October and the Holy Rosary. This may seem like an odd dedication. However, it is linked to an important event in European history; the naval battle of Lepanto in 1571. The Empire of Ottoman Turks had amassed a huge naval fleet at Lepanto off the coast of western Greece. It was to take Rome, with St Peter’s becoming a mosque, after all they did that in Constantinople, and converted the world’s biggest cathedral into a mosque. This fleet was to open a new front in the Turkish takeover of Western Europe. However, the Bishop of Rome managed to put together a fleet of Venetians, Spanish, and six other kingdoms and republics and decisively defeated and sank the Turkish fleet and saved Western Europe. The Bishop of Rome had asked everyone to pray for the victory, which most people did with a rosary. October 7 became known as our Lady of Victories and later, the feast of the Holy Rosary. England and other northern European countries did not join the alliance, yet these countries were equally saved.
This is the first of two mutterings to help introduce some minor adjustments to our order of service. There is no change in traditional liturgical English or in the prayers we use – only in the sequence and order of the service.
St Luke, in the Book of Acts, describes how the Early Church gathered for prayer: first in the Temple for a synagogue service and then at home for the ‘Breaking of Bread’, as the Mass was first called. The two forms of service were shaped like this:
Synagogue Service Christian ‘Breaking of Bread’
- Opening Blessing 1. Greeting of Peace
- Psalm of praise 2. Psalm of praise
- Opening Prayer 3. Bread and Wine Prepared
- One to three Bible readings. 4. Prayer of Consecration
- Sermon 5. Lord’s Prayer
- Intercessions 6. Breaking of the Bread
- Psalm of praise 7. Communion
- Final Blessing 8.Final prayer and Blessing
This arrangement continued for about 35 years until the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and its Temple. The Jewish leadership that was left blamed the Christians for this disaster and excommunicated them from the Synagogue.
From that time, the Church combined these two services as one in their meeting places. So, at this early stage we begin to see the shape and order of the Mass
1 Psalms of praise (Introit) 7. Greeting of Peace
2.Opening Greeting 8. Psalms of Praise
3. Collect 9. Offertory
4. Reading of Scripture 10. Consecration
5 Sermon 11. Lord’s Prayer
6. Intercessions 12. Communion
……………………………. 13. Final Prayer and Blessing
Gradually, other items were added as they became available; Glory be to God on High, Gospels, Creed, Agnus Dei, so by the time of Pope Gregory the Great (AD 540-604) and Saint Benedict, we have the final shape and order of the Mass, which continued up to the time of the English Reformation, with some items like the intercessions that were dropped. Archbishop Cranmer in 1549 produced the first Book of Common Prayer, which followed this order, but he shifted some items around and added some extra ones – more of that is for next week. However, from around the late 19th Century scholars came to understand this original order. When the reform and changes of the new prayer books in the Anglican Church began in the 1970s, it became the aim to restore the original shape and order of the Mass. The difficulty is a division in our liturgical tradition, with the Order of the Book of Common Prayer on one hand, and the new services in An Australian Prayer Book and then A Prayer Book for Australia. The problems is, that most Anglicans under fifty years of age have no working knowledge of the Book of Common Prayer and the English Missal. We need to address this problem, but not at the expense of losing our heritage and tradition.
Today, the 24th September, apart from being 15th Sunday after Trinity, is also the Festival of our Lady of Walsingham. My interest in this place is because I have visited the Shrine at Walsingham for three times. When I first went in 1974 I was sceptical, but curious about the place. I got hold of a guidebook and started to visit the various chapel, by the time I got to the third chapel I was kneeling and praying – the whole place was permeated with the prayers of millions who had come before me. It was the same on subsequent visits. I naturally became a Priest Associate of the Holy House of Walsingham, and to my surprise I found out that it was largest association of Anglican priests in the world. On my last visit, I spent a whole week there, soaking in the atmosphere of prayer, rest and renewal through the daily masses, Stations of the Cross, and the Rosary after daily Evening Prayer, offering up requests for prayer from around the world.
