Friday, 31 August 2012

One Year On

The Feast of St Gregory the Great on 3rd September will mark the first anniversary of the reception into the full communion of the Catholic Church of three of us who were formerly members of the congregation of the Anglican church of St Mary’s Bourne Street, and of our formation of the Marylebone Ordinariate Group at St James’s, Spanish Place. 

At the time that this initial group of three was received, most members of the Ordinariate were being (or perhaps had already been) received as a single parish group accompanied by one or more of their former Anglican priests, or had joined with others, lay and clerical, from the same locality to form a new group. For the most part these groups now worship together in a local Catholic church at a mass celebrated by their Ordinariate priest using, to some extent, distinctive liturgical rites and traditions which, while consonant with the Catholic Faith, represent part of their Anglican patrimony.

The Marylebone Ordinariate Group has remained unusual among Ordinariate groups in that its members are few, were received without an accompanying priest and, even if very much involved in wider Ordinariate events such as the Ordinariate's Anniversary Evensong or the upcoming Pilgrimage to Walsingham, share in parish masses (in a parish run by a clergy team made up of former Anglicans) rather than in a specifically Ordinariate mass. We were permitted to form in this way as it was recognised that our experience of a very particular style of Anglo Catholic worship in a central London church fitted rather better to form a group within the distinctive character of St James’s than with those who had had the benefit of a more conventional, albeit equally Anglo-Catholic, parish background in the Church of England.

From St James’s we aim to reach out to those who might also not be part of a larger group preparing to move to the Ordinariate, and who are perhaps from a similarly unconventional ecclesiastical background, uncertain as to their future, nervous of leaving the Church of England, and in need of our prayers, reassurance and support to bring them home to Holy Mother Church.

Our reception into the Catholic Church has been a source of great joy, a joy we very much want to share. Even beyond the help we have received from Ordinariate clergy, the support and encouragement given to our group and to the Ordinariate in general by Fr Colven and his fellow clergy, together with the warmth of our welcome from the congregation, has made what we had feared would be a difficult move the easiest and happiest of steps. There have been no regrets, except for those left behind and for the loss of their regular society, and no temptation to look back.

We look forward resolutely, now that we are finally set on the right path, but though it would be easier never to look back and to question ourselves, some of us at least must now surely ask the question, why did it take so long?

From its earliest days, St Mary’s Bourne Street, under the leadership of its churchwarden the 2nd Viscount Halifax, was in the vanguard of the movement for the corporate reunion of the Church of England with the Catholic Church.

The culmination of a lifetime’s work for Lord Halifax was the Malines Conversations, a series of meetings held in the 1920s between senior members of the Church of England and the Catholic Church, with the tacit approval of both hierarchies. Although those meetings ended in failure it was ever afterwards the ardent prayer of St Mary’s that Rome and Canterbury should again be one. If challenged, as one often was, about the role of St Mary’s in modern ecumenism it was usual to reply that St Mary’s was a bridge leading from Canterbury to Rome (a phrase that appears in a 1999 book issued to celebrate the 125th Anniversary of the dedication of the church); a bridge very well-trodden over the years.

However, now we stand, so to speak, on the other side, we find ourselves sharing the wonder and surprise expressed by Blessed John Henry Newman in his Discourses to Mixed Congregations.
When we consider the beauty, the majesty, the completeness, the resources, the consolations, of the Catholic Religion, it may strike us with wonder, my brethren, that it does not convert the multitude of those who come in its way. Perhaps you have felt this surprise yourselves; especially those of you who have been recently converted;……… but what may fairly surprise those who enjoy the fullness of Catholic blessings is, that those who see the Church ever so distantly, who see even gleams or the faint lustre of her majesty, nevertheless should not be so far attracted by what they see as to seek to see more, should not at least put themselves in the way to be led on to the Truth, which of course is not ordinarily recognised in its Divine authority except by degrees.
Those words are, of course, a challenge also to us, for we too had seen the Church ever so distantly, some of us for many years and some of us indeed not so distantly, and had failed to seek to see more.  We were the very people Blessed John Henry Newman addressed in Certain Difficulties felt by Anglicans in Catholic Teaching, as quoted in a previous blogpost.
So month has gone on after month, and year after year; and you have again and again vowed obedience to your own Church, and you have protested against those who left her, and you have thought you found in them what you liked not, and you have prophesied evil about them and good about yourselves; and your plans seemed prospering and your influence extending, and great things were to be; and yet, strange to say, at the end of the time you have found yourselves steadily advanced in the direction which you feared, and never were nearer to the promised land than you are now.
We stayed because we were very comfortable as we were, we enjoyed celebrating what we genuinely believed to be the externals of the Catholic faith, we enjoyed being part of a small, eccentric (indeed exuberant, as Rowan Williams said) group within the wider Church of England, we loved (and still love) the place and the people, but above all perhaps we enjoyed being different. It was our show and we ran it in our own way.  Fr Whitby, a towering figure in St Mary's history and Vicar from 1916-1948 is said to have wanted St Mary's to be how the Church of England might have been, had the reformation never happened: in a similar way, we, with generally like-minded friends, lay and clerical, ran St Mary's as our vision of how things should be.  Indeed, we saw the gleam in the not too-far distance, but we hastily averted our gaze.

That, however, is only part of the reason we stayed so long.  Those responsible for our teaching over the years, and much of it was very good teaching from very good and learned souls, took great care never directly to address those issues which might touch on the Church and its unity. Fierce argument might be had about the validity of holy orders for Anglican women; touch but lightly on the subject of the validity of orders for Anglican men and one would receive a withering rebuke or, more likely, a studied silence. Indeed, now that the game is clearly up and one sees Anglican clergy - and not a few of the laity - falling over themselves in their rush to reverse long-held, much-vaunted positions, one finds it hard to resist the conclusion that, for many Anglo Catholics, recent debates have been a fortunate distraction from the more fundamental issue of the increasingly fragile claims of the Church of England to catholicity.

At no point was this refusal to face uncomfortable facts seen more clearly than with the promulgation of Anglicanorum coetibus. This was, or should have been, the most important œcumenical development in the lives of all Anglo Catholics. For St Mary’s Bourne Street in particular, we thought that it represented the potential coming to fruition of seeds planted 90 year ago by Lord Halifax. Here truly was a subject at the very least worthy of debate, whatever that debate's conclusion: a subject surely demanding of response, whatever that response might be. In the end, it received not even a mention.

While in some parishes Anglican clergy led (and in some parishes, still do lead) Ordinariate Exploration Groups, or at least explained (some with their minds already made up, others most definitely not) what was going on and why it was or was not relevant, in many other places across the Church of England even clergy who had signed the famous open letter to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in 2008 had no desire to mention the word Ordinariate, let alone discuss what it might mean or offer.

Some, if they spoke on the matter at all, even indulged in a particularly weak tu quoque argument, saying that the Ordinariate was pointless and that Ordinariate members should just become "proper Catholics".  For those deniers, this mudslinging at the Ordinariate was a poorly disguised means to deflect the same criticisms from being levelled at them to much greater effect.

In the pews at Bourne Street, while acknowledging that there were strongly and honestly held views on all sides of the debate, and that quite probably we were in the minority, we waited for guidance and discussion, but answer came there none, even in a place where barely 15 years earlier the Cardinal Archbishop of Malines and the Anglican Bishop of London had attended Solemn Vespers to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Malines Conversations. 

More broadly in the part of the Anglo-Catholic movement that was determined to stay but had not joined the ranks of Affirming Catholicism, this became the time to rehearse not the arguments for corporate reunion but rather to begin the quest for those glib excuses for doing nothing we hear uttered with such relentless regularity today, while not forgetting, many of them, hastily to revise their communion rite so it would fall in line with the revisions in the Catholic ChurchOld principles they did revoke and set conscience at a distance.

