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Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Glastonbury: ancient rite recalls early Church
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 A unique ceremony took place during Mass in the Church of Our Lady St Mary of Glastonbury on Sunday. Members of the parish, twenty clergy from every Christian denomination, an Anglican bishop, and a group of consecrated virgins and widows gathered with Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the consecration of Elizabeth Rees as a Virgin Living in the World. This ancient rite was restored by Vatican II, and this was only the second time that such a Silver Jubilee has taken place in Britain. The beautiful Rite of Consecration was drawn up by Pope Gregory the Great in the seventh century, using ancient prayers taken from the Acts of the virgin martyrs, Saints Agnes and Agatha. In the early Church, before the evolution of convents, vowed men and women lived in the local community, and the bishop received their vows. St Paul describes this way of life when he talks about virgins and widows and their role in the Christian community. In Glastonbury Elizabeth repeated her vow, placing her hands between those of the bishop. When Bishop Declan once more placed a gold ring on her finger, she sang, in words from the Acts of the fourth century martyrs: "I am wedded to him whom angels serve; sun and moon marvel at his beauty". mmediately before the offertory of the Mass, she sang: "What I longed for, I see. What I hoped for, I hold. I have loved him on earth with all my heart, nd now I am one with him in heaven." Elizabeth was consecrated four thousand miles away in Albert Lea, Minnesota. She recalls that 25 years ago, there were few full-time jobs in the Catholic Church in Britain. However, there were already parish teams in the USA, and she was offered a job as liturgist in Minnesota. Even then, the ceremony was quite new, and she was the first person to be consecrated by Bishop Loras Watters of Winona, Minnesota. After she returned to Britain, Elizabeth worked for thirteen years as pastoral assistant in parishes in and around London. She later moved into retreat work, and now directs a House of Prayer in rural Somerset. She says: "This form of consecrated life is an ancient one, yet full of possibilities for today. There are now about 150 of us in Britain, and there are similar numbers in other countries. As a vowed single woman I can be open to God's Spirit, and available for whatever God invites me to do. But this way of life is primarily about being rather than doing: it's an invitation to be a woman of prayer. I have thoroughly enjoyed the adventures of my first 25 years of consecrated life, and I look forward to following God's ongoing, creative call." For further information about this way of life, contact: Elizabeth Rees OCV, 2 Parkfields, High Street, Butleigh, Glastonbury, Somerset BA6 8SZ - call 01458 851561 or visit: Source: Clifton Diocese
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