A tale of two eras – Fr. Robert Hart | The Continuum

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For the last few years I have made it clear that Anglicans cannot use the words “Catholic” and “Protestant” to mean two opposite and irreconcilable positions, or even to mean mutually exclusive  positions. For us a good Protestant (in the Anglican sense) has to be a good Catholic, and vice versa…

Source: The Continuum: A tale of two eras

“What really separates English Reformation theology and the Oxford Movement is simply time. It is not a matter of disagreement. Time created its own emergencies, needing doctrinal clarification…

“The strength of Anglicanism today is that we have the restoration of Evangelical truth in our foundation, and we have the fullness of Catholic faith, worship and sacramental practice. We did not obtain this great inheritance by excluding any portion of the Faith of the Universal Church, but by possessing it all.

“One need of our era is to correct the misperceptions of Schools X and Y, and refuse to be pressured into losing part of our wealth by taking unnecessary losses through false choices.”

In my opinion, this essay by Fr. Robert Hart expresses very effectively and persuasively (*) what I believe is the proper balance in the Anglican tradition as truly Reformed Catholic: that is, occupying – dare I say? – an appropriate “Via Media” between the extreme High-Church Anglo-Catholic and extreme Low-Church Evangelical positions.

My recommendation? As I have written many times in this blog, borrowing a line from one of our more famous Prayer Book Collects: “read, mark, learn and inwardly digest“!


(* Despite what, Fr. Hart’s disclaimer / explanation in the comments notwithstanding, I cannot help but think is a slight caricature of the late-medieval, pre-Reformation English Church (I tend to take a more irenic view of Eamon Duffy’s evidence and interpretations)… but only slight.)

Defining Anglicanism – by ACC Archbishop Mark David Haverland

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Source: Defining Anglicanism | Anglican Catholic Liturgy and Theology

What I would describe as an absolute tour de force by The Right Reverend Mark David Haverland, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Anglican Catholic Church (a Continuing Anglican jurisdiction with which the UECNA is in communion). He writes, inter alia,

“Anglicanism is not a distinctive and finished system, but an approach, a method, and a temper. Anglicanism is not doctrines that distinguish it from those of other Churches, because Anglicans assert that what they believe is plainly founded in the Scriptures believed by those other Churches and in the first millennium of those Churches. That same faith of the first millennium is or should be decisive in all Churches for interpreting the Scriptural deposit.

“That which distinguishes Anglicans in doctrinal terms, then, is a kind of restraint concerning doctrinal commitment flowing from an unwillingness to innovate or even to receive older teachings that go far beyond Scripture and the consensus of the Churches. It is precisely this self-limitation which makes possible an openness to the great Churches of the East and the West. We assert and press nothing as essential, so far as we can see, that they do not themselves affirm, only questioning their differences from each other which seem to have no strong foundation in the Fathers or in the consensus of the first millennium.”

If that doesn’t hit the nail on the head, I don’t know what does. He also seems to take a bow to what I describe – approvingly, I might add! – as cultural Anglicanism, an approach which is characterized by defining “Anglican”

“rather non-theologically by emphasizing its cultural or civilizational characteristics, products, and influences. I have myself used this approach on occasions. On this view… Anglicanism is Anglican chant, Vaughan Williams hymns, the King’s College service of Lessons and Carols, and the English musical and choral tradition; the sermons of John Donne and Lancelot Andrewes; the poems of George Herbert, John Keble, W.H. Auden, and T.S. Eliot; the Barsetshire novels and Swift’s satires and Robertson Davies’s Salterton trilogy and the writings of C.S. Lewis; the sons and daughters of Anglican rectories; the prose of Hooker’s Laws and the Authorized Version of the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer; a deeply felt but undemonstrative and unsentimental piety; Wren churches and English country parishes; the moral seriousness that outlawed the slave trade and stopped suttee and beat the Nazis; Evensong of a summer’s afternoon; the Queen’s Christmas address with its consistent, gentle emphasis on our Saviour’s birth.

