Finding somewhere to go to church when you are on holiday is always something to ponder. Do you want to try something new, something local, something later, or something familiar? Yesterday I went for the latter and went back to St Michael & All Saints for that instant “Aaaahhhh…” feeling. I don’t quite know what it is that does it so instantly for me. Is it the building, the smell of incense and beeswax, the lighting, the people, the memories (my first church, my Confirmation, etc), the pews (yes the pews are just the right height for kneeling) or just the familiarity and the sense of anticipation that something great is being done for God in this place? Maybe it is a combination of it all and yesterday was no different. I felt safe. A smile of recognition welcomed me and I knew I could relax.
Of course it was not exactly the same. There are some changes: children chattering with no frosty looks; readings done in a different place without the hassle of moving the Legillium; procession and dismissal slightly different; choir and organ on the other side. But none of that mattered one iota. It was still my taste of heaven.
Then this morning I was chatting with a friend about an article in the Church Times by Sister Rosemary. Talking about a book Stolen Daughters, Virgin Mothers: Anglican sisterhoods in Victorian Britain she says:
…the great Anglo-Catholic slum-priests who are so justly celebrated and honoured tend to be represented as heroic figures tackling the problems of their neighbourhoods single-handed. It is rarely remembered that they were probably assisted by a small army of Sisters who visited parishioners in their homes and cared for them, ran Sunday schools and mothers’ meetings, and under-pinned all the work of the parish with regular prayer.
In the olden days All Saints had a convent, a hospital and a school. Fr Holmes had January and February off each year. But he is the one who is remembered so fondly. Suspect that wouldn’t be the case if I took 2 months off each year after Christmas!
Bring back the nuns, I say.