For it now appears that the bridge from some parts of Anglo Catholicism to the Catholic Church has turned out to be a drawbridge. It may have come down from time to time to allow for brief undemanding exchanges, to allow those for whom the faint lustre had become the shining vision to slip away, but now it has been pulled up with a resounding bang leaving those inside somewhat bitter together. We who are safely away now realise an awful truth; some key element of Anglo Catholicism had developed so as to be about disunity, not unity, about congregationalism not catholicity, about outward appearance and personal views about how things should be, not objective Truth.

The extraordinary gesture of love and welcome shown by Pope Benedict in Anglicanorum coetibus signalled a great outpouring of grace for which we in the Marylebone Ordinariate Group shall ever give thanks. As Blessed John Henry Newman put it:
What thanks ought we to render to Almighty God, my dear brethren, that He has made us what we are! It is a matter of grace. There are, to be sure, many cogent arguments to lead one to join the Catholic Church, but they do not force the will. We may know them, and not be moved to act upon them. We may be convinced without being persuaded. The two things are quite distinct from each other, seeing you ought to believe, and believing; reason, if left to itself, will bring you to the conclusion that you have sufficient grounds for believing, but belief is the gift of grace. You are then what you are, not from any excellence or merit of your own, but by the grace of God who has chosen you to believe. …….God gives not the same measure of grace to all. Has He not visited you with over-abundant grace? And was it not necessary for your hard hearts to receive more than other people? Praise and bless Him continually for the benefit; do not forget, as time goes on, that it is of grace; do not pride yourselves upon it; pray ever not to lose it; and do your best to make others partakers of it.
We pray with him for, and ask his prayers for, our separated brethren, those whom he addressed as :
You my brethren...who are not as yet Catholics, but who by your coming hither seem to show your interest in our teaching, and you wish to know more about it, you too remember, that though you may not yet have faith in the Church, still God has brought you into the way of obtaining it. You are under the influence of His grace; He has brought you a step on your journey; He wishes to bring you further, He wishes to bestow on you the fullness of His blessings, and to make you Catholics.
In honour then of St Gregory the Great, upon whose Feast Day in 2011 we finally crossed that bridge and sought to see more, here is the well known hymn in his honour, written by St Peter Damian, eleventh century Bishop, Saint, and Doctor of the Church, with its famous wordplay on anglorum and angelorum.

Anglorum iam apostolus,
nunc angelorum socius,
ut tunc, Gregori, gentibus,
succurre iam credentibus.

Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us
St James the Great, pray for us
St Gregory the Great, pray for us
Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us

Deo gratias.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Eternal Definitions, Reasonable Changes?

For most of our group, the first anniversary of being received into the full communion of the Catholic Church approaches.  Fr Colven included some very kind words on this subject in this week's parish notes at St James's, and went on to offer a little publicity for an event we hope you will all either attend or include in your prayers.
Sunday 2nd September will mark the first anniversary of the reception into full communion of the local group of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. We will pray for them especially during the 10.30am Mass and would want them to know how their presence within the parish community is valued. The secondary patron of the Ordinariate is Blessed John Henry Newman and to celebrate his feast day there will be Solemn Evensong & Benediction here in Saint James’s on Sunday 7th October at 5.30pm. The preacher will be Father Paul Chavasse of the Birmingham Oratory who has long been associated with the cause for Blessed John Henry’s canonisation.
The poster below should help inspire you to clear a space in your diary, and a Facebook Event has been set up in order to help spread the word.  If you are on Facebook, do please "share" the Event.

Longstanding readers of this blog will remember a fondness on our part for hymns sung by the late Frank Patterson (see here for Hail Redeemer, King Divine and here for Bring Flowers of the Rarest).  News of this upcoming Evensong gives us an excuse to share with you this powerful and rather moving performance of Blessed John Henry Newman's Lead, Kindly Light.

A couple of weeks before this special event, there is the no less significant milestone of the Ordinariate's pilgrimage to Walsingham, taking place on Saturday 15 September.   Another Facebook Event has been created for what promises to be an excellent day in England's Nazareth.

Apart from making kind mention of Ordinariate members in the parish notes last Sunday, Fr Colven took the opportunity of the Gospel readings appointed for the day to make an interesting comparison in his homily, one that can indeed be broadened out even further in order to apply to the context that gave rise to the Ordinariate. 

The Gospel reading had told of how some had found the teachings of Jesus too much, too difficult, too demanding. 
This is intolerable language. How could anyone accept it?
Many left Jesus, but the twelve disciples remained faithful.   Our Lord did not respond to this by altering His message to make it more popular: His message was, and still is, His message.   

Certainly it must be presented in ways that our times can understand, but at the heart of any such presentation must always be that same unchanging message of good news, love and redemption.  Where we water down the message in order to be more popular, then what we convey is no longer His message, but rather it is what we think His message ought to be in order to have more followers, as if we were doing no more than marketing a Facebook fanpage.
Jesus was aware that his followers were complaining about it and said, 'Does this disturb you? ............... After this, many of his disciples went away and accompanied him no more.  Then Jesus said to the Twelve, 'What about you, do you want to go away too?' Simon Peter answered, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; we have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.'
Truth does not depend on popularity, nor indeed on the support of a majority in General Synod.  Fr Colven talked of Blessed John Paul II, who during his long papacy was much appreciated and loved far beyond the Catholic Church and even beyond the realm of Christians, but not everyone who admired this exceptional man wanted to hear the detail of what he had to say.

We might add that the Venerable Fulton Sheen, whose awe-inspiring addresses have featured before on this blog, expressed similar sentiments extremely succinctly and forcefully, as you will see if you scroll down the right-hand side bar of this blog.

Somewhat less succinctly and forcefully, we talked of the same issue in our post Missing the Point, when we explained that joining the Ordinariate is not tantamount to looking at the Catechism and saying "Wow, yes, I would have written exactly that myself," rather it is about accepting what the Catholic Church teaches and the basis of the authority it has to teach.
When you join the Ordinariate, you are not asked to say that if you had the chance to make up your own religion, according to what you felt would represent a popular view in your times of what was good, you would come up with something that was word for word identical to the Catechism. You are not asked to state that there are no hard teachings in the Catechism. You are asked to say that you accept the Catholic Faith as presented in the Catechism. You are asked to say that in Christian obedience you accept that the Church is, using the words of 1 Timothy 3.15, the "...pillar and bulwark of the truth...", and that therefore you accept the teachings of the Church. Specifically, you are asked to declare your faith through the Creed, and to say:
I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.
You are asked to say nothing more than you have probably sung a hundred times even in your Anglican days, now of course appreciating more completely the meaning of this verse from the hymn (Firmly I believe and truly) drawn from Newman's Dream of Gerontius :
And I hold in veneration
For the love of Him alone
Holy Church as His creation
And her teachings as His own
This has sometimes been criticised as meaning that you must switch your brain off upon becoming a Catholic. That just isn't so. Blessed John Henry Newman explained this point in the Apologia:
From the time that I became a Catholic, of course I have no further history of my religious opinions to narrate. In saying this, I do not mean to say that my mind has been idle, or that I have given up thinking on theological subjects; but that I have had no variations to record, and have had no anxiety of heart whatever. I have been in perfect peace and contentment; I never have had one doubt. I was not conscious to myself, on my conversion, of any change, intellectual or moral, wrought in my mind. I was not conscious of firmer faith in the fundamental truths of Revelation, or of more self-command; I had not more fervour; but it was like coming into port after a rough sea; and my happiness on that score remains to this day without interruption.
He had not changed, he was not a different person. What had happened is that he found himself in a place where what the Church taught was the Truth, however convenient or inconvenient the Truth might be.
That Gospel reading speaks powerfully of a clear message, being the Truth, that is not variable depending upon how popular it is in any generation.  The witness of Blessed John Paul II and of the Venerable Fulton Sheen show the same in two Catholics who lived in our time. 

