Saturday, 12 April 2014

What's a church for?

There is only one presentation that should take place here
Photo: Fr Julian Large

Silly question. Or, is it?

The Anglican Church has long been active in arranging all sorts of activities in their churches.

Flower Shows, Painting Exhibitions, Festivals of every shape and size and.....choral or musical recitals.

I hold hard to the view that churches, at least, Catholic ones, should be used for the worship of Almighty God.

Laughable isn't it?  Fancy going to church to go down on your knees and pray for forgiveness....we all know that no one actually sins any more. Hmm.

I recall the late Stella Hook telling me of her experience in Westminster Cathedral back in the 1980s.
She had called in precisely to go down on her knees and spend a few minutes with the Lord but, lo, she arrived to find the main aisle covered in flower petals.

The Cathedral was having a Flower Festival!

Stella was never one to mince words and so, when she found the late Cardinal Basil Hume standing at her elbow she turned to him and said: "You have turned God's house into a florist's shop"

The Cardinal's response is not on record.

But, it seems, that the concept of having a show of some kind is catching on more and more in Catholic parishes.

Arundel Cathedral has a famous flower festival and LMS Chairman reports on a recent recital of Ian Wilson's 'Stations' that took place in St George's Catholic Cathedral in Southwark.

It matters not to me that the aim or content of a performance is religious in context, I just dislike the thought of an audience sitting down to watch and listen when the prime purpose of the building is for the celebration of Holy Mass, the EF Mass, that is.

When the audience members wander in to take their pew seats do they bow to the tabernacle (assuming that they can see it)? This is, of course, presuming that the Blessed Sacrament was not present.

I suspect not.

Do they then speak in hushed tones both before and after the performance? Again, I think it highly unlikely.

Now I do appreciate that this cements the fact that I am a curmudgeon of the lowest order, but, so be it.

In fact, I have taken to wearing a 'curmudgeon' sign around my neck.
 All I need now is a bell to ring as I make my way through the townships.


  1. I agree completly. I have a distinct recollection of one Fr Anthony Boillan being on record as stating that "we have still not managed to lay to rest the idea that a church is the house of God" !! I do believe that this character was some sort of authority on the liturgy and adviser to their Lordships of England .and Wales!!!

  2. I live in Sheffield where the Anglican cathedral has long doubled as a concert venue. This has spread recently to the Catholic cathedral, partly I think, because the very expensive restoration and re-ordering was helped by HLF funding and 'accessibility' to 'the community' is something that has to be demonstrated. It may also be one reason why the altar rails were removed and a series of shallow steps were built up to what used to be the sanctuary, which now makes a rather good stage. I suppose we're lucky the altar isn't a moveable one.

  3. A church, cathedral or otherwise, is the house of God and is for worship. Yes, there may be exceptions when there is no suitable room for perhaps childrens religious classes. But not for any form of non Catholic activity.

    The answer is not to just bleat, but to send off your letter of complaint to the bishop, cc to the Nuncio.

    But not more than one, say, every six months or you are then dismissed as a nuisance, and besides, the load on the Nuncio would be excessive.

  4. It is very sad indeed that the house of God is used for secular purposes. My parish church was used by the pp for a gospel jazz concert and that in Lent too. I objected. Thinking of Our Lord throwing out the money changers. He had the whole congregation on his side and virtualy denounced me from the pulpit. My wife was reduced to tears. We don't go to our parish church any more.
    It is also sad that Jacobi has to say not to write more often than every six months otherwise we are dismissed as a 'trouble maker' or words to that effect. What's wrong with our clergy. Are they no longer pastors? Are they just office holders?

  5. Church is a sacred place. The sanctuary, the holy of holies. What is done to Our Lord? - Is he removed from His House?? All this secular activity is another means of getting people to lose their sense of the sacred, their belief in Our Lord's presence in the tabernacle, their Faith.