Guest blogger, The Rev’d Humphrey Blytherington is Vicar of St Hilda’s, Little Snoring with All Saints, Great Snoring. He is a graduate of Plymouth University. He completed his studies for the ministry at Latimer Hall, Durham. He is married to Daphne and enjoys home brewing, model railroading and is an avid member of the Great Snoring Morris Dancers.
Good evening lads. I’ve come down early for a spot of supper as Mrs. Vicar’s off on her Roman holiday with Mrs Doyle and Father Stornaway. They’ve all decided to beetle off to Rome to see the new Pope.
Can’t see what all the fuss is myself. Never was one to worship Mary or walk on my knees to Fatima or kiss the pope’s toe. Whoever he is, he’s just an ordinary fellow like you or me. The cassock might be white, but he climbs into it one leg at a time like the rest of us. I think the timing’s a bit off too don’t you? Rather overshadows our own new Archbishop of Canterbury starting his job.
Never mind. Can’t be helped. I must say, now Daphne’s a Roman Catholic she does seem rather keen on it all. Seems to have swallowed the whole thing–rosary beads and statues and the lot. I thought it would make her rather superstitious, but it’s had the opposite effect. She has developed a certain kind of focus which she lacked before. Can’t place it exactly, but she seems rather more concrete. Rather more solid in a way. I mean to say, Daff has never really been exactly slight of figure or backward in coming forward, but her usual good sense seems to have a different quality to it. Perhaps it’s Mrs. Doyle’s influence. The Irish are a very down to earth sort of people don’t you think?
Can’t help comparing the two of them to Lavinia and her partner Georgie Samsonite. At the clergy luncheon last week Lavinia was presenting a petition for us all to sign supporting the government’s attempts to have same sex marriage. I must say, I was rather reluctant to put my name to something I’m a bit unsure about. I realize we oughtn’t be unkind to anyone, but I’m not sure what I’d do if a couple of fellows came along asking to be married in the parish church.
It’s not my cup of tea, and I don’t suppose there’s really any harm in it, but what troubles me is the practical matters. Does someone give away the bride? Where do the families sit? How does one know if you should sit on the bride’s side or the groom’s side? What about the throwing the bouquet afterwards? Who carries whom over the threshold? These things sound rather silly I know, but it’s the little things, in my experience, that determine whether the wedding is a happy one or not.
When the petition came around to me I quietly handed it on to the next fellow–rather like the old hot potato game. Unfortunately Lavinia spotted it and called out in that rather shrill voice of hers, “Sign it Humphrey!”
I replied that I’d really like to have a bit more time to think it through, and at that point she stood up and shook her finger at me and said, “I expect you’ll be the next one in your family to become a Roman Catholic! This new pope is also homophobic and misogynistic–just like the rest of them!”
Well, I mean to say, I’m usually rather easy going on things like this, but I really had had quite enough. Daphne’s been a real brick through this whole conversion business, and if anything, her becoming a Roman Catholic has made her rather a better Anglican as I see it. I saw red. I really did, and as you know, it’s not like me, but I felt like Lavinia was attacking Daphne and so I stood up for the old girl. “Lavinia,” I said quite firmly, “I think you’d better sit down and have a nice cup of tea.”Well, that took the wind out of her sails. She slunk off with her tail between her legs, picked up a cup of tea and a digestive from the table and said not a word for the rest of the meeting. Huppo gave me a look which was as good as a wink, and the meeting went forward with the planned discussion of the dispersion of funds from the Deanery Christmas bazaar and what to do about the proposed closure of Dagwood Bumpstead.
I must say lads, the whole episode got me thinking. Lavinia seemed so irrationally angry about the Romans that I suddenly thought if she’s against them I ought to give them a second look. You see, the thing is, the Roman Catholics keep me guessing. Just when I thought I had them pegged they come up with some sort of surprise. There I was getting used to that German fellow with his bookish ways and rather high church dress sense–thinking that he was a pretty harmless old coot, when he rocks the boat, steps down and within a month they’ve elected this South American fellow who works with the poor and rides the bus to work.
Can’t keep up with them, and I must admit, from what I’ve read he’s not going to put up with the sort of nonsense we get from Lavinia and her crowd. He’s just an ordinary fellow like the rest of us, but I have to admit there’s something about him that rather puts our Archbishop in the shade. Brilliant idea taking the name Francis. I mean to say, nobody dislikes that fellow who preaches to the birds and so forth now do they?
What’s that you say? Am I going to become Catholic too? Good heavens! What a ridiculous idea! I must admit for a moment there when Lavinia was so rude, I was tempted to call her bluff and say, “Quite right! I am the next one in my family to convert, and if I do it will be to escape people like you!” But I bit my tongue. No sense doing anything rash. No, the dear old C of E is my home. Apart from anything else, the Church of England is so quintessentially English. One has to make a few compromises, but it’s still my home and as it says somewhere in the New Testament, there’s no place like home.
The Roman Church isn’t for me. It’s really the church for immigrants you see–Polish hotel workers, Irish housemaids and Italian waiters. No indeed. I’m simply too English through and through. I could never convert to the Church of Rome. Not me.
Thank you. I don’t mind if I do. Could you make it a whiskey? Double. No ice please.
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