We deny to claim "any Superiority to ourself
to defyne, decyde, or determyn any Article or Poynt
of the Christian Fayth and Relligion,
or to chang any Ancient Ceremony of the Church
from the Forme before received and observed
by the Catholick and Apostolick Church."

Norman Simplicity

Norman Simplicity
Click image for original | © Vitrearum (Allan Barton)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Nailed it

As unfortunate as it may be, I believe Mr. Bruce has 'nailed it' again [my emphases]:

When you start to speak or write, you have to have an idea of audience, or in more modern terms, market. Who's going to buy what you're selling? Does Msgr Steenson even have an idea of what his market is like? You can say "Anglicans", but that's a little like trying to sell cars to "drivers". Most Anglicans are happy as bugs where they are. What's probably the biggest and most successful Anglo-Catholic strain is urban, gay-accepting Episcopal parishes. I was a member of one for ten years or so. In my view, the Holy Spirit is present there, and they have their own destinies to work out, but by and large, they're on the same page with present TEC leadership. They aren't going to become Catholic anytime soon.

Then there's the broad spectrum across TEC, ACNA, and some "continuers" -- they may see value in being Protestant and find some aspects of Catholicism even somewhat unpretty or repellent. (There were things I had to get over in my own journey.) They're a hard sell at best. These people might be seen, from the Ordinariate's perspective, as various kinds of unsuitable ground for the sower.

Among other "continuers", there are people who are just plain angry, and their anger is as much anti-Catholic as anti-TEC. These include David Virtue and some "continuers" like Michael Gill. Thorny ground indeed.

There are sentimental Anglo-Catholics who like vestments and trips to Rome, but don't strike me as solid people who can build a community under stress. These include the madwomen who wear velvet hats to church and the guys who used to run Anglo-Catholic cheerleading blogs. I assume the pretty picture of St Peter's on the Ordinariate home page is aimed at this group, and frankly, it's an indication to me of how little the Houston clique understands the market. These people are stony ground without much earth.

Parrhesia -- it has its place.

Not perfect

Few things are. The great strength -- and, simultaneously, the great weakness -- of Roman Catholicism is its strong ethos of specialization and professionalism. Unfortunately, this can lead to a broadly diffused attitude of "leave it to the experts," viz.

Some years back I was part of a group trying to arrange to bring Father William Menninger, like Merton a Cistercian (Trappist) monk, to our parish in Northern Virginia to give a workshop on contemplative prayer. It was all set. At the last minute, the pastor—who up to that time had been too busy to learn much about the program other than to insure that Father William was a priest in good standing and of “orthodox” Catholicity, cancelled the program. “I didn’t realize it was about contemplative prayer,” he protested. “That is something for monks and nuns, not for mere (his words) lay people like yourselves. Why, if it isn’t part of our life as priests, would it ever be part of your lives as lay people?”

While what some individuals achieve is truly supererogatory, the strength of the Anglican regula is that is indeed doable (so, why aren't you doing it?):

What if our church could witness to that aspect of who God is by at least providing the stability of common prayer?

I’m not saying the book is perfect. There are certainly some things that I’d change if I had the chance. But recognize this: 1) it is an authentic expression of the historic Western liturgy that has nourished literally millions who have come before us. 2) It is an authentic expression of the English devotional experience. (The importance of this is not that it’s English, of course, but that it is a rooted, embodied, inherited tradition that has been embraced and passed on by a diverse group over a period of centuries—not just dreamed up by a few people last week.) 3) It is an authentic expression of historic Anglican liturgy that balances reform of Western norms with Scripture and the theological and spiritual practices of the Early Church ...

