Thursday, April 11, 2013

All I will say...

All I will say about the Late Lady Thatcher, copied unashamedly from the blog of Cranmer::

In the Commons, it was her friend Conor Burns who mingled just the right amount of personal recollection with her international political accomplishments. He paid moving tribute to The Great Lady from the very seat in Parliament where she made her maiden speech, and the place to which she returned after leaving No10. He ended with her own account of attending Mass at the Church of the Holy Cross in Warsaw in 1993: 
Every nook and cranny was packed, and the choral singing of unfamiliar Polish hymns was all the more uplifting because I could not understand the verses. It forced me to try to imagine what the congregation was asking of God. Foreign though this experience was, it also gave me a comforting feeling that I was but one soul among many, in a fellowship of believers that crossed nations and denominations. When the priest rose to give the sermon, however, I had the sense that I had suddenly become the centre of attention. Heads turned and people smiled at me. As the priest began, someone translated his words. He recalled that during the dark days of Communism, they had been aware of voices from the outside world offering hope of a different and better life. The voices were many, often eloquent, and all were welcome to a people starved so long of truth as well as freedom. But Poles had come to identify with one voice in particular - my own. Even when that voice had been relayed through the distorting loudspeaker of the Soviet propaganda, they had heard through the distortions the message of truth and hope. Well, Communism had fallen, and a new democratic order had replaced it. But they had not fully felt the change, nor truly believed in its reality, until today, when they finally saw me in their own church. The priest finished his sermon, and the service continued. But the kindness of the priest and the parishioners had not been exhausted. At the end of Mass I was invited to stand in front of the altar. When I did so, lines of children presented me with little bouquets while their mothers and fathers applauded.

...Of course, no human mind, nor any conceivable computer, can calculate the sum total of my career in politics in terms of happiness, achievement and virtue. Nor, indeed, of their opposites. It follows, therefore, that the full accounting of how my political work affected the lives of others is something we will only know on Judgement Day. It is an awesome and unsettling thought. But it comforts me, that when I stand up to hear the verdict, I will at least have the people of the Church of the Holy Cross in Warsaw in court as character witnesses.


Andrew Proud said...

Since you, Gary, have not offered a comment on Cranmer's quote from Lady Thatcher, may I, a newcomer to your blog, offer the following:
I find Cranmer's quote chilling. Lady T said that she expected, on the day of judgement, to gain comfort from certain Polish Roman Catholics who might act as character witnesses.
I have only once, and unwillingly, attended a mass and it struck me as peculiarly objectionable that its liturgy called upon a vast range of people to intercede for the souls of those present, but with the notable exception of the the one mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ.
On that great and terrible day the the true believer, no matter whether s/he was a head of state or the lowest achiever will not be depending on character witnesses but on their advocate.
Count Zinzendorf felt no need of character witnesses:

Jesus, thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.

Bold shall I stand in thy great day;
For who aught to my charge shall lay?
Fully absolved through these I am
From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.

Neither did Toplady:

Nothing in my hand I bring
Simply to thy cross I cling
Naked ,(I) come to thee for dress
Helpless, (I) look to thee for grace
Foul, I to the fountain fly
Wash me saviour or I die.

Andrew Proud
NB I would have preferred to remain anonymous to avoid any confusion with The Bishop of Reading who shares my full name. Perhaps I should use the title The Very Not Reverend where "very" has its old meaning of "truly"

Gary Benfold said...

Andrew, I agree wholeheartedly - with you and with Zinzendorf and Toplady. The only point I was making by quoting this is that when we speak of Thatcher's 'legacy' we have to speak of more than the UK. I suspect - though I don't know - that it was the only point she was making, too. Thanks for your contribution.