Saturday, 25 April 2009

Offshore Morality Havens.

This picture is taken from the website of the Guild of Servants of the Sanctuary, an Anglican society dedicated to maintaining standards of service at the altar in Parish Churches. The occasion was the Easter Festival at Saint Alban's Holborn. You can see the son of Craig Aburn as boatboy and friend of AW Andrew Wilce as Thurifer.

I went out to Nutters Restaurant near Rochdale last night, where I enjoyed an excellent birthday meal and was up first thing this morning so as to get to Preston for nine, to give the exterior decorator a set of keys and watch the carpet being laid in the rooms where it could not be cleaned. The cleaning of the carpet in the drawing room has brought out a feral smell though, although as it comes out of a clean carpet I suspect the floorboards may be to blame. I will try burning incense followed by glade plug ins and hope for the best.

This picture may be familiar to those of you who buy the Church Times, so here it is an a larger size. I get the Church Times free each week, providing me with a handy large brown envelope to reuse and sometimes an interesting insert. The main publication seems less offensive after a few gins, sinking as it does into unintentional parody. Mind you, it beats the Church of England Newspaper, which just scares the living daylights out of me.

In tomorrows Gospel we hear how the disciples recounted the way they felt, 'hearts burning within us' as they encountered Jesus on the road when they were running away to Emmaus. Christ unfolded the scriptures to them showing how He was the fulfillment of the old and creator of the new covenant. In our worship we try and bring people to feel close to Christ and to help them understand the scriptures, the paradox being that we are already close to Him, we already share in the glory of His presence and we eat and drink His body and blood. The tough thing is relaying this mystery and joy to those both in and out of the Church community in such a way as it will then bring about the joy of allowing them and us to continue reorienting our lives on the skewed axle of faith, he invisible axle on which spins the cosmos, of the sacrifice and redemption won for all people at all times by Christ's glorious triumph over death. Why a skewed axle? That we may live TO Him and He IN us, that we may then see the subversion of worldly values which this entails. We seem odd to the world, which is one reason that complaints, backbiting, moaning and tutting are so damaging to the cause of Christ, for they immediately bring us back into the currency of the zeitgeist, rather than being truly, demandingly sacrificial and not going on about it all the time. You know the sort. we all suffer from it to an extent, 'look at me, trying to be holy, but X, Y and Z keeps annoying me and stopping me pointing to God because I need to have a good old whinge about them'. This is unlikely to bring anyone to Christ.

This is the evening of the first day of the Latin Mass Society training residential weekend at Ushaw College. Our friend Fr Francis Wadsworth was in attendance along with a great many others.

One thing which makes me wonder about the future of the Church is typified by tax exiles. People who, rather than pay their full tax quota, live in half exile overseas, in an off shore tax haven while making their money in the UK. Some sections of the Church are beginning to look for and find off shore morality havens in the arms of Bishops in Africa and Australia (where Anglo Catholics are in many places persecuted, remember this) while still living, ministering and bringing people to God in the UK or the USA. This search for morality havens which can be undertaken on the internet can lead to some very convoluted and ill matched pairings, rather like old fashioned dating agencies more than one potential partner may have to be met, leading to a confusing situation all round. 'Sorry, darling, much as I share your distaste for homosexuality I rather believe in the Assumption' ; maybe lace should not be worn on a first date. Or, 'I believe in the primacy of scripture but do not believe the Pope to be the Antichrist'. These little tuning in problems can cause no end of fuss later on in a relationship when you have moved in with each other if they are not properly shared beforehand. Maybe some would even, in response to Christ's prayer for unity, consider the bounds of branch theory unduly stretched by transferring from the tree to an off shore sapling, which, not being native to us, we may find poisons us, or irritates upon contact.

Back to Ushaw. Here you see the Mass of Saint Mark last night. Not as busy as it was in Oxford last year, but what a conducive place for such an event.