Monday, 28 November 2011

Another Credo?


Icon depicting Emperor Constantine (centre) and the Fathers of the First Council of Nicaea (325) as holding the Niceno–Constantinopolitan Creed of 381

Another Credo?  The world and indeed the Church is full of them.  Every Tom, Dick and Harriet with an interest in liturgy and an agenda to run can hash one together and proclaim it thus.  A Feminist Creed, a Gay Creed a Socialist Creed etc, etc,etc..... I don't see any of them as replacements for the Ecumenical Creeds of the Undivided Church but to reflect on them every so often (or even to recite them in Church) can sharpen our understanding of the implications of the faith we profess.  Like this one - Dorothy Sollee's German Creed:

I believe in God
who didn’t create a world
full of things that are the same,
who doesn’t rule in accordance with eternal laws
which are unchangeable
nor under the natural order
of poor and rich,
experts and uninformed
rulers and those who depend on their mercy.

I believe in God
who supports the protests of the living
and the change of all conditions
through our work
and through our politics.

I believe in Jesus Christ who was right when he,
as an ‘individual who can’t change anything’
just like us worked for the change of all conditions
and who perished in so doing.
Compared with him I realise
how our intelligence cripples
and our fantasy stifles
our efforts are wasted
because we don’t live like he did.
Every day I am afraid
that He died in vain
because he is buried in our churches
because we have betrayed His revolution
in obedience and fear of authorities.

I believe in Jesus Christ
who rises from the dead in our life
so that we can become free
from prejudice and arrogance
from fear and hatred
and drive His revolution
towards his reign.

I believe in the Spirit
that came into this world with Jesus
to the community of all nations
and our responsibility for what
becomes of our world,
a valley full of lamentation, hunger and violence
or the city of God.

I believe in the just peace that can be created
in the possibility of a meaningful life
for all people in the future of this world of God.

In Advent we prepare for the return of the Prince of Peace. For the coming of the the Kingdom that is Justice and Peace. We pray, we hope. And hopefully we act.  We act justly. We attempt, at least in a small way, to re-order our own little bit of the kingdom in a more peaceful and just way.  We do our bit.  If nothing else, we put one more brick in the wall that reaches to Heaven.  And in that hopeful building, we show what we really believe.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

The Miraculous Medal

I hate following the trend so will ignore Advent Sunday this year! (in blogging at any rate!) 

On this day, Saint Catherine Labouré had a vision which led to that well known religious artefact, the Miraculous medal

On November 27, 1830, she had a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary during her evening meditations. The Virgin appeared inside an oval frame, standing on a globe, wearing many rings of different colors, most of which shone rays of light over the globe. Around the margin of the frame appeared the words Ô Marie, conçue sans péché, priez pour nous qui avons recours à vous (O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee). As St Catherine watched, the frame seemed to rotate, showing a circle of twelve stars, a large letter M surmounted by a cross, and the stylized Sacred Heart of Jesus crowned with thorns and Immaculate Heart of Mary pierced with a sword. Asked why some of her rings did not shed light, Mary reportedly replied, "Those are the graces for which people forget to ask." Catherine then heard Mary ask her to take these images to her father confessor, telling him that they should be put on medallions, and saying "All who wear them will receive great graces."  Catherine did so, and after 2 years of investigation and observation of Catherine's normal daily behaviour, the priest took the information to the  archbishop without revealing Catherine's identity. The request was approved and medallions began to be produced. Those who wore the medal felt that they had received great blessings, and the medal came to be referred to as the "Miraculous Medal". They proved to be popular, and the medals spread worldwide.

The chapel in which Saint Catherine experienced her visions is located at the mother house of the Daughters of Charity in Paris. Her body lies in a glass coffin at the side altar of the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, 140 Rue du Bac, Paris. The incorrupt bodies of Saint Catherine Labouré and Saint Louise de Marillac, a co-founder of the Daughters of Charity, are interred in the chapel, which continues to receive daily visits from Catholic pilgrims today.

File:Bac M Miraculeuse.Autel1.jpg

The chapel in Paris

Religious nick-nacks don't stir me much either way (but I happen to have a medal on a rosary somewhere) but the idea of the Mother of God continuing to pray for us as she did for the 1st disciples does.  A hymn puts it nicely:

Let us weave our supplications,
she with us and we with her,
for the advancement of the faithful,
for each faithful worshiper,
for the doubting, for the sinful,
for each heedless wanderer.
Hail Mary, hail Mary, hail Mary, full of grace.

