Canon Kearon preaches on 350 years of the Book of Common Prayer
The Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion, Canon Kenneth Kearon, preaching earlier this month in Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral on the topic of the 350th anniversary of the Book of Common Prayer, described it as an “iconic” Prayer Book that had shaped Anglican worship and teaching since 1662.
He said that the Reformation in continental Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries had caused “enormous religious turmoil and ferment in England and, to a lesser extent, in Ireland”.
Canon Kearon noted how, in England, Reformation principles eventually had been incorporated into Church life, with the Church seeking to preserve much of its ancient order, while also adopting many of the new religious ideas and concepts from continental Europe.
FIGURES IN CHURCH HISTORY – 22
ST BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX (1090-1153)
St Bernard of Clairvaux was early drawn to the religious life and joined the nascent Cistercian order at Cîtreaux. Such was the esteem in which he was held that, after only three years, he was chosen to found a new house at a place he named Claire Vallée, or Clairvaux, where he practised a form of piety so self-denying that he impaired his health. nevertheless, his fame spread and disciples flocked to him in great numbers, desirous of putting themselves under his direction. He founded the astonishing total of 163 monasteries in different parts of Europe, these, in turn, giving rise to other foundations.
Such was Bernard’s influence that he was called on to settle various disputes, some of them political in character and others within the Church. The most important of these was his being called upon by the King of France to make a decision as to which of two rival Popes was to be regarded as authentic. His support for Innocent II was decisive in resolving the issue.
Later, one of his disciples, Bernard of Pisa, was raised to the Papacy and requested his advice as to how best to fulfil his office. The response was to the effect that the reformation of the Church ought to commence with the sanctity of its leader. He held a high view of papal authority, speaking of the “unique vicar of Christ who presides not over not a single people but over all”, and was chosen by the Pope to preach the Second Crusade; the last years of his life were saddened by its failure.
Theologically, Bernard was a strict upholder of orthodoxy and secured the condemnation of Peter Abelard who had taken the view that it was by doubting that we came to enquire and by enquiring that we reached the truth.
Bernard himself, in some ways, was in advance of his time, for example, in his opposition to any form of persecution of the Jews. His devotional writings, especially his On loving God, were – and remained – particularly influential not only among the members of his own religious order, the Cistercians, but also among many lay men and women even down to the present day. He said: “You wish me to tell you why and how God should be loved. My answer is that God himself is the reason he is to be loved.” Several of his hymns are in the ChurchHymnal.
This editorial is one in a series of occasional reflections on figures in Church history, following a chronological sequence as they appear.
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Letters to the Editor
I WISH to commend the Gazette for publishing four very clear presentations of the various viewpoints on human sexuality in the context of Christian belief from the contributors to the Gazette Review supplement (20th January). It helps everyone to think about this issue in a more reflective manner.
The first article by Jan and Susan seems to tell us that there is no need for debate. Everything is crystal clear and we all need to wake up and accept things as the liberal wing of Anglicanism sees it. I wonder.
I was much more impressed by Marcel’s article which bristled with honesty, integrity and genuine endeavour by someone who desires to be faithful to God.
We could all be challenged by his openness and sincerity and none of us can walk away from his article without realizing that there are issues in all of our lives, other than this, with which we need to struggle as Christians.
The irony is that the people who would criticise Marcel most severely would be the gay lobby both inside the Church and in society as a whole. Marcel, in my opinion, could hold his head high in any company.
I also found Stephen White’s article interesting, if only for the reason that it presents us with
a contemporary liberal approach to biblical ethics. I am not sure that he is fair to the strong Anglican tradition of biblical ethics which is far deeper than the polemical term, the Bible says. I have huge difficulty with his assertion that “Human nature is essentially (as being in the ‘image and likeness’ of God) good”.
In the biblical account of creation, God did see that everything was very good, but that changed when human beings took things into their own hands.
The biblical analysis of human nature as found in the Old Testament and the new Testament and summed up in Jesus’ teaching is clear in that people are called to repent of their sins. There is plenty of room for creativity and love when these qualities are set in the context of redemption.
Lastly, I found Melanie Lacy’s article worthy of note, with her simple observation that God sometimes disagrees with us and we have to face this reality and ask the question: Who is right in the end?
Well done to all the contributors for sticking their heads above the parapet and surviving!
Nigel Baylor ( The Revd) The Rectory Newtownabbey Co. Antrim BT37
IN RESPONSE to Gerry Lynch’s letter (Gazette, 13th January) on the lack of voice within the Church of Ireland to make gay people feel included, I want to say most strongly that I feel that he, and all other gay people, should be made to feel welcome.
Christ’s second commandment was to love one’s neighbour as oneself. Therefore, Mr Lynch, and all other gay people, should be made most welcome in the Church of Ireland and, indeed, all other Churches which purport to call themselves Christian.
However, I recognise that, as members of the Church of Ireland, we have some work to do on this front.
Robert Dowds TD Clondalkin Dublin 22
Committee expresses thanks
On BEHALF of the Hymnal Sub-Committee of the Liturgical Advisory Committee, I wish to thank all those who have responded to our request for suggestions of items to be included in a supplement to the Hymnal.
We have been overwhelmed by the number of submissions received and have tried to thank each individual personally, but this has become increasingly difficult as the volume of correspondence has increased. The number of suggested items has reached almost 1,500, which is ten times the number suggested for the supplement.
The committee is in the process of assessing these and intends to make a suggested list available to Synod members this year.
We are delighted to have received submissions from every county on the island, representing every diocese, and are conscious that the need for a supplement has been so positively expressed and the work of the committee encouraged and welcomed.
Peter Thompson ( The Revd Dr) Secretary, Hymnal Sub- Committee
St Michael’s Rectory Castlecaulfield Co. Tyrone
Clergy and bishops going wrong?
I AM told that it is now not the ‘fashion’ for clergy to visit. I know it is difficult to find working people at home, but surely it would not be difficult to arrange visits. The ‘care of souls’ must be a priority: how can this be done without visiting?
It is time the clergy gave up other things – e.g. multiplicity of meetings and secular activities which to many seem fulfilling and ‘show’ parishioners how busy they are – to get the time for their real calling.
We need to get back to the quiet priests who use their study for prayer and meditation before going to visit their flock with the ‘Good news’. Studies today are more akin to modern offices, with answering machines and computers. I believe the clergy are being affected by this depersonalisation.
There is also the problem of the multitude of small churches with dwindling numbers which need to be closed or amalgamated. All this would save expensive upkeep and the need for separate services. It will be emotionally hard, but necessary.
Now to bishops. I believe that they should be insisting that their rectors visit parishioners and make it a priority. I notice bishops giving a lot of thought at the moment to buying loud- coloured copes and mitres for personal adornment. Where are we going at a time of famine and despair throughout the world? Is this an example to be setting?
I think of St Patrick, out among his people with his Bible, simple clothes and staff in hand, facing danger and personal discomfort. Maureen Donnelly Clough, Co. Down BT30
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