Page 10, 4th January 1980

4th January 1980
Page 10
Page 10, 4th January 1980 — Saints be praised, but an odd band of heroic divines
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Saints be praised, but an odd band of heroic divines

VviTH IN the Anglican Church the mechanism of canonisation does not exist, nor, I think, is it greatly desired.

True, there are.good Anglicans who meticulously follow the calendar of the Roman Church, even to the Memorial or the Forty Martyrs.

True. they keep ancient Saints Days but they make no great ado about them and usually ignore even those slightly later saints to whom their churches were dedicated before the Reformation.

Recently, however, their General Synod, a governing body of bishops, priests and laity approved a new calendar which would include a list of people worthy of commemoration at the altar at Holy Communion.

The fact that they had been canoniseil in the long, painful Roman manner or by popular acclaim is no impediment. And others are included who, for the goodness of their lives, are regarded as worthy of the same recognition.

I recently obtained a list of some of these. I think the idea is admirable, but I cannot make head nor tail of why this lot was chosen. They do not make a coherent whole. And some of the choices are distinctly odd. Here is the list of the Anglican Venerabile I got front Winchester.

Anthony of Egypt. The chief of the Desert Fathers who fled the world to be a hermit. Invariably depicted as crouched in a cave beset by surrealist temptations. Did not organise anything and died in 352. Francis of Sales (1567-1624 Bishop of Geneva not allowed into his city by Calvinists. One of the most endearing of CounterReformation saints. The patron of Journalists.

Timothy (d.97). A young disciple ()1St Paul. Got two letters from him at Ephesus.

Titus. Bishop of Crete and also got a letter from St Paul.

Thomas Aquinas (1226-74). The supreme classical theologian of the Roman Church; a Dominican.

George Herbert (1593-1633). Noble, a clergyman, a lucid poet, a man or great sweetness.

St Cuthbert (635-687). A monk and hermit, the supreme hero ol the Church in the North. Buried somewhere in Durham Cathedral.

Thomas Cranmer (1489-15561. Henry the Eighth's Archbishop of Canterbury: a good man. Ile believed his duty to his sovereign came before that to the Pope. Burned at Oxford and some Catholic priests behaved like hooligans on the occasion.

Thomas Kerr (1637-1711). A visit to Rome convinced him of the validity of Anglicanism. Resisted the authority of the king.

John Keble (1792-1866). The originator of the Oxford Movement that took Newman into the Catholic Chu! ch. A shy, unambitious and literate clergyman.

Julian of Norwich (1342-1413). A Benedictine nun who was all but walled up. The greatest of English medieval mystics.

John and Charles Wesley. 'The founding fathers of Methodism.

William Wilberforce (17591853). The politician most responsible for the abolition of the slave trade in Brish colonies, Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667). A tolerant, Royalist divine. Lancelot Andrews (1555-1626). Bishop of Winchester. Had big part in preparing the Authorised Version of the Bible,

John Bunyan (1628-16)00. A plain man from Bedford who did twelve years "insidefor his dissenting opinions and wrote

Progress.

St, John of the Cross (15421591). A humble Carmelite persecuted by other Carmelites. An ally of St Teresa: a very great poet and mystic.

Ilhe Venerable Bede (673-735). One of the happiest and most learned mooks in the world. An irreplaceable historian. A Doctor of the Universal Church.

The lass with a delicate flair

WE HAD a pretty sensational Midnight Mass. There were people standing at the back and that curious air of anticipation and gaily which does not, I hope, conic from dining late.

Also, there was :I considerable numher of nun-Catholics who like to come to Midnight Mass because that is the one time of the year when the Catholics arc rather fun.

The organist did not arrive: his car was frozen and he had the music with him. However. designed to add to it all, there. was as a wlinist: not a professional student of music but clearly welltrained and practiced and she had i do the accompanying all on her .!\\ n.

I u make it worse. she saw two professional violinists she knew in !lie congregation. Undaunted and unlossed she struck up the carols. All honour to her courage, it worked beautifully. About 20 years old, I would guess.

Our organ is an interesting hundred-year-old thing which the Anglicans locally sold to us from a redundant church for a sacred song.

But it was silent and we wanted to get a tuning note out of it. Fhe electric blower was working but not a sound would it give until someone reminded us that you had to pull a stop out for that. I do not like the sound of illplayed guitars twanged in church, or ill-played recorders where there is more breath than sound. I do not like triangles, or bongo drums: in fact 1 am acutely embarrassed by the liturgical dance.

But when young Maryanne Clarke struck up it sounded like one of those Christmas card churches where the tiddler leads the lusty, rustic singing and brings a sort of special and quite appropriate gaiety to the occasion.

Such an accompaniment is every bit as traditional as the pipe and tabor. And, not like u professional violinist, expecting to be covered by the organ, I reckon that it was one of the most aplombique performances I have heard. She saved the night!

And then we had a plainsong group, not yet quite a schola perhaps. Three of the six knew the plainsong well and were enthusiasts; meaning that they looked for the most beautiful rather than the easier parts of the chant.

