Sunday, 24 April 2011

Thank Crunchie it's Easter!

Yes, well, it's finally here.  Faintly whacked as I was by Saturday's exertions (by 2pm we had booked a Church for Friday 8th June 2012 @ 2pm, started a wedding list (at  Jenners - which totally knackers my left-wing street cred:-)) and bought a going away outfit (also from Jenners - we're going native Edinburgh Episcopalian!)), I then sang the Exsultet, ran about with the Episcopal regalia and sang the Regina Coeli.  Sigh.  I pew foddered this morning (good hymns and sermon, Mozart's Coronation Mass but a right guddle getting up to communion, with the usual pew by pew advance aborted and the mob scrambling in willy nilly which meant my Aspie head nipped a bit and a discreet bunk out of the last hymn for a wee puff was executed).  Lunch was roast lamb, then a snooze.  And dinner was good old fish and chips!  From the chippy - the cooks mutually agreed to down spatulae!  

So back to the day job on the morrow.  Happy Pascha!

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Palm Sunday

Boy awaits palm blessing in Manila
 Waiting for a blessing in the Philippines.

For the 1st time in many a long year, I find myself unable to attend a Palm Sunday Eucharist.  I was working  a  day shift and, even in urban and well churched Embra, I couldn't find an Evening Eucharist at which I could communicate.  Yes, I could have snuck into the Jesuit establishment along the road but I simply don't feel comfortable in disrespecting the RC Church's discipline on inter communion.  I don't agree with it, but ecumenism (to me at any rate) is about being true to where we actually are as Churches, rather than pretending we are where we want to be.  But fear not - I shall be horribly religious later in the week, celebrating a midweek mass, preaching on Maundy Thursday, opening the batting for the Tres Horas (and then running like a hare to start my shift!) and singing the Exultet at the Easter Vigil (I think I'm also Chaplaining the Bishop, so stress may ensue!)

Friday, 15 April 2011

Roland Walls RIP

Today, Father Roland Walls, one of the most remarkable figures in late 20th/early 21st century Scottish Christianity was laid to rest.  Many have written of his passing.
My own memories of Fr Roland date back to an Aberdeen Divinity Faculty retreat at The Burn at Edzell back in the 1980's.  Potentially it was a tricky occasion.  In those days Aberdeen was the favoured "out of the province" training centre for Northern Irish Presbyterian ministers and my  fellow Celts were not all that happy when the Master of Christ's College announced that the retreat would be led by a Roman Catholic monk!  The disarming process started as soon as we arrived.  We trooped into the Common Room searching for tea to find a frankly dishevelled old tramp sitting there in a moth eaten fisherman's sweater, puffing on an ancient and evil smelling Stonehaven briar pipe filled with the most pungent Thick Black plug it has been my misfortune to encounter since my late grandfather used to smoke it when I was wee!  Then we spotted the clerical collar and realised this unlikely vision was indeed our spiritual leader for the next 3 days!  Suffice it to say that the gentle and virtually constant chortling, the tangible goodness and godliness and the power of his talks on the Psalms so won over even the hardest nosed UVF supporter that we all turned out to join in his Sunday Mass even though none of us could receive and he used a Styrofoam coffee cup as a chalice!
My next encounter was just as enjoyable.  He and my old Theology Prof James Torrance had written a booklet on John Duns Scotus. I toddled along to the launch which RW chaired looking like a most amiable Buddha throughout.  Things took glorious flight when a very polite and intellectually rigorous stairheid rammy erupted over the clash between Revealed and Natural theology.  The Natural was vigorously promoted by Alastair Haggart, former Bishop of Edinburgh and Primus and sometime Principal of Coates Hall, the Revealed strongly defended by  JB Torrance.  The dazed incomprehension on the faces of the Edinburgh Church scene's chattering classes was a true wonder, as they dimly realised that their "nice" "ecumenical" "let's not be beastly to people we disagree with because they ARE sincere" approach wasn't in the same ball park as real disciplined Dogmatics and real heavyweight theologians can disagree strongly and still respect each other and not fall out!  Roland Walls sat serenely above this clash of Titans, chuckling and enjoying the great fun of a proper theological discourse!
In recent years I often ran into Roland as Brother John Halsey pushed him along the canal bank for a wee outing from the Little Sisters of the Poor care home where he lived.  he may have been confused but he was happy and his love of God and union with the Divine still shone through the dementia.  We shall not see his like again.  Rise in glory Father and keep on chuckling!

