Monday, December 27, 2010

On the Fourth Day of Christmas...

...we chuck out the tree and take down the lights.

Or at least that seems to be the way it is around here. This seems to me to be a pity, but I suppose it is inevitable given that most folks have been celebrating Christmas - or that great euphemism "The Holidays" since sometime around Thanksgiving. I have a suspicion a lot of people are 'Christmassed-out' long before the 25th. I sometimes wonder whether our delightfully full churches on Christmas Eve, and the relatively empty churches thereafter until the New Year are a reflect the fact folks feel they have reached the climax, and can now have a little break.

However, Christmas in the Church's calendar is a far more complicated thing. For a start, like Easterit has its time of preparation; the four Sundays of Advent in which we investigate the different ways Christ was proclaimed - for example, in Scripture and by St John the Baptist. During Advent the dominant themes are the need to reflect and make ready for the coming of the Saviour. The antipation is cranked up even further by the nine Advent antiphons ending with "O Virgin of Virgins" on the 23rd.

Then there are the two Christmas Eucharists - the early one reflecting on the historical circumstances of His birth, and then the main Mass at which St John invites us to meditate upon the mystery that "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us."

The next three days - St Stephen, St John Evangelist, and the Innocents Day - all have a particular connection with Christ. St Stephen was the first to give his life for the Gospel after the Resurrection; St John of all the evangelists sees deepest into the mystery of the Incarnation; and the Holy Innocents whose blood was shed because of the rage and fear of Herod who had heard that a new king, the true king, had been born.

The fact that two of three Holydays immediately associated with Christmas should concern martyrdom is a reminder that the the incarnation happens under the shadow of the Cross. Whilst the birth itself was a time of unalloyed joy, the Gospel accounts place it between two somber warnings. Firstly, if you cast your mind back to the Annunciation, the angel proclaims to the Blessed Virgin Mary that a sword shall pass through her own heart, that sword she felt almost 34 years later when she sees her Son crucified at Golgotha. Secondly, shortly after His birth the Magi bring gold, frankincense, and myrrh - the last being particularly associated with death.

The feast of the Nativity itself is followed immediately by the Martyrdom of Stephen, and then three days later by the account of the murder of the Innocents. Even the 'white' feast of St John in between is not completely untouched by persecution for the sake of the Gospel. John was exiled to Patmos for the sake of the Gospel, and there is an old tradition that someone tried to kill the Evangelist by poisoning the chalice.

In the context of our prayers on St Stephen's Day we remembered before God in our Eucharistic intentions the Nigerian Christians murdered as they attended Christmas services. A sobering reminder that men still fear and hate the Good News of Christ. The reason folks fear the Gospel so much is because it faces them with some Absolute Truths - particularly our need of God, and for the salvation that comes through Christ alone. People find it difficult to accept that they are sinners who need the grace of God, and in their denial of His grace, they are often driven to persecute those who live by His Gospel.

The Octave of Christmas closes on New Year's Day closes with the feast of the Circumcision. Modern liturgists tend to run scared from the Circumcision mainly, one suspects, because it brings them a bit too face to face with both the humanity and the Jewishness of Christ. It is a day on which one needs to remember both the fulfilment of the Old Covenant, which was so much of Christ's mission, and also give thanks for the his Holy Name, which proclaims or Salvation.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Some Thoughts on Episcopacy

November 14th is the anniversary of Samuel Seabury's consecration as the first Bishop of Connecticut in 1784. He is also accorded first place in the sucession of the American Church though he did not align with the Protestant Episcopal Church until 1787.

Back in the eighteenth century, Episcopal consecrations were semi-private occasions. Seabury's took place in the large room over the bank in Aberdeen High Street which then served as St Andrew's Episcopal Kirk. The consecrations of White, Provoost, and Madison all took place in the relatively small Chapel in Lambeth Palace. This creates quite a contrast to the sort of consecrations we have seen in TEC recently - the jamboree that accompanied Ms. Glasspool's consecration in an LA area arena would not have been further from the semi-private affair at which Seabury was consecrated. The eighteenth century conception of a bishop was that of a 'Lord Spiritual' whose authority derived as much from the complicated web of rights and privileges accorded to him by law and custom as to his spiritual authority. Certain bishops - Canterbury, York and Durham, and Armagh - were great territorial magnates - who were expected to act in the government interest, and to be in London (or Dublin) during the Parliamentary season. Their spiritual functions tended to reduced to being 'Confirming and Ordaining machines.' It was not uncommon at the beginning of a bishop's tenure for him to have to make up the backlog left by his ailing predecessor, and confirmations at which several hundred candidates were presented to the bishop were not uncommon. However, above all else bishops were administrators licensing clergy, enforcing residence, administering clerical and moral discipline, and at time, cajoling vestries to repair churches.

The sort of Episcopate that Seabury, White, Provoost and Madison embarked on was different to that of both the Established Churches of England and Ireland, and that of the disestablished Scottish Episcopal Church. They lacked both the political clout of the English and Irish Bishops, and the absolute spiritual authority within their dioceses that the Scottish bishops enjoyed. They also had to work out what it meant to be a Bishop within a constitutionally governed Church.

As is so often the case, the role of an American bishop was defined by the familiar logical device of thesis; antithesis; synthesis.

The thesis seems to have been postulated by Seabury, who embraced the Scottish pattern of Episcopacy. Unlike say Pennsylvania where there was a State Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church that included both clergy and laity, Connecticut simply had an advisory council of priests. Seabury saw Church governance as a purely clerical responsibility, and acted accordingly by barring laymen from church councils. The flip side of his high view of the clerical office was that he devoted a good deal of his time to administering the neglected ordinance of Confirmation, and to examining candidates prior to ordination.

The antithesis was provided by both White and Provoost, both of whom acted much like the Commissaries of the Colonial Era. They saw themselves first and foremost as administrators, except that they did not just license clergy, they also ordained them. Confirmation would be administered to any who sought them out, but as yet they did not feel it incumbant upon them to go out on confirmation tours like their brother in New England. In addition to their clerical style, there was also a difference in the way in which they governed the Church in the States where they were bishops. White ran the Church in Pennsylvania in co-operation with the State Convention. Policy would be agreed and then implimented. Periodically, White would tour parts of his diocese ascertaining its general state, but his duties as Rector of Christ Church & St Peter, Philadelphia, kept him at home for long periods. However, he gradually embraced the more actie style of Episcopacy developed by Madison and later by Hobart.

