Rowan’s Way: 6 Red Beret


The day passed in a blur. After what seemed endless phone calls, things were arranged for Sunday. I would do the 8 o’clock in town and then Communion at 11 at Dunhelm. Stephen, one of the non-stipendiaries, would do the 9 o’clock at Clendon and evensong at Clendon Magna, Stephanie would do the family service at Arburgh at 11 and I would do evensong (traditional language) at Stopford. Little Linstead would, I feared, have to take care of itself. Lord Surtees hardly ever went, and the villagers tended to follow his lead. I checked with the estate manager and he confirmed that would be in order. Seven Churches was just too much for our reduced contingent. I was not sure how I would manage three services, but Vera, the other church warden at St Hilda’s was happy to act as my taxi service. It was a reminder that I really did need it to get on with the driving lessons, though goodness knows when I’d find the time.

By the time all that was done, and I’d phoned Susan, who told me how guilty she felt, and let the webmaster know the arrangements so he could put them all up on the site, I felt as though all I wanted to do was collapse onto the sofa and listen to some music. Instead, I had to get myself ready for Ryan. I could, of course, have cancelled, but as he’d come up earlier from town … gosh, the fibs one tells oneself, I reflected, as I perfected my lipstick, adjusted my silver necklace, and checked that my striped top was properly tucked into my slightly short black, pleated skirt. I thought the red beret would set it all off well.

Bang on the dot of seven the doorbell rang.

“That red beret, just the thing. Suits you Ma’am,” he joked. “I thought you might like the Goose and egg out at Dunhelm, so took the liberty of booking.”

It was the most expensive restaurant in twenty miles, a Michelin star and rave reviews in one of the Sunday nationals.

“Sounds like the first of many liberties, Ryan,” I laughed.

“That’s up to you, and I make it a rule never to tangle with anyone wearing a red beret.”

The restaurant lived up to its reputation, and I felt at ease with him. Yet again, he went the carnivore route, this time guinea-fowl with a white wine reduction, while, again, I went the vegetarian, this time pomegranate quinoa salad with kale. The Chardonnay was excellent, but this time he limited himself to the wine, and one glass at that. By the time the waitress brought the cheese and biscuits, we had relaxed into each other’s company, and the verbal sparring had stopped.

“Is it a cease-fire?” It was as though he’d read my mind.

“Were we at war, then?” I teased back.

“Only the eternal war of the sexes.”

“That,” I said with more cynicism than I had meant to show, “ceases only when the man has taken his prey.”

“I will take your word on anything to do with praying,” he joked, and I enjoyed the pun.

“And Allegra?” I queried, raising the name of his girlfriend.

“She may exemplify your maxim, Rowan, but to be accurate, you’d have to add the prefix, ‘ex’ as that is her status.”

“You or her?” I looked him in the eye. A direct question for once, and I signalled I was expecting a straight answer.

“You!” He smiled. I hesitated, not quite knowing what to say.

Seeing that, he added:

“If I want a chance with you, it would be unfair to lead Allegra on, and as she wasn’t prepared to wait to see how rural affairs developed, we agreed to end it – amicably.”

Now I was genuinely unsure what to say. Of course, he could be making it all up, how was I to know? But as he thought it worth going there, I could hardly question his good faith unless, of course, I wanted to signal that I was not interested; and I was – very.

“Don’t tell me I have finally reduced you to silence?” His broad smile told me he was anything but sorry if that had been the case.

“I dare say there are many more fish in the sea.” I parried back.

“My nets are cast your side of the boat, Rowan.”

“Are you sure you want to catch a lady Vicar?”

“I didn’t bring you here to say I don’t want to see you again, so you can assume I do want to catch you.”

“And I didn’t come, after an exhausting day, to tell you thanks but no thanks.” There, I had said it.

I was not in the mood for coffee, so ordered some fennel tisane, while he, as usual, had an espresso.

As we settled until the easy chairs, he stretched out his hand. I responded. His hand was cooler than mine and strong; I liked the firmness. His eyes met mine.

“Let me get this out now before I regret it.”
I looked at him questioningly.

“From what you said last time, I am assuming that you wouldn’t welcome a full -scale assault on your virtue, so I shan’t try. I mention it in case you have changed your mind, and so you don’t think I don’t want you.”

I heard myself laugh, though did not consciously do so.

“I am an old-fashioned girl,” Ryan, “and if you want modern mores, I’m not the girl for you.”

“You intrigue me, shall we say, and I am curious but patient. We have time.”

“All the time in the world,” I added.

He paid, again, and helped me in with my coat.

“I do like that beret, but I am afraid I lied earlier?”

