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Roman Catholics along with high church Anglicans and Lutherans will be celebrating Corpus Christi Sunday on June 10, 2012.

Traditionally, the feast of Corpus Christi is the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, however, in many churches it is commemorated on the first Sunday after Trinity.

My 2010 post on Corpus Christi Sunday explains more about this feast day, the last important Sunday feast before ‘Ordinary Time’ or ‘Sundays after Pentecost (or Trinity)’, which will now last until the end of the Church year in November.

Corpus Christi means ’Body of Christ’ in Latin. The feast dates back to the Middle Ages and became a mandatory feast in 1312.  It parallels the Last Supper on Maundy (Holy) Thursday, but is a more joyous celebration and one of thanksgiving, as Christ’s prophecies of His death, resurrection and ascension into Heaven have been fulfilled.  He also sent the Holy Spirit to His disciples and the Holy Trinity was revealed to mankind — all as He promised.

Forbidden Bible Verses returns next week

Friday’s late-night post concerned St Paul’s, an Episcopal parish in St Paul, Minnesota, hosting a meeting of the Episcopal Church Socialist League and being active in initiatives designed to ‘transform’ their city.

They cite as inspiration the Right Revd Frank Weston, Bishop of Zanzibar, who died in 1924.  Bishop Weston was an Anglo-Catholic and a Christian Socialist. Not content with purely spreading the Gospel — although he did this with tremendous success — he also exhorted a type of socio-religious legalism, believing that it would solve the inequalities of the day.

These are further excerpts from the address St Paul’s cited (emphases mine):

Brethren, if you ask me, your Chairman, what is your present duty I tell you that first. Get back into your parish, get back into your rural deanery, get back into your own diocese, and work out what Christian fellowship means. Make for yourselves such fellowship as shall not make you ashamed in the sight of Jesus. Do not ask me how it is to be done,—if I knew I would tell you. It is a problem; but it is a problem that Christ can solve if we will be true to him-a difficult and a ticklish problem. You cannot simply sweep away the social customs in which we have been born and bred, and God forbid that we should try. You cannot pretend to an equality of culture and an equality of taste and temperament which does not actually exist. But, if God leapt a gulf for you, I suppose that you can leap gulfs for God first. We are recalled to the Christ of Bethlehem, then, into fellowship …

I remind you that the hope of your salvation and the justification of your claim to attention from the world is just the naked Christ of Nazareth, and to him I recall you …

Fix your eyes upon him who goes before you: Jesus, the naked Christ.

Brethren, consider. We meet and we count our thousands now; and had we an Altar that we might offer our Mass here, how glorious we should think it. But when you have followed the naked Christ, now glorified, and in the sacramental presence pleaded his cause before the Father, where is the sternness, where is the strictness, where is the self-sacrifice in us, the ministers, the acolytes and worshippers at the altar? Naked, yet glorified: that is the picture of him in his sacramental presence; and we well we know what we are.

But I say to you, and I say it to you with all the earnestness that I have, that if you are prepared to fight for the right of adoring Jesus in his Blessed Sacrament, then you have got to come out from before your Tabernacle and walk, with Christ mystically present in you, out into the streets of this country, and find the same Jesus in the people of your cities and your villages. You cannot claim to worship Jesus in the Tabernacle, if you do not pity Jesus in the slum.

You have got your Mass, you have got your Altar, you have begun to get your Tabernacle. Now go out into the highways and hedges where not even the Bishops will try to hinder you. Go out and look for Jesus in the ragged, in the naked, in the oppressed and sweated, in those who have lost hope, in those who are struggling to make good. Look for Jesus. And when you see him, gird yourselves with his towel and try to wash their feet.

I investigated Bishop Weston on the Canterbury Project and found two biographies as well as some of his sermons and letters, all of which made interesting reading.

Spouse Mouse, although far from being a Socialist, was schooled in the Anglo-Catholic tradition and often says that this branch of the Anglican Communion did more than their Evangelical / Low Church counterparts in terms of charity work, particularly among the poor in the East End of London.

HFB Mackay’s short biography of Weston says that he joined the Christian Socialists when he went up to Oxford.  After earning a First in Theology, he moved to London where he attended the College Mission at Stratford:

The knight-errant in him was taking shape, and he went down to the East End in the spirit of joyous adventure. Here his powers of leadership began to appear. He had a strong, quiet manner which won the confidence of the bigger boys who called him the Cardinal and made him their confidant. It was glorious time of Christian Socialism and growing Anglo-Catholicism until the Protestant Conservative element at Oxford intervened, and Frank Weston resigned the college mission and went to St. Matthew’s, Westminster. Two saying had always stuck in his mind. When he was a boy at Dulwich, the Headmaster, who had a curious power of divination, one day said to him, à propos of nothing, “Weston, if Jesus Christ asked you to give Him your overcoat would you go and fetch Him your shabbiest?” Weston said, “No, sir,” and he proved as good as his word. And when he was at Stratford and was talking one night in Oxford the socialistic doctrine which was to “build Jerusalem in England’s green and pleasant land,” a Don said to him, “Weston, do you believe in the heavenly Jerusalem?”

“Yes,” said Weston.

“I wish I did,” said the Don; “and if I did I don’t think I should talk about anything else.”

The saying shook Weston’s mind into a new perspective. After sorting his ideas, praying and meditating and developing his work as a priest in the orderly devotional atmosphere of St. Matthew’s, he volunteered again for Central Africa, was accepted and went out to Zanzibar.

Mackay explains the atmosphere in Africa at the time:

If you go back from the twentieth century to the first you find yourself in a society where none of the Christian traditions of conduct, conventions and repressions exist. It was not difficult to make these children religious, it was very difficult to keep them at all decent in conduct, and it was immensely difficult to make them see that the one had anything to do with the other …

He found, like St. Francis de Sales, that he must make the Blessed Sacrament the centre of their lives.

Weston became so proficient in Swahili that he dreamt in it. He did not attempt to Europeanise his young students but rather wished to build up an African church.

His next post was as Canon and Chancellor of the Cathedral in Zanzibar, where some of his duties involved preaching to a more European congregation. For those who are unaware, Zanzibar was part of the enormous British Empire, denoted by pink on maps of the world until the 1960s.

In 1907, Weston was consecrated Bishop of Zanzibar. He appears to have been a complex character — believing in Socialism yet actively campaigning against Modernism in the Church. He was diligent about preaching the Gospel in Africa and did not hesitate to mete church discipline to members of his diocese when warranted:

As Bishop he became disciplinarian of his people. he sat as judge, heard cases, and imposed public penance, but all the time with such a love of souls that he became the father and consoler of all his black children. There is a story of a rebellious sinner and his excommunication from the altars of the Church. The awful ceremony proceeded, the lighted candles were hurled down on the ground and extinguished, and the Bishop came to the final sentence, “We do hereby cut you off-” and then burst into a torrent of tears, and amid the sobs of the Bishop, priests and people, the church bell tolled out the news that the doom had been pronounced.

