22 May 2008

CORPUS CHRISTI: the Patrimonial history

What a shame that this great festival should now be a source of division among English Christians. I wonder what Wiseman, Manning, Faber, Newman, would have thought if they could have been told that in 2008 the observance of this day would be, to all intents and purposes, forbidden by the Westminster hierarchy and left to be kept by those dreadful, illogical, schismatical Anglicans (and rebellious Tridentinists). And I detect another peculiarity which I don't think has often been remarked: the ecumenical. Since Vatican II a certain type of Roman Catholic has continually argued for a certain line of liturgical 'reform' on the grounds that it would bring Catholic and Anglican Worship into line. We have been led to believe that ecumenically minded Roman Catholics liked having festivals on the same day, as well as having a common eucharistic lectionary and common translations of liturgical texts. Now, when the poor old C of E comes into line and actually makes (Common Worship) Corpus Christi - on Thursday - a Festival, the Westminster hierarchy promptly does the dirty on us. What are Anglicans supposed to think?

Catholic Anglicans have suffered for the observance of Corpus Christi. A century ago, its observance led to their persecution within the Cof E. But persecution goes back in Catholic Anglican history a lot further than that. In the Great Western Rebellion of 1549, which led to a genocidal onslaught upon Devon and Cornwall by the foreign mercenaries of the Tudor dictatorship, one of the main episodes appears to have occured on Corpus Christi (June 20). Walter Raleigh (father of the equally unpleasant 'Sir' Walter Raleigh) came upon an old woman going to the parish church of S Mary Clyste while saying her Rosary. He ranted ('there was a punyshement by lawe apoynted agaynste her and all suche'); she went and told her fellow parishioners; they started fortifying their town; and Raleigh was very nearly lynched (Oh, the might-have-beens of history). One of the traditional celebrations of that 1549 Corpus Christi will have been at the Church of S Thomas the Martyr outside the walls of Exeter, where the Vicar, Fr Robert Walshe, maintained the old Faith. For his pains, he was, after the suppression of the Rising, hanged (without benefit of judge and jury) from his church tower, clad in his Mass vestments.

1 comment:

ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

Well said Father!

As a Catholic I feel quite bereft this year without Ascension and Corpus Christi.

As we were ignoring the feast this year, Fr Z had pictures on his blog of His Holiness celebrating Corpus Christi in Rome and distributing communion on the tongue to kneeling worshippers.

I note that my church now terms the following sunday the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. Yet another 'improvement'

They can't keep their fingers off - and continually try to improve things.

I am feeling a rant coming on so in Christian charity I'd better stop here!