“Angles at Play” – England in sport and spirituality | Crisis Magazine

 

“England is a strong land and a sturdy, and the plenteousest corner of the world… England is full of mirth and of game, and men oft-times able to mirth and game; free men of heart and with tongue.”

Source: Angles at Play – Crisis Magazine

An interesting take, from a Roman Catholic perspective, on the relationship between England’s “land of mirth and game,” and the English spirit, and spirituality – particularly as expressed in traditional faith and practice during the centuries of medieval catholicism, but continuing well into the modern era, especially in more rural (and thus, typically, traditional) areas:

“The English have a genius for play. Which other nation of Christendom has at the center of its villages not just a church but a field for sport? Along with the church and pub, the quintessential center of the English village is the cricket green…

“The origins of sport lie in the recreations and pastimes of pre-modern rural people. The agrarian and religious calendar shaped popular recreation as it did nearly every other aspect of English culture. From the land full of mirth and game, originated the primordial forms of many of the sports the world enjoys today.

“During the Middle Ages, the Church’s feast days were firmly embedded in England’s seasons of agricultural labor. Plough Monday, spring-time celebrations, harvest feasts, and autumn fairs were vital moments within the rhythm of organic English society. Robert Malcolmson notes how feast days were the occasion for festive leisure and for archaic forms of contemporary sports.

“Most of the saints’ days fostered in medieval England were tragically suppressed during the English Reformation, but many of the associated customs survived. Parish feasts (known as wakes) continued into the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries while the principal holidays—Christmas, Shrovetide, Easter, May Day, and Whitsuntide—continued to be observed despite the best efforts of the essentially urban puritan movement.”

Well worth a read!

 

Gunpowder treason and plot: raging against the mellow light | Laudable Practice

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“And why? their communing is not for peace : but they imagine deceitful words against them that are quiet in the land” – Ps.35:20.

Source: Gunpowder treason and plot: raging against the mellow light

Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

But what is the significance of this day? As “Historic UK” puts it, “A group of Roman Catholic nobles and gentlemen led by Robert Catesby conspired to essentially end Protestant rule with perhaps the biggest ‘bang’ in history. Their plan was to blow up the King, Queen, church leaders, assorted nobles and both Houses of Parliament with 36 barrels of gunpowder strategically placed in the cellars beneath the Palace of Westminster.”

One of the conspirators, Guy (“Guido”) Fawkes, “was arrested in the early hours of the morning of November 5th 1605, in a cellar under the House of Lords, next to the 36 kegs of gunpowder, with a box of matches in his pocket and a guilty expression on his face!” Ever since, “the burning of the Guy” – an effigy of Fawkes (even though the conspirators were actually hanged, drawn, and quartered) – and celebratory fireworks have been a feature of the day in Merrie Olde England!

But the significance goes deeper:

“‘Mellow light.’ It is the phrase Eamon Duffy uses to describes ‘the church of George Herbert.’ Herbert was ordained in 1629, early in the reign of Charles I. He was, in other words, ordained into a Church profoundly shaped by James VI/I, in which the influence of Jacobean Anglicanism was pronounced. The ‘mellow light,’ then, of Herbert’s Church was Jacobean light.

‘It was in the Jacobean Church that, in the words of Diarmaid MacCulloch, ‘the obscure and slightly controversial figure of Hooker was being transformed into an iconic … authority.’ It was in the Jacobean Church that the sermons of Lancelot Andrewes were heard. And so, as T.S. Eliot put it:

“‘The intellectual achievement and the prose style of Hooker and Andrewes came to complete the structure of the English Church … the achievement of Hooker and Andrewes was to make the English Church more worthy of intellectual assent.’

“The Jacobean Church was also the arena for the sermons of John Donne, demonstrating a native piety at once rational and deeply heart-felt, learned and popular, catholic and reformed, by which – as Donne stated in one of his sermons – ‘papistry was driven out, and puritanism kept out’…

“It was this ‘mellow light’ which the Gunpowder conspirators sought to extinguish.”

God be thanked, they were not successful!

 

“Why I Don’t Celebrate The Reformation (And Neither Should You)” | René Albert

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In order to discern the truth about an event as complex as the Protestant Reformation, one needs to be able to look at it objectively.

