I have a signed and sealed document which assures me that on this day in 1968, Harry, by divine permission bishop of Oxford, solemnly administering Holy Orders in his Cathedral Church of Christ in Oxford, did duly and rightly ordain ME to the office of Priesthood ... etc.. Curious the things one remembers; during the imposition of hands by the Bishop and his presbyters simultaneously (so much more meaningful a collegiate action, inherited in the Church of England from the old Sarum Pontifical, than the curious little procession of individual presbyters that does it according to the more recent Roman Pontificals) I was aware of a curious fluttering on my head; not so much the Holy Spirit struggling to get through but the hand of one of the canons, a very distinguished Anglican Catholic theologian who was, poor chap, just starting Parkinson's disease. Cuius animae propitietur Deus. I use almost daily a work of reference which he compiled.
Then back to my place; and a few minutes later, as the Cathedral choir began the Sanctus, I began, for the first time as a presbyter, to murmur Te igitur, clementissime Pater, per Iesum Christum ... How many times, since then ...
Harry Carpenter was a kindly and gracious, if rather shy, Father-in-God, and a very learned (and orthodox) Bishop. He derived his episcopal succession not only through S Augustine's successors in the See of Canterbury (and, incidentally, through bishop Bonner, the hero of 1559), but also (via some rather iffy Dutchmen) through Bossuet and Cardinal Barberini, nephew of Urban VIII. It seemed difficult to imagine, back in 1968, how anything could happen that would make one wish to fulfill one's vocation as a Priest of the Catholic and Latin Church anywhere other than in the Provinces of Canterbury and York. So much holiness was there and so much real and profound learning; so much were they part of of the fabric of every English town and village; so autochthonous.
I wonder how many generations it took for those once flourishing churches around Hippo in North Africa to pass into sand and become history and memories. Sic transit ... As Blessed John Henry Newman put it, Canterbury has gone its way, and York is gone, and Durham is gone, and Winchester is gone. It was sore to part with them. We clung to the vision of past greatness, and would not believe it could come to naught; but ... And even Oxford, in a sense, is gone; the Oxford which for Newman - and for Trollope! - was the bastion and symbol of all that was best and most solidly enduring in Anglicanism.
Thank goodness I did not make the mistake of continuing to cling.