25 November 2014

" ... but what we REALLY mean ..."

On Sunday morning last, I happened to hear the start of the Sunday Worship on the Home Service. It was from the Chapel Royal at S James's Palace. The officiant introduced the service by saying that it was according to to the Book of Common Prayer which, he said, they always use there; and today, he said, was the Feast of Christ the King. (Readers without Anglican Previous need to know that the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England does not include that festival, either in October or in November.)

"What on earth", I thought, "does he mean?" Then my mind went back ... to curious things I recalled from my Anglican days. Celebrating Dr Cranmer's Eucharistic Order and inviting the good people to make their humble confession to Almighty God, "meekly Kneeling upon your Knees" in the sure and certain knowledge that they would totally ignore the peremptorily tautological assonance. Once, when we had a Bishop pontificating at Lancing, and it was deemed convenient to place the Blessed Sacrament Reserved upon the High Altar before Mass (the Tabernacle was down in the crypt at that time, a good five minutes' walk away), he gave the instruction "We shall not genuflect, because morally It is not there". A Miraculous Adverb! A Supra-Divine Adverb, in fact, because even God does not claim to be able to make "X" mean "Non-X". On another occasion, before the Carol Service (which needed to happen before Christmas so that the students and their parents could attend), a new chaplain announced that we would vest the altar in white and wear white copes (previously, we had used purple and called the event an Advent Carol Service) because "Spiritually, it's already Christmas". Of course what he really meant was ... ... YES!! That's exactly it!!! As an Anglican, you spend a lot of your time explaining "what he really meant". Fr Lombardi, I am sure, is a crypto-Anglican. Perhaps all Jesuits are.

Looking back, I rather think one can characterise Anglicanism as a religion of Miraculous Adverbs and of "Let's pretend"; of "We say X but, of course, we really mean Y"; of "I have eaten my cake, yet Lo, I still have it". That would explain why Anglican wedding rites are so very explicit about Marriage being "until death us do part", while divorced bishops have their 'marriages' to divorced ladies publicly blessed by bishops. And why Anglicans asserted so vigorously that their ecclesial body was Catholic and their priesthood identical with that of the Latin and Byzantine Churches, while simultaneously making 'ecumenical' plans (Porvoo; Anglican-Methodist Covenant) to treat Protestant ministers identically with their own priests.

To think that I spent seven decades in the Church of England without ever really having the faintest idea of what it was all about ...

7 comments:

Deacon Augustine said...

Strange how distance enables perception with greater clarity. We are a very long-sighted species.

Sad that people like Cardinal Kasper have been infected with the disease of miraculous adverbs within the Church of God.

B flat said...

Your irony, Father, is a honey trap, and I am fearful to approach. I am no angel, and so venture the following explanation, which I hope you won't find offensive. If you do, then please delete it, as if it were never offered. My grubby pearl is:

Anglicanism, is simply the Catholic Church subjected to Englishness.
All the eccentricity, quirkiness, and paradox develop from that false imbalance of forces which formed people's lives in England over four centuries, until all vital signs of Catholicism were finally squeezed out in the twentieth century. As we are frequently reminded by the present government, something called "British Values" now holds sway.

Zephyrinus said...

How wonderful, dear Fr, to read that you listen to "THE HOME SERVICE". I thought I was the last one remaining.

P.S. I also continue to listen on the Wireless to THE LIGHT PROGRAMME (occasionally) and, more often, THE THIRD PROGRAMME.

Rose Marie said...

Father, as a cradle Catholic in the U.S. observing our Episcopalian brethren, this help to explain a lot, but not everything. Two weeks ago the National Episcopal Cathedral in Washington sponsored a Muslim prayer service, inside the Cathedral, positioned so that the participants would not have to see a cross or any other Christian symbol. The imam proceeded to pray to Allah and explicitly deny the divinity of Jesus Christ. The cathedral staff are over the moon about the success of their "reaching out to another faith." Perhaps the damage caused by an earthquake in 2010 will have to be completed.

GOR said...

Somehow we - and certain members of the Church hierarchy - have lost the evangelical sense of: "Sit autem sermo vester est, est: non, non..."

There's a reason for the term 'jesuitical', Father!

Священник села said...

He’s the most difficult convert I have ever met. He doesn’t seem to have the least intellectual curiosity or natural piety. I asked him if Our Lord had more than one nature. He said, “Just as many as you say, Father” I said, “Suppose the Pope looked up and said it was going to rain would that be bound to happen?” “Oh yes, Father” “But supposing it didn’t rain?” “He said, “I suppose it would be sort of raining spiritually, only we were too sinful to see it."

- Fr Mowbray on instructing Rex Motram in Brideshead Revisited.

Grumpy Beggar said...

B flat said...

"Your irony, Father, is a honey trap, and I am fearful to approach. I am no angel, and so venture the following explanation, which I hope you won't find offensive. If you do, then please delete it, as if it were never offered. My grubby pearl is:

Anglicanism, is simply the Catholic Church subjected to Englishness.
All the eccentricity, quirkiness, and paradox develop from that false imbalance of forces which formed people's lives in England over four centuries, until all vital signs of Catholicism were finally squeezed out in the twentieth century. As we are frequently reminded by the present government, something called "British Values" now holds sway".


While the general fabric of what B flat has trumpeted could appear to be woven with a few sturdy threads of plausibility, it is unsure whether, in the form of a worn garment that same fabric might not leave a few spots unbecomingly exposed. My own opinion discerns a gaping hole in the area of causality, insofar as the general contention is considered:

Firstly, to the claim that, "Anglicanism, is simply the Catholic Church subjected to Englishness", totally disregards any shape or form of the Catholic Church in England's existence prior to the "Defender of the Faith" turning into the "Pretender of the Faith" - which surely catalyzed the inception of the Anglican Church

. . .No mention of the effects of the monastic reform in the 10th century . . . no mention of legislation in the late 1100's to secure celibacy among the clergy . . .no mention of the "king himself directly enjoining the separation of the civil and ecclesiastical courts" - way before America was discovered hence, um, "Americanness" established ; and this, close to 5 centuries before Thomas Jefferson even became a gleam in his father's eye. And speaking of gleams in the eye, just what was it which caused the Defender of the Faith to falter so defiantly, if not the desire for another woman who could not "rightfully be his" (whether for the purposes of progeny or hodgepodgeny) . . . rather Herodesque in some respects - wouldn't you say ? And one's desiring another woman who is not rightfully his, is about as universal as desires get (be they fleeting or not)- nothing "English" about them whatsoever !

And isn't it strange how every Christian religion ordenomination which is not genuinely Catholic, ends up "squeezing out" the concept of priestly celibacy from their (un)beliefs ?
MENTI NOSTRAE , Pope Pius XII 1950

So rather than subscribe to an apparently uninformed claim that, "Anglicanism, is simply the Catholic Church subjected to Englishness" , I place my trust in the solid conviction of two true Englishmen - St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, who maintain that Anglicanism is not the Catholic Church at all - they knew it, they foresaw it, and they ratified this conviction with their own blood.
England (Before the Reformation), Catholic Encyclopedia