Anglicans Online banner More about the gryphon
Independent On the web since 1994 More than 200,000 readers More than 30,000 links Updated every Sunday

Noted This Week
Sites new to AO

News Centre
News archive

News flash: a summary of the top headlines
Start here
Anglicans believe...
The Prayer Book
The Bible

Read letters to AO
Write to us

Resources A to Z

World Anglicanism
Anglican Communion
In full communion
Not in the Communion

Dioceses and Parishes
Hong Kong
New Zealand
South Africa

Vacancies Centre
List a vacancy
Check openings worldwide

Add a site or link to AO
Add a site to AO
Link to AO

About Anglicans Online
Back issues
Awards and publicity
About our logo

Support AO
Shop for AO goods
Help support us!
Thanks to our friends

Our search engine


Hallo again to all.

Ruins of Mt Calvary MonasteryIn the news this week, we note that construction of a cathedral in Australia has been completed after more than a century, that a famous and much-beloved monastery has succumbed to a forest fire in the low coastal mountains of southern California, and that people from several small US dioceses are squabbling with one another over ownership of church buildings when some parish members choose to leave the church to join another.

Meanwhile, every last one of the magnificent old cathedrals in England and Europe is in dire need of maintenance and repairs; there is always a plea for money and a statement of the breathtakingly large sum that is supposedly needed to prevent the grand old building from rotting away to join Rievaulx Abbey in the pantheon of great departed holy buildings. Meanwhile, the lesser buildings such as vicarages, equally beloved if not equally grandiose, have become restaurants or inns, or are quietly and sadly awaiting sale to some wealthy buyer who might turn his vintage prize into a shopping arcade or a museum.

Standing in the middle of a pile of rocks that once had been part of a holy building that was the centre of worship for a Christian community is an odd and emotional experience. This patch of grass is on the spot where the godparents stood at a baptism; those yellow weeds are growing where sat the pew from which so many mothers bade a last goodbye to their sons killed in war. It's easy to reconstruct in one's mind the quiet sanctity now lost to flocks of birds and passing airplanes.

Ruins of Tintern AbbeyBuildings can enable and accelerate anamnesis. They needn't be mouldering Gothic haunts to be anamnetic. The ultra-modern Roman Catholic Cathedral of St Mary of the Assumption in San Francisco feels at first exposure more like an airport lobby than a diocesan cathedral, but once your eyes have absorbed it and your heart has understood it, that building is every bit as powerful as the cathedrals at Chartres or Norwich.

Here and there throughout the world there are simple shrines and chapels that are architecturally minimal but in which most observers can more easily feel God's presence. There need be no flying buttresses, stained glass, pipe organs, or carved rood screens. When you return to such a place, especially if you do so at regular intervals, you can almost resume your dialogue with God right where you left off, a bricks-and-mortar bookmark. But when you go for the first time to such a place, you have to work a little harder to resume an on-going dialogue, because the bricks don't know you yet. They will.

In past months there have been a few news items about Anglican people who are unhappy with the politics of their national church or their diocese and who want to leave to join a different church. If they were leaving to join a Methodist or or Baptist or Roman Catholic church, the event would hardly warrant news coverage. But when groups of people leave to join some other Anglican-related church, they often want to take their buildings with them. We completely understand why, but we know that when the grieving Benedictine monks of the Mount Calvary Retreat House and Monastery do eventually get new buildings to replace those that just burned down, they will find God there even if the new buildings are more modest.

Those monks know that their beloved buildings were not at the centre of their spiritual selves even if their spiritual selves were sometimes at the centre of the buildings. Everyone who is involved in a dispute over church property should think about Mount Calvary and should contemplate the ruins of Rievaulx Abbey.

See you next week. If not in this building, then somewhere else.

Our signature
All of us here at Anglicans Online

Last updated: 16 November 2008

A thin blue line
This web site is independent. It is not official in any way. Our editorial staff is private and unaffiliated. Please contact about information on this page. ©2008 Society of Archbishop Justus
. Please address all spam to