Francis Gardom takes leave of the good/bad folk of St Grizelda’s

Finally, let’s go into St Grizelda’s Sacristy and meet Mr Horder, the Verger. He’s been a lifelong friend of the treasurer, Mr Poundstock, and in some ways resembles him.

He’s only too glad to show people the wonderful ‘treasures’ (as he calls them) which they’ve acquired over the years, and you feel as he speaks about them, that they mean the world to him. Nobody could be more diligent about their safekeeping, and he, and he alone is allowed to get them out, put them away and keep them polished for use. What an estimable man! So what’s the problem?

Well, one problem is what happens when

the treasures start to wear out – or the church is given another chalice or chasuble. For so deep is Mr Horder’s affection towards what he feels, subconsciously no doubt, are ‘his’ possessions, that the very thought of pensioning them off, or introducing a ‘rival’ feels like an impending bereavement. So St Grizelda’s has become a church of frayed embroideries, chalices which have lost their gilding, and albs whose lace hangs off their extremities ‘like flax off a distaff’.

Before leaving St Grizelda’s let’s just remind ourselves what those sins we’ve encountered have in common. They’re all eu-peristatos – ‘admired by many’. Sins whose perpetrators are unaware; or even proud of. Sins which started their careers as virtues, but by over- or wrong- use have been transformed into vices.

‘We perish by permitted things’ says the proverb. Those sins which impede the progress of apprentice-saints like you and me are not forbidden in any book on morality. On the contrary they’re sins which are originally virtuous but which have got out of control. The very fact that they are ‘admired by many’ makes them much more difficult to discover and correct.

So there we are. We’ve taken a whistle stop tour and noted some of the sins of the good folk of St Grizelda’s. The next step we should undertake is some self-examination with a view to discovering whether anything of the kind might just, conceivably, be true of ourselves!