Sunday, March 28, 2010

That pestilent fellow Paul


Excerpt from Screwtape Letter XVI:

MY DEAR WORMWOOD,

The two churches nearest to him, I have looked up in the office. Both have certain claims. At the first of these the Vicar is a man who has been...long engaged in watering down the faith ...At the other church we have Fr. Spike...

But there is one good point which both these churches have in common—they are both party churches. I think I warned you before that if your patient can't be kept out of the Church, he ought at least to be violently attached to some party within it. I don't mean on really doctrinal issues; about those, the more lukewarm he is the better. And it isn't the doctrines on which we chiefly depend for producing malice. The real fun is working up hatred between those who say "mass" and those who say "holy communion" when neither party could possibly state the difference between, say, Hooker's doctrine and Thomas Aquinas', in any form which would hold water for five minutes. And all the purely indifferent things—candles and clothes and what not—are an admirable ground for our activities. We have quite removed from men's minds what that pestilent fellow Paul used to teach about food and other unessentials—namely, that the human without scruples should always give in to the human with scruples. You would think they could not fail to see the application. You would expect to find the "low" churchman genuflecting and crossing himself lest the weak conscience of his "high" brother should be moved to irreverence, and the "high" one refraining from these exercises lest he should betray his "low" brother into idolatry. And so it would have been but for our ceaseless labour. Without that the variety of usage within the Church of England might have become a positive hotbed of charity and humility,

Your affectionate uncle,
SCREWTAPE


What did that "pestilent fellow Paul" teach?

"Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind...But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ...Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way. I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another...It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. " -- Excerpts from Romans 14.

As we enter into Holy Week we see more, than at any other time of the year, practices that vary from parish to parish. The clergy should all agree that we have a duty to practice what we see in the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer, and that is for reasons that ought to be plain enough. First of all, what we have in those old rules is good and wise. Second, if we vary from what we see in the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer, the people will conclude (rightly) that we are lawless, reserving to ourselves options instead of practicing obedience. In practical terms, that only makes it more difficult to attract and keep visitors, adding new members to a parish; after all, people come to Continuing Anglicanism, in part, to flee from arbitrary practices. For this reason, at St. Benedict's, we have the Decalogue at least once a month, and I, as the celebrant, kneel during the General Confession and Prayer of Humble Access, and I will never drop the Comfortable Words.

This, however, calls for common sense. The late Dr. (or Fr.) Louis Tarsitano used to quip, "The Prayer Book rubric on baptism says, 'Then the Minister shall take the Child into his hands.' But, it never says we give the child back. Therefore, to conform to the rubrics we must have a room in the basement of the parish hall where we keep all those baptized children." Right?

Some argue that we need to to treat Anglican patrimony a bit more legalistically than I would recommend, not in terms of following rubrics, nor of (more importantly) teaching right doctrine, but in terms of attempting to enforce something thought of as "authentic Anglicanism." On one hand, some people are concerned that various usages of the Missal are a road that must lead to Rome. Against this I have argued that what we see practiced, generally, is an embellishment of the Book of Common Prayer, and that if we are not allowed embellishments we would have to throw away the hymnal. On the other hand, some people are intolerant of any celebration without the Missal and all that goes with it, because they have lost sight of what truly is essential, placing too much emphasis on ceremony in terms of all the trappings, bells and whistles (well, maybe not whistles).

Nonetheless, where the Missal is used its own rubrics are optional; for if the rubrics of the Missal were all observed, the service would start on Sunday morning and end some time on Monday afternoon. Where Anglicans use Ritual Notes or the Missal, it makes sense to be discriminating about what is practical and what is not (let's face it-nobody anywhere ever follows them all anyway); but the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer should be regarded as coming to us with the authority of the Church in her Right Reason. For Continuing Anglicans who hold to the Affirmation of St. Louis, by the way, this is not an option. If someone can show me a contradiction between Prayer Book and Missal rubrics, I would say to follow the Book of Common Prayer; but, no one has showed me such a contradiction, at least not that I can think of off the top of my head.
Justify Full
Popular Piety

In a recent comment, I said this:

Questions of popular piety never spring from hierarchical legislation, but from the laity in their devotions. The right question for some practices is not whether or not they are found in Anglican rubrics somewhere, but simply, might they be practiced to someone's edification, and free from error? If yes, leave it alone; do not disturb them.

