Friday 28 December 2012

The Poisoned Chalice

These days after Christmas are some of the best - Stephen the first Martyr, John the beloved disciple, and the Holy Innocents. I've a special devotion to all three; Holy Innocents in South Norwood is where I was Baptized (how appropriate, you might say) - Stephen is the Patron of our Seminary in Oxford where I was Principal for eight years, and John is Patron of my first parish in Farncombe. So on St John's Day I celebrated in Our Lady of Lourdes, New Milton, together with the latest member of the Pastoral team in Lymington, Fr Marcin Drabik, who is a Polish priest.
He told us about the custom in Poland on St John's Day of blessing cups of wine after Mass, in memory of John, who drank unharmed from a poisoned chalice because first he had blessed it. Hence that strange attribute of John the Evangleist, the chalice with a serpent emerging from it. The faithful in New Milton have taken Fr Marcin to their hearts, and are delighted to have a man ministering to them under the age of forty (or even under the age of seventy, come to that!) They were very pleased to drink the blessed wine - and I was reminded of the Orthodox custom of blessing bread after Mass for all to share.  Now we can look forward to more Polish customs through 2013 - which I pray may be a very blessed and happy new year for all who read this blog.

Friday 21 December 2012

The Patrimony of Preaching

Now this was a very welcome Christmas present; a volume of thoughts and meditations by the leader of the Ordinariate Group in Shrewsbury. I have known Fr David Mawson for many years, and this is a revised version of a companion to the three-year lectionary which he first produced as an Anglican. Long pastoral experience in parishes, prisons and hospitals ensures a welcome common touch to Fr David's writings. He is also experienced in spiritual direction and accompaniment as a Benedictine Oblate. The version of the Bible on which it is based is the Revised Standard Version (Catholic Edition) which the English  Ordinariatec uses in much of its worship.

I don't generally use this blog for Book Reviews, but I do commend this very warmly. It is published by Jaquedaw*, and no doubt obtaineable from all good Booksellers (and even from the bad ones which do not pay their Corporation Tax) by quoting the ISBN number 078-0-9565118-5-0

* Jaquedaw 17 Steepside, SHREWSBURY, SY3 6DS

Saturday 15 December 2012

Now here IS a Bishop

There has been criticism in some places of Bishops who do not 'give a lead' on major issues such as the undermining of Marriage. Well, here in Portsmouth we have a Bishop who is ready, and able, to take on the liberal ascendancy - not least that part of it which calls itself "Conservative". In case you missed it, here is what Bishop Philip Egan has written:

David Cameron has said that he is an enthusiastic supporter of marriage and that he does not want "gay people to be excluded from a great institution." Yet however well-intentioned, and despite huge opposition from Christians, Jews and Muslims alike, by attempting to change the natural meaning of marriage, he seems utterly determined to undermine one of the key foundations of our society. Such a change is of immense significance. By this change, he is luring the people of England away from their common Christian values and Christian patrimony, and forcing upon us a brave new world, artificially engineered. To "extend marriage to gay people", he intends to impose the will of a tiny minority on the vast majority. If the Prime Minister proceeds with these intentions, he will pervert authentic family values, with catastrophic consequences for the well-being and behaviour of future generations. He will smother the traditional Christian ethos of our society and strangle the religious freedom of the Catholic Church in Britain to conduct its mission. I would like to ask Mr. Cameron: What about the rights of Christians? Will you exempt the Church, its preachers, resources and premises, from having to support your harmful ideology? Will Catholic schools, societies and institutions be free (and legally safeguarded) to teach the full truth of Christ and the real meaning of life and love? The institution of marriage has had its ups and downs, but will we ever forget that it was the leader of the Conservative Party who finally destroyed marriage as a lasting, loving and life-giving union between a man and a woman?

Monday 3 December 2012

Advent: second blast

We have been able to send the collection from the Advent service (£124) to "Crisis at Christmas" which helps the homeless at this season. We have a couple more pictures taken by Brian Harrison, who also designed and printed the programme, so here they are for your entertainment.

Entrance Procession

Fr Brian Copus was one of the Readers:

And during the singing of Magnificat the altar was censed:

We could have done with a few more singers, but did pretty well with our limited resources
- or so others have told us. I doubt though if we shall be tackling The Messiah any time soon.

