27 August 2019

Things to do in church

In Ickford church in Buckinghamshire, where Pam and I once went for a walk, one of the window sills is marked with a design for the ancient game of Nine Men's Morris [according to OED, a corruption for merrells]. In fact it is marked twice; one design neatly cut, another rather crudely.

Who played this game there, and when? I know we mustn't assume that medieval worshippers were always devout and well-behaved, but the sill concerned is rather near the site (indicated by an adjacent piscina) of an ancient altar ... and accordingly probably inside the confines of a parclose screen and perhaps within a chantry. Were the merrells players active in the age of box pews ... my Victorian predecessor at S Thomas's, Canon Chamberlain, when he was evicting the box pews from S Thomas's, claimed that such things went on within them as were an offence to female modesty. Or should we deem the perpetrators to have been parishioners at leisure, amusing themselves in church when worship was not occurring?

Romantic Anglicans sometimes forget that before the unjustly reviled Victorians got down to their sometimes admittedly heavy restorations, some of our churches were almost derelict and many were in a state of near collapse.

Any thoughts?


GOR said...

So that’s where they got the idea…!

Years ago our old parish church in Ireland had a vestibule at the back. It was not unknown for some gossoons to be playing “Pitch and Toss” in said vestibule during Sunday Mass. It only ended when the PP began policing the back of the church!

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father. Say what they will about the Pauline Rite, at least there are no sheep, goats, or donkeys wandering around in the sanctuary eating the Holy Eucharist:

DE DEFECTIBUS (Pope Saint Paul V)


I - Defects of the Missing

1. The priest who is to celebrate Mass should take every precaution to make sure that none of the things required for celebrating the Sacrament of the Eucharist is missing. A defect may occur with regard to the matter to be consecrated, with regard to the form to be observed and with regard to the consecrating minister. There is no Sacrament if any of these is missing: the proper matter, the form, including the intention, and the priestly ordination of the celebrant. If these things are present, the Sacrament is valid, no matter what else is lacking. There are other defects, however, which may involve sin or scandal, even if they do not impair the validity of the Sacrament.

II - Defects of the matter

2. Defects on the part of the matter may arise from some lack in the materials required. What is required is this: bread made from wheat flour, wine from grapes, and the presence of these materials before the priest at the time of the Consecration.

III - Defect of bread

3. If the bread is not made of wheat flour, or if so much other grain is mixed with the wheat that it is no longer wheat bread, or if it is adulterated in some other way, there is no Sacrament.

4. If the bread has been made with rose-water or some other distillation, the validity of the Sacrament is doubtful.

5. If the bread has begun to mold, but it is not corrupt, or if it is not unleavened according to the custom of the Latin Church, the Sacrament is valid but the celebrant is guilty of grave sin.

6. If the celebrant notices before the Consecration that the host is corrupt or that it is not made of wheat flour, he is to replace that host with another, make the offering at least mentally and continue from where he left off.

7. If he notices this after the Consecration, or even after having consumed the host, he is to put out another host, make the offering as above and begin from the Consecration, namely from the words Qui pridie quam pateretur. If he has not consumed the first host, he is to consume it after taking the Body and the Blood, or else reserve it somewhere with reverence. If he has already consumed the first host, he is nevertheless to consume the one that he has consecrated, because the precept of completing the Sacrament is more important than the precept of fasting before Communion.

8. If this should happen after the Blood has been consumed, not only should new bread be brought, but also wine with water. The priest should first make the offering, as above, then consecrate, beginning with the words Qui pridie. Then he should immediately receive under both species and continue the Mass, so that the Sacrament will not remain incomplete and so that due order will be observed.

9. If the consecrated host disappears, either by some accident such as a gust of wind or by some animal's taking it, and it cannot be found, then another is to be consecrated, beginning from the Qui pridie quam pateretur, having first been offered as above.

10. In the cases referred to in paragraphs 5-9 above, the elevation of the Sacrament is to be omitted, and everything is to be done so as to avoid, as far as possible, any scandal or wonderment on the part of the faithful.

John Vasc said...

"the sill concerned is rather near the site (indicated by an adjacent piscina) of an ancient altar" - but I'd surmise that side altar would have been dismantled during the time of the 'Stripping of the Altars', so the Nine Men's Morris 'boards' could have been easily scratched there at any time since the late 16th century.
It sounds like the sort of impudent disrespect one might expect from the campaigning parliamentary soldiery using the churches as doss-houses during the Civil Wars. Did they march that way, say, en route to one of their three sieges of Oxford?