He participated in Protestant ecumenical conferences, one of which was at Kikuyu in Uganda.  Weston was concerned that with each denomination — including his own — teaching a varying degree of doctrine and heresy, the Christian clergy were allowing the Muslims an advantage.  This is worth noting, because it could help to explain why our churches in Europe are losing ground. Mackay explains:

The Church and the Sacraments were at stake in the Kikuyu controversy, and the Person of our Lord in the controversy with Modernism. The Bishop’s contention in the Kikuyu case we know. He won his chief points, and we like to think of his departure from the second Kikuyu Conference to the sound of his opponents’ cheers. Weston’s presence, speech and charm were irresistible.

With regard to Modernism, Bishop Weston was in a painfully favourable position to see what it might lead to.

The Arabs of Cairo were deluging Zanzibar with proselytising Mohammedan tracts in which they pointed out that the Modernist teachers in England were teaching a doctrine of our Lord’s Person indistinguishable from Mohammed’s account of it, and that our learned men were now making it perfectly clear that Mohammed had been right all the time and the Church wrong. We may regret the methods with which the Bishop fought the Modernists, we may perhaps think them extravagant and out of date. But this is clear, they made it plain to the slow English mind that modern Christian teaching must be watched.

This is an excerpt of a letter Weston wrote to the Bishop of St Albans in England in 1914 on the subject:

My purpose is to submit to you, as a representative Prelate of the Ecclesia Anglicana, and as a most zealous supporter of her foreign missions, the thesis that at the present time, having regard to her exceedingly chaotic system of Truth, she is entirely unfit to send missionaries to heathen or Muhammadan lands.

Your Lordship will guess at once that I have not always taken this view. I am now in my sixteenth year of missionary work; to it I have given my best years; and for it I have gladly sacrificed tastes and aspirations that fail of satisfaction in the isolation of our tropical life. Why then do I now begin to doubt? Simply because the Ecclesia Anglicana is content to have lost her power of self-expression, so that we out here can no longer appeal to her Voice or rest upon her Witness. She has no Voice: she offers no single Witness

The long series of modernist publications with which we have grown familiar was crowned towards the end of last year by Seven Oxford Men, who published a book called “Foundations” as a contribution towards the reconciliation of religious belief with modern thought … Now so used are we to heretical speculations and teachings by Cathedral Dignitaries and Academic Teachers, that one book more or less would not be seriously felt. The significance of this particular work lies in the official relations in which the authors stand, or stood, to Bishops of the Church. For it is evident that what an Examining Chaplain, or the Principal of a Theological College, can tolerate in a book of which he is a joint author, he is bound to accept as within the limits of orthodoxy from his ordination candidates. So that the chief value of the book is not in its theology nor its philosophy; but rather in the revelation it affords of the official attitude of the Bishops implicated towards heresy and unorthodox speculation.

Mr. Streeter, who does not regard belief in Our Lord’s bodily resurrection as necessary for himself or for others, quietly ceased to be your Lordship’s Chaplain, but the other priests, who allowed his view as permissible in a brother priest, remain at their posts. Some of them, we are told, do not accept Mr. Streeter’s teaching; but that it is not wrong in a priest to accept it, they are pledged to maintain.

The book, briefly speaking, permits priests to believe and teach, among other things equally heretical,

(a) that the Old Testament is the record of the religious experiences of holy men who lived roughly from 800 B.C. onwards; some of whom wrote the so-called historical books in order to shew how, in their view, God acted in circumstances that quite possibly, and in many cases probably, never existed;

(b) that the Christ’s historic life opens with His baptism, at which He suddenly realized a vocation to be the last of the Jewish Prophets;

(c) that Christ did not come into the world to die for us; but having come, He died because of the circumstances of the case;

(d) that Christ was mistaken in what He taught about His Second Advent, thinking that the world would not outlast St. John;

(e) that therefore He did not found a Church, nor ordain Sacraments;

(f) that His body has gone to corruption;

(g) that there is no Authority in the Church beyond the corporate witness of the Saints, many of whom are now unknown, to the spiritual and moral value of the Christian religion.

Thus it is allowed by the Seven to any priest to deny the Trustworthiness of the Bible, the Authority of the Church, and the Infallibility of Christ.

… I say one pauses: for if Episcopacy, Sacraments, the Bible, and the Lord Christ Himself are on the official list of Open Questions, what is there left in the Deposit that we are here to hand on to Africans?

The answers that are offered for my consolation in this matter vary. Roughly speaking they may be stated thus:

(a) “The Ecclesia Anglicana is by her nature and claim within the Catholic Church, but in order to save confusion and schism, she allows men to remain within her communion who on the Continent would have been driven out. Thus she has a character of inclusiveness that may be said to give her a duty of mediating between various opinions and temperamental views,”

For myself I gain no comfort from such an answer. A mediating Church, it seems to me, would not include within its borders two men of directly contradictory beliefs: rather it would so modify and adjust the two beliefs until they were seen to be complementary, and then it would help one man to hold them both. For example, while Sacramentalism and Personal Religion can be held by any one man as complementary truths, I do not see how a mere Sacramentalist, if such a man exists, could remain in communion with one who believes only in a Personal Religion; and a Church that would seek to retain both men would in no sense be a mediator: it would not be in any true sense an organism: it would be merely a Society for shirking vital issues. Or again, what is it that the Church is mediating when she includes within her borders a man who believes that Christ is Virgin-born, and a man who calls Him the son of Joseph? Or a man who believes that Christ is his Infallible Guide, and a man who holds that Christ was seriously mistaken about the need of a Church and Ministry? Or a man who believes that Our Lord’s Glorious Manhood is the fountain of grace, the Temple of the Holy Ghost, and a man who teaches that the Manhood has ceased to be whole and complete, the Body having gone to corruption? Personally I do not see exactly what it is that is here “mediated” by the Church.

(b) “The Will of God is to purify the Church by permitting these heresies to abound within her borders. If we are patient, all will be well.”

As I listen to this I try to work it out for myself. Here, in this diocese of mine, heresy may burst forth. If it does so, shall I be able to say that it is God’s Will? First, I must think over the indications of God’s Will that are most evident. And at once I remember that in His Will and Providence, just five years ago to-day, the Archbishop of Canterbury and his co-consecrators exacted from me, as a condition of my reception of the rank and grace of Episcopacy, a most solemn vow that I would always be ready to banish from my diocese any erroneous and strange doctrine that I might meet.

