9 June 2018

Ecce Sacerdos Magnus! (5)

If you browse through the Pontificale Romanum as it so admirably was before the post-Conciliar depravations, you will discover that the most solemn liturgical blessings and consecrations both of persons and of things had one constant feature. They began like the Preface of the Mass, with Dominus vobiscum; Sursum corda; Gratias agamus; Vere dignum et iustum est, aequum et salutare .... This is how Major Orders were conferred; how Chrism and the Paschal Candle were blessed; how Abbots, Abbesses, Virgins and Queens, Churches and Altars, were solemnly blessed. The custom was not 'primitive'; but expressed very beautifully the 'primitive' understanding that it is by Thanksgiving, Eucharistia, that things are blessed and made over to God. Nowadays, apart from the Mass, the Paschal Candle appears to be the only survival in the Novus Ordo of this noble custom (apparently, in modern liturgical theology, candles are more sacral objects than Bishops or even Virgins!). Couratin provides the Prayer for the Ordination of Priests remodelled in this way. Here we have something more than just an elegant literary embellishment; it is in itself a theological statement. Priests are something more than the merely functional. They are consecrated, changed, just as the Eucharistic Elements themselves are consecrated and changed.


The Rite of Ordination which I have described was only used in one Anglican diocese (as far as I know) and possibly only during two episcopates, those of Kirk and Carpenter. I must emphatically disclaim any intention of investing my narrative with any broader theological significance. But that Diocese was a rather special star in our Anglican firmament (fuit Troia, fuimus Troiani ...), and Kirk was a profoundly significant figure in that now long-vanished Anglo-Catholic world of Dix and Mascall and Farrer and their associates. Surely, it cannot fail to be a matter of interest precisely how just such a bishop solemnly administered the Sacrament of Holy Order in his Cathedral Church of Christ in Oxford?

How happy are those Oxford flocks
How free from heretics;
Their clergy all so orthodox
Their Bishop orthoDix. 

Bishop Harry Carpenter was succeeded by Kenneth Woolcombe, an enthusiast for the the ordination of women who was put in despite scant experience of the parochial ministry because he was regarded as a high-flyer who would almost certainly go on to Canterbury. Exactly what happened I don't know; I had moved on to Southwark (the C of E has no system of Incardination). But an enormous collapse undoubtedly occurred in the diocese. There is no trace now of that great old succession of scholar bishops and erudite parish clergy.

As the current Roman regime apparently moves towards the 'nuancing' of Humanae Vitae, we should also remember Bishop Charles Gore, who so unambiguously and so robustly denounced the apostasy of Lambeth 1930 in this matter of conjugal ethics. His witness is part of our Patrimony.

May I thank all those who, on this day of my Golden Jubilee, have sent me good wishes. Above everything, thanks be to God that by his merciful grace I have kept the Faith.



scotchlil said...

Woolcombe. I was present when he preached at St Mary's Bourne St some years ago, and made much of the fact that, not only had he no parochial experience, but also that he had just become his wife's curate. Many of us hold him in large part responsible for the departure of the Scottish Church from 'Evangelical Faith and Apostolic Order' through his time at Coates Hall. What ruination he and others of his ilk wrought upon the Gospel and the Church. They were great sneerers and dismissers, but they had nothing to replace what they took such delight in demolishing. What exactly was it that twisted that whole generation away from the faith once delivered? And so soon after that Golden Age of Dix, Mascal, et al.?

Dr. Eric said...

Ad Multos Annos!

I pray that God will grant you many more blessed years, Father.

Christopher Boegel said...

God bless you Father Hunwicke...you have encouraged me with your respect for tradition...a mark of true Catholic identity...as only a learned ecclesial man can do...the Oxford style is icing on the cake!

Bud said...

Best wishes and the grace of God be with you on this anniversary.
Thank you for your blog which I find very helpful in extending my knowledge of the church.
Brian Wacey

Scribe said...

Fr Curatin et al. Fr H, your erudite articles on the Anglo-Catholic 'greats' of yesteryear kindle many memories from my Oxford days in the 1950s. K.E. Kirk was still bishop,Fr Stephenson still presided at Mary Mags, and Pusey House was a hotbed of first-class minds, working under the careful eye of the chain-smoking Principal, Fr Milburn. I occasionally served Mass at St Paul's Walton Street, where everything was in Latin. When Harry Carpenter became bishop,a sign appeared in the vestry reading: Nomen Episcopi: Harricus. Such fun! But the heart went out of it all in 1992, when the floodgates were opened to all kinds of heterodoxy. I have been a Roman Catholic 9and content with the missa noermativa) for many years, but will never forget the glory days of Anglo-Catholicism's 'second spring' in the 1950s.

Unknown said...

My chain-smoking predecessor at Pusey House was Fr Maycock, not Fr Milburn, who was a distinguished figure in ‘South Coast- Anglo-Catholicism.

Grant Milburn said...

Fascinating reading. How very different from the home life of my own dear Anglican parishes with their Evangelical pastors and women priests. It was interesting to learn that thanks to the Dutch, there are Anglican priests who possess the Mana to give one the True Manna.

G Milburn (No relation)