Monday, October 10, 2011

Returning to bad habits

Well, when in Rome, whether Georgia or New York, or even Italy, do as the Romans. A few former Anglicans are about to find out the hard way what that can mean. Today we have yet more news that shows why opposite camps in the Roman Catholic Church (RCC), "liberal" and "traditionalist," offer no safe haven to former Anglicans looking for orthodoxy in practice or teaching. The National Catholic Reporter tells us, "It's officially a trend now. A second diocese, Madison, Wis., has moved to restrict Communion under both species." And then it provides details. I was first alerted to this movement a few years ago, and learned that it is likely to become the rule again throughout much of the RCC.

The problem is very simple. In the RCC a return to the past is often a return to an innovation, in this case an innovation of the Medieval period, one that persisted through more than half of the Twentieth Century. But, like the rule of clerical celibacy, various doctrines such as Purgatory and the Treasury of Merits, Papal Infallibility, etc., we may pin point the place in history when it began. It did not begin with Jesus and the Apostles. 

In fact, as one person commented, "This is a disturbing trend. Withholding the cup from the laity is a return to the old RC clericalism that should have died out half a century ago. After one has listened to the nonsense about why this is being forced here and there, the matter still is one of priestly disobedience to Jesus' clear intention: 'Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (cf. Matthew 26:26-28)'"

The arguments for returning to this bad habit remind me of how amusing it can be to hear complaints about "receiving in the hand." Like so many alleged Protestant innovations we Anglicans indulge in, receiving in the hand was the ancient practice about which me may read in some of the writings of the Fathers; receiving on the tongue is the innovation, dating way, way back to the eighteenth century. Receive on the tongue if you prefer; but, don't think it is fidelity to the catholic tradition. 

What I really fear is the spectacle of some Anglican priest somewhere deciding that he ought to withhold the cup from the laity. I will not go so far as to call it a "half communion." But, I will call it disobedience to Christ's command.  


Canon Tallis said...

And you are quite right, Father, that some Anglican priest will follow the new Roman model just as all of the missal crowd. I know that they thought and think that they were opting for both a living tradition and ancient liturgy, but what they did was precisely what will be done now, i.e., taking up a Roman innovation over the use of the primitive church. I may not like it - and I don't - but there are far too many Anglicans who think Rome the very model of Catholicism when there is very little truly either Catholic or ancient in what they teach and what they do.

I have a favorite medieval illumination which dates from shortly after the death of St. Francis of Assisi. It shows the 'pope' of the day blessing Franciscan friars going off on mission. The bishop is very much dressed in the medieval fashion which many Anglicans believe to be 'low church,' red cassock and rochet. C. S. Lewis once said that the Renaissance never happened in England and if it did, it didn't matter. It is classic Anglicanism, obedient to the rubrics of the prayer book and its tradition that truly represents the Church closest to that of earliest bishops and Catholic fathers.

RSC+ said...

Canon Tallis writes,

"...just as all of the missal crowd."

Ahem. Speaking as part of the Missal crowd, if there is such a thing, no, I will not, thank you kindly. Must we through this back and forth again?

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Well, I can only think of Screwtape XVI, and the problem of party churches.

Canon Tallis said...

And Screwtape was only echoing St Paul who forbade parties in the Church. Or is the very idea of "one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church" so offensive to those who absolutely insist of the retention and spread of what even so eminent a Roman authority as Adrian Fortescue labeled as "Roman bad taste" illustrating his own book with photographs that might well have been taken from something published by the Alcuin Club or the Anglican Society. I guess "one Church" is alright as long as it is the Roman Church - or looks and acts like it.

The reason, Shaughn, this is not going away is that while the denial of the cup to the laity came from the medieval period, the ornaments of the altar and the ministers, the ceremonial jig at our Lord's words of administration, etc., come not from the middle ages but from the beginning of the Renaissance when Rome and the papacy were at the very height of its immorality and decadence, when Rome - as a Roman historian wrote - was awash with teen age cardinals with all which that implied.

The hallmark of traditional Anglicanism should be, as Newman said, "Antiquity, antiquity, antiquity," a phrase which outlaws ninety nine percent of the program of lavender and lace pseudo-papalism. I suspect that many in what Anson labeled the "Back to Baroque" bit are afraid that they would lose sung services, incense, and even real Catholicism if they lost Roman ceremonial, the birettas, the soutanes, and the big six, but they might, to their own surprise, discover the real Catholicity of Holy Scripture, the writings (and the customs) of the earliest bishops and Catholic fathers.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Well, I certainly agree that our people need to rediscover the truth of Anglicanism instead of imitation RCism. I am not sure how substituting ceremonial details with which they are accustomed to older ones is the solution. Ancient liturgies are so different from what we know today (yet essentially the same in meaning and Intention) that I question how much a return to the past in ceremony is entirely necessary to be in tune with Antiquity. I don't take the matter lightly, however. I approach it from the standpoint of theology. Is our theology that of the ancient Church? It seems to me that if we are clear on that, the colors and number of candles, etc., is beside the point. I may be missing something, but that is how I see it.