Those who have left the Church of England to join the Catholic Church are somewhat familiar with the concept, even if on a much less imposing scale.  No-one can say that we have done what we have done in order to be popular.  What we have done is in response to the direct call for Unity expressed in the Gospel, and is, to build on Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor's comments published recently in the Catholic Herald, a step away from the seeming reasonableness of adapting church teaching without reference to Scripture or Tradition towards an understanding of the divinely ordained nature of the Church, its teaching authority, and its guardianship of the deposit of faith.

In the Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum, issued in October 1992 upon the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Blessed John Paul II wrote:
Guarding the deposit of faith is the mission which the Lord has entrusted to his Church and which she fulfils in every age. The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, which was opened 30 years ago by my predecessor Pope John XXIII, of happy memory, had as its intention and purpose to highlight the Church's apostolic and pastoral mission, and by making the truth of the Gospel shine forth, to lead all people to seek and receive Christ's love which surpasses all knowledge (cf. Eph 3:19).

The principal task entrusted to the Council by Pope John XXIII was to guard and present better the precious deposit of Christian doctrine in order to make it more accessible to the Christian faithful and to all people of good will. For this reason the Council was not first of all to condemn the errors of the time, but above all to strive calmly to show the strength and beauty of the doctrine of the faith. "Illumined by the light of this Council", the Pope said, "the Church... will become greater in spiritual riches and, gaining the strength of new energies therefrom, she will look to the future without fear... Our duty is... to dedicate ourselves with an earnest will and without fear to that work which our era demands of us, thus pursuing the path which the Church has followed for 20 centuries."
The message is the message.  We can and must adapt how we present it and explain it, but the message remains unchanged. 

Finally, a brief follow up on a comment received on our recent post A New Direction.  The comment invited us to look at the St Peter's London Docks blog to find out about the latest thinking among Anglo-Catholics still in the Church of England but who used to say that a Code of Practice will not do.

The Peterite blog used to be a very regular read for members of the Marylebone Group, and has been praised in these pages before.  We much admired the continuing efforts of Fr (now also Dr) Jones to teach the Catholic faith in a church whose parish and indeed whose parish clergy have played such an important part in the history of Anglo-Catholicism.  Given our Pusey House connections, we also liked the Ascot Priory link.  However, in the cold light of day, perhaps we might reasonably wonder if our enthusiasm for the Peterite blog was, with absolutely no criticism intended, a reflection of our own views of our then situation as Anglicans associated with a historically Anglo-Catholic parish in the Diocese of London, a parish that, utterly lovely as it is, bears little resemblance to the reality of the rest of the Church of England.  Did we like the blog because it allowed us to imagine that we were a little less congregationalist?

The person who left the comment on our recent post was perhaps referring in part to this, the penultimate paragraph of Fr Jones's recent post.  It encourages a new vision, rather than just pretending that more of the same is possible, and for throwing out this challenge, Fr Jones is much to be admired.  He goes along with Better Together, but he also knows that as a defining vision, it is somewhat limited and risks appearing hollow:
Well, one way or the other, much will be known and decided before Christmas this time, but nothing will be over or ended. There will however be a new paradigm for Anglo-Catholics to grasp. Whatever the House of Bishops offer, whatever Synod decides, Anglo-Catholics in 2013 will need a new way to see and understand their identity, mission and long term role within Anglicanism. A simple overwhelming 'I'm a Roman Catholic paid by the Church of England' will no longer do, not morally, not Spiritually, not Liturgically, not theologically and not practically.
While we might find the first part of the paragraph rather striking in its "We're staying, come what may" approach (and Dr Kirk certainly would), the second part is perhaps a helpful indication of where things are heading.  No longer the claim that Anglo-Catholics are separated from the wider Church solely by accident of Tudor history and misfortune, no, there is now an acknowledged need for frankness and clarity about what is different, and about why it is felt that difference should not only be allowed to persist but should be cherished. 

Those in Affirming Catholicism have for a long time been clear about why they don't agree with Rome, but perhaps Fr Jones is right that the time has come for Anglo-Catholics more broadly to define their position, now that there is no tangible sense of a move towards unity, of a positive trajectory towards reunion, indeed now that in some instances there is an apparent pride in the opposite. 

As Fr Jones says, the approach exemplified by Dr Eric Mascall's famous fictional Ultra-Catholic is no longer possible: there now needs to be an explanation other than procrastination, fence-sitting or anxiety over practicalities for not joining the Catholic Church.  That explanation might perhaps be extremely good (one hopes that it is about more than second order issues), but it has yet to be given. 
I am an Ultra-Catholic -No 'Anglo, I beseeech you!
You'll find no trace of heresy in anything I teach you.
The clergyman across the road has whiskers and a bowler,
But I wear buckles on my shoes and sport a feriola.

My alb is edged with deepest lace, spread over rich black satin;
The Psalms of David I recite in heaven's own native Latin,
And though I don't quite understand those awkward moods and tenses,
My ordo recitandi's strict Westmonasteriensis.

I read the children in my school the Penny Catechism,
Explaining how the C. of E.'s in heresy and schism.
The truths of Trent and Vatican I bate not one iota.
I have not met the Rural Dean. I do not pay my quota.

The Bishop's put me under his 'profoundest disapproval'
And, though he cannot bring about my actual removal,
He will not come and visit me or take my confirmations.
Colonial prelates I employ from far-off mission stations.

The music we perform at Mass is Verdi and Scarlatti.
Assorted females form the choir; I wish they weren't so catty.
Two flutes, a fiddle and a harp assist them in the gallery.
The organist left years ago, and so we save his salary.

We've started a 'Sodality of John of San Fagondez,'
Consisting of five young men who serve High Mass on Sundays;
And though they simply will not come to weekday Mass at seven,
They turn out looking wonderful on Sundays at eleven.

The Holy Father I extol in fervid perorations,
The Cardinals in curia, the Sacred Congregations;
And, though I've not submitted yet, as all my friends expected,
I should have gone last Tuesday week, had not my wife objected.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Two-way Patrimony

Today's Marian feasts falling under the Ordinary Form and Extraordinary Form kalendars give an opportunity for reflection on a couple of hymns that have become Anglican Patrimony, as well as indirectly on an element of Anglican Patrimony that seems to have become more popular in the Church of England than it was.

Before all of that, a pair of images in honour of today's Ordinary Form feast, showing that even when we were Anglicans, the Coronation of Our Lady was very much part of our group's patrimony. First, the famous Velazquez painting of the Coronation of Our Lady by the Trinity, the second the image of the Coronation of Our Lady in Heaven that sits atop the glorious Martin Travers High Altar at St Mary's Bourne Street.

When, Deo volente, we reach September 3rd, the Feast of St Gregory the Great in the modern calendar and of St Pius X in the Extraordinary Form, we shall attain the joy of having been Catholics for a full year.

On Sunday September 2nd at St James's, we hope to mark this by singing as the post-Mass hymn at the 1030 Solemn Latin Mass Though The Streets of Heaven, a hymn written for St Mary's Bourne St (and very rarely sung anywhere else, as far as we know), the Anglican parish from which most of our Ordinariate group came.  The words are by Wilfred Knox (who was mentioned towards the end of our previous post), the music by Louis Parker. 