The synthesis was provided to some extent by James Madison, Bishop of Virginia, who until his health began to decline in the late 1790s combined a little of both the Seabury and White approaches to the Episcopate. Madison toured a distinct area of Virginia each summer visiting parishes and administering confirmation. He also managed to work reasonably harmoneously with a Virginia Convention dominated by the FFVs. These landed gentlemen were hostle to 'too much bishopping' - which is probably why they chose the already overly busy Madison as their bishop. However they could accept Madison as he was one of their own and understood the complex elaionship between Church, Gentry and State in Virginia. Unfortunately for Madison, the disendownment of the Church in Virginia denied his diocese necessary funds and a serious decline set in during the mid-1790s. As his health declined, Madison largely gave up travelling, and this has led to the myth of his being a 'failed' Episcopate. It was left to the High Church Bishop Hobart and the Evangelical Bishop Richard Channing Moore to develop the Madison model of Episcopacy into the norm for the American Episcopal Church.

The traditional American model became one of the Bishop first and foremost as the chief sacramental minister of his diocese, but also as the one who put into effect the diocesan policy agreed between himself and and the Diocesan Convention. The bishop was expected to be the leader, but not a tyrant. Most of the great American bishops - the two Bishops Potter of New York, Manning - also of New York, several successive bishops of Pennsylvania during the early twentieth century, William Lawrence of Massachusetts, etc., understood this complex relationship between monarchical Episcopacy and Constitutional government and were able to bring to a high pitch of efficiency.

Sadly, today, the view of the role of bishop has changed again. The old understanding of the bishop as the 'chief priest' of the diocese has been replaced by a more secular model - that of the business world. Whilst the church, in the administration of its finances does need to embrace sound business practices, it should not allow secular management principles and ethic to become too entrenched in matters relating to mission and ministry. Sadly, the corporate church, with its boards, committees, and focus groups has become the dominant influence on the life of man dioceses. It is said of eighteenth century governments that 'politics was essentially personal' today, the personal often gets lost in amongst all the politics. I fear that the impotence of the Anglican tradition in the new mission fields of the West stems from the fact that we have organised the life out of the Church by creating so much dead bureaucracy.

The other great danger for bishops is - to borrow a word from sixteenth century polemic - 'prelacy.' The church has always had a few bishops who spent too much time standing on their dignity and paying too much attention to the outward trappings of their office. Sadly, that tendancy seems to be more marked today than ever. The world weary observation that "power corrupts; and absolute power corrupts absolutely" is as true of bishops as any other class of men. As the office of a bishop has increasingly been aligned to the secular model of a CEO, so the stories of petty episcopal tyranny - the ecclesiastical equivelent of the Office horror story - seem to multiply. Bishops, especially in TEC, though we have had (more than) our share in the Continuum too. There seems to be a certain class of bishops who seem to regard it as ethical to either intimidate priests who disagree with them personally, or have their assistants do it for them. To act in such arbitary ways, often in defiance of centuries of Church tradition, seems to be a paticular malaise in those dioceses that have lost any real sense of mission.

I suspect that what the church needs now is a little dose of realism, and a return to that concept of the episcopate laid down in the Ordinal and the Constitution and Canons of the Church. The language of the Ordinal, which is largely that of Cranmer's 1553 revision, sees the role of a bishop as being that being a preacher of God's Word; a teacher and guardian of the Faith; a governor of the Church; and one to whom the work of raising up fit and proper persons for the ministry is specifically entrusted. The Constitution and Canons of Church give a framework to enable that work to be done. I suspect that any bishop who gives himself to conscientiously to fulfil those tasks will have his hands very full indeed. The words Cranmer uses to accompany the presentation of the Bible to a newly consecrated bishop are particularly important to understanding the true task of an Anglican bishop:

"Give heed unto reading, exhortation, and doctrine. Think upon the things contained in this Book. Be diligent in them, that the increase coming thereby may be evdent unto all men; for by doing them thou shalt save both thyself and them that hear thee. Be to the flock of Christ a shepherd and not a wolf; feed them, devour them not; hold up the weak, hal the sick, bind up the broken, bring again the outcasts, seek the lost. Be so merciful that ye be not too remiss; so minister discipline that you forget not mercy; that when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, you may receive the never-fading crown of glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

Friday, September 24, 2010

First Steps

I want to take a moment and look at the mechanics of bringing together the various strands of the Continuum. I tend to see this in terms of clearing the site and laying the foundations for a reunited Continuum, and unglamourous though it is, it is essential if we are ever going to get over the past.

The first thing we need to do is deal with past grudges and unfortunate incidents. There is a lot of clinging to the past done in the Continuing Anglican world. Much of it is good in terms of hanging on to traditional theology and liturgy, but there are a lot of old grudges that are still being trotted out whenever half a dozen clergy and a bottle of gin get together. All of the Continuing Anglican jurisdictions have made mistakes in the past, and we need to 'man up' and accept our jurisdictions role in the disintegation of the original Continuum. We also need to forgive and forget the various 'sins' that the assorted jurisdictions have committed against each other. Once we have done that we can get down to the nuts and bolts of what it is going to take to get us all back together.

I see the first stage as being what I call CABC - the Continuing Anglican Bishops Conference - consisting of the bishops of those jurisdictions closest to the St. Louis Congress, and gradually expanding to incorporate more and more groups as various misunderstandings are cleared up. The first name I came up with was the Standing Conference of Anglican Bishops - but, as a former Union man, SCAB seemed, well, inappropriate. This would have a dual role. Firstly it would act as a clearing house for discussion about and actions towards unity. Secondly, it would act as a clearing house to allow clergy to transfer between jurisdictions without it causing mutual recrimination, and also impose discipline across jurisdictional lines. Too often bishops and clergy have escaped the consequences of their actions by quietly slipping away to another jurisdiction. This process has done little to promote mutual trust. Thirdly, it would facilitate joint action on matters of mutual concern, and be a forum for the bishops of the various jurisdictions to get to know one another. Nothing breeds fear and mistrust better than being strangers to one's colleagues.

There will also be a need to come up with a common Constitution and Canons. This will help dispel the notion that one jurisdiction is swallowing another. One difficulty which will have to be resolved is the balance of authority between the various Houses of Synod. At present, there are slight differences of emphasis among the various major Continuing groups, though in the final analysis we all function in much the same way.

The third string is mutual cooperation. UECNA already cooperates with the ACC and with the APCK in a number of areas, and this has helped to draw the various layfolks, clergy and bishops involved closer together. Last weekend I ordained a deacon for the UECNA, who will also serve in an APCK parish in San Diego. I am pleased to note that the local APCK clergy turned out and some old friendships were renewed. I for one, would like to see much more of this inter-jurisdictional cooperation, but there are still 'pure pond' Continuers who let their own worries and concerns (many of which are legiimate, but not important) get in the way of reunion.