I began to ask how but discovered that he was not averse to tangling with someone wearing a red beret as he pulled me to him and kissed me. Shivers shot through me, I tingled in places I didn’t usually and found my lips opening. His tongue felt its way in, and I found myself on tiptoe. It was everything those novels said it should be.

I don’t know how long we stayed like that. My arms clung round his neck, and I felt myself pulled into him, his hands on my hips. He felt warm, he smelt delicious. After what seemed an age, we disengaged. He looked at me.

“It’s a good job I made the other promise, the one I intend to stick to.”

Breathing heavily, I could only agree. I had never felt this way before. I was in a daze as he drove me back. As I unfastened my safety-belt he leaned over, and again our lips met. For a moment I struggled with the feelings surging through me, but I held firm.
“Thank you,” I said, “that was … .”

“That words fail you tells me more than you could say, Rowan. Let me ring you tomorrow, and see whether by then words have come.”

He kissed me once more.

As I watched him drive off, I realised that for the first time in my life, I was facing a challenge to my principles. As I hung my beret up, I giggled to myself. It was all very well him tangling with a red beret wearer, but was I up to resisting?


Catholicism, the Internet, and Freedom of Speech

The Hollow Men 5I’m going to conflate a few things today, for a purpose, which will be apparent.

First we have all seen the reports in the last few days that the Obama administration wishes to give up American control of the internet. In some ways it seems a reasonable thing to have it controlled by an international body, but is it? First it is a very American invention, by DARPA originally, but once it got loose it has been developed by everybody, and used by everybody. Like the prior American communication inventions, such as cellular telephony, television, movies, photography, the telephone, and the telegraph, it has made the world freer and more prosperous. In some way it shouldn’t matter whether America controls the top end but in the world situation today, it does. Here is why.

There is no country in the world today, except America, where free speech is more or less intact. Here also it is under attack but so far we have managed to protect it almost entirely, thank to the Constitution. That is not true elsewhere, not even in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. All have seen infringements. You may recall that Mark Levin was prosecuted in Canada for telling the truth, some of you may recall reading here about the near prosecution of a Reformed pastor in Norwich, England for sending an email a recipient didn’t like (it was a perfectly innocuous Reformed tract, quoting the bible). I should note that it was here, including source documents because no blog in the United Kingdom, large of small, dared to post it. And now we come to the Catholic hierarchy (specifically the Bishop of Lancaster) suppressing a blogger for writing about orthodox Catholicism. Jess will tell you more in a bit.

And that is why the control of the internet must remain American. There is no one else in the world that can be trusted to keep it free of interference. That may be the saddest sentence I have ever written, it is likely also the truest.

Here’s Jess:

Come unto me …

Catching up on the blog, it would seem as though far from coming to Jesus relieved some of us here from the heavy burden of sin, it seems to have caused distress and hurt. In this world, hurt and distress are inescapable, and I have never understood those atheists who accuse Christians of being Christians because they get comfort from it; facing up to your own sin is far from comfortable; I would always rather not go to confession; I always feel better afterwards – but comfortable is not a word that I would associate with it.

But that is different from actively causing distress; but that is what is happening in the Roman Catholic Church. I follow a number of blogs which I enjoy, and quite a few are orthodox Catholic. Among these are ‘Protect the Pope’ by Deacon Nick Donnelly, and Fr Hunwicke’s Mutual Enrichment. Both now have another thing in common apart from their orthodoxy, they have been leaned upon by the Church hierarchy not to upset those who dissent from orthodox Catholic teaching. More detail can be found at Rorate Caeli, and, in a sign of his solidarity with the orthodox, my friend Frere Rabit has taken down the Vatican flag from his site. Those who profane the Church and counter Catholic teaching appear to be under no sanctions at all; indeed it is said that some of the worst examples are being promoted.

This adds enormously to the distress of some Christians. Our own dear friend, quiavideruntoculi is quite clearly in major difficulty as he tries to reconcile what his bishops are saying and doing and what the Church he joined has always taught. My dear friend SF has offered splendid advice about how to deal with the anguish, but it makes me so sad to see such a sincere searcher after Truth put to such straits; and I have a sense that for those orthodox Catholics whom I love and admire, the time of trial in their Church is not far off.

From the point of view of an Anglo-Catholic laywoman in the Church of England, nothing could be less attractive as I look from Mt Nebo. I cannot imagine a less attractive prospect. Where I am, I am part of a Church some would say was too broad, but where the various parts of it have learned to live together. As I look at what looks very like a revived civil war in the Roman Catholic Church, I have three feelings: pangs of sorrow for my orthodox Catholic friends; a certain irritation with a hierarchy which will crack down on orthodoxy and do nothing about real dissent; and an overwhelming desire to stay as far away from it as I can.

