You’ll remember that I have been going through the archives at Christ Church. In the magazines there are editions of The Sign which appears to be a publication from Mowbray which churches could add in to their own magazine. It is full of stories, articles about the Anglican church and Our Query Corner: Hints for some of our Correspondents. Here are some of my recent favourites.
Need one go the Church when it is really very dull, except for Holy Communion?
You are no doubt aware of the obvious dangers of that neglect of the ‘assembling together’ which is the special temptation of the educated in all ages. It was the case with those to whom the Epistle to the Hebrews was written. Our attendance at the normal services is for corporate duty, and to help us not to forget the common good. We can put a good deal into our public worship, and use it for social needs, intercessions, organised worship and work, and the like. It is possible to become too selfish.
(oooh! Take that!)
Should one sit for the Epistle when others do not?
If you seat yourself quietly when the Epistle is read, it is right, and others will join you soon.
Why do strange clergy come instead of the vicar at special times?
One reason often is that a fresh voice in a pulpit may reach dull ears, or that a stranger may speak plain truths without being thought to know what has occurred in particular individuals and families to call for it. A stranger sometimes stirs up people not reached before.
(I’ve seen some strange clergy in my time, right enough.)
Mr X says women should not go to funerals; is there any rule against it?
If women want to go to funerals, why should they not go? Though it should be remembered that in days when certain classes of women made “scenes” there was a wide-spread opinion against the practise. It is, as you may know, the growing custom for the bodies of children and adult communicants to be taken into the church (over night if there is to be a celebration of Holy Communion), and in such cases only intimate friends and relatives as a rule attend the conclusion of the service at the graveside.
(Now, don’t you want to know what those certain classes of women were and how the “scenes” manifested itself?)
Should one make a deep reverence to the Cross?
The deep reverence or bow is reserved for our worship. One does not worship a cross, but one may salute it. A man salutes it by a slight bow, and a woman by a slight curtsey. When going up to communion we ignore the cross, but we make a deeper reverence in honour of the Presence of our Lord in the Sacrament. On coming back we may ignore (or many people do) all signs and symbols, going straight back without a reverence to the place where we kneel down to speak to our Lord Himself. We hope that these suggestions may be helpful to you. They are not rules, but pious customs of some reverent-minded folk.
(Better get practising my curtseys.)
One would scarcely go up to a man directly he had finished preaching and tell him that one did not agree with him, and local circumstances and social opportunities might never make the conversation possible or desirable. We suppose one could consider for oneself the points as to whether one was free and able to go elsewhere; whether one only personally differed from the vicar’s temperamental point of view (as may most easily happen in this world of opinions) or, whether on one side or the other, one really did not consider his views were within the wide limits of the Church of England. “For every evil neath the sun, there is a cure or there is none.” One thing is, if you can’t find the cure, try to possess your soul in such patience that your devotions are not spoilt.
(I dare you. Really, I dare you…)