The goal for the Continuum should, for the time being, to do everything together that we do not absolutely have to do apart from one another. In the meantime, let us pray, and pray hard for unity, making sure that the devil gets as little opportunity as possible to plant the seeds of mistrust. The Right Rev. Maurice Wood, C of E Bishop of Norwich back in the 1970s, used to warn his ordinands that they were "all marked men in the Devil's book." In much the same way, the Anglican Continuum is marked in the devil's book because we seek to proclaim Jesus Christ and Him crucified without compromising with the prevailent political correctness of the age in which we live. As a result of this faithfulness to Christ, our infernal adversary will do his best to make sure that we remain fragmented and disorganised. Do we really want this to happen? If not, then we need to work for unity among ourselves that the fullness of the Gospel may be proclaimed, and souls saved to the Glory of God.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Politics of Fear

I am often asked, "Why is the Continuum such a mess of different jurisdictions?" I think in the final analysis the situation is was created by two differing understandings of what it means to be a 'Continuer' and it is perpetuated by the 'politics of fear.'

As I have written about the two different approahes before I won't bore you with a reprise other than to say that the initial divisions grew out of the suspicions that grew up between the "Middle to High Church" and Anglo-Catholic factions, and could have been avoided with better leadership. The Continuing Church became divided for much the same reasons that the Vikings never built an Empire. We had leaders, but, in the case of three of the original four, leaders who pulled in different directions. This led to the creation of the UECNA, APCK and ACC. The first tends towards a 'business as usual' interpretation of the Affirmation of St Louis within the context of a predominate "middle of the road" churchmanship . The Anglican Province of Christ the King has a similar tendancy, but within the context of a more Anglo-Catholic tradition coming from its founderers many of whom were associated with the American Church Union. The Anglican Catholic Church bridges the two in terms of worship tradition, but underwent an extensive revision of its Constitution and Canons which closed a lot of legal, jurisdictional and procedural loopholes, but left other matters, such as the status of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, studeously vague. All of this backroom work was done in the context of a church which was trying to establish congregations, acquire property, and establish a diocesan structure. To my mind, much of the work on the Canons (as opposed to the Constitution)could and should have been postponed until the church had achieved a measure of organisation stability. With hindsight (which as the song says 'is always 20-20) it seems to me that there was some significant misdirection of effort in the period 1979-1984 which may, and I stress, may have helped divide the Continuum. (I should perhaps add at this point, just so that you are all absolutely clear on this, that I have absolutely no animus against the ACC, especially as presently constituted. I was ordained in the ACC and only left because the Bishop of the Diocese in which I served had a high peculiar interpretation of the ACC Constitution and Canons.)

Having arrived at the point where the Continuum was divided, then the 'politics of fear' very largely took over. Although attempts at reconciliate were made, ultimately, what took over, and continues to divide the Anglican Continuum is what one might call "the fear of the other fellow." This is the down side of the sort of self-reliance that the Continuum has bred, and it tends to stop all attempts at union with negotiation sooner or later.

As a whole, the Continuum needs to get away from the 'politics of fear', and it will only do so if the bishops of the UECNA, APCK, and ACC meet on a regular basis. Unfortunately, that is not happening, and I think it is time that the bishops took note that, on the whole, the laity move between parishes in the different jurisdictions quite happily. They only note only that St. B's is a bit higher or lower, or a bit bigger or smaller, than St A's where they normally worship. Anecdotally, quite a few of the laity don't know which group their parish is in without looking it up. They are 'Anglicans' - they know who their bishop is and that is about it.

The paranoia about "the other fellow" seems to be largely a clergy thing. Though in all fairness I should perhaps note that there have been enough 'inter-jurisdictional incidents' for this paranoia to have some basis in fact. However, we need to forgive and forget, and in some cases a few well chosen words of apology would not go amiss either.

For the Continuum to survive into its third and fourth generations we to achieve a jurisdictional unity which reflects our unity of faith. That is the great task - after Mission and the Re-evangelisation of America - that faces us in the next ten years.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Unity Problem

I have to be quite honest and say that, in human terms, I do not see there ever being a unified Continuing Anglican Church mainly because of the lack of agreement about what constitutes Anglicanism. This problem actually predates the emergence of Continuing Anglican in the 1960s and 70s, and probably goes back a century before that to when the "Rits" and the "Rats" were fighting for inclusion within the Anglican and Episcopal Churches.

Prior to 1833 there was pretty broad agreement as to the doctrinal position of the Church of England and its descendents. Anglicans were, to borrow a phrase from Lutheran historiography "Evangelical Catholics." The Evangelical party placed emphasis, obviously, on the Evangelical side of that inheritance, and the "High Church" party on the Catholic. The old Low Churchmen, the Latitudinarians, were really concensus protestants who, for political and theological reason chose ot to push Anglican distinctiveness and represented the main challenge to orthodoxy, but since the 1760s they had slowly declined into insignificance.

The real fun starts in the 1850s and 60s when the Ritualists and Liberals start to gain a following. The early Ritualists were, for the most part, traditional High Churchmen who wished to revive disused ceremonies. They had not yet developed the "advanced" notions of full-blown Anglo-Papalism which copied post-reformation Roman Catholic devotions to "tart up" the rather dowdy reality of Anglican worship.

On the other hand, the Victorian Liberal was an optimistic beast who believed that religion could be made scientific provided rigid adherence to the old Orthodoxies were not insisted upon. Chief among the leaders of Victorian Liberalism was Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, Dean of Westminster in the 1860s and 70s, who believed that in order to be credible, Anglicanism had to slough off superstition and outmoded orthodoxies, and embrace a sort of religious Darwinism. Dean Stanley was also aware of the fact that the "superstition" of Ritualism could be used as a Trojan Horse to encourage Parliament to loosen the terms of subscription so that Liberalism could grow within the Church.

Stanley's "sotto voce" campaigning among the political elite achieved its aim in 1871 with the so-called "Shortened Services Act." This made some inconsequential changes to the 1662 BCP, but also went along with a measure that loosened the terms of subscription. Before 1871, ordinands had to subscribe that the Articles as being "agreeable to Scripture" i.e. that the Articles of Religion reflected Biblical Christianity. After 1871, ordinands were required only to "affirm" that they contain nothing contrary to Holy Scripture. This loosening of the terms of subscription was a far more effective way of undermining the authority of the Thirty-nine Articles than the tortured logic of John Henry Newman's Tract XC, and the looser terms of subscription did indeed make the Church safe for Liberalism.

