4 July 2018

Michael Moreton and the Canon of the Mass (1)

The Reverend Michael Moreton, Prebendary of Exeter, was the last of the great Anglican liturgical scholars of the twentieth century to die. I had the pleasure and honour of his acquaintance. While sorting through some old files the other day, I came across two letters from him, which I will share with you.

Why should you be interested in the views of some Anglican? Because, quite simply, the problems about which he wrote were essentially the very same liturgical problems at the heart of the worship of the modern Catholic Church. Fr Michael put his finger right on the heart of the problem.

The first is dated 29 June 2000. I omit some personalia.

"There has been, so far as I am aware, a muted reaction to my critique of the eucharistic prayers in Common Worship [the Anglican liturgical book which had just come into use]. At a meeting ... there seemed to be an uncritical acceptance of these prayers, and puzzlement that I should find them defective ... . And while I have heard nothing but enthusiasm for Christ our Future [an Anglo-Catholic celebration of the opening of the new millennium], no one seems to have had any misgivings about the eucharistic prayer that was used. Brian Brindley, its part-author, had no illusions about its evasive language, and never used it himself. He must be smiling inwardly that Forward in Faith Catholics should be sold on it now.

"One has to distinguish, I think, between legality and authority in the eucharistic prayer. Getting on for thirty eucharistic prayers have had legality conferred upon them in as many years in the Church of England, which shows how confused Anglicans are in this matter. But the Roman Canon has an authority which it shares with the Canon of Scripture, the Canon of Faith, and canonical order. In my opinion Forward in Faith should stand by this authority, recognising that it will never get past the General Synod."

The second letter, tomorrow.

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