“This approach might look at first like the ‘kitchen sink’, as it accumulates the stuff of centuries in an apparent gatherum omnium.  In fact, however, there is a good deal of definition and coherence to the list.  There’s no modernism or neo-Pentecostalism in it, for one thing.  For another thing, while a Roman Catholic or an Eastern Orthodox Christian might think some important things are missing from it, there’s little or nothing positively in it that he would find objectionable.”

Let me be clear: I love this tradition, deeply and passionately. It is a good bit of what brought me into Anglicanism in the first place, and I would hate to lose it. But – and this is the point I think Archbishop Haverland was getting at – this approach is, by itself, merely (or mainly) cultural, and, I must reluctantly admit, a bit hazy and nostalgic: unless stiffened and given spiritual and theological substance by the first and more rigorous set of criteria Archbishop Haverland delineates above.

There is, in my view, nothing wrong with cultural Anglicanism, if it flows out of and serves as a very fitting and proper cultural expression of theological Anglicanism. If it does not, if it’s expected to stand on its own without the theological and doctrinal substance of the Holy Scriptures, the Patristic Creeds and Councils, and the overall witness of the ancient and undivided Church of the first millennium of the Christian era, it can be a bit of a house built upon sand.

There are plenty of people out there, in the Episcopal Church, the Church of England, and elsewhere in the Anglican Communion, who love these things, too; but who also embrace all manner of theological and moral innovation and relativism. Glorious choral music, fine poetry and literature, and pastoral country scenes (as per the picture with which I opened this post), while highly admirable in themselves, are not sufficient.

At any rate: click through the link to Archbishop Haverland’s essay, and “read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest” it. Spiritual nourishment to start your Lenten observance! And may God indeed bless you with a holy Lent.

 

The Oxford Movement Begins | Ritual Notes

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Most Anglo-Catholics know that 185 years ago today, John Keble ascended the pulpit at the University Church of St Mary’s in Oxford to deliver the sermon at the opening of the Assize Court. If the date is not remembered, the result certainly is…

Source: The Oxford Movement Begins — Ritual Notes

“Most Anglo-Catholics know that 185 years ago today, John Keble ascended the pulpit at the University Church of St Mary’s in Oxford to deliver the sermon at the opening of the Assize Court. If the date is not remembered, the result certainly is. John Henry Newman wrote that this sermon, easily forgotten during any other time, was the beginning of the Oxford Movement.”

The UEC, parent jurisdiction of the Oratory of St. Bede the Venerable and St. John’s Church, Westminster, is not located on the Anglo-Catholic wing of traditional Anglicanism, but rather considers itself Reformed Catholic, being devoted to the classic formularies of the Anglican tradition, and sometimes tends to look askance at the Oxford Movement (which admittedly, in its later manifestations, became rather ultramontane). Yet this essay makes some excellent points, noting that John Keble’s Assize Sermon of 1833,

“entitled National Apostasy, is unexpectedly good. Once you get through the dense beginning and understand the building argument, it not only speaks clearly to the times in 1833 but it has a remarkable resonance in 2018.

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“In a nutshell, this is Keble’s argument:

“Like Samuel’s Israel, we prefer the lure to live in prosperity and so-called freedom like other non-Christian nations. Nations, and by-extension individuals, find justification for throwing off the yoke of Christ and the demands of discipleship. We look to threats outside and threats within to abandon godly principles (sound familiar?). We then blame government or religion for our ills and never ourselves. We rationalize and excuse every decision and act. We become so tolerant that we believe nothing and we persecute those who believe in the name of inclusion (oh my goodness!). This rebellion moves from individuals to public officials. The officials begin to attack Christ by attacking His Church, beginning with apostolic authority – bishops. This attack will come in the name of popularity and expediency…

“Keble calls the Church to follow the example of Samuel through constant intercession, which then gives grounding and strength to protest. Christians should continue to glorify God in their daily lives and routines and should not be so consumed with the concerns of the day that they neglect ordinary duties, especially prayer and devotion. This is an important point he makes. While we may not live to see wrongs righted, we are on the right and, ultimately, victorious side.

“Every one of his points deserves further reflection and exposition, but is this not the climate of 2018?”