Sunday 2 December 2012

Advent with a bang

So we are underway; for the first time our little Group in Southbourne hosted an event for the whole Pastoral Area of Avon/Stour. The parishes responded splendidly. Our own parish priest, Fr Gerry, joined in the procession and gave the Blessing. There were singers, servers and readers from all over the area - including some friends who are still in the Church of England. Best of all, it was a really holy occasion, a good beginning for the keeping of Advent.

Everyone had woked very hard to prepare the Church. The central altar was removed, and a frontal found for the High Altar. There were candles everywhere, and every bit of brass had been polished within an inch of its life.

Our organist had worked hard with a handful of singers, some from our Group, others friends from neighbouring churches. The result was far better than we had dared expect. Afterwards visiting Catholics from other Churches expressed their appreciation; but some said that they had known none of the hymns. I fancy we have a good deal of gentle teaching to do - "Come, thou long-expected Jesus", "O Come, O Come Emmanuel","On Jordan's bank the Baptist's cry"... these are surely part of the Patrimony which we must be eager to share.

Indeed, the whole format of readings and hymnody came as a surprise to many - but we hope a pleasant one. Others said it took them back to their former days in the Church of England. For me it was an example of the Ordinariate seeking to bring out of its treasures "things new and old" for the benefit of the whole Catholic Church. We had printed a hundred service sheets - they ran out and our sidesmen were dashing about getting people to share... altogether a happy and holy occasion, a little contribution to the Year of Faith - with maybe an element of evangelisation within it.


Saturday 1 December 2012

Out with the old...

Just beginning to get accustomed to the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham as Advent begins. Some of its contents are a bit counter-intuitive; Collects take a bit of finding, and there are separate instructions in every part of the book, so that remembering just where specifically Ordinariate saints find themselves, and whether they have a non-Biblical reading to accompany them, leaves me sympathising with the Reformers who said that finding the piece to read often took longer than reading it once found; but we will get there, no doubt.

So if you are getting a little frustrated or out of sorts with all the things needing to be done before Christmas, maybe a picture or two will help. I find the sea, whether stormy or calm, is a great help; reminds me that the tides go rolling on as they have done for millenia. Gives a sort of Advent perspective to everything - sub specie aeternitatis, you might say. Happy Advent!

Tuesday 20 November 2012

A recommendation

Scott Anderson, who will be known to many readers of this blog, has now joined the worshipful company of bloggers: you can find him at
  I tried simply adding him to my list of blogs but for some reason my blogspot is playing up; so, at all  events, do make a note of his blog if you'd like to keep an eye on him.
Oh, and while you are about it, do spare a prayer for friends at present in the C of E.

Saturday 10 November 2012

To see ourselves as others see us...

The beautiful church of St Patrick, Soho Square, gave hospitality to the Ordinariate this week.  It provided the venue for a conference looking at how we might engage with the new evangelization.

The Communications director giving directions

We had hoped to have Fr Allan Hawkins from Arlington, Texas, with us - alas, he had a nasty accident on a Metro escalator in Paris and was unable to be present; but at very short notice Fr Aidan Nichols OP spoke to us - as our Ordinary called him, 'the silver lining in the cloud of Fr Allan's indisposition'.

                                                                Eighty participants begin to settle down

He spoke about the current situation of Christians, and specifically the Catholic Church, in England. He perceived a gap, and reckoned that this was a gap which the Ordinariate was well equipped to fill. Although numbers attending Mass had held up, this was largely thanks  to immigration. The numbers of native born Catholics  had been declining, and former Anglo-Catholics continued to embody the 'natural form' of English Spirituality.

Fr Nicholls attends to a questioner

The Lineamenta of the recent Synod of Bishops had pointed to the need for the Spiritual  Care of worshipping Catholics,  for mission activity towards non Catholics,  and a New Evangelization towards post-Christians.
The Ordinariate, unlike any other Catholics, were equipped because of their history to fill the gap in the "long narrative of Albion". We came from that 'sporadic resurgence of catholicism' which was apparent throughout the history of the Church of England since the Reformation.  We had the advantage of not having experienced the disagreements in the Catholic Church which followed Vatican II. We were capable of being both entirely Orthodox in Faith, but ready to look at new methods of evangelizing. We should seek modern means communication to counter the assumptions of modernity in our day - as, in his time, T.S. Eliot had done. Fr Aidan perceived that we had a head-start over many Catholics in regard to Catechesis; our people had had to learn the faith to defend it against others in the Church of England

Attending to the inner man (and woman)

After a  lively question session, St Patrick's laid on a substantial lunch for us, then we were back in our seats for Part II,  

Washing up?
Fr Paul Richardson gave us four models of today's church. The first took account of secularisation to  explain where we were; and from this perspective the outlook was grim (despite the success of some Evangelicals in reaching the young.  The second model looked at New Forms of Spirituality; Christianity was not dying, but changing - so  the widespread interest in life after death &c the paranormal  - and a diminishing trust in science. But, asked Fr Paul, did this really stand up? Certainly  it had to do with the individualism and therapeutic mindset of today; but could a person be called 'spiritual' simply becaus he favoured alternative medicine?