In the video below, you can hear the last verse and a half of this rare but beautiful hymn being sung upon the occasion of the Annual Dedication Festival of St Mary's Bourne St (we described the background to that service here).  Typical of the 1920s Anglo-Catholicism in which context it was written, it is a hymn to the Virgin in a mixture of English and Latin.  You will note from the video that this very much matches the Bourne St service, where a rite of Benediction is given in Latin, interspersed with English. 

Though the streets of Heaven,
Mary, thou dost tread,
Roses in thy bosom,
Stars about thy head;
Though before thy presence
Angels bow the knee,
Hear the supplication
Sinners make to thee.

Mater creatoris,
Domus aurea,
Mater salvatoris,
Caeli janua:
Meet it is thy praises
Every tongue should sound
Mary over all things
To all ages crowned.

In the heart of heaven
Perfect is thy rest;
Yet thou once didst wander,
Jesus on thy breast;
Poor, and scorned and helpless
Thou thy Son didst tend,
All who toil and suffer,
Mary Maid, befriend.

Mater creatoris...

Though with Christ thou dwellest
Evermore at one,
Yet thou once did seek him,
Sorrowing, thy Son;
Anxious hearts that tremble,
Heavy eyes that wake,
Into thy protection,
Mary, Mother, take.

Mater creatoris...

Midst the heavenly treasures
Happy though thou be,
Call to mind thy vigil
By the bitter Tree;
Mothers sorrow laden,
Widowed brides that weep,
By thy intercession,
Mary, Mother, keep.

Mater creatoris...

When upon our death-beds
Earthly comforts fade,
Mary, let thy presence
Keep us unafraid;
When the books are opened,
And the judgement set,
Mary, be our succour,
Pleading for us yet.

Mater creatoris...

The video contains what might even be an example of reverse Anglican patrimony (let's face it, apart from the use of great Anglican hymn tunes for O Salutaris and Tantum Ergo, there isn't much outwardly Anglican about the shape of the ritual seen in the video), in that the prayer before Tantum Ergo is the Book of Common Prayer's General Thanksgiving.  This is not something I ever recall happening in my Bourne St days, although it was certainly the usual practice in my time at Pusey House in the early 1990s.

Using this prayer during Benediction is something that has become a hallmark of practice in the Ordinariate, including at the Ordinariate's own Anniversary Evensong and Benediction at the beginning of this year.  Since some of our Bourne St friends attended that event, and indeed some of them perhaps read regularly of what is going in the Ordinariate, it is intriguing but definitely very pleasing to see this influence, adding to the Catholic influence that gave rise to the form of service in the first place.  After all, not only are we borrowing a Bourne St hymn and bringing it into the Catholic Church, we as former Anglicans have brought the classic Anglo-Catholic service of Solemn Evensong and Benediction into the Ordinariate, and as you can read in Fr Mark Woodruff's excellent description, what we have brought with us bears no little resemblance to what we had before, as we have already shown in photographic form in this post.

Another hymn that Anglo-Catholics have brought with them into the Ordinariate is the wonderful "Joy to thee, Queen, within thine ancient dowry".  It is a hymn that I have not had a chance to sing since long ago in my Anglican history, but I wonder if perhaps the occasion might arise during the Ordinariate's upcoming pilgrimage to Walsingham on the 15th September.

Here is its stirring tune from youtube, followed by its powerful words "Ladye of Walsingham, be as thou hast been - England’s Protectress, our Mother and our Queen!"

Joy to thee, Queen, within thine ancient dowry -
joy to thee, Queen, for once again thy fame
is noised abroad and spoken of in England
and thy lost children call upon thy name.
Ladye of Walsingham, be as thou hast been -
England’s Protectress, our Mother and our Queen!

In ages past, thy palmer-children sought thee
from near and far, a faith-enlightened throng,
bringing their gems, and gold and silver love-gifts
where tapers gleamed, where all was prayer and song.
Ladye of Walsingham, be as thou hast been -
England’s Protectress, our Mother and our Queen!

Countless the signs and wonders that men told there,
for not in vain did any pilgrim kneel
before thy throne to seek thy intercession
but thou didst bend to listen and to heal.
Ladye of Walsingham, be as thou hast been -
England’s Protectress, our Mother and our Queen!

The Martyrs’ blood, like heavenly seed, is scattered;
the harvest now is ripe for us to reap;
the Faith dishonoured now is held in honour;
O help thine own this precious gift to keep!
Ladye of Walsingham, be as thou hast been -
England’s Protectress, our Mother and our Queen!

Unto thy Son – unto our sweet Redeemer,
Source of our Hope, our Life, our Joy, once more
we bring the love and loyalty of England
and in his Sacrament we him adore.
Ladye of Walsingham, be as thou hast been -
England’s Protectress, our Mother and our Queen!

How wonderful, on this day when we celebrate the Coronation of Our Lady in Heaven, Our Lady as Queen of Heaven (or in the EF calendar, the Immaculate Heart of Mary), that we can talk of two examples of Anglican Patrimony that are hymns to the Virgin. The Bourne St hymn ties in nicely with the theme of the Immaculate Heart, while the Walsingham hymn is perfect for the modern feast, so associated with Pope Pius XII, whom we included on this blog in video format only a few days ago

Friday, 17 August 2012

A New Direction

There were a couple of surprises in the recent edition of New Directions, the magazine of Forward in Faith.  Many of the articles were interesting and good (the famous Davage writing style is always a treat to read), a hallmark of New Directions over many years, but there was some of the magazine that took me rather aback.

In the magazine, a prominent Anglo-Catholic was asked who his favourite historic figure was.  The reply: "Dr Pusey".  Anyone with an Anglo-Catholic background and/or a connection with Pusey House will be able to reflect thoughtfully on that, indeed I have prints of Dr Pusey and Blessed John Henry Newman side by side on my wall at home.  However, the reason for his choice was rather striking.  It was "Because he stayed in the Church of England".  I suppose we can take it that the interviewee is not a great devotee of Blessed John Henry Newman.

Has the mask of the modern Anglo-Catholic slipped?  Is there not even the slightest pretence any more of a shared goal of corporate reunion, something that seemed so important when Blessed John Paul II knelt beside Robert Runcie, then Archbishop of Canterbury, in Canterbury Cathedral?  Is the goal to remain in the Church of England, come what may, and if so, what on earth has all the fuss in General Synod been about, why not just sit quietly in a congregationalist bubble and let everyone else get on with what they wish to do?

Even Dr Pusey himself, in Eirenicon, a publication in which he outlined many of what he perceived to be faults and errors of the Catholic Church, was in fact arguing for a reunion of Catholic Christendom.  His old friend Blessed John Henry Newman, whom shortly before publication Pusey had met for the first time in 20 years, acknowledged as much in a letter to Pusey, in spite of Eirenicon's criticisms :
you discharge your olive branch as from a catapult.
Of course, I am being terribly unfair.  I should put my own Puseyite catapult away.  It was probably a rather tongue-in-cheek comment, in the context of a friendly and jovial discussion at which none of us was present.  We cannot assume that this means we should translate "Better Together" as meaning "Better Together away from the Catholic Church".  Still, I wonder if there is not some small kernel of truth in the analysis as it at first seems to be.   Dr Geoffrey Kirk, a former regular contributor to New Directions in his days as Secretary of Forward in Faith, and one of the newest members of the Ordinariate, put it rather more eloquently than I have, and perhaps rather more bluntly too, talking of Anglo-Catholic leaders who, notwithstanding all that is happening around them, carry on regardless, thereby allowing others to believe all is well :
This ignominious ending to a long and hard-fought campaign is properly a cause of grief and shame. Shame, because it is a betrayal of the entire Catholic movement – of Keble as well as Newman, of Pusey as well as Froude. Grief, because it has exposed a fault-line which, in our generous optimism, many of us supposed not to be there. When Benedict XVI called their bluff, men whose rallying cry had been ‘Look to the Rock from which we are hewn!’ looked the other way. When the life-boat was launched, they complained about its colour. They claimed to act out of affection for the Church of their baptism and ordination. Tragically that is a demonstration of loyalty which, in the course of time, the Church of England will discover that it can well do without.

