We wish all readers of our blog every Blessing and much happiness in 2011.
I thought the version of the Nativity shown on BBC1 last week was very good. Whilst some poetic licence was inevitable this was no more than many of us clergy have done when we have tried to make the story come to life. I thought the girl who played the Virgin Mary was excellent; her portrayal underlined the fact the Mary was a girl of humble origins specially chosen by God to be the Mother of His Son.
Compare that with the dire programme on Boxing Day when we were “entertained” by the Songs of Praise Big Sing. Sugary, schmaltzy etc. it certainly was but there was nothing religious about it in my opinion and to see some of those in the large audience dressed up with Father Christmas Hats, with paper chains and tinsel wrapped round them really took the biscuit. Many others were in their shirt sleeves and there were many women with bare shoulders indicating that this programme must have been recorded when the weather was a lot warmer than now. Yet, the BBC can get it right: Kings College Nine Lessons and Carols on radio 4 and a Kings Carol Service on television.
When the BBC do something well it is exceptionally good but..............sadly, much of their religious output on TV is dreadful.
We left home early having managed to get the car out of the drive which I thought yesterday would be nigh on impossible. Instead of using the back roads to St. Barnabas we used the main road which is a much longer route but at least it had been treated and although there was still some ice it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. However when we turned off to drive up Snakes Lane, where St. Barnabas is situated, we found that the road was still covered in snow and ice – not a pleasant experience – but we arrived safely just as the 8.00 a.m. Low Mass was leaving where the usual congregation had been totally depleted.
At the 9.30 a.m. Solemn Mass we had a full team of servers and a full choir and about three quarters of the usual 9.30 a.m. congregation. I preached on the theme of St. Joseph and how he had responded to the angel by fulfilling all that was asked of him. I reminded the congregation that whilst the birth of Jesus might still have been possible without the co-operation of Joseph it would have meant that Mary would not have had the vital support which she must have needed. God’s plan for the salvation of mankind had come about by the co-operation and the obedience of both Mary and of course, Joseph her “most chaste Spouse”.
We had intended to drive to the Cotswolds to see our son and his family, to deliver our Granddaughter’s birthday present and the Christmas presents. But with the driving conditions so hazardous we had to cancel that and we now hope the weather will improve sufficiently for us to go later in the week.
THE REDBRIDGE AND HAVERING ORDINARIATE GROUP
We meet tomorrow evening for Mass at 7.30 p.m. at St. Augustine’s Church, Rush Green, a round-up of news and some Christmas refreshments.
MORE FROM THE LATEST MEETING OF GENERAL SYNOD
A question was put to Synod by Sheridan Worsop (Gloucester): Could we please have an update of the sale of Lambeth Palace, Church House and Southwark Worship Centre (Cathedral) as I understand that an offer has been accepted for the Cathedral which was not the best offer received. And can we have assurances that the historic chapel and library of Lambeth Palace will be preserved. Replying for the Commissioners Sir Humprey Goodenough said: “The sale of Lambeth Palace is proceeding, subject to planning permission, to substantially extend it and turn it into a five start hotel and casino. We have accepted an offer on these terms from one of the premier hotel and casino chains of the United Arab Republic. The Archbishop will be housed in a flat to be built at the Palace and will have access to the chapel whenever she wishes. This will preserve the historic link between Archbishops of Canterbury and the Palace. The Library will be preserved and be moved to Church House which we have decided not to sell at the present time, until we can find another venue for General Synod to meet and a suitable place to house the very extensive library. With regard to Southwark Worship Centre we have accepted an offer from the Muslim Council and it will become the South Thames Mosque and Community Centre. Whilst the questioner is quite right that this was not the best offer received, we felt that the building would be ideally suited as a mosque whilst the other bidder, the Ordinariate wanted to retain it as a place of Christian Worship and it was felt that this would not be compatible with our views on this body. The sale to the Muslim Council will further our wish to come closer to the followers of the Muslim faith, an act if you like of ecumenism.”
Sherdian Worsop then asked for time to be allocated for further discussion on this but this was refused by the Chair.
More from General Synod in a later edition.
Today I went to the Brookside Christmas Lunch as a guest of the staff and pupils. Brookside is one of the schools run jointly by the NHS and the Education Authority and part of the New Rush Hall Group of Schools of which I am Chair of the Governors. The staff, medical and educational, are a wonderful team and I always enjoy paying them a visit. The only problem I had was getting there; it took me around three quarters of an hour there and the return afterwards took an unbelievable hour and 10 minutes – for a distance of no more than 8 miles. The A12 was just totally gridlocked – for what reason nobody seems to know. The snow was not very nice but the A12 was clear. Travelling in this part of the world is often a complete nightmare and a short journey can take ten minutes or an hour – it just doesn’t make a lot of sense.
The trustees of the Catholic League have agreed to make a grant of £65,000 over two years (£35,000 in 2011 and £30,000 in 2012) towards the foundation of the Ordinariate's central services and the establishment and operational costs of the Ordinary's office in support of his pastorate.
