Monday, February 05, 2007

Post Script, Septuagesima- High and Low

Because I was addressing rather specific matters in my sermon for my congregation, and had not posted last year's Septuagesima sermon, I posted the 2006 sermon on Saturday, Feb. 3rd, 2007. I had forgotten to remove the mention I made of the fact that in some places people were still singing the Gloria. This created some misunderstanding. First of all, the mention was not an endorsement, neither was it an innovative bit of liturgist self styled rubrics. Neither did we do so ourselves.

When I arrived in Fountain Hills Az., it was clear that the priest who had founded the Church of the Atonement was rather self-styled, and flew a few of his ideas under the radar. One of the results of his ministry was that he left behind a group of people who wanted to be Low Church. The problem is, the APCK simply does not do Low Church. Upon dropping the Gloria on Septuagesima in 2006, I thought it best to mention it, so that they would know that nothing was forgotten (in recent years the ECUSA has stopped doing the Pre-Lenten season in any significant way, and these people had left the new and thoroughly morphed ECUSA a few years before).


In the year since, I have not been teaching my people all the fine points of High Church rubrics, but rather the depth of Catholic Theology, without which High Churchmanship is just a show. Now that they appreciate the Catholic Theology of the Anglican Province of Christ the King, High Churchmanship is simply expected- expected as a result of understanding, not as a result of mere taste, or legalism. We still have a bit of travelling to do, but the progress is obvious.

As I said, the APCK does not do Low Church. This may sound like a scandalous thing to say, as far as some people are concerned. But, we all need to ask how practical, how honest and how peaceful it is to attempt to fit two churches (at least) with two theologies, under the same roof. Has it ever really worked? Archbishop Morse has been quite clear from the start, that the Elizabethan Settlement is a failed experiment. This is quite true.

In the early to mid Twentieth Century, Anglo-Catholicism had made such a strong mark that the Church of England, on behalf of the Anglican Communion everywhere, was engaged in serious efforts at reunion with Rome, and at becoming one Church with the Orthodox, both at the same time. But, when the forces of revisionist Theology began to prevail, a Protestant paradigm had to become dominant, effectively killing the meaning of those earlier efforts. This was necessary in order to allow women's "ordination" and everything else that followed. A strict belief in the Church as an extension of Christ's Incarnation, guided into all truth by the Holy Spirit, gives authority (as it must) to Tradition. But, Protestantism has no fixed interpretations, no authoritatve doctrine, except whatever I think the Bible says, and whatever I feel led by the Spirit to do.

The Affirmation of St. Louis calls us to the Catholic Faith. To live by it, we cannot try to be a house divided, even one divided with good manners. It simply does not work.


ACC Member said...

The 1928 Book of Common Prayer is, in my humble opinion, in itself a high church book. All of the offices and the communion service are indeed high church. The Ornaments Rubric in the 1549 BCP indicated that the Anglican Church was to be high church. Visitors in the courts of Elizabeth I commented that the services were more flashy than the Roman Church. How High Church you are going to be, depends on how big the parish is, however. A parish with one priest can't do a solemn high mass. A small parish with no young boys to serve as Altar boys may find a processional with crucifer, thurifer, and torch bearers impossible. But just because a parish is small and isn't able to do all the "bells and smells" of high church, diesn't mean that they can't be good Anglican Catholics. I think being as high church as possible in each particular situation is an excellent idea. But, I don't feel a simple, spoken low mass invalidates the holy catholic faith, especially when a high mass isn't possible because of lack of personnel, etc.

Arturo Vasquez said...

"The problem is, the APCK simply does not do Low Church."

Damn straight! Just saw the good Archbishop an hour ago at Evensong. He would agree 100%.

....Though it would be nice to sing "All Thing Bright and Beautiful" once in a while.

ACC Member said...