As to the Kikuyu Conference, Desmond Morse-Boycott explains:

The Bishops of Mombasa and Uganda, without reference to the diocese of Zanzibar, had joined in conclave with the various Free Church denominations that were working in Africa, to find a solution of the problem of how best to meet the spiritual needs of Africans who moved from one territory into another. The dual menace of Islam and the white man who exploited blacks, together with the tug of tribal customs, seemed to them (and the average Englishman was quick to agree) to constitute a difficulty that made domestic ecclesiastical differences relatively absurd. They felt that at all costs a way must be found for the African trained by the Anglican Church in Uganda to have Communion in another territory where the Free Church was the sole representative of Christianity.

We are accustomed, in England, to adapt ourselves to denominational difficulties. In Africa they are highly embarrassing. Essential Christianity appears sharply outlined there against a background of ignorance and false religion and sin. What appear at first sight to be accidentals of Christianity tend to be regarded as immaterial. That such a view is very natural we should be the first to admit if our parish, with its sundered Christian units—Church, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Salvation Army, Congregational, Baptist—were taken into the heart of Africa and left to preach the Gospel. In the teeth of opposition, and in the face of primitive passions, we should speedily become vexed over apparently artificial divisions.

He was training his Africans to believe, for instance, in the Apostolic Succession. How, then, could he send them forth to receive the ministrations of those who disbelieved in his conception of the Church? “He did not believe that ‘a Church’ with an indefinite faith, with no determined rule of life and a haphazard form of government, would be strong enough to weld Africans together, to uplift them as a race, or to defend them against being exploited by Indians and Europeans.”

He wrote, accordingly, to the Archbishop of Canterbury, denouncing the Bishops of Mombasa and Uganda for the part they had played in “Kikuyu,” and charging them, formally, “with propagating heresy and committing schism.” If he failed to do justice to the fact that their scheme was tentative, and not in operation, they, for their part, cannot be excused for having ignored the existence of the Diocese of Zanzibar. The upshot of it was that the Bishop of Zanzibar’s position was upheld, but, as the War had broken out, Kikuyu meant little to any but anxious Churchmen. The Anglican Communion once again steered clear of the rocks, although her break-up had been prophesied, but Frank Weston, who dared to turn her from danger, was in disgrace.

Bishop Weston died in 1924.  The people of Zanzibar flocked from miles around to pay their final respects. Even the Muslim onlookers could see by the outpouring of emotion that he was a revered, ‘holy’ man, indeed.

To which I would add — ‘holy’, except for the Socialism.

Mackay notes:

… one of the little black schoolboys of the Kiungani, writing of him after his death …

“You will know that he is a loving man, for his mouth is always opened ready for laughter, for he is still laughing, and he will laugh for ever.”

Well, maybe, but there does seem to be a volatile vacillation here between works-based salvation, true Christianity and giving to ‘the naked Jesus’ — a parlous image. The only time Jesus was mostly unclothed was in His suffering on the Cross. Is it meet and just to equate those who make a series of wrong choices — dead in sin — as being a ‘naked Jesus’? It seems a step too far, indeed.

‘Oh, yes, people, give all you can.’  Sure, I could say that, too — anyone could. And there are a number of young American preachers today who do — David Platt, the Baptist, for example. However, unless one gives of one’s own capital, it’s meaningless.

And that’s the magic of Socialism. As Baroness Thatcher once said, ‘They [Socialists] always run out of other people’s money. It’s quite a characteristic …’

This isn’t meant as a message filled with pride.  On the contrary.

However, I have just read of an Anglo-Catholic priest, Fr Addison Hart, who recognised that having swum the Tiber, it was just a stretch too far.

Let this be a cautionary tale — a true story, in this case — for anyone contemplating same.  Please give it very careful considerationIn November 2009, I published the reflections of Brother Stephen, O. Cist., who became an Anglican (having converted from another Protestant denomination) and was later received into the Roman Catholic Church.  I would strongly advise all potential converts from Canterbury to Rome to read this blog post.

Equally, I would also suggest without hesitation that they read Fr Hart’s first-person story below.  Please be sure you know what you are getting into.

This is what Fr Addison Hart had to say, in part (emphases mine):

… as an Anglican priest who, with high ideals but considerably lower savvy, “poped” back in 1997, all I can say to those who may be thinking likewise is this: Unless you know in your heart you can believe in such super-added dogmas as papal supremacy and infallibility (very late inventions), that Jesus did not need to possess “faith” during his earthly years (to which I respond, was he or was he not fully human?), and that the bread and wine physically change into his body and blood during the Eucharist without any palpable evidence of it; unless you can believe in Mary’s “Immaculate Conception” (an unnecessary and unverifiable belief, if ever there was one), her bodily assumption, and so on, then I would urge you to stay put. You already have everything you need, and, what Rome would add to you, you not only do not need, but should positively avoid weighing yourselves down with. Anglicanism is doctrinally sound and blessed with great forms of worship. Rome is neither. As for Rome’s claims to a vastly superior moral authority — well, I would venture to say that after such revelations as clerical sexual abuse on an international scale and their bank’s money-laundering, the lie has been put to that.

No, don’t make my mistake. I wouldn’t make it again myself, and, as it is, I’m making my way out the Roman door.

Just a word to the wise.

Addison Hart+

If you are currently struggling with the choice of converting to Rome, many of us around the world shall keep you in our prayers.

On January 08, 2011, the Telegraph reported that Anglican priests and congregations will not, in some cases, be able to continue using their church buildings for worship.

Why would this come as a surprise to those swimming the Tiber?  Everyone said this over a year ago.  Few people expected the new Roman Catholics to be afforded the privilege of worshipping in their former Anglican church buildings.

Talk about having your cake and eating it.  Really.

That’s not your church anymore, friends.  You should have thought about conversion more practicably if premises were a prime consideration.

The Telegraph elaborates:

In a vote which has split the local community and left long-standing friends on opposite sides of a growing divide, 54 parishioners at St Barnabas Tunbridge Wells have indicated that they intended to become Catholics while 18 said they would remain in the established Church…

At St Barnabas the move towards Rome is being led by the vicar, Fr Ed Tomlinson …

he has been told by the diocese of Rochester that if he and his followers leave the Church of England they will no longer be allowed to hold services, even on a shared basis, at St Barnabas – a nineteenth-century red-brick church where Siegfried Sassoon, the First World War poet, was baptised.

The firm stance has infuriated Fr Tomlinson, the vicar since 2006. “The whole thing stinks to high heaven,” he said.

“The Archdeacon made it abundantly clear that he does not want to entertain the notion of shared worship space and that he would resist my remaining here in any capacity.

“How lamentable that a solution based on unity exists but those with authority seem more intent on division.”

How was this ever intended as a unifying move?  The Pope initiated it.  Although there were rumours at Lambeth Palace, The Archbishop of Canterbury said he was unaware of any formal move until the Pope issued the invitation.

All’s fair in love and war, folks.  You made your choice.  Surely, you didn’t really expect your Anglican mates to grant you use of their church, did you, even if the Archbishop of Canterbury said that the Church of England would seek a system of sharing churches?  Yet, the article notes that Rowan Williams did say it would be a ‘challenge’, not a guarantee.

Not all bishops are in favour of the sharing option, including the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres:

“For the avoidance of confusion I have to say that as far as the Diocese of London is concerned there is no possibility of transferring properties,” he said last month.

He said that previous experiments of church sharing had not led to “warmer ecumenical relations” but “tended to produce more rancour”.

Yes, one can well imagine.

William Fittall, secretary general of the General Synod and the Church’s most senior lay official, also said it would be “entirely possible” for Anglicans converting to Catholicism to use their former churches, adding that it would be “a matter for the local Anglican bishop concerned whether he was content for that to be the case”.

It does seem as if some of those converting to Catholicism have over-romanticised their position and the aftermath of conversion.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you have no life in you; he who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. – John 6:53, 54

Corpus Christi Sunday is normally celebrated one week after Trinity Sunday in the Catholic Church (although, traditionally, it is commemorated the preceding Thursday).  Some Anglican and Lutheran churches also celebrate this important feast day.

Corpus Christi means ‘Body of Christ’ in Latin. The feast dates back to the Middle Ages and became a mandatory feast in 1312.  It parallels the Last Supper on Maundy (Holy) Thursday, but is a more joyous celebration and one of thanksgiving, as Christ’s prophecies of His death, resurrection and ascension into Heaven have been fulfilled.  He also sent the Holy Spirit to His disciples and the Holy Trinity was revealed to mankind — all as He promised.  

In the 13th century, a young Augustinian nun in France, Juliana, had a profound devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and thought the Church should set aside a special feast day in its honour.  She petitioned three senior clergymen.  One of them, the Bishop of Liege, was the first to declare that this feast day be celebrated in his diocese annually.  After Sister Juliana — later St Juliana — and the Bishop of Liege died, the feast of Corpus Christi became more widespread in Europe.  In 1264, Pope Urban IV formally instituted the Feast of Corpus Christi to be celebrated the Thursday after Trinity Sunday.  That same year, he commissioned St Thomas Aquinas to compose a Mass and Office especially for this feast.        

A procession with the Holy Eucharist often takes place, even in Anglo-Catholic services.  The Host is placed in a monstrance (pictured at right, courtesy of St Isadore, Yuba City). The priest, facing the congregation, elevates the monstrance; the congregation may then follow it in a procession outside and around the church.  This is how the Anglican/Episcopal Church of the Atonement in Chicago conducts theirs:

At the end of Mass, an outside procession forms, led by bagpipers. The Blessed Sacrament is placed in a smaller Monstrance for the outside procession, and is carried around the block by the Priest or Bishop beneath a canopy that is held up by Parishioners.

The Monstrance, as seen on the front cover of this invitation, is used by Roman Catholic, Old Catholic, and Episcopal Anglo-Catholic Churches to display the consecrated Eucharistic Host, during Eucharistic Adoration or Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. The word monstrance comes from the Latin word monstrare, meaning “to show.” It is closely related to the English word demonstrate, meaning “to show clearly.” Both words share a common root. In Latin, a monstrance is known as an ostensorium, from ostendere, “to show,” and monstre/monstral (England).

Once the outside procession has gone around … and back … the assembly returns to the Church for Benediction.

In the Service of Benediction, the Priest blesses the people with the Eucharist displayed in the Monstrance. This Blessing differs from the Priest’s Blessing, as it is seen as the Blessing of Christ, rather than that of the individual Priest.

The chalice with a Host rising from it, as shown at the top of this post, is also an important symbol of the Feast of Corpus Christi. The reason rays of light are often shown proceeding from this and similar depictions is to symbolise the Real Presence of Christ’s Body and Blood therein.  

With regard to chalices, I have included pictures of two to illustrate the six-pointed and six-scalloped edge types.  Why six?  Because the points and scallops represent the Six Attributes of the Deity: power, wisdom, majesty, mercy, justice and love. 

Many people today baulk at the seeming extravagance of monstrances, chalices and clerical vestments.  It is important to remember that these items are created with such elegance so as to honour God and His Son Jesus Christ.  That may not wash with everyone’s interpretation of Christianity, but for those who hold to Catholic and traditional Anglican or Lutheran teachings, only the most precious metals and finest fabrics may be used. 

For further reading:

Corpus Christi (feast)

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Corpus Christi

Celebrating Corpus Christi

The Most Revd Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, who heads the Catholic Church in England and Wales, had a message for disaffected Anglo-Catholics: women’s ordination and sexual ethics alone are inadequate reasons for leaving the Anglican Communion.

An article in the November 20, 2009 issue of The Guardian quotes Archbishop Nichols as saying:

It must be a positive desire in the heart – not questions of the ordination of women to the episcopate, not questions of sexual ethics – but it must centre round the understanding of the role of the office of the bishop of Rome

This goes back to what Churchmouse Campanologist has been saying throughout the past month with regard to discernment over the Pope’s invitation to cross the Tiber.  Conversion is a ‘running to’, not a ‘running from’. Running from will not enhance spiritual fulfilment or bring one closer to Christ.

Archbishop Nichols added (emphasis mine):

A person must be embracing of that concrete aspect of Catholic life, which is the authority of the Holy See in the person of the Pope, if they are going to make this journey with integrity.

Nothing is envisaged in this provision of a minimalist approach to picking bits of the Catholic faith I like and seeing myself as a quasi-Catholic, not a real Catholic, under the umbrella of this constitution.

The Catholic Church already has enough CINOs.  They have damaged her reputation terribly, confusing many onlookers — particularly orthodox Protestants.  As yesterday’s post said, the best thing for Anglo-Catholics to do during the next few months is to study the 39 Articles and the Catholic Catechism side by side.  Compare, reflect and pray.  Some are bound to decide they wish to convert.  Others, undoubtedly, will choose to remain Anglican. 

The Guardian explained what is happening at the Vatican now:

The prevailing view, almost certainly shared by Benedict, is that recent developments within Anglicanism, including the ordination of women and the acceptance in the US of gay bishops, have pushed the prospects of church unity beyond the horizon.