... the Book of Common Prayer isn’t just the book for Sunday services. Instead, the Book of Common Prayer offers a full integrated spiritual system that is intended as much for the laity as the clergy and which is founded in a lay spirituality that arose in the medieval period. If you look at the book as a whole, it offers a program for Christian growth built around liturgical spirituality. The best shorthand I have for this is the liturgical round. It’s made up of three components: the liturgical calendar where we reflect upon our central mysteries through the various lenses of the seasons of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ and in his continuing witness in the lives of the saints, the Daily Office where we yearly immerse ourselves in the Scriptures and Psalms, and the Holy Eucharist where we gather on Holy Days to most perfectly embody the Body of Christ and receive the graces that the sacraments afford.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

"Into the depths of the Western tradition"

More excellent meditations from A Real Live One, as excerpted and rearranged here (follow the link for the complete piece, in its original presentation). (We who have ἀφίκηται ἐν βορβόρῳ wonder: is there a way out?)

Is the pursuit of older forms of Western worship valid or of any real use? It has been at least a decade since I had the gall to claim I could answer that question. Personally, I suppose I would answer in the affirmative, but, either due to fatigue with the issue or because it is no longer relevant to me, nowadays I haven't the will to argue the point to any great degree. But there are enough people out there, in diaspora, who raise the issue and they are not the SSPX types, but rather the types who want to go down the rabbit hole into the depths of the Western tradition. If mainline churches do not offer a satisfying forum for these people, then what viable option is there?

In truth, not many ...

Option One: marginalization within an organization that is busy going somewhere else fast. (Been there! Done that!)

... one may pivot to traditionalist communities, although this option has its own pitfalls. There is [a] definite marginalized status traditionalist communities have in the Roman Church. Ecclesia Dei communities are irrelevant, as the Roman hierarchy, though tolerant of them, refuses to put the bulk of its institutional weight behind them and the majority of Roman Catholics view them as an odd curiosity or throwback at best ...

Option Two: marginalization within an organization that has neither the competence nor the interest to foster future growth (or, even, effective oversight).

Another option is Western Rite Orthodoxy, although this is a mire one should think twice before stepping into ... The view of Orthodoxy towards the Western liturgy is complex matter ... Orthodoxy's competency is not in the area of the Western liturgy. Ultimately, the Western liturgy is viewed (among liturgical circles) as being the responsibility of the Patriarch of Rome. The Orthodox patriarchs do not have the competency to intervene if there is a dereliction of duty on his part.

Option Three: the Benedict option

One option is to form a new religious community, if only revolving around the office ... However, any new religious community faces a myriad of challenges, the most pressing of which is developing a reason for existence, a clearly defined philosophy that guides mission. It is easy enough to start a community of some sort. It is more difficult to develop a coherent body that has focus and attainable goals. On a more practical level, any liturgical mission involving the pre-modern books of the Western tradition starts off at a disadvantage. Let us be clear: anyone wishing to use the pre-modern books (the pre-Pius X breviary for instance), immediately confronts scarcity of resources. These are not in bountiful supply and their scarcity highlights the greater problem any mission to re-established the earlier books faces -- the lapse in liturgical memory.

Option Four: the Jeremiah option

Jeremiah 29: 4 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; 5 build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; 6 take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. 7 And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.

8 For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed. 9 For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the Lord.

10 For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. 11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. 12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. 13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. 14 And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.


An afterthought.

Though its unity was shaken by the Reformations of the 16th century there was still a Christian culture that defined Western Civilization until the Enlightenment. In fact, this Christian culture remained—or at least its illusion remained—right up through Dwight Eisenhower and Leave It To Beaver. In the last fifty years we have seen our Christian society become a post-Christian society. In this post-modern age in which we live there are a plethora of answers to every question; an excess of values for every decision. Somehow Christendom vanished. We are back at step one.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

"Like a ghost I'm going to haunt you"

Two (completely different) arguments for let's all be modern!

'Common Sense'

Which brings us to one last point - the ghosts which can haunt catholic Anglicans. The 19th century catholic renewal in Anglicanism resulted in a potently counter-cultural liturgy amidst the Whig, low church, protestant verities of the Victorian era. There can be a feeling amongst contemporary catholic Anglicans that we have 'sold out', that versus populum is an unfortunate concession to the spirit of the age, that while we would prefer the English or American Missal, we must do with our contemporary eucharistic rites if the kids are to understand us ...