I'm an organist in the ACC. "All Things Bright and Beautiful" is in the 1940 Episcopal Hymnal which is what the ACC uses. Doesn't APCK use it as well? Visit the organist after mass, they usually have some input into hymns, or better yet, ask the Rector. I've never known a Rector to not honor a hymn request from the hymnal. In addition to my former post (unbelievable I forgot this actually), its pretty much impossible to have a sung mass without an organist (and either a good cantor or choir to lead the mass responses, etc.)The lack of organist or cantor might necessitate spoken mass. I still think a respectful, spoken mass can be truly catholic.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

The terms Low Mass and Low Church should never be confused. The Spirit of the Liturgy, by Joseph Ratzinger- now Pope Benedict XVI- correctly defines a Low Mass as a simple spoken Mass without music. Frankly, it takes an Anglo-Catholic mind to do such a Mass in any Anglican Church. We do more Low Masses than High Masses if we do weekday Masses regulary.

poetreader said...

I thoroughly dislike the use of the terms "high church" and "low church" as they miss the point. All the traditional trappings and ceremonial in the world cannot make a heretic into a Catholic. I've often said that I'd choose a celebration in surplice and black stole in a place where Catholic teaching was solidly maintained than the most splendid and accurately done solemn high Mass where heresy was taught. Yes, the traditional trappings are highly desirable, but it is the Faith that defines Catholicity.


ACC Member said...

I agree with Poetreader. The fancy ornaments are lovely. But not every parish or mission has them or can afford them. The 1928 BCP is a catholic document, and is high church by its very language, even if the priest wears cassock, surplice and tippet. I've always liked the old-fashioned term that we Anglicans are "prayerbook catholics." There was a discussion on the tern on another blog recently, where some seemed to give it other meanings. But to me it simply means a faithful catholic Anglican who follows the catholic faith as taught in the BCP.

Anonymous said...

I remember a picture in the archives of Pusey House, Oxford, showing the last Mass at the Margaret Chapel before its demolition (sorry, forget the date, but 19th century anyway). It showed priest, deacon and subdeacon arranged on the steps before the altar, all looking splendidly catholic--in surplice, scarf and hood. Dressing up wasn't the immediate Oxford Movement priority.

Anonymous said...

That splendid image is of Dr. Pusey celebrating the last Mass in the Margaret Chapel. And, he did not adopt the ritualist trappings (a whole different movement from the Tractarian)--nor did Newman, for that matter, until late in his career.

Poetreader reiterates Dr. Pusey's views--Pusey who is reputed to have been unacquainted with what a cope was.

ACC Member said...

The teaching of the holy catholic faith is much more important that what the priest wears. I'm trying not to bring up a "touchy" subject, but I think the vestments worn by the celebrant shouldn't look feminine. Cassock, surplice, & stole or tippet was very popular in times past in England, and I believe still looks quite appropriate. A white Alb with Chasuble and accompanying vestments is equally nice in their traditional, elegant forms. Some of these modern chasubles look like panchos,not vestments.(I expect the wearer to try to sell me tortilla chips at any minute.There are a lot of these "Panchos" in Roman Churches.) I just don't care for a priest (or members of the Altar party) in excessive lace, etc.

Dustin Ashes said...

"Post Script, Septuagesima- High and Low

I hate to disagree with my fellow APCKers but St Athanasius is not "High Church".

Having had discusions with the Archbishop personally he agrees that "High" does not work well in Virginia and has given us his blessing. Sorry to shatter your assumptions!

Frankly we feel it is silly to do cathedral churchmanship in a small country parish regardless of any connection to theology- the lectionary and hymnody are quite capable anyway so why be redundant, especially if the seetting is not accommodating? And if you are a mission operating out of a VFW 'smells and bells' is downright goofy- the incense would likely get you kicked out of temporary quarters.

We have purchased property and are on the way to building out a small temporary sanctuary but there will be no monsterances I assure you.

Virginians have been doing Anglican far longer than any of ya so there! ;>}

We are always glad to 'cense' a good cigar though.