Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Ordinary week.

St Mary's Altar.
As it was before Mass last friday.
The view from Longridge Fell.

There are not many ordinary weeks in ordinary time, but this week promises to be one, which may explain why I have not posted anything for a while. I went to see 'Elizabeth; the Golden Age' the other day, which was worth two hours of time although I do not really like the cinema. The trailers reminded me that I do not like it as well, displaying snippets of forthcoming rubbish. I suppose I shall see Beowulf, however, if only because I have made some study of the Anglo-Saxon dialect in which it is written and Mr. Sweets famous 'Anglo Saxon Primer' is by me as we write. What I should really like is the 'Canterbury Tales' filmed in the original Middle English, but I do not think that I will ever see that and if I do, it will be a 'worthy' production, with bad filming and worse costumes, which will irritate me because that would detract from the one great thing about the cinema, which is it's ability to transport you, at it's best, into another world. Talking of costumes, I spent most of the time watching Elizabeth thinking how the Queens clothes would make suberb altar frontals! Maybe I should stop watching films. Or stop looking at altar frontals, one or the other. I enjoyed an excellent meal afterwards with friends at the Tai Pan Chinese restaurant in Manchester. For those of you who do not know, it is a huge place built over a Chinese supermarket where good, authentic food can be had. Dim Sum trolleys are a lunchtime feature as are large Chinese families tucking into great piles of lovely looking food, which never makes an appearance on the western menus, much to my irritation. We (much against my better advice!) plumped for a half price banquet, at ten pounds a head which was, in fact, perfectly good and very generous, but, dear reader, I secretly wanted the bowls of green things and unidentifiable bits in glass dishes that smelt so good which other tables nearby were eating and little steamers full of turnip cakes with dried shrimp. Maybe I shall have to go on my own and have an offal festival. Or maybe not. Ho hum. Maybe I will invite Fr Lee out under the pretence of a vestment sale at the Holy Name Church and quickly usher him into the restaurant and tell him that the jellyfish and chicken feet are, in fact, funny shaped spring rolls.

Well, I am off to Chester for the weekend, staying in a fine old georgian building by the Cathedral. I have borrowed another digital camera as mine is -hopefully- going to be fixed by a chap in Wilmslow who specialises in these things so there will be pictures if I can operate the new one.

It is remembrance sunday this Sunday, where there is an indult for the Western Church to keep a requiem Mass for the fallen. I do not think that I will be attending one, as I will be at the 8am BCP Mass in Chester Cathedral, but I hope to return to Manchester in time for the 4pm Old Rite High Mass at the aforementioned Holy Name, when I shall try to take some pictures for you all of that beautiful church. Last Remembrance Sunday, I was preaching at a Church where I was told that not many people turn up for that day, as they have a Mass for peace and the local Congregational Church have a big service at the local Cenotaph. Imagine my surprise, therefore, on walking down the aisle, to find a church heaving full of people in and out of uniform. That was one of my first experiences of having to give a sermon 'on the hoof' as I realised that what I wrote would not suffice. Now, I generally write them out beforehand, but very rarely read them out verbatim, but I use the framework as a guideline, so what you read on this blog is an approximation, really, of what I say.

One or two of you asked for more pictures of the altar at St Mary's, so there they are above, with a couple of pictures from the Ribble Valley in Lacashire from a walk I took there a week or so ago. This is the problem with having a broken camera, you get old pictures!
In this world of continual warfare and disruption, it is a difficult balance to achieve, to have a service for the war dead and also to pray for peace. Politicians line the streets and then go back to their warmongering, each side believing themselves in the right. There is a certain amount of hypocrisy in seeing every MP in the House wearing a poppy and attending their constituency Remembrance service, however there is also hypocrisy in living in a land of relative peace and not defending other peoples peace in their lands, even though we do not always do so for our neighbour. Sometimes the Army seems made up of the best behaved people I know, sometimes of the worst. What do we do and what do we hope for this weekend? Hope for this.
The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended,
the darkness falls at thy behest;
to thee our morning hymns ascended,
thy praise shall sanctify our rest.
We thank thee that thy Church,
unsleeping while earth rolls onward into light,
through all the world her watch is keeping
and rests not now by day nor night.
As o'er each continent and island
the dawn leads on another day,
the voice of prayer is never silent,
nor dies the strain of praise away.
The sun that bids us rest is waking
our brethren 'neath the western sky,
and hour by hour fresh lips are making
thy wondrous doings heard on high.
So be it, Lord; thy throne shall never,
like earth's proud empires, pass away;
thy kingdom stands, and grows for ever,
till all thy creatures own thy sway.