Fr Richardson amends his text

The third picture was of believing without belonging - a notion favoured by Grace Davey of Exeter University. That was to treat the Church like a Public Unitlity, there when you wanted it. But we have to pay our Utility bills; and increasingly many see no need to support any Church.

Finally, there was the element of Church Growth; immigration had a great deal to do with this, and there are half a million people who belong to Black Majority Churches in this country. Holy Trinity Brompton had reached out to the affluent young in London. Catholics are doing well among ethnic communities; though insisted Fr Paul, there are other growth areas within the Catholic Church.
He listed too such innovations asCafe Church, Messy Church and so on; and commented on the numbers who vist Cathedrals, not just as tourists but certainly as pilgrims.

He told us we must teach the basics of the faith, which are non-negotiable; but we must deal with and use the importance of experience; and here he saw links between some modern evangelical spirituality, and Ignatian spirituality.  The Church of England, despite its apparent diversity of worship, had never been able to include men like Wesley or Newman. They didnot fit the Anglican mould. The Catholic Church was far more genuinely diverse, with its different rites, its different styles of worship, it various Religous Orders: and now the Ordinariate was herfe to add to the mix.

Fr Elliott Smith contributing to the Patrimony of Music

After another Q&A session, a lovely Mass celebrated (from the Book of Divine Worship) by our Ordinary. The Preacher was the Parish Priest of St Patrick's, Fr Alexander Sherbrooke, who gave us great encouragement. As Mgr Keith said, it is only Catholics who are NOT in the Ordinariate who can tell us what is our Patrimony; try  to do  it  ouurselves, and it sounds like boasting. The three who addressed us today all gave us great encouragement to work away as leaven or salt, and to do so with  patience.

Sunday 28 October 2012

The Noisy Minority

Hugo Rifkind is described (in this week's Spectator) as "a writer for the Times", so we know he is usually best ignored. His pompous piece in the Spectator, though, makes him appear like a self-confident leader writer for the Thunderer of old - except that in those days someone would have checked his grammar. "People .. who want to antagonistically get married &c". Tut, tut.

But it is not his grammar which needs correcting so much as his assumptions. He writes for a very noisy minority. We have a duty to get the voices of the less noisy (even silent) majority heard whenever possible. What follows I have sent to the Editor, but I have little hope of its appearing in the Speccy, so here it is for you, my select readership.

'Hugo Rifkind has written that “Gay Marriage is going to happen, and that’s a fact”. Then he says that civil gay marriage will not inevitably lead to churches being forced to conduct gay marriages – “There surely cannot be many people, gay or otherwise, who want to antagonistically get married in a place that really doesn’t want them.” Where does Hugo Rifkind get his news? Has he not read about the boarding house owners who were plagued with gay couples determined to make them toe the PC line? Once the State admits to gay marriage, the pressure will immediately be on the churches to follow suit – most especially the Church of England as the Established Church, but after them all the rest of us..


He asserts that the only real argument against gay marriage is the Christian one; and since I am a Christian that means he can safely ignore anything I write. But perhaps part of the reason I am a Christian is because the Church’s stand on gay issues [as also on abortion on demand and assisted suicide on demand] seems to me entirely consonant with being human. He might not have noticed, but historically Humanism began in the Christian world.


Gay couples can already have a Civil Union, with all the benefits which accrue to married couples. Why do they want to hijack the language of Marriage? (though in fact many of them do not). A union between two women or two men may be the equivalent of marriage; but it is not the same. “I am in favour of gay marriage even if gays aren’t” he writes. There is generosity of spirit for you! What Mr Rifkind believes, everyone must believe.