But there is a clear distinction within the Curia, the papal bureaucracy. The softer and more accommodating line is represented by the department which is meant to handle relations with other Christian denominations, headed by a German cardinal, Walter Kasper.

The harder, less yielding approach is that of the Vatican ‘ministry’ that deals with doctrinal orthodoxy, known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

It was this department, which the pope himself headed as a cardinal, that was given the job of drawing up the constitution.

What does the ‘Anglicanorum Coetibus’ (Anglican Groups) actually mean in layman’s terms?  Good Jesuit, Bad Jesuit explains in a post dated November 10, 2009.  The Revd Gianfranco Ghirlanda, SJ, who is Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, says:

… the provision does not create a new Ritual Church as this might result in ‘ecumenical difficulties’.

Cardinal William Levada and the Revd Luis Ladaria, SJ, Prefect and Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, respectively, devised the aforementioned norms for the constitution and new personal ordinariates (church jurisdictions). These include the following:

- The Holy See must approve any Anglican liturgical traditions to be used in the Catholic Church

- Married former Anglican bishops can oversee the ordinariates provided they are (re)ordained as Catholic priests

- Married Anglican clergy who wish to continue in their positions as Catholics or married Anglican deacons who wish to become Catholic priests may do so, but only with the approval of the Pope on a ‘case by case’ basis

- Any celibate Anglican priest wishing to become a Catholic priest must remain celibate in his Catholic ministry

- A Catholic priest who later became an Anglican priest may not apply for the aforementioned considerations

You can read everything in full at the Vatican website here.

Below is a quick round-up of what’s been happening since Pope Benedict invited Anglicans to become Catholics.  Today’s post examines what’s happened in the Church of England (C of E) since the announcement.

‘C of E — no Pope’: These words were daubed clearly in white paint over the sign in front of St Saviour’s Church in Walthamstow (northeast London).  Click the link to see the photo.  St Saviour’s is a FiF (Forward in Faith) Anglo-Catholic parish church.  Fr David Waller, priest at St Saviour’s, says it might have been done by someone under the influence of alcohol. No one knows whether this someone attends St Saviour’s. 

‘Church Buildings’: The retired Anglo-Catholic ‘flying bishop’ of Richborough, Edwin Barnes, says the C of E should consider giving some of their church buildings to the Catholics or to let them out at a peppercorn rent once the ordinariates are established.  The rationale behind that is should the C of E become disestablished and disendowed as the national church, it is unclear what the Government would do with the church buildings.  Taxpayers would be more willing to pay for hospitals and schools than churches, Bishop Edwin says.  

‘The Irony of It All’: The Revd Edward Tomlinson, SSC, of St Barnabas in Tunbridge Wells (Kent), finds his patience tried by the General Synod, C of E bishops and the Revision Committee saying that they have decided not to make provision for male bishops for Anglo-Catholic churches which oppose women’s ordination (see next item).  He says these are the same people who tell Anglo-Catholics to beware of papal infallibility, yet they believe their own decisions against scriptural authority to be just as infallible, erroneous though they are.

‘Revision Committee on Women in the Episcopate’: This C of E announcement, dated November 14, 2009, says that, as Fr Tomlinson (previous item) notes, there will be no special provision of male bishops for Anglo-Catholic churches opposed to women’s ordination.  These will be delegated by the diocesan bishop, although how this will actually play out has not yet been decided.  Meetings will continue before draft legislation is created.     

‘The Wisdom of Bishops’: At Fr Tomlinson’s St Barnabas blog, commenter Frances says, ‘I don’t want to go anywhere. I desire to remain within the CofE and within the Anglican Communion, it is the church of my Baptism and has nourished me as a Catholic Christian all my life. What happens next lies in the hands of others. Sadly, some who shout loudest seem less able to understand the legality of what is proposed, nor the concept of collegiality, do not care anyway and do not want us to stay.’

‘Women Bishops: here’s the (new) deal’: At The Ugley Vicar, the Revd John Richardson of Colchester (Essex) says Anglo-Catholics aren’t the only ones disappointed by the Revision Committee’s announcement. He speaks for many of his fellow conservative evangelicals — Anglican Traditionalists – when he says that perhaps a compromise is in order whereby traditionalists accept women bishops but make it clear that all C of E bishops must believe in and uphold the 39 Articles, creeds and other Anglican formularies.  He also notes in the comments that the Synod has not yet taken a final vote — some people think it may reach stalemate because no provision is made for dissenters.     

It’s all quite sad, really. 

I’m not at all surprised by the incident at St Saviour’s.  I am grateful there has only been one instance of that so far.  If people have something to say, let them talk to their priest.  Defacing church property is not the way forward.  Speaking of church property, I shudder to think what will happen someday to our beautiful C of E churches, the jewels which brighten our landscapes and point to God.  I don’t even want to consider it right now.  One of these blogging priests says his church has a photograph of the Pope hanging in one of the adjoining rooms of the church.  If this is so, I really hope he and his parish consider the move to Rome.  I do not understand how they can be Anglican.  St Barnabas reader Frances has a point.  Many agree with her.  Yet, as we will see in tomorrow’s post, objecting to women bishops is not a good reason for conversion.  She and like-minded people really need to get a copy of the Catholic Catechism and the 39 Articles, compare the two and see where they are at the end of that exercise.  Finally, I admire Mr Richardson’s optimism in thinking that C of E bishops would agree to believing in and upholding the 39 Articles and so forth.  Chance would be a fine thing.  What’s to stop them from paying them lip service when being installed as bishops and then summarily forgetting about them?  Who will hold them to their obligation?  Surely not Rowan Williams.    

Tomorrow: What Catholics say

On Wednesday, Churchmouse Campanologist featured the better part of an essay by Brother Stephen, O. Cist., a former Anglo-Catholic who became a Roman Catholic and joined the Cistercian Order.

Today, we look at his advice to Anglo-Catholics thinking of converting to the Roman Catholic faith.  He wrote his essay, ‘So who are these Anglicans with nuns?‘ on June 16, 2009 — four months before Pope Benedict XVI extended his invitation to Anglicans to join the Roman Catholic faith.

He advises Anglo-Catholics to consider the following during their period of discernment (highlights mine):

When friends who are still Anglican ask me about crossing the Tiber, I tell them to come if they have fallen in love with the church but not to come to Rome merely as a refuge from the storms of Anglicanism. Conversion should be a running to, not a running from. Nor will I say that the grass is always impossibly verdant on this side of the Tiber. Many an Anglican has converted only to revert because he or she found life in Rome less congenial than was expected

If you have come to believe what the Roman Catholic Church says about herself, come! Our Lord sent out his disciples without scrip, bread, or money and said that even he himself did not have a place to lay his head. If you believe that Rome is where the fullness of the Catholic faith is to be found, you may need to be willing to leave behind old friends, Anglican Chant, real albs, and excerpts from this week’s New York Review of Books tucked into Sunday sermons.