For example, if someone kneels in prayer in church, perhaps during a week day, especially mindful of the tabernacle, or sits in contemplation mindful of it, feeling the fires of true devotion because of his closeness to the sacrament, mindful not so much of bread but of Christ's Real Presence in the sacrament (reminding him of the Incarnation), who has the authority or even the right to condemn him? Who should interfere with the man's devotions? If, however, this action harms someone who cannot distinguish between this practice and idolatry, should he not practice it at another time, or content himself not to practice it unless and until his brother can understand it? Is not this how we apply what was taught by "that pestilent fellow Paul" to our Continuing Anglicanism?

And, yes, that does apply to the use of a monstrance, or other practices to which none of the Thirty-Nine Articles ever spoke directly, since the practices in question did not yet even exist, nor could be foreseen. I do not imagine that Cranmer, Jewel, Hooker, etc., would have approved of, for example, a Benediction service; but, in their day they were fighting a specific battle, namely, restoration of the whole idea of Receiving the sacrament of Holy Communion rather than merely gazing upon it from afar. Perhaps, the emergency they faced is no longer an emergency in our own time; or at least, the idea needs to be considered.

However, if such practices were to lead to idolatry (i.e. worshiping the physical substance itself), or led the people away from actually receiving the sacrament, and back into Medieval "gazing" as if that were the means to receive grace, then, the practices should be abolished. However, I do not believe that is going on; neither do I believe that what people are doing necessarily leads to Rome; for it has gone on a long time with people who have done no such thing, nor contemplated it (those who opt to go Roman do so for other reasons, generally because they believe in the papacy beyond what true doctrine has ever established). As long as we all maintain that "The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon or to be carried about, but that we should duly use them," as Article XXV says, we should be safe.

The search for Authentic Anglicanism

I question if the search for authentic Anglicanism is at all practical, or even possible, beyond matters directly involving doctrine and theology, and for practice, matters addressed in BCP rubrics or Canon Law. I refuse to engage in conversations about how many candles belong on the altar, or whether we should use the colors associated with the calendar in accord with people's expectations. If these matters are not in the Bible, not in the Prayer Book, not essential to the Gospel and right doctrine, what point is there in getting worked up about them? If God has not addressed an issue, and if the Church with her authority has not ruled on it, why should we?

In the fourth chapter of John's Gospel, Jesus could have addressed this objection from the woman of Samaria with a "correct" answer in her own terms: "Our fathers worshiped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship." The Lord could have said: "The temple is in Jerusalem, you silly cow." But, inasmuch as He came to establish the New Covenant, and bring in something greater, and wanted to save her soul (a consideration we might want to remember now and again), He answered:

"Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."

In light of that, I say again, questions of popular piety never spring from hierarchical legislation, but from the laity in their devotions. The right question for some practices is not whether or not they are found in Anglican rubrics somewhere, but simply, might they be practiced to someone's edification, and free from error? If yes, leave it alone; do not disturb them. It is better to frustrate Hell by having our variety of usage become a hotbed of charity and humility.

Frankly, religion is not frozen in time; doctrine must never change, but popular expression of the faith cannot help but change a bit from age to age. That is, unless it is dead. To freeze "authentic Anglicanism" into absolute conformity to 16th century English culture, turns our faith into a nice museum piece, (to borrow words from Virgil Fox on another subject) to be placed "under glass next to a comb some dead queen wore in her hair three thousand years ago."

"Authentic Anglicanism," is worthy of a true search to make sure our doctrine is sound and to see why our patrimony is valid. It is worthy of a true search so that we do not err from or lose the truth we ought to proclaim. However, simply to search for it so as to reproduce some exact performance, might help us turn our services into something that amounts to a nice stage play about history; but, it may not have practical value in terms of worshiping the Father in spirit and in truth, nor in evangelizing among the nations where our churches have been and are being planted. Anglicanism that is authentic is, and always has been, and always will be, belief in, and proclamation of, the Gospel. It is Catholic and Evangelical fullness, together.

Now that I have offended everybody who holds strongly to partisan inclinations (in imitation of Christ I hope) , have a blessed Holy Week.

25 comments:

David Gould said...

