Sunday, 14 September 2014

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Home Rule for Cornwall?

The view from Trelissick
We had four nights in Cornwall this week - my summer holiday. The weather was wonderful, and Falmouth, where we stayed, was great. But so much art around the place! We went to the town's art gallery, but it was hosting a party for hundreds of infants and their carers, so you could not get near the exhibits for nappies and (fairly) yummy mummies. They had on the walls of the staircase, though, childrens' pictures inspired by the Tall Ships (they' d been in Falmouth the previous week). My, some of those kids' paintings were terrific.

Silent Witness
Equally awesome was the show at a favourite gallery, Lemon Street in Truro. The potter displaying his work there is Jason Wason. Here is one of his pieces - but you will find other pictures on the Lemon Street website. His studio is in that mysterious far west bit of Cornwall towards Land's End and clearly he is inspired by ancient cultures. The colour on some of his pieces is very subtle, reds and blacks and gold. They are mostly monumental, large and with look of great age and permanence to them.

Trelissick House
We also visited Trelissick. It is in the care of the National Trust. When we last visited the gardens some years ago there was talk of restoring the kitchen garden - apparently they are still talking. But at least the House (a small part of it) is open. It had been built by the Copeland family, and when the contents were sold last year the Trust was able to buy back a few pieces- including some of the important Copeland porcelain. So there is a large dessert service made by Spode and given as a wedding present to one of the Copelands in the early 19th Century.

The best part of going to Cornwall, though, is seeing old friends. We had lunch with Robin Thomas and his sister in Truro. Robin is a former student of mine at S Stephen's House, now retired but still assisting at St George's. On the way home we stopped  off for Coffee at Alverton Manor - strange name for a hotel formed from the one-time Convent of Anglican Sisters (of the Epiphany). The buildings must be listed, so the Chapel had been converted into a 'great hall' and very dismal it looks. The window on the left is one of three which survives at the entrance to the Wedding Hall. We'd arranged to meet Robbie and Sara Low, who had been in Truro for dental appointments.

Shrouded Chapel and shrouded chairs posing as a Wedding Venue: O Tempora, O Mores.

Appearances can deceive

They became Catholics some while before the Ordinariate was born, with the result that Robbie was Ordained much later than most of us in the Ordinariate.... he went the long way round and is now a priest of the Diocese of Plymouth. Many will remember when Robbie and Sarah - with others such as Geoffrey Kirk - produced a memorable monthly magazine for Anglo-Catholics called New Directions. There is still a publication which goes by the same name, but it bears little relation to the witty and lively magazine of those far-off days. Just as the Hotel is not the same thing as a Convent, despite outward appearances.

Though buildings may disappoint, old friends do not: and we chatted away merrily over coffee for an hour or so with the Lows, putting the world (and especially the Church - in all its manifestations) to rights.

Robbie and Sara in full flood.
Now it is time to prepare for tomorrow, Sunday - when I discovered on our return that Fr Darryl has a Baptism (with about fifty relations) fixed for the Ordinariate Mass.... so that will be fun.

As for the Title of this piece - many years ago, on one of those dire days for Junior Clergy which Archdeacons used to arrange, we were asked what we thought would be in the news forty years on. I ventured "Home Rule for Cornwall", Alas, it looks as though I might have been prophetic. As a Devonian I have to deplore the new habit of putting street signs in what must be an attempt at Cornish. The last native Cornish speaker, Dolly Pentreath, was laid to rest two hundred and thirty seven years ago. She must be rotating gently in her tomb at these attempts at resuscitating an utterly dead tongue - it's quite bad enough than our grandson has to waste his time at school wrestling with Welsh.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Called to be One

All the members of the Bournemouth Mission pulled out every stop - quite literally in the case of Peter Cook, our Organist and choirmaster: He got us off to a great start with his forty-five minute recital - everything from JS Bach to a little waltz - the Petacuk waltz - written for him as a piano piece when he as very young, and now transcribed by him for our mighty organ. He made it speak first as a classical baroque instrument, and then like something from the ballroom of the Blackpool Tower. Great fun, and a very good beginning to the day.

We have been planning for this day for many weeks; ads in the local press, a mailshot delivered by hand to about 300 homes in the immediate vicinity, and then telling our friends, Anglican and Catholic about it.

We did not break any attendance records - most of the time there were about thirty of us present, but with people coming and going all afternoon we had, I'd guess, a throughput of fifty or sixty. Best of all, two of those who came are wanting to join the Ordinariate, and others have shown an interest..

We watched the Video on a screen in the Hall
During the afternoon we showed the Video which was put together mostly by the Torquay Ordinariate Group. They deserve the thanks of us all. One of our long-term Catholic visitors today said firmly "Every Catholic - and every Anglican too - should see that". In particular the interview with Mgr Keith was thought very clear, and very compelling. It opened up questions which our members were able to deal with individually, having all so recently made the journey from Anglicanism.

The church of St Thomas More has never looked better; and setting the High Altar with its big six candles (which generally are consigned to stand on the floor for Mass facing the people) made the setting so much more grand. It was arranged in this way for our celebration of Sung Evensong and Benediction - perhaps we shall try it this way round again when we begin to use the Ordinariate Rite in Advent.

Ready for Benediction

One visitor who had not been in the building before was stopped in his tracks - "What a beautiful church!" he said - and so it is.

The flowers, especially those at the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, were wonderful. It was there at the Shrine that we sang "Salve Regina" when the procession moved there after Benediction. Thee was also a display about Pilgrimage to Walsingham, since that event has been a feature of our life together.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham
So we had music, and conversation, and worship  during our Open Day together. Only one thing remained to make this a truly Odinariate event. We think hospitality is one of the gifts of Anglicanism - some have said it reveals our Benedictine roots- so we concluded the day with a tea party in the Hall. There were cakes and biscuits and trabreads - and even mince tarts, all baked by members of our Mission.
People had good appetites, but we still have some left over (not quite enough to fill twelve baskets) which we and the Parish will enjoy over coffee after Mass tomorrow.Which reminds me, I still have a few things to prepare, and it is getting late. After which, in the words of Sam Pepys, And so, to bed...

A bunfight - major part of the Patrimony

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.