May the Mother's intercessions
on our homes a blessing win,
that the children all be prospered,
strong and fair and pure within,
following our Lord's own footsteps,
firm in faith and free from sin.
Hail Mary, hail Mary, hail Mary, full of grace.

For the sick and the aged,
for our dear ones far away,
for the hearts that mourn in secret,
all who need our prayers today,
for the faithful gone before us,
may the holy Virgin pray.
Hail Mary, hail Mary, hail Mary, full of grace.

Praise, O Mary, praise the Father,
praise thy Savior and thy Son,
praise the everlasting Spirit,
who hath made thee ark and throne
o'er all creatures high exalted,
lowly praise the Three in One.
Hail Mary, hail Mary, hail Mary, full of grace.

Mother of God pray for us!

And it being the 1st Sunday of Advent, Alma Redemptoris Mater seems appropriate:

Loving Mother of our Savior, hear thou thy people's cry Star of the deep and Portal of the sky! Mother of Him who thee made from nothing made. Sinking we strive and call to thee for aid: Oh, by what joy which Gabriel brought to thee, Thou Virgin first and last, let us thy mercy see.

V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary R. And she conceived by the Holy Ghost.
Let us pray.
Pour forth we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may, by His passion and cross, be brought to the glory of his Resurrection; through the same Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

C S Lewis

Monochrome head-and-left-shoulder photo portrait of 50-year-old Lewis 

Today is the anniversary of the death of my favourite apologist, C S Lewis.  My only connections are dining at High Table in his old college, Magdalen Oxford and meeting his executor Walter Hooper in the Bird and Baby afterwards!  The 1st theological book I ever bought was "The Screwtape Letters", but my favourite is "The Great Divorce".  Wikipedia summaries it thus:

The narrator inexplicably finds himself in a grim and joyless city (the "grey town", which is either hell or purgatory depending on how long one stays there). He eventually finds a bus for those who desire an excursion to some other place (and which eventually turns out to be the foothills of heaven). He enters the bus and converses with his fellow passengers as they travel. When the bus reaches its destination, the passengers on the bus — including the narrator — are gradually revealed to be ghosts. Although the country is the most beautiful they have ever seen, every feature of the landscape (including streams of water and blades of grass) is unyieldingly solid compared to themselves: it causes them immense pain to walk on the grass, and even a single leaf is far too heavy for any to lift.

Shining figures, men and women whom they have known on earth, come to meet them, and to urge them to repent and enter heaven proper. They promise that as the ghosts travel onward and upward, they will become more solid and thus feel less and less discomfort. These figures, called "spirits" to distinguish them from the ghosts, offer to assist them in the journey toward the mountains and the sunrise.

Almost all of the ghosts choose to return instead to the grey town, giving various reasons and excuses. Much of the interest of the book lies in the recognition it awakens of the plausibility and familiarity, along with the thinness and self-deception, of the excuses that the ghosts refuse to abandon, even though to do so would bring them to "reality" and "joy forevermore."

 Brilliant!  Only a Brit would see purgatory as a suburb and a bus as the way out (which is far more likely than votive masses one suspects!)!  Laus Deo for Jack Lewis and all who inform and inspire our faith.

O God of searing truth and surpassing beauty, we give you thanks for Clive Staples Lewis, whose sanctified imagination lights fires of faith in young and old alike; Surprise us also with your joy and draw us into that new and abundant life which is ours in Christ Jesus, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Keep smiling!

The British sense of humour!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

A St Margaret's tide miscellany

.Guided Tours - Tour info and prices

File:Site of the shrine of St. Margaret, Dunfermline Abbey Fife.jpg 

File:St Margarets Chapel.JPG

It has to be said that I have a very soft spot for St Margaret of Scotland. She was born in 1046, a member of the (Anglo-Saxon) English Royal Family. She was educated in Hungary, where her family lived in exile during Danish rule in England. After the Norman invasion in 1066, when she was seen as a threat to the new monarchy, she was welcomed in the court of Malcolm III Canmore of Scotland and married him in 1069. Theirs was a happy marriage and Margaret proved to be both a civilising and a godly presence. She instituted many church reforms and founded many monasteries, churches and pilgrim hostels. She was a woman of prayer as well as good works who seemed to influence for good all with whom she came into contact. She died on this day in the year 1093.  I worshipped as a student at St Margaret's in the Gallowgate in Aberdeen and at the Convent then on the Spital dedicated to her.  I was also born in Dunfermline where she lived, so she is a favourite.  The top photo is a reconstruction of her shrine in the Abbot's House Museum in Dunfermline, the middle the site of her shrine at Dunfermline Abbey and the lower, the chapel she worshipped in at Edinburgh Castle.