Continue reading Jess’ Come Unto Me… at All Along the Watchtower. Please do, and also note that I, a conservative Lutheran, am in complete agreement with her.

And this:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

American Exceptionalism: Nothing like it in the World.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Biblical Catholicism: The New Old High Churchmen | The Conciliar Anglican

Too often we use labels without really knowing what we are talking about, so when we have a chance to find out what they meant historically, we should do so. This article will tell you about the derivation of the term High-Church. It derives from the Church of England, and has specific interest for conservatives, especially ones who aren’t Whigs. Confused yet? Good. After you’ve read this you’ll understand more, and you’ll also understand it doesn’t mean now what it meant 160 years ago. Of course, in its modern meaning it can be applied to Lutherans as well, in fact it could well be applied to a fair share of Roman catholic traditionalists, as well. Enjoy.

In Anglican circles today, the term “High Church” has become so thoroughly associated with Anglo-Catholicism that the two are assumed to be synonymous. Even in other Christian bodies, the phrases “High Church” and “Low Church” have come to be associated with the level of ritual at operation in the liturgy. This reality says a great deal, both about the ways in which Anglo-Catholicism succeeded and the ways in which earlier forms of High Churchmanship failed.

Holy High History, Batman

The terms “High Church” and “Low Church” were first used in England around the time of the “Glorious Revolution” in the 1680s, but they do not really come into more common use until the early part of the eighteenth century during the reign of Queen Anne. At that time, the terms were equal parts political and religious. The post Reformation Church of England, though on paper settled in doctrine, has never been settled in practice. There have always been those who have felt that the Reformation either went too far or did not go far enough. It is this tension which led to the English Civil War. But by the eighteenth century, those who wanted a more radical reform of the Church were tired of fighting from the inside. Now they simply wanted to be able to create their own churches. But given the ways in which Church and state are intertwined in England, this was easier said than done. As the role of Parliament in running the country became greater, a two party system emerged. Tories favored the Church of England and fought to maintain her rights and privileges as the sole legitimate ecclesial body in the realm. Whigs fought to give dissenters a voice and an equal place at the table. To be “High Church” was to be Tory. To be “Low Church” was to be Whig.

Eighteenth century High Churchmen held such strong political convictions for reasons that were both theological and personal. They were the inheritors of the wealth of theological riches that were produced by Anglicans in the previous century. Everyone from Jeremy Taylor all the way back to Lancelot Andrewes and even Richard Hooker could in some sense be seen as the forerunners to what became the High Church party. What distinguished High Churchmen, even before they had adopted the name, was a belief in not only the legitimacy of the Church of England but its divinely appointed place as the Catholic Church for the English people. As such, High Churchmen strongly upheld the principles of the Elizabethan Settlement. They were dedicated supporters of the prayer book, episcopacy, the monarchy, baptismal regeneration, and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Nevertheless, they were not by any stretch “Romanizers,” though this was the regular accusation made against them by Puritans and other dissenters. One of Jeremy Taylor’s more interesting pieces of writing is his widely circulated “Copy of a Letter Written to a Gentlewoman Newly Seduced to the Church of Rome” in which he celebrates the Church of England as the only truly “Catholick” body in England. High Churchmen were happy to own the Reformation, even if they sometimes drew sharp distinctions between the Reformed Church of England and the Reformed Churches on the continent. And, despite a few colorful exceptions like George Bull, the majority held to the doctrine of justification by faith alone, though they had a far higher view of disciplines like fasting than did most solifidians.

Continue reading Biblical Catholicism: The New Old High Churchmen | The Conciliar Anglican.

Following Our Star

Yesterday, I had a bit of a hard time with the news from Saturday, which I wrote about here, it seems that Jess sensed what was in my mind because only a few minutes later she began to set me right again here. If you haven’t figured it out yet, she managed to get an exceptional education, where I drew on Robert Louis Stevenson and Jefferson Airplane, she answers with T.S. Eliot, Yeats, and Tolkien (and , yes, I love her for it). Here is some of what she said.

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

Writing in 1919, Yeats wondered:   

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand

But it was not so. In Lord of the Rings, Frodo tells Gandalf that he wishes he did not live in the time he did, when such dreadful things were happening. Gandalf’s reply is for all of us:
So do I,’  said Gandalf, and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’

And that is true, God did not ask if we wanted to live in such a time. That is our destiny, to live in these times, and to use our time to do good. Is it sometimes overwhelming? Of course, it is. But we are God’s people, and our God will never give us a burden we cannot bear, we know this, we have always known this.

