17 January 2021

Rowan Williams

 A former pupil of mine has started a journal "MONK: art and the soul; an imaginarium" £15, $25, E20 for a large and lush product not supported by advertising.  If you looked at it, you would not, I think,  feel you had wasted your money.

Here is a paragraph from a long interview with Archbishop emeritus Rowan Williams; his words seem to me to apply to the Ordination rites of the post-Conciliar Roman Rite quite as much as it does to the modern rites of the Church of England:

" ... it's no kind of strategy for mission if we say we have to make [things?] less mysterious or less strange. I'm not a Latin Mass Fundamentalist , or a Prayer Book Fundamentalist, but I do think we get it seriously wrong if we think it's all got to be streamlined somehow, and simplified and made accessible. When I used to take ordinations according to the new Anglican Rite I used to feel really impatient because we were always explaining. There was always another paragraph telling people what's going on. I just thought, why can't we get on with it?"

Of course, Williams will have read Catherine Pickstock's After Writing, which uses various tools to elucidate the 'stammering' and 'oral' quality of the Tridentine Roman Rite. If certain things had fallen out differently, Archbishop Williams could have been one of us. 

After a couple of pages, he explains " ... I did, for a long time, think about [joining the Catholic Church], but ...

He explains his "but", and then goes on "It always seems to me that the great strength of the Roman Catholic Church, here and elsewhere, is the sheer taken-for-grantedness of prayer, and the on-going sacramental presence."

Once, when visiting Pope Benedict, Rowan was told that there was a slight delay while the Holy Father prayed before the Blessed Sacrament; he replied "Why can't I pray before the Blessed Sacrament too?" As a young priest, he had introduced Benediction in his parish.

I have heard that when, at his retirement, Williams paid his last visit to Benedict and knelt down to ask his blessing, the two of them were in tears.


Ana Milan said...

No-one has been given a free pass by Christ to ignore His Church, the OHCA Church he came on earth to found & which he instituted on St. Peter & the First Apostles. The only One He gave the Great Commission to as well as ordaing Bishops & priests to administer His Sacraments & offer the unbloody Sacrifice of the Holy Mass as a means to gaining our Heavenly inheritance. No Pope, Bishop, priest or religious, nor leader of any of the 38,000 schismatic religions/cults calling themselves 'Christian'can opt out & form their own road to Heaven when the going gets tough, as it always is due to sin. You are either a true disciple or not. EENS is a dogma of of the Church for a reason & no 'pope' can change it. If other 'Christians' haven't discerned by now that it is only the OHCA Church of Christ that has to take all the batterings, virulent hatred, abandonment, sacrileges, etc. then they simply aren't following Christ. Their Orders are worthless & their persistent attachment to king & country rather than Christ Our King is an insult to God.

Richard said...

I'd very much like to know why Rowan, and every other Anglican, prefers to stay in the community of Henry VIII than to belong to the Church of Christ.
What do these people find in the C of E which justifies disregarding Our Lord's command to be one?

Thomas Beyer said...

"You are either a true disciple or not." One wonders whether you have ever met a disciple of Christ at all. I've met quite a few people who were unequivocally not following Christ, but I don't think I've ever met any who were unequivocally following him.

The Church herself has said that the limits of the Faithful extend further than the walls of the Vatican. Continuing to approach separated brethren with this degree of charity will only serve to prolong the centuries of schism and confusion.

Thomas Beyer said...

There are lots of perfectly understandable reasons, Richard. One that I think many in Anglicanism are swayed by is beauty. In many places in the world, reception into the Catholic Church means being sentenced to a lifetime of ugliness and irreverence of worship.

Peter said...

Richard may find this article in The Guardian useful. https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2012/mar/16/rowan-williams-church-england-archbishop
He may have had profound disagreements with Pope Benedict but that would not prevent mutual respect and even affection.

Shaun Davies said...

Mr Beyer: as a convert from Anglicanism, I would say that there are very many Anglican churches where there is "ugliness and irreverence", an area of England in which we frequently stay has not a single Anglican church that would be high on the aesthetic religious beauty ladder. There are, conversely, in the area where we are now living a number of Roman Catholic churches where there is liturgical decency and dignity although in accord with the New Rite.
I think that there's a popular myth that all Anglican worship is wonderful and all Roman worship is awful. I have been a catholic since 1984 and a serious traditionalist Anglo-Catholic prior to that and I feel I am no better off nor off worse as R.C. when it comes to liturgical beauty. We do not go to worship God primarily in order to have our religious-emotional-aesthetic-likes & needs satisfied- however important they might be. As the Good Book says [I mean the 1662 B.C.P.] "we beseech Thee to accept this our bounden duty and service; not weighing our merits,but pardoning our offences,"

Prayerful said...

