Trespassers will not be prosecuted

il_340x270.433804045_renxWe’re going back to the ‘old’ Lord’s Prayer. When I announced this at a PCC meeting, there were smiles and several utterances of ‘oh good’.

The rhythm of the ‘old’ rolls off the tongue more easily. It’s more like poetry, and so is easier to say, easier to remember, and it more quickly becomes familiar.

The ‘new’ is neither one thing nor the other. It ‘modernizes’ some things and not others. The trouble with modernizing is that it needs to be done regularly as words and concepts change meaning. This strikes a blow at the idea of having a text known by all ages in all places, and it detracts from the notion that The Divine is immortal, invisible, in light inaccessible, the Ancient of Days – which must be true because we sing it with gusto. The new version retains hallowed but ditches thee, thy and thine. Hallowed is not in daily use, but thee, thy and thine are in many parts of England. Your will be done on earth as in heaven implies that it is not done in heaven, but might be one day. Give us today implies a grasping entitlement that excludes the sense of tomorrow and yesterday that comes with daily.

The ‘old’ form is that used in English-speaking Roman Catholic churches and many other denominations. It’s used in most schools that teach it, and that includes Shobnall and Holy Trinity. Because it’s an Anglican translation, and one that even then is used in only some Anglican churches, it’s like the membership song of a posh club. It excludes people rather than includes them. This matters at funerals and weddings and other big occasions.


If you prefer the new one, you can have it back when I’ve gone. Until then, enjoy trespassing.

Coming to light out has yielded fruit.

At St Aidan’s I found a complete set of maniples. The maniple is the vestment that the priest wears over his left arm, rather like the towel you see on a waiter’s arm in a posh restaurant. And that is exactly what it is. Of all the vestments, the maniple is the one signifying that Christian ministry is about service and waiting. For the life of me I don’t know why it fell out of use. It’s now back in use at St Aidan’s and at St Paul’s, where there’s also a complete set.



St Aidan’s has been given a book of readings for the lectern, a Book of Gospels to carry in procession, and – praise be – a thurible and stand for incense on special occasions. This is wonderful. Holy Scripture duly honoured.

St Paul’s, not to be outdone, has been given a green dalmatic. This is the vestment worn by the deacon (assistant) at mass. There are several white and gold dalmatics and one purple one, but until now no green one, and no red one. Anyone out there like to give us a red one? Don’t hang back. Whatever the dalmatic’s function is or was, it looks lovely. We do well to remember that beauty of all sorts is part of the Divine.

I wonder what other treasures will come to light.

New blood?

Ducreux__YawnLocal election results here are rather gloomy. The same old faces, many of whom look about 30 years older in person than they do on publicity posters.Some say that it’s better to go for experience, but the trouble is that ‘experience’ has brought us to a place that most folks would rather not be. I hope that those with ‘experience’ will not allow the same old crooks to go on milking the system. What power do local politicians have anyway? I gather that the answer is ‘pretty much none’, in which case, why are they so expensive?

We see the same phenomenon in church elections: select vestries, diocesan synods, diocesan councils. Same old names, same old faces. How do we get new blood and new thinking on to tired and listless committees?

It’s said that the emigration of young people from Ireland will be reduced by providing more jobs. Will it? Maybe they emigrate because they’re tired of the same old faces perpetuating the battles of the past without, it seems, the ability to look ahead with imagination and vigour.

I’m just a humble clerk in holy orders, but I really do think that a bit of ‘inexperience’ might serve us better than the narcoleptic complacency of ‘experience’.

The Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley

Beaker Header Trees Henge. newA subversive streak is something to be cherished, so if you’ve got one I recommend an occasional visit to The Beaker Folk for refreshment. Flooding Caused by Gay Marriage, is particularly good.

