Sunday, 5 July 2009

Holy Name Cathedral

I spent my Independence Day with a friend who lives and ministers in my See City. After an excellent dinner (roasted aspargus and potatoes, and grilled steak), which I should have taken pictures of and posted all over the internet (see? that's why no one takes me seriously.. I don't photograph my food), we stopped by Holy Name Cathedral, where I managed to take a few photographs. There is a new Cathedral in the works (the new Cathedral parish has already been erected, "Triumph of the Cross," actually, but who knows when the new building will appear!), but for now, here is Holy Name:


Blessed Sacrament side chapel


Side chapel with triptych

Nave shrine

"Diocesan monstrance"
(I wish that the jewels had shown up in the photo... it is breathtakingly beautiful) in the Sacristy


I can't imagine a better way to spend Independence Day: good food, good friend, and church touring.

Pax et bonum.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Let's play a game

I'm not one to plug my personal blog on AW, but I do think that many of you might have some interest in one of my recent posts. It's silly, really, but I'm asking people to view five photos, and see if you can guess what Rite and Church they represent. Make your best guess in the comment box, and you'll get an answer on Friday!

If you're so inclined, take a gander here.

Pax et bonum.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Marketing the Church

I'm rather impressed with this:

...but what do you think about Christian "marketing?" Positive or negative? Necessary or wasteful?

If you have any examples of Christian marketing gone wrong, please send em my way: t dot curnutte at gmail dot com

(For that matter, if you've anything at all to talk about and would like to see it in this space, send it on. That includes photographs!)

As always, Andrew, Fr. Kenyon, and I would all be appreciative of your prayers.

Pax et bonum.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

A Quick Note.

Can I interest you in a new blog, which takes up documenting the liturgical life of Saint Hilda's Prestwich where I took off? Ken has started it and it is to be found HERE.

For the time being, supported by my Diocese and friends, I am taking a well earned break. Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 2 is going to be the focus of much study and prayer. I will surface again in due course. Pray for me as I always pray for you.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Commendation Weekend and Other Stories.

My apologies for the lack of communication recently, but as you can see from the picture above I have been impersonating a Protestant minister. No, not really, I have been away in Wakefield on my commendation weekend and the picture above shows your scribe in his new old English surplice with his mother posing outside Wakefield Cathedral.

And here with Father Ronald Croft, Parish Priest of my old Parish and friend.

And here, again, standing in the sunlight. Well, I may as well get some use out of the surplice and scarf.

Today, though, was Fathers day and so I went with my Father to the steam train railway at Preston Docks for a thrilling ride up and down the half mile of restored track. That Preston has docks and a marina was a mild surprise to me.

Here is a view of Wakefield Cathedral showing the Comper decorations on the screen and a side view of the high altar, about which we have written before. See AW's passim.

I am sorry that this has been a short post, but just to let you know that all is reasonably as it should be, here is a picture of me in a bar in Wakefield taken on Friday night!

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Preston Wanderings.

This picture of the Japanese Gardens in the park at the end of my road illustrate the calm and serenity of finally having moved in, unpacked, connected the internet (which necessitated certain additional bits) and it also illustrates the path I took as I walked through the park to the pub on the other side for a pint or two of real ale and a plate of sausages and mash last night. It has been a very interesting week and now all that gives way to prayerful and happy preparations for the commendation service and then for the ordination Saturday week. I look forward to the retreat beginning next Tuesday as a time to reflect, grow and prepare for the work ahead.

I apologise for the shortness of this post, but I could not resist showing you this picture. It shows the last thing being moved out of my old house and loaded on the lorry. Eagle eyed wanderers will recognise the Sacred Heart, now installed in my new house in a dining room suspiciously similar to my last one.

Thank you very much for all the many cards, prayers, Mass intentions, good wishes, emails, letters and facebook messages. I have felt very supported by you all and continue to do so. As I have said before, this site has produced a visible and tangible community of people, I am always particularly touched when I hear of readers striking up friendships with each other and praying for each other. 'Carry on, you are all doing very well', as Mr Grainger used to say in 'Are You Being Served'.

What if no one came?