God, the ruler of all,
who called your servant Margaret to an earthly throne
and gave her zeal for your Church and love for your people
that she might advance your heavenly kingdom:
mercifully grant that we who commemorate her example
may be fruitful in good works
and attain to the glorious crown of your saints;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

A Ritualist thought.

It is superstition to put one's hope in formalities: but it is pride to be unwilling to submit to them.

True!  Mass, ritual, posture gesture and vesture cannot and do not bring salvation, hope and new life.  But they can be pathways or enablers to finding them.  It struck me the other day that all the surroundings of faith (including the Church visible and structured here on earth) contain just enough of the reality of the Divine to draw us into exploring and encountering more deeply Communion with the God who is the ultimate source of our existence and our truest and deepest happiness.  Of course, we have to cut through a serious amount of guff and garbage to meet it but that is what it's about - selling all you have to obtain the Pearl of Great Price.  The Church as we know it is not God (though it acts as if it is sometimes) but God is still in the Church with all its faults.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

11th November.


The Papal Archbasilica of St John Lateran  - of which the President of the French Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, is ex officio the "first and only honorary canon" of the basilica, a title inherited from the Kings of France, who have held it since Henry IV.

Now I could go on about St Martin of Tours (who influenced Scotland's St Ninian) or Remembrance Day, but it is also the 296th anniversary of the 4th Lateran Council (12th Ecumenical and it was binding on the medieval church in Scotland). Amongst other things it passed the following Canons:

Canon 1: Transubstantiation rules OK. (Good-ish)

Canon 4: An exhortation to the Greeks to reunite with the Roman Church and accept its teaching, so that, according to the Gospel, there may be only one fold and only one shepherd. (Not welcome at Constantinople I'm sure.)

Canon 5: Proclaimed the Papal primacy. After the Pope, primacy is attributed to the patriarchs in the following order: Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem. (But not Canterbury - sorry ++Rowan!)

Canon 6: Provincial councils must be held annually for the reform of morals, especially those of the clergy. (So That's what General Synod's really for!)

Canon 13 forbids the establishment of new religious orders, lest too great diversity bring confusion into the Church. ( Franciscans founded 1209, Dominicans 1216 so it was pretty much ignored soon after!)

Canons 14-17: Against the irregularities of the clergy — e.g., incontinence, drunkenness, attendance at farces and histrionic exhibitions (so we can avoid General Synod?).

Canon 21, the famous "Omnis utriusque sexus", which commands every Christian who has reached the years of discretion to confess all his, or her, sins at least once a year to his, or her, own (i.e. parish) priest. This canon did no more than confirm earlier legislation and custom, and has been often but wrongly, quoted as commanding for the first time the use of sacramental confession. (Anti-mendicant order really!)

Canons 78 & 79: Jews and Moslems shall wear a special dress to enable them to be distinguished from Christians. Christian princes must take measures to prevent blasphemies against Jesus Christ. (Oh well, every Ecclesiastical gathering makes horrible mistakes I suppose - but ain't it funny/ironic that nowadays it's the Right (Theological) wing of both Judaism and Islam who want the right to dress distinctively, rather than see it as a form of persecution or discrimination which it originally was?)

Ah, the joys of Church History!

Monday, 7 November 2011

St Willibrord

We are in Communion with the Continental Old Catholics, so a commemoration of St Willbrord seems apt today.


"O Lord our God, you call whom you will and send them where you choose: We thank you for sending your servant Willibrord to be an apostle to the Low Countries, to turn them from the worship of idols to serve you, the living God; and we entreat you to preserve us from the temptation to exchange the perfect freedom of your service for servitude to false gods and to idols of our own devising; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. "

Sunday, 6 November 2011

A November Sunday.

I liked this picture, so decided to post it for no better reason that it made me chuckle: (gaun yirsel, Mr Spock!)

funny pictures - Vulkan Kitteh finks it ilojikal

Today has been quite chilled.  I sub-deaconed High Mass, then decided to be less couch vegetable than normal.  Instead of sitting in front of a computer, I went out, grabbed a Spicy Italian from Subway (a sarnie rather than Bruno Tognoli! Ooer Missus!!) and caught a bus to Blackford Hill, where I enjoyed some superb views of Edinburgh and Fife.  Home and a nice cuppa of Whittard's excellent 1886 Blend and then a splendid dinner of chicken casserole followed by Bread and Butter pudding.  A fine autumn Sunday indeed!

Saturday, 5 November 2011

How to view the world.

The Vatican map of Europe.

This particular funny made me chuckle: perhaps the Vatican diplomatic corps need to see it?  Mind you,  describing the Irish Free State as "Our Britain" is pretty inaccurate now that the Paddies are withdrawing their Embassy:

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Moved to unusual actions.

Forgive us, Lord Christ,
When the Church fails to be your Body on earth.
Forgive its inward-looking,
its temptation to respectability;
its silence towards the rich,
its neglect towards the poor.
Give us grace to seek first your Kingdom and its justice,
and unite all Christians in the struggle;
that, in the unity of the Faith and with one heart,
we may seek to overcome the world
and establish that Kingdom on earth;
to the glory of your Name,
who with the Source and Spirit are one God,
forever and ever. Amen. 

From "Catholic Socialist Devotions"

The St Paul's Cathedral debacle has moved me to such uncharacteristic activities as buying the Guardian (best coverage - honest!). This prayer (a slight modernisation of a Catholic Crusade prayer) seemed apposite at this time.

The Catholic Crusade ("Catholic Crusade of the Servants of the Precious Blood") aimed, among other things:
To create the demand for the Catholic Faith, the whole Catholic Faith, and nothing but the Catholic Faith. To encourage the rising of the people in the might of the Risen Christ and the Saints, mingling Heaven and earth that we may shatter this greedy world to bits.
Hmm! It makes that reluctant fan of capitalism the former Canon Chancellor of St Paul's "loke a bit weedy" as my esteemed colleague Canon Molesworth might say!   It's founder Conrad Noel wrote a marvellous Credo.

From the Epilogue to Conrad Noel's Jesus the heretic (London, Religious Book Club, 1940)

We believe in God the Father, Who has made us and all the world: In God the Son, Who has redeemed us and all mankind: In God the Holy Ghost Who inspires us and all the chosen army of God.
Thaxted ChurchWe believe that the source of our life is the Triune God, the Comm-Unity, and that the substance of life is Community, namely, that men, by the grace of God, should of their own initiative come into that freely chosen Fellowship of God's Kingdom which is their home. We must, therefore, give ourselves as workers together with Him for the re-creating of a world in which there shall be an interplay of initiative and co-operation.

We believe that God is terrible in goodness and not in tyranny: Maker of all things visible and invisible: Maker of men: Of the sense of wonder and worship: Of the sense of sight which delights in form and colour, in flowers, pictures, sunrises and gay fabrics: Of the sense of hearing which exults in poetry and music: Of the sense of justice and truth which drives men to rebellion against the tyrants who rob men's lives of vigour, leisure, and nourishment: Of the sense of goodness which will re-create the world: God, Maker and Upholder of men's spirits, minds, and bodies.

We believe that God is manifest in splendid men and women, and incarnate in Jesus, the Christ, His only Son, Our Lord, wholly God and wholly Man, conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Mother of man, who rejoices that her Son is casting down the mighty from their thrones and exalting them of low degree; the Woman clothed with the Sun, with the world at her feet and the serpent under them.

We believe that Christ's Incarnation and wondrous Life, devoted to the liberation of the oppressed and the Commonwealth of God, was met by the malice of the mighty masters of the world who dragged Him down to His Passion and Death on the Cross; but that, despising its shame, in triumph he passed through the realms of the dead to a mighty Resurrection, no mere bodiless ghost but with spirit, soul, and body transformed.

We believe that His Glorious Ascension to the very heart of the Godhead fills all things with His Presence, and creates out of the old and tired human race a new race.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, proceeding from the Father and the Son, coming upon the little band in the upper room, raising them from despair and death to newness of life, and filling them with courage and gladness, making them of one heart and mind to share all things in common and to scatter the good news among the crowds in the Holy City and to the furthest ends of the earth.

We believe, then, in this Catholic Church, a visible Army to be the first-fruits of His Kingdom and to battle for its achievement among men: the very Body of Christ to redeem mankind from the inward tyrannies of sin and the outward tyrannies of cruel systems and cruel men.

We believe that evil conditions are the outward and visible sign on the inward and spiritual rascality on the part of the few, and inward and spiritual apathy on the part of the many, but that once they have been created they react for evil upon the minds of rich and poor, and they must be swept away by an immense awakening in the soul of the nations . . .

We believe that those who by the Power of Christ have overcome sin will one day rise with glorious bodies to enjoy and help in the ordering of the Good Life to come, the overmastering Life of the Golden Age. 

We believe that we are pledged to establish it now and are destined to enjoy it hereafter. 

My kinda Creed!  Bet they won't sing this at St Paul's on Sunday!