The authentic approach of the Church is as Fr. Hart says, Catholic and Evangelical. The whole point is to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

To the unchurched, to those outside the Catholic and Apostolic Church, whether we use missal propers or straight BCP counts for nothing.

For them, what counts in the first instance is the authenticity of the Church, her pastors and laity, in proclaiming the reason why one should seek and be joined to Jesus Christ in His Church.

Compassion and love - the Good Samaritan and the woman bathing Our Lord's sacred Body with costly ointment should be our model of exchange, our aspiration as Christians.

In such a spirit, sharing the Gospel of salvation is authentic and easy, and all the droll arguments about rubrics lose their shine.

No museum of 16th century parochial England will cut it today in evangelism. Good liturgy in Cranmerian English can nonetheless cut through barriers and take us to the transcendent God, because the beauty of language, coupled with the beauty of well-done liturgy is very powerful.

The absence of so much that it normative for Anglicans in Holy Week and at Pascha in the Prayer Book is regrettable. The veneration of the Cross on Good Friday, the Chrism Mass on Maundy Thursday when priests renew vows and the blessed oil of unction and healing is consecrated by the Bishop, and the rites of Easter - the lighting of the Paschal candle are all missing from the Book of Common Prayer.

Without the missal and Ritual Notes, Anglican observance of Holy Week and Easter would be liturgically bereft, and so much evangelism lost, because good liturgy brings the living Word to a 3D presence in our midst.

Shaughn said...

I find simply obeying the Prayer Book rubrics to be problematic in at least two places.

First, it calls for the fraction of the host during the middle of the Institution Narrative, which is a thoroughly aberrant practice of the Reformation and reduces those words into a quirky re-enactment of the Last Supper. (It looks especially silly versus populum.)

Second, it calls for not cleaning up after communion until after the Eucharist is over (e.g. no ablutions).

In either place, following the rubrics of the Missal necessarily means disobeying the Prayer Book.

Thoughts?

Jack Miller said...

Fr. Hart wrote:

""Authentic Anglicanism," is worthy of a true search to make sure our doctrine is sound and to see why our patrimony is valid. It is worthy of a true search so that we do not err from or lose the truth we ought to proclaim.... Anglicanism that is authentic is, and always has been, and always will be, belief in, and proclamation of, the Gospel. It is Catholic and Evangelical fullness, together."

Sound doctrine , of course, is the ground of authentic Anglicanism, of that catholic and evangelical faith once delivered. That is for what we should contend. Bells, smells, lifting, processing, etc. are all secondary in my view and, as I understand, also in the view of Cranmer, Jewel, Parker, Hooker. The secondary doesn't necessarily compromise, and in many instances enhances, the apprehension of true faith in Christ alone.

Today, the ground floor essentials of the gospel are too often foggy. They need clarifying, not just now but always. And once clarified, trumpeted and held... then again re-clarified, generation to generation. As faithful Christians, let us not depart. And to not be misunderstood... as Fr. Hart writes,

"... the Gospel. It is Catholic and Evangelical fullness, together."

Anglicans need to center on the gospel... why is it good news and how is it appropriated and held by the sinner, the lost lamb, to his comfort and salvation? Too many (yes, English reformers) shed their blood for those questions to be ignored or muddied today.

Anglicans have a most wonderful and truly Scriptural worship as expressed in the BCP liturgy. It rests upon the Gospel; a Gospel that tells us... not by our merit are we saved but by His alone; the merit of righteousness imputed to us by our Savior's perfect life lived and his sacrifice on the cross for our sins. That message, that good news, melts the heart and by the Holy Spirit brings forth with gratitude in the believer compassion, love, forbearance, faithfulness, charity, and all the other virtues of faith.

The Anglican, as a reformed catholic, has the best of reformed catholic 'gospel/faith' and piety. Our piety proceeds from the gospel.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Shaugn wrote:

First, it calls for the fraction of the host during the middle of the Institution Narrative, which is a thoroughly aberrant practice of the Reformation...

It also happens to be exactly what Jesus did, who said, "do this..."

Second, it calls for not cleaning up after communion until after the Eucharist is over (e.g. no ablutions).

I am sorry to say that this reminds me of not giving back the baptized child.

Anonymous said...

"(It looks especially silly versus populum.)"

