Downing Street helpfully lists for us. He has not told us where we received them; perhaps we should remind him.

Tolerance towards others.  Presumably that means all others, whether they like us or not? Something like "you have heard it said 'Love your neighbour hate your enemies' but I say to you 'Love your enemies'". I am not sure if that appears in the Koran; but it certainly features large in the Christian Scriptures.

Respect for the rule of law is next.  What, even if the lawmakers are unjust towards us - like say Nero? In the time of that tyrant it was written "Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the emperor".

The third in David Cameron's list is "Equal rights for all" - which seems to echo what was said by S Paul about equality;'There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.'

The fourth is a little more curious; "A belief in Democracy". That is the rule of the people. Not quite sure how that ties up with number two, the rule of law. The law is not made by all the people, but by those who are elected to represent us. For Christians, indeed for all people 'of faith' (as it is curiously termed today), that law must be coherent with the will of the Creator for his creation. So if the Demos enforces a law which is unnatural, which contravenes the way we were created .... Is that the Democracy our leaders expect us to honour?

At number five is "A respect for British Institutions". Like, I suppose, the MCC and Ascot. No, surely, it must be the institutions which have a longer lineage than those. The Monarchy. Parliament. The Forces of the Crown. And, dare one say it, the Church? Arguably, indeed, the ancient Church of our land  That predates those other 'Institutions' - and not the church foisted on us by a power-mad king and underwritten when 150 years later his  lawful successor was deposed in favour of some of his very distant relations from Germany.

'Acceptance of all Faiths and Nationalities' comes next. Did we not learn this first from the one who commended the good Samaritan, and sent his followers to tell good news to all nations, who was himself notoriously a friend of outcasts and those labelled as 'sinners'?

At number seven "social  and personal responsibility" comes along. Admitting our failings is a large part of personal responsibility; and the Church has the ability of helping people admit to those failings, through the sacrament of reconciliation. In times past, even the nation was encouraged to confess to its corporate failures. Perhaps that is on the agenda for the next Queen's Speech, when we do not say sorry for things our forefathers did centuries ago, but for what our country has done and is doing even now. Or perhaps that is not quite what the Prime Minister has in mind?

Sunday, 8 June 2014


So we made it. After a long wait, and some heart-searching, the Bournemouth Ordinariat Mission have landed up at the Church of St Thomas More, Iford. What's more, this very day another family has asked to join us - so whereas we feared we would be fewer, in fact there are now more of us than before the move. Today's Mass was very special. Friends from Our Lady Queen of Peace and other local parishes joined us. Starting at 11.15 means we are a bit late for coffee, but as you'll see from the pictures there was a good handful of us who stayed on.

On the last Sunday of the month most of us will be in Walsingham for the Ordinariate Pilgrimage, so that
Sunday (29th - SS Peter & Paul) those not coming on Pilgrimage are invited to join the parish at 9.30. Then next month, again on the last Sunday, we are to have a bring-and-share lunch at Mary and Martin Taylors' house. Now we are beginning to plan what we do for the Ordinairate's Open Day in September. Since Fr Darryl who is the parish priest of St Thomas More is also a member of the Ordinariate, we hope we can make this a joint venture, with the idea of inviting people from the neighbourhood to come into the church  to meet us - and discover that Catholics do not (contrary to received opinion) have two heads.