Thursday, 16 May 2013

Ecumenical Conversations

There is a report HERE that Cardinal Schonborn, talking to 5000 (a prophetic number?!) from Holy Trinity Church, Brompton Rd, Knightsbridge (universally known as HTB), thinks that there is hope for re-union progress under the current stewardship of the Bishop's of Rome and Canterbury. How wonderful if that could be the case and as he points out the Holy Spirit can move fast and in unexpected ways (viz. who would have thought a few years ago that married Anglican bishops and priests could be offered a home in the Roman Catholic Church of the new Ordinariate). However, given that the first thing the Archbishop of Canterbury did was to declare his belief in the new change to the catholic order of Bishops inherited by the Anglican church at the reformation by opening it to women, how on earth could this come about? Only by a huge about face by the national Church of England and it is almost impossible to imagine this happening. Or is it? Suppose that the new legislation to allow women bishop's failed at the final hurdle all might be possible for re-union again. It seems a very long shot but we know the power of God the Holy Spirit is very strong. We must never give up praying to Him that the universal Church may be one again; (divided as it is from our perspective by an accident of history in the 16th cent.) in the knowledge that what seems impossible for us is not for Him.

The irony is that it wasn't very long ago that the evangelicals at HTB would have supported male headship as biblically based and untouchable by modern liberal preferences motivated by a misguided imposition of social "justice" and secular "equality" of gender. Instead of celebrating the differences of male and female as created and ordained by God some of the evangelicals at HTB which of course includes the Archbishop of Canterbury appear to have been distracted (let's hope temporarily) by the secular rather than the biblical imperative. But perhaps not all, and just maybe the tide could turn; the more dialogue with Rome the better. Blessed John Henry Newman's best statue is in London where he presides over the Brompton Rd. right in front of both The Brompton Oratory and.....none other than HTB church immediately next to it! Could this be another of the signs that the cardinal spoke of? I have an enormous respect and love for HTB, it is where I went to Sunday school and learnt the traditional faith and in those days about the sacraments too. We even had processions on feast days with clergy in copes! It was where my late father was a church warden. Things have moved in a different and more evangelical direction now and there is wonderful work being done. Could the scandal of a divided church of Christ be the next prophetic mission of HTB to address? That would be a fruiting of the works of the Holy Spirit beyond wildest dreams and a fruition of the enormous amount of work, prayer and witness begun by Bishop Sandy Miller, Fr.Nicky Gumbel and their co-workers for Christ; a new vision at this time of Pentecost when all understood each other in a new and God given way.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Ice Saints

Since the Country Life article some have suggested to me if I would develop writing more of the experience of rural ministry. So here we are in the middle of the old calendar of Ice Saints 11-13 May. In Europe these days are judged to be highly dangerous to farmers and growers as they can be prone to attack from the tail of winter in the form of frosts, deadly to tender plants, shoots and blossom. As farmers in the UK are recovering from the coldest of March weather when sheep were buried in snow drifts especially in the north of Wales, let us pray for them and join in our prayers to invoke the protection of St. Pancras and the Ice Saints to help keep away the frosts which will devastate yields and wipe out fruit crops if too severe. It was hovering just above freezing here last night, we await these next days in hope that farm incomes and the food production so necessary to our country and the world
may be spared the effects of ice...

  • Saint Mamertus, Patron of 11 May, died 474 AD Archbishop. Pray for us.....
  • Saint Pancras, Patron of 12 May, died 304 AD aged just 14 Martyr. Pray for us...
  • Saint Servatius, Patron of 13 May, died 384 AD Bishop and Martyr. Pray for us...

Friday, 10 May 2013

Country Life

I was not sure that the article in the uk Country Life magazine was going ahead. I had been contacted in Lent and Holy Week and got some words together. I then cancelled their professional photographer coming to the parish and didn't feel able to be a "poser" during all those most important holy, spiritual and liturgical days of the church calendar. However, there were a few home archive photos that we sent in. The article was however published in part this week HERE . I know they are pushed for space but it is interesting to see the bits which have been edited out of the final text and redacted, because they are not deemed perhaps to be of interest to the "readership". Very sad that the links didn't go in as I had hoped we might get a mention for the roof appeal which is why I put some effort into it in the first place. No idyl exists in any walk of even country life, everything has it's pressures and tensions but we can all thank God for the many blessings we do receive and perhaps it is justified to share them, especially if in a small way it goes to spreading the good news of Jesus Christ present in our vocations whatever they may be. What was not printed was the full text and other photos of what I sent in response to the reporters questionnaire; so here it is in full for what it is worth:

Name: The Reverend Mark Elston Zorab 
Job: 1.Hon. Assistant Curate, St.Arvans group of Parishes near Chepstow, Diocese of Monmouth.
2. Chartered Surveyor and Principal, Elstons Country Land & Estate Agents, Usk, Monmouthshire.
Age: 59 Married with four children.
What was your route into the job?: 1.Ordained 1994 by Archbishop Rowan Williams to serve as non stipendiary Curate in the St. Arvans group of Parishes with five rural churches including St. Deiniol’s, Itton in which parish are kenneled the Curre&Llangibby foxhounds and where the famous hound breeder Sir Edward Curre, Bt, lived and bred his famous white hounds with Welsh cross bloodlines many of which can be found in hunt kennels throughout the UK and USA if you look far enough back at the pedigrees in the Foxhound Kennel Studbooks.
2. My father Phillip was as an Artillery officer in WWII and afterwards became a London hospital Consultant and was one of 5 brothers, all third family generation practicing medicine, I am the black sheep of the family! He encouraged me to attend the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester and I trained in the rural practice division of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors becoming FRICS and eventually Principal of my own rural Estate Agency and lettings practice in Usk Monmouthshire, the county of my mother’s family from Piercefield Park (now Chepstow racecourse) and where my grandfather farmed a heard of Guernsey dairy cows near-by.
What's the best part of the job?: Living and working and ministering to all different kinds of people in their different stages of life and needs here in Monmouthshire. In the estate agency practice I am very fortunate as it allows me to see all the most interesting rural properties in SE Wales.

It brings me into contact with people at all the various stages of their life. People move home for all sorts of different reasons for example, getting married, moving up or down the ladder, gaining or losing jobs, ill health and of course at their death too. This is a vocation to help people move of itself. However, it also provides the salary to live on and so that the church doesn’t have to pay me. The bible says, “the labourer is worthy of his hire” Luke ch 10 and of course even St. Paul earned his own living as a tent maker in the early church. This means bridging the gap for people between the world and the church quietly continuing to help make Christianity and the name of Jesus known and loved in the rural areas. I follow the catholic Anglican tradition, where we value the historical context of the rhythm of daily prayer and sacrament, worshipping in the same Celtic and medieval buildings of our ancestors in the faith, to traditional liturgies which speak louder and I believe more truthfully, than any of the new liberal innovations the church is currently engaging with, can ever do. In my own parish of St. Arvans we have a 10th century Celtic wheel cross and are currently trying to raise £200,000 to renovate the roof.
And the most challenging aspect?: Working as part of a team with my friend and colleague Fr. Michael Gollop SSC the parish priest of our group, to jointly bring to people the daily Holy Sacraments and on Sundays and Baptism, Marriage and funeral rites to all the five churches in very rural areas. Two of the churches have no road or electricity to them and we walk across the fields in all weathers, so winter is always a challenge but often very beautiful too. Making time is a challenge for the three vocations I follow with a busy pastoral, family and business life, and a very active working Cocker Spaniel called Dot who accompanies me into church and sits obediently at the back during Mass on Saturday mornings!
What has been your proudest moment?: In the Church pride is something to avoid and which can be sinful! So perhaps I could tell you about my activities instead! Fishing the famous Monmouthshire rivers for trout and salmon; the Usk is next to my office and the Wye runs through the parish and shooting at Usk Castle down the road makes me very fortunate. As a former MFH I continue to support the hunt although I don’t ride any more, time is the problem. Both Chepstow racecourse and the point-to-point course at Howick (where I used to race ride in younger days) are situated within the parishes, so I go there too, aren’t I lucky!
What advice would you give someone going into the role?:The future of the rural parishes may largely rest with the properly trained voluntary ordained ministry, it could be you! Make time for your family, for daily prayer and make sure to turn the mobile off sometimes because you are never off duty!