Sunday, November 14, 2004

Blessings

Be gentle with me. This is my first effort at blogging. In undertaking this effort I take great comfort in the words of G.K. Chesterton who once wrote, "If something's worth doing it's worth doing badly." So it is.

I am known among friends as something of a ranter. Since I send out large numbers of Emails to friends and family, opining on events of the day, I thought it wise to try a method that does not inflict my views on the unwilling. Trust me, friends, family and colleagues have put up with much. Now they can choose to tune in, or out as they want. Since I believe we human beings are obligated to avoid inficting unwarranted pain, this is surely a good thing.

It is Sunday evening and I had a pleasant day today. This morning I attended the confirmation of my best friend's daughter, in an Anglican parish in Mississauga, Ontario. Now, I am not an Anglican. I suspect that those who know me best would describe me as a conservative leaning Catholic. At least one friend likes to call me Savonarola, but I think he exagerates. I have visited Florence but once in my life and rarely burn books. Truly.

The last time I attended an Anglican service was in the same parish when my best friend's son (my godson) was confirmed some years ago. Same bishop. Same female bishop. My most vivid memory of the earlier confirmation was going forward to receive a blessing at communion. As you may be aware, Rome does not permit Catholics to receive communion in the Anglican church, though Anglicans welcome any papist who does. John the Mad, however, fully intended to obey Catholic canon law and not receive communion in the church of Henry VIII. It was not to be.

For those not familiar with the ritual, in order to only receive a blessing only, you cross your arms over your chest and grip the opposing shoulders. This signals that you do not wish to receive the host. The celebrant is supposed to bless you and send you on your way.

Now I can't say whether the good bishop intended in that first confirmation service to jam that host into my mouth or not, but she did. She simply may have not noticed my arms folded across my chest, mere inches from my mouth. Alternatively, she may have welcomed the opportunity to take revenge for the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, when Guy Fawkes and other Catholic plotters planted gunpowder under the British House of Lords intending to blow it and the Lords to smithereens. Anglicans have long memories. It is possible that this was revenge.

At any rate, I now confess to all here in blogdom that I, John the Mad, once received communion in an Anglican church in Mississauga, Ontario from a female bishop. There, I've said it. Let the chips fall where they may. I can supress it no longer.

In her defence, I must say that the bishop does not seem the sort to take revenge on unsuspecting Romans. Her homily on both occasions was humourous and down to earth. Additionally, she did not force me to receive the host this time round. Perhaps, though, it was because another old friend (also of Irish Catholic extraction) ran interference before she got to me. She may have been willing to take on one mick, but was flumoxed by the unexpected appearance of two at the sanctuary steps. They say there is safety in numbers.

So this time I received a blessing only. I must admit it was a good blessing. I sensed the Holy Spirit in that blessing. Of course, it may be that it was just God's reward for successfuly avoiding the Anglican host the second time round. You never know.

A post script, if I might. In the eucharistic prayer used in the service there was mention of Abraham and Sarah. Whatever happened to Isaac? For two thousand years Isaac, Abraham's son, has been twinned in the Christian liturgy with Abraham. You may recall that Abraham was told by God to sacrifice Isaac, his son, and Abraham was in the process of complying when the angel of the Lord stopped him.

God's demand that Abraham's sacrifice his son was a test of faithfulness and the result of Abraham's obediance was the covenant with the Jewish people. The twinning of the names of Abraham and Isaac, in the Jewish tradition goes back long before Christianity. Suddenly, today in Mississauga, I find Issac dropped from the program.

This is not to take way from Sarah, who was Abraham's wife. Under current family law she is no doubt entitled to half Abraham's spiritual assets, but let's face it. It was not her neck that was on the line. I want to know. What did Isaac do to deserve this? What have the Anglicans done with him? These questions needs to be answered.

1 Comments:

At 6:00 pm, November 15, 2004 , Blogger Dan antecedent of Jabba said...

Ah John, the joys of being born Catholic rather than finding the way later in life.

As you know, I started as an Anglican and converted in my late 30's. I have to admit that I have a far more liberal view than the traditional Catholic and have enjoyed the blessings of the Anglica Church longer than the Catholic but I truly can't find a lot of differrence in the stated aims of each -- minor differences that only a scholar such as yourself would notice.

The world is waiting for a reconciliation of the two churches for a 500 +/- year old rift that started not over Henry's indiscretions but reaction to the excesses and extremes of a church that became the home of scoundrels in western Europe. Even after Henry passed on, the monarchy flirted between Rome and Canterbury but it was always the Puritans that brought it back to the protestant side. Kill a Stuart or two and it is amazing how fast one can get one's view accepted.

Anyway -- I read your Blog and as you know, time permitting, I can engage in fun, frivolity or reasonable discourse -- wherever the mood takes me.

Oh, by the way, it is not universally known in the Anglican (or Irish) church that crossing ones arms is seeking a blessing. It is generally interpreted that one does not feel worthy of touching the host with ones' hands (I am not clean enough to touch God), even if it is symbolic rather than actual trans-substantiation.

I look forward to your next blog!

 

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