I suppose any argument from design carries no weight with him; but in case he has not noticed, the union between a woman and a man can result in procreation, the union (however achieved) between same-sex couples cannot. It is the first reason for marriage, God given as many of us would say. Which is why the language of marriage  - husband and wife, father and mother - must be protected. Or does he want us to go down the route of Brighton City Council and forbid us to say or write "father and mother"? Try as he may, he is the one who is going to fail in the end, by ignoring human nature.'

Wednesday 24 October 2012

In Newman's Steps

For its second annual colloquium, the Confederation of Catholic Clergy met again at the Oratory School in Reading. This time our numbers had more or less doubled - about a hundred participants - and again there was significant participation by members of the Ordinariate. Indeed, our Ordinary, Mgr Keith Newton, preached at one of the Masses.

In the picture above he is talking to Archbishop Augustine di Noia, and one of the organisers of CCC in England, Fr Peter Edwards. We listened to some outstanding speakers. Bishop Philip Egan, fresh from his Ordination to the See of Portsmouth, set us off with a stirring address at the first Mass of our two days together. Then Fr Uwe Michael Lang spoke on twenty years after Sacrosanctum Concilium, and gave us pointers towards a new liturgical movement; a movement in which he asserted that the words spoken were important - but not as important as the way in which they were said, the whole conduct of the Mass. For me that was particularly encouraging (see the comments on the previous blog posting).

We were encouraged to take vocations seriously, by Fr Stephen Langridge; many are aware of a call, but that needs to be endorsed by others. It was for us, and the faithful, to ask "Have you thought about the priesthood - the religious life?" ... and then to follow it up with further questions. We should not leave it to the experts.

Archbishop di Noia is a Dominican, and I had been asked to convey greetings to him from our Dominican Sisters in Sway, which I duly did, and he responded warmly. His address on the new evengelization was for me one of the highlights of the Colloquium. He is a great catch for CCC, having only this summer been appointed to the post of vice president of the Pontifical Commission 'Ecclesia Dei, with the task of reconciling traditionalist groups to the Holy See.

The concluding address was by the Revd Dr Andrew Pinsent of the Oxford Theology Faculty on Science, Grace and Catholic Enlightenment. It was good to see him reclaiming Enlightenment for the Church, instead of allowing the 18th Century Encyclopedists, Diderot and his gang, to claim the title for themselves. He gave us so much in a very sort space of time, and it would be good to be able to peruse Fr Pincesnt's ideas at leisure. Finally Bishop Geoffrey Jarratt of the diocese of Lismore in Australia brought us greetings from our antipodean brethren - who were the originators of the Confederation, and inspired those who began the English branch just a couple of years ago.

Central to everything during the Colloquim was worship. Here the altar is being prepared by another member of the Ordinariate whom some may recognise.


This was a great time for meeting old friends - Fr Dennis Lloyd who was Principal at Mirfield at the time when I was doing a similar job at St Stephen's House - Fr Peter Newsam, who has grown a beard since his student days, so that I did not recognise him at first - and a time too for making many new friends from all parts of England. For all of us, the beautiful liturgies and the times of silence before the Blessed Sacrament were a great refreshment, balancing the fellowship and the lectures - all together contributing to the aims of CCC, Fraternity, Fidelity and Formation. We are all deeply indebted to the handful of priests who organised these two days together, and look forward to future events. If you want to find out more, go to the CCC Website


Saturday 20 October 2012

Towards a Pastoral Council

Mgr Keith Newton summoned representatives of the Ordinariate Groups to a meeting in Oxford. The notice was fairly short, so it was good that so many of our Groups were represented at today's event, each of them sending a lay person with the Group's Pastor. We celebrated Mass in the Catholic Chaplaincy of the University (shades of Mgr Ronnie Knox, to say nothing of Brideshead...) and the rest of the morning was given over to an address by Mgr Keith Barltrop.

Two Mgri Keith, Barltrop of St Mary Bayswater and Newton of nfa.

He spoke about the Year of Faith and the New Evangelisation, with special reference to the Ordinariate. He told us how it was Pope John Paul II who had listed what was to be new in the New Evanglisation. It was not a replacement for what the Parish Clergy and others were already doing.. And long before he came into office our present Pope had reminded us that the Church has always evangelised, without interruption, from the very outset; in celebrating the Holy Mysteries day by day, in the exercise of charity. "Light and warmth radiate from this permanent evangelisation" said Cardinal Ratzinger. The New Evangelisation though adds to these older methods, in an attempt to reach "the larger part of present society which does not find access through permament classic evangelisation". Mgr Barltrop spoke warmly, among other new initiatives, of the Jerusalem Communities in France and Italy which attracted so many of the younger generation.