Source: Why I Don’t Celebrate The Reformation (And Neither Should You) | René Albert

Today is celebrated by some Protestant Christians as “Reformation Day,” in memory of the fact that Martin Luther nailed his “95 Theses” to the church door at Wittenberg on 31 October 1517, sparking the Protestant Reformation. But what of that Reformation? While the title of this essay is rather click-bait-y, it raises some excellent points:

“Whether someone sides with Catholic or Protestant theology, the Reformation is not something that ought to be celebrated, but much rather commemorated… I may not be an expert historian, but my learnings have led me to believe that neither Catholics nor Protestants have the higher moral ground in the outcome of such a travesty. I believe all Christians can benefit from refraining from boasting in a movement that was motivated by the thoughts and actions of mere men.”

And which has led to untold death, destruction, division, and polarization in the centuries since. I tend to view the Reformation as a (possibly, on the assumption that Rome was incapable of reforming itself, apart from the resulting revolution – an assumption which is neither provable nor disprovable at this juncture) necessary evil, in light of some very real late-medieval errors and abuses on the part of the Roman Church. That said, the idea that it was a triumph of faith, reason, and theological precision in direct contradistinction to “Popish superstition” and apostasy is a lot harder to defend, if one looks at the matter in more detail.

Particularly onerous to me is the implication – and, at times, outright assertion – on the part of some Protestants that the Holy Spirit had in effect abandoned the Church for a period of a thousand years, from the end of the 5th century to the beginning of the 16th. And of course, the Reformation enshrined the principle of individual interpretation, the dismantling of tradition, and the devaluation of the authority found in the consensus fidelium, which led – via a trajectory clearly traceable from the Reformation through the “Enlightenment” – to the contemporary marginalization of the Church(es) and the Christian faith itself, in our present era.

So, no, I do not “celebrate” the Reformation. I tip my hat to it; I recognize the value in some of its accomplishments, and in what some of its leaders said and did. But I don’t deify it, I don’t idolize it, and I don’t let myself be blinded to its shadow side.

Bishop Schneider condemns Pachamama statue as ‘new golden calf’ in open letter | News | LifeSite

Bishop Athanasius Schneider

Bishop Athanasius Schneider has today issued an open letter forcefully condemning the use of the Pachamama statue at the Amazon Synod in the Vatican.

Source: Bishop Schneider condemns Pachamama statue as ‘new golden calf’ in open letter | News | LifeSite

For those who might not be aware, the “Pachamamas” are a set of statues or figurines – goddess / fertility figures, for the Amazonian people, and idols to orthodox Christians – brought back to Rome from the already highly-controversial Amazonian Synod attended by the current Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis, and were “used in an Oct. 4 Vatican Gardens ceremony, processed into St. Peter’s Basilica and kept at a side altar Church of Santa Maria in Traspontina on the via della Conciliazione.”

To say that this has evoked concern from many Roman Catholics (and others) is to risk severe understatement! Such concern that, a few days ago, a couple of intrepid traditional Catholics went so far as to spirit these images away from their location in the Church of Santa Maria, and throw them into the Tiber River (they have reportedly since been recovered, alas). Here is a video of the action itself: Continue reading “Bishop Schneider condemns Pachamama statue as ‘new golden calf’ in open letter | News | LifeSite”

Bishop Schneider says Vatican is betraying ‘Jesus Christ as the only Savior of mankind’ | News | LifeSite

Bishop Athanasius Schneider

However noble such aims as “human fraternity” and “world peace” may be, they cannot be promoted at the cost of relativizing the truth of the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and of His Church and of undermining the first Commandment of the Decalogue.

Source: EXCLUSIVE: Bishop Schneider says Vatican is betraying ‘Jesus Christ as the only Savior of mankind’ | News | LifeSite

While I am not of the Roman Catholic observance, it cannot be denied or ignored that those who are members of that communion comprise half of all Christians in the world, and just a bit under a fifth (16%) of the global population. Therefore what the Roman Catholic Church – and its Supreme Pontiff – says or does has tremendous significance, both among Christians and indeed on a global scale.

Unfortunately, the current Bishop of Rome, speaking with the prestige and moral authority that comes with the See of Peter, has been saying and doing some very concerning things of late: things that have been causing great disquiet to Christians both within and outside Roman Catholicism.