He cautions that to many Roman Catholics, all converts are alike.  Perhaps another way of saying this is that they don’t consider where you’ve come from as long as you are there.  However, the convert will most likely be unable to share his previous Christian life with new friends: 

A-Cs also should be prepared for the fact that few Roman Catholics have ever heard of Anglo-Catholicism, priests included. People in your new parish will be glad you’ve come, but Anglo-Catholics, Adventists, and American Baptists are all pretty much the same to most cradle Roman Catholics. At first I was quite put off by the general obliviousness. I felt that I had agonized over this momentous decision to sign up with a church that looks so good on paper and, so often, so bad in practice, and no one appreciated my great and noble sacrifice. Poor, poor me! (The lesson in humility alone has probably been worth the trip.) 

Then, there are the liturgical differences:

At times after your conversion, you will find yourself feeling like the Israelites in the desert remembering the melons of Egypt and at other times you may well feel like Ruth, a resident alien in a strange land. At some point you will attend a mass with a homily, music, or liturgical idiom so terrible that you will wish you could be Samson in the temple of Dagon because you are so furious that these people don’t seem to appreciate what they’ve been given.

And RCIA (I noted similarly in an earlier post — no grasp of church history!):

You stand every chance of being theologically patronized by an RCIA instructor who couldn’t put Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas in order on a timeline and who doesn’t seem to be aware that there were some other pretty cool councils before Vatican II. Before your first year is out, you will meet at least one neocon who believes that the whole of the faith is contained in his own highly selective reading of the encyclicals of John Paul II.

And busy priests, unlike the Anglican vicar or Episcopal rector who knows everyone by name and makes time for a chat:

Chances are the pastor in your new parish has 2,000 souls to care for instead of the 200 you are used to and won’t have the same time to look after your every need.

But, overall, Br Stephen’s move has worked well for him:

Since being received, I have hung my hat with the Novus Ordo, nicely done, with few complaints. My conversion was theological and I’m finding what I came looking for as well as having a fair number of pleasant surprises. I have been to confession more times in a year than I did in 20 as an Anglo-Catholic. The reality of the universality of the Church still fills me with wonder as I try to get my mind around being in communion with more than one billion people. My parish and its priests are exemplary. I have received grace up on grace.

Paris was worth a Mass. Peace of mind is worth even the occasional folk Mass.

He lists several resources at the end of his essay, so, if you are Anglo-Catholic and would like to deepen your investigation as part of the discernment process, please click here.

Anglo-Catholic priest from Christ Church, Winnetka, IL How can I set the tone for this post?  Perhaps by giving you a question to answer when you meet one: Are they ANGLO-Catholics or Anglo-CATHOLICS? And, will they stay on the Thames or cross the Tiber? Well, it depends. 

For my source, meet (or renew your acquaintance with) Br. Stephen of the Order of the Cistercians.  Brother Stephen was an Anglo-Catholic until he was received into the Roman Catholic Church a few years ago.  He is dedicating his life to God through the Cistercian Order.

The following is a summary of his highly informative post dated June 16, 2009, ‘So who are these Anglicans with nuns?‘   Don’t miss the pictures, either.  (The Anglo-Catholic priest on the left is from Christ Church, Winnetka, Illinois, north of Chicago.) I hope he will excuse my putting his essay into a Q&A format.

We should note that Br Stephen was not unhappy being an Anglican:

I have very happy memories of my life as an Anglo-Catholic and believe that tradition led me to where I am today. Anglicanism gave me more gifts than I could count and I do not believe that there are any people in the world who enjoy the practice of their faith more. On the other hand, by the time I left Anglicanism, I was one of those who was attached to the Roman Rite and Roman Catholic theology… If the Holy See wants to make a way for many of my old friends to come home and bring some of our better heirlooms with them then that is great by me, but I, like thousands of others, found my way home without special inducements and will probably be content where I am.

However, he acknowledges:

Even most Anglo-Catholics have deep doctrinal disagreements with Rome. Progressive or affirming Anglo-Catholics, who numerically represent at least half of the Anglo-Catholic party, often position themselves as an alternative to what they see as Rome’s conservatism on doctrinal and social issues.

How many are we talking about worldwide?

Traditionalist Anglo-Catholicism is a very small movement. The entire Episcopal Church in the US counts only 2.6 million members with an average Sunday attendance of around 750,000. Within that number, some single digit percentage of Episcopalians identify themselves as Anglo-Catholic, half of whom identify as liturgical modernists and/or social progressives

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, the largest traditionalist catholic diocese in the Episcopal Church, counted only 14,000 members in the year 2000, about the size of five average Roman Catholic parishes. Outside of a few areas of concentration in the dioceses of Fort Worth, Quincy, and San Joaquin, Anglo-Catholics are thinly scattered across the Episcopal Church and among many Continuing Churches.

Are there any who swam the Thames, so to speak?

In fact, many Anglo-Catholics are ex-Roman Catholics who crossed the Channel because they disagreed with Roman Catholic doctrine or wanted to escape the post-Vatican II Church for both liberal and conservative reasons.

How Catholic are Anglo-Catholics?

Among traditional Anglo-Catholics, you will find those who believe in 3, 4, 7, 19, 20, and 21 councils as well as those who believe that no council taught infallibly. It is safe to say that traditional Anglo-Catholics generally believe in via media, 3 to 7 ecumenical councils, and lay government. Most traditional A-Cs get from a little to very queasy at the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption, and any form of devotion that is too ‘sentimental’. Many hold an idea of the real presence that owes as much to Luther as to Trent. A confessional in the back of the church is often considered to be an important symbol, but few consider it necessary to be a regular penitent.

Tell me more.

Essayist Florence King spoke well to another aspect of the Anglican mindset when she wrote, ‘I don’t care about church and state so long as the church and stateliness go hand in hand.’ Traditional Roman Catholics hoping for reinforcements need to understand that traditional Anglo-Catholics are conservative compared to other Anglicans, but that is s a very different proposition than the ideological and social agenda held by many traditionalist Roman Catholics. Many, probably most, traditional Anglo-Catholics have no objection to things like women in the diaconate, contraception, remarriage, or suitably discreet same-sex relationships. There are certainly Anglo-Catholics who support the National Organization of Episcopalians for Life and who are vexed by the Robinson consecration, but these are generally not the parishes whose photos make their way around the Catholic blog circuit … The folks who agree with Catholic social teaching are more likely to be liturgically low-key modern rite people.