Getting ready for our second session

Then he proposed three avenues for the Ordinariate to consider:
1.  Go back to the early church; see the virtues of smallness - 'Don't be afraid, little flock'.
2.  Look to your Anglican roots; see how the Church of England has been in touch with the culture.
3.  Remember the Marian dimension: Walsingham should become increasingly important for us.

This led to a lively Q&A session, before we broke up for our picnic lunch.

After Lunch Mgr Keith Newton spoke about the future (some of the American Ordinariate parishes are large; but they have taken thirty years from starting as Anglican Use Catholics to reach their present size; we need patience).

Our three wise Monsignori, (l to r)  Burnham, Newton and Broadhurst

Mgr John Broadhurst helped us consider our finances (we had been more generous givers as Anglicans than we were now: we must recover that part of our Patrimony). Mgr Andrew Burnham brought the welcome news that our Customary is now published (and he told us how we might use some of its material alongside our present Office Books).

Representatives from the Southwest in a Group Discussion

For once dividing into groups proved a helpful next step; our four Groups in the Portsmouth Diocese, for instance, were joined with others from the midwest (Bath and Bristol) and the Southwest
(Plymouoth, Buckfast, Torbay &c) together with some from the South Midlands (though Reading is already well known to us being in the same diocese as us). We shared our experiences, good and not so good, and looked forward to what might help in future.

The Isle of Wight makes a telling point

Finally, we twisted a few arms to ensure that there would be good lay representation on the Council of the Ordinariate - something which for Diocesan Catholics was permitted, but for us was mandatory. Altogether a very positive and up-beat day, and (as Michelin has it) "vaut le voyage" .. well worth it, in fact.

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Getting to know you....

Today Bishop Philip Egan began his tour of the Pastoral Areas of Portsmouth diocese. He started in the far west, with Bournemouth and Avon/Stour. Very kindly, he is including priests of the Ordinariate, so today Fr Brian Copus and I were invited because our Group meets in Southbourne.

Bishop Philip with our Host Fr Bruce Barnes

We began with half an hour before the Blessed Sacrament, in the Church of the Sacred Heart, Bournemouth. Then into the palatial Presbytery, where Fr Bruce had laid on tea and coffee and cake.

Fr Brian Copus coffee cup in hand, among the brethren.

Bishop Philip started by removing some of the more extravagant press accounts of what he is like; he is not intent on putting the clock back to 1952. Rather he is intending the be like the householder commended in the Gospel for bringing out of his treasures "things new and old". He went on the say that his first concern was with his clergy, priests and deacons. This is why between now and Christmas he is intent on getting round the whole of the pastoral areas (and they stretch North as far as cis-Isis Oxford and as far South as the Channel Islands). Besides this he is making time for individual meetings with each of the clergy.

And it really was tea or coffee...

Then he gave us a parable, which certainly spoke to me. He had seen salmon leaping to clear great obstacles in a river, making their way up to the place where they originally came from. All of us know where we belong; our home is in heaven, and our life is a matter of making our way there - our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Him. But swimming against the current is not an easy matter, and increasingly the Church finds herself having to be counter-cultural.

Answering a tricky question

That picture I think will inform the prayers and thoughts of many who heard him, during this Year of Faith. After a time for questions and comments we said the Angelus together. On the way home in the car four of us were agreed that he had made a great beginning, and we look forward to being his co-workers in the years to come.

Thursday 11 October 2012

Bankers? Bonkers

I wasted two hours of my life today. My credit card statement included an interest payment of over £3 because the bank asserted I had not paid £20 off my bill last month. But I had set up a standing order to ensure this money was paid regularly. So I phoned.  Have you tried phoning your bank? After endless options (if you are enquiring about a mortgage, press one, if you are wanting a loan for less then three days, press two.... if you are tired of living, press seventeen ... and so on). They asked questions like what was my mother's sister's aunt's maiden name, the first name of our deceased pet dog, my inside leg measurement (in millimetres). After all that, I spoke to a human being; a very pleasant sounding Scots human being.  She wanted to know what was the credit card payment I had made on Thursday fortnight. Because I could not tell her, there was nothing more she could do for me.