I’m quite certain that the Founders did not wish to revolt from England, the angst it caused them is clear in all of their writings, and while such things are again in our minds, we too are very reluctant. And this too is as it should be, for did not Jefferson himself say.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

And that is also very true, and so we are mostly patient, and hope to change  things in a civil manner. And so we are frustrated and live in difficult times. But difficult is not impossible and we will prevail. Jess also said this

All each of us can do in the end is to decide how we live our lives and by what star we steer. Those of us with a Christian faith, like Tolkien himself, know we are strangers in this world, and we know by whose star we steer. We can rage all we like against the way the world seems to be going, so did our forefathers, and so will our descendants.

Which prompted one of our favorite commenters, Mike Sweat, to say this

 Might that we only follow that Star a little more openly… the world was once turned upside down by a small group of followers who did so.

And that is very true, for we are the living representatives of a religion that spread farther and faster than any other in the history of the world, and unlike most of the others, we spread by a Gospel of peace and equality for all, not by the sword. Most of you know the story of our own churches, of the churches of the West, which since Constantine have often been called Christendom. But there are others: There are the Orthodox, there are the Copts, in Egypt and elsewhere. And beyond that, there is the entire Church of the East, which Jessica recently did an entire series on here, here is a bit of her introduction

The lack of knowledge about the Church in the West today is part of a tradition which goes back almost to the beginning Eusebius (265-339) the first great historian of Christianity says almost nothing about Christianity outside the Roman Empire – which, of course, gives the game away. The heartland of the Church of the East, Mesopotamia, the cradle of the ancient civilizations of Babylon and Assyria, lay outside the orbit of the Roman Empire, and the Persian Empire, which occupied these areas, was one of that Empire’s main enemies – so there was little friendly interaction between the two.


This political rivalry also accounts for the relative isolation of the Church of the East. None of its bishops attended Nicaea, nor were they invited to Ephesus or Chalcedon. The Persians forced its leaders to declare their jurisdictional independence from the Latin Church in 414. The Church already had its own Creed, the Creed of Aphraates, and the Western Church came to see it as schismatic and heretical. But we get ahead of ourselves – how did there come to be a church there at all?

But note this, the Church of the East extended far into China, and India, and some say reached Japan, It’s territory was far greater than our Church of the West. But other than a few remnants, it is gone now. Why? How? The short form of that answer it that it was a church without a state. Where from Constantine on, in the west, the Church and the State have nearly always been allied, albeit sometimes uneasily, in the east it became a persecuted church, and eventually succumbed.

It’s true that in the west our various schisms, which split off the Copts, the Orthodox, and the Protestant, have weakened us in our doctrine and our sway, we for the most part have kept the faith, and kept it strong.

And while we know that we are truly people of peace and have long lists of martyrs to prove it, we are also heir to the other strain of our history, the soldier of the Lord, only when and where necessary but we are. And so, until we continue the discussion, which we will soon, I leave you with this thought.

18 If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23Whoever hates me hates my Father also.   

John 15:18-23

 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth:

I came not to send peace, but a sword.

Matthew 10:34

Papal Abdications Through History

emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys Fr...

emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys Français : emblème pontifical Italiano: emblema del Papato Português: Emblema papal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You all know how much I enjoy history, so you knew this was coming, didn’t you? The history of Popes who resigned is a quite short one, and for different reasons (we think) in each case. I’m no Catholic (or medieval) scholar, so I had to find some material, and it is very interesting. I don’t have much to add however, so we’ll call this more of a compendium than anything else.

First of all from Donald S. Prudlo writing in Crisis magazine via Catholicism Pure and Simple, on the significance of when and where Pope Benedict’s abdication took place:

In shocking news that quickly demonstrated the ongoing relevance of medieval historians, Pope Benedict announced that he will lay down his governance of the Church of Rome at the end of this month.  Such an event has not happened for nearly 600 years when his predecessor, Gregory XII, sacrificed himself in 1415 to bring an end to the Great Western Schism.  It is appropriate, in an historical Church, to look back.  Rooted in tradition, we see that we do have the resources to cope with such a stunning and in some ways heartbreaking announcement.Benedict XVI used the occasion of a canonization consistory to make this most momentous of announcements.  In canonizing the pope exercises his office as pastor and teacher of all Christians in an extraordinary way, making this consistory a solemn moment for such an announcement.  The consistory was held with the cardinals, who will govern the Church in a sede vacante, therefore it was highly fitting for the Pope to address this message to them.  It was also fitting in such a moment that the Pontiff expressed himself in the universal language of the Catholic Church: Latin.  Just as he had in the first address to his Cardinals after election, Benedict underscored the universality of the Church spread throughout the world, by speaking its catholic language at this most solemn of moments.  Further, in fixing the date for the canonization after his own resignation, Benedict emphasized the continuity of the Petrine office, for on 12 May, we will have a new supreme pontiff to undertake that blessed ceremony.