One paradoxical result of this loosening of the terms of subscription was that as Ritualism morphed into modern Anglo-Catholicism. The extremists began to abandon the traditional Anglican standards of the Book of Common Prayer and the Articles of Religion. The BCP was overlaid with devotions imported from contemporary Roman Catholic practice, and the XXXIX Articles were increasingly seen as "an historical document" that could be largely disgarded, except as a civil requirement for those being ordained. The Bishops pretty much blew their chance of containing Anglo-Catholic disobedience to the Canons of the Church of England by going along with Disraeli's "Public Worship Regulation Act, 1873." This attempted to strangle Ritualism by legal means, but its major flaw was that it set up a semi-secular court to adjudicate ritual cases. This gave the Ritualists, who stood for their own peculiar version of the separation of Church and State, the perfect excuse for ignoring the new Court. The new court, which replaced the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council was seen as a seculiar court that was meddling in affairs beyond its competence. Unfortunately, so far as ritual (more accurately, ceremonial) matters were concerned, that level of competence was pretty low. The new court even managed to reverse some of the decisions of the Judicial Committee had made on the basis of the Ornaments Rubric, and Caroline practice. Prior to 1867, the Judicial Committee as successor to the old Court of Delegates had been pretty successful in keeping the liturgical peace if only because the Ritualists recognized that it was a Church Court of sorts. Two or three bishops usually served on the Judicial Committee when ecclesiastical cases came up, so they could not dismiss it as a mere secular tribunal. The worst result of the Public Worship Regulation was that it made "white martyrs" out of Ritualist priests who would rather go to prison for contempt of court than give up their ceremonial. As a result, this attempt at governmental enforcement of ecclesiastical discipline broke down entirely. Needless to say, a good deal of liturgical chaos followed.

Eventually, Archbishop E. W. Benson stepped in and used his authority as Primate of All England to take one particularly controversial case - that against the Bishop of Lincoln, Edward King - into his own jurisdiction. Benson's decision was to put an end to the use of the Pubic Worship Regulation Act. The PWR Act was quietly repealed a few years later, but by then it was impossible to repair the damage done to ecclesiastical discipline. However, Archbishop Benson's methodology had proved correct. Anglo-Catholics might question his decision, but they could not, without betraying their own principles deny his authority to make it.

In the end, Benson's judgement was all but an acquital for the Bishop of Lincoln, but it came too late to prevent the radicalization of the Anglo-Catholic movement. By the 1920s, Anglo-Catholicism had embarked on a programme to remodel the Church of England. Bishop Frank Weston called on his fellow Anglo-Catholics to "fight for their Tabernacles" but a more sinister development was the gradual replacement of the official Book of Common Prayer by the English Missal, and the Anglo-Papalist parishes where children were taught the 'Penny Catechism' not the Catechism of the Church of England. To many moderate churchmen, Anglo-Papalism was the cuckoo in the nest, but ecclesiastical discipline had so thoroughly broken down that there was little the bishops could do except boycott disobedient parishes and grumble about those priests under their authority who were "more Roman than the Pope." The Anglo-Papalist priest who said his Mass in Latin, ignored his Bishop, and tried to be as Roman as possible often had his bacon saved by a church patronage system that allowed laymen to appoint parish priests of their own choosing. This gave them considerable protection for episcopal attempts at discipline.

The PECUSA had nowhere near the same problems with Ritualism as the Church of England. Being an unestablished Church, American Anglo-Catholics could not argue that PECUSA's ecclesiastical courts were "secular tribunals" with no authority in church disciple, and after 1885, having seen severalattempts at placing Canonical restrictions on ceremonial fail. The Bishops then seem to have adopted a policy of trying to kill Anglo-Catholicism with kindness. Only the worst offenders ever got into trouble with the Bishops, and sometimes, when faced with Anglo-Catholic disobedience, the bishops would turn a blind eye, or seek to find a compromise. Generally speaking, even though Anglo-Catholics did occasionally feel they got a raw deal from their bishops, there was nowhere near the level of acrimony there had been in England. The Episcopal system of parishes electing their Rectors, rather than having them appointed by the Bishop or a Lay Patron as was the case in England, also served to damp down controversy. It was only when a parish unsuspectingly called a Ritualist that there was a "flare up."

However, American Anglo-Catholicism still developed in a way that made it a church within the Church. Anglo-catholics supplemented the BCP with unofficial prayers and devotions. This process finally culminated in the production such unofficial liturgical books as the American Missal, the Anglican Missal (American Edition), and the Anglican Breviary. These came to supplant the official Book of Common Prayer in the more enthusiastically Anglo-Catholic parishes. American Anglo-Catholicism also increasingly ignored not just the XXXIX Articles, but much of the Anglican theological tradition. Francis Hall's "Dogmatic Theology" represents this progressive rejection of the Protestant tradition in Anglicanism, and presents Anglican theology as being a species of Old Catholicism in which the achievements of the Reformers are often damned with faint praise.

Predictably, when the wheels fell off the Episcopal Church's Wagon in the radical sixties there were two differing versions of conservative Anglicanism looking for a way to perpetuate themselves. Both could agree on the centrality of Scripture, the three Creeds, and the Early Fathers and Councils, but were at odds about the degree to which the Reformation tradition should be perpetuated. One group, believing that the Elizabethan Settlement had failed, wanted to perpetuate traditional Anglo-Catholicism with only limited accomodation to those who were not prepare to go along with the whole programme. The other wished to perpetuate a pre-1960s Episcopalianism that would be mainly Central Churchmanship, but would encompass Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical minorities.

Sadly, after the St Louis Congress, these competing visions failed to coexist within the new church. Eventually schism resulted, and the situation was further complicatated by the existence of pre-1977 Continuing Anglican groups that had been largely ignored by the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen at the time of the St Louis Congress.

Inspite of the fact that there are now six major and several dozen minor Continuing Anglican jurisdictions within the USA, there are only really two versions of Continuing Anglicanism. The first step to unit has to be getting all the jurisdiction that share "Vision A" together, and likewise all the churches that share vision "B." After that has been achieved we can then explore the potential for vision "A" and vision "B" to come together in one church. At the moment, we are wading through alphabet soup and not dealing the different visions that produced it in the first place. Too often in the past we have tried to ignore the theology and treat our Continuing Anglican divisions as being purely political. As a result, we have had even more divisions. So let's get real here. We need need to first get to grips with what we mean by Anglican and Anglicanism, and then deal with the political stuff.

In the final analysis it may well be that the two visions of what Continuing Anglicanism are indeed incompatible. If that proves to be the case, let us be honest, and have two continuing churches which love and respect one another, rather than attempt a forced marriage between ultimately incompatible visions.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Scottish Influence on American Anglicanism

The first thing that I have to say is that this is not just another "Samuel Seabury and all that" article, though he will feature later on. The Scottish influence on American Anglicanism is wider and deeper than that mainly due to the political forces at work in Scotland, and the difficulty of recruiting clergy for the Colonies.