The Trustees view the Ordinariate as a fulfilment of their primary historic object, which is to promote the unity of all Christians with the Apostolic See of Rome. After almost 100 years of witness and encouragement to this end, the Catholic League regards the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus as the definitive form providing for that corporate union in the English situation for which we have prayed. Therefore, by means of this grant we wish to support Pope Benedict's in his intention that the new Ordinariate will contribute prophetically to Christian unity in this land, founded on none other than “unity ... in the apostolic faith” (as he said in his Address at Westminster Abbey during his Apostolic Visit) and the resulting “convincing account of the Risen Lord” which are both vital to a New Evangelisation in Europe.
We are pleased to announce the birth of our new granddaughter this morning at the North Middlesex Hospital.weighing 7lb 4oz. Mother and daughter are doing well and should be returning home tomorrow. Needless to say we, and our son-in-law, are delighted
THE DIOCESE OF BARCHESTER
Parish Priest for the LEP of Great Misgivings
The duties involve the co-ordination of Worship in the Parish Worship Centre which is used by the Anglicans, Hindu’s, Buddhists, Muslims and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) every Sunday. Inclusive “All Faith” Services are held every month. During the week various organisations use the building including the Druids, Muslims for Friday Prayers, the local White Witches coven, the Mother Earth Society and the Great Misgivings Rosicrucian’s Lodge.
The person appointed will be licensed by the Hindu Society of Great Britain to take Hindu Services after a suitable period of training. She/he will become part of the Ministry Team comprising of ministers from each of the faiths which use the church. The Parish Profile, available on line at www. greatmisgivings .co.uk /profile, states: “We are working together so that we can become one united body, a big happy family, respecting our differences and emphasising our similarities. Our Parish Motto is Compromise, Compromise and Compromise even further.”
We offer a salary of £75,000 plus fees. There is a modern House with four bedrooms.
Applications should be sent to The Diocesan Office for the attention of the Human Resources Department.
The Inclusive Parish of Much Grumbling, Maidstone
We are urgently seeking a replacement for our Musical Director who has just been appointed to a similar position at Canterbury Worship Centre (Canterbury Cathedral) The person appointed will be conversant with guitars, drums, tambourine and electronic keyboards. She/he will be able to train people to play the aforementioned instruments and be a competent guitarist and singer themselves, having the ability to lead the musical worship of the Parish. Also competence in preparing Worship Songs for us with the overhead projectors is required. Duties include weekly rehearsals and Sunday mornings and evenings services (No organ playing needed as we no longer have one) Experience with Liturgical Dance would be an advantage as we have a small Dance Team which is involved at every service.
Salary £10,000 plus fees
Today I presided at the Parish Mass at St. Barnabas, Woodford Green, whilst Father Paul Harcourt from All Saints, Woodford Wells preached and concelebrated. Sadly, with the continuing interregnum congregations have fallen and it is to be hoped that it will not be long before the problems concerning an appointment are resolved. I will be there again next Sunday.
I am disgusted by the behaviour of some of those taking part in the Student Protests. It seems to me that the students have a case but this is not the way to advance it. It seems that the protests have been infiltrated by anarchist’s intent on violence, mayhem and destruction.
Ann and I have both benefitted from a free education as have our two children and whilst I would support successful graduates making some contribution to the cost of their education I believe the current proposals will exclude many who will be frightened by the prospect of leaving university owing £27,000 or more.
Our tax system is complicated enough now without making it even more so with a “graduate” tax which is proposed by the opposition. Another suggestion, which I am warming to, is to get companies to sponsor universities and I know how beneficial sponsorship of this nature can be having experienced it in education in the past. It can be of benefit both to the donor and to the recipient.
Earlier this week my wife went shopping. In one Departmental Store she collected a number of items and went to the cash desk to pay for them. She had noticed that every single item was more expensive than a short while ago so she queried this with the girl who was serving. “It’s due to the increase in VAT” she answered. “But that doesn’t come in until January” my wife replied. “Well we had to do it now as we won’t have enough time to do it for January”. My wife left the goods on the counter and left the shop. So be warned. It seems that some businesses are acting unscrupulously in the busy run up to Christmas by increasing prices before they need to do so and thereby increasing their profits.
Congratulations to Stacey Solomon, a girl from Dagenham, who has won the title “Queen of the Jungle” in the ITV programme “I’m a Celebrity – Get me out of Here”. Stacey who came third in last year’s X Factor went to school in King Solomon’s School, Barkingside which is just marginally outside the parish boundary of St. Francis of Assisi, where I was Vicar for 15 years. During her ordeal in the Australian Jungle, Stacey retained her great sense of fun and humour. She is a credit to her family, to her old school and to the Jewish Community to which she belongs. This is the time of year whilst Christians prepare for Christmas with Advent, members of the Jewish Community celebrate Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. So to Stacey – Mazel tov (Congratulations).
