Thursday, 31 October 2013

All Saints tide.

After a very slobbish morning (snooze until the back of 10) I headed out with the honest intention of a country walk.  Rain stopped play!  So it was off to the Co-Op for a paper, collect the memsahib's prescription and a brunch of Welsh Rarebit (allegedly "a la Fortnums" but I've had Rarebit in Fortnums and it was nothing like).  We went shopping for paint and other domestic stuff later and dined on pasta followed by choc enhanced yogurts and washed down with still lemonade.

It's the eve of All Saints Day and I always value the Feast of All Saints.  I particularly like the Commemoration and thanksgiving for the Saints in the SSF Daily Office and I particularly like the final petition: 

"For the martyrs and peacemakers of our time,who shine as lights in the darkness:
For all the unsung heroes and heroines of our faith, whose names are known to God alone:
For all those in our own lives who have revealed to us the love of God and shown to us the way of holiness."

That for me is the heart of celebrating All Saints: remembering the unremembered, celebrating the nameless who are still utterly loved and valued by God.  I hope and pray to be numbered with them in due course.  No poetry captures the glory of All Saints tide better than these words of Dom Gregory Dix:

"To those who know a little of Christian history probably the most moving of all the reflections it brings is not the thought of the great events and the well–remembered saints, but of those innumerable millions of entirely obscure faithful men and women, every one with his or her own individual hopes and fears and joys and sorrows and loves—and sins and temptations and prayers—once every whit as vivid and alive as mine are now. They have left no slightest trace in this world, not even a name, but have passed to God utterly forgotten by men. Yet each of them once believed and prayed as I believe and pray, and found it hard and grew slack and sinned and repented and fell again. Each of them worshipped at the Eucharist, and found their thoughts wandering and tried again, and felt heavy and unresponsive and yet knew—just as really and pathetically as I do these things. There is a little ill–spelled ill–carved rustic epitaph of the fourth century from Asia Minor:—‘Here sleeps the blessed Chione, who has found Jerusalem for she prayed much’. Not another word is known of Chione, some peasant woman who lived in that vanished world of Christian Anatolia. But how lovely if all that should survive after sixteen centuries were that one had prayed much, so that the neighbours who saw all one’s life were sure one must have found Jerusalem! What did the Sunday Eucharist in her village church every week for a life–time mean to the blessed Chione—and to the millions like her then, and every year since? The sheer stupendous quantity of the love of God which this ever repeated action has drawn from the obscure Christian multitudes through the centuries is in itself an overwhelming thought. (All that going with one to the altar every morning!)"


Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Peace in the Church

File:Church of Saint Simeon Stylites 01.jpg

The ruined Church of St Simon Stylites, Aleppo, Syria.

It's been comparatively quiet on the Church front these days.  Spiky Mike's went vacant in September so my Sundays are largely booked from here into next year when we sincerely hope we will get a new Rector.  The Anglican Communion is currently not too mad due to the retirement of such famed conservative pests as Archbishops Akinola and Jensen.  Their successors are currently less noisy, one because he's very new, the other because he was a Colonel in the Nigerian Army and keeping stum about an African military career is probably not a bad idea.  In the old days of course he'd have ended up as a Dictator rather than an  mere Anglican Archbishop - watching Dan Snow on telly tonight, I discovered that the legendarily corrupt President Mobutu of the Congo/Zaire loved Gregorian chant!  Their American buddies in ACNE (or something similar sounding) seem to be quiet after losing a lot of court cases on property (apart from the Texans, but Texas law is different which is why they seem to execute a lot of rather low IQ people).  The Welsh Woozer (aka Williams of Oystermouth) has obfuscated successfully to Michael Ramsey's old Cambridge College but I think is due to lurk in Edinburgh doing the Gifford lectures soon.  Archbishop Oilwelby  seems to be getting a grip and doing a pretty decent job and the new Pope is fairly putting a new gloss on an old song to great effect.

Doubtless there is both grief and joy in the Church elsewhere (plenty enough for all in Egypt and Syria).  My own little bit and the bits I look out at is all Quiet on the Western (Rite) Front at the moment.  The prayer from the Prayer Book seems to be apt: 

"Lord Jesus Christ, Who said to Your Apostles: "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you," regard not my sins but the faith of Your Church, and deign to give her peace and unity according to Your Will: Who live and reign, God, world without end. Amen."