Sunday, February 10, 2013

Saint Guinefort's: A Mother and Alfred Story

Saint Guinefort’s Episcopal Church

Sometimes there is just no telling what Mother is up to.  Why, just the other evening I was sitting in my Chesterfield wing chair reading the Wall Street Journal when Mother came in fanning away the smoke from my Alec Bradley Special Reserve Churchill Cigar and announced, “Alfred, I know that you are just getting involved in the choir, but there is something that I just wanted to ask you.  Please do say, ‘Yes.’’’

 “Yes, Mother? said I, “What is on your mind?’

Taking heart, Mother continued, “There is a new Episcopal Mission called St. Guinefort’s starting in Park Hills. I thought that we might look into it.  It could be a very rewarding experience.”

“And why is that?” I replied.

“Well, said Mother, “They use the 1928 Book of Common Prayer.”

“But, Mother,” said I, “Switching churches is not a simple matter.  There is our group with the Whittingtons and the Wilsons.  I thought you were enjoying them.  Not only that, our Choir Director William Weaver is hinting that I might have a solo in the Easter music program.  I would certainly not want to miss that.”

“I know,” said Mother, “but the article on St. Guinefort was very interesting.  They are naming their new Mission after a 13th Century French Saint.”

“St. Guinefort?” I asked, “I’ve never heard of St. Guinefort.  Who is he”

“Well, Alfred,” answered Mother, “St. Guinefort was a thirteenth century greyhound who was martyred after protecting a child.  The nobleman who owned Guinefort mistakenly thought it had killed his child, but it turned out the dog had been only protecting the baby from a viper.  After Guinefort was buried French peasants began praying to St. Guinefort for the healing and protection of their children.”

“Really, Mother,” said I with some consternation, “French peasants?  That’s not much of a recommendation.”

Mother smiled a sly smile, “Perhaps you’re right Alfred.  Changing churches is a big challenge, and I have gotten used to the new Book of Common Prayer.  At least the service seems shorter.”

When Mother remained in the doorway of my study fanning away smoke, I knew that something else was on her mind.  “You, know Alfred,” said Mother, “The story of St. Guinefort is a very charming story, even if it is a little sad.  Perhaps, Alfred, we could get a greyhound?  They are such lovely animals.”

Mother has a time worn technique she calls, “Ask for the Moon, when you really want only a small star or two.”

“Mother, said I, “We don’t have enough room in our backyard for a greyhound to run.”

“Alfred,” Mother said, “I thought you might react that way.  Grace Whittington’s sister has a Bichon Frise that has just had a litter of pups, and I thought that might be just the thing for us.”

“Mother,” said I, quite alarmed. “A frou-frou dog?  Say it isn’t so!”

“Well,” said Mother, “Grace is dropping off our frou-frou dog tomorrow morning, and I think that naming it Guinefort would be a fine way to honor the saint.”

“O all ye Beasts and Cattle, bless ye the Lord: * praise him, and magnify him forever.  O ye Children of Men, bless ye the Lord: * praise him and magnify him for ever.” ~ Benedicite, Omnia opera Domini.”

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