For the first time for several days I was able to get my car out of the drive today. The local authority has kept the main roads fairly clear but the side roads and most of the pavements have been untreated. Although in Essex we’ve had quite a lot of snow it has been nothing like those in the North of England and there now seems to be a bit of a thaw. However, the temperature looks set to drop below freezing again tonight so there could be loads of ice to contend with tomorrow.
To add to the gloom of traffic being snarled up just about everywhere FIFA didn’t award the UK the world cup. I can’t in all truth say it bothered me but I know a lot of people are feeling disappointed and let down. I’m sure the newspaper reports about FIFA and the Panorama programme did not help the UK cause. I understand that the bid cost £15million and it grieves me that so much money should be wasted like this when the country is in such a dire financial plight and when that money could have been spent in relieving homelessness etc. What a strange world we live in!
It was with a degree of sadness that I read an e-mail from Forward-in-Faith announcing that Bishop John Broadhurst had resigned as Chairman. Bishop John steered F-in-F from the beginning and he has been an inspiration to me, and, I am, sure to all those who have struggled to keep alive the Catholic faith in the Church of England since the decision was made to ordain women to the priesthood. When he announced that he was taking up Pope Benedict’s offer of the Ordinariate and resigning as Bishop of Fulham from the end of the year, I suppose that it was inevitable that he would resign from Forward-in-Faith. Sister Anne Williams CA will be acting Chairman until elections for a new chairman have taken place. I wonder if the Church of England will ever realise, or acknowledge, the calibre of those Bishops who are paving the way to the Ordinariate: Bishop Keith Newton, Bishop Andrew Burnham, Bishop David Silk, Bishop Edwin Barnes and Bishop John Broadhurst. A regular item in Forward Plus has been “There were Giants in the Land” These Bishops were certainly giants for the Catholic Faith of the CofE; they will now, I am sure, be giants for the setting up of the Ordinariate – the CofE’s loss is the gain of the Ordinariate. May they be blessed in the task they are undertaking.
And we shall have snow.......................
And we certainly did over night. By morning the roads around here were all covered in snow and I had a funeral to get to. Fortunately the traffic was moving – just – so a journey which normally takes now more than 10-15 minutes took me the best part of an hour today. All credit to the Funeral Directors who arrived on time, despite a journey similar to mine. By the time I came to go home the roads were a lot better. The local authority have worked hard to keep the traffic flowing but I wish they would do something to the side roads which are quite lethal.
I was talking to someone yesterday who, as far as I am aware, supports the ordination of women to the priesthood and their consecration as Bishops. She remarked to me that she thought the way General Synod had treated Catholics was despicable especially after the promises made when women were first ordained. She felt that Christians shouldn’t act in that way to which most Anglo-Catholics would say amen. Perhaps the realisation of just what has happened is only just dawning on people in the pews. Perhaps it has taken the resignation of 5 first class Bishops and their indication that they will be joining the Ordinariate to bring about this awareness.
I came across this today and is another example of the liberalisation which horrifies so many of us.
“A canine ‘christening’ has taken place in Cumbria – in one of the most lavish ceremonies ever planned for a pooch. Wearing a specially made silk shawl, the Shih Tzu puppy Sheridan was chauffeur-driven to church in a Jaguar. After the ceremony, the mutt-made-holy was taken to a hotel where 75 guests drinking pink champagne toasted its health. The event cost about £1,000. Local vicar Revd David Fowler blessed the dog in church – but refused to actually christen the animal there. Instead, the clergyman placed his hands on the dog's head at the hotel and declared it be called Sheridan Smith. ‘It was a very emotional service,’ said owner Russell Smith. ‘The vicar, who is a big dog lover and has bearded collies of his own, was fantastic.’”
Source: Telegraph (20/11)
The Redbridge & Havering Ordinariate Group met on Monday and continued the “Evangelium” Course. We will be meeting again at St. Augustine’s, Rush Green, Romford for Mass and Christmas Refreshments on Monday 20th December at 7.30p.m. when we hope to arrange our dates for meeting for the New Year.
Today I celebrated and preached at the Solemn Mass at St. Barnabas, Woodford Green. Once again the Choir excelled themselves and were a joy to hear. They have been in a state of Interregnum for nearly two years now. They are looked after by retired priest Father Donald May who has been attached to the parish for several years. St. Barnabas have a good team of Servers who look after visiting clergy very well. I always enjoy going to St. Barnabas and will be joining them again in December.
REDBRIDGE & HAVERING ORDINARIATE GROUP
A reminder that we meet at St. Augustine’s, Rush Green, Romford tomorrow 22nd November with a Mass at 7.30 p.m. followed by “Evangelium” All are welcome to these exploratory meetings.
