13 April 2010

A very handsome foetus

In his Foreward to Bishop Andrew Burnham's new Heaven and Earth in Little Space: the Re-enchantment of Liturgy, now hitting the bookshops, Fr Aidan Nichols describes the erudite author as
someone who wishes to forward, in the domain of worship, the 'Benedictine' hermeneutic of continuity understood as an optimally rich renewal from the best possible sources. And he wishes to do so, not only in the interests of helping the two existing communions most closely affected - Anglicanism and Rome - but also as a a midwife to a baby yet to be born, an embryonic ecclesia with an Anglican patrimony 'united not absorbed'. That would be a fine addition (we are learning to call them 'the Anglican Ordinariates') to the circle of churches, Western and Eastern, that make up the Great Church, from whose universally primatial see Gregory once sent Augustine to England, to land on the Ebbsfleet shore.

It is a fine tribute to the Bishop of Ebbsfleet's fine book; all the most fittingly so because the learned Dominican has done more than anybody else outside the Church of England, over a couple of decades now, to further the project of Anglicanism repatriated to Catholic Unity. Back in the days when such an idea was a pipe-dream as remote as Scifi, Fr Aidan set the ball rolling with The Panther and the Hind; when nobody else seemed to want us, he sat with a group of us, day after day, helping us as we tried to do theology in that familiar cellar in Gordon Square; he addressed the Forward in Faith Assembly, with memorable elegance, in the Emmanuel Centre at Westminster; he preached a superb retreat in the Close at Salisbury to the Ebbsfleet clergy.

If Bishop Andrew, together with Bishops John and Keith, is one of the midwives ... an excitingly rococo piece of imagery ... then Fr Aidan is undoubtedly the Consultant Obstetrician. Ad multos annos, Magister.

Make sure you read the book.

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