Monday 27 December 2010


Very traditional Boxing Day (aka the Feast of Stephen - only this year he was moved aside for the Holy Family): a family walk. The temperature overnight had been minus seven degrees C, which is horribly cold for Southern England - hence our daughter was wrapped like a mummy as we went through Highcliffe woods.

On the beach it became marginally less cold, so the sunset can stand as a reminder to show how we are waiting for the new dawn in 2011.

After January 1 the former PEVs will, I believe, declare themselves (though two of them are already pretty up front about dates and such). After that a timetable should become clearer for the two retired bishops (David Silk and me) who are joining them in the caravan; and then things really get moving. So do you say "mush" to camels? In this weather it somehow seems appropriate What a year 2011 will be.

Wednesday 22 December 2010

Roundup of the Year

As Night Falls: summer holiday in Falmouth

Well, the media do it, so why shouldn't we? Just a few of the highlights of an extra-ordinary year. The Scots have been denied a PEV, so there was a visit North of the Border, for a Mass of the Chrism.

Immediately after it, there was Florence for Holy Week - that was pretty special, with a confirmation as part of the Triduum celebrations.

Then there was Fatima for the May Pilgrimage. Everyone I know seems to have seen the Holy Father in England; but to see him in Portugal was very special - not least because thanks to Fr Gray we, Bishop Keith and I, had pole position for his visit. Wonderful.

There were many events in England too; a great celebration at St Michael's Croydon, for St James' day, will have to stand in for all the rest - too many to recount.

Walsingham National, our first in three years, was lovely, and a great time for meeting old friends.

Most recently, the great joy of being with our son for his Degree Ceremony; for a lad who dropped out of school at sixteen, and then rose through the ranks of bar-tenders to run the most prestigious pub in Oxford (the King's Arms) achieving the degree of Master of Science was more than we expected; and still he continues, working towards his doctorate.

As the year draws to an end, so does my ministry in the Church of England; all fifty years of it. But it is such a privilege to be at the start of something utterly new. No telling how it may develop over the years, but it is good to be able to say we were spared long enough to be here, in the first wave of the Ordinariate. Now, onwards and upwards to 2011.


Saturday 18 December 2010


Before the Papal Mass...

Today was to have been fun; a trip to Nth London for Fr Malcolm Gray's 40th anniversary of priesting. So the least I can do is post a couple of pictures of Father in his natural habitat, viz. Fatima. They were taken in the summer, when Pope Benedict visited Fatima in order to meet Fr Gray - and to join in the Pilgrimage with half a million others. I am sure today will also have been a great occasion, despite the snow which seems to have enveloped most of England and will have prevented some of his friends from joining him.

While I am blogging, may I draw your attention to the Ordinariate blog for Wales? The situation for catholics in the Church in Wales is dire (shall I be threatened by the Grand Mufti of Llandaff for daring to say so? Oh, I tremble...) Those in the Principality who are seeking to join the Ordinariate for England and Wales deserve all our support. You will find them at

...and after the Papal Mass

Thursday 16 December 2010

Permit me to boast...

Time Honoured Lancaster
Silent blog for a few days, having taken off for Lancaster, where our son is now in his fifth year of University (and his forty-second since his birth). Along with a few hundred others he was receiving his degree, a Master of Science in Informatics - this as a result of a year spent since attaining his BSc. (No, I don't know what Informatics is either, but it seems he does). Now he is starting his three-year doctoral course, so the degree ceremony was a good opportunity to visit him and inspect his newly acquired flat.

Proud Mother & Son
I hope you will forgive this little bout of boasting - good to be away from ecclesiastical politics for a while.

Wednesday 8 December 2010

For your consideration

Thanks to Simon Cotton for bringing this to my attention: it deserves to be read - and your signature would help. We need to demolish some of the follies of politically correct medical & social services which, with the best intentions, destroy families and undermine individuals:

Tuesday 7 December 2010

A Conversion Course

'For the avoidance of confusion I have to say that as far as the Diocese of London is concerned there is no possibility of transferring properties'.
So Bishop Richard Chartres at his Diocesan Synod last week.

By contrast, here is the Property Page of the Daily Telegraph four days later:
'A recent survey conducted by a property website declared that churches are the nation's favourite conversion'.

Now London, of course, is a special case. Not that its churches are bursting with eager worshippers; indeed, it is reckoned that the average worshipping congregation across the diocese numbers fewer than forty people. No, it is its bishop which makes London different. He has fought to keep churches open, even in the City where there are few residents, and for this determination he deserves much credit. But...

In his address to the Synod the Bishop related unhappy experiences of attempting to share a church building. 'The late Cardinal Hume, whom I greatly revered, brought to an end the experiment of church sharing after the Synod’s decision of 1992'. On the evidence of that handful of failed experiments the good Bishop is prepared to condemn every attempt at church sharing.

There was similar episcopal resistance nearly fifty years ago when in a Surrey parish we dared suggest to our Bishop of Guildford and his opposite number of Arundel & Brighton that our parish church might be useful to the Catholic community. Eventually, and a little grudgingly, the two bishops permitted the experiment. So it was that between our 8am celebration and the later Parish Communion, Catholics met in the Anglican Parish Church to say Mass.

Some of the friendships which developed from this modest experiment continue to this day. I am not sure if the sharing arrangement still flourishes; but it certainly did so for more than thirty years.

It takes a very special sort of leadership to feel unthreatened by such events yet when they are entered into with generosity and charity on all sides they can produce great results, so that even non-churchgoers can begin to say "How these Christians love one another!" - and say it, for once, with no trace of irony.

The present Bishop of London is famously implacable in his views. How stoutly he recently defended the Royal Family when one of his Suffragans dared to suggest they did not always produce the most stable of marriages. There is little prospect of any of the churches in his dioceses playing host anytime soon to a Catholic Mass; even though in many of them it might appear to be the Catholic Mass which is celebrated. There are seven years before age will force him to hang up his mitre if neither he nor the Almighty has decided it should happen earlier. Then will it be economic or ecumenical pressure which determines the fate of the underused churches of London Diocese?

A shared place where Anglicans and Roman Catholics have worshipped

Thursday 2 December 2010

Everything Looks Better in the Snow

Our latest visitors proved how foolish it was to say "though the rest of the country is snowbound, we never get snow here in the South". Frs Page (from Leytonstone) and Elliott-Smith (from Tottenham) came for an overnight visit, and with them overnight came the snow.

The trains are running, though, and Lymington looks much better for its sprinkling of snow. The United Reformed Church has just had a major restoration, and looks better than ever before. Sadly, I hear that the minister there has just died after a very rapid cancer. She had not been here very long. Requiescat.

St Thomas', the parish church, is also improved by a dressing of tinsel.

Wednesday 1 December 2010

Italian interest

Since the visit of the Pope to Britain, many overseas have shown an interest in what is happening in this country. I was asked some questions by an on-line journal [Il Sussi Diario] - if you would like to check it out, the English version is at
It will appear in an Italian version in due course.

Friday 26 November 2010

Patrimony & Newman

We know about the Holy Father's devotion to John Henry Newman; perhaps this passage from the Apologia planted the seeds of Anglicanorum Coetibus? In the final section of his Apologia he writes how "national influences have a providential effect in moderating the bias which the local influences of Italy may exert upon the See of Peter". "Catholicity", he says, "is not only one of the notes of the Church but... one of its securities". Yet after considering America and the influence of the French in the church there, he hopes that "all European races will ever have a place in the Church". Then he comes to the passage which attracted me especially:
"I think that the loss of the English, not to say the German element, in its composition has been a most serious misfortune. And certainly, if there is one consideration more than another which should make us English grateful to Pius the Ninth, it is that, by giving us a Church of our own, he has prepared the way for our own habits of mind, our own manner of reasoning, our own tastes, and our own virtues, finding a place and thereby a sanctification in the Catholic Church".
It seems to have been an awareness that, despite the restoration of the Hierarchy to England, Pius IX's objects have not been completely achieved which has encouraged Benedict XVI to complete that work. Many have been puzzled to discern just what is the Anglican Patrimony of which Anglicanorum Coetibus speaks. We could do worse than follow the lead of Blessed John Henry by determining to bring with us into the Ordinariate 'our own habits of mind, our own manner of reasoning, our own tastes, and our own virtues'. That will be far better than chasing down the blind alley of Prayer Book versus Sarum Use or of the English Missal versus the American Book of Divine Worship. Liturgy is a sideshow compared with the breadth of the Patrimony which Newman adumbrates.

