Today is the Feast of S. Thomas of Canterbury. You may have realised that I have a personal devotion to this Saint, having made a pilgrimage to Canterbury and venerated the Martyrdom and the Site of the Saint's Shrine in the Cathedral.
The Parish & Pilgrimage church of S. Magnus the Martyr is so named partly for its association with pilgrimages to Canterbury and Walsingham. In the case of Canterbury, a chapel of ease was located half-way across London Bridge within the Parish of S. Magnus-the-Martyr and this was traditionally where London pilgrims would say their prayers before setting off to Canterbury. In the Canterbury Tales, the pilgrims convene at the nearby Tabard Inn, just across the bridge in Southwark. The chapel of S. Thomas fell into disuse and was destroyed when the buildings on London Bridge were removed. The chapel can be seen in the scale model of London Bridge which is located at the back of S. Magnus church, and it is also depicted in the stained glass window on the South side of the church beneath an image of our co-Patron S. Thomas.
You may remember back in July I posted pictures of a procession from S. Magnus to the site of the old chapel on the feast of the Translation of the Relics of S. Thomas. I am pleased to report that S. Magnus has gratefully received a primary relic of our very own of S. Thomas, ex ossibus, which means that the Procession can now become an annual event if God wills.
Today's feast of the Holy Innocents is known in English as Childermas. This feast is a real liturgical curiosity. Certainly very ancient (going back in the West to at least 485), this feast is pegged in different traditions to either the "Sanctoral" or the "Seasonal" cycle of the year. While the Latin church keeps this feast on the 28th December, the Greeks on the 29th and the Syrians and Assyrians on the 27th, the Armenians on the Monday after the second Sunday of Pentecost, as they maintain that the Holy Innocents were killed fifteen weeks after the Nativity.
Another curiosity is the liturgical colour used for the feast. If the feast falls on a weekday, Violet is used. This stems from the Roman argument that since the Innocents were killed before they were able to attain the beatific vision, they should not be commemorated as other Martyrs, but in honour of the women of Bethlehem, the Gloria and Alleluia are not sung at the Mass. In the Gallican rites of France and parts of Germany, this distinction was not made and Red was used along with the Gloria and Alleluia. Therefore, in the Old Roman Rite, Violet is used if the feast falls on a weekday and Red is used if it falls on a Sunday (and on the Octave day, when the Gloria and Alleluia are also sung), a rare example of compromise between Roman and local uses.
In England, there was a custom of not working on whatever day of the week the feast fell on for the rest of the year until the next Childermas. It would be logical to assume that this custom was only followed by the very wealthy.
Who needs Bristol Cribbs Causeway shopping centre and turkey curry on "Boxing Day", when we could be having this:
Deacons in the Armenian church wear mitres on the feast of S. Stephen, and on other great feasts whenever there are seven deacons present. The Deacon's mitre is, as you can see, closer to a Byzantine Bishop's mitra than the Armenian Bishop's mitre, which I believe derives its shape from the Latin mitre. These ones are also holding small church-like structures which remind me of a Coptic icon of S. Stephen I have at home. In this image he is entirely localised to Egypt, carrying an Egyptian censer, a small church structure and wearing an ornamented alb and Coptic "mitra"(even though, to my knowledge, Coptic Deacons never wear mitres). These Armenian Deacons are living icons of the Greatest Deacon and the first to die for Christ.
Great thanks are due to a member of the S. Magnus congregation who forwarded this video of Palm Sunday ceremonies in London. the video shows the Rector of S. Michael's and the Rector of S. Magnus, the famous Fr Henry Joy Fynes-Clinton processing down Lower Thames street and into the Church. It is amusing to see the cross being used, quite incorrectly, to knock for admittance. The foot of the cross should be used to knock three times against the door, not the upper part as is seen here. Also, the commentary is wrong: it is not the rector of S. Magnus knocking for admittance. One wonders if Fr Fynes-Clinton had stern words to say in the sacristy after the Mass.
The film then moves to Westminster Cathedral, where we see folded chasubles in use. It is a shame that only two priests in cope are in Vestments for the Procession at S. Magnus, as I'm sure Fr Fynes-Clinton would have copied what was happening at the Cathedral closely. I have read and been told that he preferred to celebrate a Missa Cantata as the principle Sunday Liturgy rather than to procure a Deacon and Subdeacon, perhaps (with reason, as we see here) he didn't trust other clergymen to get things right.
