Gin, Lace and Backbiting

Some work on Ecclesiology and Ethnography led me to an essay by Fr Kenneth Leech “Beyond Gin and Lace: Homosexuality and the Anglo-Catholic Subculture” which can be found at http://www.anglocatholicsocialism.org/lovesname.html#gin1

1 “Beyond Gin and Lace: Homosexuality and the Anglo-Catholic Subculture”. In Beck, Ashley; Hunt, Ros. Speaking Love’s Name: Homosexuality: Some Catholic and Socialist Reflections. London: Jubilee Group. 1988. pp. 16–27. OCLC 19881427. Retrieved 30th January 2019

In it (and it was written in 1988, before the ordination of women priests, and its language is strikingly of that we used in the mid/late 80s on Anti-Section 28/9 Marches, which seems a little problematic now), Leech explores the confusing relationship between the ready embracing of Anglocatholicism by (at the time) gay men and its bizarre simultaneously homophobic and misogynistic nature. Recently, letters have been written to the Bishops condemning the Pastoral Advice over the reception of the newly transitioned with a renewal of baptismal vows from not just the Conservative Evangelical but also the Anglocatholic, and my Twitter timeline is padded with expensively dressed youngish men who extol a fervid ritualism and an equally conservative approach to social policy.

Leech – a lifelong sacramental socialist – sitting on the fringe of Anglocatholicism appears mystified by this duality. To me, it feels like Stockholm Syndrome, where the captive develops empathy and then love for the thing that imprisons it. Without LGBT+ Clergy the whole church would fall, not merely as it would fail to represent the true body of Christ, but because of the sheer numbers of devoted, committed LGBT+ people in its clergy and in its pews. Why then, does the Church and the Anglocatholic Tradition therefore stand so condemnatory of its own?

I was a product of a Theological College where Names and Religion held sway: a nickname that put you in the opposite gender: Ruby, Minerva, Gloria, Mildred (we were all male ordinands at the time, and ordinand wives were given names like Steve and Bruce: I expect the female ordinands get them now) with all the arch-knowingness of a drag act. Straight or Gay (married, single or very single) these nicknames were pervasive and accepted, even celebrated. With it, came acceptance. Some Ordinands had girlfriends come to stay, some had boyfriends come to stay. They were all welcomed, accepted, celebrated even.

Most people in the pews now have a very relaxed attitude towards LBGT+ people, because they know them, are related to them, work with them. In a very traditional title parish, an elderly lady was set against women priests “Well Farv, I’d sooner have one of ’em ‘gay priests’ behind the altar than a woman” as I thought of the succession of my numerous predecessors who remained (to the parish) closeted and whose sexual identity was overlooked and ignored. I pray that as more women and LGBT+ people are in visible ministry such antipathy will diminish through familiarity, but with a self-defeating loathing, little appears to have changed. As Leech in 1988 concludes this dualism can be pathological and toxic

Certainly, some AC priests seem to operate on the basis of a rigid anti-gay position in what they say, combined with a very permissive attitude in what they do and in their pastoral dealings with others. The combination of public anti-gay rhetoric and private gay lifestyle is well known in some AC circles and produces curiously unpleasant manifestations from time to time. Statements by some leading AC bishops in recent months suggest that they too are living in two worlds, speaking in public as if “practising” homosexual clergy did not exist in their dioceses, yet surely knowing from their pastoral experience that this is not the case. The AC subculture seems to have promoted this kind of doublespeak and dualism, and encouraged its growth. It is not a promising basis on which to build a responsible sexual ethic.

If the nature of sacramentalism is only to force our true natures inside, in private, in denial of our incarnated realities, and Anglocatholicism (whatever that actually means – Leech’s historical pen portrait was simplistic but an interesting overview of wider general interest) engenders that dualism, then it is neither healthy nor realistic. With the advent of renewed anti-LGBT+ sentiment here in the late 2010s, we need to understand and at times challenge this self-loathing.