When the Bishop of Edinburgh declined to give allegiance to William of Orange (ironically, I am writing this on the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne) he left the door open for the replacement of Episcopalianism with Presbyterianism as the form of governance for the Church of Scotland. Although in some places the old Episcopalian clergy could fly under the radar and retain their parishes, in other places, especially in the Lowlands they were "rabbled out" by the Presbyterians. Some went underground, some went to England, and others to America. These became the first wave of Scottish Episcopal clergy to come to the aid of the Church in the American Colonies.

Perhaps the best know of this first wave is the Rev'd James Blair, the Bishop of London's Commissary for Virginia 1689-1743. Blair was born and educated in Scotland and ordained in the Episcopal Church. He gained the confidence of Henry Compton, the Bishop of London, and was sent out to Virginia to act as the bishops agent in that Colony. His major influence came not so much through the Church as through his Presidency of William and Mary College where he had a hand in the education of several generations of Virginia ordinands.

Three other names among the early Commissaries suggest Scottish origins. These are Alexander Garden, Jacob Henderson, and Archibald Cummings, but I have not yet got around to tracking down any biographical information about them.

The second wave of Scottish Episcopal clergy probably came to America in the wake of the 1715 Rising - a period when things were made very difficult for Scottish Episcopalians due to their known Jacobite sympathies. However, the evidence here is harder to track. It was in this period too, that a pair of Non-Juring Bishops were sent to the American Colonies in the hope of creating an independent Anglican presence in bishopless America. Unfortunately for them, American Anglicans preferred bishopless legitimacy to a Non-Juror Episcopate.

The third generation of Scottish clergy included men like William Smith of Maryland, who were the descendents of Scottish colonists. There were also some Scottish clergy who found it convenient to leave for America after the 1745 Rising. It seems that some of these dispossessed Episcopalian clergy joined the ranks of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel's Missionaries in New England spreading the Scottish version of the High Church tradition there.

Although the numbers of Scottish clergy serving in the American Church was never large, it was enough to create an awareness of the fact that - firstly, it was possible for Anglicans to survive without the Establishment; and secondly, that there was an independent Church in Scotland with bishops. Also, there was just enough Scottish influence in New England to give a distinct High Church edge to the Anglican Church in those parts, and to create an indigenous High Church party with followers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere.

So, what happened to the Scottish Episcopal Church in the meantime?

After years of proscription under William and Mary, Queen Anne granted toleration to the Scottish Episcopalians early in her reign. This put the Scottish Episcopalians under the same disabilities as English Dissenters, but it was a step forward. A few years later, in 1712, the UK Parliament passed an Act allowing the creation of "Qualified Chapels" in Scotland which would allow Scottish congregations to use the 1662 BCP under the ministry of English or Irish ordained clergy.

On the other hand, the Jacobite element accepted their second class status, and maintained both their independence and their links with the English Non-Jurors. Unlike the Qualified Congregations, there was little, at least at first, to distinguish the Scottish Episcopalians from their Presbyterian neighbours when it came to worship. The "Piskies" service consisted of metrical psalms, a reading, a prayer, and a sermon like that of the Kirk, but unlike the Kirk, they used the Lord's Prayer and the Doxology every week.

After about 1700, the English BCP began to gain ground among Scottish Episcopalians, but they did not feel bound to observe it strictly. Thus, they were able to participate in the liturgical experiments of their Non-Juror colleagues in England. The first Non-Juror "Scottish Liturgy" or "Scottish Communion Office" appeared around 1717, with updated versions appearing in 1746 and 1764. These were printed as "wee bookies" to be used alongside the English BCP - a tradition that continued until the Edwardian era. The main feature of the Scottish Liturgy was the long Canon based on Eastern Orthodox models, consisting of both he Eucharistic Prayer and the Prayer for the Church. The Scots also included an epiclesis - an Invocation of the Holy Spirit - in the Prayer of Consecration.

However, inspite of their liturgical creativity, they were fighting a loosing battle. The limited Toleration granted in 1706 was diminished after both the 1715 and 1745 Risings. Under George I there was also a very real attempt to promote the erection of Qualified Chapels to syphon away middle class Episcopalians from the Non-Jurors. A tactic that was reasonably successful in the Lowlands. However, the Non-Juring Scottish Episcopalians survives - especially around Aberdeen.

Where Episcopalian Meeting Houses were built in the eighteenth century they were made to look like barns, or cottages so that they would not attract unwelcome attention from government troops. On the whole this worked well, but when Butcher Cumberland's troops were making reprisals after Colloden, Episcopal meeting houses were a favourite target. A large number of Episcopal priests were imprisoned on, often trumped-up, charges of sedition, and several were executed for acting as chaplains to the Jacobite Army in the '45.

When grudging toleration returned again following the 1745 Rising it was under very restrictive conditions. Just as the Government tried to ban the kilt and the Great Highland Bagpipes, they also tried to make Episcopalianism impossible. For example, no Episcopal Minister could preach to a congregation of more than four people outside of his own family. This led to a new form of creativity - how to dodge the regulations! In many places Episcopalians met in a cottage with the minister and his family in the hallway, and the rest of the congregation gathered in the other rooms listening through the doorways. In others, the chapel was divided with glass and wood partitions so that each pew was a "room." No matter how hard the Hannoverians tried, the Episcopalians would not conform, though, by the 1780s it was reduced to a mere four or five bishops, forty clergy, and a similar number of congregations mainly in the northeast of Scotland.

After trying unsuccessfully to obtain consecration in England, Samuel Seabury (1729-1796) came to Aberdeen looking for the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church. Some accounts say that he did this on the advice of either Dr. Horne (later Bishop of Norwich) who was sympathetic to the Scottish Church, others on the then young Dr. Routh, but scholars today seem to agree that this was the agreed "Plan B" before Seabury left Connecticut.

The Scottish Bishops drove a reasonably bargin with Seabury. Before his consecration he agreed to labour behind the scenes to introduce the Scottish liturgy into America. Seabury was also to push the case for the American Episcopal Church to recognise the Scottish Episcopal Church. Therefore, Seabury's consecration took place on 14th November 1784 in St Andrew's Church, which was housed over a bank in Aberdeen High Street. Bishops Skinner, Kilgour, and Petrie acting as his consecrators.

On his return to Connecticut, Seabury organised his diocese along Scottish lines. Seabury toured his diocese periodically, he called clergy-only Synods to determine policy, and replaced the English Communion service with his own version of the Scottish Liturgy. He also entered into tortuous negotiations with the Protestant Episcopal Church organising in the Mid-Atlantic and Southern States. A dialogue which was not made any easier by Seabury's Tory past, and clericalist outlook.