Oh.  So how many might convert?

At this point it is probably clear that liturgical altitude is not the same sort of index of theological belief among Anglicans that it is among Roman Catholics. Having two sacristies full of tat is no indication that members of a parish are putting on their trunks to swim the Tiber and head out on to the battlefield of the culture wars … Politically conservative Roman Catholics should also be aware that Anglo-Catholicism has a strong historic tie to Christian Socialism from the days when priests in the US and UK worked in some of the poorest missions. That relationship is not so strong as it once was–a pity to my mind since social witness was a hallmark of the early movement–but do not be surprised to find that politics runs a broad spectrum among Anglo-Catholics.

Explain Anglo-Catholic worship, please.

I believe that it is fair to say that I never saw two parishes where Mass was said in the same way. In the US, some use the 1928 Prayer Book, some the 1979, and others the Anglican Service Book. In the UK, you will find the 1662, Common Worship, and varying degrees of interpolation from the 1970 Missal. In both countries you will also find the missal parishes, which use the Anglican, American, or English Missals in their various editions with their various options. As a visual study, catholic leaning Anglicans range from those who concelebrate Mass in modern language versus populum in cassock alb and stole to Anglo-Papalist shrines where the English Missal, silent canon, pre ’55 Holy Week, and folded chasubles in Lent are the norm. In between there is every variant that could be imagined with occasional hat tips to the Orthodox.

Gee, that’s a lot of variation.

Anglo-Catholicism is a tradition where lay people own lots of theological and liturgical books and where parish priests are usually trying to balance one resident liturgist’s preferences against those of another. Battle lines are drawn by when and how you cross yourself at Mass and whether you kneel for the Sanctus or wait for the beginning of the canon. Liturgy is often just short of blood sport and many a toast has been raised to a Roman Use victory over the Sarumites of a parish and vice versa. This lay aspect of Anglo-Catholic liturgical practice often appears bizarre and unseemly to Roman Catholics, but to many Anglicans it is mother’s milk. I have often joked with friends that I became a devotee of the traditional Roman Rite because I am now too old and lazy to make stuff up.

My goodness.  It sounds complicated.

Creating any one liturgical book or uniate fold that could encompass all of these Anglo-Catholicisms is a virtually impossible task. Among the good, devout, and intelligent people you will find across the Anglo-Catholic spectrum, there is scant agreement on which parts of the Anglican patrimony should be cherished and preserved and which parts should be trimmed away …  The liturgical traditions of individual parishes and priests are matters of pride, heated debate, and wickedly funny anecdotes.

Back to an earlier point — how many would like to become Roman Catholics?

With God, all things are possible, but I do not believe that there are thousands of Anglo-Catholics wanting to hop on the Barque of Peter if only they could bring their traditions with them. Though there are certainly exceptions, my experience has been that Anglicans who feel drawn to Rome are not that interested in Anglican worship and those who are interested in Anglican worship are not in theological agreement with Rome.

Tell me more about their history, particularly how the Oxford Movement ended up manifesting itself in such ornate liturgical displays.

For early Anglo-Catholics, liturgy was often an important form of witness and resistance whereby the externals of worship became a theological rebuke to the Protestant theology of the majority. Anglo-Catholics believed that Anglicans had maintained valid orders and sacraments and that the sacraments should be performed with the dignity befitting their reality rather than the simpler forms that accompanied a memorialist understanding. An altar cross, candles, and vestments were powerful signs of the sacramental faith that a parish held. Early Anglo-Catholic priests defied English court orders and went to jail for using vestments. In a side altar at the Church of the Advent in Boston you can still see a simple gilt cross that so offended the Bishop of Massachusetts that he refused to return until it was removed. The externals of the liturgy became an important part of Anglo-Catholic identity and a way for a parish to clearly stake out its theological ground. In places, this remains so up to the present day. A visit to Sunday Eucharist at a middle-of-the-road Episcopal parish may tell the observer very little about what that community believes but a similar visit to one of the great Anglo-Catholic shrine parishes leaves no doubt that these are people who believe that in this place heaven tangibly breaks through to earth.

Gee, that just sounds so, well, trad Catholic!  Are you sure they won’t swim the Tiber?

Anglo-Catholics stay where they are for the theological reasons touched on earlier as well as various practical and cultural reasons that include attachment to parishes built by their ancestors, the odd person’s lingering penchant for the perceived social respectability of being an Episcopalian, an aversion to Roman Catholic aesthetics, or simply from the knowledge that Anglo-Catholics can have their liturgical cake and a Protestant congregation’s freedom too in the unsettled times we live in.

What do you mean by ‘Protestant congregation’s freedom’?

As long as an Episcopal parish sends its annual check to diocesan headquarters and lets the bishop visit once a year or so, few ECUSA or continuing bishops care which liturgical books you have on the altar or even whether you’re offering the occasional Latin Mass. If you are an Episcopal priest, you are getting a quite decent living with little interference from higher up. If you are an active layperson, you are in a tradition that has well-established ways to use your gifts. In general, you can do pretty much as you please provided it is done discreetly and in good taste. Unless you have come to believe the Roman Catholic Church’s claims about itself, life in the average Anglo-Catholic parish remains reasonably pleasant even with all of the hysteria swirling in the headlines.

But, I’ve been reading otherwise.

I think this seeming lack of alarm at the present state of the Episcopal Church can be another of the hardest realities for Roman Catholics to grasp about Anglo-Catholics. Alarmist bloggers are not representative of most of the people in the pews. When asked about the crisis of the week, the thinking of most A-Cs would probably go something like this:

Why should we leave over a woman primate, the Windsor Report or [fill in the blank]? … Why should we go now? Sure a few folks made the lemming run over all of those things, but history shows we’ve done just fine. We’ve always been an embattled minority and we’ve hung in there bearing witness to the vision of a restored catholicism in the Anglican Communion and we’ll keep going. We may be pushed out of ECUSA into the Continuum or we may have to call in foreign prelates for a while, but that’s exactly what the English A-Cs had to do a century ago and they held tough and weathered the storm and we will too. Anglican is who we are and Anglican is what we’ll stay.

Reinforcing this general tendency to stay put are all of the beliefs that many Anglo-Catholics have about Roman Catholics. Anyone thinking of going to Rome will be given graphic stories of pantsuit nuns preaching liberation theology, liturgical dancing, bad plaster statues, and how you will always be an outsider treated with suspicion. The waffling A-C will also be reminded of some less sensational things that are hard for many of us: lay pope is not a viable career path in Rome as it is in Canterbury; chances are slim that you will be in a place where you will hear daily Evening Prayer again; and that you may never again find the same bonhomie you have had in the small, plucky world of Anglo-Catholicism.

