26 March 2015

Wason's Bishop and his Extraordinary Sunday

As Catholic Anglicans, we had something like a century's experience of introducing what we used then to call "the Western Rite", i.e. the 'Tridentine' liturgy associated with the name of S Pius V, into parishes which had not previously known it. Quite often this was done overnight; as an interregnum came to its end, the newly instituted incumbent sprang (what Pope Benedict was later to name) the Extraordinary Form on the parish on his very first Sunday morning. I recently shared with you Fr Bernard Walke's moving account of how he did this at S Hilary's in Cornwall.

His friend Fr Sandys Wason did likewise at nearby Cury and Gunwalloe. A few months later, Fr Wason's bishop had heard that some of the congregation were restive. (Wason had also sacked a 'gentry' Churchwarden and appointed in his place a villager; and had expressed from the pulpit his view of the Ordo Recentior by holding aloft a Book of Common Prayer, and affecting to look inside it before throwing it down to the ground with the words "Made in Germany!") So the bishop announced that he was coming over the next Sunday to officiate in the church and to Sort Things Out. Probably surmising that his Lordship did not intend to use a rite that included the Third Confiteor, Father saw to it that he was already well into his own Tridentine Missa Cantata by the time the right reverend prelate's conveyance rolled up to the church. The latter announced to the large crowds of gaping sightseers who had come to watch the 'fun', that he would await the end of the Vicar's Service, and then celebrate the Holy Communion.

The Bishop underestimated both the stamina of the Anglo-Catholic clergy and laity ... and their appetite for Marian devotion. Immediately after Mass, with no greater interruption than the removal of his maniple, Fr Wason began Solemn Rosary ... not one of those rapid Irish Rosaries with the laity racing into the Holy Mary before the priest has even got to the fruit of thy womb, but a slow, meditative, Anglican Rosary in which, at the end of each Mystery, Father preached about it generously and extensively, allowing no typological crumb to fall unexamined to the ground. Eventually the Pontiff, almost fainting because he had not had a bite of lunch, gave up and was driven back to his Palace at Lys Escop. When Fr Wason - after delivering what may have been the most exhaustive treatise on the Coronation of our Lady in the history of Christian homiletics - finally emerged into the setting sun, he dismissed the waiting mob of journalists with a wave of his hand and the information that, since he was of course still fasting, he was off to have his breakfast.

Wason's Cornish critics did score some points against him, most notably when they dumped the putrescent corpse of a donkey on the Vicarage doorstep. There were times when West Country humour may have had its slightly heavy side.

Happy days, that blessed era of the Walkes and the Wasons, the glittering Age of Confessors when 'Faith was taught and fanned to a golden blaze'; and how authentically it is still right at the heart of our beloved Anglican Patrimony. We must keep alive in our three Ordinariates the spirit of those Heroes of the Faith! Memoria aeterna!


Matthew Roth said...

If only Catholic parishes were able to do this and survive intact!

vesper said...

Matthew Roth's comment appeared mysteriously in my inbox a couple of days after I spoke with the C of E's Bishop of Tonbridge, Bishop Brian, in the Ark of Erith.

It would appear to be directed at the Anglo-Catholic clergy and laity, which is strange as I mentioned the late Father David Diamond of St Paul's Deptford. the C of E's Guardian of Walsingham, to Bishop Brian when we were talking together in the Ark of Erith.

Ben Bolgar the Director of Design Theory and Networks at The Prince's Foundation has wished me all the best with my on-going fight for JUSTICE NOT VENGEANCE 1991-2015.

Our Lady of Walsingham pray for us!

Kind regards

Roy Hobson https://soundcloud.com/roy-hobson aka "Vesper"