It was probably providential that the Right Rev. William White of Philadelphia was the dominant influence in the new PECUSA. The other English consecrated bishop, Provoost of New York, hated Seabury's guts, and if he had been the Presiding Bishop we might have ended up with regional Episcopal Churches. Eventually Bishop White brokered a deal whereby the Diocese of Connecticut and its bishop could come into the General Convention on generous terms. White encouraged the replacement of English Prayer of Consecration by that of the Scottish Liturgy in the new American BCP. He also revised the PECUSA Constitution to incorporate an Episcopal veto - which was a further accomodation to Seabury's views. Lastly, White pushed for recognition of the Scottish Church alongside the Estabished Churches of England and Ireland as fellow Protestant Episcopal Churches. White also agreed to seat Seabury in the House of Bishops, despite Provoost's strident objections to the propriety of accepting his Seabury's Non-Juror orders. On the other hand, Seabury remained uncomfortable with the presence of the laity in the General Convention, and with the democratic nature of the new Church.

Such had been the depth of Seabury's objections to the proposed Constitution of the Protestant Episcopal Church that he had attempted to get further bishops conscrated in Scotland. This would have enabled him to "go it alone" by forming a New England Church independent of that of the Middle and Southern States. However, the Scots, following the death of the Young Pretender, were in the process of making their peace with the British Government. The Scots' refusal to consecrate more bishops for America finally gave Seabury a powerful reason to make peace with the Protestant Episcopal Church.

One final point that has to be ade is that William White and William Smith were not altogether without Scottish influences. For example, one characteristic White decision - to create a House of Bishops with a Presiding Bishop rather than an Archbishop - finds its precedent in the Scottish House of Bishops presided over by the Primus. White was also open to making real changes, not just political ones, to the English BCP. One suspects that it was this openness on the part of Bishop White and Dr. Smith that allowed the American BCP to develop as a compromise betwen the English and Scots traditions.

Oddly, the Scottish Episcopal Church also had to make its own compromise with Church of England influences in order to achieve peace. In order to have the Penal Laws removed, the Scottish Episcopal Church had to agree to pray for King George. Later they accepted the English BCP and the Thirty-Nine Articles to allow the Scottish Church to absorb the Qualified Chapels. So like the Episcopal Church in America, the Scottish Episcopal Church found itself reconciling Scottish Non-Juror and English influences to produce a reinvigorated local Church.

One enduring legacy of the relationship between Seabury and the Scottish Bishops has been the bonds of affection that have existed between Scottish and American Episcopalians. It is sad to see both churches sobadly infected with liberalism today, but it remains the case that the old Episcopal tradition, as it stood before the invasion of secular humanism from 1960 onwards, is a strong a vigourous expression of Reformed Catholic Christianity. In order for Continuing Anglicanism to survive it is extremely important that Continuing Anglicans return to that tradition, rather than that of Revivalist Protestantism, or Rome.

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Broad Church

Growing up in the UK, I got quite used to the idea of Evangelicals, Central Churchmen and Anglo-Catholics rubbing along in a certain sort of creative tension. Anglicans were used by the Thirty-nine Articles, the BCP, and the form of ministry, and although there were times when the Evangelicals and the Anglo-Catholics were on screaming terms rather than speaking terms we respected each other even when we thought the other chap was barking mad. Unfortunately the last thirty years have been so traumatic that the Church has become fragmented, and as a result, we need to learn to live toether again.

The Revisionist agenda - women's rights, gay rights, theological revisionism - has polarized the Anglican tradition Revisionist and Conservative camps that really have very little to say to one another. They do not have the same way of doing the theology. Conservatives look at Scripture, then with the help of the Early Fathers and Reason fathom out what is orthodoxy. The more extreme Revisionists start from the position that there is no orthodoxy, but God speaks anew to every generation, and that Scripture, the Fathers are relics of the past that need to be reinterpreted (rewritten?) to reflect modern understandings. It is very difficult to have a debate when you cannot even agree on the rules of engagement.

To my mind, the more sinister is the wedge that has been driven between the Evangelical Anglican and Anglo-Catholic traditions. Both groups accept the authority of the Canonical Scriptures, the Creeds, the historic male Episcopate, and the first four Councils; both are theologically conservative, and both are profoundly concerned with the salvation of souls. This has increasingly pushed them into differing strands of extra-mural Anglicanism - Evangelicals into AMiA, and Anglo-Catholics into the Continuum. For me, the Central Churchman, this is a disaster because in order to be fully itself Anglicanism needs to breath with both lungs - the Catholic and the Reformed. The Evangelicals need to the Anglo-Catholics to hold their feet to the fire about the Fathers, Councils, and Apostolic Ministry, and the Catholics need the Evangelicals to remind them of the centrality and sufficiency of Scripture. When each of the three strands of Anglicanism tries to live on its there is always a danger that it will become a parody of itself.

The fact that we have to some extent grown apart and become astranged means that bring conservative Anglicans back together is going to be a long process. In the mean time, even though we choose to work in different jurisdictions, we should perhaps seek out those from other traditions within Anglicanism and listen to them; not to be converted to their position, but to allow their insights to broaden our perceptions. There is an old adage that "the Church that lives by itself will die by itself," and there is a very great danger that by abandoning the "broadness" of the Anglican tradition we Continuing Anglicans will all somehow cease to be Anglican. So often Christianity - especially Anglican Christianity - is about living with the paradoxes, the greatest of which is the paradox of grace - we are sinners, yet justified. Anglicans live with another paradox - we are "reformed and yet catholic," or, if you prefer, "catholic, yet reformed." This tension between Catholic and Reformed is what has made Anglicanism so creative, and so attractive to so many people. You do not have to choose between the insights of the Reformation and the Catholic tradition, you can embrace both - provided that you can cope with the mess that that sometimes creates.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Irish High Church Tradition

It might come as a surprise to those who know a little about the Church of Ireland to know that there was a High Church tradition in Ireland. The main reason for this has to be the post-disestablishment Canons which clamped down on all and any attempt at making ritual innovations. However, due to its lack of liturgical hang-ups other than following the BCP, Tractarianism found a home in Ireland.

The best know exponants of the Tractarian tradition on the Irish bench were Richard Chenevix Trench 1807-1887 (Archbishop of Dublin 1861-1886) and William Alexander 1824-1911 (Derry and Raphoe 1867-1894; Armagh 1894-1910). Both were minor poets, and both had picked up the "high seriousness" of Tractarianism during their times in the English University. Of the two, William Alexander seemed to connect more easily with Irish Clerical life. His ministry at Fahan in Co. Donegal, his happy marriage to hymnodist Cecil Frances Alexander, and sunny nature made him very popular. The more "English" Trench was somewhat disliked in Dublin, where the majority of enthusiastic Churchmen would have preferred an Evangelical. Both worked quietly to broaden the outlooks of their dioceses, though it has to be said that Trench was the more successful in promoting "Church Ideals."

