Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Ignatius of Loyola

File:Ignatius of Loyola, Church of Gesù, Rome, Jan 2013.jpg

Statue of St Ignatius in the Gesu Church Rome.

It's one of my favourite saints today - Ignatius of Loyola.The readings recommended for the office were particularly apt.  Isaiah 61:10 - 62:5 reflects well Ignatius's joyful proclamation of the Gospel.  Romans 8:18-27 covers so much of his life.  The suffering from his wounds at Pamplona, his struggles at Manresa, and the prayer that comes from contemplation that is beyond words using the Ignatian method.  Whilst I would describe myself as having moved on from my deeply Ignatian phase of spirituality these days, I remain grateful for his influence and the tools his approach gave me.  So today I remembered those who introduced me to his approach - Donald Nicholson and Gero Mcloughlin SJ and prayed also for the 1st Jesuit Pope, Francis.  Ignatius's courage vision and discipline remain an inspiration for all Christians and a source of blessing for many.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

A horse, a horse!

Dugs frae Fife!

Well, we went to the horse show.  And it was rather fun to be honest.  I enjoyed seeing the foxhounds from the Fife Hunt (not that I knew there was was a Fife hunt until then) and herself took multiple shots of big horses jumping over fences - she was last seen editing out all the blurry ones and the multiples of a rear view of a horse... But I did quite enjoy the skill involved.  Anyway, there was music from the bandstand  if I got seriously bored (including an opera wumman doing most of the background numbers from Inspector Morse with the background of Hopetoun House which was very Inspector Morse-ish) and vintage vroom-vrooms including an E Type Jaguar!  We could have gone and shot at clay pigeons, but we decided to enjoy the sunshine instead.

Foodwise we had great fun - hog roast on a bun with apple sauce for lunch!  Proper traditional ice cream cone, pork, leek and pancetta pie for dinner another day and yummy homemade shortbread for munching with tea.  When we got back I did the cooking (yeah, I know typical male making a a song and dance about something the other half does daily) but I have to say with some pride that I do a rather decent Risotto Primavera!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Sacred Concert.

File:Dunfermline Abbey Geograph.jpg

We went to an excellent concert tonight in my natal Burgh at Dunfermline Abbey as part of the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival -  Duke Ellington's "Sacred Concert" - one of my favourite jazz works. If you've never experienced it, then listen to this: .
Sadly, the star attraction, great jazz pianist Stan Tracey ( ) was ill and his son conducted.

Despite that it was superb, although the unexpected sound and light effects provided by the Almighty added a bit of excitement!  The heavy rain running back to the car wasn't much fun but it was a pleasant interlude.  Our next next interlude at the week-end is a horse show - a new experience for us plebs! (I blame the missus!)  We went to Dalmeny House at the week-end and saw much Napoleonic memorabilia and were given a viewing of the Sevres porcelain by the Countess who appeared from nowhere with a Sheltie in tow.  Personally, I preferred the Sheltie, but pottery really isn't my thing.  Still it was fun and culturally broadening.  Good stuff.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

St Swithun's Day.

Shrine of St Swithun, Winchester Cathedral.

I am very definitely not going to complain about the weather!  It's been very warm for the last few weeks, so this year we can claim to have had an actual summer (quite unusual in Scotland).  Now, if it holds up and medieval saintly legend are to be trusted, tomorrow being fine we should get 40 days more good weather.  For July 15th is St Swithun's Day - and it was/is alleged
St Swithun's day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St Swithun's day if thou be fair
For forty days 'twill rain nae mare
Actually, there is some science to support this pious hokum.  Around the middle of July, the Jet Stream settles into a pattern which, in the majority of years, holds reasonably steady until the end of August. So I'm hoping that the saintly bishop will pull it off this year and grant us good weather for the Edinburgh Festivals.  Come on Swithun, do your stuff!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The joys of being Pisky.

St Adrian's Episcopal Church, Gullane, East Lothian.
You would think that preaching in a little country church would be a mildly unmemorable experience after 20 years of ordained ministry.  And up to a point it is.  Not being one to "dumb down" whilst still being accessible (I hope) in a sermon, on Sunday I used a simile from the autobiography of H. A. Williams, sometime Dean of Trinity College Cambridge and monk of the Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield.  I hasten to add that I did attribute it to him as I despise plagiarism from the pulpit and it's my way of saying "I'm not very original but I am well read!".  I was more than slightly surprised when someone came up afterwards and commented "It was nice to hear Harry Williams mentioned - he taught me Greek at Cambridge"!

It is risky for a Scottish Pisky to assume that any given congregation is theologically less literate than the cleric preaching.  I can think of a housing estate church in Glasgow where the organist is the son of a deceased Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Oxford.  He's probably very theologically literate indeed!  Equally, it is risky to assume that the congregation are as theologically literate as you are.  The finer points of Nicene soteriology are perhaps not the forte of the average Mother's Union member without careful explanation and some indication of their relevance to life in Christ today.  I count myself lucky to have been a curate in a church where my more abstruse homiletic offerings were met with the pertinent  query "And what's that got to do with the price of Spam in Govan?" from a wee Glasgow wifie in the congregation!  The obscure high falutin' of a recently qualified theology graduate was briskly earthed with the requirement to incarnate my theological theory in real life.

Scottish Episcopal congregations I find can handle theology rather well if it is clearly explained, earthed and not wrapped up in the technical lingo adored by specialists.  They can follow an argument and engage with a train of thought quite skillfully.  Their intelligence and responsiveness is one of the joys of being a Pisky priest.