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A Letter from Father David Sherwood

My dear friends


One of the things that divides Anglicans is our relation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, one of the distinctive signs of Anglo-Catholicism. By using the expression Our Lady I know that I have already lost some of you, but if I go into French (Notre Dame) or Italian (Madonna) you are still with me. It is all due to our underlying fear of Roman Catholics and that fear goes back centuries. It is tied up with our fear of invasion by the French and/or the Spanish. This manifests itself in over-exuberant celebrations of Bonfire Night, particularly evident in our area in Lewes.


When Henry VIII declared himself head of the Church of England the form of service changed little, the biggest change being prayer for the king instead of the pope. Under Edward VI, who succeeded his father Henry VIII, the church moved in a more Protestant direction with the provision of the first prayer book book in 1549, revised to be even more Protestant in 1552. Queen Mary I restored Roman Catholicism and she was succeeded by Elizabeth I who went back to a more Protestant style of worship and it is that Elizabethan settlement upon which our church of today is founded. We have always borrowed from other denominations for worship of which devotion to Mary is one emanating from the Oxford Movement in the 19th century. There will be more about Mary and the Oxford Movement in later letters.


With my love, Fr David

David Sherwood is an Honorary Curate based at Christ Church, St. Leonards

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