Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Corfiot Ornithology.

Another picture of Monday morning, taken by Fr Norman.

Our Lady on Monday morning after exposition and Mass.

Yesterday was a normal sort of a day. There was morning prayer, anointings and Mass in the morning, the Mass taking a slight dip in congregation probably due to Monday's large turnout for the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Low Mass. After Mass the beans were counted from Sunday's collection and the cafe slowly filled up. I resisted the temptation for buttered toast for I am trying to loose a little weight so I can send off for some clergy shirts from the favoured retailer in a size which does not necessitate the payment of an extra fifty percent, whilst the sale is on. Sales for clerical clothing rarely coincide with the ordination season and the payment of clothing grants, so now is the opportune time to order. After Mass and the counting of the beans, myself and the Parish Priest had our usual moan about what needs doing and what is getting a bit tatty. We noted that the Altar Book in the Lady Chapel is getting very tatty and we also noted that visiting clergy saying private Masses or the daily Mass like to use the Roman Missal anyway, which we use for Sundays, even though we have a 'sandwich rite' of BCP and Roman rites, mainly the Roman though. We also use the Roman books for the readings every day. The current Lady Chapel altar Missal is the ASB so after a quick discussion about what to plump for we decided to look for a Roman Missal for the Lady Chapel as well. If anyone has a spare, please let me know, we could offer a few of the aforementioned beans if necessary.

I also noticed that the scene of the visitation of the three wise men in the centre of the High Altar was a bit grubby, so I set about giving it a clean, which led to further cleaning, for thus is the nature of things, that the closer you get, the grubbier things become. Whether I am dirty or simply a conduit of dirt I am unsure. Anyway, by the end of the morning I was standing precariously on the altar, wishing I was not, dusting the finials on the top of the reredos and I found a bit of the top finial resting behind, invisible to the eye. After a clean I remounted this on top of the reredos, I assume someone had knocked it off some years ago when doing the exact same thing I was and hoped nobody would notice. Well, nobody did notice and I dare say nobody will this time round, but I know and it does look a lot nicer now, funny how things just seem to belong sometimes.

The afternoon was spent in academic pursuits before a trip to the supermarket became necessary, alas. Before hand, though, I had made a pork terrine, which I have just fiddled with this morning. It needs a couple more days in the jelly it forms in the dish to finish off, but the smell is sorely tempting. The addition of plum jam and pistachio nuts into this one should prove appetising, I hope. I shall photograph it when I cut it for you. Maybe we can swap slices for a missal?

The evening was spent not looking forward to today, which is calling for an entire day devoted to essay writing, hence i am wasting time on here telling you about my shopping habits! I also spent some time mulling over blogs and bloglife. I will let you in on a secret. I enjoyed writing this blog when I could just waffle on about my day to day exploits with the occasional sermon to bounce off you and the occasional theological excavation of texts to discuss with you. Events recently have overtaken that and the temptation has been to pander to the vastly increased viewers by continuing what has been the style lately. However, I agree with Father Jones at London Docks, when he said, probably not meaning it in quite this way, that this blog has done a certain service recently in getting information out. He is right, indeed, but the information is now out, a light has been switched on which we thought on Monday night last had been extinguished and that service is, unless such a time comes again, finished. Back to business as usual. Back to the happy play of Fr Lee and your scribes vastly different political stances, back to pictures of Sunday Mass and stories from t'North. Good.

Anyway, now we have sorted that out we can return to a nice story and the gentleness and humour, mixed with the theological subtlety of the Catholic Anglican. It all began in Corfu. In Greece and Corfu, but particularly in Corfu, you will, if you should be lucky enough to sit outside on a summer evening with an optional glass of ouzo, hear the collared doves, cooing. The cooing of the collared dove is quite particular, and comes in four smaller coos, with glottal sounds in front of each. Locals say that it is cooing 'dekaoctura, dekaoctura', which means 'eighteener'. The story they tell, or at least the story I was told, is that when Christ was carrying His cross to Calvary, a Roman soldier, taking pity on him, stopped one of the local women selling food and drink to the bystanders and asked her for a cup of milk to give to Christ. She said that it would be 18 coins. He explained that he only had 17 coins but she refused, holding out for the full price. Anyhow, as Christ died she turned into a collared dove, condemned to end her days cooing 'dekaocto', eighteen. If she ever agrees to sing 'dekaepta', seventeen, she will regain her human form, however, the Corfiots claim, if she ever sings 'dekaennaea', nineteen, the world will come to an end and Christ will come again to judge the living.

What have Corfiot folk tales to do with us, Gunga Din? Well, it strikes me that we all, your scribe included, hold out for too much when the benefits of a small loss to ourselves are outweighed by the goodness done to others. I meet many people who decry my liberality and think I should be more of what they perceive to be an Anglo Catholic drone, rather as though they want a race of dalek Priests, shouting 'excommunicate', rather than 'exterminate'. Well, I am sorry, but I am a compromiser, if the Anglo Catholic 'product' is to work, in my opinion, it has to work as viable Parish Churches, loved by the people of the parish, who reside nearby and who love the Church because it speaks to them of truth and the kingdom of heaven. What would have happened if the milk vendor had have given the discount? Christ would have still died, everything would have gone on as ever before, but for the one woman, for she would have swapped expulsion from Heaven for inclusion. Life is a rosary of tiny happenings, stringed together on the saving grace of God and each bead, each tiny happening, has to be strung on that grace, lest the string snaps and the beads all scatter away, never to be found again. I have said before about Shakespeare's use of 'ordinary people' in his plays, who represent humanity. But how would it be if the ordinary people were to walk away? If passing on by and not helping because we have standards, or reservations became the mark of humanity? How different would our world be? No more so than if the woman had given the milk. But if she gave the milk, as the characters in Shakespeare give of themselves, then how happier would life be for them and for the world.

The Catholic faith is built on small beads of truth, the call of the apostles, the fact they said yes, the fact Peter denied Christ and then had the Church commissioned around himself, the witness of Mary and the grilling of fish by the lakeside. All marked by kindness and the sign of faith in Christ. Small things which have changed the world. Small people having faith and becoming great in God's eyes and on whom is this whole structure of ours built. We are the next line of beads, stringing ourselves in faith on the mercy and love of God.