18 February 2022

Bishop Ned Darling, and the Bugnini Lectionary

"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!


Peter Presland said...

Magnificent! but who counted them? (the cappae magnae that is) and, since they are not exactly lightweight and inclined to drag along the floor unless properly attended, I trust it wasn't a typical West-of-Ireland rainy day.

As for ".... who only fall back on preaching from the Readings on occasions when they can't think of anything really interesting to say": sadly, yet another pricelss epitome of the Novus Ordo Catholic Church.

Chuck said...

Marvelous article. But the bishop need not preach on the Bread of Life. There is the Old Testament, the Epistle (or Revelation or the Acts) and the Psalm to choose from. Its something I've only recommended when the Gospel is Luke 16:1-13.

Retired Judge said...

I think that the seventh diocese should be Aghadoe, not Emly. Emly is joined to Cashel in both Anglican and Roman hierarchies.

Arthur Gallagher said...

I had a friend who completely lost his faith while attending a Jesuit prep school.

The reason that he gave me is that the liturgy is all made up, and because the readings are based on a three year cycle that had been administratively determined.

I was surprised that he even knew about the three year cycle, but leave it to the Jesuits to grasp the inessential when teaching children!

Twenty years since he confided his loss of faith to me, I am often struck by how little his classmates know of the faith, which, for them seems to come down to a sort of social justice agenda, that most of them reject, but which has propelled some of them into leftism. None of them seem at all to have any grasp of Christian belief, or any devotion to Our Lord.

It seems that, for the Jesuits teaching his generation, faith was arbitrary, and religion was an administrative act. Behold! The Three Year Cycle of Readings!

My friend returned to the nominal practice of the Catholicism with his marriage, and the birth of children. With, or without faith, I cannot say. Real belief, and love of God only returned for him with a terminal and lingering case of cancer, leaving him dead at 38 years of age. Seven years have passed since he has gone.

There are worse things than cancer.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Perhaps this question will reveal a great flaw in me, but I persist, counting on your charity.

You say: "bishop Ned is (he's still going strong in his late eighties) a civilised and well-read man with a catholic Sacramental theology" (emphasis added).


At this late date, how can this claim about an Anglican or, in this case, "Church of Ireland" cleric be made seriously? I am assuming, perhaps very wrongly, that the Church of Ireland has followed largely the same path in recent decades as the Church of England, jettisoning coherent morality here, ordaining women there, and attempting to sacralize impossible marriage arrangements here -- am I mistaken? All this, of course, on top of the entirely dodgy, spurious, very-difficult-to-take-seriously origin story of the established Church of England/Ireland.

Newman tried to sell it -- and who could do it better? -- but in the end, he couldn't swallow his own cooking and went where he had to go, to Rome, much to his own misery.

If a cleric in either of these bodies has a "Catholic sacramental theology," does he have valid orders? Does he try to find out? Why persist in carrying out clerical duties when one knows he is not actually ordained? Of, does said cleric seek out an indisputably valid bishop whose available to do such things, and get truly ordained -- and thereby make a devastating statement about the "church" he is a bishop?

I am not unfeeling to the difficulties of leaving a place of familiarity and also providing a living, for you and your family, to enter, alone and without visible means of support, into communion with Rome. It must be an awful spot to be in. But, if you have a "Catholic sacramental theology," I just don't get how anyone, at this stage, can be escape responding urgently to the dilemma. He is not blissfully unaware. If you are a cleric of the Anglican/Church of Ireland/Episcopal Church USA sort, with a "Catholic sacramental theology," you are either a pretend captain on a pretend ship, or a real captain pretending to be a pretend captain on the same pretend ship. How is this tenable? How am I wrong?