I would certainly say that there are plenty of similarities and parallels! The article goes on to point out – cogently, I think – that

“The Catholic Revival in the Church of England had nothing to do with gin, lace, and backbiting, as is often caricatured. Yes, elaborate ritual and church building followed in the next generation, but this was a logical development of the belief that the Church is not the same as the Post Office. [Or, as I sometimes put it in defending the use of traditional language in worship, “The liturgy – the worship of God – is not Uncle Joe’s barbecue.”] The Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of our lives and not the same as chicken tetrazzini at the weekly Rotary Club. The development of ritual and devotion was the servant, the handmaid, to the truths Keble turned our minds to 185 years ago.”

May they never be forgotten!

 


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Re-Asserting a Feminine Tradition – Crisis Magazine

I wear the chapel veil at Mass as an affirmation and an embrace of my feminine difference. According to the ancient traditions of the Church, only women may be veiled in the presence of God…

Tradition binds us together and gives our faith a richness, mystery, and depth that the modern world finds frightening because it cannot be satisfactorily explained.

Source: Re-Asserting a Feminine Tradition – Crisis Magazine

I post about this periodically because I think that veiling – while always voluntary and optional – is a powerful symbol of femininity, and the sacred distinctiveness of women, at a time when our popular, secular society seems to be bound, bent, and determined to eradicate true distinctiveness in, ironically, the name of “diversity.” So this article is particularly powerful, for me, because the author is a woman who is saying the same thing… only much better than I could, and “from the inside,” so to speak. Here are a few excerpts:

“The problem is, the modern world is trying to liberate us from ourselves. Modern society demands that women be able to compete with men, to show that there is nothing actually different about us. The modern world, for all of its lip-service to diversity, is terrified of differences. It does not know how to cope with true differences because it can only see relationships in terms of power struggles: who can best whom, who is oppressing whom? If you are different, if you have a different nature then, the modern world concludes, it must be because some tyrannical force is keeping you from your full potential to be exactly the same as everyone else.

“But true equality is not sameness. God created us male and female and found us to be very good, but he did not ever intend to create us exactly the same, with irrelevant bodily differences that can be hacked off, ignored, or chemically altered as we see fit. God is entirely too fine a craftsman for that… The contraceptive mentality of the modern world is attempting to eradicate this difference, this distinctively feminine difference, in pursuit of its value of sameness that it has mistaken for equality. In these days, when the life of the unborn is held rather cheaply, and the family is under assault, I wear the chapel veil as an embrace of my distinctly feminine nature.”

Two other points, one specific to veiling, the other more general:

“According to the ancient traditions of the Church, only women may be veiled in the presence of God… Men are not allowed to cover their heads in church. When the bishop and the pope remove their head coverings, they are submitting themselves in humility before the presence of God, not asserting some sort of male superiority with their bare heads. When more of society wore hats, it was a much more obvious sign, but even today, we acknowledge that when a man removes his hat, it is a sign of deference and respect—and if you need a reminder, pay attention the next time the national anthem is sung.”

That is powerful. As I said, veiling is voluntary and optional. But for those who choose to participate, this is something they can do that men cannot: women alone are allowed to be veiled, to have their heads covered in the presence of God. Men, in contrast, must “uncover,” they must remove their hats in God’s presence. This is something I was sorta-kinda aware of – of course I knew since childhood that I had to take my hat off in church – but this nonetheless really rather smacked me in the face. There’s more that she shares about this in the article, and it’s worth reading.

And then there’s this, which I quoted at the beginning:

“Tradition binds us together and gives our faith a richness, mystery, and depth that the modern world finds frightening because it cannot be satisfactorily explained.”

To which I can only say, amen!

Commemoration of William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Martyr, 1645 | For All the Saints

 

Source: William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1645 | For All the Saints

Today marks the martyrdom – and thus, by ancient Christian tradition, the “heavenly birthday” – of William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury (1633 – 1645). While frequently criticized, and not without justification, for his willingness to aggressively pursue and harshly punish “Dissenters,” it is worth noting that his motive was to protect the Anglican expression of Christianity from a school of thought – Puritanism – that was both militantly opposed to that Anglican expression, and furthermore rapidly gaining the ascendancy.

