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Communion Cup


We beseech thee, Almighty God, look upon the hearty desires of thy humble servants, and stretch forth the right hand of thy Majesty, to be our defence against all our enemies; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Blessings on this Feast of Saint Chad, also called Ceadda, (died March 2, 672, Lichfield, Mercia, England).  He was a monastic founder, abbot, and first bishop of Lichfield, who is credited with the Christianization of the ancient English kingdom of Mercia.
With his brother St. Cedd, he was educated at the great abbey of Lindisfarne on Holy Island (off the coast of Northumbria) under its founder, Abbot St. Aidan, and later apparently studied with St. Egbert, a monk at the Irish monastery of Rathmelsigi. Cedd recalled Chad to England to assist in establishing the monastery of Laestingaeu (now Lastingham, North Yorkshire). Upon Cedd’s death in 664, Chad succeeded him to become the second abbot of Laestingaeu, and, probably late in the same year, at the request of King Oswiu (Oswy) of Northumbria, he was consecrated bishop of the Northumbrians (with his see at York).

An ecclesiastical dispute arose because St. Wilfrid had already been chosen bishop of York and had gone to Gaul for his consecration, a mix-up recorded in Venerable Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People (considered to be the best source for Chad’s life). The issue remains confusing. When in 669 the new archbishop, St. Theodore of Canterbury, arrived in England, he charged Chad with improper ordination. On Wilfrid’s return in the same year, Chad resigned York and retired to Laestingaeu. Theodore, however, was so impressed with Chad’s humility that when the bishop of Mercia died he asked King Oswiu to appoint Chad as the bishop’s successor. The king approved, and Chad, having been reconsecrated by Theodore in 669, chose Lichfield, where he built a church and monastery, as the new seat of his diocese.

During the last three years of his life, Chad founded a monastery in Lindsey, on land given him by King Wulfhere of Mercia. In the same area Chad supposedly founded another monastery, at Barrow-upon-Humber. He is noted as having conducted his apostolate zealously, traveling much on foot. He died of plague, and numerous miracles were reported as having taken place at his tomb. His relics, originally in the Cathedral of Lichfield, were saved by faithful Roman Catholics during the destruction wrought by the Reformation and transferred to St. Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham.

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What’s in a symbol?  The little one means something is copyrighted.  Just like the contents of this blog.

I don’t like to post a warning.  I also don’t mind people sharing.  However, wholesale republishing under someone else’s name is not just dishonest, it is a crime.  It is easily found out (as I did today), and the results of discovery might be painful.

The Lenten meditations and prayers I post are from my book manuscript.  It, too, is copyrighted.

I will keep on sharing the daily reflections.  However, please don’t let it come to my attention that you are copying.  As teacher in a happier and more disciplined time was wont to say, “Keep your eyes on your own paper.  Don’t make me use the ruler.”

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robin hood

Robin Hood and the Bishop (1847)


Today, we have the sharpest admonition yet from St. Gregory the Great’s treatise entitled Pastoral Care. Through the eyes of St. Paul the Apostle, the saint warns against those who seek the office for power and position. We clearly have gone a long way in the West from those times when consecration as a bishop was nigh on to a guarantee of martyrdom. (Book I, Chapter 8)

Of those who covet pre-eminence, and seize on the language of the Apostle to serve the purpose of their own cupidity.

For the most part, those who covet pre-eminence seize on the language of the Apostle to serve the purpose of their own cupidity, where St. Paul says, “If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desires a good work.” (I Timothy 3:1) However, while praising the desire, the Apostle immediately turns what he has praised to fear when at once he adds, but a bishop must be blameless. (I Timothy 3:2)

When St. Paul subsequently enumerates the necessary virtues, he makes manifest what this blamelessness consists in. So, with regard to their desire, he approves them, but by his precept he alarms them. It is as if he is saying plainly, “I praise what you seek; but first learn what it is you seek.” If you neglect to measure yourselves, your blamefulness will appear all the fouler for its haste to be seen by all in the highest place of honour. The great master in the art of ruling impels by approval and checks by alarms; so that, by describing the height of blamelessness, he may restrain his hearers from pride, and, by praising the office which is sought, dispose them to the life required.

