Tuesday 28 January 2014

Plus ҫa change

The Church Commissioners are moving the Bishop of Bath and Wells out of the Palace. How good, you might think, to cut bishops down to size and make some money into the bargain...except that they probably won't do well financially. They are putting the new Bishop into a former Parsonage. That Vicarage is one they sold off a few years ago and  they are now buying it back at a much higher price. The whole business reminded me of a couple of other property coups of the Commissioners.
When a house had to be found for a suffragan bishop (of Lynn) in Norwich Diocese, they purchased for him the Vicarage of Castle Acre - at much more than they had sold it for only a few years earlier. There was another even more remarkable piece of dealing. The Bishops of Portsmouth had lived at Bishopswood in Fareham, a large thatched property standing in many acres of land. The site might have been developed, but the Commissioners were put off by the local authority who said the land could not be built on. So they sold Bishopswood and bought a 19th Century house built originally for a Naval Officer. They spent several hundred thousands more than the price obtained for the former house in bringing the new one up to standard.
Drive past the site of the old house now, and you will see it glamorously restored (and rented out very profitably) while many new 'executive' houses stand in the grounds. They appeared there within a couple of years of the sale - so the local authority must have changed its mind about development.
You could say this is no concern of someone in the Ordinariate - except that the one part of the Church of England with which some of us remain in unimpaired communion is the Pensions Board, funded to a large extent by the Church Commissioners. Doesn't Parliament have some oversight of their activities?

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Unity Week

Sometimes it is the small things that matter. Today was a day off (unusual event for retired priests) so we were in Winchester. I helped out at Holy Trinity for some years during their long interregnum, and they have given me the privilege of parking there; very helpful, parking is expensive and difficult in the City.otherwise. We were able to catch up with Fr Jones (the House for Duty Priest there) and a few others who had been at the mid-morning eucharist. Even without the benefit of parking, I think it is very important to maintain old friendships. So often there seems to be sourness between Anglicans who have decided to stay on and those of us who have responded to Anglicanorum Coetibus. There is no rancour where Holy Trinity is concerned, though, and some of them have joined us on occasion for Evensong and Benediction. There are many in the catholic movement in the Church of England who have decided that their place, at least for the present, is in that communion. In this week above all others we should be praying for one another on either side of the Tiber, and keeping our friendships in good order.

Perhaps for us the most important place to sustain our friendships is WALSINGHAM. Here are the Administrator of the Anglican Shrine, Bishop Lindsay Urwin, and our Ordinary, Mgr Keith Newton, at the Ordinariate's Pilgrimage. Members of our Mission are meeting this Sunday to firm up our plans for this Summer's Walsingham event.

Then, quite by chance, Jane and I renewed another friendship today. We were having a pub lunch in Winchester when Fr James Bradley appeared. He is very briefly in England for his Grandmother's funeral. He should have flown back to Washington today but flights were cancelled because of snowstorms on the East Coast of the USA. Good to catch up with him briefly and exchange news of the Ordinariates on either side of the Atlantic. The picture is an old one, I fear - in reality he looks younger and fitter than ever. Another very happy meeting in Unity Week.

Thursday 16 January 2014

That Patrimony Thing Part I - Liturgical

The Ordinariate, established by the last Pope under the terms of Anglicanorum Coetibus, was an attempt to bring Anglicans into the Catholic Church with elements of their gifts from the past, their Patrimony as it was called. Since that time, there have been diverse attempts at describing what this Patrimony might be. Principally, there have been two quite different opinions: what you might call the view of the Patrimony from outside, and the view from inside; the latter being the view of  those of us who have come from the Church of England itself.

For many, but especially those outside the Church of England, it has been largely a matter of liturgy, and especially of liturgical language. So, quoted in a recent edition of the Portal magazine, Mgr Steven Lopes of the CDF has said "the Anglican Liturgical Patrimony is that which has nourished the Catholic Faith, within the Anglican tradition during the time of ecclesiastical separation, and has given rise to this new desire for full communion".  That definition is helpful, and one with which I think many former Anglo-Catholics would agree. Where we might not agree, though, is when Mgr Lopes goes on to speak specifically of the Book of Common Prayer, in particular of elements of the Communion Service, as the repository of our liturgical patrimony. "I'm thinking" he is quoted as saying,"of the Comfortable Words, the Summary of the Law, the Collect for Purity, the Prayer of Humble Access - they have given beautiful expression to the truth! It is a truth of God that truly liberates us...." Oh, if only the Prayer Book had been allowed to liberate us. For some overseas that might have been the experience; it might have freed American Anglicans, for instance, from the stifling 'liberalism' that has gradually infected and killed their church. In England, though, the Prayer Book has been an instrument of oppression, and the attitude of many of us is very different from our overseas cousins .

Now Mgr Lopes acknowledges that Anglican Liturgical Patrimony "is not just 1549 or 1662". "You have", he says, "to look at the whole Anglican experience to see how that faith was nourished". Well, for many of us it came as a relief to have Series II and Series III and then the Alternative Service Book. All these took little steps in a more catholic direction - by reducing the recital of the Ten Commandments to the Summary of the Law of which Fr Lopes so approves, by allowing rather careful prayers for the departed, and even a little hint of Mariology. But we saw none of this as 'Anglican Liturgical Patrimony'. It was a reversion, rather, to our pre-reformation heritage; and the way we found to do it was through Roman Catholic models.

So then, is there a Liturgical Patrimony which we want to bring into the Catholic Church? For me, at least, there certainly is. First, there is the tradition of preaching at the Eucharist. Indeed, in the Prayer Book it is ONLY in the Holy Communion Service that the minister is instructed to preach. This ancient tradition is now recognised within the Catholic Church, but Anglicans, and especially Anglo-Catholics, have always valued preaching. In the 1980's it is a fact, surprising to some, that St Stephen's House, the last remaining Anglo-Catholic theological college in England, spent more time on homiletics than any of the other Anglican colleges.

Then again, Hymnody has been a valued element in Anglican Liturgy. Especially through the English Hymnal and its derivatives the hymns sung in worship have been from the great tradition, and have preserved much that Catholic worship has undervalued. "How marvellous" say some 'cradle' catholics when they join us for Mass: "You sing words written by St Bede and by Chesterton, St John Damascene and Gregory the Great!" And so we do, along with hymns by St Ambrose and the Wesleys, Sam Johnson, Bishop Ken, John Keble and so many others. These are not just little ditties, but profound vehicles of theological truth and holy worship. True Patrimony. Because they are given such good things to sing, former Anglicans really DO sing - and have been surprised at how many Catholics do not so much as open their hymnals.

The daily Offices of Morning and Evening prayer and the Psalter are a great part of the Patrimony. Again, it is not just a matter of the printed words, but the way they are used. On beginning in a new parish I was told that one lady who rarely came to church said to our Churchwarden "I am glad he is doing things properly". "What do you mean?" he asked. "Well, I hear him ring the bell each morning and evening before the Offices". Morning and Evening Prayer offered by the Vicar, often joined by some of his parishioners, on behalf of the whole parish - that is Patrimony, surely? Perhaps more truly Patrimony than the daily Mass (a fairly modern introduction in Anglicanism).

Above all, in liturgical celebration it is not so much the words you say as the way that you say them. The Missal can sound solemn and thoughtful, or as empty as a recital from the phone book. The same is true of collects from the Prayer Book, or chapters from the King James version of the Bible.

Some translations certainly are more poetic than others. Compare two versions of the collect for the first week of the Church's year: "Attend to the pleas of your people with heavenly care, O Lord, we pray, that they may see what must be done and gain strength to do what they have seen..."  "O Lord, we beseech you mercifully to receive the prayers of your people who call upon you; and grant that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil the same...." The second, with its balanced phrases, is the more poetic - and therefore the easier to sing or say. The former is stilted and clumsy ('attend to the pleas' indeed! .. a little like attending to the washing up).   For my money, the prayer book collects give us masterly versions of the Latin originals. These do not depend for their effectiveness on language which has fallen into disuse - replacing  'thee' and  'thou' and 'which' with 'you' and 'your' and 'who' does no damage to Cranmer's collect. To me it seems rather a pity that the Use of the Ordinariate not only retains the archaisms, but copies and multiplies them ("not as we ask in our ignorance nor as we deserve in our sinfulness but as though knowest and lovest us.".&c &c) But if it keeps the Americans happy, I suppose we must stay with it. And it is what we have been given, so we must - until we can manage something better.,

So there is a liturgical patrimony; but it is not just a matter of words. Rather it has to do with our manner of celebrating, what might be summed up as "the beauty of holiness" - and this surely is something we all seek, whether cradle catholics or ordinarians? What is more, some of the words which Mgr Lopes finds so beautiful (he cites the prayer of Humble Access) will always have, for some of us, an element of their past history. Cranmer used that prayer in order to break up the Canon of the Mass, and turn people's thoughts from God to themselves. He also used it to stress the need for Communion in both Kinds against the then Catholic custom of reserving the chalice for the priest. However beautiful its words, the smell of where it comes from hangs over it.

So far I've been concerned mainly with Liturgy, since some seem to think this is the totality of our Patrimony. Besides liturgy, though, there is also an Anglican Pastoral attitude; the sense that everyone within a geographical area is the responsibility of the Vicar; a vision which derives from the Induction service where a Bishop says to the new incumbent "Receive the cure of souls which is both mine and yours..."  But this part of the Patrimony, which is to me its more important element, because its more clearly evangelistic, will need treating at length another time.

Saturday 4 January 2014

Start as you mean to carry on...

A good beginning to the New Year, despite floods which have made us send for blueprints for an ark. Jane decided it was time we threw a party for our Ordinariate Group, and today around twenty of them made the trek to Lymington.

It was a little snug in our retired Council House, but by spilling across the two ground floor rooms and out into the conservatory everyone found a seat (even if it was on the floor) - and a drink - and some food.

The rain rattled down on the Conservatory, but we managed to get the whole house pretty warm. Next weekend will be a different occasion because our Ordinary is visiting to talk about future options for our Bournemouth Mission.
Jane enjoys people-watching on these occasions, seeing who is talking to whom, and where people perch to eat. It is a huge amount of work for her, preparing so much food, but she seems to enjoy it, and every one appears glad of an opportunity for a non-church setting for a social event.

The pictures are un-photoshopped, unedited and pretty amateur but they give some idea of today's get-together. Now I must gather my wits for my fist visit to St Thomas More, Iford, tomorrow where our Fr Darryl in now in charge.