So I got into the car and drove my still Vertiginous self into town. In the Bank the Information and Help desk was unmanned.  There were people waiting to see an advisor, but no-one was in the front office. So I joined the queue at the clerks' desks. The young lady was very solicitous; she called a colleague over. The matter could not be resolved there. I would need to speak to someone who could phone someone else to discover what the problem was. So I went to wait in the outer office. Eventually a more senior lady came out; she rang and waited and eventually, yes, a human being on the end of the phone, who was handed over to me and assured me that, yes, they had made a mistake, the twenty pounds should have been taken from my account to cover the Credit Card debt, and the charge would be waived.

Success! And after only two hours of phoning and waiting and driving, I have recovered a little over three pounds sterling which was mine all along. The bank concerned is Lloyds TSB, but I have no doubt the same might have been true elsewhere. I have banked with Lloyds since I was in the Air Force, during my National Service.... so it is a long while. Part of the bank is to be taken over by the Co-operative Bank; I did suggest that things might be better then, but the clerk told me that our branch is to remain Lloyds TSB and in any case the situation would be no better because the difficulty is shortage of staff.  That is why you have to go through the multiple choice exam of button-pressing rather than being able to phone your branch; because there are not enough people to answer the phone. You waste you time rather than theirs. Yet if you could ring to make an appointment everyone's time might be saved. Too simple, obviously.

This is an organisation whose bosses have, notoriously, been paid vast bonuses. Each year the profits of these organisations rise. Yet in a time of unemployment the banks save money by cutting staff in the branches, so infuriating their once loyal customers.  What a mad world we are in.

Wednesday 3 October 2012

The Beauty of Holiness

“The Sacred Liturgy is at the centre of the new evangelization,” said the Bishop of Frejus-Toulon in announcing an international conference on the Sacred Liturgy next summer. So as this year of faith begins our little Ordinariate Group in Bournemouth is trying to do something about bringing with us into the Catholic Church an Anglican emphasis on the beauty of holiness. Almost the first thing we did on arrival at Our Lady Queen of Peace was to acquire (through good Church of England friends in Southampton) copies of English Hymnal.

That book has come as a revelation to some of the long-time Catholics who join us at Mass now and again. "But there are hymns by St Thomas Aquinas! And Blessed John Henry Newman! And G.K. Chesterton ... how wonderful!".

We also have the advantage of a first-class organist, and some parts of his Mass setting (the Dorset Mass) were sung at the Ordination of our two latest Ordinariate priests in Portsmouth diocese. We have cantors, and full-throated congregational singing. What we lack, though, is a worthy instrument for our organist to play; the parish's keyboard has been fine when all it had to do was accompany "Deep within my heart I know Jesus loves me" or "Colours of Day" but strangely those do not appear in English Hymnal.

So this Sunday we are having a newcomer in our midst; a three-manual electronic organ (picture above) on loan. This is the instrument which our little music committe has looked at and decided it would be the best answer to our needs, without being hugely extravagant. So far we have raised a couple of thousand pounds towards it - and this without undermining our giving to the Ordinariate. The Parish is very interested in finding ways of helping, and together we shall attempt to raise the money to enable us to have such an instrument installed in the gallery of Our Lady Queen of Peace, to be used by Parish and Ordinariate.

We believe firmly that music can be a part of our major task of evangelization. So if you, dear reader, know someone who has a few thousand pounds (or even a few pounds) burning a hole in his or her wallet, do put them in touch....

Monday 1 October 2012

At least the Sun Shone

Our second priest was Ordained on Saturday 22nd; so on Monday 24th I was off on holiday with my wife to Dubrovnik. On the first full day there we went into the Old City and saw some of the sights; this is the Jesuit Church in the old City.

and that, alas, was that. Our second day was spent at the Hospital, where a local Doctor sent me since I could barely stand upright. They thought it was my heart - glad to say it wasn't. On returning home today after an expensive week staring mostly at the walls of the hotel bedroom I saw our GP. He assures me it is Virus Vertigo, and will gradually go away, though it might take a few weeks to disappear entirely.

Thought you might enjoy  a couple of views near our hotel - I managed to stagger as far as the beach last evening, and even fell (quite literally - but prepared for it) into the hotel pool.

I think Croatia could be a good place for a holiday.

Monday 17 September 2012

Which Church? Which Rite?