God bless Bishop Athanasius Schneider – Auxiliary Bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan, and one of the leading voices for Catholic orthodoxy in the Roman Church today – and all those who are attempting to obtain clarity on these matters! He comments,

“The problem is of the utmost seriousness, because under the rhetorically beautiful and intellectually seductive phrase ‘Human Fraternity,’ men in the Church today are in fact promoting the neglect of the first Commandment of the Decalogue and the betrayal of the core of the Gospel.

However noble such aims as ‘human fraternity’ and ‘world peace’ may be, they cannot be promoted at the cost of relativizing the truth of the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and of His Church and of undermining the first Commandment of the Decalogue.

“The Abu Dhabi document on ‘Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together’ and the ‘Higher Committee’ tasked with implementing it are somewhat like a beautifully decorated cake that contains a harmful substance. Sooner or later, almost without noticing it, it will weaken the body’s immune system…

“A peace that is an inner-worldly and purely human reality will fail. For… ‘the peace of Christ is not nourished on the things of earth, but on those of heaven. Nor could it well be otherwise, since it is Jesus Christ Who has revealed to the world the existence of spiritual values and has obtained for them their due appreciation…’

“God created men for heaven. God created all men to know Jesus Christ, to have supernatural life in Him and to achieve eternal life. To lead all men to Jesus Christ and to eternal life is, therefore, the most important mission of the Church.”

– Bishop Schneider

Amen.

 

Pro-life Catholic who attends Latin Mass appointed as new UK House of Commons leader | News | LifeSite

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Jacob Rees-Mogg has drawn the ire of LGBT and abortion advocates.

Source: Pro-life Catholic who attends Latin Mass appointed as new UK House of Commons leader | News | LifeSite

More on the new Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House, the Right Honourable Jacob Rees-Mogg:

“Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Member of Parliament who is known for loving the Traditional Latin Mass and defending life and marriage, will serve as the leader of Britain’s House of Commons while Boris Johnson assumes his role as the country’s new prime minister… Rees Mogg is a devout Catholic who has drawn the ire of LGBT and abortion advocates for supporting man-woman marriage and the right to life.”

Feeling a bit more guarded optimism about the direction of Britain, under the new government… it’s not out of the woods yet, or even back on the trail. But at least, it seems to be rummaging in its pockets for the compass and topo map!

Here, by the way, is another picture of Rees-Mogg. I understand he is sometimes referred to as “the Honourable Member for the 18th Century.” This picture clearly indicates that this assertion is off by a century!

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Pope says indigenous people must have final say about their land | Environment | The Guardian

Francis echoes growing body of international law and standards on the right to ‘prior and informed consent’

Source: Pope says indigenous people must have final say about their land | Environment | The Guardian

“Last week… Francis, the first Pope from Latin America, struck a rather different note – for indigenous peoples around the world, for land rights, for better environmental stewardship. He said publicly that indigenous peoples have the right to ‘prior and informed consent.’ In other words, nothing should happen on – or impact – their land, territories and resources unless they agree to it.”

I agree completely – but I wonder if it has occurred to him that such rights also extend to indigenous Europeans…?

 

QOTD (with reflections): “We are the religion of the Incarnation…”

“We are the religion of the Incarnation. God became man, the invisible God became visible, he sanctified the material world and elevated these visible, tangible signs to communicate invisible graces and to convey eternal truths.”

— Canon Michael Stein, ICRSS, rector of St. Joseph’s Oratory (Roman Catholic) in Detroit

Amen!

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Photos of the traditional religious procession in Detroit were widely shared on social media

Source: Vintage-style photo of St Joseph’s Day procession goes viral | Catholic Herald

Canon Stein noted, in reference to the St. Joseph’s Procession (pictured above) in particular,

“It only takes a quick glance around the world to see a fatherless society, and to see either a slothful or workaholic society, or a lack of an appropriate understanding of manliness. It’s neither brute nor effeminate, it’s faithful, it’s steadfast, it’s courageous and gentle. And we find all those things in St. Joseph, so I think that’s another part of the power of that picture.”

All very true. But, he goes on to add,

“We are body and soul, all these spiritual truths are meant to be communicated through our senses. We get to see our faith, hear our faith, taste our faith, etc., and that just appeals to us so much,” he said.

