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.

Friday 29 January 2010

A wet day in Venice

Recent peregrinations have meant that I've not been painting much lately. Today, though, it was back to the studio, so I thought you should have a chance to mock. There is a wild fauvist version of St Thomas' Lymington (which, unaccountably, our tutor seems to like) done in five minutes at the end of a class; a somewhat severe portrait from a photograph (fortunately I do not know the lady concerned, so am unlikely to be sued) and today's effort, a version of Venice (near the Madonna del'Orto) from a photo I took on our one and only visit to Venice, at Easter last year. Be warned; if you click on some of these you might get an even larger version.

Tuesday 26 January 2010

Bishop's Briefing

Comper Window and Resurrection Plaque, St James' Milton

Today was a cheering occasion for thirty or so priests from Hampshire who met with Bishop Keith to hear his take on the Ordinariate. St James' Milton in the City of Portsmouth was the place. After Mass of Timothy & Titus, we listened to our Bishop and asked him questions for an hour, then had a very good lunch, courtesy of the Vicar's wife, Mrs (Marilyn) Alby.

Bishop Keith reminded us what it was we had always asked for; the capacity to be united with the Western Church not just as individuals, but as a body. That was exactly what we are being offered. Some have misgivings about ordination; but we are not being asked to deny the efficacy of our ministry up to now; simply to accept that the ministry of the Church of England is defective - and it clearly is, with such divisions between us already, divisions which can only deepen if and when women are consecrated as bishops. Being ordained in the Catholic priesthood leaves no shadow of doubt - and this is not just about "validity" (for there are episcopi vagantes whose orders are probably "valid"). Rather it is about Communion - and the catholic movement in the Church of England has always said it looks to Communion with the wider Church.
There are those around who seek to undermine Anglicanorum Coetibus. Commentators have said, for instance, that members of the Ordinariate will only be permitted to celebrate whatever 'Anglican' rite is provided for us. That is not so, and the document itself spells out quite plainly that the Rites of the Latin Church will be available to the Ordinariate as much as to the rest of the Catholic Church.

More damagingly still, some have claimed that the only married men to be ordained will be those already Anglican Priests or Bishops. Not so; the very fact that the documents spell out that there may be exceptions for other married men makes this quite clear.
We asked about buildings; no, there was no certainty whether we could continue to use any of our churches. This would depend on the ecumencial spirit, or otherwise, of the Church of England towards us. Because the churches in which we currently worship would be idfficult to dispose of, it must be at least a possibility that we could have some leasing arrangement which would mean we could continue to use them. If that were not possible, the Roman Catholic authorities would certainly help us find other places of worship.
More than what he said, though, was the great encouragement Bishop Keith gave us by his presence and up-beat assessment of our situation. Finally, he enjoined us to pray, and especially to make February 22 a Day of Prayer, wherever possible in conjunction with our Roman Catholic neighbours. That day was not a deadline for decisions - rather it is a step on the road of discernment, a seeking for God's guidance which must engage us all.

Monday 25 January 2010

The Laity and the Ordinariate

Le Dorat is a wonderful and strange church, just a few miles north of Bellac. The pictures in this post are from there.

There have been some misgivings expressed concerning the place of the Laity in the Ordinariates. I raised this very particularly with Fr Allan Hawkins (see my last blog) and he reassures me in these terms:

"A Pastoral Council exists in every diocese. Its lay president, in the Diocese of Fort Worth, is currently a laymen from my Parish.

However, the Catholic Church is not a democracy, and it does not pretend to be so! The bishops alone, of course, determine matter of faith and morality.

Every parish is required by the 1982 Code of Canon Law (in which, by the way, the rights and duties of the laity are set out with precision and clarity) to have a parochial pastoral council and a parish finance council. These bodies are composed of laity, who care for the temporal and corporate life of the parish and advise the pastor on such things. Some parishes conduct elections, others have ways of reaching discernment as to the identity of these who should serve.
Laity are widely present and influential in a variety of diocesan commissions and departments. And dioceses do, from time to time, call together multi-session synods for particular purposes;and laity are fully involved. "

In view of the aberrations which have sprung from the General Synod of the Church of England, and comparable bodies in other Anglican churches, it comes as a great relief to be assured that the Catholic Church is not a democracy. Majorities in favour of women priests mean nothing when those voting have little understanding or knowledge of the history of the Church, nor of Holy Scripture.

Fr Hawkins is also most reassuring concerning the pastoral way in which he has been treated by Rome. I believe that perhaps in England there will be few of us at the beginning who ask for an Ordinariate; but once it is established and fears allayed, there will be many more asking to join it as time goes on.

Sunday 24 January 2010

Anglican Use in France

No blog for the last few days. We have been in France, staying not far from Limoges in the house of an old friend in Bellac (not as I previously blogged, Beziers!) It is a lovely old hill-top town, on the river Vincou.

Our friend is Fr Allan Hawkins, parish priest of St Mary the Virgin, Arlington, Texas, an Anglican Use Parish in the Roman Catholic Church. He is just one of many in the USA who is very excited at the prospect of the Ordinariate; and it was to get his take on that provision that Jane and I made the pilgrimage to the Limousin last Wednesday.
Of course, we sight-saw - and there are some great sights there. In the parish church of Bellac is this amazing crib (surviving until Candlemas). Press the light switch, and not only does it come to life in glorious technicolor, there is also a lively and surprising rendition of "O Tannenbaum".

Here is Fr Allan's wife, Jose, is the garden of their house - with another great prospect of the Collegiate Church of Bellac. Jose has found herself well accepted by Roman Catholics in Texas and beyond. Their daughter delights in having a photo of her father on her desk, and then getting her friends to puzzle out how she is the daughter of a Catholic priest.

We went to Mass in a neighbouring village, part of
the Bellac benefice whose several churches are all served by the same solo priest. This chaste Romanesque church was well attended last evening for the first Mass of Sunday - the organist is an Englishman who, in his spare time, writes for the Daily Telegraph. Here Fr Allan poses with my wife Jane just before we went in for Mass. Inside the church was another Crib, elbowing the altar into a slightly off-centre position.

Now I should be telling you all about the Anglican-Use view of the Ordinariate; but that will have to wait for another day. Just now, at close to midnight our time and nearly one a.m. French time, I shall break off; and so to bed.