Trench's time in Dublin saw the establishment of three "Anglo-Catholic" parishes - St Bartholomew's, Dublin; and St John's, Sandymount; and to a lesser extent, Christ Church, Leeson Park; which joined All Saints', Grangegorman, as exponants of the Tractarian tradition in Ireland. All three had daily Communion, Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer whilst keeping just inside the ceremonial restrictions then current in the Church of Ireland. They maintained the North end position at Holy Communion; lit the altar candles only for the purposes of giving light; but also scheduled Confession. Periodically one of them would "get brave" and challenge the interpretation of the rubrics, but such attempts usually resulted in a case being brought in the Court of the General Synod.

This brings me to the most influential of Irish High Churchmen - John Allan Fitzgerald Gregg (1873-1961) a member of the firm of "Gregg, Son and Grandson, Bishops to the Church of Ireland!" His uncle and grandfather were Evangelicals, but J.A.F. was born and educated in England and picked up Tractarian and Anglo-Catholic ideas both at Bedford School and at Cambridge. However, rather than stay in England and become a "spike," he decided to go to back to his family's native Ireland where he was ordained in the Diocese of Down and Connor, and Dromore. Curacies in Ballymena and Cork ensued, then a spell as Rector of Blackrock 1906-11, then four years as Divinity Professor at TCD before election as Bishop of Ossory, Leighlin and Ferns at the early age of 42. Translation to Dublin followed in 1920; then to Armagh in 1939, where he stayed until his retirement in 1959, aged 85.

One painful aspect of his ministry in Dublin was having to adjudicate the cases brought against two of the High Church parishes in Dublin. The first involved St Bartholomew's, Dublin, where C. B. Moss (yes, that C. B. Moss!) was Curate Assistant, and the second involved St John's, Sandymount. In both cases, Archbishop Gregg upheld the Canons of the Church of Ireland whilst conceeding lesser points to the rectors of the respective churches. Gregg himself thought the Canons too restrictive, but with his respect for law, he was not going to engage in any sort of prophetic activism.

Known to his clergy as "The Marble Arch" Gregg appeared in public to be aloof and self-contained. This was a by-product of the Tractarian seriousness that he absorbed school and university. In private he could be a warm and approachable man - especially in his later years. He was probably at his best when dealing with clergy. Despite his austere appearence and manner, he was often very compassionate with his clergy who experienced difficulties, and he took a great deal of time and effort with his ordinands, as one of my own mentors could testify.

Gregg's variety of High Churchmanship resembled that of Gore and the "Lux Mundi" school. He was prepared to accept the positive contribution of Biblical Scholarship and acknowledge the role of history in shaping the theology and institutions of the church, but was unyielding in his adherence to the Sacraments, to the Apostolic ministry, and to Tractarian spirituality.

He was particularl vehement in his defense of the apostolic ministry and led the charge against Archbishop d'Arcy's attempts to reconcile Anglicans and Presbyterians in 1934. Later, in 1948, he was also distinctly cool towards the Church of South India Scheme. For Gregg, the integrity of the Apostolic ministry of bishop, priest and deacon was non-negotiable, and he was not ariad to take an unpopular position in order to maintain it.

Gregg was twice considered for English bishoprics. Firstly in 1938 as a serious candidate as successor for Hensley Henson as Bishop of Durham, and less seriously as a candidate for York or Canterbury in 1942 and 1945. It is unlikely that Gregg would have accepted such a promotion, as, after some initial pangs for academic life in Cambridge, he had become so much part and parcel of the Irish Church. However, it also shows the seriousness with which English Churchmen and politicians regarded him.

Gregg finally retired from Armagh in 1958 and was succeed by the well regarded, James McCann of Meath. In 1969 George Simms, another High Churchman with a fascination for literature succeeded to the primacy, and finally managed to liberalize the ceremonial Canons that had caused Gregg so much heartache forty years earlier.

Because of the sober tradition of the Irish Church, Anglo-catholicism there has always been a matter there of belief not ceremonial. This is completely in accord with what the Tractarians believed and taught, but confusing to those who are tempted to mistake the right vestments for the right beliefs. At the end of the day what really matters is what one believes.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Why the Big Fuss about 1549?

This week past saw the 461st anniversary of the First BCP, that of 1549. It was used for a mere three years and five months before being replaced by that of 1552, which in all essential respects, is the one still used by the Church of England today. At least, in the odd places that have nt substituted "Comic Washup" - oops, I mean, Common Worship!

Whilst the anniversary is an important one, I do not quite understand the modern Anglo-Catholic enthusiasm for it. For a start, if they think that Cranmer's 1549 BCP allows more mediaeval teachings about the Eucharist than its successor then they are mistaken, it is just as clear in its repudiation of mediaeval Eucharistic theology as its successor. On the other land, the 1549's structure is more traditional; more obviously derived from the Sarum Missal, which preceded it. Its real strength, from the Anglo-Papalist point of view, is that the 1549 BCP can be more successfully "spun" than its successors, as Cranmer himself soon realised.

This brings me to what is now a half forgotten controversy - that between Stephen Gardiner, the Henrician Catholic Bishop of Winchester, and Cranmer himself about Eucharistic doctrine. This developed into a pamphleteering slug-fest that occupied the leaders of both the conservative and reforming factions of the Church of England throughout 1550 and 1551. Gardiner saw the 1549 as being capable of traditional interpretation, accepting the BCP whilst pushing the mediaeval Catholic doctrines of transubstantiation and the sacrifice of the Mass. Cranmer, nettled firstly by what he saw as Gardiner's erroneous doctrine, and secondly, by his "bending" of Cranmer's own BCP to support his teaching, delivered a weighty defense of the Reformed Eucharistic doctrine.

The early English Reformed doctrine of the "true Presence" was based on the writings of Ratramnus - a ninth century monk of Corbie - via Nicholas Ridley, and emphasized the presence of Christ in the Supper, at the expense of his presence in the elements. Also, pushed onwards by the (mainly) constructive criticism of his Reformed colleagues, Cranmer also began to prepare a revision of the Book of Common Prayer. This appeared at All Saintstide 1552 and gave more explicit litugical form to Cranmer's Eucharistic theology.

