Reverence in church
My reactions to Monica Baldwin's letter of July 25 on "Vanishing reverence" were somewhat mixed. With regard to Communion in the hand, I remember vividly my own First Communion in the Anglican Church at the age of 15, just over 60 years ago. Although my preparation had been at the hands of a clergyman of Evangelical views, I recall the deep awe with which I regarded the Sacred Species which 'I knew indubitably was no common bread.
At that age I did not know that I and most of my fellow Anglicans were following the commendation of St Cyril of Jerusalem in the fourth century: "Making the left hand a throne for the right and hollowing the palm of the right to receive the PSody of Christ," nor did I know that St Bede in his story of the Viaticum of Caedmon testified to this being common practice in England in the eighth century.
Today I sincerely regard this practice as being deeply reverential, although it surely goes without saying that the hands should be clean and to my mind the communicant should be kneeling, in spite of the fact that in the early Church. Communion was sometimes received standing. I consider that the secretion of the Host for sacrilegious purposes can easily be frustrated if the priest is duly watchful and not in any indecent hurry.
With what Monica Baldwin
says about the general decay of reverence and good manners in Church I entirely agree. The standard of dress and cleanliness which is regarded as sufficient at the altar. which would be unthinkable if attending any normal function, is an affront to God, although no one would cavil at a genuine case of folk coming to Church in working clothes where this was needful.
Other examples of irreverence, or the decay of good manners, can be cited. Once it was always the custom for the last one or two to receive Communion to remain at the rail until the Tabernacle door was closed, just as one would pay a departing human guests the courtesy of accompanying him to the door. And surely we could wait until we got out of Church before exploding in a babble of social gossip which is hardly sanctified by a perfunctory genuflection to the Throne of Grace; moreover it distracts any who are so oldfashioned as to wish to say an 'odd prayer or so after Mass.
And if anyone is so rash as to hold the door open for another to pass in or out of Church, need such a one be left like a semi-animate doorstop without a word or gesture of thanks or friendship?
(Major) G. K. Wenham-Strugnell Haylings Lodge, Leiston.
Protest on 'GEN'
Whoever "GEN" may be, it is quite clear that he is suffering from hallucinations. There can be no doubt that he is referring to our International Association in the drivel he writes in the second last section of "14eraldiary" as published in your issue of August 1.
The column is libellous from top to bottom. If faithfulness to the Magisterium of the Church the only condition for membership makes one belong to the "lunatic fringe," then our Holy Martyrs were lunatics. We are proud to be lunatics in this sense.
Our numbers have never dropped, but increase daily. The figure 2,200 was the number of priests members in Ireland and the United Kingdom two years ago. The statistics which I sent you recently show that in the United Kingdom alone, we had 1,964 on July 20. Since then that total has increased to 1,972.
That many archbishops and bishops who are members of our association should be referred to in a paper calling itself "Catholic" as a "lunatic fringe" is outrageous, and unless a correction is made in your paper next week, I shall have to submit all the documents to the Press Council.
(Fr) John W. Flanagan Secretary, International Catholic Priests' Assn. Esperance Nursing Home, Eastbourne, Sussex.
Fr. Flanagan asks (August 1): "Why refuse to publish the figures" which made me and other delegates NCP representatives? As regards the diocese to which he and I both belong, the voting figures were published in the Ad aerlim from the Bishop Bowen dated February 15, 1974. This should be in his possession.
I am sorry he has had a heart attack: this forced him, he writes, to be brief. However, he gives various figures for which he was not asked, but does not give the only fact for which he was asked when and where was he elected as Secretary to the International Catholic Priests' Association. This should not require research.
(Fr) Cyril Scarborough The Priests House, 37 Whyteleafe Road.
In your issue of July 25 you have a front page headline which I deplore: "Missal threat denied".
The "threat" would appear to be the five new canons approved by the Holy See, whereas in fact it is the new missals we are at last able to buy which are "threatened" by the exclusion of the new canons.
This negative, almost hostile, attitude to newness is in my opinion damaging to the faithful who would rather regard the live new canons as a sign of life and development.
Why should it be necessar■ for Christians to be given pessimistic attitudes?
Sister Veronica The Cannonesses of St Augustine.
Lady Margaret House.
10 & 12 Grange Road.
I fully agree with the views expressed in the letters by Fr Nicholas King and Mrs Thersa Kohen (August I). As a reader of your newspaper for more than 40 years I am saddened by your declining standards. (Brig) John Clemow 316 Coulsdon Road,
Old Coulsdon, Surrey.
Congratulations on yO Lir splendid editorials. Keep it up! You can put into words what many of us are feeling but do not know how to express. Margaret Morton 2 Pump Cottages.
Framfield, Near Uckfield,