The long wait is now over and we have, via the Statement of the Catholic Bishops reproduced below, more details of the implementation of the Ordinariate in the United Kingdom. Initially it is thought that there will be up to 50 parishes with their clergy in the first wave. They will join the five Bishops who have already handed in their resignations to the Archbishop of Canterbury. However I suspect there are many more who will be waiting for various reasons or are still in the process of making a decision under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and who make this move at some later stage. The Archbishop of Canterbury has already indicated that losing 50 parishes and clergy is going to leave a void in the Church of England with people without priestly support. I think General Synod should have taken that into account when they made the decision that they did to make little or no provision for those who will never, ever, accept women as bishops. It will be interesting to see, over the next few months, how the Society of St. Wilfrid and St. Hilda develops but to date there has been no news apart from its original inauguration at the Holy Synods in October.
Today, I attended the meeting of my SSC Chapter, which was held at St, James, Leigh-on-Sea. After Mass we went to the hall for lunch and, at my end of the table, there was some discussion about who the new Bishop of Richborough would be. All I can say is, if some of the names mentioned have any substance, it will become one further reason to join the Ordinariate when it is practical to do so (if any further reason was even needed!!!!!!) When I got home and told my wife the names mentioned, she said if “x” was appointed that would be a very good reason for going to the Ordinariate and might just tip the balance. One thing that puzzles me is why anyone would be prepared to become a Provincial Episcopal Visitor under the present circumstances when the role will only last until the legislation for Women Bishops is approved.
As our Organist was away I played the organ today, Remembrance Sunday, at St. Augustine’s, Rush Green, Romford for the Solemn Requiem Mass for the repose of all those had died as a result of war. In a moving service, Father Martin who presided and preached welcomed our Scout Group and our guest trumpeter who played the Last Post and Reveille in the Memorial Garden during the Two Minutes silence. I played an organ version of Barbers Adagio before the service and Walford Davies Solemn Melody at the end. I do enjoy playing the organ some times for a service; it reminds me of the time, some while ago now, when for many years I was a parish church organist and choirmaster. I started at St. Wilfrid’s Church in Cowplain, then on to St. John the Baptist, Rowlands Castle, followed by All Saints, Commercial Road, Portsmouth, and then St. John the Evangelist, Gosport –r a period in excess of 25 years.
A new site has opened called the Ordinariate Portal and can be found at: http://ordinariateportal.worldpress.com. On the site it says: “This blog aims to link to articles, news and comment on the forthcoming Ordinariate in the UK.”
In one of the articles it says: “Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, will reveal on Friday the Vatican’s plans to welcome the departing priests – including five bishops – who are expected to be received into the Catholic Church early in the new year.Hundreds of Anglican churchgoers will join them in the Ordinariate – a structure introduced by Pope Benedict XVI to provide refuge for those diaffected with the Church of England. The number of worshippers who leave the Church is predicted to double as the new arrangement finally begins to take shape.” The Portal would like to make known details of Ordinariate Group meetings by emailing them at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The 1914-18 First World War was heralded as the “war to end all wars”. Sadly it wasn’t and just 21 years later the Second World War began. Subsequently there have been many wars some small and some much bigger and the quest for peace continues.
Today we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice by laying down their lives for their countries. We particularly think of those who have died recently in Iraq and Afghanistan. We should not only remember and pray for those who died for our country and all those who fought alongside us. We also need to remember and pray all those who died on the opposing side......they too are God’s children.
FOR THE FALLEN
BY ROBERT LAWRENCE BINYON
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
By the 21st September 1914, when England was already suffering appalling casualties in France and Belgium, the Times Newspaper published Binyon's poem, 'The Fallen'. Binyon had written it in despair over the mounting casualty figures. The poem became widely popular in England and also in Australia and New Zealand. Binyon wrote the poem while he was employed at the British Museum, it would not be until later, in 1916, that Binyon would finally go to the Western Front to serve as a hospital orderly and witness the carnage personally.Binyon returned from the war and its horrors to work once again for the British Museum. He died in 1943.
Following my note yesterday, today the Catholic Herald announced the resignation of Bishop Keith Newton and Bishop Andrew Burnham who join Bishop John Broadhurst who announced his resignation at the Forward in Faith Assembly in October. They will be joined by retired Bishops Edwin Barnes and David Silk.
I am attaching an article which is published today on The Anglo-Catholic Blog.
From the excellent Anna Arco at the Catholic Herald:
Five traditionalist Anglican bishops have officially resigned this morning with the intention of taking up an English Ordinariate when it is set up.
This morning, the Rt Rev Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury accepted the resignation of three flying Church of England and two retired assistant bishops in what is a major development in the move towards establishing an Ordinariate in Britain.
The Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt Rev Keith Newton, Bishop of Richborough and Rt Rev John Broadhurst Bishop of Fulham as well as the Rt Rev Edwin Barnes the emeritus Bishop of Richborough and the Rt Rev David Silk, an emeritus assistant bishop of Exeter released a statement announcing their resignations.