They think they have located Richard III's mortal remains under a Leicester car-park. So here is what is proposed: 'The Dean of Leicester, the Very Revd Vivienne Faull, said that the cathedral had worked "very closely" with Leicester City Council and the University of Leicester on the search for Richard III's remains. (she said:) "If the identity of the remains is confirmed, Leicester Cathedral will continue to work with the royal household, and with the Richard III Society, to ensure that his remains are treated with dignity and respect, and are reburied with the appropriate rites and ceremonies of the Church."'
Now the only Rites and Ceremonies known to the last Plantaganet king were those of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. So are these the rites Dean Faull envisages? And is that the Church which she expects to conduct the re-interment? I only ask, seeking as ever to be helpful.

Saturday 15 September 2012

Our Lady of Sorrows

Mgr Keith Newton, our Ordinary, preached very movingly and simply on the Sorrows of Mary on the Ordinariate's pilgrimage day in Walsingham (r. the Slipper Chapel, part of the Catholic Shrine). For all that, the keynote seemed to be one of joy. Such a brilliant sunny day (compensation for last year's deluge); a great turnout of the faithful (some had to stand throughout the Mass for lack of room); some forty concelebrating ordinariate priests. We had a great deal to be thankful for.

Jane (rt) with Daloni and Michael Peel

So after our 450 mile two-day round trip, I thought I should post at least a few pictures for those of you unable to be present. It was only through the kindness of our old friends Dr Michael Peel and his wife Daloni (formerly i/c the College of St Barnabas) that we were able to break the journey with an overnight stop at their home in Suffolk.

Mgr Keith greeting members of the congregation after Mass.

Fr Aquilina from Sevenoaks with Mgr Broadhurst
Settling down for a picnic - some of our Bournemouth Group in the forefront

A merry post-prandial trio of priests

a South London seminar sur l'herbe.

and a pair of Ellises comparing notes

Bishop Lindsay Urwin welcomes us to the Anglican Shrine where he is the Administrator

Monday 10 September 2012

There's none so deaf as those who won't hear

We are getting ready for the Ordination of two new priests in twelve days' time, so no opportunity for new blog thoughts. Instead, you might like to argue with this, Sunday's sermon -

'He even makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak'

It was because of the Paralympics that the Sunday programme was discussing the Bible’s attitude to disability. Once again, the BBC was parading its so-called liberal attitude; which less kindly we might call its unfailing Political Correctness. So we had a blind theologian complaining that the image the Bible gives of disability is often very negative. It uses ‘blindness’ as the equivalent of stupidity, because Jesus tells the Pharisees that they are blind fools. Much better, said the unsighted theologian, to have called them stupid fools. So just imagine the outcry from the community of the congenitally stupid. The blind professor said his blindness was none of his fault; but then neither is stupidity or foolishness. There was even a suggestion in the programme that by healing the blind or the leper Jesus was altering people’s situation for the worse. Much as you will be told that Christian Missionaries in the 19th Century should not have preached the gospel to head-hunters or cannibals because that was their culture.

Well it’s a great deal of nonsense, of course. Blindness is a dreadful affliction, and if we can cure it we should; but so often Jesus contrasts the physical disability of a person with its far worse spiritual equivalent. When he healed the man born blind, the Pharisees wanted to pretend it had not happened; they wanted to shut their eyes (I suppose that is not an offensive image) they wanted to shut their eyes to the truth. They did not want to acknowledge what was plain for all to see; that a man born blind had been cured.

So in today’s Gospel it is deafness, the inability to hear, which is Jesus’ concern. He does not blame the deaf man for his disability; but if he wants to be cured, then he can be. A far greater concern for us should be why some people are cured as a result of prayer, and some are not. A great friend of mine, a loyal trusting Christian, had a cancer which the doctors told him was terminal. He was sure he would be cured; and he was not. So why did God make this, or let this, happen? Come to that, why does he not cure everyone? And why in his own lifetime did Jesus not cure all who came to him? “Because of their unbelief” says one of the gospel writers – and certainly Jesus values a person’s faith, and often tells them that is their faith which has made them whole.

It is a very mysterious business, sickness, and disability, and healing. A young disabled boy in a class my wife taught said “If Jesus was here I would not be like this”. That boy died long ago. But if we believe the Gospels at all, then we must know that the Lord was concerned about him then, and still is. Surely that sort of faith is not ignored by God. On the contrary, when to his surprise the boy, after his death, found himself in the presence of Jesus, he will surely have been told that it was his faith which had brought him there.

