There are signs of hope. Here is Francis, Bishop of Rome, receiving a blessing from Justin, Archbishop of Canterbury. No charade, surely? The Pope would not bring about scandal by seeking a blessing from a heretic schismatic. When Bishop Nicholas Hudson joined Bishop Trevor Willmott in blessing the congregation at Canterbury Cathedral, what were we to make of the implied recognition of value in Anglican orders?
The scandal is not that these isolated events happen, but that we lack the courage of our convictions, so they remain isolated. Forty years ago I was assured that, juridically, Anglican orders were all valid since Old Catholic bishops had taken part in enough ordinations to ensure recognition of Anglican Apostolic Succession.
In another church, a good distance from Canterbury, a Catholic bishop was ordained recently, with his friend, co-worker and Anglican bishop, robed on the sanctuary. It was good to see him there, but he was not invited to join the Catholic bishops by laying hands on the ordinand.
And the announcement that day deterring non-Catholics from receiving the Eucharist? If a bishop being ordained is not one of those special occasions when Eucharistic hospitality is to be encouraged, I’m not clear when it may be grudgingly permitted. Put out into the deep!
Much of the world celebrates Corpus Christi today. Here is another reflection from the early Anglican Franciscan, Fr Andrew SDC.
I have often thought of the bread we use in Holy Communion. First of all it is a blade growing in the field, and then part of a golden cornfield over which winged birds fly and amongst which the poppies and the wild flowers grow. Then it is plucked and subjected to the action of fire and water and kneaded into bread, and then it is laid upon God’s Table, waiting for the Holy Spirit to become his means of grace.
it seems such a parable of our life. We are not really put to the highest use until we have been plucked out of the world, ground and kneaded and given to God to do just what he likes with us, even as He gave Himself for us.
I was reading the obituary of Bishop Douglas Milmine, the first Anglican Bishop of Paraguay, and of late an honorary assistant Bishop in Chichester. A remarkable man of God.
He had a favourite prayer which would have tickled the Lord as much as it tickled himself: ‘Lord, make me humble for you know how important I am.’
Is that the Publican or the Pharisee or the funny man speaking? Which of the three would write a memoir called ‘Stiff Upper Smile? The prayer is a hearty laugh at himself, and God bless him for sharing it and for all the good he did in his life.
We are told (Luke 1.29) that, at the Annunciation, Mary ‘was troubled at his (the angel’s) saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be.’ The troubles did not end there, as Simeon foretold: (Luke 2:35) ‘And thy own soul a sword shall pierce.’
I would like to take a sideways look at this story with a passage from Father Andrew SDC, writing to a woman recently bereaved in World War II.
‘If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable,’ (1 Corinthians 15:19) because, indeed, as S. Paul knew so well from his own experiences, our Christian hope brings us all sorts of pains which we only have because of it; I mean the pain that comes from the failure to live up to it, and the pain of sacrifices made because of it, and also as it deepens and enriches our relationships and makes our friendships much more deep and sacred, so our partings are made more poignant as each beloved one is taken from us. But it is not in this life only that we have hope in Christ, and so we can smile through our tears and be sure that our dear ones are with Christ, and nearer to him are not farther from us.
Life and Letters of Fr Andrew, p 162.
How much pain Mary took on trust when she agreed to the angel’s request!
Yesterday’s reflection seemed incomplete after I’d set it down, though I could not put my finger on why until I found this passage from the pioneering Anglican Franciscan, Father Andrew:
Try to keep a brave will. Minds may wander and hearts feel cold, but if the will is trudging on, however heavily, love is loyal.
The most costly service is really the truest service. it is all part of that spiritual mortification which is part of the inevitable process of the soul’s education.
Mortification is not a word that springs to my mind all that often – this is the first time I’ve tagged it on this blog in 18 months. Maybe I’m just such a big softie that I was rewarded with the snowdrop for the mini-motrification of trudging on with my litter picking. Well, I was glad to see the snowdrop. Laudato Si!
I call Friar Chris’s posts this week ‘Reflections from St Thomas’s Hill’ and I enjoyed rereading them, one after another, when I’d slotted them into the blog calendar. You may like to go back through them at the end of the week. Will.
BOing! was a Festival for children held on the Kent University campus over the last weekend of August 2016. This strange structure, called Mirazozo Luminarium by Architects of Air is like a series of neon-lit tent tunnels, winding paths through beautiful green and red light and colour. The visitors’ playful antics are transmitted by CCTV to other places on the campus. Is this wonder, fantasy or anti-reality? It is like the children’s games used by primary school teachers, such as asking groups of six children how they imagine a space creature, with suitable bodies and facial expressions. They move around to eerie music such as comes from a Moog synthesizer. Making a ‘Spooky Garden’ is another game like this, with play-acted statues.
But internet and video games nowadays can make this virtual world normal for many adults. Toffler’s Future Shock (1970) saw much modern experience as “mass bewilderment in the face of accelerating change.” There is disproportion between our low human complexity and high technological special effects. Emmanuel Sullivan (Baptized into Hope), as an Anglican Franciscan, asks how we develop sensitivity to those around us. “The ongoing mystery of creation and redemption is a meeting of waters, of life and values, of thought and emphasis. At times it is a gentle flowing together; at others the meeting takes place in a mighty roar.” God gives us, if we are open, “the courage and love we need to tolerate and integrate a diversity of Christian life and witness.” But we must consider, are we moving effectively on from fantasy and eerie music to solutions for bewilderment, a genuine witness to hope?
It has been refreshing to read the poetry of Sister Johanna (our SJC), following the offerings of her colleague at Minster Sister Mary Stephen (SMS). They have sent me back to the sources. Tempting as Dylan might be, I turned instead to his namesake, R.S. Thomas, for this week’s reflections.
R.S. was a Welsh Anglican priest who wrote in English, often challenging, often reflecting light into dark corners. I hope you will turn to his work after reading these extracts and my reflections on them.
The Martyrs of Uganda, whose feast we celebrate tomorrow, were among the very first converts to Christianity in their country during the Nineteenth Century. Of those whose names we know, 23 were Anglican and 22 Catholic. Most of them were young pages in King Mwanga’s court. Mwanga had a habit of sexually abusing boys and when this group of his servants refused to submit to him his anger eventually boiled over into ordering their cruel death by burning.
The young men went bravely to their martyrdom. Because they were united in knowing about and opposing the king’s abusive behaviour, they were better able to withstand it, even at such great cost.
The great missionary pope, Benedict XV, beatified the Martyrs. Paul VI canonised them, remembering the Anglican as well as the Catholic. All died for the faith. Perhaps it is time to recognise these brave young men as the patron saints of people who suffer sexual abuse. If the Church thus openly celebrated those who oppose the abuse of power, of intimacy and of the human body, it could come closer to ending this cancer.
Meanwhile, I invite you to read this powerful post from a blogger known as Dixi.