Monday, 9 November 2015

SO WHOSE CATHEDRAL IS IT? - Worship Catholic & Protestant contd.

This morning we celebrated the dedication of the Cathedral Church of Rome, St John Lateran. I had just been reading more of Cobbett's 'Rural Rides' and this section seemed especially appropriate for today.
Constable's Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows
Cobbett wrote "  (T)hose that revel in the riches of these endowments... abuse and blackguard those of our forefathers, from whom the endowments came, and who erected the edifice, and carried so far towards the skies that beautiful and matchless spire, of which the present possessors have the impudence to boast, while they represent as ignorant and benighted creatures, those who conceived the grand design, and who executed the scientific and costly work. These fellows... have the audacity, even within the walls of the Cathedrals themselves, to rail against those who founded them; and RENNELL and STURGES, while they were actually, literally  fattening on the spoils of the monastery of St Swithin, at Winchester, were publishing abusive pamphlets against that Catholic religion which had given them their very bread.

St Osmunds Catholic Church, Salisbury
For my part, I could not look up at the spire and the whole of the church at Salisbury, without feeling that we live in degenerate times. Such a thing never could be made now. We feel that, as we look at the building   It really does appear that if our forefathers had not made these buildings, we should have forgotten, before now, what the Christian religion was!"

Since Cobbett's day the Tithe system, which he railed against, has disappeared. Inequalities in stipends have been partly levelled out. But still the Church of England by law established holds on to the spoils of the Reformation, and merrily flogs off parsonages and even churches to enable it to continue to live beyond its means.

From the Church of England Website:

A Christian presence in every community

Around twenty Church of England church buildings are closed for worship each year. The list shown below gives information about buildings that are available for disposal and are being marketed for a suitable alternative use. Some of these are already under offer, but it may be worth registering an interest with the Diocese or Agent concerned in the event that the current proposed use does not proceed.
Further information about the procedures involved may be found on the closed churches pages on this site.
The Church Commissioners give no warranty as to the accuracy of the description of the property in this list.

Addendum: I just came across this in the Commissioners' prospectus for St Peter's Leicester. Suggestions for change of us of the Charnel House are invited  EB

 The churchyard is approx. 0.881 acres (0.356 ha) and includes a separate small mortuary/charnel house.  Suitable for a range of uses

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Worship: Catholic & Protestant

William Cobbett: Englishman
There is no excuse. I came to William Cobbett very late in the day. Yet at one time my grandparents lived in Botley in a house called Cobbett's Cottage, and my grandfather worked the kitchen gardens of the big house which once must have belonged to Cobbett. At last, I am remedying my omission. First I read Anthony Burton's biography of the great man, entitled simply "William Cobbett: Englishman." Now I am enjoying accompanying Cobbett on his "Rural Rides".

He made these journeys on foot and on horse-back in the first quarter of the 19th Century. The wars with the French were recently ended, there was terrible rural poverty. As he comments on the state of the crops through the counties where he travels he also notes the situation of the farm workers. Where the land is rich, it has been enclosed by wealthy land-owners, and the poor are treated as slave labour. They fare much better in the poorer lands, where it has not been worthwhile for the rich to take them in; so they are able to keep pigs and poultry and gather wood for their fires; Elsewhere, they are persecuted for daring to snare a rabbit or kill a deer, and the harshest of penalties are handed down to them by those landowners and their friends.

He is very harsh too on the Church of England with so many of its clergy in sinecures, living off tithes extracted from struggling farmers. Hatred of the French, and of Catholicism, was deeply engrained in England by this time; yet Cobbett often has a good word for both the Catholic Church and for France. Forgive a rather long extract from his visit to Tenterden in Kent.

"The church at this place is a very large and fine old building. The tower stands upon a base thirty feet square. Like the church at Goudhurst it will hold three thousand people. And, let it be observed, that, when these churches were built, people had not yet thought of cramming them with pews as a stable is filled with stalls. Those who built these churches, had no idea that worshipping God meant, going to sit to hear a man talk out what he called preaching. By worship they meant very different things; and, above all things, when they had made a fine and noble building, they did not dream of disfiguring the inside of it by filling its floor with large and deep boxes made of deal boards. Some were not stuck into pews lined with green or red cloth, while others were rammed into corners to stand erect, or sit on the floor. These odious distinctions are of  Protestant origin and growth. This  lazy lolling in pews we owe to what is called the Reformation. " ... "I often wonder how it is,that the present parsons are not ashamed to call the churches theirs! They must know the origin of them; and, how they  can look at them, and, at the same time, revile the Catholics, is astonishing to me."

