Thursday, 27 August 2009

Back to work...

It's been a busy summer - quite eventful, taking into account our Diocesan Clergy Summer Gathering, the SCP National Conference, a reading week at St. Deiniol's Library, Hawarden, and a couple of weeks in France. You might be able to find some pictures of the holiday here. Since our return last week there have been two weddings, three Baptisms and a rather larger than expected congregation on Sunday morning - keep it up!

And GCSE results for my younger son this morning - with which we're very pleased...

Our Parish Magazine for September has now gone to press. I'm not sure when we'll get it back from the printer, but you can find the full-colour on-line edition here. This is the editorial / View from the Vicarage:

“La Grippe A”…

is the name being given in France to what we call “Swine Flu.” It’s a rather less emotive title - and perhaps we’d have treated the illness rather differently if it had been called something else. For the moment - with a fall in the rate of infection over the summer holiday period - swine flu has almost disappeared from news coverage. But there are fears that once children return to school it might return again in pandemic proportions. The indications are that for most people it’s a relatively mild illness. But for a small minority it can lead to complications. And the families I know who have had young children suffering from it have found the experience upsetting, even worrying. So we shouldn’t minimise the problem.

In some ways the timing of the Church’s response to the epidemic was unfortunate. Guidelines were announced just as the rate of infection came to a peak towards the end of July. Now - having followed Department of Health advice that the Chalice should not be shared at Holy Communion, and that the Peace should not be shared with a handshake - we find that almost immediately the worst of the outbreak seems to be over. Except we know that we can’t be complacent. All too easily the virus could spread again.

I’ve reflected on the Church’s position as we’ve seen fears increase and recede - and I’ve circulated a leaflet on what we are doing and why. A reminder of my conclusion: “The risk of transmitting Swine Flu is no greater in a church than in any other public place. Being conscious of those church practices which might possibly increase the risk of infection can in fact reduce that risk, since it makes us more thoughtful of others and of what we do.”

And I hope that the feeling of “being deprived” because we can’t at present share the chalice may be helpful. Our Bishop has reminded us that “the fullness of the Sacrament” is to be found in Communion in one kind (i.e. as we receive only the consecrated host) - let us see it again as truly Christ’s Precious Body” (and therefore also his Blood). If we can’t shake hands at the Peace, instead we can take more notice of the people around us - the purpose of the Peace is to recognise Christ in our neighbour, not just to rush around the church. There’s a general feeling that having to think about what we are doing is no bad thing in the long-term.

Having said that, we took delivery of a case of Communion wine in the week before use of the chalice was discontinued. We look forward to opening it as soon as we can.

For the sake of posterity, here are the guidelines we're following - and the reasoning behind them.

1 comment:

Peter Kirk said...

But "Christ's precious body" is NOT his blood. If your Bishop Tom really thinks it is (and didn't just allow some assistant to send out an ill-considered letter in his name) he is denying his own renowned theology in favour of an innovation of another Tom, Aquinas, who taught that the body and the blood were the same thing to justify the mediaeval Catholic denial of the wine to the laity.