They said: “As bishops, we have even-handedly cared for those who have shared our understanding and those who have taken a different view. We have now reached the point, however, where we must formally declare our position and invite others who share it to join us on our journey. We shall be ceasing, therefore, from public episcopal ministry forthwith, resigning from our pastoral responsibilities in the Church of England with effect from 31st December 2010, and seeking to join an Ordinariate once one is created.”
Bishop Newton has been tipped to be the Ordinary of an English Ordinariate when one is established.
The Catholic liason officer for the Ordinariate, Bishop Alan Hopes, an auxiliary of Westminster said: “We welcome the decision of Bishops Andrew Burnham, Keith Newton, John Broadhurst, Edwin Barnes and David Silk to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church through the Ordinariate for England and Wales, which will be established
under the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus.”
The bishops are due to discuss the Ordinariate at their plenary meeting next week.
Full statement of the resigning Church of England Bishops:
Like many in the catholic tradition of Anglicanism, we have followed the dialogue between Anglicans and Catholics, the ARCIC process, with prayer and longing. We have been dismayed, over the last thirty years, to see Anglicans and Catholics move further apart on some of the issues of the day, and particularly we have been distressed by developments in Faith and Order in Anglicanism which we believe to be incompatible with the historic vocation of Anglicanism and the tradition of the Church for nearly two thousand years.
The Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum cœtibus, given in Rome on 4th November 2009, was a response to Anglicans seeking unity with the Holy See. With the Ordinariates, canonical structures are being established through which we will bring our own experience of Christian discipleship into full communion with the Catholic Church throughout the world and throughout the ages. This is both a generous response to various approaches to the Holy See for help and a bold, new ecumenical instrument in the search for the unity of Christians, the unity for which Christ himself prayed before his Passion and Death. It is a unity, we believe, which is possible only in eucharistic communion with the successor of St Peter.
As bishops, we have even-handedly cared for those who have shared our understanding and those who have taken a different view. We have now reached the point, however, where we must formally declare our position and invite others who share it to join us on our journey. We shall be ceasing, therefore, from public episcopal ministry forthwith, resigning from our pastoral responsibilities in the Church of England with effect from 31st December 2010, and seeking to join an Ordinariate once one is created.
We remain very grateful for all that the Church of England has meant for us and given to us all these years and we hope to maintain close and warm relationships, praying and working together for the coming of God’s Kingdom.
We are deeply appreciative of the support we have received at this difficult time from a whole variety of people: archbishops and bishops, clergy and laity, Anglican and Catholics, those who agree with our views and those who passionately disagree, those who have encouraged us in this step and those who have urged us not to take this step.
The Right Revd Andrew Burnham
The Right Revd Keith Newton
The Right Revd John Broadhurst
The Right Revd Edwin Barnes
The Right Revd David Silk
Bishop Alan Hopes’ full statement:
We welcome the decision of Bishops Andrew Burnham, Keith Newton, John Broadhurst, Edwin Barnes and David Silk to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church through the Ordinariate for England and Wales, which will be established under the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus.
At our plenary meeting next week, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales will be exploring the establishment of the Ordinariate and the warm welcome we will be extending to those who seek to be part of it. Further information will be made known after the meeting.
PLEASE KEEP BISHOP KEITH, BISHOP ANDREW, BISHOP JOHN, BISHOP EDWIN AND BISHOP DAVID IN YOUR PRAYERS. THE MASS AT THE HAVERING AND REDBRIDGE ORDINARIATE GROUP MEETING WILL BE OFFERED FOR THEIR INTENTION ON WEDNESDAY 10TH NOVEMBER AT 7.30 p.m.
“I wish I could be anything other than offended by the modern Church of England. But, like modern politics, it has debased itself into the focus group. It is concerned with accommodating modern life rather than confronting its obvious evils. It is obsessed with marketing for customers rather than preaching principle. What used to attract me to the Church was its sense of comradeship and its historical continuity, the beauties of the Anglican tradition. But our trendy priests of today are engaged in destroying the traditions of language of the Church. They might as well abandon them openly.........and base their appeal on religious karaoke – scripture and emotion.”
I read this recently in a book by Sir John Nott “Mr Wonderful takes a Cruise”. John Nott was a Conservative MP for St. Ives, Cornwall which he represented for 17 years. He served as a Treasury Minister in the Heath Government and then as Trade Secretary and Defence Minister under Margaret Thatcher. The book, published in 2004 by Ebury Press, is very funny in parts and I found myself laughing out loud at some of his comments and anecdotes.
I was interested in his comments about the Church with which many of us could wholeheartedly agree.
