Comments: opinion for Michaelmas

As a member of a vibrant post-quake city Church in Christchurch, New Zealand, under the patronage of Saint Michael and All Angels, I read with interest the piece by Scott Gunn on the theology of angels. I can only report that ours is the only central-city church still operating without serious damage from the continuing spat of earthquakes. Whether, or not, that has anything at all to do with the ministry of 'Guardian Angels' - whose existence is disputed by Scott in his article - I cannot say for sure, BUT, the clergy and congregation gave grateful thanks to God for our ability to celebrate our 160th Anniversary of Foundation this Michaelmass, and today we celebrated the 139th Anniversary if the Dedication of the present building.

It was good to have Bishop Victoria Matthews with us to preside and preach on 29/09. Daily Mass was only disrupted for the few days that the CBD was barred to visitors. One surely felt the presence of the Heavenly Host when we got back into the sanctuary. Deo Gratias!.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 2 October 2011 at 11:29am BST

I don't entirely buy the results of the Bible survey: I think the way the questions were phrased pretty much guaranteed the "I want literal word-for-word!" results.

Posted by JCF at Sunday, 2 October 2011 at 10:24pm BST

Dear Ron
Far be it from me to doubt the ministry of the Holy Angels, guardian or otherwise, any more than I would doubt the intercession of St Luke or St John respectively over the two inner city Christchurch parish churches carrying their dedications, and ruined in the earthquakes. For that matter let us not forget the intercession of Christ himself over Christ Church Cathedral. The reason for the survival of St Michael's Church (for which we indeed give thanks) may just be rather more prosaic.

Non-Kiwi readers of this thread are probably not aware that St Michael's was the only one of the Christchurch city churches where the settlers had the foresight to build in wood rather than stone!

Posted by Edward Prebble at Monday, 3 October 2011 at 2:24am BST

Maybe reading Don Cupitt's The Fountain would both inspire us angelically, while dispelling out-dated realist readings of the tradition.

We can no more depend upon the agency of realist external angels, than we can in a god. But as Cupitt shows we can go living creatively from the heart.

Yes, indeed, use wood not stone in an earth-quake
zone - it's not rocket science. But don't wait to be rescued by external agents !

btw this book is truly inspirational.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Monday, 3 October 2011 at 11:00am BST

Great comment, EP. We really, really have to get beyond that sort of primitive, self-satisfied theology when - quite accidentally - things go well. Let me be precise. I have no objection whatsoever to people holding such views. I do object most strongly when they try to inflict them upon the rest of us. I also believe - most strongly - that the public utterance of such views brings Christianity into disrepute. And that is a concern to us all.

Posted by john at Monday, 3 October 2011 at 7:23pm BST

Edward, you've forgotten the venerable Churches of The Holy Trinity, in both Christchurch and Lytellton - both of which have suffered devastation.

One was not attempting to compare the patronage of St Michael and All Angels on the basis of their provenance with the seeming neglect of the care of patrons for other church buildings in Christchurch but just drawing notice to the fact that S.M.A.A. is still resounding to the angelic voices - on earth, as well as in heaven.

However, you are quite right to point out the relative benefit of building in wood rather than the more 'permanent' custom of building in stone.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 4 October 2011 at 12:25am BST

Ron, no I had not forgotten the two Holy Trinity churches, and grieve with you over their loss. I am also in communication with the folk at St Stephens, Shirley (built in brick!) with all their anciliary buildings wrecked. The many church families of Christchurch remain in our prayers.

I do rejoice with you that SMAA is still standing, still worshipping, and still witnessing. If any of the angels, be they realist or Cupitt-esque, want to join in that rejoicing, I would not want to discourage them!

Posted by Edward Prebble at Tuesday, 4 October 2011 at 6:28am BST

Having been privileged yesterday, October 4th, to preside at the Mass commemorating Saint Francis of Assisi, I recalled that Blessed Francis had a lively interest in 'outside intervention'. It was while he was in retreat on Mount Alverna - in preparation for the Feast of Michaelmass - that he received the Stigmata (the marks of the Wounds of Christ) in his body.

The great basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels in Assisi reflects his devotion to both the Mother of Christ and the Holy Angels. Within that large edifice, is set the tiny jewel of the Chapel of Little Portion - the Porziuncula - where Francis and his Brothers nursed the lepers.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 4 October 2011 at 10:13pm BST

"I have no objection whatsoever to people holding such views."

"I also believe - most strongly - that the public utterance of such views brings Christianity into disrepute. And that is a concern to us all."

two completely contradictory statements - what exactly do you believe ?

Posted by William at Friday, 7 October 2011 at 9:20am BST
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