Monday 22 November 2010

Surface & Texture

On his halfterm visit, we'd taken out ten-year old grandson to Southampton Art Gallery - where there is an exhibition of Bridget Riley's work. To our amazement, he said, "Oh yes, Op art; we did that in school last year". He was enthusiastic about the way her works seemed to move, though they were just paint on a flat surface. She was influenced, it seems, by pointillism (Seurat and all that), and the way the juxtapostion of different shapes can give life to a surface. Initially her work was in black and white.

Later she moved into colour. So our day today started in Southampton Art Gallery to take an old friend, a cousin of mine, to the same exhibition. Then, in the afternoon we went to the coast, where the points of light on the sea and the colours of the sunset quite eclipsed anything any artist has ever done, even Turner; "And all for free!" said my cousin, wisely.

As a change from the internecine battles of the churches I thought you might like to have some views today, and a share in the evening light over the South Coast. But if you can get to the National Gallery, there is a Bridget Riley exhbition there for the next few weeks. Just be ready for your eyes to be out of focus for a while afterwards.

[To appreciate the surface of the water, just click on either of the photos for a larger version.]

Saturday 20 November 2010

The Church of my Baptism

An old priest friend sent me a very moving card today, in which he wishes me well but said that, for himself, he would "remain in the Church of my Baptism". That sentiment is echoed by many who at present feel unable to join the Ordinariate. We all owe so much to the Church of England; she taught us the catholic faith, she supported us when we sought Ordination, she has been, for many, a good Mother.

Yet things have changed. As I have confirmed Candidates in recent years, I have wondered where they would end. Would they always be able, as some of us have done, to find a good catholic church in their neighbourhood? Would it be a place where the Eucharist was regularly and faithfully celebrated, the daily Offices prayed for the whole parish, the people visited when they were sick or dying? Such churches seemed to be the rule forty years ago; now they are exceptional, and their priests reckoned oddities. Yet when Forward in Faith said "A Code of Practice Will Not Do" it was because we wanted a secure catholic future for our children and grandchildren.

When the parish where we live was last vacant, I wrote to the bishop and said that since it was likely that the new incumbent would see me out, I hoped he would be a priest who would have a care for the dying. We have, I think, done pretty well in that regard; our parish priest is a dear and loving man, who cares for the people in his cure. That the question had to be raised though, indicates how the Church of England has lost its catholic moorings.

Those who are committed to SSWSH are no doubt going to try to reverse this, and bring the C of E back to her roots - they believe that the newly elected Synod will make this possible. Those who are committed to the Ordinariate are sure that this is a lost cause, and that the only hope for a catholic future is within the Roman obedience - the best any Synod could achieve is a stay of execution. We all, though, have a duty to respect one another, pray for one another, and continue to work for the Unity which Our Lord wills.

Oh, and about my Baptism - it was at Holy Innocents, South Norwood, which at that time was in the detached part of Canterbury Diocese. GF Bodley was its architect, who also built St John's, Iffley Road in Oxford, the last church for which I had direct responsibility. Holy Innocents always seemed to me a good dedication for a church welcoming one into the Church of God. Now it is in Southwark Diocese, Nicola has been its incumbent for the past five years, and Anna is her curate. One day, it will be easier for me to relate to them ecumenically than, as at present, within the same ecclesial body.

Friday 19 November 2010

Prebendary Houlding's Interview

As the details begin to emerge of the Ordinariate for England and Wales, there is a danger of losing sight of how other people feel. Fr David Houlding gave an interview to Ruth Gledhill. It has been on U-tube, but it is difficult to grasp an interview at one hearing - and it is not easy to hear in all its details. So I have transcribed it, in the hope that it will help others to understand just where one of the proponents of SSWSH stands. Those who have already read it on the Anglo-Catholic blog must forgive me; but it is too important to be lost. Here is most of what Fr David said:

"I am concerned by the direction the Church of England seems to be going. That's one of my reasons for staying in the Church of England. I do believe in the C of E and I love it very much.