It may simply be that there is, even among Anglo-Catholics, a residual, irrational, atavistic anti-Romanism which the passage of time has not been able to erode. But I think there is a deeper and more disturbing explanation for this sorry state of affairs.

A characteristic of modern Anglicanism, of all parties and opinions, has been creeping indifferentism. In increasing numbers people have concluded that doctrine does not matter – that it is merely ‘theological’, in the Harold Wilson sense of abstruse and irrelevant. How vividly I remember Dennis Nineham celebrating in the college chapel in a chasuble bought by Austin Farrer, behaving for all the world as though he believed in the Real Presence, when he did not even believe in the Incarnation. And I wondered what John Keble would have made of that.
The old argument was that the Church of England maintained the same historic teachings and traditions as the wider Church.  It was said that there were no differences, even if some work was necessary to make sure that all in the Church of England might come to share this understanding.  As Cardinal Kaspar suggested, since the latter half of the twentieth century, the Church of England has changed its approach from a period just after the second world war when the Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher, could say
The Church of England has no doctrine of its own, save that of the one Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church.
to a time when Holy Order can be redefined with no reference to the Churches of the first millenium.

The Church of England is of course perfectly entitled to take this approach, and people are perfectly entitled to remain in the Church of England whatever its decisions might be.  Nobody argues the contrary.  There are those who say that the Church of England, as part of the Church Catholic (note the order of the words used), should not take such decisions alone, but the fact is that it does.  A leading proponent of the ordination of women to the Anglican episcopacy, Erika Baker, has said :
I still don't understand why those who are deliberately members of the CoE suddenly claim that it isn't the church ...... when they don't like its decisions. Yes, there are those who believe that the CoE doesn't have the power to make this decision.  But the CoE disagrees and it has made that decision and it has had women as priests for a long long time now.
She's right.  If you believe that the Church of England is the Church, and that it does not need to have its decisions approved by Rome or Constantinople, then it doesn't make sense to say that the Church of England isn't the Church on the occasions it reaches a conclusion other than one that matches your own opinion.

Certainly, there is nothing wrong with those who are Anglicans wishing to remain Anglicans.  It is their choice, and we as former Anglicans who remained in the Church of England for many years are in no position to criticise that decision.  However, the pretence that nothing has changed (or that nothing is about to change) is wilful blindness.  The line that Dr Fisher took (and we all know that he was not exacly ablaze with Roman Fever) cannot now be uttered other than in wistful nostalgia.

What has happened (or is in the process of happening) is not Catholic at all.  It is not even what one might call Anglo-Catholic.  Part of the great argument for Anglo-Catholicism, for the branch theory, for the Church of England being part of the one universal Church, separated by mere accident of history (ie Tudor politics and Dr Cranmer's subservience), was that the absence of full unity with the wider Church of East and West, while something to be resolved one day in the future (preferably by someone else), did not diminish the Church of England’s self sufficiency. Each individual diocese was the Church in that area, and the resultant disparate nature of the wider entity was not perceived as a problem sufficient to alter the Church of England's historic role as the Catholic Church in this land, a Church that held on to the Catholic Faith as it always had done (even if that last part required considerable intellectual gymnastics to prove it to any degree).

In Tract 90, Blessed John Henry Newman, while still an Anglican (although Tract 90 became a turning point in his process of seeking reception into the Catholic Church), expressed it as follows
The Anglican view of the church has ever been this: that its portions need not otherwise have been united together for their essential completeness, than as being descended from one original. . . . Each church is independent of all the rest. . . . Each diocese is a perfect independent church, is sufficient for itself.

[the]….Bishop of Rome, the head of the Catholic world……. is not the centre of unity

[the Anglican church is]….. essentially complete without Rome
Newman, as we all know, came to realise the error of his ways and to see that this image of a fractured, broken, dismantled Church is not the one to which we should seek to aspire, and is the vision neither of the Gospel nor of the Fathers of the Church. By the time Newman wrote the Apologia, not only had he very much changed his views on the Bishop of Rome, but he also now attached the most tremendous importance to unity (he perhaps realised that to agonise about the accidence and essence of the status of the Petrine Ministry, as he had in Tract 90, was as a mote to the plank of ignoring the Gospel imperative of Unity) :
The Anglican disputant took his stand upon antiquity or apostolicity, the Roman upon catholicity. The Anglican said to the Roman: “There is but One Faith, the ancient, and you have not kept to it”; the Roman retorted: “There is but one Church, the Catholic, and you are out of it.”
How strange it now seems that nineteenth-century Anglo-Catholic arguments were that Rome innovated whereas Anglicanism held firm to the Faith.   Newman himself commented on this in May 1843:
At present I fear, as far as I can analyze my own convictions, I consider the Roman Catholic Communion to be the Church of the Apostles, and that what grace is among us (which, through God's mercy, is not little) is extraordinary, and from the overflowings of His dispensation. I am very far more sure that England is in schism, than that the Roman additions to the Primitive Creed may not be developments, arising out of a keen and vivid realizing of the Divine Depositum of Faith.
Well, General Synod no longer takes its stand upon antiquity or apostolicity.  Even Newman's Tract 90 arguments cannot now be used : Newman's Tract 90 views as an Anglican depended on a shared
possession of the Succession, their Episcopal form, their Apostolical faith, and the use of the Sacraments.
When that has gone, what is left may be wonderful, it may do huge amounts of good, it may be treasured and loved, it may be run by the most kindly and charitable of people, it may even, through the overflowings of His dispensation be filled with not little grace, but it pays no heed to Christ's prayer for Unity.  What's more, this isolationist strategy is adopted for the sake of "second order issues".

In a stunning sermon given during the celebrations held to mark the 125th Anniversary of Pusey House, Canon Robin Ward, the Principal of St Stephen's House, reminded us that Blessed Pius IX had told Dr Pusey that he was like a bell summoning people to church but never entering it himself; Dr Ward went on to wonder whether Anglo-Catholicism might not be able to hope for a better future than that, now that the Church of England with its two integrities was coming to an end. 

What Dr Pusey sought was a recovery of the Catholic nature of the Church of England.  It was the Catholicism of the Church of England that interested him, not primarily its Anglicanism.  If he had lived to see a day when the Church of England's Anglicanism led it to harm what he argued was its Catholic nature, one has to wonder if he really would have "stayed in the Church of England".

As a matter of fact of course, Dr Pusey did stay in the Church of England, but it is very bold to take a nineteenth-century decision made in a nineteenth-century context as being conclusive proof of what he might have thought today.  As we have argued before in an article on Dr Eric Mascall, it is impossible to conclude what the heroes of Anglo-Catholicism might have done had they found themselves facing the current situation. 