Any regrets from your own perspective?

Are there things I miss about Anglicanism? Certainly! Anglicans of most theological stripes worship with sobriety, dignity and care. I am amazed that even low and broad church Anglicans who do not believe in the real presence celebrate the sacraments with a degree of reverence that I rarely see in the Catholic Church. 450 years of worship in English has left Anglicanism with a great gift for crafting liturgical prose and a rich treasury of sacred music. I still stumble over the words of the 1970 Missal and the Liturgy of the Hours. I miss the friendliness, sense of community, and well-stocked bar that you find in most Anglo-Catholic parishes. (Stories of the ‘Frozen Chosen’ are greatly exaggerated.) Most of all I miss the regular public celebration of the Office, which is, to my mind, Anglicanism’s distinct glory.

Thank you, Br Stephen.

So, outward appearances notwithstanding, not all Anglo-Catholics are alike.  Indeed, they inhabit a complex, nuanced world — one which defies stereotypes.

Friday: Br Stephen’s advice to Anglicans considering crossing the Tiber — don’t miss it

If you aren’t sure what Anglo-Catholics are all about, you’re about to discover who they are.  This isn’t intended for Anglicans as much as it is for Roman Catholics and other Christians who wonder what this world is all about.

Today’s post is a bit of a pictorial by way of a gentle introduction.  I hope the churches profiled below will not mind my having borrowed their photographs, which are too good to miss.

Church of the Advent, Boston, MA:

AC Church of the Advent Boston MA peace

Note not only the vestments but the traditional altar.  I went to a few Masses here many years ago.  If you’re in Boston or live nearby, it’s definitely worth a visit.

From the website (link above):

Worship at the Church of the Advent reflects our foundation in the tradition of the ‘Oxford Movement’. Beginning in the 1830s, several Church of England clergy, in reaction to what they perceived as the laxity and spiritual lifelessness the Church in their day, started a renewal which came to be known as the Oxford Movement (because most of them were associated with Oxford University). They advocated a restoration of the pattern of Catholic worship, devotion, and spirituality which originated in ancient times but was lost during the Reformation. The recoveries included an ornate liturgy, private confession, devotions addressed to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and monastic orders, as well as the use of the name ‘Mass’ for the service of the Eucharist …

In addition to ceremonial recoveries, scholars of the Oxford Movement also led a rediscovery of classical Catholic theology, which included an elevated view of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, in which we believe Christ to be really present to us in the sacramental bread and wine – His Body and Blood. From a Catholic viewpoint, worshipping Christ present in the Sacrament of the Eucharist is an experience so profound that words become inadequate and ceremonial gestures, such as the Sign of the Cross and genuflections, serve to express some of what we cannot put into speech.

St Michael and All Saints Church, Edinburgh:

AC St Michael and All Saints Church Edinburgh worship

From the website (link above):

As adherents to the Anglo-Catholic tradition, incense, bells and music play an integral part in our worship and the ritual and beauty of the liturgy is an important aid to our worship …

On the first Sunday of each month we also have a service of Choral Evensong and Benediction at 6.30 pm. Evensong is a traditional service, with readings and prayers, psalm, Magnificat, Nunc Dimittis and anthem sung by the choir. It is followed seamlessly by the service of Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, when we rejoice in the Lord’s continuing presentation of himself to the world …

St Mary of the Angels, Los Angeles, CA:

AC St Mary of the Angels Hollywood sanctuarypartybishop

From the website (link above):

From her earliest days, St. Mary’s has enjoyed the full Anglo-Catholic heritage of worship and belief. Employing the Book of Common Prayer for the daily and occasional offices and the Anglican Missal for the celebration of the Mass, Fr. Neal Dodd, our first rector, set the tone for our worship which remains today.

To some, that heritage means ‘smells and bells’ — incense, beautiful vestments, and intricate ceremonial.  At High Mass or Solemn Evensong, we do cloud the church with incense, the vestments of the clergy and, in fact, all things connected with our worship, are as beautiful as our skills and pocketbooks allow.  The ceremonial that embodies our worship and the music which accompanies it, are rich and old.  It has the scent of eternity.  That’s what we believe worship should be.

Worship isn’t about us.  It’s not meant to make us feel good about ourselves, or even to feel good about God.  Its purpose isn’t to make us ‘feel’ anything.  Worship is directed not toward us, but towards God.  Catholic worship is what the Church of God does to show her love for her Lord

Other points to note, as taken from a short and highly readable essay by Bruce E Ford entitled ‘What is an Anglo-Catholic parish?‘ for the Grace Church in Newark, NJ, website:

That the Church of England was not denomination, founded at the Reformation, but the selfsame branch of the Catholic Church planted by missionaries from Rome and Ireland in the sixth century.

That Christ’s promise to lead his disciples into all truth was addressed to the whole Church, not to any single branch of it, and that the only authoritative teaching was that which had been accepted throughout the Church before the break between East and West in 1054.

That although the Church of England, reacting to increasingly extravagant claims about papal authority for which Catholic tradition provided little support, had declared its independence from Rome in the sixteenth century, it had not cut itself off from communion with the Church of Rome, but that schism had occurred only in 1570 when Pope Pius V had excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I.  

That the Book of Common Prayer ought not necessarily to be interpreted as its compilers intended, but according to the tradition of the Catholic Church.

The essay goes on to explain:

Because Anglo-Catholics view the Church as an extension of the incarnation, they have historically felt impelled to attend in Jesus’ Name to ‘the homeless, the hungry, the desolate, and the oppressed’.  In America, where in the nineteenth century Episcopal churches derived most of their income from rental of pews, Anglo-Catholic parishes were among the first to abandon it, opening the way for all to join in their worship

A long-standing Anglo-Catholic friend confirms this.  So, despite the impressive, traditional vestments, the Anglo-Catholics have been and continue to be the ones doing much of the hard graft in urban Anglican missions. 

And:

Anglo-Catholics recognize that authoritative Catholic teaching about many matters does not exist. They confidently affirm that Christ is present in the Blessed Sacrament, but they regard all attempts to say how he is present as mere speculation.  They confidently affirm the virginal conception of Jesus; but while some believe that the Virgin Mary was immaculately conceived and that she was bodily assumed into heaven, others do not.  Popes in recent times have proclaimed both the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception and the doctrine of the Bodily Assumption of Mary to be dogma, even  though theologians have debated the about both doctrines for centuries without reaching consensus. Anglo-Catholics regard papal proclamations on unsettled questions not as Catholic teaching but as examples of blatant Roman sectarianism.

Many Anglo-Catholics would nod their heads upon reading that statement.  

Tomorrow: The many facets of Anglo-Catholicism

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