Friday 5 March 2010

May I suggest?

May I suggest you take a look now and again at The Anglo-Catholic? I've had one reader ask if I might repost items here which appear on that other blog, but I hope for now the link to 'The Anglo -Catholic' will be enough. What has astounded me in the week or so that I have been contributing to it is the sheer number of comments in produces. Perhaps I should have steered clear of liturgical matters - I dared suggest that maybe we do not always have to use "Thee" and "Thou" when addressing the Almighty, and it was as though I had shouted an obscenity during an investitute at the Palace. I was just trying to help our former colonial brethren to understand why it is that many of us are rather less wedded to the BCP and its derivatives than they are.

In an inspired moment (as it seemed to me) I realised that they were usually FORBIDDEN to use the old forms, so naturally the Prayer Book became a banner of revolt; whereas here it is THE legal form of worship. If an incumbent and his PCC cannot agree, then the fall-back position is BCP (I suspect not all PCCs know that!) They think using the (American version) of the 1662 book is a symbol of Orthodoxy; we, on the other hand, usually think it is horribly Erastian and un-Catholic. If you want to see the furious responses, have a look at two recent Posts of mine at The Anglo-Catholic called "More Patrimony" and "Patrimonial".
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The illustrations are from the Title Pages of Prayer Books I own; an early 18th C copy of 1662, the deposited book of 1927, and the pseudo-Baroque frontispiece from the Anglican Use Catholic Book of Divine Worship of 2003. The Angels at the top look suspiciously like cribs from Durer, the rest I think is pastiche. But maybe you know better?

Wednesday 3 March 2010

Nearly a Saint

Fr Hunwicke has been digging up some of his predecessors, so I am encouraged to do the same. A Vicar of Hessle a few years before me (just over four hundred, indeed) was one James Cockerell. He was a Canon Regular of the Priory of Lilleshall. That Priory had the living of Hessle in its gift, and generally seems to have supplied Vicars from its own community. Despite major Victorian alterations, there are still traces of an upper room above the present Lady Chapel (and former Sacristy) where the visiting Canons would have stayed while in residence. After his time in Hessle, James Cockerell returned to Lilleshall as Prior; and it was from there that he joined the ill-fated Pilgrimage of Grace in 1537.

He was among the many who were hanged, drawn and quartered for taking part in the uprising. A year later Lilleshall was sold to one of Henry VIII's friends, the buildings began to be demolished and the materials sold, the lead and stone carted away. James Cockerell might have been canonised, but because his motives were thought to have been mixed - after all, saving his Priory was a financial as well as a spiritual matter - he is not named among the martyrs. For all that, I hope he is getting some satisfaction in Purgatory or indeed Heaven, from seeing that some of the depradations of those days might be reversed through the provisions of the Ordinariate!

The Vicarage of Hessle is in the gift of the Lord Chancellor. At the Reformation, those churches in monastic hands above a certain value (I think it was £300 p.a.) were taken into the care of the Crown, those of lesser value fell to the Lord Chancellor. Today both offices work together from 10 Downing Street. The C of E plc stripped all its livings of their endowments in the last Century. Hessle had become a plum living by then; and the Incumbent in office a little after the second world war still employed six living-in servants, besides gardeners and other outdoor workers. It was not like that by the time I went there.

Sunday 28 February 2010

Over the border

The Dorset border is only ten miles west of us in Lymington; it used to be much further away, until Bournemouth was transferred from Hampshire to Dorset. Broadstone where I was confirming this morning has always been in Dorest, though, and therefore it is in the Diocese of Salisbury. The Bishop, soon to retire, kindly gave permission to the parish priest to invite me. Fr Martin Fredriksen SSC is an old friend, so off we went through the rain at crack of dawn to St John the Evangelist Broadstone - twenty five miles through the hinterland of Bournemouth .

Five lovely candidates, aged from 12 to something over 80; pictures of them all in church, and some of them with friends and relations, decorate this Post.

I had expected the Transfiguration Gospel, but I'd forgotten that Common Worship is a bit erratic when it comes to Lections. So instead I prepared a homily - more a little chat really - on the Epistle, and that appears below.

Our Citizenship is in heaven Phil. 3.20

Where do you come from? Oh, we drove over from Lymington this morning. No, where do you really come from? Well, I was born in Dorset – Dorset proper, not the bit they added on with Bournemouth. But I don’t really come from here; just as I’m pretty sure from his voice that the reader of the first lesson comes from nearer to Birmingham than Bournemouth? Being born in the County was not a matter of choice, rather it was only by chance I was born in Weymouth. My father was serving in the Navy and was based in Portland, so mother came down to Weymouth and, a month earlier than expected, I appeared. And we lived in Dorest for just three weeks. Sorry! For many of you here, if you have not moved around much in your life, the answer to where you come from is probably “Broadstone” - though I know some of you might say “Reading”. So maybe the question should be “Where do you belong?” Then you might all say “Broadstone”.

When Jesus was born, he too happened to be born somewhere which was not to be his hometown. Nazareth was where he grew up, where I suppose he’d have said he belonged; but he came from Bethlehem, where his parents were for the census. So for Jesus, and for some of us too I daresay, the answer to “Where do you come from?” and “Where do you belong?” can be two different places.

We might give many answers we give to questions like “Where do you come from?” or “Where do you belong?” or “Where do you live?” or “Where’s your home”. And when we have answered all those, we still have more to say. They are going to take a census in Britain soon, and then there will be questions about citizenship. Usually, but not always, you are a citizen of the country you were born in. For most of us, the answer on the census form will be “British”… and even that is not the end of the matter.

St Paul said it in the epistle this morning, in the sentence I started with: “Our citizenship”, he says, “Is in Heaven”. In the end, for all of us, that is where we truly belong. It is why we try to keep Lent properly – to remind us that the things we enjoy on earth must not rule us. We must be ready to give them up, because in the end, we are not made for the earth. St Paul spoke about those who are enemies of Christ: they make a god of their bellies, and all their thoughts are focussed on earthly things, like money and food and what people think of them. If we let our bodies rule us, they will ruin us. But we are to rule our bodies, control our appetites, live as what we are - not beasts, but citizens of heaven. That is what we were made for, to be transformed: Jesus, says S Paul, will transform the body of our humiliation, and make it just like his glorious body.

What we are doing today, in Confirmation, is to join with the five candidates, Jo and Sheila, Angela, Phoebe and Louise, and present them and ourselves to Our Lord Jesus and say “Here we are, Lord: we belong to you; we want to be citizens of heaven”. It is lovely to have such a range of candidates – it reminds us that no one is ever too old, or too young, to be a citizen of heaven. That is why we baptize babies, and all of us start our citizenship of heaven when we are baptized. We remember that when we go to the font in a short while. As citizens of heaven, we are part of a Royal Priesthood; and just as kings and priests are anointed, so will these candidates be.

The Holy Oil marks us out, and through confirmation we are admitted to the fellowship of heaven, to the company of angels and archangels and all the saints. So the high-point of this service for the candidates is when you receive Holy Communion – and all of us who are members of God’s Church can join with them in receiving the Bread of Life and the Wine of Salvation, the body and blood of Christ. You’ll see in the service book that if you are not receiving Holy Communion, that is if you are not baptized and do not usually receive Communion in this or some other Christian Church, you are still very welcome to come to the altar to receive a blessing.

So now, I hope we all know that we are engaged in a very solemn and important time together: let’s be silent for a few minutes as the candidates come out to be presented.