So alter several rehearsals in drawing rooms. the mini-Schott; sang, I thought exceedingly well.

The Parish Priest said: "Well, it was better than last year." But he is tolerant rather than enthusiastic over the effort. He has known better choirs, Still. Holy Week looms and there are some rare and simple things to be found in that sad music chest.

We also sang the Gloria in Latin. Someone with a loud voice made a wrong entry and we all faltered until one of the stalwarts of the "choir" ploughed on like a tank through barbed wire.

But it was slightly alarming to notice that the congregation, even the middle aged, are beginning to forget the Gloria and once gone it will never be possible to restore it except to elitist choirs.

It is set usually to a splendid tune and the words are ecstatic. Vast cong,retations and small ones can still let fly in full voice with the Credo, at least with Credo III. How boring if we are losing the Gloria to monasteries, to the Mass done as Oratorio in a town hull and to the clergy when they meet together on speaking terms.

Otherwise all went well. No cars collided in the high revving car park w here they milled about like a corral full of steers and the headlights crossed in the horsey steam of exhaust pipes in the cold , and the noise was riotous and people kissed and all went home for a ritual "snorter" before the long, long sleep.

An incapacitated timeless piece

1.1. IS everybody else's fault except mine. Anyway Christmas is always a news

paperman's nightmare because at Christmas the most extraordinary people expect time Off.

So in your festive newspaper you will find a strange air of unreality. There will be features that have gone slightly brown round the edges and news stories that have a deadly familiar look.

The trouble is that for such a time, a great deal has to he prepared and set well in advance and newspapers. unlike Christmas puddings, du not keep. Men and women will not work on certain days dedicated to leisure by law.

Some time ago I put a little piece in Charterhouse asking for suggestions for readings that might be suitable, though not wholely conventional, for the service of carols that now usually takes place before midnight Mass, while late diners and television addicts trickle into their places.

I received a large number of kindly letters. The trouble was they reached me long after they could appear in even our Christmas edition so the suggestions that they might help a parish or two to branch out and he devils at this pleasing time went for a Burton.

The notice was printed alter so long a delay that 1 had forgotten had written it, and the letters came in long after the Christmas edition had "gone to bed",

The letters were admirable, though I thought there was too much poetry. Not even the most literate schoolmaster lector can usually sustain a long recitation Twos Christmas night in the Workhouse. and The Burning Babe or the Hound of !leaven even sub-edited.

As there were so many letters, please accept this as my note or thanks. I have filed them all and we will try again next year. There is one splendid piece we use in our church. It conies front a Christmas sermon delivered b1 at fifth Century Pope, St Leo the

GrSealte

pndid, well translated stuff. exultant, no holds barred. with great rolling periods and a punch line at the end to knock you co d.

Your priest will have it in tis breviary. Don't hesitate to cut it. even though he was a very great Pope.

If I now wish you a reasonably tolerable }tort of New Year, it will be in the sure and cert• in knowledge that January I will be, but a memory, winding its usual' sordid way into the past. Hut having spent most of Christmas in bed in a state of clinical uncleanliness or at least of bei ig infectious, I intend to st.Iy timeless for a hit.

A sanctity of Ambassadors

APART from the fears those involved and of the dangers of international actions of the most perilous sort, there is another aspect of the Ayatollah's kidnapping of the American Embassy in Teheran.

It is grossly amoral: it is asi retrograde as war itself and in utter denial of the existence of civilisation. It poses an apalli ig and fundamental threat to the precarious order of the world.

The ancient Greeks regarded the persons of Ambassadors as sacred and inviolable, and so it has been, ever since. The first British Embassy staff to the

1:mperor of China were mistaken as representatives of subject nations bearing tribute. They refused to kow-tow and were sent packing.

But at the start of the second world war, the Japanese Embassy officials in Washington played a delaying game in the full knowledge of the Pearl Harbor to come. They were sent home.

It is said that one of the earlier Shahs of Persia on a visit to London, being livid with one of his servants, had him decapitated, presumably in the servants' hall. Again nothing could be done under the cloak of immunity. I cannot absolutely vouch for the veracity of this.

Iran has a poor record for diplomatic decency. In the 13th Century, in its contempt For infidels it had 150 diplomats and their servants executed. This annoyed Genghis Khan who protested.

-the Shah cut off the head of the envoy and sent his servants hack to the Khan clean shaven. In their time the Russian envoys executed Mongol envoys. The Russians were roundly defeated by the Mongols and the Shah's Empire was swept away.

Then there's the case of Count Dracula, more accurately. Vlad the Initialer. He must be the nastiest national hero of all and he is a source of ghoulish revenue to Romania.

He was the Prince of Transylvania when some envoys of the Sultan of Turkey whose vast Empire, as a Christian patriot, he resisted,

The Turks refused to doll-their turbans before him, so he had their turbans nailed to their heads. And then he sent them home, — dead I presume. The Ayatollah is in strange company.




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