24 SEPTEMBER 1932, Page 16


[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.] SIR,—On page 223 of your issue of August 20th, in the "News of the Week" columns, reference is made to a recent Roman Catholic service held at Rievaulx Abbey. This is described as " The first service, it is believed, since the Dissolution . . (and) due to the initiative of the Roman Catholic Church," who must not be grudged the credit.

I have no desire to initiate controversy on the Roman question, or to obtain the sort of advertisement for the Church in this country which seems to delight Roman Catholics, or to deny them all due credit. At the same time, a little enquiry would have revealed that the clergy and people of the Parish Church of Helmsley, of which Rievaulx Church is a dependent chapel, have for years past held a service in the Abbey. Only a fortnight before the Roman Catholics held their service, the Archbishop of York preached in the Abbey and his visit was widely reported in the Press.

Against the comparison made in twelfth-century building, as an expression of devotion to God and the small number of modern great buildings of architectural glory, must be set the changed conditions which demand provision for spiritual needs of vast multitudes in our cities and towns. So far as the expression of glory and honour to God goes, surely the large number of new churches, built to meet these modern needs, no less honour Him whose care is more for souls than for stones. The day may come when it will again be possible to build great and glorious churches to the honour and glory of God in centres of church life, but the immediate duty of the Church is to provide for the spiritual needs of her people, both in regard to parish churches and clergy to minister in them. The real work of God's Church does not provide display, as a rule, but it will withstand the work of the spoiler, and survive when buildings have come to the sorry fate which the glorious abbey church of Rievaulx represents.—I am, Sir, &c., F. R.

[We are glad to learn that the Church of England has held services in Rievaulx Abbey. In the Note to which our corre- spondent refers we expressed our wish that it should be ED. Spectator.]