Monday, 28 July 2014

Guard of Honour

When a visiting prelate comes, there is only one thing to do, and that is to give him an honour guard.

When Mgr Castet comes to us he puts up with a lot of things that are not found in rural France, such as polyphony, boys genuflecting before him (one the correct knee of course) and now honour guards. I tried to explain to him what was going to happen, but I honestly think that the simply thought "Poor Father, his French really is not as good as he thinks!" Well, HA!

I have, to say that he played the part very well. as we progressed, he had a word to say for all of our guards. He even expressed his views on Scottish independence. I will not break the Bishop's confidence and tell the world of his views. Let is just be said that I had to stifle a coughing fit!

Rather more impressive is the fact that we got through the whole thing and did not slice his episcopal nose off. Although we are a school known for our fencing prowess, it would have been simply ghastly if the final day of term had ended with the Bishop having to be rushed to accident and emergency.

Everyone survived. 

Thursday, 24 July 2014

The Newly Confirmed

I thought that when I was a chaplain to a school, that I would not have much experience of the normal things of a priest's life, baptism, funerals, anointing etc. But it turned out not to be the case. Of course I did not do many of these things. I sang a Requiem Mass for the grandfather of one of the boys in College and regularly anointed the sick husband of one of our teachers.

The one to be baptised and his Godfather
And here I baptised one of our pupils, Philip. Needless to say he had not been baptised before! He has been in the school for a while, and had come to know the faith through the other boys, daily Mass, and, well, just being around. He made the decision with the support of his family.

He was baptised in the Old Rite, and as such there are a great number of exorcisms. Which is a good thing.

I drenched him, just so that he knew he was well and truly baptised.

After the baptism, we went to our College Chapel, where I said a traditional Mass and Philip and his Godfather served. How wonderful to receive Holy Communion for the first time serving at the altar of God!

He it was that the Bishop confirmed.

All photos to be found on Chavagnes facebook page, and rights to M. de Soos and Mr Leach.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

End of Term Mass

In Chavagnes the end of term Mass is always a splendid affair. Last year we have Mozart's coronation Mass sung, see here. On that occasion the Bishop was not present. He had come earlier to confer Confirmations. (see here, and here, and here, and here, and here). But this year it had the triple effect of being the end of term Mass, the Mass of confirmation with the Bishop and my final Mass with the boys. It was extraordinarily moving.

The Lord Bishop of Lucon was, of course, in attendance, together with four concelebrating priests and myself acting as Deacon. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Mgr Castet is a pleasure to have on the altar.

I think that this picture above is quite magnificent, so much so that I have used it for my new header picture.

This is quite a line up, choir, and servers, with vimps and Mgr.

Of course the centre of the Mass, as well as Our Lord and Saviour, and the young boy who was confirmed, Philip.

All photos to be found on Chavagnes facebook page, and rights to M. de Soos.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Unemployed Priest for Hire

Available for wedding, funerals, baptisms, bar-mitzvahs (I know the plural is Bar Mizvoth!), anything really.

My diocese officially does not have anything for me to do. And of course they're paying me to do nothing all day long! I can do a spot of cover here and there (only one hour on a Sunday morning), but that's it. I'm not entirely sure what I should do for the rest of the time. I already knit socks. And embroider. And do a spot of DIY on altars. And make candlesticks. And still managed to hold down a full time teaching post and chaplain to a school. Gosh my days are going to be so full now.

Apparently I have to wait for someone to retire or die. I shall be rather like Angela Lansbury in "Murder She Wrote", as soon as she turns up, the corpses begin to pile high. So if any priest sees me coming they should run a mile. I'll be carrying a pension book with their name on it, or a wet pillow.

If ANYONE talks to me about a vocations crisis in this diocese I shall shove my breviary down their throat.

I'm sorry, I'm a bit cross.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Altar Cloths 2

The work was not too bad it has to be said, just that it took quite a long time. And of course you never really know how something is going to turn out until the last minute.

The arms looked a little wonky but, that just tells you that they are home made and not shop bought! I use the same excuse when baking anything. "I burnt that side on purpose so that you would not think that I had bought it from Marks and Spencer!"

I think they are too delightful! We should have these things in our churches - things which are specifically for us and not mass produced. I'm lucky I suppose that I can just do them, to a greater or lesser degree of skill, but there are always people out there who can produce good stuff.

And I do think that it shows that we are actually bothered about our faith. I cannot think of the number of hours I spent making these things. Nor the bloodied fingers (there are still traces of the DNA of my blood on the altar cloths - so now they are a first class relic - you have been told). Nor the time when, almost at the end of the whole damned thing, I spilled a glass of red wine over the cloth (Saint Vanish - pray for us. My goodness that stuff is magnificent. Magnificent !!!!!) But I wanted to do it. Adorning the altar of God is important. I want Him to be present in the most wonderful place possible.

But look at them. They're great! And how many schools have their own coat of arms on their altar cloths? Not many I can tell you!

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Women Bishops from Russia

Left to right - Archbishop Elisey of Sourozh, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk
Justin Welby, Anglican archbishop of Canterbury,  Richard Chartres, Anglican bishop of London
Zenit has a report of the statement of Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk on the recent decision of the Church of England to begin to have women as bishops. You can see it here.
The presence of women in the episcopate shuts for us the door to any discussion on the issue of succession in the Anglican episcopate...
I do not think that this is an issue for most of the people in the modern C of E. I think that desire for union and the means of reaching it have more or less died out. And if the underlying theology, even from the Russia side, is no longer able to be used - there being no succession - it is difficult/impossible to think of any common language or principles that could ever lead to any form of union.