That they would be just as willing to use vicious means against their own opponents (including not only the Laudian party, but Anglicans in general) when they attained power was demonstrated all too clearly during the Interregnum (Long Parliament and Protectorate) following the execution of King Charles I, called by some King Charles the Martyr. Does that justify the Courts of High Commission and Star Chamber? I leave that to my readers to decide. I will only quote from the above-linked essay:

“Honored as a martyr and condemned as an intolerant bigot, he was compassionate in his defense of the rights of the common people against the landowners. He was honest, devout, loyal to the king and to the rights and privileges of the Church of England. He tried to reform and protect the Church in accordance with his convictions – though these attempts at reform were marred by his treatment of those who strenuously disagreed with him theologically and liturgically.”

The essay goes on to quote A.W. Ballard (1945):

“As far as doctrine was concerned Laud carried on the teaching of Cranmer and Hooker. He held that the basis of belief was the Bible, but that the Bible was to be interpreted by the tradition of the early Church, and that all doubtful points were to be subjected, not to heated arguments in the pulpits, but to sober discussion by learned men. His mind, in short, like those of the earlier English reformers, combined the Protestant reliance on the Scriptures with reverence for ancient tradition and with the critical spirit of the Ranascence [Renaissance].”

I shall close with a prayer written by Laud, and found in every Book of Common Prayer published since his time. It is my prayer, as well, and should be that of us all: I invite you – especially you who are of the Anglican observance, but it is equally open to all Christians, for obvious reasons – to use it, regularly!

For the Church.

O GRACIOUS Father, we humbly beseech thee for thy holy Catholic Church; that thou wouldst be pleased to fill it with all truth, in all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, establish it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of him who died and rose again, and ever liveth to make intercession for us, Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.


(“Catholic,” in this sense, does not mean Roman Catholic, but in the words of another great Anglican luminary, Lancelot Andewes, “the whole Catholic Church: Eastern, Western, and our own.”)

What was the Oxford Movement? – Pusey House

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“Catholicism is not confined to the Roman communion, nor Orthodoxy to the eastern churches.”

Source: What was the Oxford Movement? – Pusey House

“The term ‘Oxford Movement’ is often used to describe the whole of what might be called the Catholic revival in the Church of England. More properly it refers to the activities and ideas of an initially small group of people in the University of Oxford who argued against the increasing secularisation of the Church of England, and sought to recall it to its heritage of apostolic order, and to the catholic doctrines of the early church fathers… The rediscovered emphases on apostolic succession and the Catholicity of the church, on priesthood, on sacrament and sacrifice, on prayer, holiness and the beauty of worship, are the Tractarians’ gifts to their successors.”

Though some of them (and definitely some of their successors) became what I would consider excessively ultramontane (Romanist) toward the end of the era, I am largely in agreement with the major foci and accomplishments of the Oxford Movement – particularly the “rediscovered emphases on apostolic succession and the Catholicity of the church, on priesthood, on sacrament and sacrifice, on prayer, holiness and the beauty of worship” mentioned in this post.

And conversely, much though I love the simplicity and clarity of classical Prayer Book worship – and I do – it can sometimes be a bit too excessively austere, for my tastes, with too few seasonal variations: a few more antiphons and Office hymns would do it no harm, in my opinion! Nor would a few more words and actions that underscore the holiness of what we are doing, particularly in the Eucharist (Holy Communion). But, nothing is perfect! 🙂

In any case, the pastoral imperative underlying the Oxford reformers’ efforts cannot be underestimated. They were doing what they were doing, not for the sake of “playing church,” but to strengthen themselves and their parishioners in times of great need. That in the process, they managed to restore some of the “baby” which had been thrown out with some admittedly dirty “bathwater” during the Reformation was, in my opinion, an added bonus.

But perhaps their most lasting and significant legacy is that assertion which I posted as the opening caption above: that “Catholicism is not confined to the Roman communion, nor Orthodoxy to the eastern churches.” Indeed not!