My regular reader will know that a while back in Brave new world I chided the Archbishop of Canterbury for seeming to belittle the work of the parish priest. I put these sentiments into a courteous email to him. After 10 days or so I had a reply from the Archbishop’s Acting Correspondence Secretary, a retired Archdeacon, saying, in essence, push off and get used to the new regime, and stating that the traditional model of parish ministry was failing. The questions I raised about expectations and administrative burdens, however, were ignored.

One thing amused me. The retired Archdeacon, despite being a fully paid-up member of the new iconoclasm, appended ‘The Venerable’ to his signature.

Titles and status remain so very important in the brave new Church.

Brave new world

A good vicar

A good vicar

According to the UK Daily Telegraph yesterday, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s idea of a good vicar (Church of England jargon for parish priest) is one who holds services in ‘non-traditional venues like pubs and clubs’ and ‘in all kinds of strange places.’

I’ve worked in the Church of England and so can say with some confidence that the administrative demands imposed by the Archbishop’s colleagues and the institution on the one hand, and the pastoral role demanded by the community and by those who already support the church on the other, mean that few if any vicars could possibly be regarded by the Archbishop as good. Unless, that is, they refused to deal with correspondence, initiatives, circulars, questionnaires, funerals, weddings, baptisms, and five or six services a Sunday … and so on.

I must accept that I was not, and still must not be, a good vicar. I don’t have the wherewithal or confidence to evangelize in a pub or club or ‘strange place’ for I am not given to facile answers to difficult questions. I am given to pastoral and intellectual exploration that begins in joy and sorrow and ends in wonder and mystery. I am given to an appreciation of beauty and the liturgy. I am able to hold two opposing viewpoints and still function, I think and hope, reasonably well.

Delight and agony of Africa


From Church News Ireland

The Bishop has been to Swaziland. He said ‘the poignant thing was I was such an old man there … because of HIV and other factors most men are dead before they are 50.’

He’s right. If he’d gone to Malawi he’d feel even older. Despite that, I expect he was in the midst of laughter, welcomes, smiles, and liturgies where people want to be involved. There would be few if any shoulds and oughts. People just get on with the job and are glad to be alive. They are not bothered about ‘the way we do things here’ – because all the people who know how we do things are dead.

Digression alert. I did a session on ‘ethics of decision making’ for the diocesan certificate course and asked how many of the middle-aged people were on diocesan synods. All but one put their hands up. I said, ‘it’s time you came off to make room for younger people’. I keep saying that the church is run by people without a future, A self-limiting problem.

Back to the plot. My visit to 6 am Mass in English at St Paul’s, Blantyre, was notable for all those things I mention, but most of all for the uninhibited enthusiasm emanating from the hall next door where the choir was rehearsing for the 9 am Mass in Chichewa.

African Anglicans come to church in Portlaoise. I wonder what they make of it. What can we offer them? All I have is the liturgy, myself, and, since I have some inkling of what it is like to ‘mourn in lonely exile here’, my friendship.

The Bishop has imagination and a fine intellect. How will he survive back here having seen the delight and agony of Africa?

The immoral church?


450px-Gargoyle_Dornoch_CathedralMore from Windsor. Informal conversations have brought home to me, with unexpected force,  the extent to which the church is vilified by today’s young people. They see it as fundamentally unjust because of its attitudes to, for example, women and gays. The movers and shakers of tomorrow consider the church to be less just and less ethical than the society in which they live. It is no longer fit to regard itself as a guardian of standards, let alone a preacher.

I hear from an impeccable source that no C of E bishop was willing to go on air to defend the official position on gay marriage. I wonder how many C of E bishops refuse publicly to acknowledge their own sexuality, and condemn those who do.

Is this relevant to the Church of Ireland? I rather think it is. It’ll be interesting to hear how some of its bishops explain the reasons why they’re in favour of ‘exorcising’ gay people. One even hears of church people who look forward to the identification of the ‘gay gene’ so that fetuses that have it can be rubbed out.

This, it seems, is the gospel of love. Kyrie eleison.