Every Thursday there is Prayer for Healing and Wholeness. You can have the Laying on of Hands and then, if you wish, the Sacrament of Anointing at the High Altar for Anointing. In the many side chapels people were making their confession. There were so many that I was asked to hear confessions. I was in the chapel until 10pm! What amazed me was that most were making their first confession and they were unloading failings that had weighed upon the hearts. The sense of presence of our Lady and the atmosphere of prayer moved them to unburden their souls and become free.
The first shrine was established in 1061 but was destroyed by Henry VIII. He was odd, for he had visited the Shrine in prayer and pilgrimage in the same year he destroyed it. All that was left was the parish church. Eighty year ago, a new vicar was appointed; Fr Hope Patten. He restored the devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham in the parish church and later, through generous benefactors built a new shrine on a separate site. Over the years, the Shrine has had a growing impact in the Anglican Church, first in England and then around the Anglican world. Walsingham is now is the most visited religious place in England, as people from around the world make their pilgrimage there. It has also become a source of encouragement for many Anglican churches of the Catholic tradition throughout the world.
And Now the Plebiscite
What I am writing about in this issue are my own opinions and are not some part of an official Church announcement. I have previously muttered about this a few weeks ago, under the title, The Love and Worship of God and the Big Decisions of our Day.
My problem is the way the ‘yes’ party and the government are presenting the issue as a simple choice over the equality of marriage for same sex couples. What is being avoided are the consequences for civil and religious rights. Father Frank Brennan, a Master in Law, has explained the issue clearly in 17 August edition of the Guardian, which can be read online. He is actually in favour of same sex marriage, but he is deeply concerned about the consequences for religious and civil freedoms. He points out that in international law religious freedom is an absolute, first class priority, but in Australia it is a second-class right that can be ignored. Instead of protecting religious rights in constitutional law, we find only special exemptions granted in new legislation. That will now become shakier as exemptions can always be withdrawn.
Our country, and many others, have had a cruel and deplorable history in dealing with homosexuality. Now their civil rights are fully protected and they have a proper standing in law. There have been many pieces of legislation that have put this into practice. However, the marriage equality legislation has a potential to affect the religious and civil rights of others. This has been a fact in countries where marriage equality has now been legislated into law.
The government and all party leaders are not being candid or sincere about pretending that this is a just simply and yes or no choice with no consequences. This is not good enough. Unfortunately, this pretending by politicians that everything will OK and you can trust us, when they know from other countries that this has not been the case. Sincerity is about giving solid assurances, and explaining the appropriate legislation that protect rights before the question is put. I think the wooden spoon needs to go to Christopher Pyne, who said on Friday morning on TV, that the yes and no vote should be like two footy teams barracking for their side. In football, a team must lose of course, but that does not mean that the next day civil society changes and religious and civil rights are endangered.
Last week I mentioned an update on our web page, which makes a provision for people to put in a request for prayer. We had our first response, which was not a request, but welcome praise. ‘Wow! This can be one of the most useful blogs we have ever seen on this subject. Basically excellent. I am a specialist in topic this I can understand your hard work’. I had the idea but thanks to Marion for working out on how to do this.
Our next step is to set up a ‘Join us in Daily Prayer’. This makes a link to the Church of England, which has a provision to say either Morning, Evening or Night Prayers according to the traditional language of the Book of Common Prayer, and in the contemporary language of the new prayer books. There is no need to look up Bible readings or the appointed psalms it is all laid out. All you do is click on the date and away you go.
Another provision will be a link to an Irish site called Sacred Space, which offers a daily form of contemplation. It offers a series of prayers, readings and opportunities to reflect on one’s life. It is intended to be used in a slow, reflective way.
There will be another link to the Anglican Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham, which introduces the Shrine as well as their latest news, and an excellent bookshop, which I use a lot.
These additions to our web page are not just for our congregation, but an offering, service and teaching to the wider community. Many may feel cautious about coming to church, but our webpage can enter their homes and encourage them to come and seek further.