The other surprise for me in New Directions was an article by Dr Philip North.  In it, he talked of explaining to some evangelical Anglican clergy (who have taken over the running of a beautiful Anglo-Catholic parish church that has fallen on hard times) what his understanding was of the Mass, of Eucharistic theology, of the Real Presence.  He reported that some of the evangelical clergy had started to "say mass" and had been immensely moved by his no doubt utterly sound descriptions.  It reminded me of the diametrically opposed and mutually incompatible views that can be held in the Church of England, and I'm afraid it rather brought to mind the Nineham phenomenon to which Dr Kirk refers above.

I thought further on this on Sunday, during an excellent homily on the Real Presence, the Bread of Life, from Fr Colven at Mass in St James's.  During the homily, he recounted an anecdote he feared he might have told before (I don't recall it) about an elderly nun that he visits once a month. 

This nun was raised in the West Country, with no religious upbringing whatsoever.  At the age of 16, she and a friend decided that it would be the right thing to seek confirmation, so off they went to the Anglican Vicar.  This holy, kindly and erudite man taught them much.  Before one confirmation class, the future nun's friend urged her companion to ask if they would be required to believe in transubstantiation.  The nun-to-be, having no idea what this was, willingly asked the Vicar. 

This learned cleric proceeded to give her a clear and indeed utterly sound explanation of transubstantiation, of the Real Presence, of what happens during the Mass.  It was impressive and affecting.

He then said that as Anglicans they were entirely free to believe that or not.

His explanation had been so lucid and so powerful that the young woman was very moved by what she had learned.  However, it struck her that, quite simply, what she had been told was either true or it was not, and if it was true, it was a most tremendous truth and of the utmost importance.  She became a Catholic.

Some would perhaps argue that those discussions with the Evangelicals were about catholicising the Church of England, carrying on the work of the Oxford Movement.  If anyone were to argue that, then it would seem, to me at least, to display a rather extraordinary degree of optimism on their part.

Among the musical offerings at St James's on Sunday, we had Esquivel's beautiful Ego Sum Panis Vivus, which was often heard at Bourne St, as well as Tallis O Nata Lux, a fine piece of English Catholic music (we cannot claim it as Anglican patrimony). 

The setting of the ordinary of the Mass was new to me, being the Missa Fac Bonum by the German baroque composer Valentin Rathgeber (the Agnus Dei of which reminded me very much of the theme music from the television series of Brideshead Revisited).  The Gloria of the mass setting is shown below, accompanied by some very improving images. 

As the post-Mass hymn we had a true favourite of the Marylebone Ordinariate Group, O Bread of Heaven, eminently suitable to accompany the readings at Mass and Fr Colven's homily.  Although this hymn has featured many times on this blog before, including in our article Catholic Treasure, Anglican Patrimony, we make no apology for its reappearance, because we share the view of that elderly nun that what St Alphonsus Liguori's hymn speaks of is indeed a most tremendous truth. 

The Sacrament of Unity indeed.  O may we all one bread, one body be.  Let us hope, as Dr Ward dared to do, for a better future for the vision of Dr Pusey and of the Oxford Movement than one limited by a test of whether its inheritors can hold fast to the Church of England, come what may. 

Even Wilfred Knox, a prominent Anglo-Catholic in the early twentieth century, and who unlike his more famous brother Monsignor Ronald Knox did not become a Catholic, included a sentence in the preface to his book The Catholic Movement in the Church of England that seems far from a goal of holding fast, come what may :
It is possible that I shall be accused of a lack of loyalty to the distinctive position of the Church of England. But if in being loyal to the teaching of the Church Catholic I am disloyal to the Church of England, I fear that I shall bear the reproach with equanimity.
We leave the final word to the famous Fr Davage, whom we mentioned at the beginning of this post.  Here is his conclusion from a lecture he gave in Bristol in 2009, entitled "Edward Bouverie Pusey : Post Reformation Saint?" :
........we are invited in this series to consider Dr Pusey as a Post-Reformation Saint. John Henry Newman is poised for beatification and possibly canonisation. Even if we forget about the process and the miracles for a moment, there is something right about that because Newman spent half his life as an Anglican and half as a Roman Catholic. He represents one vital strain of Anglo-Catholicism. Keble and Pusey represent another strain, and [in] the recent papal offer of an Ordinariate that respects and values an Anglican, and more specifically, an Anglo-Catholic patrimony, they would be candidates for admission to the saintly band and could share with Newman a patronage and saintly oversight, joined in heaven as they were in the life of the Oxford Movement. Until that day dawns, perhaps our last image should be of those three profoundly great and holy men dining alone in Hursley Vicarage on the one occasion that they met after Newman’s conversion: Keble at seventy-three, Pusey at sixty-five, Newman at sixty-four, not quite all passion spent. Three elderly clerical gentlemen who had met at Oxford, "the fulcrum from which [they] … hoped to move the Church," together after twenty years. Keble had only one more year to live, Pusey seventeen, Newman twenty-five. The shadows are lengthening, the candles are guttering, the tempest and turmoil of the battle has stilled for a moment as they talk and reminisce quietly and easily. We can only hear the murmuring of voices as we back silently out of the room and quietly close the door: ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem (out of the shadows and images into truth).

O Bread of Heaven, beneath this veil
Thou dost my very God conceal:
My Jesus, dearest treasure, hail!
I love Thee and, adoring, kneel;
Each loving soul by Thee is fed
With Thine own Self in form of Bread.

O food of life, Thou Who dost give
The pledge of immortality;
I live, no 'tis not I that live;
God gives me life, God lives in me:
He feeds my soul, He guides my ways,
And every grief with joy repays.

O Bond of love that dost unite
The servant to his living Lord;
Could I dare live and not requite
Such love - then death were meet reward:
I cannot live unless to prove
Some love for such unmeasured love.

Beloved Lord, in Heaven above
There, Jesus, Thou awaitest me,
To gaze on Thee with endless love;
Yes, thus I hope, thus shall it be:
For how can He deny me Heaven,
Who here on earth Himself hath given?

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

An Assumption Visit to St Eugene

The Marylebone Ordinariate Group is marking today's Solemnity in different places.  Most of us will be at St James's tonight, for the 7pm Solemn Mass, but I had the privilege to attend a Mass in the Extraordinary Form in the Parish of St Eugene and Ste Cécile in Paris this morning.

The good news is that the order of service is available online, so I am spared the need, or perhaps just the urge, to type out an excessively lengthy description.  I will, nonetheless, mention a few of what were for me the highlights of this morning's liturgy, and share some photos.

Before doing so, I will respond in advance to a question that is often posed in comments on posts we write that refer to the Extraordinary Form.  For example, in our post The Extraordinary Form in Hong Kong, and in Fr Hunwicke's First Mass, we received comments asking "What has this got to do with Anglican Patrimony?", or "What has this got to do with the Ordinariate?"

We replied then, and we say again, that to ask questions of that nature is to demonstrate a lack of understanding of what people who join the Ordinariate are doing.  They are not seeking a club in which they can re-enact scenes from the Chapel Royal or stand in a tableau representing the life of an Oxbridge College chapel, nor in which they can pretend that they operate in a replica of the Church of England (or often, of the Church of England as it probably never was and most certainly no longer is).  They are choosing to become Catholics, in communion with the Successor of St Peter, in obedience to the Gospel's call to Unity.  Anglicanorum Coetibus and the Ordinariates are a means to become and to be Catholics, bringing Anglican Patrimony with us, and knowing that the Holy Father and the Church recognise that we bring solid faith and tradition with us. 

Ordinariate members are not seeking, in any way, to deny that they are part of the wider Church, indeed the opposite is true.  We are Catholics who happen to be members of the Ordinariate: we are not Ordinariate members clinging on to an Anglican past and only reluctantly admitting to being Catholic.