What is needed is for catholic Anglicans to have a renewed confidence in the liturgical reform. While ad orientem and Latin for Gloria, Credo and Sanctus will still be present in cathedrals and historic catholic Anglican parishes, most catholic Anglican communities will celebrate the eucharist with contemporary rites and versus populum.

'Corporate Re-union'

The end of this lengthy digression brings us to a question: how is that, given this history of often-costly Anglo-Catholic initiative in the land of its birth, we have arrived (via the Book of Divine Worship) at a rite and a liturgy in pseudo-Cranmerian clothing? Monsignor Edwin Barnes, in his blog entry of November 29, 2014, refers to what he calls the American “God-wottery” of the Ordinariate Use. (Helpfully, he adds an explanation: “God-wottery” is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as ‘an affected quality of archaism, excessive fussiness and sentimentality’.” And Father Barnes adds that these are the very things that many English members of the Ordinariate, who have grown up with contemporary rites over a couple of generations now, find so unhelpful.

He refers to what he calls the excessive fussiness of the three-fold repetition of “Lord, I am not worthy …”. And why, Fr. Barnes asks, has the Ordinariate rite (re)-introduced the celebrant’s multiple kissings of the altar? The 1964 (final) edition of Ritual Notes raised the question fifty years ago, and, in so doing, it referred back to Fr. Adrian Fortescue’s remarks in his magisterial The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described, first published in 1917. Referring to two points “which one would hope that the authorities would simplify. One is the constant kissing … and, in the same way, have we not rather too much genuflection?”

What's wrong with Elizabethan English, ad orientem, and non-fussy, non-sentimental, sober, dignified ceremonial?

As I have identified before, the two main errors are thinking and acting as though (1) we were in the papal court, instead of our parish church; and (2) we really needed effusive sentimentality -- be it Franciscan or Victorian or contemporary in nature. Tone -- and tune -- is everything!

On this last topic, I made an extensive comment here, only to have it all nuked by the requirement of first selecting a profile. The short of it: compare "Ride on, ride on in majesty!" in "The King's Majesty" setting to the other, well-known contenders. It is either tragic, as it should be, or just vapid.


Speaking of tone and tune: here's my vision of Hell (with audio). Blech.

Monday, February 9, 2015


From A. S. Haley:

Lay people, and even many clergy, are ignorant of the Canons ...

People who sit in the pew, however, are familiar with the Book of Common Prayer, and use it at least every Sunday. The proposed change in Canon I.18 would remove the last remaining link between the BCP that every Episcopalian knows and uses and the governing documents of the Church ...

The rubrics of the BCP are thus superior to Canons of the General Convention, because the latter can be amended by the vote of just a single Convention, while the former require the vote of two, plus consideration by each and every Diocese in between.

And the rubrics of the BCP currently define "marriage" as between "a man and a woman." Not only that, but the entire ceremony of Holy Matrimony in the BCP is filled with references to "the man" doing and saying this, and "the woman" doing and saying that ...

With this proposed change to the Canon on Marriage, therefore, there will no longer be any canonical link to "marriage" as regulated by the Canon and "Holy Matrimony" as regulated by the BCP. The Canon, if revised as proposed, will simply govern those cases where people already considered civilly married by the State may have their union blessed by a priest, as well as those who, for whatever reason, want to be married civilly by a priest in ECUSA. (As both the current and proposed version make clear in their last sections, any priest may in his discretion refuse to perform any blessing or solemnization of marriage.)

The Canon will no longer make any reference to the BCP, because the words "Holy Matrimony" will have been deleted from it. And the ceremonies provided in the BCP, of course, make no reference to the Canons -- they don't have to, because the BCP ranks higher than the Canons.

But the undermining of traditional marriage will, if this proposed change passes, be just about complete.

'Hanging Together'

I probably will have to get out of the house during Lent. While I'm sure, to others, this will appear a rich array of possibilities, it is not at all obvious to me where I shall end up. So, once again, these are just descriptive (not evaluative) notes to myself on what is available nearby (eschewing both sedevacantism, at one extreme, and priestesses, at the other). Also, 20 miles away from my house represents the effective limit on my willingness to travel.

