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.

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