A friend recently referred me to an excellent blog with which I had not been previously familiar. It is written by an Orthodox priest, and his insights are astounding. However, unlike most Roman Catholic blogs, the comments sections of his posts are also valuable and full of insight. One such insight sent me reeling a few days ago when I read it:
One of the first times I saw a liturgy was in a Russian church. I didn't understand anything, of course, and at first I was a bit distressed that people came and went, children wandered around, etc. But then I noticed that no matter what anyone was or wasn't doing, the liturgy continued. It was obvious that the audience was God, not the restless congregation. When I returned to my evangelical church, I asked the pastor if he would do the same things he had planned to do this Sunday if no one showed up. He was very struck by that and couldn't answer.
I know what the answer would have been in the pentecostal church of my youth, and I daresay that nearly every Protestant church would have the same answer to that question: dumbstruck silence. Odds are that this question would never have occurred to them. Which is understandable, but regrettable.

In most Protestant worship services, the "worship plan" simply would not work if the congregation did not show up for services. Nearly every element of it is dependent upon the participation, whether active or passive, of those gathered. Worship leaders would have no one to lead. Large, white screens projecting song lyrics that adorn either side of the platform would have no readers. Hymn boards would go unnoticed. No one would "amen," and no one would "testify." No one would listen or scribble notes in the margins of their Bibles during a 50 minute sermon. When the invitation was given, no one would respond.

Liturgical Catholic worship, the greatest expression of which is the Mass (or the Divine Liturgy, Holy Eucharist, whatever you wish to call it based on your tradition), is different, or at least it should be different. No one could show up but the priest, and yet the worship could, and should, happen anyway. And not only should it happen, but anyone who could not make it for some unforeseeable reason could, in faith, unite themselves spiritually with that worship no matter where they happened to be, because they knew the "game plan" well in advance.

However, we as Catholic worshippers must be careful not to fall into the same trap. Innovations which seek to elevate the worshipper over the Worshipped must not be permitted to enter the liturgy. Our focus should never be on ourselves. We enter our holy houses to be in the presence of One who far surpasses our ability to understand. We gather to worship and sacrifice; as a community, to be sure, but community is not the end. (This is why I emphatically advocate worship ad dominum at the Altar, instead of the precarious orientation that many churches have adopted during the last century.) It takes a little more doing, but it is possible for Catholic worship leaders to come up with the same response as their Protestant counterparts when asked the question of the day: dumbstruck silence.

Smug smiles and pats on the back should be shelved for a moment by "traditionalists," many of whom might think that this question doesn't apply to them. It does. The circumstances can become a bit trickier, but it is still a danger that even traditional Catholic worship can be turned from its purpose: worship. I dare not attempt a list of possibilities lest I begin a comments war that rivals those of a Minnesotan birdwatcher. Use your thinkers.

Would your corporate worship work if no one showed up? I pray yes.

Pax et bonum.

Monday, 15 June 2009

New Community Facilities.

Why am I showing you this, gentle reader? I meant to begin with another picture but the lottery of Blogger dictates that you get the toilet first. It is a new toilet and it marks the end of this current phase of developments at Saint Hilda's Church. We now have a building which is fully accessible to all, with ramps in the right places and a spanking new loo. I am very pleased that it was done just the day before I left so that I could have a good look around.

Bear with me today, because I will be moving house as you read this, I have written this and magically scheduled its publication for today. To get into the mood of moving house, spin round a lot, jump up and down until you are tired and then try to solve some algebra problems. Alternatively sit back and say 'thank goodness it's not me!'

Here you can see the newly decorated community room with new kitchen facilities including washing area, cupboards, work surfaces, fridge and oven/hob. The facility will not only make our own catering able to go up a notch or change a bit if they wish, but also allow outside groups to rent the back part of Church for their own uses.

It also makes what was a slightly grubby community room into a really good meeting place for us as well, for prayer groups, courses, faith suppers, goodness me, the list is endless although I do not have to think about this, as I was saying to Churchwarden Ken yesterday afternoon, because by the time you read this, I will be gone!

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Corpus Christi at Saint Hilda's Prestwich.

