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

Saturday, 11 October 2014


Sermon prepared (so what do YOU make of the guest without the wedding garment?) and notices printed,which gave us a little free time this afternoon for another visit to Exbury. The Rothschild house in the middle of the estate is a bit severe (and a very odd shape - 20th century re-working of a Georgian original which belonged to the Mitfords). The gardens though are magnificent.Jane buys us an annual ticket, in time for the Azaleas and Rhododendrons  - but in some ways I prefer to visit now - the trees are magnificent and you can see them without being distracted by all the flowering shrubs - and in any case these autumn colours are marvellous. Today we had the whole place almost to ourselves.

The acers are making a great show, but so are many other trees. This year too everything is fruiting well; so before long the pigs will be out in the forest, eating the acorns. The Verderers hope that this will stop too many ponies from becoming ill - their digestive systems do not work on acorns, and they can even die if they overdo it. At Exbury it was the beechmast which was crunching underfoot everywhere, and the maples were bright with their fruit.

Tomorrow we will be looking at the recently produced booklet of the Ordinariate Rite. We've decided to use it throughout Advent, so this production by the Friends of the Ordinariate will be very welcome - we simply have to determine tomorrow how many we might need. It is a very  handsome production, with rubrics properly done in red, and the music (Merbecke) set out very legibly. I think it will do a great deal to help commend the Rite to those who have misgivings about it. It was originally intended for the Ordinariate's London Church in Soho, but I think it will have a much wider use than just Our Lady of the Assumption & St Gregorys' in Soho.

There are so many more pictures of Exbury which I took today - but I think I will post the rest of them on Facebook rather than boring you with them here.

Cedars are a feature of Exbury

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Safely Gathered In

Distinctive Patrimony, and working with long-time Catholics. That is the balance which Cardinal Vincent Nichols held out as an ideal whenhe addrssed the Ordinairate in Westminster. Not always easy to achieve, but this weekend gave us the perfect opportunity. The readings at Mass were about the Vineyard of the Lord, so it was a good time to celebrate that essentially Anglican occasion, Harvest Thanksgiving..

The Anglican Patrimony bit at St Thomas More in Iford came mostly in our hymns. We ploughed the fields and scattered, we joined the song of harvest home, we waved the golden corn, and we collected for the Christchurch Basics Bank.

Before all that, on Saturday evening several of us joined parishioners at their Harvest Supper. We hope this fulfilled some of the Cardinal's  advice to the Ordinairate a week ago, underlined by Monsignor Keith our Ordinary, that we should retain our identity, but also join with Diocesan Catholics whenever possible. Only so can we hope to overcome some of the misconceptions about the Ordinariate.

Good to have Fr Brian with us again today. He celebrated and preached at the ordinariate's Sunday Mass for the first time in quite a while. He is holding the fort in Christchurch while they are in an interregnum. How great it would be if many more Anglican priests were to seek Ordination in the Catholic Church - they would be well used, and everyone would appreciate their ministry. I never say Mass for a diocesan parish without several people stopping by the Sacristy after Mass to thank me. It is very moving.

Fr Darryl, Priest of the Ordinariate and Parish Priest at S Thomas More,  with his wife Lisa at the Supper

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Christianity - a world view

Mgr Keith and Bishop Michael

Today priests of the Ordinariate met in St Patrick's Soho to hear Michael Nazir Ali - and what a tour de force it was. He began by reminding us of the rapid growth of the Christian Faith throughout the world over the past century. In Africa and East Asia that growth has been phenomenal. It is only in Western Europe that the churches are in decline.

He then went on to speak of world Islam, its diversity in different regions, and the reasons for its animosity towards particularly Israel and Christianity.

He talked enthusiastically of the challenge for the Catholic Church - to be more open to diversity (and the Ordinariate was a good sign in that direction) and to different expressions of faith coming from different ethnic and cultural situations. We threw all manner of questions at him, even challenging him to join us in the Ordinariate - and it was apparent that we have a great friend in the former Bishop of Rochester. He wants us to  reach out of our former Anglo-Catholic comfort zone and realise there are many evangelicals who are well disposed towards the Catholic Church and need us to encourage them.

a chance to meet
We chatted away over lunch - this is one of the best features of these occasional meetings - and then  heard from the Ordinary.He made a special plea for loyalty from all of us; loyalty to the Ordinariate ideal, for which all of us had made oaths on ordination, and without which many of us would not have been ordained at all in the Catholic Church. We should have left our 'only doing what I like' behind us. It is not every Group which will eventually use the Ordinariate Rite - but we should all give it at very least a decent trial run.

Cyril Wood
Mgr Andrew spoke briefly about  liturgy, our Communications wizard Catherine Utley said what a very good communicator we have in Mgr Keith, and how easy it is to work for him compared with some other clerics - and politicians. I think we suspected that already, but it was good to have our view endorsed by a media professional. Cyril Wood, our Treasurer, was present throughout and both he and Mgr Keith told us once more of their concern for a proper sick and retired fund to be built up.

For me one of the most important contributions of the day was from a priest who has been given a diocesan parish to run. It had been built up by
Mgr Broadhurst comes between the Ordinry and Fr Ed Tomlinson
clergy who were totally swept up in the post Vatican II euphoria - which had led them to misinterpret what the Council said so they supposed guitars and popular music, however banal or even explicitly anti-Christian, were of the essence of worship. He is having a hard time reminding his people that they are Catholics, and that they are not at liberty to ignore the Catechism or the Instructions on the Roman Rite. This resulted in Ed Tomlinson (do look at his blog) saying that he had dealt with a similar spirit of indiscipline by placing on the altar on his first Sunday the Missal,the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church and telling folk that this was what they would be getting in future. Those who chose to leave were surprised to receive a letter from Fr
Fr Keith Robinson communicates with
Catherine Utley
Ed congratulating them, saying they would have no difficulty in finding somewhere to their taste. He has stuck to his guns, and the parish has grown greatly because of it. It was good though to be reminded what considerable difficulties - real antipathy - some of our Priests receive. Most of us, though, are more fortunate and the 'cradle catholics' we minister to are appreciative of us and what we do for them.

