The Low Churchman’s Guide to Solemn High Mass. PART I: Flowers

Flowers are the reproductive organs of angiospermic plants. The current consensus opinion among botanists holds that they are necessary to ensure the continued existence of such valuable plants as the apple tree, the rhododendron, the Southern Ironwood, and Heracleum mantegazzianum. For the time being, at least, it seems that flowers are here to stay. It is one thing to admire a row of daisies by the side of the road, however, and quite another to tolerate the deliberate and premeditated arrangement of flowers on the altars of our churches, a custom that strikes at the very roots of the English faith.

There are many reasons for the loyal churchman to be wary of altar flowers. A vase filled with verdant foliage is large enough to hide an even more sinister object from view: a copy of Ritual Notes, perhaps, or the image of the Bishop of Rome. Flowers are also capable of causing discomfort or even physical harm to parishioners; they emit distracting odours and produce a substance called “pollen,” whose primary purpose is to cause death by anaphylactic shock. It is thought that these properties may be related to the carcinogenic qualities of incense, another dangerous substance of botanical origin. Most serious, however, is the potential for the display of flowers to lead English youth astray: the public exhibition of uncovered sexual organs, whatever their species, is sure to undermine the moral standards that we have so carefully instilled in our children.

Although loyal churchmen are opposed to the use of flowers as an altar decoration, some experts believe that flowers can licitly be grown on the parish property at a decent distance from the church itself: such flower arrangements, known as “gardens,” are becoming increasingly popular.



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