In my youth,
which wasn’t long after Guy Fawkes tried to change our politics ,
we used to buy boxes of ready-selected fireworks .
Various brands were available, Brocks being one;
and you tried to buy the best and the noisiest you could afford
out of your pocket money,or, if enterprising, any money you collected in the street
with your home-made Guy – “Penny for the Guy!”,
the English (and may I say better) answer to “Trick or Teat”.
Boxes of fireworks began at 1/=; 1/6d; 2/6d, some 3/11d,
and a big box was 5/-.
Cheap or expensive, these boxed fireworks delivered the promise
of a good show. Each box might contain:-
a rocket! A spectacle for all to see! The centre of attention, life and soul of the party, that soars to the limit!
a sparkler! Not striving to be the centre of attention,
but still a lot of fun!
a silver fountain! just the right amount of ‘Wow!”, a lot of flair,
not the biggest noise, but still beautiful.
a Catherine Wheel an exciting ball of energy that just cannot be stopped! Spinning, flashy. OR it could be just going round and round in circles, apparently getting nowhere, fizzling out and left smouldering.
a Firecracker, a Crackerjack, Boisterous, outgoing, making its presence felt with a frighteningly-unexpected and an often too-near- to-you bang!
a Roman Candle – firing off colourfully for a short time, and then – an afterglow in a smouldering, empty shell….
And what was this all about?
“Remember, remember, the Fifth of November Gunpowder treason and plot; I see no reason why gunpowder treason Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, guy, t'was his intent To blow up king and parliament. Three score barrels were laid below To prove old England's overthrow.”
Guy Fawkes is the conspirator remembered,
but he was just
the lookout man for others
who had been plotting this for longer.
Political action followed pretty quickly!
The Popish Recusants Act 1605 was passed swiftly,
which in the light of November 5th 1605
forbade Roman Catholics from practising law and medicine;
from acting as a guardian or trustee.
amongst other obstacles;
and If a Roman Catholic did not receive Communion
at least once a year in a Church of England parish church,
a fine of up to £60 could be enforced.
In 1606 a service entitled: “A Form Of Prayer With Thanksgiving
To be uſed yearly upon the Fifth Day of November;
for the happy Deliverance of King JAMES I,
as a prayerful defence against further “Popish treachery.”
“Remember, remember, the Fifth of November
Gunpowder treason and plot……”
It wasn’t until 1859, thirty years after the Catholic Emancipation Act had been passed that this service was removed. That was five years after Holy Trinity Church Winchester was built 1853-55.
Heavily influenced by the Oxford Movement,
with a desire to remember the piety
of pre-Reformation English Catholicism, and hopeful that
the beauty of holiness might itself be “re-membered”
this magnificent Church has stood ever since
as a bastion of Catholic faith and practice
in our city, and remains one of a few in this part of England.
Even at the time of this Church’s foundation,
where Anglo-Catholic priests were imprisoned for daring to embrace
“Popish Practice” such as two candles on the Altar,
Holy Trinity managed to sit under the radar, in proud proclamation
of the Catholic Faith as should be received in the Church of England.
Bonfire Night is still enjoyed, still we remember,
but we seem to have forgotten WHAT we remember,
as the fear of Popish Plots fade from folk memory;
and “Bonfire Night” and “Halloween” merge into one,
and Anti-Catholicism, a least in England, ceases to be a problem
in a society that cares less for the Christian faith anyway!
Anglo-Catholics owe a debt of gratitude to Roman Catholicism’s gift to us in our understanding of the Mass, “re-membering” Our Lord
as the Sacrifice He made for us on the Cross at Calvary years ago
is “re-membered” upon our Altars,
His Presence in our present, past and present meeting in memory.
Every Mass the words given to us by Jesus Himself are repeated,
as He enjoins us to “Do this in Memory of me”.
Words from the past which become reality in our present.
Words which bring Heaven and earth together.
“Can with this single Truth compare - That God was man in Palestine And lives today in Bread and Wine.”
The remembrance of God Incarnate,
present here in Bread and Wine
May Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar
continue to be remembered in this place for many years to come.