The history of Pues
Something of the same feeling saw the Cambridge Camden Society publishing a paper read to them in 1841 on the History of Pues.  Like Cobbett a chief argument against Pues was that they "shut out the poor, who ought if there be any difference, to be first cared for in church, not last." The writer goes on to ask, "What is the History of Pues, but the history of the intrusion of human pride,and selfishness, and indolence, into the worship of God?" What we have come to call the Oxford Movement was just getting into gear and we should recognise Cobbett as one of its progenitors.

So to return to Cobbett. He was not only hard on the Church of England. "This evening I have been to the Methodist Meeting-house. I was attracted,fairly drawn all down the street, by the singing. When I came to the place the parson was got into prayer. His hands were clenched together and held up, his face turned up and back so as to be nearly parallel with the ceiling, and he was bawling away, with his 'do thou' and 'mayest thou' and 'may we' enough to stun one.  Noisy, however, as he was, he was unable to fix the attention of a parcel of girls in the gallery, whose eyes were all over the place while his eyes were so devoutly shut up. After a deal of this rigmarole called prayer, came the preachy as the negroes call it; and a preachy it really was. Such a mixture of whining cant and of foppish affectation I scarcely ever heard in my life." So, if you have not yet read Cobbett for yourself, ask Father Christmas for the Rural Rides. I wish he were around to comment on some of what we dare call worship today - in both Catholic and Protestant churches.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Ascribe unto the Lord

Is there any hope of rescuing one element of Anglican Patrimony - the Ascription at the end of a sermon? Always, as I remember sermons from my youth, the preacher ended by ascribing the glory to God  This was also how that great master preacher, Austin Farrer, would end his sermon, and often it would take up the theme of what he had been preaching. So for example in the last of a series of sermons preached in Pusey House in 1963, a sermon on Sanctification, he concluded: "This is the will of God. Your sanctification. And why is it his will? That he may enrich you with the glory of his works, the truth of his love, and the vision of  his countenance, both here and in that heaven which beholds him face to face; where to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, three Persons in one God, is worthily ascribed what is most justly due, all might, dominion, majesty and power, through ages everlasting." Not just an ending, a poetic peroration.

When a sermon ended like that, the congregation could respond with a heartfelt "Amen".

Today, the ascription is almost always missing; but often the preacher himself ends his sermon simply by saying "Amen". Now that is just extraordinary. "Amen" signifies agreement. Does the preacher expect the congregation to join him in saying "Amen"? Surely not; And if the preacher believes what he has preached, he has no need to say "Amen".That is the response to something, particularly a prayer, which another has uttered.

During eight years at St Stephen's House I tried to teach something of the art of preaching - homiletics to give it an unnecessarily pompous name. In particular I explained how best to end a sermon. I think my words went unheeded, for I still hear former students at the conclusion of a sermon just saying "Amen" - as an indication that, there you are, take it or leave it, I'm done.

Where Farrer does not give an ascription he often ends with words of  Our Lord, which again can properly evoke an "Amen" - in the sermon before the one already quoted he concludes, "He said unto them, All power is given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore make disciples of all nations; Lo, I am with you always, to the end of the world".

I think in many printed sermons the ascription does not appear, simply because everyone would have know it ended with the preacher saying something like "To the One Wise God, Living and Eternal, be all praise and glory, now and for ever". Certainly he would not have wanted anyone saying "Amen" to his own words. Newman often has something of Our Lord's at the end of his sermons; for instance, "Christ says for us continually, 'Father, forgive them' for they know not what they do'". Once again, a congregation might properly respond 'Amen' to that. (This from sermon XVII on Subjects of the Day, 1853).

I have a few sermons on my shelves; so J B Lightfoot in 1872 had as a final sentence on 'The triumph of failure' "Trust God,who is One, and not the world because it is many. Then your triumph is assured. 'This, this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith'   In similar vein G R Prynne in St Peter's Plymouth in 1876: "Blessed Jesus, let thy words come with power to our hearts. Give us grace to do what thou dost command, and then command what thou wilt".

So, dear preachers, do be careful what you say "Amen" to - for it is probably just an opinion of your own. It really does matter how you end your sermon. Safest and best of all, ascribe the Glory to God - then your poor hearers will at least know that you have finished (even if your sermon might have ended some time earlier).

