Thursday, 19 July 2007

Rain, rain, rain.

The front gardens of the Church this morning.

Saint Hilda's Shrine on her feast day.
It feels as though it has been raining for ever here in Manchester, but at least the plants are loving it, if it ever does dry out and the sun comes out for a few weeks then the gardens will look beautiful. However, this is all so much luxury for people in Hull, whose houses and livelihoods have been destroyed by the rain lately.
A few people have asked me for more pictures of the inside of St Hilda's Church, so above is one of her shrine decorated for her feast day. The Mass of the feast this year will be celebrated by Bishop John Gaisford, former Bishop of Beverley on the evening of Sunday 18th November, the morning Mass will be a Low Mass that day, so we can concentrate on the evenings festivities. Hopefully the weather will be fine for our customary firework display.
One of the conversations of our times concerns liturgical celebrations, and how they should be 'pitched'. Best selling books on both sides of the field of opinion call for more simplicity and, conversely, a return to 'fussier' liturgies of earlier days. What both sides call for together, however, in their own way, is an increase in reverance and meaningful liturgy. God is not served casually or forgetfully. Priests of God are supposed to set an example of this reverance, else how can God be recognised and worshipped by all the congregation. I am upset whenever I go to a Roman Catholic Church and see Eucharistic Ministers wandering up to the tabernacle, opening it and taking ciboriums out as though they were in Safeways, picking purchases from the shelf. I am also upset whenever I see liturgy so ornate that those self same people, back in the pews, would be unable to recognise what was going on, and newcomers would find it impossible to feel part of any authentic worshipping community taking it's lead from the teachings of Christ. Celebrating death is a difficult thing to do, but that is what is at the heart of the Mass, a celebration of the Death of Christ, through which came life to the world. Death, though is the gateway to our Faith, the death of Christ, our own death to sin in the waters of Baptism and our rising again to new life with Him on the other side of the grave. There is only the thinnest curtain separating us and our loved ones and our God, which is removed during Mass. People talk of the veil being parted, but in reality none of us can do that. Realistically, when we sit or kneel in Church, we are transported back into the Ark of the Covenant. We enter into the eternal feast and the eternal joy of praising God, as the saints and angels do in Heaven. The altar becomes the bridge of the ship, we, through our prayers, beat the oars, moving us ever closer to the East, following the Morning Star. Christ is truly with us, as we become out of time, and out of place with the world.
So kneel, won't you, when the ark of the covenant, the tabernacle, is opened. And let us set an example of authentic liturgical renewal by meaning with our hearts what we say with our lips during that great liturgy which, by it's divine nature needs no renewal. We simply need to appreciate it's value and renew our relationship with God through the Eucharist. Everything else will follow.