A wise and learned priest once remarked that if the Holy Communion service was so important, it should be celebrated either once a week only or every day of the week. What is this one weekday Mass? A genuinely daily Mass would be wonderful, but with overstretched clergy covering a number of other church tasks in the deanery, diocese and national church, it was never going to be a realistic possibility in a small rural parish. One, or in our case two Eucharists during the week allows us to celebrate by turns a Requiem, where we pray for the souls of those who have recently died, Masses of Our Lady and of the Saints, Masses in Latin, Masses with the focus on healing; none of which are generally possible on a Sunday.
The congregations may be small, and the service short, but it is part of the spiritual life of the whole parish.
Part of what is required for communion is wine. However, too many people also suppose that this means that it ought to be red wine. Why? Because it looks more like blood. Understandable, but it leads to confusion. The chalice is given and shared because it contains the Sacrament of the Blood of Christ.
We take ordinary wine and following the forms of the Church and by the power of the Holy Spirit (that’s a rather cavalier summary of the mysteries of eucharistic theology) it becomes the Blood of Christ.
Either it is or it isn’t. Being like is a sort of half-way confusion. Communion is not a simile. Either we receive the Sacrament, or we don’t. White wine makes it easier to realize that this is not about ‘being like’. It is the Sacrament, given by Christ himself.
Furthermore, we now buy the wine to be used for holy communion from an ordinary wine merchant, and no longer from an ecclesiastical supplier. It is not the cross on the bottle (for which one pays a hefty premium of course) that makes it holy, but the form of the Eucharist itself.
The reason is the same as for the colour of the wine. There is nothing holy in the bread and wine we offer; it is the body and blood we receive that is holy. There is no need to give the Lord a helping hand, by making what we give look like what he gives us.
P.S. This is also why we do not use wafers with a crucifix printed on them (unless that is all the supplier has). It is not what the wafer looks like, but what it is that matters – but you are getting the point by now.
FIRST STATUE OF MARY
The first statue of Our Lady to appear on a public building in England since the Reformation was put up above the door of the university church of St Mary at Oxford, in 1637, by Dr Morgan Owen, Chaplain to Archbishop Laud.
Born c.1585, Morgan was educated at Jesus, Oxford, and then pursued a successful clerical career in Wales, prebendery of St Davids’s among other positions. When Laud became Chancellor of Oxford in 1630, his advance continued; awarded DD when Charles I visited in 1636.
Using his extensive landed wealth he ‘enclosed the south yard of St Mary’s with a freestone wall’, and commissioned the ‘curious and beautiful’ porch, at a cost of £230. In 1640 his support was rewarded with the See of Llandaff. Imprisoned in the tower a few months later, he shared the fall of Laud his patron, but managed to escape execution, and after release in 1642 retired to a small property and lived a quiet life, until his death on 5 March 1645; buried at Myddfai church near Llandovery.
From the Universal British Directory of 1791, ‘On the south side is a portal of more modern structure, erected by Dr Morgan Owen, chaplain to Archbishop Laud, ad 1637. Over it is a statue of the Virgin, with an infant Christ holding a small crucifix; which last circumstance was formed into an article of impeachment against the archbishop by the Presbyterians, and urged as a corroborative proof of his attachment to popery.’ The bullet holes in the statue were made by Cromwellian troopers in 1642.
For a not terribly good picture, look under 'Oddments' on the Gallery page