That’s reassuring to know. I had sometimes wondered whether I had missed out in some way. I was received by the university chaplain, and I think receptions must have been fairly thin on the ground, as he certainly didn’t mention anybody else being prepared for reception at the same time. There was a bit of a question about whether he should receive me or whether I should wait and get it done at my parish back home. He came down on the side of doing it himself and said that if I waited to get it done at my home parish they’d probably want me “to do a course”, which he said as if it would be a bad thing. But it does mean that I get a bit confused when people talk about things like the Rite of Election, because my experience was very much less complicated than that.
By way of contrast, I had previously been confirmed in the Church of England, and that was a fairly unsatisfactory experience. All the boys wishing to be confirmed had to attend a course with a priest once per week. The priest had been a schoolmaster before he was ordained, which showed in the way he ran the classes. The main problem was that he had to pitch his course at a level that would be accessible to a group that had a range of ages, intellectual ability, prior knowledge, and genuine interest in the subject. For example, the priest mentioned in one class that he personally held very strongly republican views. I wondered whether he could explain how he had been able to take the Oath of Allegiance while holding these views. I didn’t think that this was any trivial matter, a priest swearing an oath by Almighty God that he would be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Queen while holding beliefs that were completely contradictory. Surely this raises important questions about one’s conscience (how can somebody who is a Christian swear an oath by Almighty God promising to do something that he has no intention of doing and is, indeed, opposed to as a matter of principle?) Of course, this wasn’t on the syllabus, and there was neither time nor inclination to explore a topic that could in fact have been much more important than the topics we did cover. One-to-one instruction would have allowed a more freely flowing discussion exploring important topics in the depth desired.