Sermon for the First Mass of Mthr Vickie Morgan, 8th July 2018, S. Faith Havant

First Mass of Mthr Vickie Morgan, 8th July 2018, S. Faith, Havant

https://vimeo.com/278951367

In the name of the +Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

It is a privilege for us to be here: a genuine privilege.

  • Not just because I have driven hours up from Plymouth to be with you this morning,
  • not just because I have the opportunity to see a new raft of fresh, young, vigorous faces before me,
  • not just because I have the opportunity to bring with me the greetings and prayers of another group of Christian communities – the parishes of Bickleigh and Shaugh Prior on the northern edge of Plymouth and Dartmoor
  • and not just because I have the opportunity to return to the diocese where I was ordained as both priest and deacon and served for seven years as Vicar of the parish of S. Thomas the Apostle, Elson in Gosport, and where I first encountered Mother Vickie.

It has been my privilege to first baptise both Freddie and Jake, to prepare Vickie for the sacrament of Confirmation, and walk with her as she began to explore the life-changing, norm-challenging notion (if I recall probably getting close to 10 years ago) that began after morning prayer with the words “So, Vickie, has it ever occurred to you that God might be calling you to be a priest?”

Mother Vickie (and in my tradition it is always important to recognise the role and responsibility that a priest takes on as a Spiritual Parent: to call someone Father or Mother is not to big them up but to hold them to account and remind them of the challenging task to which God and this community call them), Mother Vickie has been a support, encouragement and inspiration: from her creative work with Blessed – an alternative sacramental worship community, from youth work and pastoral ministry and now the great service she has offered to this parish as a Deacon is brought to fruition as we celebrate with joy the fulfilling of this vocation which has been a lifetime in the making.

As a result, it is even more than the privilege of being of being asked to preach at her first Mass, first Eucharist, first Holy Communion, first Lord’s Supper – because it doesn’t really matter what you call it – but because we all share in the special privilege of the Eucharist, Mother Vickie’s first Eucharist and the special privilege of an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ present here amongst us in broken bread and wine outpoured.

Last week, Fr David celebrated that most precious thing first the first time, and today it is the opportunity of one of my closest friends, Mthr Vickie, to bring Christ into our midst.

In this morning’s Gospel, we heard the incredulity of the people of Nazareth to the presence of God in their midst. The incarnation, the enfleshment of God himself poured into this world had been in their midst all along, and they were oblivious to it. And I need to ask you therefore, are you oblivious to the wonderful privilege that will take place in just a few minutes at this holy altar?

If you just turned up this morning because 9.30am is the normal time that you turn for church, the normal time that you through the motions, sing the hymns, say the words, and then move on from here unchanged, then today, my dear friends is the day that needs to stop. The day when you must confront the awesome presence of Christ in his home town, here in Havant.

For you have missed the point. It is a point that has led Fr David and Mther Vickie to change, challenge and reform their lives in the service of God at his holy altar, and you have the privilege of being there when this happens for the first time.

God takes the Ordinary and makes it Extraordinary.

Ordinary men and women, like Fr Tom, like Fr David, like Mthr Vickie, like myself, transformed in ways which are both difficult to see, but impossible to avoid or ignore or diminish.

In the same way, that sacred act which occurs at their hands is the transformation of the ordinary into the extraordinary, the mundane into the profound.

Ordinary bread and wine, become the extraordinary presence of God in this place, and those whom he has called, whom he set aside for this awe-inspiring, challenging task do so to serve God, and to serve you in this community.

In each one of my church vestries I have a little reminder stuck to the vestry table, an encouragement and a challenge, and a copy of which I want to present to you, Mthr Vickie, this morning.

Before each Mass I see it and it holds me to account, and I pray that over the years, for both you and Fr David it will do the same.

It says:

Say each Mass

  • As if it was the first time
  • As if it was the last time
  • As if it was the only time

You will ever say Mass

 

This is not an ordinary, everyday, humdrum act, not a going through the motions, not something that should be muttered through as though it does not matter.

Likewise, my friends, you also should all receive the Eucharist

  • As if it was the first time
  • As if it was the last time
  • As if it was the only time

You will ever receive Holy Communion.