  • Western Rite Orthodox – 1570 Tridentine (English):
    St Augustine, 10:00 AM High Mass (6.3 miles)
  • Roman Catholic – 1962 Tridentine (Latin):
    Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, 11:00 AM Mass (19.2 miles)
  • Roman Catholic – Anglican Ordinariate Use (English/RCL):
  • Roman Catholic – 1970 Novus Ordo (Latin/RCL):
    Holy Ghost, 10:00 AM Latin Choral Mass (4.1 miles)
  • Anglican Catholic – 1928 BCP/Missal (English):
    St Mary's, 9:30 AM Holy Communion (8.2 miles)
  • Western Rite Orthodox – 1928 BCP/Adapted & Enriched (English):
    St Mark's, 10:00 Solemn High Mass (7.0 miles)
  • Roman Catholic – Book of Divine Worship (English/RCL):
  • TEC – 1979 BCP Rite I (English/RCL)

I fear its boiling down to either the geographically closest or the temporally latest. Sigh.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Things Fall Apart

Some might wonder what this is doing here. It is just more evidence of cultural decay: in only a few decades, my politics were rendered incoherent, my religion killed itself, and my vocation -- "higher" education -- became untenable. Everyday and in every way, I simply carry more and more coal to Newcastle.

Valediction for the Liberal Arts
January 27, 2015
Victor E. Ferrall Jr.

Liberal Arts at the Brink was published three years ago. In it, I reported that student demand for liberal arts courses and majors -- the humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences -- was rapidly declining and being replaced by demand for vocational, directly career related courses and majors. Liberal Arts at the Brink focused on liberal arts colleges, but the student-demand shift was also occurring at universities with both liberal arts and professional programs. As the book’s title suggested, I thought the future of liberal arts education was bleak, but not hopeless. Now, I believe I was too optimistic ...

If liberal arts college leaders are unable or unwilling to undertake an organized campaign to educate all Americans -- not just high school seniors and their parents but also the high school counselors; business leaders; friends and neighbors; local, state, and national government officials; and countless others who now urge students to study something directly connected to getting a job and not waste their time on the liberal arts -- it seems highly likely no one will. There no longer is reason to believe the decline of liberal arts education will be stayed or reversed.

Liberal arts are over the brink. Some liberal arts colleges will fail or be forced to sell out to for-profit institutions; some already have. Many will quietly morph into vocational trainers. A handful of the wealthiest colleges, probably fewer than 50, educating less than one-half of 1 percent of U.S. college students, may survive. They will, however, no longer play a central role in educating Americans. Rather, they will become elite boutiques, romantic remnants of the past, like British roadsters and vinyl phonograph records.

Valete, artes liberales.

This is the end.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

An Anglican Offertory Prayer

Bless, O Lord, we beseech thee, these thy gifts,
and sanctify them unto this holy use,
that by them we may be made partakers of the Body and Blood
of thine only-begotten Son Jesus Christ,
and fed unto everlasting life of soul and body:

And that thy servant Queen ELIZABETH
may be enabled to the discharge of her weighty office,
whereunto of thy great goodness thou hast called and appointed her.
Grant this, O Lord, for Jesus Christ's sake,
our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.

Although last used in Queen Elizabeth's coronation, this prayer is almost two-hundred years old.

Weak Tea

The Archbishops’ Council, through its division for mission and public affairs (MPA), has taken a keen interest in assisted reproductive technologies since their inception and sought to think through their implications for human identity and responsibility. In this task, the Church of England has sought to help wider society to reach wise judgments and hold tensions that can pull in different ethical directions. It has involved wrestling with dilemmas, quarrying our theological resources and discerning when a risk is not worth taking – and when it must be ...

Through the MPA, the Church of England contributed to this consultation process, affirming the aim of using mitochondrial replacement (or donation as it is also termed) while also differentiating between the two methodologies being proposed; one of which (pronuclear transfer – PNT) required embryos to be created as mitochondrial donors and recipients, the other (maternal spindle transfer) did not. Although the creation of embryos may be licensed by the HFEA, the MPA pointed out that PNT carried greater ethical concerns for many Christians and, indeed, those of other faiths or none.

Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now