Why does the Fraction look silly? If there is anything to be said in favor of celebrations versus populum, it is making the faction visible. That was a concern in the 1662 book, which has a rubric "that he may with the more readiness and decency break the Bread before the people." Every single institution narrative (all four of them) emphasizes this detail, as does Paul's other Eucharistic statement "the bread which we break." The "breaking of bread" is a frequent expression in Acts as a name for the sacrament. Formal Jewish meals to this day begin with a ritual of breaking a loaf; when I have experienced it in Jewish gathrings, it brought tears to my eyes when the rabbi gave me a knowing look.

I agree with Shaughn that the Fraction is better done after, not during, the Canon (although within the Canon is hardly the faux pas some make it out to be). The 1549 book provides highly suitable words for the Faction in its historic western place after the Canon:

"Christ our Paschal lamb is offered up for us once for all, when He bear our sins in his body upon the cross, for he is the very lambe of God, that taketh away the sins of the world; wherefore let us keep a joyful and holy feast with the Lord."

LKW

Anonymous said...

"which is a thoroughly aberrant practice of the Reformation..."

Oh, the wrath heaped out on the Reformation, when mediaeval abuses (non-communicating Solemn Masses and withholding the cup from the laity) are tolerated without even a frown!

LKW

Anonymous said...

David Gould writes:

"The authentic approach of the Church is as Fr. Hart says, Catholic and Evangelical."

I have never met anyone who would disagree with this statement. Problem is, what do these terms mean? Anglicans, even traditional Anglicans, do not hold a common definition of either "catholic" or "evangelical."

LKW

charles said...

Dear David and others,

I have to ask why certain people desperately want to be an Anglican? Why do Anglicans drive 40 to 50 miles to church when they could find a church that likewise preaches the gospel and creed within less than a mile? If we opt for minimalist definitions, then we have no argument against the Lutheran, Roman, or Orthodox. Why be an Anglican if our faith is 'mere christianity' or creedal?
If liturgy is secondary, with no bearing on the specific doctrine, then who cares what the Lutherans or Romans do around the corner? We can only level aesthetic judgments, and these are really subjective. So, the question for me is "why be an Anglican?"

Shaughn said...

Fr. Hart,

Very pithy, but you've still not accounted for how the liturgical act was interpreted everywhere prior to the Reformation and is still interpreted in the East and in the Roman Catholic Church. By your logic, we should also be immersing people in rivers, since Jesus did that, too.

Clearly the early church did not interpret the Eucharist as a simple play-act of what Christ did. Or are you suggesting that the Eucharist is primarily table fellowship (like the Episcopalians and Methodists do), rather than an act of sacrifice pointing toward the Cross?

And you've yet to address my point. Where they conflict, do you obey the Missal, which mirrors the Western Rite from at least the seventh century, when the Agnus Dei was instituted, or do you follow the BCP (after 1549), which moved it?

I'm not trying to argue that the Missal trumps the BCP. Rather, that the BCP rubrics are not the only acceptable means of conducting the Eucharist.

Would you mind expanding on your comment, re: ablutions?

Shaughn said...

Fr. Wells,

I don't know that it is silly by nature or simply silly in the practice I've observed. They do it slowly, held way up over their heads, with a profound look in their eyes as if a magic trick just happened.

It's contrived, much like the 'liturgy' that you'll find in a lot of recent military stuff. (Ask your AF people about blue lines. I'm sure other branches do it, too.) They do it, and then they explain why they're doing it either as they do it or shortly thereafter. In the Eucharist, this might be something as pedantic as: "We are all one body because we eat of the same loaf," or whatever. Why not just do the bloody (well, bloodless) act, do it well, and let it speak for itself?

It would be like having a narrator explain the bugle, the twenty-one guns, the folding of the flag. It would be like your NCOIC explaining why your squadmates are beating you silly as they hammer your new rank into your chest. Just do it, for heaven's sake. It speaks for itself.

John A. Hollister said...

Charles asked, "[W]hy certain people desperately want to be an Anglican? Why do Anglicans drive 40 to 50 miles to church when they could find a church that likewise preaches the gospel and creed within less than a mile? ... If liturgy is secondary, with no bearing on the specific doctrine, then who cares what the Lutherans or Romans do around the corner?"