For you also, this is not an ordinary, everyday, humdrum act, not a going through the motions, not something that should be muttered through as though it does not matter.

For you, and I, and all those who encounter Christ in the most holy sacrament of the altar should do so in the humble expectation that it will change you. That which is placed in your hands was poured out from heaven into this world with the sole purpose of transformation. The Holy Spirit, through the conduit of these two newly-set-aside priests is active in these sacraments and in this community because at their hands, Christ is made present to you in this most special gift, as Christ comes to us, hiding, as St Francis of Assisi once wrote “under an ordinary piece of bread”.

The ordinary, made extraordinary. Bread, Wine, You and Me.

Each Eucharist, Mass, Holy Communion, Lord’s Supper is a transformative act. If you have become blasé, bored even, desensitised by repetition, then this first Mass is for you.

If you have stopped being overawed by the sense of Christ here and now, within you and through you in this act of holy Co-munion, then at the hands of a priest nervously undertaking an act which has been thought about, prayed about, hoped over for many years, may this be the moment of renewal: a return to a full, spirit-filled, awe-inspiring realisation of Christ poured out for you at this holy altar.

A privilege. An encounter with the Divine. A moment of transformation.

This Priest will only have the opportunity to say a first Mass once. But tomorrow, and the day after, and the Sunday after and the next year and all subsequent years, I pray, Mother that you will not lose the sense of excitement, nervousness, the significance and importance of what you do for us here this day.

Mother Vickie, with the love and prayer of this community, may you say each Mass

  • As if it was the first time
  • As if it was the last time
  • As if it was the only time

And you, my dear friends, may you always receive Him in the same way, with same sense of awe and wonder…

In the name of Christ the living bread, broken for you, poured out for you, made present for you this day at the hands of the newly ordained.

A privilege.

Amen.

2010

2018


Wedding Prayer

I was asked to include this wedding prayer in a forthcoming service, but I have declined because it merely repeats vows and prayers already said. It is lovely and profound because it echoes the lovely and profound things already covered in the Marriage service. I think it is a lovely prayer to treasure, and perhaps would like to encourage you to say together on your anniversary, to remind you of that vow and covenant.

 

Lord, bless our love;
Bless our promise
To have and to hold,
To love and to cherish
Each day and always.

Protect our marriage,
And keep us faithful,
So we can support and
Encourage one another
In sorrow and in joy.

Watch over our lives,
Over our home, over our family
Over our hopes and dreams.

We give you thanks
That you make us one
In a bond of love so precious
That through it
We can know your love
Today and always.
Amen.


Epiphany Proclamation

While a day like Christmas is fixed in our minds and on the calendars on December 25th, many of the important feasts of the Church year move, based upon the date that Easter is set. Easter changes each year moving to the Sunday after the “Paschal Full Moon,” and can fall between March 22 and April 25.

In ancient times before calendars were common, most people did not know the dates for the upcoming Liturgical year. On Epiphany Sunday, the upcoming dates were “proclaimed” after the gospel in this way, and I make this announcement on the Feast of the Epiphany each year:

Dear brothers and sisters,
the glory of the Lord has shone upon us,
and shall ever be manifest among us,
until the day of his return.

Through the rhythms of times and seasons
let us celebrate the mysteries of salvation.

Let us recall the year’s culmination,
the Easter Triduum of the Lord:
his last supper, his crucifixion, his burial,
and his rising celebrated
between the evening of the Twenty-ninth of March
and the evening of the Thirty-first of March,
Easter Sunday being on the First day of April.

Each Easter — as on each Sunday —
the Holy Church makes present the great and saving deed
by which Christ has for ever conquered sin and death.
From Easter are reckoned all the days we keep holy.

Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent,
will occur on the Fourteenth Day of February.

The Ascension of the Lord will be commemorated on
Thursday, the Tenth day of May.

Pentecost, joyful conclusion of the season of Easter,
will be celebrated on the Twentieth day of May.

And, this year the First Sunday of Advent will be
on the Second day of December, 2018.

