In more than 60 years since being confirmed by the then Bishop of Chichester, I have regularly attended holy communion. More than 50 priests have provided services, and I have never seen one who does the absolution or the blessing using other than their right arm raised. Is it that left-handed candidates for ordination are refused, or are they trained not to use their natural arm?
I am left-handed and have been ordained for 37 years. In the late 1950s at school, I was told that I couldn’t play the violin because I was left-handed. What an outcry that would bring these days!
I have, however, always used my left arm when giving a blessing, and have not been struck down. I did try once with my right arm, but it didn’t seem to make a decent shape of the cross.
No person has ever said that I should use my right arm only, as long as my heart is in the right place.
(The Revd) Graham Spencer
Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire
This left-hander was not refused ordination (nor was I questioned about sinister leanings). I was, however, recently instructed by my training incumbent, just prior to my priesting, that the blessing should be given with the right hand only.
(The Revd) Fran Brealey
Sea Mills, Bristol
I am left-handed. Handedness was not discussed at any stage of selection or training, and I have used my left arm unchallenged since ordination. As one small example of the glorious variety of God’s creation, I hope that this is not too controversial.
(The Revd) Ian Brocklehurst
~Mossley, Greater Manchester
Ten per cent of the population are left-handed. It seems likely, then, that five or so of the fifty priests whose ministry the questioner experienced would have been left-handed, but gave the absolution and blessing with their right arm.
During my curacy, my left-handed blessings were noted by a member of the congregation, which led me to wonder whether I should “conform” and swap to offering right-handed ones.
I decided that my left-handedness was part of how God had made me, and it was important to offer the real me. The questioner’s observation scratches the surface of an important question. When should those in ministry seek to conform to expectations and when should they challenge them? -
(The Revd) Clive Wood
I am a left-handed assistant curate, serving with a left-handed incumbent. He uses a thurible left-handed (chain in his right hand and bowl in his left). I, however, cense right-handed. He, presumably, was trained to cense according to his natural left-handedness, whereas I was trained right-handed. Indeed, I have tried to use my left hand and been very disorientated.
(The Revd) Joshua Bell
South Lynn, Norfolk
Your question: I saw a recipe for Coventry Godcakes, and I think it said that these little pastry delicacies were given by godparents annually to their godchildren shortly after the New Year. Does this tradition survive, or has it been revived?
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