Friday, 14 July 2017

More Tradition!

Many of you will have read the news that Bishop Campbell in Lancaster Diocese is asking the Institute of Christ the King to take over the care and administration of  another historic church in Preston: St Thomas of Canterbury and the English Martyrs. 

Two things struck me. That the Bishop sees the Institute priests as having the ability to breathe new life back into areas of the diocese where it has been in decline. Indeed, he speaks of the Institute as "evangelizing through use of the extraordinary form". That they have “shown tremendous energy in conveying a sense of the sacred through their proven ministry at St Walburge’s and around the world." Inspired by their patron, St Francis de Sales, the Institute strives to form its people in holiness according to their motto of “teaching the truth with charity”.

I know for a fact that the priests in Preston work extraordinarily hard and their dedication is to be admired. As with other communities led by priests who still see a future for the Church and believe it has something to offer, they set about their work presuming it will be successful and believing that it can grow. If they do the work, the Holy Spirit will bring the fruits. Too often, we seem to have succumbed to the spirit of the age, believing that the Church can only decline and plan merely to manage "inevitable" decline. That can only become a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

One of the ways the Traditional movements in the Church manage this is that they are now the ones offering something "new", something that offers a challenge to the secular culture all around us. They offer an alternative to the spirit of the age and that holds an attraction where people have become disenchanted with the banal - be it in politics or religion. Beauty ever ancient ever new.

The altar dedicated to the English Martyrs.

The second thing that struck me is that the church is to be a centre for devotion to the English Martyrs. We have been slightly embarrassed, I think, by the English and Welsh Martyrs of the Reformation period. By the time they were canonised in 1970, the mood of the Church had changed and they seemed a little out of place at just the time when it appeared that reconciliation with the groups and denominations outside the Church was a hopeful goal. Nevertheless, the example and sacrifice of ordinary men and women in the face of persecution of the Faith seems actually a great draw in these days when the Faith is persecuted anew by the powers that be.

I understand that there will be regular weekly devotions to the Martyrs, alongside a full programme of Mass and Confessions etc, once the handover of the building takes place in the autumn. The Canons will be glad of extra help coming in the form of a Deacon from the Institute to lend a hand.

Bishop Michael Campbell 
with priests of the Institute of Christ the King.

The sanctuary 
in St Thomas of Canterbury & the English Martyrs, Preston:
 a) pre-1887; 
b) after rebuild and refurnishing by Pugin & Pugin, 1887-88.
This was not a re-ordering for the sake of it
(sometimes seen today!)
but part of enlarging the church for a growing congregation at the time.


David O'Neill said...

Isn't it wonderful news? Why are only some bishops allowing almost redundant churches to be reinvigorated whilst most others are not? You are very fortunate in the west that you have 3 bishops with foresight!

Anonymous said...

This is indeed great news. If only more Bishops had the vision of Bishop Campbell.