Fr. Wells said...

Fr Shaughn and Canon Tallis:

When you speak of "the Missal crowd," remember there are two kinds of people who make use of the various books which have been styled "Missals" by their compilers. There are those who consult these books for bits of psalmody, or special blessings for days like Ash Wednesday, or for rubrical guidance, or perhaps to learn when some saint or other is commemorated. They use the Missals like most of us use the hymnal, "proving all things, holding fast that which is good."

Then there are those (of whom the good Canon speaks) who believe that a biretta is the sign of theological soundness, that six candles guarantees the validity of the Eucharist, that a parish where a Missal is enshrined on the altar is automatically more "catholic" (that's pronounced "kartholic") than one which just limps along with the Altar Service Book.

Unfortunately, the Anglican Missal did not exist before 1928, the American Missal not before 1951, both based on an English Missal which first appeared in 1912. Somehow, from Henry VIII's Act of Supremacy until just 99 years ago, the Anglican Churches managed to preserve apostolic ministry and sound doctrine through all those terrible years when there were no Missals for Anglicans to use. Think of that!

During that dark period, the scrupulous use of the BCP was the mark of a high churchman. The more scrupulous, the higher the Churchmanship! We can imagine what Samuel Seabury or John Henry Hobart or John Starke Ravencroft or Jackson Kemper or even William Laud would have thought of such an innovation as the assortment of Missals.
But even without a "Missal," those heroes of the faith knew what genuine catholicism consists of.

Anonymous said...

Withholding the cup is unbiblical as you rightly point out and it will make matters far worse for the RC. The people already feel betrayed and disillusioned by the clergy and they will never again put up with being treated this way.

Further, trying to cure and restore the church by changing the missal or going back to Latin liturgies won't cure what ails the RC, when there are deeper problems: doctrines and dogmas that depart from Scripture and deviant and damnable behaviors within the clergy.

Anonymous said...

Canon Tallis, I honestly don't know why people like yourself care about what outfit the minister is wearing, how many candles are on the altar, etc. That stuff has nothing to do with the Gospel or the catholic faith, and in my experience in the ministry no one even knows or much less cares about any of that stuff.


Anonymous said...

Just a minor point of order: the American Missal did exist before 1951. The original edition came out in 1930 (or '31), and then there was a revised edition that came out in the 50's, which is what I think Fr. Wells is referring to. I know because I use a first edition American Missal and it is dated 1930-something on the inside.


John A. Hollister said...

Fr. Wells comment about "those (of whom the good Canon speaks) who believe that a biretta is the sign of theological soundness" reminded me of an incident I found funny at the time and still do in retrospect, and which I offer not in any party spirit but in the same rather anthropological spirit as that in which Reader's Digest used to reprint little vignettes about Life in These United States and Humor in Uniform.

Years ago, I attended an ordination, the invitations for which asked clergy to wear birettas. As we lined up for the processional, the young ordinand came down the line of us, looked at me and asked, "Father, where is your biretta?"

I pointed at my head, covered with a black, low, soft, four-cornered cap with its four top seams properly finished off with lapping or binding that made a neat, flat, narrow cross, and said, "I'm wearing it."

The young man pointed at his own head, sporting a stiff millinary concoction with three Mickey Mouse ears and a pom pom, and said, "I meant one like this." To that I responded, "Father, I'll wear an Italian academic cap on the day some Italian university confers its degree on me."

John A. Hollister+

Fr. Wells said...

JGA: Thanks for the corrected date. The American Missal appeared in its first edition in 1931, as my 1951 revised edition plainly states. Your major point is correct. Our Lord did not hang on the cross so we can fuss about liturgical trivia, such as the design of chasubles or length of surplices.

As for the matter of communicating "in one kind," I would suspect the Romans are really giving in to the people's preference (rather than returning to their old ways).

Whereas "in both kinds" was a 16th century battle-cry, in the Vatican II era the RC laity are more preoccupied with modern superstitions about germs in the chalice. That reform has never become really popular. I doubt there are many Utraquists in the contemporary RC scene.

Anonymous said...

