23 February 2009

Durham and the Roman Rite

A splendid few days in Durham; I went up to talk to the local Chapters of the Societas Sanctae Crucis, our Anglican Catholic priestly Society. (It resembles in organisation the SSPX, the FSSP, and particularly that Brazilian Priestly Society of S John Mary Vianney which was corporately eased into full communion with the Holy See a few years ago. Except that SSC is a bit older, dating from 1854.) They wanted to hear about the new English translation of the Roman Rite; quite apart from the fact that it is always rather splendid to meet brother priests who live according to the same Rule of Priestly Life and bear witness to the same Catholic Faith, it was a joy to experience their keen and intelligent interest and appreciation. A first-rate lot!

I was given the warmest possible hospitality by fellow-blogger Fr Jeff Steele, his beautiful wife Rhea, and their six children ... who never seem to stop smiling; Senior Daughter Hannah had nobly sacrificed her room to me, but she made sure that I didn't feel a cad about occupying it! Members of the sterile culture of death tendency don't realise what a wonderful community a big family is in the richness of its relationships and fertility of its multifaceted shared life. And, of course, it was good to have long talks with Father about our shared concerns at this time of great oppression of Anglican Catholics ... and about his research interest, Bishop Lancelot Andrewes, one of the first of our seventeenth century Anglican Fathers to recover the doctrine of the Eucharist as a propitiatory sacrifice after the negations and heterodoxies of the 'Reformation'. (Is it really true that our Holy Father keeps the Preces privatae beside his bed?)

And Durham must be one of the great cities of the world, with its castle and the romanesque cathedral, restored for Catholic worship in the 1660s after being smashed up by the Calvinists after the regicide, looming over the gorge carved out by the river Wear. S Cuthbert and S Bede, although the wealth of their shrines was robbed by Henry 'Syphilis' Tudor, still have their relics intact in the cathedral. The treasuries contain remarkable artefacts from the period of the Anglo-Saxon Church of England; an embroidered maniple showing Pope S Gregory the Great and his deacon Peter, with Pope S 'Syxtus' and his deacon Laurence, joined in maryrdom no less than in liturgy (see the Communicantes). And the fragments of the original coffin of S Cuthbert, adorned with carvings of the Lord; and of the Apostles listed in the same order as in the Communicantes of the Roman Rite, the ancient authentic liturgy of the Church of England from 596 onwards; and of the Great Mother of God Mary Most Holy - the earliest English image of her.

The Church of England claims to be the same Church as that founded by S Gregory and graced by SS Cuthbert and Bede. No literate person could look at the Durham treasures without realising that, of all the 'parties' in the C of E, the Papalist 'party' is the original, ancient, and authentic one. Yet Johnny-come-lately heretics purport to have the right to steer our provinces yet further from the Navis Petri and condescendingly behave as though it is at their discretion whether, and on what terms, we might be allowed to continue in our inheritance... we, whose faith is that sent to England by Pope Gregory and taught by S Bede and S Cuthbert. The monstrous impertinence of it.

Henry 'Syphilis' Tudor has a lot to answer for.


Independent said...

The papalist party in the time of Elizabeth withdrew from the new state structure as recusants. The "church papists" did not last very long once it was clear that the new structure was likely to be permanent. In the C of E as distinct from the pre-Reformation Church the original ancient and authentic party is that of Cranmer, Ridley, Hooper, Parker, Jewel, Whitgift. Lancelot Andrewes was an integral part of a church which persecuted catholics. The Tractarians were very disappointed when they came to study the 17th century and the Library of Anglo-Catholic theology ground to a halt for lack of material.

I wish it were otherwise but the old Anglo-Catholic theory of the Reformation seems to me no longer tenable. MacCulloch on the one hand and Haigh on the other , together with many others, have dealt it a death blow.

I share your anguish but not your analysis.

Ken Eck said...

Fr John, I think we must take heart that 'The Church is Catholic because its Gospel is true, from heaven and not from men; its catholicity then resides in Him, the Saviour of the world. But in the members of the Church this catholicity is defectively realized; for the Church militant on earth is in a state of imperfection.' (The Apostolic Ministry, by Kirk et al, 1947, p463) Thank heavens it doesn't reside ultimately in the hands of men and women!