People who look at Ordinariate members who on occasion attend Extraordinary Form Masses and from that conclude that there is no purpose to the Ordinariate have totally missed the point, and moreover display an unhealthy obsession with liturgy.  Members of the Ordinariate rejoice that their Anglican Patrimony is recognised and valued, but they know that Anglican Patrimony is about more than liturgy.  This argument is elaborated further here, and then in a follow up post here.

This morning was a joy, and I delight in being part of the One Church that accommodates me and my fellow Ordinariate members alongside Eastern and Western Rite Catholics, and indeed amongst them, today most particularly the people with whom I attended the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass celebrated in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite at St Eugene.  We are all part of the One Fold, under One Shepherd.

As Ordinariate members, we are pleased to bring many things with us into the One Fold; but no-one should lose sight of the fact that, notwithstanding our identity and the gifts we bring, we are most definitely part of that One Fold, and we do not seek to isolate ourselves in a bubble of ersatz anglicana.  What is more, the fact that now as Catholics we are able to attend Mass all over the world with ease is a huge gift, in no way do we wish to hide from the rest of the wider Church in which we find ourselves.  We've had to do that before : never again.

Apologies for that introduction, but it is important to re-emphasise the point.  Back to this morning and St Eugene.  It is a very well known parish, but despite having spent most of the last five years in Paris, I had never visited.  As an aside, it was good to spot that St Eugene has the same tradition that St Mary's Bourne St has, being that those carrying the canopy at Corpus Christi wear white tie (for the avoidance of doubt, the first picture, outdoors, is St Eugene, the second, inside, is Bourne Street). 

Before Mass began, the congregation followed the procession of Our Lady to the Lady Altar (pictured below), all the while singing the Litany to the Virgin. 

We heard the choir sing the 3rd century hymn Sub Tuum Presidium, and meditated briefly on the Vow of Louis XIII, the whole text of which had been produced in the mass booklet (not just the famous paragraph I include below), before moving away again to the accompaniment of Psalm 19, Exaudiat te Dominus.  The last verse of Psalm 19, Domine Salvum Fac has featured several times on this blog of course, in a related if very different context. 
We have declared and declare that, in taking the very holy and glorious Virgin as the special protector of our Kingdom, we dedicated to her ourselves, our state, our Crown and our subjects, pleading her to inspire in us very holy behaviour and to defend this kingdom against the efforts of all its enemies, with great care, whether it may suffer under the scourge of war, or enjoy the sweetness of peace that we are asking God to deliver us with all our hearts, there are no paths of grace that do not lead to paths of glory.
Mass then began in the usual and familiar EF way (the setting was a rather nice three-part mass by Casciolini, which included very helpful quieter and slower sections for those places where one should nod or bow - adoramus, suscipe, Iesu.....).  The readings were chanted, something I will admit to missing since becoming a Catholic.  The Sequence Induant Iustitiam, was taken from the Paris Propers, and was sung in alternatim with the organ, in the best and most authentic French style.  The photos below are not very good, I'm afraid: the combination of a shaky hand, a desire not to create a distraction by taking pictures, and the bright lights of the sanctuary (which appear to give the Statue of the Virgin a most holy glow) thwarted me in attempts to do better.

One was often told to be wary of the quality of some of the preaching that is to be heard in the Catholic Church.  I must say that we in the Marylebone Group have absolutely no cause to share that view, and today was another occasion when the homily was of very good quality.  There was some explanation of what happened on 1 November 1950 with Munificentissimus Deus, demonstrating how the cheap jibes that Pope Pius XII somehow made something new up, or (the other extreme) that he simply told the world something it already knew, are both inaccurate.  Most interesting for a foreigner though was the explanation of how it came to be that in the middle of deserted August Paris (see pictures below), churches still fill up to celebrate the Mass in some considerable solemnity.  The effect of Louis XIII's vow lives on in the parishes of France on the Assumption.

The now very familiar text of the creed in Latin was followed by the offertory with its plainsong verse and a rather jolly hymn to a melody by Lully. The inaudible liturgy of the Extraordinary Form moved on before us, the great drama of Sacrifice of Calvary made present in front of our very eyes.

Then something rather striking happened, something I don't recall hearing before.  I have been to several Extraordinary Form Masses in the past, but I don't ever recall the Celebrant intoning the entire text of the Lord's Prayer alone, but aloud.  Whether that is a failure of my memory or not, it was extremely affecting.  What was very familiar though was the closing of the altar rails at this point, reminding me both of St Mary's Bourne St and of St James's Spanish Place - this might have been, I think, the first time I have seen altar rails in use in France, and so been able to receive the Sacrament on the tongue while kneeling.  Perhaps it is like that at Le Barroux: another failure of memory perhaps.

After the communion verse had been sung, we had the Magnificat chanted in the rather appealing French style, using the well known 17th century harmonisation from Notre Dame.  The version embedded below includes some decent singing, but does show the new altar at Notre Dame, which, in my very humble opinion, is arguably not an improvement on the Louis XIII High Altar that suffered so much damage in the French Revolution.

More music followed during communion, Domine Salvam Fac Galliam.  I include two versions of this below, the first from St Eugene itself in 2008, the other a louder version with full rasping organ, and with some rather inspiring accompanying images. 

As the Last Gospel was said, the congregation sang the Salve Regina to the same chant that we had known for many years in our Anglican days.  We sang it in Latin at Bourne St, so I had no difficulty singing along, although I shall have to work on my French pronounciation of Latin (particularly the letter "r" and the sound "us") in order to blend in better next time.

The notices were given (Father, of course, removed his maniple for this), during which we were told of the parish clergy's imminent trip to Russia, partially paid for by the generosity of parishioners, and of the efficacity of the Leonine Prayers, still said every day at St Eugene. 

Perhaps the highlight of the music for me was the hymn sung as the procession moved out of church.  Sadly it doesn't seem to be available on youtube, but the text and music are in the order of service, to which a link is provided at the top of this blogpost.

What a wonderful way to have spent some of this morning.  I think it's safe to say that I know where I'll be going next time I head to church in Paris.  The Schola Ste Cécile has its own blog and its own Facebook page, do consider following those.

As I left this lovely church, I couldn't help noticing that most rare of sights on France, a priest in soutane and fascia.  What a joy the parish of St Eugene is.  Since it was the height of mid-summer, despite Louis XIII's vow, I did not see St Eugene in its grandest mode (see picture and video below), but I was nonetheless thrilled to have fulfilled my obligation there today, in this busy parish that executes the liturgy with such great respect (as its multiple appearances on New Liturgical Movement, for example here, demonstrate).

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Assumed Body and Soul into Heavenly Glory

One of the earliest posts on this blog, and for many months one of the most popular, included film of Pope Pius XII making the ex cathedra declaration on 1 November 1950 that the Virgin Mary "having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory."  

Since then, we have had the privilege of sharing several rather fine examples of vintage footage, including of the Restoration Mass in 1948 at Pluscarden Abbey, of the 1950 celebrations in Westminster Cathedral and at Wembley to mark the centenary of the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy, and of a visit by Cardinal Merry del Val (who aside from having a role in Apostolicae Curae also had a strong connection with St James's Spanish Place) to Assisi

In honour of the great Solemnity that will be upon us in a very short time, here, preceded by a beautiful seasonal Charpentier mass setting (if you like French baroque music, you will love this setting) and then by the most famous of motets for the Assumption, is that Pius XII post again, along with its intensely moving video footage and its reassuring text to our fellow Catholics, showing them that we ex-Anglicans are not new to the Faith.

Assumpta est Maria in caelum:  Gaudent angeli, laudantes benedicunt Dominum.