The problems of Utraquism and germs could be solved by the priest performing intinction, then placing the wafer on the tongue of the communicant...but that still does not solve the core problems dividing the Church - sin - theological innovations, apostasy, heresy and deception being allowed and even fomented by the Church due to the lack of accountability and transparency in all the church - Anglicanism, Roman Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Protestantism.

None are exempt from sin or temptation.

Fr. Wells said...

Canon Hollister: Yes, there are people like that. Your comment reminds me of a remark I once heard, when a learned Benedictine priest addressed a group of young Calvinists at Davidson College in 1959. He observed: "Ordination converts a layman into a priest but does not transform a boor into a gentleman."

Canon Tallis said...

JGA, perhaps you have missed the whole blowup with TCA and Archbishop Hepworth in which both laity and clergy in and out of the American ACA parishes have been put through emotional Hell by the attempt to force all of them across the Tiber, but I have watched it with fear and trembling knowing full well that a great deal of the blame for same lies at the door of those Anglican clergy who for far too many years (!858) who have made a deliberate policy of violating their ordination vows in substituting as much of post-Reformation ornaments and ceremonial for those intended by the Ornaments Rubric in the 1559 and 1662 Books of Common Prayer. As Father Wells so eloquently wrote "the scrupulous use of the BCP was the mark of a high churchman. The more scrupulous, the higher the Churchmanship!" What I am campaigning for is that sort of Churchmanship so that the faithful clergy and laity of the Continuum will have a recognizable brand that differences us from both Rome and Orthodoxy based upon the very best liturgical and canonical scholarship to be had. I want us to have that because I thoroughly and completely believe that the "doctrine, discipline and worship" of the Book of Common Prayer when fully used and obeyed is the closest we can possibly get to St Luke's "they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." I am sure that will seem marvelously naive and fundamentalist to many, But if it had been don for the last one hundred and fifty years we would not have so many clergy and laity believe that Anglicanism is just papalism lite with Rome and its bishop representing real Catholicism although in so many ways they and our Lord and his apostles have different answers to pertinent questions.

As for the major differences in ceremonial, some of you may remember that at some time previously I asked if any of the learned gentlemen if they were aware of the single ceremonial instruction given to the celebrating priest in every edition of the first printed Roman missals before that of 1571. I got no response and let it drop without pushing it. That rubric (Hic inclinet se)instructed the priest to bow at the Supplices te rogamus which follows our Lord's words of administration by a bit. In short the ceremonial of the majority of Anglican clergy in which they did only what the prayer book instructed were and are closer to the ceremonial used the whole church that what we saw in the Roman Church in our youth. Indeed, the Reverend Herbert Thurston, a Roman authority, wrote "It is commonly understood that the Carthusian priest does not in any proper sense genuflect while saying Mass . . .. There can be no reasonable doubt that, even if in the slight bending of the knees now practiced in the Carthusian churches, that may have yielded something to the changing ritual of the rest of the world, their custom of not bowing the knee to the ground during Mass is a survival of what in former times was the universal usage." (The Month, Oct. 1897, p. 400)

Anonymous said...

Canon Tallis, from a pragmatic perspective I can sincerely appreciate your desire to have a separate "brand" identity for us. But in a postmodern world I wonder if it is really possible to have such a thing - liturgically, anyway. Everyone just mixes and matches things these days. That "inclusivity", for better or worse, is a hallmark of postmodernity, which is, unfortunately, the nature of the world in which we find ourselves.

The genius of Anglicanism is that, contra to classical Romanism, we do not believe that the style of vestments, number of candles, manual acts, etc. effects the validity of the sacraments.

As a postmodern GenXer I find that wonderful and liberating, and that is one of the (many!) reasons I am a continuing Anglican.... we are "liberal" in the best sense of the word.


RSC+ said...

Canon Tallis,

The reason this is not going away is because certain individuals keep bringing up phantasms of poor pitiful Anglicans who just want their BCP being beaten up by clergy foisting the Missal upon them.

The reason this is not going away is because certain individuals repeatedly spread rumors like tales of Anglicans running around denying people access to the chalice. Where? Which body? Which parish? Which priest? (Didn't the New Testament say a bit about sowing dissent with rumors and gossip?)

It's tiresome sensationalism. I agree with the various problems of faction, absolutely. You'll quickly notice, however, that these conversations go something like this:

"...all of the Missal crowd." And other disparaging remarks about those who happen to like the Missal, including ludicrous innuendo at times directed at the people who wrote them.

A Missal person will then have the temerity to defend his use of the Missal and rebut the hyperbolic accusations against them.