On Monday I had the privilege of officiating at the Committal Service at Forest Road Crematorium for Chris Stevenson who had been the Director of Music at St. Francis’ Church, Barkingside. Chris came to St. Francis about 12 years ago and had been a wonderful musician with a particular interest in choir training. He himself sang in several local choirs. The morning started with a Requiem Mass at St. Francis and after the Committal a Memorial Service was held in church which was full to overflowing. John Rippon played the organ and Philip Norman conducted the choir, Choral Cantando who sang several anthems as well as leading the hymns. Chris had been a member of Choral Cantando. Fr Andrew Fenby the Vicar of St. Francis led the service and I preached. Afterwards a reception was held at the Chigwell Police Club for family and friends. It is planned to hold a Memorial Concert in the New Year in memory of Chris and to raise funds for research into prostrate cancer.
Yesterday I celebrated the evening Requiem Mass at St. Augustine’s where we had a good congregation.
In a recent article Bishop Peter Elliot, Auxiliary Bishop, Melbourne, and Delegate of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference for the Ordinariate wrote:-
THE Holy Father’s offer of the Ordinariate will take concrete form in 2011. In light of this impending reality, it is a matter of some urgency to clarify the options that confront traditional Anglo Catholics at this time. At first sight there seem to be four options: 1. Rome, via the Ordinariate or by personal reconciliation 2. Eastern Orthodoxy. 3. the Continuing Anglicans and 4. remaining in communion with Canterbury.
However these options fall into two groups. If you take either of the first two options, you are entering communion with traditional apostolic Churches which understand the Church in terms of communion. In the second two options you are either joining some form of independent association of continuing Anglicans or you are choosing to remain part of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
The key word is “communion”. On that we can all agree. Across the four options, in varying degrees, this is a shared understanding of what it means to be a member of the Church. But communion as a visible reality depends on bishops.
In the apostolic tradition we have received from Saint Paul, Saint Ignatius of Antioch and the Fathers of East and West, we understand the Church in terms of the episcope of the successors of the apostles. The bishop is the centre of each “particular Church”, later known as a diocese.
However, in an “Episcopalian” understanding of the nature of the Church on earth, no bishop exists in isolation. He has to be in communion with other bishops, a communion of shared faith and order. He is part of an apostolic college that across the ages reproduces the original community of the twelve. Within the particular church where the bishop presides, his clergy and people are in communion with him. Yet his Church is meant to be in communion with other Churches, particularly apostolic patriarchates.
The communion of a college of bishops is visibly maintained in the Catholic Church (in its Roman and Eastern Rites) and in the venerable Orthodox Churches of the East. From the East we receive a beautiful and concrete understanding of the sacramental meaning of this communion, in terms of whether a bishop can share the same chalice with another bishop. Eucharistic communion with Jesus Christ, organic union with his Body, is communal, ecclesial. It flows from the Eucharist, summit and source of the life of the Church on earth. It is celebrated and perfected in the Eucharist.
“Communion” in Anglicanorum Coetibus
However, to understand communion we turn to God, the Holy Trinity, source of unity and communion. Communion is expressed in a God-centred way in the concise opening paragraphs of Pope Benedict’s Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, establishing a distinctive ecclesial community for former Anglicans within the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church. Let us listen to the words of Pope Benedict:
“The Church, a people gathered into the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, was instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ, as “a sacrament – a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all people.” Every division among the baptized in Jesus Christ wounds that which the Church is and that for which the Church exists; in fact, “such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages that most holy cause, the preaching the Gospel to every creature.” Precisely for this reason, before shedding his blood for the salvation of the world, the Lord Jesus prayed to the Father for the unity of his disciples. ”
Then the Holy Father focuses on the Holy Spirit source of communion, emphasizing that the Church is visible:
“It is the Holy Spirit, the principle of unity, which establishes the Church as a communion. He is the principle of the unity of the faithful in the teaching of the Apostles, in the breaking of the bread and in prayer. The Church, however, analogous to the mystery of the Incarnate Word, is not only an invisible spiritual communion, but is also visible; in fact, “the society structured with hierarchical organs and the Mystical Body of Christ, the visible society and the spiritual community, the earthly Church and the Church endowed with heavenly riches, are not to be thought of as two realities. On the contrary, they form one complex reality formed from a two-fold element, human and divine.” The communion of the baptized in the teaching of the Apostles and in the breaking of the eucharistic bread is visibly manifested in the bonds of the profession of the faith in its entirety, of the celebration of all of the sacraments instituted by Christ, and of the governance of the College of Bishops united with its head, the Roman Pontiff. “
Having set out the sacramental (baptismal, Eucharistic) and Petrine principles, the Holy Father goes on to identify the visible Church as the Catholic Church. He repeats the teaching of the Second Vatican Council that recognizes the working of Grace beyond visible unity with Rome:
“This single Church of Christ, which we profess in the Creed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic “subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him. Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside her visible confines. Since these are gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, they are forces impelling towards Catholic unity.”
In the light of these teachings, we can re-interpret the question some perplexed Anglo Catholics are asking “Where do we go?” Once you grasp what communion means, agonising about “going” somewhere is unreal. The geographical metaphor is too narrow. The organic metaphor is Scriptural (Pauline) and Patristic and it focuses us on communion with God and through God communion with other people. With whom are we in communion? That is the question. It clarifies the future.
An ecclesiology of communion also throws light on the last option, that is, when some Anglo Catholics choose, even reluctantly, to remain in communion with Canterbury, “come what may” as they say. Note that I only refer to convinced traditional Anglo-Catholics. I do not include those Anglicans who, in conscience, do not hold to the necessity of apostolic order as taught by the Tractarians and their successors, that is, that bishops are of the esse of the Church.
Hard questions can be asked. Could it be said that Anglo Catholics who choose “to remain” have embraced congregationalism? Do they contradict their own Tractarian insistence on “our apostolic descent”? Are they now saying that the Church is a collection of local congregations of those who maintain Catholic doctrine and sacramental practices? In this perspective, each parish becomes a Church in itself. But how can that be? What would St Paul, Saint Ignatius of Antioch and all the Fathers of East and West, say about this?
The vicar and parishioners can dig in and hold on, but others may ask whether they in “the trenches” – or just down a bunker? They can ignore the bishop and persistently regard their parish as a Church in itself, but whether they like it or not, official Anglicanism carefully maintains the forms of apostolic order. Inevitably the day will come when empirical reality conquers. The vicar will retire or die and. because this is pretend congregationalism, the parishioners know that they have no authority to provide a successor. Then the bishop they pretended did not exist, will act. He or she will send them a vicar not of their choosing or even close their church. Do not these sad projections expose the unreality of the fourth option – when chosen by traditional Anglo Catholics?
I need to add something that Anglicans have brought to my attention – the temptations of “building worship” and “ancestor worship”. This is a painful matter, entering an Ordinariate and having to let go and sacrifice a familiar, much loved, place of worship with so many family memories. We hope and pray that arrangements can be made to keep this to a minimum. In Australia we do not know to what extent that will be possible. Yet this mentality is not unrelated to the congregationalist tendency. The church is not buildings, rather it is that Holy Temple of living stones, a communion of people, united to Christ the Lord, one in faith, one in grace.
The Incarnation and Catholicism
Moreover, in the future, Anglo Catholics who remain in communion with any bishop of the official Anglican Communion are morally bound to respect and accept the duly established order he represents. That now includes the ordination of women as bishops and priests and whatever may be enacted through synodical government. Either they assent to that new order or else their communion with the bishop seems meaningless and their friends may tell them that they should admit that they are “Affirming Catholics”, no matter how many mental reservations they may store in their heads.
Here we confront a difference between apostolic Christianity and Protestantism. Religion is not simply “what I hold in my head and my heart”. Indeed personal faith is essential and unity in the faith is vital, but Catholicism involves much more. It goes beyond what is within us to what exists in material reality around us, a community of persons who are in communion with one another through the bishops. It integrates body and soul, matter and spirit, visible and invisible, avoiding a tendency towards dualism, old or new.
“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” The Word did not send us some doctrines or a philosophy of life. The Faith revealed in Jesus Christ is incarnational – a visible Church, tangible sacraments, human beings born again, new creatures through grace in Baptism and Confirmation. Gathered by God for eucharistic worship around the successors of the apostles, they are “in communion” with one another as the organic working Body of Christ in this world.
Therefore choosing options involving communion with other people cannot coexist with mental reservations, such as were made in times past over the words of the Thirty Nine Articles. There can be no evasion of the visible structure of the Church, an empirical reality before our eyes. To retreat from this structure into congregationalism may indicate a shift to privatised pietistic Protestant individualism. But it might even descend to an apocalyptic mentality; “we are the last ones.…the faithful remnant as the end draws nigh”. Such unbalanced stoic spirituality wiped out the Catholic Apostolic Church (the Irvingites}. Convinced that the end was nigh, they simply ceased ordaining clergy.
I have heard pious pessimism such as “The last one out please snuff the sanctuary lamp”. That is miserable nonsense when set against the visible reality of millions of people just getting on with being Christians in communion with one another. Anyone can see this in the largest community who live in full communion with the Successor of Saint Peter and the college of Catholic bishops. Australians saw it vividly when our first saint was canonized, Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop. The saints are witnesses to the reality of communion, for “the communion of saints” we profess in the creed begins here in the visible Church.
I warn of illusory congregationalism, because I am trying to respond to the pain and sorrow that some clergy and laity have shared with me. They are perplexed by the options that face them. They tell me that they “are not ready for the Ordinariate yet” and I can understand that, at least in 2010 when we cannot see the visible structure. We cannot open a church door and say “welcome!” Soon, pray God, that will happen.
However it is not my brief to outline or suggest any other option except the Ordinariate generously offered to them by the Holy Father. I point them towards this offer because it is hope beyond sadness and self-pity. It is freedom from nostalgic slavery to dead issues and lost causes. It is reconciliation with God and His People, hence a step into unity and inner peace.