We don’t want it to appear as though we are criticising our friends…who have decided they have to move to the Catholic Church to seek communion with the See of Peter - that it is a very honourable catholic thing to do. So I think we have not been able to say anything.

But nor do we think we are betraying the cause by staying in the C of E. We’ve still got a job to do for the church, and we’ve still got to fight for the catholic understanding of the church. And therefore that’s where we are: it’s important that we carry on and don’t just give up.

R.G. I think people well be very relieved - people such as myself for example - that the church is not losing its entire catholic wing. But yet Fr Broadhurst intends to remain as chairman of FiF?

Yes. He is. Now whether that will last I think is very difficult because Forward in Faith, whatever he says, is an Anglican organistaion; it is a political body fighting for a catholic future within the C of E. If you actually feel that is no longer achievable for perfectly good, understandable reasons. then you do have to leave it behind; I think sometimes the things that you love… Bishop John has loved Forward in Faith. It’s been his life - he probably finds it very hard to leave it behind

R.G. And of course members of FiF love Bishop John; but are you really saying that he should resign?

Yes.. because he doesn’t have any integrity by staying. I don’t think it will help him to move things forward in the CofE if he does stay.

R.G. Father John?

This is not to criticise him, this is not personal. He’s been a friend of mine for many, many years. I think for him he is doing the right thing. It is not a criticism of any of the bishops. Rather it is an endorsement that they must leave things behind in order for us to move things forward

R.G. Are they all in FiF?

Yes they are.

R.G. Do you hold a position in FiF?

I’m a member of the Council. No more than that.
We have a lot of work to do. We have to move things forward. But we can’t do it if you like with a mixed agenda.

R.G. And is it the view of the Council that they should all resign?

I think it’s the view of the Council that we need to put a new leadership in place to move things forward. I think that’s generally the overall feeling that I pick up..

(Spy cartoon of Bishop of London: and of Fr Mackonchie)

That’s Fr Mackonochie and he started up SSC. And I’m now the Master of the SSC.
Of course I looked at the Roman option with interest; for the catholic position as it were comes from the Roman Catholic church and there is obviously going to be an obvious closeness; That means that we don’t just make the rules up as we go along, that we do look for authority from the wider catholic church in the decisions that we have to make in the C of E. There is something about that Church of England its identity and the reason for its existence that is catholic; it is the Catholic Church in this land.

R.G. I know you’ve been among those working hardest behind the scenes. to try and create some sort of provision which is acceptable to all sides in this. But at the moment it doesn’t look as though it will work. What will you do if it just goes though without provision?

Well that is of course the 1000 dollar Question. I don’t know the answer I cannot believe that things will….but I agree with you. It does look very difficult at the moment. Because we don’t want to create a separate church on the one hand which is in danger of doing that….

R.G. It’s a sort of 45th diocese rather than a free Province?

Yes that’d be would be a very nice way of putting it.

R.G. We’ve seen this beautiful vicarage. What period is it?

Oh it’s 1894 –designed by the same person as the church.

R.G. Now various World war analogies have been flying around.; Wallace Benn said he thought we were in January 1939, John Broadhurst said the Church of England is fascist …. Do you believe we are in a war situation?

I think we are in a situation where we have to struggle for survival. I think when you are cornered - human being are after all only human - when you are cornered you do feel very threatened and you’re angry. I get very angry about this issue sometimes. You do say things that are a little bit too forceful.

How many do you think will go to the Ordinariate?

I think at first it will be small; because we’re still not sure what the Ordinairate is or what they are offering. Some people are ready to go; if that’s where people are I have no problem with it, they should go. But there are other people who aren’t ready to go; people like me who still feel there is still something to do in the Church of England, it is business as usual…We need to carry on doing our work. I don’t see the need to go at this particular point. And especially if you are involved in the discussions and the arguments like I am, and in the Synodical Process …I don’t think its helpful just to back out now."

There was a little more about Fr Houlding's parishioners, but above is the gist of the interviews. I am tempted to comment; but I think that is best left to readers of the interview, especially those who know Fr Houlding and heard him trying to commend SSWSH at the 'Sacred Synod'. And now, let's just be happy because we have the details of the Ordinairate for England and Wales, and what we are being offered is more than generous. Laus Deo!

Sunday 14 November 2010

Early One Morning....

So, being not quite retired but not permitted to function as a priest, and having attended a mass last evening, this was to be a morning in. Bliss. Then late yesterday I was asked to do a radio interview. I should have said 'No' at once; but thought it could do no harm, it was only local radio, at an hour when no-one would be listening. So, foolishly, I agreed.

The programme was to go out live at 7am today. I would be rung, and interviewed over the phone. Accordingly, rather than a lie-in I was up betimes, the Office said, ready for Radio Solent. Spot on 7 the phone rang. The young lady was terribly sorry, but there was some breaking news in Portsmouth - alas, the item was chopped. I might have asked what the important news might be, but decided it was better not to know; probably a cat stuck in a tree or a fire in a waste-bin.

It did make me realise how the Church's news which so engrosses us comes way down the list in the world's interests. I thought some of my readers (well, one of the two of you) might enjoy this little joke at my expense.

While I'm on, though, there was a very good letter sent to me which had been intended for publication in New Directions. They must have been pressed for space, since they did not print it. Here in part is what Fr Heans had to say:

I recently came across the following from Newman’s Certain Difficulties Felt By Anglicans in Catholic Teaching (1850). He is addressing his friends who are still hanging on in the C of E:

“I know how it will be… the news that the anticipated blow has fallen, and causa finita est. A pause, and then the discovery that things are not as bad as they seemed… a contested election, or other political struggle, theology mixed with politics… and a sanguine hope entertained of a ministry more favourable to Apostolical truth. My brethren, the National Church has had experience of this, mutatis mutandis, ... before”.

At the risk of being called unkind, I wonder if this rings any bells? Oh, and if you should be in striking distance of Beckenham you would be very welcome at St Barnabas' Church (Oakhill Rd, BR3 6NG) this Wednesday at 7pm where Fr Peter Geldard will be speaking and answering questions on the Ordinariate. Fr Geldard is Catholic Chaplain to the University of Kent in Canterbury, and was at one time Secretary General of the Church Union.

Saturday 13 November 2010

SWISH of the Curtain

Ever since the Society Model was announced, there has been something nagging in the back of my mind about acting. Something on TV maybe? No, now I have it. There was a serialised radio play on the BBC called "The Swish of the Curtain". According to the Beeb, who revived it as recently as 2007, it was an 'astonishing story' ..'Pamela Brown's 1940s tale of stage-struck children who start their own theatre company'. It even gave rise to a Theatre School in Bournemouth - their logo appears above, I hope they are glad of the publicity.

So there we have it: Our Lord spoke about "children in the market place saying 'we piped for you and you would not dance'". Neither John the Baptist nor Our Lord himself could satisfy them. Now there's another little group, a 'society' which wants us all to play their game.

Fr Hunwicke has posted a devastating account of where this Society Model has come from - a product of the dream-world of Chichester. Perhaps, though, there is also about it something of 'The Swish of the Curtain'; stage-struck children, setting up their own company. Of course we wish them well; but I fear it is going to end in tears when the theatre management tells them their little show is not going to appear. It will be patronised for a while by those who would use it to undermine Anglicanorum Coetibus; but it will not be allowed to have any independence, any jurisdiction. Just patronised. Still, children grow up, and eventually they will be looking for a more authentic and enduring company. The longest-running show on earth has an opening for them - the Ordinariate will always be there to welcome them.

Tuesday 9 November 2010

Recycling on a Grand Scale

'The times are too sensitive; just blog about Gardens and Stately Homes'. I always listen to PEVs, so in obedience here is just such a piece: about Highcliffe Castle. I have mentioned it before in a blog, but it is worth revisiting.

After the French Revolution, some great churches (like Cluny) were simply blown up in order to cart away the materials. Equally, some grand houses were just left to rot. This was a great opportunity for English Milords to cash in; and few did it better than Lord Stuart de Rothesay. Starting in 1831 he had many tons of stone shipped over to England from Normandy, chiefly from the Abbey of Jumieges and the Chateau of Les Andelys. His architect, William Donthorne, pieced them together and made a magical palace on the cliffs to the east of Christchurch.

Royals were entertained there, her Ladyship had a parish church built just over the road in the best Anglo-Catholic taste, and for almost a century it was a jewel in the crown of SW Hampshire, rivalling Highclere in the north of the county (as seen on TV as "Donwton Abbey"). The interiors too were reputedly of great splendour, with plasterwork and boiseries, and an amazing window for the entrance hall (taken from a church in Rouen). That hall was dominated by a grand stone staircase.

By the end of the second World War, even the Rothesays could not afford the upkeep. Theirs was a branch of the family which had rebuilt Cardiff Castle, created the folly of Castel Coch, and had as their principal residence Rothesay Castle on the Isle of Bute. Coal and Slate had kept them wealthy, but death duties and the war reduced their state.

In 1949 the contents of Highcliffe were sold, and the house itself became first a children's home, and then a seminary for Claretines. These religious clearly needed to keep their aspirants busy, for they demolished the stone staircase to rebuild it as a path down the cliffs to the sea. The hall thus emptied became their chapel. They did not stay long, the house fell into decay, there were fires which destroyed most of the interiors and eventually, when it was almost too late, Dorset County Council purchased the house and began to restore it (for the County Boundary had shifted, and Highcliffe was no longer in Hants).

The Needles from the Garden Front

Now it is mostly used for exhibitions and 'civil ceremonies' (aka pagan weddings). The great window has survived, though it is set above the main entrance which faces north, so the spectacular fifteenth century glass is never seen with the sun shining through it. Curious, that parts of a once-great Abbey should have come to this. It is still worth a visit - worth a detour, even.

I am attaching a few pictures - the one above is the stone frieze over the garden entrance. Perhaps another blogger from Oxford will render it into an elegant Georgian couplet. I think it's something about how pleasant it is to stand here on dry land and watch as a gale batters shipping onto the Needles .. well, not quite that, but certainly there's a bit of schadenfeude about it. Perhaps it will be a motto for those of us who escape into the Ordinariate while watching the struggles of remaining anglo-catholics from afar. I think not, though; for in reality we shall still sympathise with them, and pray for them, and hope they will not leave it too long before recognising that alia jacta est - or, as someone once said, the game is up.

Monday 8 November 2010


Tomorrow, November 9th, is the seventh Anniversary of the death of the first and greatest of the Canterbury PEVs, John Richards. I still miss his fatherly advice in that gravelly voice down the phone "Now then, Edwin, what you want to do is ...." - and the advice was always right! Pray for the repose of his soul, please; and for his family, and those to whom he ministered. Requiescat.

Sunday 7 November 2010

Lift Up Your Hearts

The Golden Evening Brightens in the West

Somehow I felt we all needed a bitof a lift; so here are some pictures from Exbury .

The Beaulieu River

Today was the last day of its summer season (there will be a few Santa Specials on their lovely little railway before Christmas).

Azalea Praecox

So here are a few pictures showing autumn and encroaching winter; and a promise of spring to come.


Friday 5 November 2010

London Ordinariate : not before Time

I am told that the London clergy are beginning to get their act together regarding the Ordinariate. Accordingly, I am very happy to direct anyone living in the Great Wen to the Ordinariate Watch site at:

Was 'Watch' a deliberate choice of title? Could be confusing.....

Thursday 4 November 2010

A Priest in Every Parish

The Church of England still contends it is just that; the Church for our Nation. Yet where are the priests? Where will they come from in future? I understand there is only a handful of candidates at Mirfield this year, and St Stephen's house is not much better. But should this come as a surprise?

The Church Times recently published statistics about Ordinands. Now I was ordained just fifty years ago, and in that year there were around six hundred new deacons. This year there were 564, so we are doing well, aren't we? No, we are not.

In 1960 the overwhelming majority of new deacons were men under thirty, with a possible forty years of ministry ahead of them. They were almost without exception stipendiary, full-time clergymen. The then archbishop said that if we kept those numbers up, we would just about replace those dying or retiring. This was not in the days of George Herbert and his ideal of the country parson; it is recent history.

In 2009, of the 564 being ordained, only 309 were entering full-time stipendiary ministry. About half of them will have been women, so the number of full-time male deacons ordained is down from 600 to about 160. Well, that's pretty good, isn't it, since we have reduced the parishes by amalgamations.? No, it is not good. Compare the years of service to be expected now with 1960. Most of us then could look forward to forty years in the priesthood. Today, the number of candidates under the age of 30 is only 74. Seventy-four younger full-time priests - half of them female. Small wonder our colleges are struggling. And where will our Anglo-Catholic parishes get their priests?

Of the remaining candidates, the number between 50 and 59 being recommended has risen to 126. Go on a course at 55, complete three years training, and at 58 you are ordained; with, at best, eight or nine years of full-time ministry ahead. When set against years of ministry, it is vastly more expensive for the church to ordain older candidates. It is not many years since no-one would be considered for ordination over the age of forty. Now that is considered young.

This is a vicious spiral; ordain older candidates, and the young will have no model of priesthood to attract them. The Dean of Leicester said she was looking forward to a time when the church of England would be feminised. That is happening very rapidly; but the ministry is also becoming geriatric. Still there seem to be no misgivings at the prospect of young priests leaving the Church of England to join the Ordinariate. "There will be an influx of women to fill the gap". That was said in 1992. It has not happened. For how much longer will the Church of England be able to claim to be a Church of the Nation, with every soul in the care of a Vicar or Rector? Someone has to wake up, and start working, paying and praying for younger ordinands.

Wednesday 3 November 2010

If the Church of England were to fail, it should be found in my parish

Grateful thanks to Fr Michael Gollop in his blog for reminding us of Keble's assertion; and how (although I heard it repeated in different words at a clergy meeting today) it can no longer hold. "It'll see me out until I retire" is not much of a mission statement. No need for me to waste space blogging about this: just a chance to show you a picture from Canterbury, and to refer you to Fr Gollop's piece on his own blogspot or on the Anglo Catholic site. The Canterbury picture is first a reminder that this is the Church of England which HAS failed: and is designed to encourage you to see my account of All Saints Day which I spent in Harbledown, just up the hill from the Mother Church of the Communion. [Also on the Anglo-Catholic site a day or two ago.]

Sunday 31 October 2010

All Saints Galore

St George had borrowed another's shield

We pushed Halloween aside this morning at St Francis' Bournemouth, and celebrated All Saints. Some of the children represented certain of the Company of Heaven; I was introduced to St Sebastian with a tennis racquet - patron saint of Sportmen, I was told - I suppose it was because he became a dartboard for his persecutors. Then we had Francis (of course) with a collection of furry animals, St Vitus (in tutu) as Patron of Dance, and a very regal St Adelaide. I'd had to google her; born 931, daughter of Rudolph of Burgundy, betrothed as a child to Lothair of Provence. When Lothair died, leaving her with a young daughter, she was imprisoned for refusing to marry the son of Beringarius who succeeded Lothair. It is all exciting stuff .. and she is also called Adelheid. But no doubt you knew that already.

We sought for Saints in the Congregation

Then we got down to the business of talking about who is and who is not a saint. The epistle teaches us that we are children of God; and it does not yet appear what we shall be, but when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. So we went through the congregation finding potential saints... since Saints is what we are all called to be. We wondered about John Henry Newman; had be been a Saint all the time? Surely he had; the Church simply reassures us about this when it Beatifies or Canonises its saints. And today is for all the thousands which no one can number, unbeatified, un-named, yet all part of that company which no man can number - the Company of Heaven who share the Bread of Immortality with us, at the Table of the Lord.
Tomorrow it is All Saints again, this time in the approaches to Canterbury... a confirmation at Harbledown.

Monday 25 October 2010

More good news

Outward Bound

Half-term continues; so does the weather, and courtesy of Gran (aka the Flying Buttress) we set off on the Island Princess for a trip to the Needles. What a day for it!

Approaching Hurst Castle

We were afloat for little more than two hours, and on every hand there were wonderful views.
Fort Albert

Seemed a pity not to share them so, though I've no profound thoughts, the scenery should speak for itself.

Western Tip of the Isle of Wight

The Needles from one direction appear just menacing great lumps, from another side you can see just why they were called Needles. They are the result of long-term erosion; once there was a landbridge Westward to southern Dorset.

Taking in the View: the Needles & the Battery

It was a bonus for us that there is a repaircrew at the foot of the Lighthouse, so we could wave to them and also get a better idea of the scale of everything.