I hope this video goes some way to answering the criticisms I have patiently suffered from "Tranglicans" (a new hybrid species of Anglican in alliance with Roman Catholic Traditionalists whose primary ministry is to berate non-Papalist Anglicans for publicly declining the "generous offer" of Anglicanorum Coetibus). "Catholic Gossip" aside (I do not see how gossip can be a ministry of the Church, but oh well!), I have to say now, as Ex Fide the blogger, comments that compare my views unfavourably with those of the "supreme Anglican Papalist" Fr Fynes-Clinton, erstwhile rector of S. Magnus, do nothing to persuade me to change my position regarding the Ordinariate. I find it offensive and ultimately divisive; a terrible disservice to the cause of Unity.
This video shows Fr Fynes-Clinton in his heyday, indeed in the heyday of Anglo-Papalism and, for Roman Catholic Traditionalists, the Golden Era before Vatican II, even before Pius XII if he is what irks you! There is nothing to profit from evoking the ghosts of Fr Fynes-Clinton, Dom Gregory Dix, Fr Hope-Paten...........These men died 60 years ago, and they died as Anglicans! If Rome were as inviting as Traditionalists promise us it was and is now, then why did these men not seek conversion on their death beds or long before that? Indeed, is it not reasonable to assume, from a Roman point of view, that these men were schismatics, no, even promoted schism by not submitting to Rome, and therefore are probably in Hell? Or will someone create another story when their legacy is exalted as ""Anglican Patrimony""????
I have my reasons for not seeking submission to Rome which stem from an Ecclesiology and Theology that I believe is infinately more in keeping with Tradition than that promoted by so-called Traditionalists. I will not mock, berate or insult Anglicans who want to submit to Rome, I simply wish them the best of luck, but please, let me respectfully ask you that you refrain from attacking those of us who will not go.
I remember over a year ago, another blogger, a well-known RC Traditionalist posted a picture on his blog of the Sacristy of S. Magnus which contains a now infamous certificate of Papal blessing. In his post, and in the comments box below, we Anglo-Catholics were mocked by the Traditionalist crowd for practising some sort of quasi-Catholicism and accused of stupidly supposing that we believe ourselves to be under the Pope's jurisdiction. In other words, we were persona non grata in the RC Traditionalist movement. Suddenly, the blogosphere is alive with comments lauding these "Anglo-Catholics" who have managed to survive so long under Canterbury's tyranical regime, and the Trads out-do themselves in gasping excitedly about which Parish will fall next. Tranglicans have been born, and add "Anglican" voices to the hot air around the Apostolic Constitution. It reminds me not a little of the CNN coverage of the Iraq War, when Iraqi cities were falling to the Americans like dominoes, only to be lost later when it became apparent that the very people they had "liberated" turned on them. Not to suggest that AC will be a tragedy on the scale of the Iraq War, but Anglicans, think about how you were treated by Traditionalists two years ago. What has changed? Why is the one who ridiculed you now your best friend and your brother now your enemy? Which part of the Gospel encourages you to pick up stones and throw them so easily? God have mercy.....
A snap from yesterday's Mass of Advent III known as Gaudete Sunday. Rose-coloured vestments were worn, with the Deacon and Subdeacon wearing Dalmatic and Tunicle to lighten to the mood of Advent.
This set of Vestments (a complete High Mass set with humeral veil, cope and additional choir stoles) was a donation. As you can see, the Dalmatic and Tunicle are distinguished from each other as they ought be: the tunicle being slightly longer and bearing only one horizontal band. They both have the flap-sleeves common in French and Belgian vestments. The chasuble features an Agnus Dei embroidered motif and a large cross orphrey. The humeral veil is embroidered with IHS.
The Mass was served by the Rector, Fr Warner, with Fr Craig Barber as Deacon. Mr Jason Groves served as Subdeacon, celebrating his 20th Anniversary serving in that role. Twenty years ago he first served as Subdeacon Crucifer for Solemn Evensong of Advent III in Australia.
After the Liturgy, the people of S. Magnus retired as usual to the crypt, where refreshments were offered, including pink beetroot waffles, a beetroot and mackerel pate and "pink" cocktails (pink gin and cosmopolitans). Every single member of the congregation wore an item of pink (or rose-coloured) clothing to celebrate Gaudete Sunday, including the Premier Sacristan, Ex Fide, who was stunning in a pale pink Oxford shirt, it must be said.
It's very encouraging to see S. Magnus continuing in its strong and steady growth. It's a joy to receive visitors to the church from all over the world (owing to our location next to the Monument) and it's very satisfying to see so many people return Sunday by Sunday. I believe 2010 has broken the record for Weddings solemnized at S. Magnus, and next year's calender is looking full already (so book now!), with more weddings and baptisms scheduled. Perhaps the reason S. Magnus folk have gone all out to celebrate Gaudete Sunday is because there really is something to celebrate. Gaudeamus, because we are part of a community of witness that has flourished in an unlikely place, and which seems to defy all the doom and gloom stories of plummeting attendance and the death of the orthodox, catholic faith in the Church of England.