Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I’m re-reading (rather spasmodically) a book I received from the Episcopal Book Club maybe about fifteen years ago called Glorious Companions with the subtitle Five Centuries of Anglican Spirituality. The book was put together by an Episcopalian priest called Richard H. Schmidt who had connections with Episcopal Divinity School and Virginia Theological Seminary, at the latter of which I studied for the completion of my theological studies degree about 45 years ago. When I first read the book I remember the same feeling of delight as again now, at being able to access something (albeit a little) of the thought of such Anglican luminaries as Thomas Cranmer, John Jewel, Richard Hooker, Lancelot Andrewes, John Donne, George Herbert … and the list goes on, including such people as Evelyn Underhill, William Temple, Dorothy Sayers and C. S. Lewis.
But as I proceed through the book, and as suddenly as I now recall it happened the first time I read the book, my feeling of delight is challenged by something approaching horror.
All of a sudden (for instance) the author is switching pronouns from paragraph to paragraph for a generalised reference to someone. In one paragraph a “someone” (who could be a man or a woman) was he, him and his and in the next a someone was she, her and hers. I think the first reading of this book was the first time I had encountered this style of writing and wondered how the same person who was doing such a sterling job of bringing to Anglicans the largely little-known riches of their own heritage could now be such a mindbender as it pertained to setting something forth in plain English. And by the time I reached the end of the book (the first time as I remember), I was more worried for the future (very justifiably as it turned out) than ever before - even though both the stated purpose of the book and its actual delivery of the first few luminaries seem to be so well and helpfully crafted.
The first time I read the book was a few years before people started referring to the chairman of a meeting (whether a lady or gentleman chairman) as ... a chair. Oh boy! (Whoops.)
As we look back on those times we see how there were those who were at work seemingly innocently and uncomprehendingly, but actually devilishly, moulding the public mind to accommodate what would become a “new normal” - a “normal” that would appear clearly in our own day and be more discernible to us now than it was then, as a dehumanising plan from the pit of Hell.
The Collect for the week of the First Sunday after Trinity is
O God, the strength of all them that put their trust in thee, mercifully accept our prayers; and because through the weakness of our mortal nature we can do no good thing without thee, grant us the help of thy grace, that in keeping of thy commandments we may please thee, both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The “Trinity Season”, as we are used to referring to it, is unlike other Seasons of the Church’s life in that there is no specific historical work of God to which it refers such as is the case with the Seasons of Advent, Christmas, Easter, Ascensiontide and Whitsuntide. In referring to the Holy Trinity we refer rather to the Divine Nature, that has been manifested to us on Earth by the whole Gospel taught and encapsulated by the other Seasons of the Christian Calendar. This is probably why the liturgical colour at this time is the “default” colour of Green. The Collects too do not necessarily refer to specific historical divine actions but in general to the whole Gospel of God, except by implication in their common important ending “through Jesus Christ our Lord". This week the Collect also refers repeatedly to the connection between human “strength” and human trust in God, the essential “help” of God’s grace, and the manifestation “both in will and deed” of that help in pleasing God by the “keeping” of His commandments.
Such a prayer for the help of God’s grace is deeply appreciated in this time through which we currently pass.
For directions about the services this Sunday the 6th June, the First Sunday after Trinity, please see the website www.TruthWithLanguage.com . We are following the accustomed pattern for the first Sunday of the month, at which we use the BCP 1662 Liturgy and at which Mr. Peter will address us.
Many thanks for your reading this letter.
In reliance upon the mighty power of the Triune God to keep us faithful to and in all truth, I am in your service