Marion will certainly have a work cut out setting these up and I appreciated what she is doing.
Well Done to all who participated in any way.
A Wonderful day was had by all who attended.
Thank you to Councillor Shayne Sutton and Local Parlimentary Representative for Bulimba, Di Farmer for their Support.
A great Result with over $5000 raised on the Day!
Some photos from the day, can be found in the Photo Gallery
THANK YOU !
Last week, I mentioned the attractiveness of holiness, which is made visible in the way we care for and maintain our church, and I mentioned, When someone walks into our church they see far more than candles, wood and statues, they sense that this is a holy place of worship, that this is the ‘House of God; the Gate of Heaven’ Now there is something else we do, which is different from the ordinary world we live in; it is the language of worship. Our form of speech in worship is the Book of Common Prayer and the King James Bible, all from England of the 16th Century.
Every religion has wondered about the appropriate way of speaking to the Almighty. Hindus and Buddhists use the 2,200-year-old Sanskrit. Jews still use Hebrew (modern Hebrew is a revival by the State of Israel). The Catholic Church still uses Latin but permits local languages. The Orthodox use Byzantine Greek and Slavonic). The difficulty with this is that the form of language for worship is not readily understandable. Of course, in England Latin was used up until the Reformation and it fell to Archbishop Cranmer to devise an English liturgical language. He could do this because of his outstanding skills as a translator and in expressing it into the language of public speaking of the day – so he had sense of how it sounds when said aloud. So, his English was understandable by ordinary people but it was not the same as ordinary conversation. The same was true of the translators of the King James Bible (The Authorised Version) of 1611. They deliberately used a form of English of 1500. Again, it was understandable but different. When these scholars presented their translation, they did not submit documents but read them out aloud; how it sounded was all important. Like Cranmer they were trained as orators. So, a beautiful language of metre, rhythm, poetry and phrasing was created. Though different it was heard, understood, valued and remembered.
The beauty of worship is not just furnishings, but something that is heard. Unfortunately, this abandoned in the 1970s, with the new prayer books and so there are many who have lost contact with this beautiful language. Years ago, I stayed at a Russian Monastery in Essex. Their founder, Father Sophroney, decided to translate the Slavonic liturgy into English. He chose the language of our Book of Common Prayer, why? ‘Because it is a language of worship’. Of course!
‘O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness, bow down before him, his glory proclaim; with gold of obedience and incense of lowliness, kneel and adore him the Lord is his name.’
So runs the hymn for the Feast of Epiphany, remembering the visit of the Three Wise Men to the Child Jesus. It was not that long ago you could go to most Anglican churches and pick up a sense of beauty of holiness. The furnishings, the music, the order of worship and the way it was offered, with a sense of dignity and adoration – however, can no longer take that for granted.
Here at Morningside, we still maintain that Anglican tradition. The recent adjustments and tidying-up to the furnishings is to make that stand out more clearly. The point of it all is that when someone walks into our church they see far more than candles, wood and statues, they sense that this is a holy place of worship, as I mention on the first page, that this is the ‘House of God; the Gate of Heaven’ (Jacob in Genesis 28:17).
In Jacob’s dream, he sees a ladder set up between earth and heaven with angels ascending and descending, and in a sense the Church’s symbolism in ordered and dignified worship, vestments, incense and crafted images and sacred vessels, and flickering candles tries to expresses that image. When we put this all together we are offering an image beyond the everyday things of a world – an alternate vision – and for those searching, our little church that can be the door that opens to House of God; the Gate of Heaven the Kingdom of Heaven.
So, we have no reason to apologise for the way we conduct our traditional forms of worship. Indeed, Bishop Alison, when she visited us last, encouraged the Parish Council to keep to these values as it was important for the whole Diocese. This does not mean we remain conservative, static and immovable but seek ways to renew and change when it makes our tradition stand out more clearly.
Following on from last week’s Mutterings and the meeting of the Parish Council, we have adopted
Saint Clare of Assisi and Boniface of Crediton as patrons
because of their association of churches that were in our parish.