And then there will be tut-tutting about factions.

Good heavens. I am fine with the Missal. I am fine with not using the Missal. That has been my experience of just about any cleric I've run across. I rarely hear of obstinate Missal people. I frequently hear from obstinate "The Missal is TheSourceOfAllThatIsEvilAndWrongWithAnglicanism(tm)" crowd.

This should be an issue of adiaphora, and not one of disunity. That is my entire point. Nearly every high church or Missal person I know--and certainly everyone who posts here--is perfectly content to let folks who dislike that type of liturgy to carry on as they like.

So, again, if you like that sort of thing, by all means, carry on. I see no need to slander the intentions of good clergy and laity who prefer different ceremonial.

Al W. said...

An interesting title to this article about the Roman Catholic Church in Australia, considering the Apb. Hepworth affair:
"Revitalizing a Hollowed-out Church"


Fr. Wells said...

Fr Shaughn wrote, "phantasms of poor pitiful Anglicans who just want their BCP being beaten up by clergy foisting the Missal upon them."

Sorry, Father. When you live in a sane diocese with a wise and pastoral bishop, as we do, it is tempting to think that these are only "phantasms." But I have personally witnessed and suffered through (pardon the zeugma) some of these nightmares. Like the visiting priest who humiliated the Altar Guild for setting up in the usual manner (veiled chalice on altar) nd demanded, five minutes before Service, that chalice and veil be removed to the smallish credence table. Or like the priest who scrapped memorial candelabra to replace them with the "big six." And yes, I personally knew the priest who bragged of administering "in one kind only" on Christmas Eve Midnight Mass (!) in order to save time. I believe the man was telling me the truth. Take note of Canon Hollister's comment. Such puerility does go on. And yes, there is a "missal type" whose antics are the bane of sound liturgics.

Anonymous said...

Why does this blog seem to fixate on what the Romans are up to? Can't we just ignore the Tiber rather than urinating in it? I just don't see the numbers defecting to Rome to merit this kind of indignation. Are there many more people leaving the Anglican Church than I realize?
Let me put it this way. I have the misfortune of living in a country where there is no ACC or other continuing Church. Thus, I must go to a mainstream Anglican parish, which is, quite mercifully, nothing at all like a TEC parish. There are a couple women pseudo-priests hidden under rocks somewhere, but they are off dry cleaning their pantsuits more often that pretending to celebrate the Eucharist. We have no 1979 BCP or the dreadful materials they use in England now--I forget the name, but it's a cut-and-paste make-your-own-liturgy software package. (Thank you, Jesus, for helping me to forget the horrors of the modern Church!). As it's not my native language, I'm familiar enough with the language of our service that I know what's going on, but not so familiar that I could point out theological errors in the text, if there are any. As I said, this is no TEC hootenanny. It is merely a bland, broad church service. (They think it's high, but it's broad. Reminds me of the Novus Ordo.)
Having said all that, I would be much more edified by posts about what the ACC is doing to bring disaffected Anglicans into the ACC rather than decrying the RCC. I don't really worry what they are up to. However, I never hear about Continuing Anglicans evangelizing to the Communion Anglicans. We need that kind of evangelization: "Hey, remember our heritage? The one left to us by our Fathers and their Fathers and their Father's Fathers? WE have it, and you can, too, if you will just take a step across the street."
It's a difficult sell to anyone in the TEC. Most are so far gone that just the thought of "being conservative" is enough to make them need diapers. But there are those, men such as my father, who suffer silently through Rite II because he has never been told by anyone in the ACC that there is an option. He often talks about how when he was in grad school (a little older than most), a priest would celebrate the 1928 Eucharist for him and his roommate.
I'm not sure exactly how to do it, but Fr. Hart, I whole-heartedly agree with what you wrote in your second comment on this page.
I would surely like to see the ACC make itself known well enough that Communion Anglicans will choose to become Continuing Anglicans. What are the challenges? manpower? Money? Romans? (really?) Real estate? I have a hard time understanding why the ACC isn't siphoning off mainstream Anglicans who realize that something is deeply wrong. Is there a pre-existing post in the Archives that might explain it?

RSC+ said...

Fr. Wells,

What you're describing has little to do with ceremony qua ceremony, and more to with the overall pastoral character of the clergy in question, with perhaps the question of the communion in kind.

