Saturday, 30 January 2010

Charles, King and Martyr

Our walk on the Salterns today became a pilgrimage more than a constitutional, as we remembered Charles I, incarcerated at Hurst Castle at the tip of a mile-long shingle spit. The comforts of Carisbrooke were replaced by the grim austerity of a Prison constructed as a gun-platform to defend England against invasion; and the material with which it had been built came from the sacked monastery of Beaulieu. So here was a King of England, imprisoned and soon to die, held in a gaol ordered by his predecessor a century earlier.

There has been some snide blogging elsewhere about how Charles could not have been a Saint since his cause was not taken up by Rome. It recalls a moment when a student from St Stephen's House was visiting for Christian Aid week. At the home of a well-know Roman Catholic couple he was berated by the wife, a former nun. How dare he pretend to be ordained, since he was not a Catholic? And anyway, the Church of England had no saints; the Saints were all, without exception, Catholics.

He was very battered by the encounter; but had his spirits lifted a little further down the road when a Muslim family invited him in, gladly contributed to Christian Aid week, gave him refreshments and asked if he could not stay for a meal? Not everyone who says, 'Lord, Lord will enter the Kingdom...' And many surprising ones will be there.

Living through this time of discernment over the Ordinariate, one of the hardest things to face is the animosity within the Catholic camp ... SSPX, Vatican II Fundamentalists ... I hope we can all overcome the bitterness in every faith and none, and above all seek to have it forgiven in ourselves. Blessed Charles, pray for us.

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