Friday, 8 April 2011


Well, it's been busy with work and pay negotiations (Shop Steward bunnet on) - phew!  And 2 Sundays in cassock alb + a rosary mass and a midweek  So today I paid my annual pilgrimage to the Shrine of St William Hill (a fiver each way on a cuddy at Aintree tomorrow), got a jazz CD ("Bitches Brew" by the great Miles Davis) and it's off to Lindisfarne for 4 days!  Bye y'all!

Friday, 1 April 2011

Men's Spirituality - Eh?

Came across this ad in a Pisky news source today.

A 5 day life changing programme for men, devised by Richard Rohr OFM.  Across the world over 5000 men have taken part in this programme and the UK Rites are led by a trained and accredited team of experienced Elders.

Fee: £300 Camping (bring your own tent, meals provided)
£385 Bed indoors *

This is not about religion, but about spirituality, about age old traditions that guide men into manhood, about coming to trust that there is something much greater at work in their lives than they could ever imagine.
Taking you sometimes out of your comfort zones, but more deeply back into your own life.

This is being marketed as spirituality "for men" - the underlying assumption is of course for "real  men" (whatever they are).  I must admit that anything that involves spirituality and camping in a tent in soggy Perthshire leaves me utterly cold.  It seems to me to be somewhat silly to separate religion and spirituality.  Your spirituality is formed for good or ill by your religious experience and vice-versa.  Religion without spirituality is Sadducee.  Spirituality without some religious input is too hazy for my mind to grasp.  Equally, importing rites from native American culture may be of very limited use to Western Europeans.  I understand and value the non-specifically religious approach as practised by AA - but it encourages you to develop a Spiritual basis for living, be it through the rediscovery of your own neglected religious faith or by embracing one which works for you.  I like a sauna but sweat lodges and drums strike me as a wee bit - well, like playing at cowboys and Indians!  I think I'll give it a miss myself and find a nice retreat with regular prayer, quiet and a decent library.  The Macho stuff I'll leave to the incurably butch!

The Ordinariate in Scotland.

The Ordinariate evidently exists in Scotland: indeed the Lord Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness has a comment on its after effects on his blog (  To save hunting, I print the relevant section below:

"Ash Wednesday... 10.30am Eucharist in St Finbarr’s, Dornoch with a congregation form across Sutherland, 12.00 noon Eucharist in St Ninian’s, Invergordon and the people of North Ross-Shire, 4.15pm and I was leading the L’Arche community Ash Wednesday Service in Inverness and finally 7.30pm Mass at St Michael and All Angels, Inverness. This last service was important because this was the day that their former priest and a number of the congregation had crossed over to the Ordinariate. The congregation which gathered in this small and beautiful church were feeling lost, angry, abandoned but also determined to keep going. Twenty One people came together, one server doing the work of four, and a Deacon also playing the Organ (thank you Michael) and a Bishop trying to remember everything he needed to do. The congregation included three children and a teenager, as well as those who have worshipped here for many years; the faithfulness was powerful, the future beginning to look brighter.
Sunday and I was back at St Michael’s,  Sung Mass, lots of Incense, an interesting rendition of the Angelus and then a congregational meeting to elect new members to the vestry, to find a Lay Rep, to discover if the Sunday School would keep going, to recruit new servers, to prepare rotas and to discuss the future. I am delighted to report a full vestry, lay rep and alternate, Sunday school running and even a boat boy to train. Oh and one final vote, this one ended their membership of Forward in Faith!!"
Now, St Michael's Inverness isn't one of the bigger charges in the Province: indeed, it hasn't had a full time stipendiary Rector for most of the departing one's time there (he supplemented his part stipend with Chaplaincy and broadcasting work for many years.).  If there are 21 left in the pews, that is probably the majority of the regular congregation.  So the Scottish Ordinariate based in Inverness is probably less of a rush to Rome than a bus trip to Carfin in terms of numbers.  It has probably killed stone dead any continuing tolerance at an official level for Scotland's FiF.  Either fall in properly or fall out - you will no longer be negotiated with or given much credence as a voice of genuine dissent.  It now means that there are NO (read zilch, zip or nada as you prefer) FiF parishes anywhere north of Hadrian's Wall.  English liberals might like to apply for Scottish jobs soon.  FiF types need not bother in all probability.  The myth that was the unbending Catholicity of the SEC (if you understand Catholicity purely as an adherence to conservative Anglo-Catholic principles) has ended.  Instead, we move on as.. something interesting and rather Anglican.  Which we have been since 1689!