It is well too to see if we can glean any significance from the saints to be honored.  Two are holy foundresses of female orders.  After his resignation, Benedict will retire to such a monastery to live out his life in prayer and reflection, and indeed, in penance for the Church that he loves so much.  Also to be canonized are Antonio Primaldi and the 800 martyrs of Otranto, brutally killed in an Ottoman raid in 1480, when they refused to convert to Islam.

By the end of the 1470s Mehmed II, called “The Conqueror” was preparing a death blow to Europe.  Having taken the impregnable city of Constantinople, and having pacified the Balkans, his fleet was freely sailing the Mediterranean.  Having taken “New Rome” he set his sights on “Old Rome.”  He launched a raiding party in 1480 on the maritime city of Otranto, at the heel of Italy’s boot.  Thousands were massacred in what was probably an expedition meant to instill terror in seafaring Italy.  After a two week siege, the city fell. The civil and religious leaders of the city were either beheaded or sawed in half.  800 of the leading men of the town refused to convert to Islam and were sentenced to death.  Led by Antonio Primaldi, who had been a spokesman for the group, they were beheaded, one by one on a hill outside town.  Antonio and his townsmen had, in reality, saved Europe for the unstoppable Mehmed II died at only 49 the next year, frustrating Ottoman plans for expansion.

Continue reading Pope Benedict’s Resignation in Historical Context .

And just because it is interesting here is a short history of the Popes who have resigned from the Catholic Encyclopedia

Ferraris declares that the Pope should make his abdication into the hands of the College of Cardinals, as to that body alone pertains the election of his successor. For whilst it is true that the Cardinals did not bestow the papaljurisdiction upon him, yet they designated him as the successor of Peter, and they must be absolutely certain that he has renounced the dignity before they can validly proceed to the election of another pontiff.

Church history furnishes a number of examples of papal abdications. Leaving aside the obscure case of Pope Marcellinus (296-308) adduced by Pezzani, and the still more doubtful resignation of Pope Liberius (352-366) which some historians have postulated in order to solve the perplexing position of Pope Felix II, we may proceed to unquestioned abdications.

Pope Benedict IX (1033-44), who had long caused scandal to the Church by his disorderly life, freely renounced the pontificate and took the habit of amonk. He repented of his abdication and seized the papal throne again for a short time after the death of Pope Clement II, but he finally died in a private station.

His immediate successor, Pope Gregory VI (1044-46) furnishes another example of papal abdication. It was Gregory who had persuaded Benedict IX to resign the Chair of Peter, and to do so he had bestowed valuable possessions upon him. After Gregory had himself become Pope, this transaction was looked on by many as simoniacal; and although Gregory’s intentions seem to have been of the best, yet it was deemed better that he too should abdicate the papal dignity, and he did so voluntarily.

The classic example of the resignation of a Pope is that of St. Celestine V (1294). Before his election to the pontificate, he had been a simple hermit, and his sudden elevation found him unprepared and unfit for his exalted position. After five months of pontificate, he issued a solemn decree in which he declared that it was permissible for the Pope to abdicate, and then made an equally solemn renunciation of the papacy into the hands of the cardinals. He lived two years after his abdication in the practice of virtues which afterwards procured his canonization. Owing to the troubles which evil minded persons caused his successor, Boniface VIII, by their theories about the impossibility of a valid abdication of the papal throne, Boniface issued the above-cited decree to put the matter at rest for all time.

The latest instance of a papal resignation is that of Pope Gregory XII (1406-15). It was at the time of the Great Schism of the West, when two pretenders to the Chair of Peter disputed Gregory’sright, and rent the faithful into three so-called “obediences”. To put an end to the strife, the legitimate Pope Gregory renounced the pontificate at the General Council of Constance in 1415.

It is well known that Pope Pius VII (1800-23), before setting out for Paris to crown Napoleon in 1804, had signed an abdication of the papal throne to take effect in case he were imprisoned in France (De Montor).

Finally, a valid abdication of the Pope must be a free act, hence a forced resignation of the papacy would be null and void, as more than one ecclesiastical decree has declared.

Pretty interesting subject, isn’t it?

%d bloggers like this: