Today we celebrated the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the dedication of our chapel. We have a special devotion to the Immaculate Conception at Chavagnes, and invoke our Lady's protection particularly under that title.
But I'd like to tell you today about something we do each year on 6th December, St Nicholas' Day ...
The tradition of the boy bishop - elected each year on the 6th of December, from among the choristers of Cathedrals, Colleges and large parish churches - is an English custom dating back to the 12th century, abolished by Henry VII in 1542 as superstitious and vain, but briefly revived under Mary in time for her first Christmas on the throne in December 1553. Present also in Scotland, France and the Low Countries, it was in England that the custom was most universally and solemnly observed. Continental references tend to refer to abuses (such as servers throwing a bucket of water over the young prince of the church during the Magnificat instead of incensin…
The readings and homily at today's Mass made me think a lot about justification by faith alone and the whole issue of the Reformation.
The odd thing is this:
At the time of Luther and Calvin, Protestants said that no amount of good works would save you; rather one is saved by believing what one must believe: in the person and saving power of Jesus Christ.
Ask an average modern German Lutheran (and certainly a modern Anglican!) and he will tell you that what counts is that someone strives to be a good person. This is salvation by works alone. A complete capitulation of the Reformation.
It is the Catholics who now are left insisting that one must believe in Christ.
So what keeps the churches of the Reformation going? Cultural attachment to the forms of Protestant worship and a fear of what they perceive as strict Catholic (sexual) morality. Another anomaly, because at the time of the Reformation, Calvin, for one, was as strict as they come on such issues.