The Rector of St Matthias, in his refusal to allow or address a collective of the Royal Black Preceptory in the Parish Church, is all too like many priests ministering in the Church of Ireland today.
This precious washing the hands of a working class culture, of which Orange lodges are a part, is a factor in the virtual isolation and collapse of the Church of Ireland in North, West, and much of East Belfast.
It is a contrast to the Church of Ireland of the past.
Why hold aloof from that culture? The clergy surely can engage without being absorbed.
And so instead of the Rector having no objection to the bishop coming along and giving something of the usual exhortatory sermon, the custom nowadays, the Rector might have welcomed them himself (many are probably, like those in the Orang Order, not noted for churchgoing anyhow).
And having welcomed them to the parish church he then might have catechised them on the doctrine of the Cross from the Appendix attached to Martin Luther’s short catechism, and the why of “when thou risest from thy bed, sign thyself with the Holy Cross”, similarly on going to bed, “sign thyself with the Holy Cross”.
But it is not all a matter of ritual, there are contesting social implications and he could have gone on with that.
It could have stirred some to think.
W A Miller