The answer, I think, is that liturgy is most emphatically not secondary. Liturgy is the most essential element of "how we do church" and so forms the background of, and sets the tone for, everything else we do. It is the single most important carrier of our religious culture and traditions -- of that "patrimony" which has been so ironically spoken of by those who are planning to abandon it.

That this is so should be no surprise; after all, it is now a commonplace to observe that what the people pray rapidly becomes what they believe. So it is unsurprising that some people will drive 40 miles or more -- sometimes 90 -- to meet God in the way they have become accustomed to.

I know this from my own experience. After at least a decade of search for a liturgical home, I finally happened upon a celebration of the Holy Eucharist according to the 1928 BCP. At the end of that service, I knew I had come home, and approached the priest to tell him, "Father, I want to join your church." Since then, I have been utterly unable to consider any other.

Just as some people seem to have been born to be Baptists, or Pentecostals, or even Presbyterians, some have been born to be Anglicans.

John A. Hollister+
"unini"

Anonymous said...

Charles,

I drive about an hour to my ACC parish, not because of the number of candles on the table nor because of the presence or absense of certain Missal supplementation, but for the DOCTRINE primarily. Don't get me wrong--I love the 1928 BCP Liturgy and indeed tend to prefer the more simpler less adorned prayer book service. However, I am driving an hour on Sundays because I can neither accept certain RCC dogmas (papacy; IC of Mary; etc) nor certain Lutheran distinctives (lack of episcopacy being one); or else I could just drive 5-15 minutes in town to the local RCC or LCMS parish.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Shaugn:

Very pithy, but you've still not accounted for how the liturgical act was interpreted everywhere prior to the Reformation and is still interpreted in the East and in the Roman Catholic Church.

Exactly as the BCP interprets it; they simply moved the action to coincide with the words more in line with what Jesus did. Furthermore, as we never celebrate versus populum, and inasmuch as the silly theatrics of modern Episcopalians does not come from the rubric, we may dismiss those things as irrelevant to our practice.

Would you mind expanding on your comment, re: ablutions?

The BCP leaves it open to local practices by not telling us how to do it. It is rather unrealistic, however, to assume that they expected the altar to be left a mess. The rubric on sacrament that remains, after the people have all received, clearly indicates that some kind of ablutions are expected. Nothing else is consistent with the rubric (and we know that what "remains" cannot mean what is reserved to be used, especially as late as the 1928 edition).

Furthermore, to say a practice began during the Reformation both begs questions of historical evidence about Antiquity, and gives undue weight to an unimportant consideration.

David Gould said...

The role of liturgy in teaching and "doing" the faith is something very dear to the Orthodox Christians, which is why liturgical reform is pretty well anathema to them.

One of the challenges for Anglicans is the fact that the BCP was a reform, albeit in many ways a correction of emphasis on the earlier Roman mass dating back to the 7th century.

Some of the explanation that one reads about this reform is that it was correcting medieval emphasis on non-communicating masses, lack of Scriptural focus etc.

What did happen in this reform was appropriate to give vernacular liturgy to the people with a Scriptiral focus. It did however lose a lot of Catholic liturgical and Scriptural richness. That is why I suspect that the tracts, propers etc that bring so much Scriptural meditation back to the eucharist is so easily accepted by Anglicans. In so many ways, common sense.

If the BCP mass is offered, at the north end of the altar by a priest in surplice and scarf, without hymns, without ritual gestures and reverences, it remains a valid sacrament, if served by a validly ordained priest, but it certainly lacks the capacity to engage the congregation as fully as a BCP mass served in an Anglo-Catholic way, ad orientem, by a priest in vestments, with a well-adorned altar, with incense, hymns and following the norms of Catholic rubrics.

The banal Novus Ordo mass of the Roman Church is a valid mass, but arguably polyester chasubles, worn at an altar with 2 squat candles,no frontal, no burse and veil on the chalice, awful songs sung after being imaged by a data projector onto the wall above the altar, like the north end BCP mass, fails to engage the senses and the soul.

The liturgical wreckers of the 70's and 80's in both the Roman Church and our own Anglican Church thought that modern language, simplified rubrics, the elimination of fasting rules and the like would fill the churches. They were wrong. Not only did church attendance fall, but the weakened and diluted teaching inherent in the new liturgies sowed the seeds further for women priests and mistaking contemporary secular social inclusion principles with the Gospel.