Nevertheless, it is to be noted that this was said at a time when whosoever was set over people was usually the first to be led to the torments of martyrdom. At that time, therefore, it was laudable to seek the office of a bishop, since through it there was no doubt that a man would come in the end to heavier pains. So it was that even the office of a bishop itself came to be defined as a good work, when it is said, “If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desires a good work. (I Timothy 3:1) Wherefore he that seeks, not this ministry of a good work, but the glory of distinction, is himself a witness against himself that he does not desire the office of a bishop. Inasmuch as that man not only does not love at all the sacred office, but even knows not what it is, who, panting after supreme rule, is fed by the subjection of others in the hidden meditation of his thought, rejoices in his own praises, lifts up his heart to honour, exults in abundant affluence. In this way, worldly gain is sought under color of that honour by which worldly gains should have been destroyed. When the mind thinks to seize on the highest post of humility for its own elation, it inwardly changes what it outwardly desires.

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CPTAs posted yesterday, I am re-reading an older copy of The Christian Priest Today by the late Archbishop Michael Ramsey, who was in my view, the last truly Archbishop of Canterbury. To be sure, he eventually did go squishy in retirement on the issue of women’s “ordination”, although he apparently never was comfortable with the notion. However, the substantial corpus of his work that is sound, engaging and worthwhile reading.

As one might expect from an archbishop, his book includes a chapter on the episcopate. (Ch. 14, pp. 94-99 of the 4th printing). The chapter references St. Gregory the Great’s treatise entitled Pastoral Care or Pastoral Rule (Regula Pastoralis). Never able to resist a patristic reference, I immediately departed on a frolic and detour from Abp. Ramsey’s book to the referenced work of St. Gregory. The substance is timeless and desperately in need of application in various branches of the Church, whenever there is a possibility of elevating a man to the episcopate. (Disclaimer: Yes, I still hold to the “branch theory”, although it seems that my apprehension and concerns deepen by the day!)

Using an older version of the text, I thought I would post St. Gregory’s work-or paraphrases of it- here on The Cathedral Close as I read and meditate on the various sections. Your thoughts and comments are most welcome, although I note that I reserve the right to exclude messages that are offensive or not germane. And, no, I will not be offering deals on Ray-Ban sunglasses on this site!

So today we look at the extensive “blast radius” when clergy, particularly bishops, go bad.  Note, here, the emphasis on those who do not conform their own lives to what they have learned and purport to preach.

That none should enter on a place of government who practice not in life what they have learned by study.

There are some also who investigate spiritual precepts with cunning care, but what they penetrate with their understanding they trample on in their lives. They teach the things which not by practice but by study they have learned. What in words they preach by their manners they impugn.

Whence it comes to pass that when the shepherd walks through steep places, the flock follows to the precipice. So it is the Lord through the prophet complains of the contemptible knowledge of shepherds, saying, “Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet?” (Ezekiel 34:18-19) For indeed the shepherds drink most pure water, when with a right understanding they imbibe the streams of truth.

But to foul the same water with their feet is to corrupt the studies of holy meditation by evil living. And verily the sheep drink the water fouled by their feet, when any of those subject to them follow not the words which they hear, but only imitate the bad examples which they see. Thirsting for the things said, but perverted by the works observed, they take in mud with their draughts, as from polluted fountains.

So, it also it is written through the prophet, “A snare for the downfall of my people are evil priests…” (Hosea 5:1; 9:8). Hence again the Lord through the prophet says of the priests, “They are made to be for a stumbling-block of iniquity to the house of Israel.”

For certainly no one does more harm in the Church than one who has the name and rank of sanctity, while he acts perversely. For him, when he transgresses, no one presumes to take to task. The offense spreads forcibly for example, when out of reverence to his rank the sinner is honoured.