Thursday, 24 September 2015

All at Sea

Today a group of clergy met in Southampton at the HQ of the Carnival Group (CUNARD and P&O) to prepare us for Chaplaincy over the Christmas period.

Southampton Port Chaplain (rt) with a seasoned ship's Chaplain
Fr Roger, the Port Chaplain for Southampton (and half the South Coast) was on hand to give a broad perspective of the work he undertakes on behalf of the Apostleship of the Sea (Stella Maris, as it is better known among the Crew). Cruise liners make up only a small part of his job; there are many more men and women involved in running the many merchant ships which dock in Southampton each year, and F Roger seems to manage to get on board most of them and knows many of the crews personally having met them during his five years of service.

Atrium of the Carnival HQ
Carnival were great hosts,and told us about their work (very much PERSON focussed, both crew and passengers). They are on hand 24/7 in case of emergency and I know from peronal experience how good they can be at such times. When a Crew member died in Portugal earlier this year they had a member of staff on board with in 24 hours to assist his widow, and the next day flew another two staff members and me to meet the ship in Seville and stay with them for a few days to offer help and counselling - and a requiem mass.

The Headquarters of Carnival is very near the docks in Southampton, and we were shown round and met many who work there. It is a very large undertaking, and the dedication of everyone in the company is hugely impressive.

Seeing round the building gave a very different perspective (in all senses of the word) of the operation of the Cruise and Liner World.
Salvina from Stella Maris and Fr Priestly on top of the world

Salvina Bartholomeusz is the link all volunteer chaplains have with the Apostleship, and she is a huge encouragement to us all, ready to answer questions, give advice, and generally keep a very diverse bunch of clergy in some sort of order. Some of us are retired, others are in chaplaincy work and there are full-time parish priests. We included Irish, English, Indian and Philippino clergy - the last two especially welcome since many of the crew members are either from India or the Philippines.

Priests from Birmingham (IUniversity Chaplaincy) and Wash Common  (Parish priest in Newbury)
If clergy read this blog, by all means volunteer if you can for this important work; but realise that it means being on hand 24/7 throughout a cruise, for Crew principally but also for Passengers and that most days you will celebrate a midnight Mass for the crew as well as an early daytime one for the passengers. Above all, please support the work of Stella Maris - with money, if you can, but especially with your interest and your prayers.

Briefing Session

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Just an Ordinary-ate Weekend

Archbishop Di Noia: a source of encouragement
"Gus Di Noia is great" our Ordinary had told us, and he spoke the truth. To be a little more formal, Archbishop Augustine Di Noia, O.P., titular Archbishop of Oregon City, was Principal Celebrant and preacher at the mid-day Mass in Westminster Cathedral. Not that the Archbishop seems to encourage formality. His manner is engaging and friendly, and told us amusing stories about the effects of Dominican prayer. But our Ordinary insists that without his work in the CDF there might not have BEEN an Ordinariate.

Members of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham were up in London for our annual meeting, and for the first time ever in Westminster Cathedral the Rite used was the recently approved Ordinariate Mass, with its echoes of Cranmer and the 16th Century Church of England.. In his sermon, he Archbishop gave us great encouragement. He saw the Ordinariate as an answer by the Holy Spirit to many years of prayer for Unity. We had thought we knew how Unity would come, through deep theological conversations conducted among the wise men of our Churches. Instead, with the initiative of Pope Benedict, the log-jam of discussion gave way to an invitation which many of us could not refuse. We no longer simply talked about Ecumenism, we did it.

Chatter among the Chasubles
During the morning session we heard from Wales - where there is now an Ordinariate Group with its home in a Chapel in Cardiff Catholic Cathedral.  We gave a great cheer for the Scots who had come well over three hundred miles to be present (further from Westminster than the South of France!) and the Torbay Group lifted our hearts with the tale of how they have acquired their former Methodist Church in Torquay.

Mgr Broadhurst catching up with friends.
[Behind him the picture of our Patron - apparently with toothache]
One of the best things on these occasions is the chance to meet friends old and new, whether while vesting in the Sacristy or in the Hall over lunch. Many of us made the most of these opportunities.