Canon Tallis said...

Shaughn,

The breaking of the host during the canon was a problem long before the Reformation period. There is an extensive literature on the subject. So when the prayer book orders it it is simply following what a good deal of ordinary priests and bishops had been doing for a couple of centuries. As far as I can see this is no really big deal, especially if the priest merely cracks the host and reserves the major fraction (which was orignally for the purpose dividing the host so that the distribution of communion was simplified.

Secondly, ordering the abulations to take place at the end of the liturgy rather than immediately after the giving of communions served two purposes. The first was that it moved the liturgy along without a big dead space that larger churches and cathedrals can fill with some sort of choral work, but which is especially difficult for small said services. Secondly with the moving of the Gloria (originally a Greek hymn for the orthodox equivalent of morning prayer) for precisely those late medieval motives of recreating the events in the upper room, you get a find opportunity for Eucharistic adoration as the text of the Gloria is directed to God through the elements of the sacrament.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to Fr. Hollister.

The public worship of the Church has ever been an important authority in declaring what the Church believes. But since Leitourgia is properly speaking the work of the people of God, both priest and people, it goes beyond matters of doctrinal integrity (while always remaining firmly anchored in them).

The BCP is Anglicanism's greatest formulary for the articulation and maintenance of the dogmas and doctrines comprising "the faith, once delievered". But it is not merely doctrine we are speaking of; it is "doctrine in devotion".

What makes the Common Prayer tradition such a wonderful thing, is the way it conveys the truth of Scripture and Creed. There are so many considerations that flow from this (e.g. biblical fidelity and catholic continuity), but chief among them is the sense you get of partipating in the numinous.

There is an uncanny feel to Prayer Book worship (conveyed, for instance, in the archaic, yet comprehensible beauty of Cranmer's prose), which matches the astonishing realities of what we are participating in, and in whose flesh and blood we are taking nourishment .

Now, when those remarkable truths are enhanced by an able priest, whose manner of speaking gives wings to the liturgy (a point of supreme importance; mumbling one's way through the Eucharist in a flat monotone is a high crime)along with good congregational singing, comely vesture, chant, bows, genuflection, etc., (the amount of ceremonial employed is relatively unimportant, so long as it is done well), the impression it makes is extraordinary; you realize that the hum-drum routines of your day-to-day living are illusory, and that, all evidence to the contrary, you have truly taken your place around the heavenly throne, with angels, archangels and all the company of heaven.

All of these, of course, are hallmarks of catholic worship. But their particular instantiation in the Prayer Book have a unique beauty. More than any other liturgy, it powerfully illustrates how the Church militant on earth, notwithstanding the blackness of her many sins, participates, by God's goodness, in the glories to come.

Anonymous said...

Shaughn, your statement was that the Faction "looks" silly if done "versus populum" (a practice I am far from defending, btw). Almost anything can look silly if done in a silly manner.

You write,

"I don't know that it is silly by nature or simply silly in the practice I've observed. They do it slowly, held way up over their heads, with a profound look in their eyes as if a magic trick just happened."

That describes most Missal Masses I have had occasion to observe (or suffer through).

I do happen to recall one Roman Catholic priest (who considered himself liturgical expert) in a church where I was organist for over a year, who regularly broke the priest's host (he used one about 15 inches in diameter) in the dreadful loathed Protestant BCP place--during the Dominical Words. When I once teased him for showing an Anglican tendency he turned red in the face and started claiming patristic precedent.

LKW

Anonymous said...

Concerning Ablutions:

I can remember when this was an important badge of churchmanship. "Tarping" (taking ablutions Roman place) was for some a very serious matter. One bishop of my memory would become ballistic if he saw this happen in his presence. To him this was popery. For those on the other end, covering the remaining elements and consuming them after the Blessing was a sure sign of closet Calvinism (or something even worse).

To use Shaughn's term, this was all very silly. No principle is at stake (unless mimic-ing Roman rubrics is a principle). Personally, I have always "tarped" because when I have finished the Blessing, I want to get out of there without putzing around washing dishes and the Altar Guild (those who must be obeyed!) do not wish to have another cloth to launder. But this like the warfare of the Big-Endians and the Little-Endians in Gulliver's Travels. To make an issue of this is silly indeed.
LKW

Anonymous said...

