Tuesday, 30 December 2008

The Maintenance of the Faith.

I was invited to the enclosure of the Capuchin Priory in Bruges where I spied this beautiful statue of Saint Francis over the doorway to the corridor leading to the unexpected wooden Chapel behind the main Church where the brothers say their office. The Chapel was built for a hundred monks, but I noticed wistfully (for I have been close to a community which nearly dispersed before) that there were four seats with cushions and books, the rest quite bare. The calefactory bore a similar sign. There was no sense of hopelessness though, the remaining four secure in their Priory and content in their Church.

This is the heart of the current problems for me. It is hard to feel secure in a Church which is redefining itself without serious consideration to its constituent parts. The dead hand of modernism is all around us, rooting out green shoots and pouring poison on the roots of the Faith of the Church, sustaining it these last two thousand years. I look on in amazement at our own self governing egotism.

Looking at my inbox and one or two other signs, there are those who, contrary to what I have said, think me supportive of the code of practice as laid out yesterday. Whether this is through malignancy or carelessness I do not know. I am grateful to the Manchester Group, who I believe have tried hard, nobody could contort themselves so dramatically without trying, I am sure. What they have produced applies itself to the majority of our concerns, as I said, alas, it does so ineffectually. In other words, it will not do, it will not suffice. The faith, I care not about myself, but the faith will not survive in the Church of England under these guidelines. The maintenance of the faith is the only reason I have for being where I am, but God will provide for me, I am convinced, as He provides for the community on Capuchins in Bruges. What the future may be for them and us, well, that we do not know, but the faith will be maintained one way or the other. I do not see my part as over, quite the opposite, it just begins.

Those of you who read the Times may be under the false impression that the Manchester report is already enshrined in law and Women Bishops are already being prepared in semi secret (the latter may be true, I do not know), but the misleading headline is incorrect, February has not yet come and the next synod is some way off. We maintain our united front in the meantime, in the midst of life, not because I enjoy fighting or complaining, I do not, but because I do not have the authority to change the word of God any more than Synod has. On we go, and once again the name of our group has some resonance.