3 November 2020

Dudley Symon on the Departed

" Remember also, O Lord, thy servants and handmaids who have gone before us with the sign of faith and rest in the sleep of peace. To them, O Lord, and to all who rest in Christ, we beseech thee to grant a place of refressment, light and peace: through the same Christ our Lord.

"Perhaps the most beautiful prayer in the Canon.

"One is told in the history books about the medieval obsession with the fires of Purgatory, how the priests encouraged this fear because it meant any amount of Masses for the Dead, and how the pious Dukes of Northumberland and Somerset, in the reign of Edward VI, were so shocked by it all that wherever a  Guild or Trade Union in those days included a Chantry for its departed members, that Guild had to be dissolved and, to teach it a lesson, its revenues confiscated to the Crown. Of all the iniquitous proceedings of the gang of doctrinaire pedants and cynical looters during that reign, this, perhaps, was the most abominable, not merely because of the robbery and destruction of a most important element in English social life, but because it mangled the continuity of life, struck at the 'Communion of Saints', separated the living from the departed and encouraged the 'this-worldly' mentality which has been so dominant a characteristic of English religion ever since. These men did not 'reform', they wantonly destroyed."


Simon Cotton said...

Ronald Knox said that the Memento of the Dead always made him rather want to cry. He also said that this prayer makes us remember how little we remember our dead.

Richard said...

Brilliant explanation of how Henry VIII and two of his children ruined England, then and now. The plain fact is that the so-called Reformation was about loot.

PM said...

Exactly. That admirable historian W G Hoskins gave his volume on the Tudor period the title 'The Age of Plunder'.