The Ordinariate Process Begins
The steps towards establishing Ordinariates in the United Kingdom, the US, Canada and Australia are well under way. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has recently approved programs of preparation for the laity and formation for the clergy who intend to be reconciled through the Ordinariate. Here the key resource is the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Clergy will also need to familiarise themselves with the magisterial sources for systematic and moral theology and the Code of Canon Law. The “magisterium at your finger tips” may be found in an excellent series of paperback volumes, Precis of Official Catholic Teaching obtainable from the United States. These handy books take us into the living teaching voice of the Popes and Councils. I also recommend the new United States Catholic Catechism for Adults.
To establish the Ordinariates, two stages are envisaged next year: 1. the reconciliation and ordination of clergy who have applied for Orders in the Ordinariate and been accepted, then 2. at a later date, the first reconciliations of the lay faithful. The clergy will therefore be in place to welcome and minister to former Anglicans in a community that maintains the familiar Anglican patrimony of worship, spirituality, scholarship and pastoral care. We saw how that patrimony has enriched English Catholicism during the magnificent papal visit to Scotland and England, particularly during the beatification of Blessed John Henry Newman.
More concrete details will appear soon. I believe the model will be set by what proceeds in the United Kingdom in terms of a clear time line built around the two stages. However, at present it is important to keep informed, for example through circles such as the Friends of the Ordinariate.
What to do now? Those who believe that God is calling them to full communion should take practical steps, obtaining evidence for their Baptism which will be needed before registering for reconciliation through Confirmation with Chrism next year. Those who are in irregular marriage situations need to go at once to the local Catholic Marriage Tribunal and seek whatever is possible to regularise their situation. These tribunals are pastoral, welcoming and maintain respect for confidentiality.
Above all pray. We are now entering the Vigil of the Ordinariate. In a spirit of “watching and praying”, In invite you keep vigil by reflecting on the wonderful mystery of the Church, the organic working Body of Jesus Christ. But let that visible reality of the living Church confront you. Let her challenge you, as you ask, “With whom are we in communion?” If that remains a painful or perplexing question, bring it before the Lord. Then may the Holy Spirit of unity and communion guide you and lead you to inner peace.
I am grateful to Father Paul Spilsbury for drawing our attention to this.
This morning I celebrated at the Solemn Mass at St. Barnabas, Woodford Green an ABC and Forward-in-Faith Parish where, after nearly two years, they are still in an Interregnum. Fortunately they have a retired priest Father Donald who has been looking after matters for them but, like all of us, he is getting no younger. I will be returning in November and December. It is always a joy to go to St. Barnabas’ Church where there is skilled choir, well trained and rehearsed and a warm congregation. It seemed to me that numbers have decreased since I was last there several months ago which is hardly surprising with the difficulties they have endured. One can only hope that it will not be too long before matters are resolved for them. Please keep them in your prayers.
After Mass I went to refreshments at St. Augustine’s, Rush Green to see folk there as I haven’t been there on a Sunday for the last two weeks. Next Sunday I will be playing the organ at St. Augustine’s.
Ann wrote this Psalm in memory of Chris, the Director of Music at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, Barkingside, who died on Saturday 16th October following a period of painful suffering. Chris had been the Director of Music for around 10/12 years and was highly thought of by everyone at St. Francis. Chris was a perfectionist and this showed not only in his playing the organ but in his skilful direction of the Church Choir and the All Saints Festival Choir. May he Rest in Peace.
PSALM FOR CHRIS
Have compassion on us O God in our time of sorrow, for you called our brother before his time:
Deep is our grief and the depth of our loss is immense; even though his suffering is over.
Week by week he lead us in song to honour your holy name:
Hour by hour he practiced to make his offering perfect.
He reached our souls with his music, touched our hearts with anthems and carols:
How will we sing to the Lord when our hearts are grieving.
Why was he struck so cruelly O God? Why did he have to suffer so:
So full of life, brightening our encounters with his grin, making us laugh with his jokes; all we have now are memories.
Great is your mercy O Lord, take him to your bosom O God; for there he can join the celestial choirs, be spared out musical errors:
Comfort us, comfort us O God; for great is your gain and devastating our loss.
We spent the week-end in the Cotswold visiting our Grandchildren; and as the local group of churches has at least one woman priest I celebrated Mass in the house parts of which date back to the 17th century.
Yesterday I did one of the routine inspections which all the Governors of New Rush Hall Group of Schools do every term. This time my brief was to go to the school to have a look at “Risk Management” and the safe guards in place to ensure that the school is a safe environment for staff and pupils. New Rush Hall is a happy school where pupils can flourish due to the enthusiastic staff. I was able to see the new Food Technology building where children will be taught cooking, food hygiene and safety. I visit the school garden which has been set up so pupils can learn basic horticulture; part of it has been set aside as a Restful Garden complete with small pond. It was a joy to hear all the birds singing there and quite unusual seeing we are based just 16 miles from the City of London. Altogether a most pleasant morning and I was able to report to the Governors that every aspect of Risk Management is under constant consideration.