Fr Hollister writes:

I don't know that it is silly by nature or simply silly in the practice I've observed. They do it slowly, held way up over their heads, with a profound look in their eyes as if a magic trick just happened.


A Tale of Two Churches: One has 30 cars in the parking lot, the other has 500. Those thirty cars at the Church with "1928 BCP" on its sign surely represents more miles traveled and more gas burned than do the 500 cars at the Purpose-driven conventicle down the street.
LKW

Fr. Robert Hart said...

But this like the warfare of the Big-Endians and the Little-Endians in Gulliver's Travels.

And like Screwtape Letter number XVI,which it think I quoted from recently.

David Gould wrote:

It did however lose a lot of Catholic liturgical and Scriptural richness.

Frankly, there are times when I want nothing more than the simplicity of the BCP Holy Communion; other times I like the minor propers, bells, smells, etc. I tell you, it is the same service, the same Lord and the same sacrament. And, David, the word is not "scarf" but "stole."

Shaughn said...

Fr. Hart,

I simply don't find the "Well, Jesus did it" argument to be very convincing, or we would not have three pages of text after the words of institution before distributing communion.

The Gospel narrative does not say "Jesus gave thanks, brake it, and said five minutes of prayers before distributing it to his disciples, saying 'Take this all of you, and eat it.'" Distribution actually either precedes or occurs contemporaneously with the Words of Institution.

The choice, therefore, to break it there is a fairly arbitrary one that does violence to the tradition of the various rites of the Western (and Eastern!) tradition. You say, "Well, Jesus did it," but the whole action of the rest of the anaphora doesn't match your argument.

Canon Tallis,

By all means, give me bibliography on this subject. I find it quite interesting. Romans who break it there are apparently also breaking the advice from the Vatican in Redemptionis Sacramentum. We're not Roman, and so we can, I suppose, muddle through the merits of it.

Fr. Wells,

I mostly agree that tarping vs. not tarping is a silly debate. The point was made, however, that one should follow the rubrics of the BCP, and so it seemed necessary to follow the argument to its natural conclusions, which means settling out whether one has a choice in cases where the Missal and the BCP are in conflict. Fr. Hart invited us to find where the rubrics disagreed, and I obliged him.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I simply don't find the "Well, Jesus did it" argument to be very convincing, or we would not have three pages of text after the words of institution before distributing communion.

Not so,inasmuch as he had already said and done the things about which he said, "do this..." I believe that closer imitation was the motive, however, not only for that, but for the 1662 eating and drinking right after the Words of Institution.

The choice, therefore, to break it there is a fairly arbitrary one that does violence to the tradition of the various rites of the Western (and Eastern!) tradition.

Violence? I find that a bit overly dramatic. I have seen it done all my life, and it was just as "violent" to my expectations the first time I ever witnessed it done later. Frankly, at one point in time it was all arbitrary, as the Church used a degree of Right Reason to come up with an order of service.

Fr. Hart invited us to find where the rubrics disagreed, and I obliged him.

That's probably right; I must confess that I pay almost no attention to the endless red ink in the Missal-and I hate having the rubrics inserted into the text (in fact, the Missal here is usually closed and sitting in a corner. We have the minor propers, for the "High" service at 11:00, printed and photo-copied in the bulletin); I thought I remembered it clearly enough.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I wrote this and began the thread for the purpose of helping to frustrate the Screwtape tactics. What we need to resist is not "the other guy's" legitimate way of doing things, but instead we must resist a strong partisan attitude. In omnibus caritas and all that.

John A. Hollister said...

Fr. Wells wrote: "Fr Hollister writes: 'I don't know that it is silly by nature or....'"

Just to keep the record straight, that was not my comment but was Shaun's, who was replying to Fr. Wells.

JAH+

Anonymous said...

My apologies to Fr Hollister. His sentence to which I wished to respond was:

"Why do Anglicans drive 40 to 50 miles to church when they could find a church that likewise preaches the gospel and creed within less than a mile? .."

Having a bunch of faithful who drive heroic trips weekly to our parish, I know exactly what Fr H. means. But my "copy-and-paste" sometimes has a mind of its own.

LKW