Sunday, 22 November 2009

Augustinian practice

My mind is still on priestly good practice in the twelfth century rather than in the twenty-first. In his St Hugh’s Day lecture, Professor Mayr-Harting suggested some conclusions from evidence from two Abbeys then within the diocese of Lincoln. The background is the Papal reforms of the eleventh century, the consequential repopularising of the Augustinian Rule, the resulting fresh foundations in England under William the Conqueror’s son Henry I in particular, and the Canons’ willingness to cover existing parishes where there were not sufficient trained clergy.

At St Frideswide’s Abbey in Oxford (my attention was captured because it was this church in which I was ordained priest) it was the records of miracles at the saint’s shrine to which he drew attention not for their own sake but because the stories they tell demonstrate a non-judgmental pastoral awareness of a whole range of things including marital and sexual disharmony.

And from Bourne Abbey still in the present diocese of Lincoln it was the Ormulum to which he drew attention. I wish I’d heard about it before. A selection survives of the preaching of a Canon called Orm. This is of particular importance to those who study Middle English because Orm takes care to let speakers of French and Latin know how to communicate in English. It is also the only evidence of preaching in the period.

Orm provides retellings in English of the Gospel for the day which would have been read in Latin, and he then provides comments on it, so his concern is for those who needed the Gospel understood and applied in their own language long before Wycliffe let alone before anything from Tyndale to Vatican II.

Meanwhile, the blurr is the Team Rector of Boston being seated in the Cathedral Chapter House by the Dean as a new Cathedral Canon alongside other existing members of the College of Canons.

No comments: