A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Hey, Henry VIII & Elizabeth I!

Reuters: Catholicism now Britain's "most popular" faith---

LONDON (Reuters) - Catholics have overtaken Anglicans in church attendance in Britain, according to research published on Sunday.

England officially split from Rome during the reign of Henry VIII more than 400 years ago, making Anglicanism and the Church of England dominant.

But a survey by the group Christian Research published in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper showed that around 862,000 worshippers attended Catholic services each week in 2006 exceeding the 852,000 who went to the Church of England.

The release of the figures followed news that former prime minister Tony Blair, who was raised an Anglican, had converted to Catholicism, joining his wife and four children who are devout Catholics.

Attendance at Anglican services has almost halved over the past 40 years as Britain has grown steadily more secular. Only 6 percent of the population attends church regularly. In the United States, that figure is nearer 40 percent.

While attendance figures for both Catholic and Anglican services are declining, Catholic numbers are slipping by less as new migrants arrive from east Europe and parts of Africa, boosting Catholic congregations.

Catholic leaders were buoyed by the figures, and Blair's high-profile conversion, seeing a resurgence of Catholic popularity in a country which once spurned the religion.

"When a former prime minister becomes a Catholic, that must be a sign that Catholicism really has come in from the cold in this country," Catherine Pepinster, the editor of Catholic weekly The Tablet, wrote in the Sunday Telegraph.

"I would hope that my fellow Catholics will welcome Tony Blair into the Church as they welcome other converts."
And speaking (writing) of Henry and Elizabeth, Lady Lori sent this to me in an e-mail. Rather appropriate:

There is one Christmas Carol that has always baffled me. What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially the partridge who won't come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas? Today, I found out.

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

-The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.

-Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.

-Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.

-The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.

-The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.

-The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

-Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit--Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

-The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.

-Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit--Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.

-The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.

-The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.

-The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.

So there is your history for today. This knowledge was shared with me and I found it interesting and enlightening and now I know how that strange song became a Christmas Carol...so pass it on if you wish."

Merry (Twelve Days of) Christmas Everyone.....

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