The Archbishop did not pretend that he had a route-map to show exactly where the Ordinariates were heading (for ours in these Islands is only one of three so far established).He spoke of other separated bodies which, Like the Church of England and the Episcopal Church in America, were being led ever more rapidly in unorthodox directions - and in all these bodies there still remained elements which were more true to their roots in Scripture; he spoke of such unhappy traditionalist groups as catholic - catholic Methodists, catholic Lutherans, catholic Presbyterians. Many of these were, sometimes to their own astonishment, turning towards Rome for help - the sort of help which the many groups of Anglicans had sought. It was that seeking which had met with the response of "Anglicanorum Coetibus",  So this little experiment in ecumenism which is the Ordinariates in Great Britain, in the USA and in Australia might be just the cloud no bigger than a man's hand which will one day grow to encompass much of the Christian world.
Members of the Bournemouth Mission (Archbishop nd Ordinary in the background)
All of us who attended this weekend's events will surely have returned home with renewed enthusiasm for mission, certain that what we had encountered in Westminster was worth the journey.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Wind in the Willows: the Exaltation of the Cross

Oh dear, caught again. Celebrated this morning at our local Catholic Church in Lymington (Our Lady of Mercy and St Joseph). So, being a Feast, I thought we might begin with a hymn;

What a swelling chorus we made of it in the glory days of Forward in Faith! And here it was in our Catholic Hymnal too.

Now today was special for another reason; I had been asked to say the Mass with particular intention for a dear lady whose 80th anniversary, not of her birth, but of her Baptism, falls today. What better than sing:
Each newborn soldier of the Crucified
bears on the brow the seal of him who died.  

And since this was the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, we could have a good second verse:

O Lord, once lifted on the glorious tree,
as thou hast promised, draw the world to thee. 

Before announcing it, I made the mistake of not asking if everyone knew the tune. In the event it was apparent they did not. After Mass they told me, very kindly, that they had never even come across the words. So I was left rendering three choruses and two verses as a sacred solo. I was horribly reminded of Toad of Toad Hall - Speech by Mr Toad; only worse: hymn by Mgr B. Oh the shame!

Maybe our Patrimony requires that we should offer Catholic parishes courses in Hymnody?  Surely many would be pleased to have a change from "Colours of Dawn" - wouldn't they?

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Happy Birthday!

Masses of  Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff' enliven the Facade
Today is Our  Lady's birthday; by way of celebration we went to the National Trust property at Kingston Lacy near Wimborne. Not  sure why the National Trust thought it a good idea at one fell swoop  to do the weed-killing of ALL the lawns (thereby making it impossible to sit down ..the seats were mostly in the barricaded areas) and also get the Tree Surgeons in to pollard the Lime Walk, making that inaccessible too. Yet there were crowds of visitors.

Keep off the grass!

The Kitchen Garden is quite a walk from the House (I'd guess originally there were such gardens rather more close - maybe behind the stables) but it was good to see that spare land is being used by locals for allotments.

The pigs (a Tamworth, and others un-named which I think are Kuni Kunis) were attracting much attention.
There used to be a great row of Cedars, with stone plaques by them. I recall one with a crowned GIV and others commemorating former members of the Bankes family. They have all gone, swept away by the Trust in a mania of felling (the excuse being that they were dangerous... I think not).
There is now just one plaque beside a rather feeble cedar, on the plaque the feathers of the Prince of Wales and C and a date (1990 is it?).

The House was iinaccessible all morning since the tickets for conducted tours had all gone. It was to be a free-for-all in the afternoon, but we have visited often so contented ourselves today with the gardens.

There is a 'Japanese' Garden, supposed to be a recreation of a previous effort by some misguided 19th Century member of the family. It is very unfortunate, and looks most out of place. There is a stagnant pond, with a non-functioning waterfall (or at least I suppose that is what the pile of rocks is meant to be). A lot of black paint, too. I thought the Japanese used red on their buildings? The whole effect is very dull, but visitors dutifully admire it because it is listed as an 'attraction'..
'Japanese' Garden - yuk

So a happy day, of mixed fortunes. I have tried to post some of my misgivings on the facebook page of Kingston Lacy, but I daresay they will not appear. Can't really blame them - but I do hope they might take some of it to heart. The gift to the National Trust by the Bankes family was I think the largest they have ever received. It included not just Kingston Lacy, but also Corfe Castle (stoutly defended by Lady Bankes against the Roundheads, while her husband was away fighting for King Charles) and the great sweep of beach and its hinterland at Studland Bay.

The National Trust generally does a pretty good job; but I hope their management are prepared to listen to criticism as well as praise.