Likewise the pilgrim Church proclaims the passover of Christ
in the feasts of the holy Mother of God,
in the feasts of the Apostles and Saints,
and in the commemoration of the faithful departed.

To Jesus Christ, who was, who is, and who is to come,
Lord of time and history,
be endless praise, for ever and ever.

Amen.


Intercessions, Midnight Mass

Response:
Jesus, Child of Peace
Be born in us tonight

Jesus, whose mother was Mary:
we give thanks for those who have been mothers and fathers to us,
and for your own coming into this world.

We hold in prayer before you
all families of every size and description,
but especially those whose family life is broken in some way,
through abuse, bereavement, estrangement, debt, depression or distance.

Jesus, as Joseph and Mary were bound to each other in love for you,
draw each of us to those whom you have purposed us to love,
that we might do so with patience and perseverance, insight and inspiration.

Jesus, Child of Peace
Be born in us tonight

Jesus, cradled in a manger:
we give thanks for those places we regard as safe, warm and welcoming,
acknowledging the blessing of the security we experience.

We hold in prayer before you
all those who are homeless and living rough on the streets,
prey to violence, disease and in some cases their own addictions,
and all those refugees living a long way from home
in an effort to find a measure of safety,
and provide food and shelter for their children.

Jesus, as Mary gently cradled you,
hold in your loving care each desperate individual and struggling family,
that with Mary & Joseph they might know your presence
and one day come to proclaim your glory.

Jesus, Child of Peace
Be born in us tonight

Jesus, sharing the stable with the animals:
we give thanks for the wonders of your creation which you came into
so that we might know your light and life.

We hold in prayer before you those things we have done to your world
which have damaged it to breaking point,
our greed to possess the best of everything,
and our obsession with draining away the gifts and wonders of what we call the natural world.

Jesus, as the animals brought warmth to your first hours on earth,
give us the humility to set greed aside,
and the strength of will to use wisely the resources you provide.

Jesus, Child of Peace
Be born in us tonight

Jesus, worshipped by shepherds and kings:
we give thanks for the diversity of cultures, nations and races which are together
what makes us in the likeness of God.

We hold in prayer before you those disputed regions of the world,
where diversity of opinion or politics forms a barrier to peaceful co-existence,
and where borders and barriers seek to hide
brutal injustice, terror and torture.

Jesus, just as you were brought gifts,
help us to use wisely those gifts of forgiveness and reconciliation
which you have given us for the good of all nations.

Jesus, Child of Peace
Be born in us tonight

Jesus, our Emmanuel:
we give thanks that you came not only in the form of a human baby,
but continue to dwell with us through the power of your Holy Spirit.

We hold in prayer before you those in particular need
of the knowledge of your presence with them,
that through your Spirit they might know your strength,
your healing, your peace and your amazing love for them.
We pray for those whom we know and those whose cries are heard by God alone.

Jesus, just as you come to us daily,
may we consciously make time to come to you,
not just this Christmas Day, but every day of our lives.

Jesus, Child of Peace
Be born in us tonight

Jesus, we give thanks to you our living God:
born of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
revealed in glory,
worshipped by the angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed in throughout the world,
exalted to the highest heavens.

Blessed be God,
our strength and our salvation,
now and for ever.
Amen.


Liturgical Archive – an older translation of the missal

If the new Roman Missal annoys you with its stilted translations and Pidgin-English word order, as well as some decidedly non-Missional words, and have the liturgical authority (where the Pope hath no jurisdiction) to still use this, I have saved and preserve this archive of the old CanticaNova site, to which much thanks prayers are offered.

Visit: http://frsimon.uk/liturgyarchive/ to access the fairly plain text archive, to make it easier to copy into your liturgies. Enjoy!


Blessing for Baptism

There isn’t really a good blessing for the end of baptism. I hope this might be useful to you:

May Christ, who marks you with his own cross
who washes you clean with the living waters of baptism,
who pours out his blessings on you in oil of chrism
who wraps you in his love
give you the light of new life in him
and the blessing of God almighty,
the +Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
Amen.