"You know, John, I think I'm getting a bit tired of the Bread of Life."
This was said to me by an Irish bishop ... a Church of Ireland bishop ... one Sunday morning in the church of S John Baptist on Valentia Island, off the beautiful West coast of Ireland. No; his words were not an example of old-style Church of Ireland Protestantism; bishop Ned is (he's still going strong in his late eighties) a civilised and well-read man with a catholic Sacramental theology.
He had many different ways of signing his name; Edward Limerick; Edward Ardfert; Edward Killaloe; Edward Kilfenora; Edward Clonfert; Edward Kilmacduagh; and Edward Emly.
Yes; you will have guessed: he was not a confidence trickster with multiple aliases, but a very grand episcopal pluralist and the inheritor of seven originally separate dioceses. I would like to tell you that when, on a Sunday morning, he stepped off the ferry at Knightstown, he processed up the main street wearing seven cappae magnae ... but you might not believe me. It is so hard to pull the wool over your eyes.
It might interest some of you that a couple of his seven dioceses lost their independant existence around 1834, when the British government took a savage pair of scissors to the Church of Ireland. This, in turn; led to the Oxford Movement, the 'Catholic Revival', in the Church of England. You see, on grounds of Catholic principle, the Oxford clerical establishment objected to Erastian politicians interfering in the organisation of the Church, even when that involved suppressing Irish bishoprics.
Incidentally, Bishop Ned is the son of an archdeacon and the grandson of a Bishop of Cork. Even more incidentally, the local Ascendancy aristocrat is known as the Hereditary Knight of Kerry, and the present holder of that title is ... a Patron of the Latin Mass Society! It's a small world!
So: why was his Lordship Bishop Darling "getting a bit tired" of the Bread of Life?
The Church of Ireland was, I regret to say, using the very same Eucharistic Lectionary adopted after Vatican II by most of the Latin Church. This was constructed on the principle of a three-year Sunday Gospel cycle: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. (S John appeared on special occasions.) But S Mark's Gospel was a bit short ... and so it was padded out by having S John's 'Eucharistic Discourse' (John 6) divided up and interpolated into the Marcan sequence of readings. This meant that, every "Year B", one had no fewer than four successive Sundays (in high summer too, with the mackerel biting in the bay and the myrtles around Glanleam in full blossom) in which one ought to be preaching about the Bread of Life. Yes; I know; one can't say too much about that. But four Sundays in a row every third year seems a tadge unsophisticated as an arrangement.
I know this sort of thing does not worry many of the Mainstream clergy of the Catholic Church, who only fall back on preaching from the Readings on occasions when they can't think of anything really interesting to say; but Bishop Ned, being only an Anglican, was a conscientious homilist.
We were recently told by arthur roche that the Usus Deterior is very "rich", and I can see a tiny something of what the poor fellow has in mind. Sunday worshippers do nowadays liturgically hear things which, in the days of the Usus Authenticus of the Roman Rite, were not set before them on Sundays or special days. In the UA, we get parts of John 6:25-to-end only on Corpus Christi and All Souls' Day.
But Bishop Darling's light-hearted throwaway witticism, cleverly concealing a very powerful point, made me wonder whether the methodology behind the 1960s creation of a new Eucharistic Lectionary de novo ... with no basis whatsoever in Tradition ... really was as clever as most people (including me) thought it was half a century ago.
Scissors-and-paste is not the only valid liturgical methodology. Scissors can be a very blunt instrument!
Fas est ab Anglicanis doceri!