Rowan Williams seems more thoughtful than his oil industry successor. And if Catholicism as most understand it was not in the grip of a dogmatic ugliness, and a certain banality of thought, Rowan Williams would have surely swam the Tiber.

Dave K said...

I take Thomas's (Beyer) point entirely ...especially after watching Midnight Mass from Clifton Cathedral but the beauty missing from so many mainstream Catholic Churches is mitigated by the dignified and reverend celebrations practiced in the English Oratories.
Birmingham offers both EF and OF Masses as do all the others but in this time of lockdown, I have learned to accept the OF in English offered on-line at the Oxford Oratory.
I always had difficulty with this form but in Oxford, the Mass is celebrated ad orirntam carefully and without added 'gimmicks' which have found their way into many other celebrations elsewhere. Thankfully, "the ugliness and irreverence of worship" is not found amongst the Congregation of the Oratory, at least not here in the UK!

Richard said...

Thanks for the response Thomas. That's a good reason, but it's not good enough.The only good enough reason to adopt a faith is the deep conviction that it is true.
What is true of all the forms of protestantism is that they are separated by 1500 years from the Church founded by Our Lord.

Shaun Davies said...

When I moaned to an antiquarian bookseller about the standard of art, architecture, music and liturgical worship in the modern Catholic church he told me that the only thing I had to think about, study and pray about was whether the Roman Catholic Church was the continuation of the church founded by Our Lord; everything else was pious quibbling. He turned out to have been a married "ex-priest", who still practised his faith and spoke out painfully and clearly. He told me to go and read Msgr A.N.Gilbey's recently published WE BELIEVE.

Chris Jones said...

The only good enough reason to adopt a faith is the deep conviction that it is true.

True enough. I can't speak for Abp Williams, and I certainly carry no brief for Anglicanism; though I was baptised and raised an Episcopalian I haven't been an Anglican for decades. But part of the "deep conviction that it is true" in the case of Roman Catholicism is not only that our Lord founded one Church as a concrete, historically recognizable community, but that the Roman Catholic Church is it. Perhaps Abp Williams finds (as I do) that the historical evidence for that proposition does not rise far enough above "plausible" to merit "deep conviction."

I don't know what you mean by "separated by 1500 years" since we Protestants just a few years ago observed the 500th anniversary of the Reformation (not the 1500th). But assuming that you meant to type "separated by 500 years", another way to express my point is, how can we be sure that Protestants are separated by 500 years, rather than that Protestants and Catholics both are separated by 1,000 years?

Josephus Muris Saliensis said...

Dear Richard,

Just as I thought this discussion was beyond me, and though my friends tell me my mathematical skills are poor, I find you turn this thread into a mathematical one.

You state, as if it were fact, that Protestants are “separated by 1500 years from the Church founded by Our Lord.”

But surely they are separated by only 500 years? They were *united* by 1500 years - for that time all in Protestant lands, from the moment of their conversion, believed in the One Holy Catholic Apostolic and Roman Church.

Richard said...

What I meant by the 1500 years is that protestantism wasn't invented until that long after the apostolic age.

William Tighe said...

"They were *united* by 1500 years - for that time all in Protestant lands ..."

Except that They, or rather their forebears, were not Protestants then. Better to write "the various confessions and institutional structures of Protestantism" did not have any existence until nearly 1500 years after Our Lord founded His Church."

That leaves aside Chris Jones's 1000 years, which is a reference to the Catholic/Orthodox split, commonly but erroneously (if conveniently) dated to 1054 (although if one must give a date for what was really a gradual process I would give 1484, the date when the Eastern Patriarchs repudiated the Council of Florence and declared that Latin Christians wishing access to Orthodox sacraments must first repudiate "Latin errors" and be chrismated). A Copt, or Armenian, or Ethiopian might well say 1500 years, however.

Ansgerus said...

To be freed from ugliness find a place of traditional worship following strictly the traditional liturgies in all details!

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

"Dogmatic ugliness"???

What self-serving, still-born attempt at a figure of rhetoric is this - it doesn't even come close to being an oxymoron, if that was the intent!


P.S.: Chris Jones, if we're wrong, you are too. There's no avoiding it. If we're right - and we are - you're still wrong.