In a recent blogpost on the ‘All Things Lawful and Honest’, Fr Barry Orford highlighted the need for more of a focus on theological education for our clergy (and indeed our laity): ‘I am not proposing dumbing-down in ordination training. On the contrary, I wish to see future priests given the most rigorous instruction possible, but teaching directly applied to the vocation they are pursuing. This would include an introduction to the critical study of the scriptures and its application in preaching, as well as a thorough grounding in Christian doctrine, ancient and modern, and its role in homiletics. (It is seventy years since Dorothy L. Sayers asserted that one reason so many sermons are deadly dull is that preachers do not teach dogma. Without that, what do we have to say?) The principles of liturgy must be instilled into a generation of ordinands probably unaware of them, and too frequently unfamiliar with liturgy at all. Some guidance on the exciting challenges offered to theology by the sciences would not come amiss. Church history, especially Anglican history, must be moved to a central role. These basic elements would be accompanied by the studies in pastoralia and spirituality proper to priestly formation.’ Fr Orford has highlighted something that in recent months has become apparent in the life of our Church. Put simply many of our clergy do not understand or have knowledge of the history and practice of our church. It is for this reason we hear calls for the use of individual communion cups, the distribution of hosts in individual plastic bags to be held up by the congregation at the consecration, and the placing of loaves of bread in front of television screens during live streamed masses. Whilst all of these are well intentioned pastoral attempts to cope with the situation in which we all find ourselves they are simply not part of the worshipping life of the Church of England as traditionally, historically, or theologically understood. It is to be hoped that as we look to the future as a Church with much reduced means we are able to explore how better to educate those who lead our Church in precisely what it is to be part of the Church of England and to share in her corporate life. This is of course nothing new, the Oxford Movement grew out of a time when many church leaders had scant regard for the traditions of the church, let alone her pastoral life. The focus pastoral care, theology, and the worship of God emphasised by the Oxford Movement transformed the Church of England and took hold of her corporate life. This has perhaps led to a certain complacency and a feeling that ‘anything goes’ if we can find a way of justifying it. As Catholics in the Church of England we need to look to the wider church for the stability and guidance as to how to rebuild the Catholic life of our Church. 

As this magazine goes to press it looks like there will be another period of partial lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is uncertain what the new measures will mean for our churches but it is clear they will have an impact on our communities. Whilst it may seem odd to include poetry in this editorial, the words of Minnie Louise Haskins, quoted most memorably by His Late Majesty King George VI, seem as appropriate for us today as ever they were:


And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.


So heart be still:
What need our little life
Our human life to know,
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife
Of things both high and low,
God hideth His intention.


God knows. His will
Is best. The stretch of years
Which wind ahead, so dim
To our imperfect vision,
Are clear to God. Our fears
Are premature; In Him,
All time hath full provision.


Then rest: until
God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes,
When, as the sweeter features
Of Life’s stern face we hail,
Fair beyond all surmise
God’s thought around His creatures
Our mind shall fill.