Moore Wizardry

At College Chapel this Friday we are having a Communion Service following the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. This form of the Service contains within it a ‘Warning’ that the Minister is instructed to read out to the people, which tells everyone when the next Communion service will be held so that they can come to Church properly spiritually prepared (it has been dropped out of every Prayer Book service I’ve ever attended). At the end of College lunch today this warning was read as a way of letting us know about the arrangements for Friday Chapel, and so that we might come adequately prepared.
The Warning for the Celebration of the Holy Communion contains this memorable line instructing the people to seek out a Minister for counsel if they have a disturbed conscience:

… let him come to me, or to some discreet and learned Minister of God’s Word, and open his grief; that by the ministry of God’s holy Word he may receive the benefit of absolution, together with ghostly counsel and advice, to the quieting of his conscience, and avoiding of all scruple and doubtfulness.

It is a very rich statement about one aspect of pastoral ministry – but I found the bit about ‘ghostly counsel’ a little weird. I then went straight from lunch into a New Testament lecture all about Magic and Demons in Luke-Acts.
Moore College seems to get more like Hogwart’s every day…


8 thoughts on “Moore Wizardry

  1. I was fully expecting you to mention the 'benefit of absolution', but the 'ghostly' bit does kind of eclipse it.


    1. the 'benefit of absolution' sounds dodgy, and it can definitely be interpreted in dodgy ways, but I think the sense is that the Minister will explain truths and promises of the Bible to the person who is doubting, so that they will be encouraged to believe in their justification before God through the work of Jesus.


  2. It offers a different perspective on pastoral visits! (the warning that is, not the ghost bit). I'm told that Richard Baxter used to have a queue outside his house on Saturday evening full of people coming "discreetly".


  3. This may be stating the obvious, and if so forgive my interjection…
    could ghostly be the holy spirit as in holy ghost? 🙂


    1. I think that's probably right – 'ghostly' as in 'spiritual'. It's an interesting example of how far a particular word in English has drifted in its semantic range. My favourite example of this is in another prayer from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. At the end of the Service of Holy Communion there are a series of Collects (Prayers) to be said after the Offertory if there is no Communion. The fourth Collect starts: "Prevent us, O Lord, in all our doings with thy most gracious favour…" Prevent meaning 'Go before'.
      Although sometimes I wonder if the Anglican Church should pray that God would prevent them in all their doings… It seems oddly appropriate.


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