We are all hugely grateful to our Ordinary for giving us these opportunities to meet and exchange views, and to listen to some outstanding theologians. Next time we meet, on February 12th 2015, it will be in Westminster with an opportunity to concelebrate with the Cardinal at the Cathedral's 5.30pm Mass. That day the Ordinaries from the USA and Australia will be with us so if you are a priest who might have been present today but had recently bought an Ox or married a wife maybe next time you will remove all obstacles and join us. It really is a very encouraging occasion.

An encouraging occasion

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Stella Maris

St George's Cathedral, Southwark
Thursday was another trip to London, this time for the celebration in Southwark Cathedral of Our Lady Star of the Sea. Bishop Tom Burns of Minevia was Principal Celebrant and Preacher, and you can read a full account at the Apostleship of the Sea website. It was a very happy occasion; in the morning we heard from some of the Staff of Stella Maris, and met some of the priests who have acted as Chaplains on cruises, and also in the emergency after the hurricane in the Philippines. Many of those who crew the Cunard and other fleets are from there, and Stella Maris was quick to respond to the disaster by providing volunteer chaplains at very short notice to minister to those whose families were caught up in the hurricane and its aftermath.

Southampton's Port Chaplain

 Good also to hear from the Port Chaplain in Southampton who gave an overview of his work. Fr Roger is someone I shall hope to visit and get to know since we live so near to his workplace. It was good, too, to know that the Revd Dr Dn Stephen Morgan (of Portsmouth Diocese) is the new Chairman of Stella Maris - there to see his predecessor being honoured as a Knight of St Gregory. I shall hope to post a few other pictures on Facebook, having just given in and returned to that organisation.

Bishop Tom and Eamonn Delaney - a Knight to remember

Monday, 22 September 2014

Westminster Day

A Pair of Scousers

So was it worth it, getting up early to be in Westminster for 10.30am, and returning home very tired with Sunday's duties looming? Well, yes it was. Everyone present seemed to want to repeat the exercise next year. But I hope we will have learned from this one, and do even better in 2015.

Part  of the audience, ready to hang on every word
A little parochial parable. Many years ago in our Surrey Deanery we used to have regular Clergy Chapter meetings, at which some Speaker would come to tell us what we ought to be doing. He would be a paragon, someone who was expert at Youth Work, or Preaching, or Evangel-isation. After the talk we would return home, determined to do better in future - but pretty sure that we would not be able to reproduce his success in our little parish. Then one week the speaker failed to turn up. One of our number, a person we all thought was too good to be true, a whizz-kid with flocks of young worshippers, asked if he could fill the gap. Our hearts sank, but there seemed no option. In the event, David spoke not of his success, but of his failures; the impression he gave was all show. Underneath he was insecure and disappointed. We were genuinely almost reduced to tears. Chapter meetings were never the dame again. David's honesty had enabled us all to be more truthful with one another, to admit our own failures, to support one another's ministry.

We spent much of the morning in the Cathedral Hall listening to success stories; a Group of more than eighty were recruiting new
Lancaster. Devon and Notts among others
members all the time; another Group was raising money to buy a redundant Methodist church building. Even the one example of a small Group managed to be entirely up-beat. Now we need such encouragement; but we also need to be able to admit how hard things are for some of us - perhaps even a majority. I spoke to a couple of priests about "Called to be One". Like us, they had thrown themselves into it, put out a great deal of advertising,  but in the end scarcely anyone came except members of their own Group and a few well-disposed local Catholics. I found myself more heartened by these conversations than anything from the 'official' speeches. So, next time, can we loosen up a bit? Not sit in serried rows listening to those thought to be encouraging to us, but have a real chance for meeting? One of our number proposed that everyone should have name badges (big legible ones) to include where we were from and that seems very worthwhile.

Deacon and Ordinary
He hails originally from Leicester and would have loved to meet people from there, but he could not find them. There was so much about the day that was good - particularly the concelebrated Mass (forty priests, I think - though are we not 150 by now? Where were the others?)  The Cardinal's address was great - and unlike much of the rest of the proceedings, AUDIBLE! Surely someone besides an Archbishop can adjust a microphone? On thanking one of the Stewards afterwards I was told how much they appreciated the SINGING - real congregational whole-heartedness. It was especially good to have that best of all Marian hymns, Thomas Ken's "Her Virgin Eyes saw God Incarnate born" - a wonderful bit of the patrimony, which I hope will now become familiar to Diocesan Catholics.

Waiting for Kick-Off
After such excitement,  it is back to the trivial round, the common task. We are hoping to collect some Harvest goodies for the local Food Bank, and encouraged by Mgr Keith we will join the Parish for a Harvest Supper. Sorry if much of this post sounds a little carping; it was good, but might have been so much better. Very good, though, hearing Mgr Burnham on Liturgy - brisk and informative. Good to be with so many old friends - even though there was not enough time to speak to them all. One of the Cathedral Servers told me he had been MC at an event where I had presided (in Leicester) probably fifteen years ago... how time flies when you're having fun.

After the final whistle

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.