Every second Saturday of the month, Divine Liturgy in English of Sunday - Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family, Duke Street, London W1K 5BQ.
3pm Great Vespers, 4pm Divine Liturgy for Sunday. Next: 12th December 2020

Every Sunday - 9am Divine Liturgy in English (fully or mostly) at the Holy Family Cathedral

Owing to public health regulations, services will be sung only by one reader or cantor. There is no singing by the people for the moment. If you wish to attend on Sunday, booking is essential on this phone line: 07956 066727. Masks must be worn and distance maintained.

To purchase The Divine Liturgy: an Anthology for Worship (in English), order from the Sheptytsky Institute here, or the St Basil's Bookstore here.

To purchase the Divine Praises, the Divine Office of the Byzantine-Slav rite (in English), order from the Eparchy of Parma here.

The new catechism in English, Christ our Pascha, is available from the Eparchy of the Holy Family and the Society. Please email for details.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Review: "If you see George Herbert on the road, kill him"

Radically Re-thinking Priestly Ministry
By Justin Lewis-Anthony, published by Mowbray. No price. Paperback

Fr John Salter writes in Chrysostom, November All Saints 2010:

But why should Justin Lewis-Anthony wish to encourage Herberticide? Well, because he thinks that the Reverend George Herbert, who died in 1633, haunts the clergy of the Church of England today. His poems are read and sung as hymns in Anglican churches up and down the country and doubtless throughout the Anglican Communion (where “Kumbaya” has not overtaken them entirely).

Herbert`s parish ministry (which he was not in for long) remains the model for the Church of England`s understanding of how and where and why its priests should minister, but (the cover blurb continues) “there is a problem. The memory of Herbert celebrated by the Church is an inaccurate one and, in its inaccuracy, is unfair on Herbert himself and his success in the ordained ministry”.

George Herbert died young and in post. This is always a fast track in the Church of England for canonization. The author tells us that in the Catholic Church the source of all authority is the Pope; in the Nonconformist or Free Churches the Bible; and in the Church of England the source of all authority is the previous incumbent, or failing that "not the last Vicar, the one before : the one we liked".

Herbert has been adopted by the High Church party in the Church of England, but he was not ministering in the days of Archbishop Laud. He was dead sixteen years before Laud lost his head for High Church goings on. The Church in which Herbert ministered was much more Calvinistic. He liked things done decently and in order, but holy tables had not been fenced off from dogs when he was an incumbent and placed at the east wall. The services were pretty plain and the clergy were often very poorly educated and often fanatical, although they were to some extent seen off into Cromwell's Church. So Herbert, with his connections with the family of the Herberts, Earls of Pembroke, and the Canaervons, was one of the earliest of the Church of England clergy to be "gentry". The author quotes from A. Tindal Hart's book, The Country Priest in English History,1959:
The average country parson is now a comparatively poor man…he spends much of his time clerking, teaching, examining, or taking services in neighbouring parishes during sequestrations…simply for his own personal profit. His wife probably goes out to work; and if he inhabits a large rectory or vicarage, he can make a considerable income letting rooms. This is all wrong.

Yet apart from the large rectory or vicarage, this is much the same ministry as the Greek Papas in his parish in the villages of Thessaly carries out. What is wrong with it ?

The author relates the story of his going to see the Director of  Ordinands:
During the meeting he fixed me with a steely glare and sternly admonished me: "I hope you don`t want to be ordained for the status that being a clergyman affords you, because the social status of the clergy is lower today than at any time since the Reformation". I took him for his word because I trusted his judgement and because I liked the man – though it happens he went on to become, in short order, Bishop of Stepney, Bishop of London, Prelate of the Order of the British Empire, Dean of the Chapels Royal, Privy Counsellor, and executor of the will of Diana, Princess of Wales.
Not unlike the home life of the Reverend George Herbert, but we can't all be Bishops of London!
Reading on I was astonished to read the following account of the remarkable ministry of an old friend of mine, Father Elias Chacour, now Archbishop of Haifa of the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchate. We have known each other off and on for fifty years and we met in 1961 when I was an Anglican Deacon and he was a seminarian at St. Sulpice, Paris. We met at the dual-rite monastery of Chevetogne in the Belgian Ardennes.   
When Father Elias Chacour was parish priest of the Melkite parish of Ibillin (the old tribal area of Zabulon) in Israel, an Arab village of both Christian and Moslem Arabs. On Palm Sunday 1966, when he had been in post less than six months, Chacour suddenly realized that his community, the community of the Church, was riven completely by suspicion, anger and enmity. Nothing he could do seemed to make a difference to the lives of his parishioners: to speak to one family risked the anger of another. On Palm Sunday, after the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, Fr. Elias Chacour snapped, and locked his congregation in the church. Turning to them he said, 
"This morning while I celebrated the liturgy, I found someone who is able to help you. In fact, he is the only one who can work the miracle of reconciliation in this village. The person who can reconcile you is Jesus Christ, and he is here with us. We are gathered in his name, the man who rode in triumph into Jerusalem with hosannas from the people ringing in his ears. So on Christ's behalf I say this to you: The doors of the church are locked. Either you kill each other right here in your hatred and then I will celebrate your funeral gratis, or you use this opportunity to be reconciled together before I open the doors of the church. If that really happens Christ will come, and I will know I am becoming your pastor and your priest. The decision is now yours.” 
Chacour made it quite clear, to his listeners and his readers, that the "missionary instrumentalities" that have come into mplace in Ibillin Church are down to Christ, and to him alone. It is in Christ's name that the Mass was celebrated. It was Christ's name that was proclaimed with loud hosannas. It is Christ who is able to effect the miracle of  reconciliation. It is Christ who will be shown as Lord when the fractious villagers are reconciled to one another. Chacour functions merely on "Christ`s behalf" to speak the invitation, and to act, literally, as the keeper of the keys, with power to bind and loose.  
If the first mark of Christian witness is mission, then the second is similar: the praise of God. After being held hostage in their church, having been confronted in the starkest possible way with the consequences of their disunity, the people of Ibillin are reconciled to one another. Then, for the first time for a long time, they are able truly to praise God.
The people even then began to sing the resurrection hymn as they streamed out of the open church doors: 
"Christ is risen from the dead! By his death he has trampled down Death by death, and has given life to those who are in the tomb!"  
Being brought into the new community of God`s redemption and recreation inevitably leads to joy without measure that overflows into the whole of the community`s life.
Father Elias Chacour put to death the Death of his recalcitrant parishioners. Their behaviour was a scandal to Christ, and witnessed by their Moslem neighbours, because his story included the hosannas of the crowd on Palm Sunday, and their mocking cries on Good Friday. This witness, which is a mark of the truly Christian life, a feature which would be well marked by any diligent post-Herbertian priest seeking a sustainable model for parish ministry. Witness should begin
with an acceptance of the mission that has been entrusted to us, whether it be in Budleigh Salterton or Ibillin. This should not be narrowly defined. The Chuch`s mission is the making of new disciples of Jesus Christ, and new disciples require a new form of community.

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