The truth is, I suspect, that union has been the concern of Catholics, Anglo-Catholics (some, though not all) and certain theologians. I do not think it is on the agenda of the rank and file. For many, of course it would be nice if we were all together, but not if it meant that they would have to change, or more exactly would have to stop doing what they thought was right.

And you can respect this point of view. It is a clear exposition of a protestant mindset. And that is fine, because the C of E is protestant. It does not want to be told what to do by a magisterium. If it did, it would be Catholic.

It is time, surely, to put all of this in its correct place. Let us work together in areas, like social justice, where we can and should work together (acknowledging that when it touches abortion - such as is the case with Christian Aid and Amnesty International, see here and here - that we cannot be involved). But that is it. We have two ecumenical mechanisms for the C of E, the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, and the Ordinariate. As Cardinal Kaspar said

Ecumenical dialogue in the true sense of the word has as its goal the restoration of full Church communion. That has been the presupposition of our dialogue until now. That presupposition would realistically no longer exist following the introduction of the ordination of women to episcopal office.
Following that action we could still come together for the sake of information and consultation; we could continue to discuss and attempt to clarify theological issues, to cooperate in many practical spheres and to give shared witness.Above all we could unite in joint prayer and pray for one another. All of that is, God knows, not negligible. But the loss of the common goal would necessarily have an effect on such encounters and rob them of most of their élan and their internal dynamic. Above all -- and this is the most painful aspect -- the shared partaking of the one Lord's table, which we long for so earnestly, would disappear into the far and ultimately unreachable distance. Instead of moving towards one another we would co-exist alongside one another.
[H/T Hermeneutic of Continuity, here]

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Altar Cloths

On going to Chavagnes there were a certain number of aesthetic things I really wanted to do. One was to put halos around the saints on the front of the altar. For some reason they had been removed. This was done, see here.

Another was to put a backing to the statue of our Lady. Also mission accomplished, here.

The third was to get altar cloths that reached to the floor on either side of the altar. This is no mean feat when your altar is quite so large. So I decided that the answer was extensions. And if you are going to put extensions onto altar cloths (and why for goodness sake would you not?) then you may as well embroider the school coat of arms onto them at the same time.

You can see in the first picture marking out the arms in pencil onto a piece of white material, and then beginning to fill it in. My embroidery is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but from a distance it is not too bad, and as the altar is sideways on, only I and the altar servers would see it!

Thursday, 17 July 2014

End of Term Photos

Here is the line up of a fine teaching body, and some wonderful boys. In true style, of course, it took ages to organise. Three attempts at the correct day, and then goodness knows how long to get everyone in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing.

And here is a rather more informal shot. It is wonderful how respectfully they treat their Chaplain!

With this one, no one should doubt the power of the priesthood. No sooner had I said to Mr McDermott that he should 'get lost' than he disappeared!!! There was much puzzlement and amazement, yet the boys gave me a wide birth for the rest of the day and all homework was in on time.

All of these photos were taken by Mr de Soos and are to be found on the Chavagnes facebook page, here.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Wonderful Spoon

I was walking down the street the other day and saw a crisp packet lying in the gutter, and I suddenly thought "Isn't that just like the Kingdom of God."

If there is anyone out there who knows how to get on to Thought for the Day, on BBC Radio 4, then I'm your man. It will keep me busy!

Of course it is not seeing crisp packets in gutters that makes you think of the Kingdom of God. No it is the wonderful inventions that we poor human beings come up with that makes you remember that we are inquisitive and inventive creatures. And in this, surely, we are like out Maker. After all, why else would He ever have come up with us?

Wonderful spoon
So this thing is just wonderful. It is a spoon to get jam and jam-like things out of jars, but... wait for it... you don't have to put the spoon onto a plate or anything when you've finished using it. Nor do you have to shove it at your next door neighbour, demanding that he take it and take it NOW.

The retrieval of Jam and Jam-like thing has never been easier
This spoon is fantastic. It solves a problem that I was not even aware existed until this spoon showed me the solution. Problem and solution revealed at the same moment!

That's much more like the Kingdom of God than a stupid crisp packet.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Round up

With a little time on my hands, before I start my take over of the world (a priest has to have plans), I am doing a round up of stuff that I have missed out on over the last six or seven months since my last posts on this blog.

It is mainly second hand things, but I have found a few pictures on my phone that I had intended to share but never got round to.

It is all jumbled up but never mind. It is cathartic for me anyway...

A motley crew of mathematicians

One of the things I am going to miss is teaching Mathematics. It is not something that I ever thought that I would end up doing, but there you go. There is something very satisfying about a quadratic equation. I've said it before and I'll say it again that life is like struggling to factorise - knowing that it will go but just not being able to quite get the answer.

There is something wonderful about putting all the pieces together and using one theorem to spark off another. I'm not sure that my boys always understood it that way!

A merry Christmas work out the volume of snowman game.

Monday, 14 July 2014

I remember when...

I first started this blog. I was so young, bursting with excitement and just about to go out to Chavagnes International College.

Fantastic place by the way.

Well now I'm back. Back in the diocese at my own asking. But I'm not so sure that I would have been so keen if I had known that I'd be unemployed! Apparently there is no work for me to do. I'm still in holiday mode, which is nice, but I'll go mad with much more of this.

I started this blog saying that I had no people and how weird that was. I'm back in the same situation, and let me tell you, it is still weird.
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