He has done all things well, they said: he has made the deaf hear and the dumb speak. But far more importantly, he has given sight to the spiritually blind, and hearing to the morally deaf. These are the things that really concern the Lord about us, and they should concern us too. If only the Pharisees had admitted their own blindness; but they did not, and so they were condemned.
That same discussion on the Sunday programme tried to link disability with sin. Jesus said to the paralytic “Your sins are forgiven you”. This caused anger – ‘who can forgive sin but God only?’ they asked. So Jesus said, ‘Which is easier, to say your sins are forgiven, or to say take up your bed and walk; but that you may know that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sin (he said to the sick man) get up, take up your bed, and walk’.

Now despite so-called theologians on the BBC, that is NOT, most definitely is NOT, saying that the man was sick because of sin. In fact when they asked about the man born blind “who sinned, this man or his parents” Jesus told them they were wrong in looking for a connection between sin and disability; and he says much the same in other places .. when people are killed by a falling tower, was it sin that brought this on them? Not at all. They are no worse sinners than anyone else.

The truth is, if we are to use language at all we are bound to use similes and metaphors. Spiritual blindness is like being incapable of sight. It is not saying that those who are physically blind are also morally bad. Any more than if I talk of the blackness of despair I am thinking that all Africans are despairing, if I say that a Government policy is just limping along I am saying to be crippled is to be a politician. Of course we must not use language to hurt others, and in this time of great sensitivity we must try to think how others might feel. But to forbid words like “black coffee” or “blind rage” would be to require us to use some language other than English.
And what language should we use? There are doubtless parallels in French and Italian, and probably in Chinese and Swahili. All that’s left to us is to say “I’m feeling a little blue” – and even that might offend some Tories – and as for “in the pink”!

So, just be a little careful about assuming that the BBC is impartial and truly liberal. It is infected with the diseases of the present day - and I hope no one with a cold will take this simile amiss – they need our generous criticism to help them realise that they are every bit as prejudiced as everyone else. Except that unlike us poor sinners, the Media think they are always right.

Saturday 1 September 2012

Croydon & the Ordinariate

Few landmarks are left of old Croydon, the town I remember from my youth - my grandmother lived just one stop along the line, in South Norwood, hard by Selhurst Park, home of Crystal Palace football. One thing that is left, though, is St Michael's
Church. Left it certainly has been for many of those in the congregation today in St Mary's Catholic Church (just a stone's throw from St Michael's, though no one was throwing stones today). There were servers who had been at St Michael's, and some of the ladies from that parish were introducing one more element of Anglican Patrimony, the Mantilla, into Catholic worship. Fr Donald Minchew, its former Vicar, was among those ordained to the Catholic priesthood this afternoon.
Once you might still discern the little country town on the chalk hill (the meaning of Craie-dune or Croydon) among more modern buildings. Now it is distinctly part of the metropolis, and none the better for it. But today was lovely; the ordination of three priests, former Anglicans, by the Archbishop of Southwark in the presence of our Ordinary, Mgr Keith Newton.

There are few opportunities for concelebrants to take pictures in church; but before the event a number of distinguished figures hove into view. Fr Lindlar from Deal (right) was composing himself with holy thoughts. In another corner of Kent, and another corner of the room, the former Vicar of St Peter's Folkestone was on his mobile - at a guess, to his bookmaker, though I might be mistaken. He could very well have been checking up on the builders, who seem to have taken up residence in the house where he and Tricia and struggling to create a home.

Then also from Kent were two familiar bloggers, Frs Tomlinson and Aquilina, keeping each other up to date with their parts of the Ordinariate vineyard.

Most of those present were from London and surrounds; so it was good to have a fellow resident of Portsmouth Diocese, Mgr Robert Mercer CR, concelebrating.

Here he is being interviewed - or possibly engaged in conversation - by our intrepid communications officer, Fr James Bradley, who will no doubt by now have a sheaf of pictures on Flickr (whatever that is).

There were a few monsignori in evidence. Above on the left is Mgr Broadhurst, leading our Ordinary, Mgr Keith Newton, and the Archbishop into church. I did manage to get one shot in Church of the three Candidates, still in their diaconal stoles, as the Mass was about to begin.

From left to right are the Ordinary, then Frs Kenneth Berry, Paul Gibbons and Donal Minchew.

It was a great occasion, with a first-rate bunfight; it made our journeying from the South Coast (setting off at 8.15 and arriving home at 19.45) well worthwhile - quite apart from sitting on a table being regaled by Joanna Bogle with tales of Croydon Airport. Altogether a great day for the Ordinariate and for the Church at large.