In the former instances, you are dealing with a creature who has poor pastoral sensitivity. The better solution would be to shrug and carry on, or for the cleric to move the items in question himself and say to the Altar Guild, apologetically, "Forgive me; I'm more familiar with celebrating in such-and-such way." The above scenario can just as easily happen when a low churchman visits a Missal parish and stalwartly refuses to do whatever ceremonial the parish is accustomed to seeing in worship. So, I wouldn't attribute your examples to difference in churchmanship, so much as lack of pastoral sensitivity.

The latter is not simply the direct result of bad Eucharistic theology, but more to do with sloppy indifference to liturgy and poorly considered pragmatism which lead to theologically questionable results. The Romans do not withhold the chalice because they are "in a hurry." They will, however, celebrate Mass in less than 25 minutes because they are "in a hurry." St. Patrick's Cathedral on a weekday is a fine example. 4 masses in two hours. Oy.

I don't think you and I disagree about churchmanship nearly so much as we agree that clergy should be a bit more accommodating to local custom, pastorally sensitive when differences arise, and serious and intent regarding the sacrament of Christ's Body and Blood. I think most of us can find common ground there, don't you?

Anonymous said...

Amen to Fr. Hart's Screwtape reference and Fr. Casey's last paragraph.

If I may add my two cents, I personally think these English Use vs. Missal (or high vs. low, however you want to describe it) battles are ultimately symptoms of the same malady. Personally, I think there is far too great a fixation on ritual matters in general. Not that the Eucharist should be sloppy or impious, or that ritual is unimportant. And I would hope that most of us can agree that things should be done with a pastoral sensitivity toward parishioners, the community we minister in, etc. But I think that whether it's the uncompromising missal priest (I've met a few, though not enough to merit the vague boogeyman Canon Tallis would seem to brandy about), or the militant Dearmer/ Alcuin Club / English Use folks, both are missing the point. Too little focus is given to discipleship and growing the faith of our flocks; too many parishes act like ritualistic enclaves instead of the Body of Christ. And that can be true no matter what the cut of your chasuble is. Frankly I've smelled the rank odour of spiritual death in both pretend 1950's Roman Catholicism as well as Prayer Book Burial Societies.

At the end of the day, I think we need a heart transplant, not a change of clothes.

P.S. With some of these matters too, I think we also need a broader perspective. Only in the Continuum could using Elizabethan English, facing east, and wearing a chasuble ever be considered 'low church.' Too often we're fighting over minutiae.

The Rev. Kevin Spaeth
Church of the Epiphany, Amherst, VA

Brendan said...

Can anyone tell me why the biretta came to be a part of Anglo-Catholic 'fashion' and what is it supposed to represent?

Fr. Wells said...

Fr Shaughn (gnesion teknon mou en pistei) writes,

"What you're describing has little to do with ceremony qua ceremony, and more to with the overall pastoral character of the clergy in question,..."

That was the whole point, Father.

And further,

"or for the cleric to move the items in question himself and say to the Altar Guild, apologetically, "Forgive me; I'm more familiar with celebrating in such-and-such way."

It might be better to say, "The altar is perfectly lovely. Thank you for all your hard work." It is a rash priest who raises any issues at all with his Altar Guild, no matter how delicately or diplomatically. A recall a godly bishop of the old school (Bp Juhan of Florida) who used to tell the AG ladies, "Y'all just put it up there somewhere and I'll manage to find it." That remark was cherished and handed on decades after his retirement.

John A. Hollister said...

Brendan asked, "Can anyone tell me why the biretta came to be a part of Anglo-Catholic 'fashion' and what is it supposed to represent?"

An excellent question, indeed. The self-described "Anglo-Catholics'" preference for the biretta is as mystifying as the Department of Defense's opting for the Beretta -- in both cases, there were, and are, better alternatives available.

John A. Hollister+

RSC+ said...

The traditional "biretta belt" in American Anglicanism were, I believe, in the northern states of Wisconsin--dioceses like Eau Claire, Fond Du Lac, etc.

In Mediterranean climes, the biretta, along with the fiddle-back chasuble, was probably practical and fashionable at one point. It's light weight, and the three peaks make it very easy to remove. Fiddle-backs are also light weight, which is important when it is hot outside. Very practical stuff, originally. Now, why these warm weather clothes took off in the god-forsaken frozen wasteland of Wisconsin, I'll never know.

If I could get my hands on barrister bands and a Canterbury cap, I'd just as soon roll that way--even though Georgia weather is probably more suitable for the biretta and fiddle-back chasuble.

Anonymous said...

Not that his opinion carries much weight since he's a promoter of homosexuality, but Archbishop Aspinall has come to the defense of Archbishop Hepworth's alleged abusers.

Aspinall is another sad example of the degeneration of the Anglican expression of Christ's Church.