First Published 22 September 2011 at this address

The Angels rejoice.... and so do the ex-Anglicans

Perfectly reasonably, some Catholics wonder if all these incoming ex-Anglicans, particularly those joining the Church through Anglicanorum Coetibus, willl need to "change their mind" on a number of key teachings, such as Transubstantiation, the Assumption, the Immaculate Conception and Papal Infallibility.

In fact, the kind of Anglican most often likely to avail himself or herself of the generous provisions of Anglicanorum Coetibus will have come from an Anglican parish where the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception were celebrated with some solemnity, where belief in the Real Presence was taught and held, where the Holy Father was prayed for by name, and where at least some had an appreciation of what Papal infallibility did and did not mean. 

For us ex-Anglicans, there are things to learn and things to get used to, most certainly, but there is no need for anyone to be worried that ex-Anglicans arriving in the Church through Anglicanorum Coetibus are somehow going to consitute a separate pocket of half-measure Catholics.  What is happening is that these people are coming into the full communion of the Catholic Church, they are coming into communion with the Successor of St Peter: while preparation is required, they are not learning a totally unfamiliar faith.

Even if these ex-Anglicans, like their now fellow Catholics, know what an Ex Cathedra teaching is, there cannot be many who have ever seen it happen.  The only example since the solemn definition in 1870 of the dogma of Papal Infallibility in the First Vatican Council's Pastor Aeternus is Pope Pius XII's declaration, in the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus, on 1 November 1950 that the Virgin Mary  "having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory."

So that more of all of us have seen it happen, here is some truly remarkable footage of that great day in 1950.  Pope Pius XII emerges on the sedia gestatoria just before 3.30, and makes his Ex Cathedra declaration at 6.05.  Assumpta est Maria in caelum: gaudent Angeli, laudantes benedicunt Dominum : and don't worry, the ex-Anglicans rejoice too.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Monsignor Newton on The Future of Ecumenism

A video recording of Mgr Newton's address given at the Church of St Mary Magdalen in Brighton has been in circulation for some time, but it is only now that the quiet days of August allow the members of the Marylebone group to view it and to provide a few personal thoughts on it.

It can come as no surprise that we find ourselves wholeheartedly in agreement with what Mgr Newton says (and no, we are not saying that simply because he is our Ordinary).

To prove that, do please note that we have often referred (for example here and here) on this blog to our sadness that the warnings given by many, including by Cardinal Kaspar in 2006 (to the Church of England's House of Bishops) and in 2008 (to the Lambeth Conference) have not been taken into account.  His 2006 speech called for the Church of England not to erect new impediments to unity.  Cardinal Kaspar's 2008 text included the following as part of his longer address :
We would see the Anglican Communion as moving a considerable distance closer to the side of the Protestant churches of the 16th century, and to a position they adopted only during the second half of the 20th century.
The 1966 Common Declaration signed by Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey called for a dialogue that would “lead to that unity in truth, for which Christ prayed”, and spoke of “a restoration of complete communion of faith and sacramental life”. It now seems that full visible communion as the aim of our dialogue has receded further, and that our dialogue will have less ultimate goals and therefore will be altered in its character. While such a dialogue could still lead to good results, it would not be sustained by the dynamism which arises from the realistic possibility of the unity Christ asks of us, or the shared partaking of the one Lord’s table, for which we so earnestly long.
The advice of those such as Cardinal Kaspar has been ignored even although senior clergy from the Orthodox Church have addressed leading Anglicans on the same point (certain kinds of Anglicans like to turn a deaf ear to Rome, fondly but vainly imagining that Constantinople or Moscow will say something rather more to their liking).  At a 2010 address to the Nicaea Club at Lambeth Palace, Metropolitan Hilarion, of the Russian Orthodox Church, after recalling the warm history of co-operation between Anglicanism and the Orthodox, and having taken several none-too-subtle swipes at the über-liberal practices of certain parts of the Anglican Communion, went on to comment that the Church of England's approach on certain issues was not conducive to Christian Unity.
We have studied the preparatory documents for the decision on female episcopate and were struck by the conviction expressed in them that even if the female episcopate were introduced, ecumenical contacts with the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches would not come to an end. What made the authors of these documents so certain?
The effect of what is now happening is that the underlying raison d'être for the no doubt friendly and sincere ecumenical dialogue that carries on is fundamentally different from that envisaged by the 1966 Common Declaration.  No longer does even the most Panglossian optimist think that any kind of corporate unity is likely in the lifetime of anyone living today.  The unquestionably warm friendships and contacts at the parish and personal level continue, but the true Unity for which Christ prayed is further away than it was.  The conclusions of ARCIC I and the zenith of hope for reunion that was attained when Blessed John Paul II knelt in prayer beside Archbishop Robert Runcie in Canterbury Cathedral seem so very far distant now.

Well, that's all old ground, you might say.  Cardinal Kaspar and Monsignor Newton have said it all rather better than you, and indeed you have written of this in the past.  All true.  We'll leave it there.
However, what we would want to do is to pick up on something else that Monsignor Newton mentioned.  He talked of an address given by the Archbishop of Canterbury to a symposium at the Gregorian University in Rome in 2009, marking the centenary of the birth of Cardinal Willebrands, the first president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.

Dr Williams talked of the many things upon which Catholics and Anglicans agree being first order issues (by which he meant important points), and of those upon which we did not agree being second order issues (by which he meant less significant matters that ought not to get in the way of the bigger points).  He also talked of how the way that the Anglican Communion handles differences might be a potential model for Catholic-Anglican discussions, but we shall make no comment upon that, sticking rather to his differentiation in significance of topics.

When reading of Dr Williams's talk at the time, my reaction to the first order and second order analysis was  that I wanted to apply it rather differently.  If these points really are second order (in an Anglican understanding thereof), why then (of relevance to Anglicans) does General Synod not only spend seemingly all of its time discussing them, but also (of relevance to Catholics too) place such a high value on them that they are allowed to wound shared understandings of first order issues?

Whatever we might think of any of these "second order issues", do any of them really trump the following:
Ut omnes unum sint, sicut tu Pater in me, et ego in te, ut et ipsi in nobis unum sint, ut credat mundus, quia tu me misisti.

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
In this context, Anglicanorum coetibus can indeed be seen very clearly as a practical ecumenical gesture, as Monsignor Newton rightly said.  To Anglo-Catholics who didn't wish their response to the Gospel call to Unity to be subject to second order issues, it was indeed the perfect ecumenical gesture.

Let us conclude with two musical settings of the words of Psalm 132 (or Psalm 133, depending on which counting system you follow....).  The first version is very definitely Anglican Patrimony, it is Anglican chant sung by the choir of King's College, Cambridge.  The second is a setting that has featured previously on this blog, written by Fernando de las Infantas in 1570 to commemorate the founding the Holy League, the alliance of Catholic Nations that in 1571, under Don John of Austria, would emerge victorious from the Battle of Lepanto, as Fr Hunwicke evoked so clearly for us at St Mary's Bourne St in 2010.
Ecce quam bonum et quam iucundum, habitare fratres in unum.  Sicut unguentum in capite, quod descendit in barbam, barbam Aaron.  Quod descendit in oram vestimenti eius, sicut ros Hermon, qui descendit in montem Sion.  Quoniam illic mandavit Dominus benedictionem, et vitam usque in saeculum.

Behold how good and joyful a thing it is, brethren, to dwell together in unity.  It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down unto the beard, even unto Aaron's beard.  And went down to the skirts of his clothing, like as the dew of Hermon, which fell upon the hill of Sion.  For there the Lord promised his blessing and life for evermore.