Thought for the week - 26 March 2023
This Sunday, the church looks a little different to usual, as even the austerity of Lent is intensified with the veiling of images in church. This can look a little stark, a little unnecessary, and to the newcomer, a little strange to say the least. The hope is, the Sunday after we hear of the Man Born Blind, that we awaken within ourselves the eyes of faith and see God not through the eyes of the religious establishment, but through our hearts and souls, which need no visual stimuli in order to accomplish that deed. Therefore we veil statues and images to remind ourselves of what really matters – the relationship between us and God which is made not through art or music or anything visual or auditory, but through our baptism and our inner life with and in Christ.
Beautiful though our worship is, God does not have favourite vestments or hymns or statues, as we know. He simply desires us to live in love and peace with His creation and to follow the example of His Son, who completed the Old Covenant in His blood and continues to feed us from His sacred heart through the eucharistic sacrifice, in which we dance and sing and rejoice that the world has been made new, along with every tribe and race and nation and language who are now, wonderfully, part of our own body and we theirs.
This is not to say that our worship does not help us to see God and to lift up our hearts to Him, of course, indeed our bodily sight and smell and hearing is so unattuned to God that we probably need our worship in order to recalibrate our lives to Him, and to lead us to the place where there is, as John Donne said;
‘no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light; no noise nor silence, but one equal music; no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession; no ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity: in the habitations of thy majesty and glory, world without end’.
During these days of Lent, we gradually remove the beautiful aids to worship that we enjoy, letting our hearts dwell in that equal eternity, glimpsing on earth that which is offered in heaven, and ordering our lives in conformity with the love and truth of the Kingdom. Veiling statues and changing the colour of vestments and having different hymns may seem a vain attempt at glimpsing God, but entered into with a pure heart, it’s not a bad place to start, and it’s a reminder to us of the unknowable nature of the Father, who is defined for us by the single greatest attribute that defines any of us – our love.
Carlin Gate is a road in our parish, as you will probably know, and Carlins are a kind of parched, or black pea, left on the plant for a long time until they become dark and shrivelled. They’re a very localised foodstuff, like Pease Pudding or butter pies, and not as popular as they used to be. However, they do help us order our Lenten journey, because they take their place in a Lancastrian Dialect rhyme to mark the days of Lent. There is a Northern saying; “Tid, Mid, Miseray, Carlin, Palm, Pace-Egg Day”, which helps people remember the order in which the days fall.
The saying is derived from the psalms and entrance antiphons of Sundays of Lent.
Tid – Second Sunday in Lent when the Te Deum Laudamus hymn was sung,
Mid – The third Sunday when the Mi Deus Hymn was sung.
Miseray – the fourth Lenten Sunday, was when the Miserere Mei Psalm was chanted.
Carlin – Passion Sunday, the fifth Sunday in Lent, adopted by the North Eastern regions as Carlin Sunday.
Palm – Palm Sunday, the sixth and final Sunday of lent.
Pace Egg – A corruption of “Pasch” from the Latin and Greek root for “Easter”.
I do not know if there was ever a rhyme with the First Sunday of Lent in it, but I can find no mention of it, but maybe if there is ever a day on which to eat black/parched/pigeon/Carlin peas, today is it, but beware, do not add salt until right at the end, as the salt will prohibit the peas from ever becoming soft and they will be quite inedible.
May God bless us as we enter Passiontide, and bring us safe to the feast of Easter, when we rejoice with our whole family of God all over the world that we have been saved and made free, and in whatever voice or language or tradition we use, we join together in the knowledge of the love of God.