Monday, May 24, 2010
Prayers and the world cup
The Church of England has today published prayers for the World Cup.
This seems strange and indeed quaint. Surely there are many competent clergy and lay people who are more than capable of writing prayers for the occasion: do they really need to have official prayers for tournament - official only in England, of course.
It has received seem amused comment in the media - but then when isn't comment about the Church of England in the media amused? In the pack of cards which are the Christians of the nation, it is pretty clear that the media view the Church of England as the jokers and the Catholics as the Knaves.
However, prayers for special occasions are nothing new. Indeed, we Catholics have, in only the past few days had special prayers for Reparation over the child abuse scandals, and there has been issued a prayer card to prepare for the visit of the Pope in September.
But it is hard not to feel that while these subjects for catholic prayer are weighty matters, a football tournament in another land is rather frivolous.
There is another way of looking at this. The Church of England, in its role as established Church, sets itself up as it were as the Poet Laureate of prayers. Every event of national importance must have a special prayer, commissioned, composed and distributed. And never to be heard again. The fact that it will touch the lives of only a very small proportion of football supporters is not the point: the good old C of E, ever Erastian, must for ever show its awareness of the ordinary and exciting aspects of national life, even if for some people football is a great bore (there's a prayer for them too).
Our Catholic compositions are somewhat more introspective (as indeed has been the custom of the Catholic Church in England). They deal with our own concerns rather than popular issues.
But at least they are being used.