But all who are unworthy would fly from the burden of so great guilt, if with the attentive ear of the heart they weighed the sentence of the Truth, Whoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea Matthew 18:6. By the millstone is expressed the round and labour of worldly life, and by the depth of the sea is denoted final damnation.

Whosoever, then, having come to bear the outward show of sanctity, either by word or example destroys others, it had indeed been better for him that earthly deeds in open guise should press him down to death than that sacred offices should point him out to others as imitable in his wrong-doing; because, surely, if he fell alone, the pains of hell would torment him in more tolerable degree.


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The barren fig-tree on which our Lord passed sentence to-day was typical of the Jewish people, and, besides them, on the many who profess themselves His disciples now. True, the time was not the season of the year in which figs might most naturally be expected to be on a fig-tree. But this being so, why did it have leaves?

The leaves were enough to create an expectation that at least some of the winter figs might be still hanging upon the tree. The tree, however, produced nothing but leaves, plenty of them, but no fruit. No fruit, therefore, was it permitted to yield henceforth and for evermore.

Now, the fig-tree did no harm, but then, again, it did no good. It did not produce any fruit, either hurtful or useful. It was perhaps, to some slight extent, an ornament to the landscape, but it was of no practical use. The hungry looked to it in vain.

How is it with us? We have some means, time, abilities-what fruit are they bearing? Any or none? Are there any who are made happier or better by our respective endeavors? Let each of us think, am I like the barren fig-tree?

Among the parables which our Lord spoke on this day in the temple, the first is of husbandmen to whom had been committed a vineyard, but who used all the fruits of it for themselves. The vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is the house of Israel.  (Isa. v.7) If that is the case, the individuals of that house were such also, or at least part of the one vineyard.

Again we each face pointed questions. What am I doing with my little part of the vineyard, that is, myself? Am I bringing forth fruit unto God? What is such fruit? The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. Are these the fruits of my life? Am I like these husband-men, ready to cast the only Son out of His own vineyard, that is, out of my heart, that I may keep all for myself, my own indulgence and gratification? It is written of those husbandmen, “He will miserably destroy those wicked men,” and the sentence was executed on Israel. Let each of us keep that firmly in mind.


O God the Holy Ghost, be Thou my guide and helper, I beseech Thee, that through Thy grace I may bring forth good fruit abundantly, and so glorify Thy Name. Amen.

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There are many things which are not wrong in themselves, but which are emphatically wrong when they are indulged in to excess, or in a self-indulgent and unbridled manner. It is necessary, for example, that we should eat and drink.  To gratify hunger and thirst is, of course, most rea­sonable and right.  However, when any feel inclined to eat or drink more than is needful, then they become guilty of the contemptible sin of gluttony, or of the hateful sin of drunkenness.  This latter sin frequently leads to further wrong-doing, and is the source of so much sorrow and suffering, not only to the drunkard himself, but also to those also whom he should love most dearly.  These are the very ones whom it should be one of his chief purposes in life to shield from distress.

Again, is necessary to rest, but if we are seldom ready for work, or do our work idly and carelessly, we become guilty of slothfulness.

Most faults are a perversion of some virtue.  Violent anger, for example, is an outburst, visited upon the head of someone who has merely offended us.  We may have a lawful feeling of indignation which the sight of cruelty or treachery should at once call us to oppose. However, these feelings and inclinations need to be regulated by the principle of obedience to the law of God through the grace of His Holy Spirit. We should never give the rein to our natural inclina­tions, but quietly yet firmly control them, so as to pre­vent them from hurrying us into folly and sin.

To do this is to exercise the virtue of temperance. “Use this world,” St. Paul says, “but do not abuse it.”  That is, do not use it to excess, but properly and in moderation. Use any good it has to offer, any innocent pleasures it can afford, but use them temperately, knowing that only those who so use them really enjoy them.

Those who abandon themselves to any pursuit or amusement will weary of it.  All things were given us richly to enjoy, but all who are wise will make St. Paul’s resolution their own: “I will not be brought under the power of any.”


Grant me, O God, I beseech Thee, wisdom and strength, that I may be temperate in all things, through Jesus Christ our Lard. Amen.


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