Friday, 30 January 2009

Whither National Orthodoxy?

The form of Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Ritus Servandus open on the Sacred Heart altar gives a hint at what type of Parish we might be. The votive candle from our Lourdes pilgrimage replacing the usual one and the fact that a flower display has been given for this altar and the two pre-dieu accommodating heavy traffic give further clues as to our ecclesiology. That we enjoy a productive and cordial relationship with our Diocesan Bishop and an active membership in Deanery and Diocesan committees is testament to more than our own hard work, but that of our neighbours and friends as well. All of which brings us back to where we were a few months ago and reminds me of the scenes during and after the last synod which the Bishop of Burnley described to us soon afterwards. I still feel as though things have changed, which is an interesting feeling as I prepare for my impending curacy and ordination and I still feel as though we have much ground to make up if we are to have any sort of shared future which I am assured is what we do want. THIS LINK offered by one of our commentators yesterday bears reading before progressing any further in this current speculation.

I said yesterday that one of the problems that we have is one of property, people are attached to the Church buildings which they have attended and which stand at the heart of their community. I was pulled up in the comments boxes for not 'realising that Church is not about buildings', which I agree with, but Church is to some extent about the incarnation coming to communities with the express intention of changing their lives and, as my Roman Catholic priest friend keeps saying 'making sure that the Gospel message is not lost in this bloody minded world'. If there are buildings full of people who have come to the faith - and come to the faith precisely because of the unique witness of that place (I think particularly of St Peter's London Docks and many others) - then surely we are duty bound to not only preserve this but keep it going? In Saint Hilda's here, if you talk to any of the congregation or the Parish Priest (who is seventy nine) you will find no hint of a community in crisis or of a community which is shrinking, quite the opposite.

With this in mind as well as the verifiable example of continuing Churches in this country which is that people, on the whole, do not leave their home Church and do not feel attracted to the new community, but continue worshipping and being attracted to worship by the main denominations, then I would feel duty bound to retain this unique witness.

Retain being an interesting word. It does not, in this context, mean being curator of a museum or compromising so much that we are unable to retain orthodoxy but retain as in keep. Keep our unique identity which has brought and continues bringing people to Christ and keep our buildings and good will, teaching the faith as it is taught, unwaveringly and well. To offer a National choice to National apostasy would be a fine hour for this movement.