The High Mass this morning for Corpus Christi was well attended and had an air of continental festivity brought on by the jostling for space in the pews, the balmy weather and the heady promise of tea and coffee afterwards in the newly restored community room. Never mind the fact that the bright sunlight makes the newish oil stocks on the pavement candlesticks look like the central part of the TARDIS control deck in the dull Davidson days, they do not go up and down or whir, even when the Church is lifted to the courts of heaven during the Sanctus.

It was, of course, my last Sunday as well, and I walked those familiar steps and mosaics with practised ease, careful devotion and a sense of not really wanting it to end, but the Church meets the world and the drive to Preston on Monday morning will be the next step for this small, insignificant man as he steps onto a wheel which has turned for two thousand years, until my time be up. But ah, what a happy way to begin the journey, surrounded by friends and supported by my colleagues.

It has been a happy seven years at Saint Hilda's and I am glad that so many of you have been interested enough to follow my journey on this blog. I look forward to taking you on to another place, which will be as full of interest, architecture and grace as this last place has been.

After sharing in the continual privilege of communicating the members of Christ's body with His body, blood, soul and divinity, we began the service of Benediction at the altar, singing the Pange Lingua.

After which, preceded by two thuribles belting out great clouds of incense and taperers, we began a procession of the Blessed Sacrament around the Church. Liturgists will note that we forgot to remove our maniples, but it was a busy and moving day, so I hope we may be forgiven.

After processing around the Church, full of devotion and love, we returned to the Altar.

Where Benediction was offered. After the Divine Praises were said and devotions were sung, the Blessed Sacrament was reserved in the house made for Him and we prepared to leave. However, I was very touched that a little presentation was made to me and a few people said some very kind words.

This dreadful picture shows your scribe presenting a statue of Saint George to the Church. As I was born on Saint George's day and I am going to serve at Saint George's, it seemed fitting. He looks very fetching on a windowsill by the Lady Chapel.

This is the rose dalmatic, maniple and stole which the Church bought for me. It comes from Luzar Vestments and is very fine indeed. I made a short speech alluding to the practice in Pagan times of selecting a young man from a city when times were hard and crops were failing, looking after him for a year and then dressing him in fine clothes before chasing him out of the city and stoning him as a sacrifice to the gods. Happily though I have been looked after, given fine clothes, walked out happily and not been stoned. Yet.

And imagine my surprise on leaving and being taken for lunch to find my friend Fr Bryan Hackett, vicar of Saint Mary's Prestwich, looking refreshed from his holidays in the pub with his parents. He gets an honorary mention today.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Parties and packing.

Last night my friend Marion who lives around the corner invited a few other friends to her house to have a few drinks with me before my going. Happily, none of these people are saying goodbye for ever and arrangements have already been made to meet up again. It was a lovely evening and was a good respite from sitting in an empty house mulling things over! The packers came again yesterday and removed the boxes, hence most of my possessions are in a lorry in South Manchester waiting to be brought back on Monday morning ready for the final packing and moving. Today my new tenant comes, a Frenchman called Patrice, who has three children, to collect his keys and he moves in on Monday as I go. It is nice to think that the house which seems so empty now will be filled with the sound of children's voices soon. It is a hundred years since the house was built this year, I wonder what sort of history it has, I know in recent years it has been a home to many, many cats as I witnessed when I had to dispose of the carpets and strip the floorboards a few years ago.

For now, it is time to go. I am going to Preston today to do a few jobs in the house, then tomorrow is my 'last Mass' at Saint Hilda's - last as a Parishioner anyway, and then that is that. I hope to get some pictures for you of the Corpus Christi procession of he Blessed Sacrament and of the new statue which I am giving to the Church which I will put on here tomorrow. In the meantime, amidst some trial and tribulation and the comforting support of many dozens of friends, it is time to take a step into the unknown. Pray for me as I pray for all of you every day.

The removal company has no boxes for large statues of the Sacred Heart so they will be coming on Monday with bubble wrap and tape for him. I look forward to having this lovely image placed in the corner of the dining room at Preston. Taking all the rugs and furniture away has enabled me to admire my handiwork in stripping and polishing the floors which I did over a weekend with a hand sander.

And finally a picture of the lounge with Saint Anne holding Our Lady, not the most attractive statue in the world, the hands are out of proportion, but none the worse for that in many ways.