“Truth needs to shine in beauty…we’re not angels, we’re not just pure intelligences, we need to see, touch, hear; and that’s something the traditional liturgy has always done. That’s something that a reverent Mass or procession can do, these visible signs that the Church has used throughout her history to excite devotion and promote devotion.”

Again, amen. Amen, and amen!

One of my reasons for concern when we as Anglicans veer too far to the Protestant / Reformed side of the Christian spectrum is the accompanying tendency to get uncomfortably close to a quasi-gnostic devaluation of the physical, the material, the sensory – Creation itself – in favor of the cerebral, the theoretical, the (narrowly-defined) spiritual. “Spirit good, matter bad” is a common view in Christian circles. But, it’s a heretical one! Continue reading “QOTD (with reflections): “We are the religion of the Incarnation…””

QOTD: On adoring Christ our Lord

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All those things that orthodox Catholics desire for themselves and their children, namely, a persevering faith, a willingness to make heroic sacrifice, a sense of belonging within the flow of history, a scriptural mindset and an awareness of judgment, all flow from the sense of wonder at the Person of the God-Man. Prior to any great renewal of the Church, the faithful must be taught to stand adoring and incensing in the interior temple.

— an anonymous Roman Catholic student (link to source here)

As I have commented elsewhere, on other issues, what is here said about (Roman) Catholics can also be said about Anglicans, and indeed about Christians in general. We sometimes – and I am certainly guilty of this myself – confuse the outward manifestations with the inward realities.

Those manifestations are not unimportant: we live in “the real world,” the world of physicality and sensory impressions, the world of human emotions, needs, and relationships. We are not living in some sort of sterile, theoretical, pseudo-gnostic world of spirit and imagination, or the world of Platonic Forms. The desires described above are not for material items, but they are certainly for human needs, and are not to be despised.

But if we focus on them too closely, we can lose sight of their Source and Sustainer: the Incarnate Logos (Word) of God, who became Man – Incarnated – in Jesus of Nazareth, who we call the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One of God, the only-begotten Son of the Father; and thus, One Who is in fact God Himself, the Second Person of the Trinity.

And Him should we indeed stand incensing (“Welcome as incense-smoke let my prayer rise up before thee [O Lord],” Psalm 141:2) and adoring, in the inward Temple of our hearts, our minds, our spirits. By Him alone can we obtain those other things, worthy though they are, that we desire; for through Him alone all things were made, and have their being (John 1:3, Nicene Creed)

Thanks be to God, for the gift of Himself, in the Person of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!

Altar Rails and Reverence | liturgy guy

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Altar rails are contributing to the restoration of the sacred and the recovery of reverence within the Holy Mass.

Source: Altar Rails and Reverence | liturgy guy

“(The altar rail) is still a marker of the place where heaven and earth meet, indicating that they are not yet completely united… But, at the same time, the rail is low, very permeable, and has a gate, so it does not prevent us from participating in heaven. So we could say there is a theology of the rail, one which sees it as more than a fence, but as a marker where heaven and earth meet, where the priest, acting in persona Christi, reaches across from heaven to earth to give the Eucharist as the gift of divine life.”

Although coming from a Roman Catholic perspective, this is also applicable to the Anglican tradition. The same trends noted here for the Roman observance – that following Vatican II,

“there were many in the Church who aggressively sought to remove that which was considered traditional and sacred. Gone were the high altars, beautiful Catholic statuary, and of course, altar rails.

“A liturgically misguided attempt at egalitarianism ruled the post-conciliar landscape, one which challenged the very distinction between sanctuary and nave. Overtones of anticlericalism were pervasive, as was a new type of… worship, one intentionally structured for ecumenical purposes.

“By their very presence altar rails hindered the march toward the profane desired by many. With such liturgical innovations as… Communion in the hand, altar rails were an affront to the moderns. In the new, democratic, liturgy kneeling had simply become outdated and uncouth”

– have also been seen, since the Liturgical Movement of the 1960s and 70s, as a major influence within the Episcopal Church, and indeed in most other churches within the Anglican Communion. There has been concern to make the liturgy more “accessible,” and as a result, it has become less sacred. Continue reading “Altar Rails and Reverence | liturgy guy”