McCullough in his biography of Cranmer, argues convincingly that the 1549 was meant to be transitional. However, I still suspect that its replacement's preparation was accelerated partly because of the controversy with Gardiner, and possibly because of Edward VI's declining health. One thing that is very prominent in the second book of 1552 is revised structure of the Communion service. Gone is the quasi-traditional structure of the 1549, and in its place comes a service which is clearly focussed on the act of Communion - to the point of actual interupting the Eucharistic Canon so that priest and people can receive. Whilst this layout is highly unorthodoxy liturgically, it is extremely effective at a service at which most of the congregation receives Communion. Hearing the prayer of Oblation after Communion having received the gifts, and with the elements on the altar table, makes one acutely aware of being both a partaker of the offering and also of being offered as part of the "reasonable, holy and living sacrifice." Cranmer's doctrine of Eucharistic sacrifice, rather than being absent as some reason, took the form of the Eucharist being a memorial of the one perfect, all-sufficient sacrifice, and also an offering up as ourselves and our lives, sanctified by Christ's sacramental Body and Blood, as a sacrifice to God. This offering of "ourselves, our souls and bodies" is the response of faith-filled hearts to the love of Christ.

The two subsequent English BCPs - 1559 and 1662 - retained the 1552 as their basis, but introduced more traditional wording and ceremonial. The 1559 prefixed the 1552 words of administration with the traditional "The Body (Blood) of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life," and allowed the use of the traditional Eucharistic vestments and wafer bread. The 1662 revision reintroduced the offertory with both the alms and the bread and wine being presented at the altar. In Ireland, where the 1926 revision of the BCP chose to retain the 1552/1662 form of the Communion service, a further restoration takes place in the form of a rubric allowing both the prayers of Oblation and Thanksgiving to be said after Communion. This approach was also adopted by Archbishops Fisher and Garbett in their "Shorter Prayer Book" of 1948. These revisions served to balance the Memorial, Communion, and Sacrifical elements of the BCP Commnion rite.

Apart from a few Anglo-Catholic parishes and the odd historical reenactment, 1549 remained pretty much a dead letter. However, 1549 did influence the Scottish BCP of 1637, the "Durham Book" revision of 1661, and the eighteenth century Non-Juror revisions where it plays second fiddle to Eastern Orthodox influences. However, inspite of having received a decent burial in the archives, it was exhumed in 1949 just in time for the liturgical revisions of the 1960s, and the controversies of the 1970s.

As a result, it found its way into the Affirmation of St Louis, perhaps as part of the "Anglo-Catholic Ecumenicism" that also led to the seven councils and seven sacraments provisions in that document. Perhaps it was felt that it might be more acceptable in some future reproachement with Orthodoxy than 1662 or 1928, but in truth, Western Rie Orthodoxy has tended to work from the American BCP or the Non-Juror Liturgy of 1712.

I cannot help thinking that the "canonizing" of the 1549 BCP alongside the American 1928, which embodies both the Scottish and Anglo-Irish traditions whilst favouring the former, and the Canadian 1962, which also compromises between the Scottish and Anglo-Irish traditions whilst favouring with the latter, was yet another piece of invisible mending intended to force the Continuing Movement into a "Catholic restorationalist" path than maintaining Classical Anglican/Caroline High Church line of development. It would certainly have been more in line with the historical mainstream of Anglicanism to have "canonized" the 1662 BCP, or, if the Black Rubric really is that much of a problem and not just a shibboleth, the 1559 version of the same. Certainly, the adoption of the 1549 BCP had the effect of shutting the door of the Continuing Church Movement to mainstream Anglican Evangelicals, as well as proving to be an unwelcome additional burden to those of us who hold to the Caroline tradition.

Let me be clear, I am not proposing that we repudiate the Affirmation of St Louis, I am suggesting that we see it for what it truly is, a flawed document. The Affirmation both successfully defines the central points of Continuing Anglican Movement by repudiating the modernist errors that destroyed ECUSA, but also attempts to redefine the Anglican tradition by embracing mediaeval Catholic elements rejected at the Reformation and by the Caroline Divines. In choosing to retain subscription to the 1928 Book Of Common Prayer and the Articles of Religion, the United Episcopal Church of North America returned to something close to the tradition Church of England (and for that matter, Ireland) manner of defining itself. I also believe it may also have been a tacit protest against the revisionist elements within the Affirmation of St Louis.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Some thoughts about Morning Prayer

The last forty years have seen the almost complete disappearence of Morning Prayer as the principal act of public worship in Anglican Churches. It was almost as though the Liturgical Movement, which in Anglican circles tends to be dominated by Liberal Catholics, had set up Morning Prayer and Holy Communion in opposition to one another rather than as complimentary acts of worship. The battle cry of the "Lord's service on the Lord's Day" was a very seductive one for the marginalized clergy of the 1970s who embraced a more sectarian understanding of the Church as it was pushed out of the mainstream of society.

At one time I used to think that the thought process behind the Liturgical Movement's replacement of early Communion and mid-morning Matins by Parish Communion or "Slow Mass" was unassailable, but I have come to revise my opinions somewhat. The Parish Communion or "Slow Mass" attempts to combine the elements of a substantial Liturgy of the Word with the Eucharist. As a result the traditional Fore Mass was expanded by the addition of an Old Testament Reading and a Psalm, and the intercessionary element was frequently expanded. As a result the usual hour's service on a Sunday morning consisting either of Matins with a fairly substantial sermon, or a Sung Eucharist with a more modest homily was replaced by a protean monster of a service that tries to do everything in one go, or alternatively by a Sung Eucharist which ends up being light on Scripture and preaching. With the Slow Mass/Parish Communion arrangement heaven help you if Aunt Aggie of "praying the newspaper" fame, and a baptism coincide; chances are you are in for a two hour session which ultimately is somewhat liturgically incoherent.

Anyway, to get back to the point, I have come to the conclusion that parishes need to provide both Eucharistic and non-Eucharistic worship in order to prosper. Please note, I am not suggesting that we neglect the Eucharist, but rather suggesting that we do not put all our eggs in one basket and reach out to those who are not yet ready for Communion.

The first concern that I have about the "Slow Mass/Parish Communion" as the only service is that it creates something of a closed congregation. Part of the reason for this is that, except for a few very Anglo-catholic parishes, Anglicans have an engrained aversion to non-communicating attendance at Holy Communion. Semi-churched Anglicans are at a distinct disadvantage in parishes where the Holy Communion is the main or only service simply because they feel they ought not to be there. In short, they are accidentally excluded and this creates a much sharper distinction between the churched and the unchurched, which is a mixed blessing in a missionary situation.

Secondly, Morning Prayer is a very Evangelical service. For a start, it has a very heavy Scriptural componant. Even with the rather limp-wristed lectionary of 1943, it includes one medium length or two short psalms, and two fairly substantial lessons, one from each Testament. In addition to this there is quite a bit of Scripture in the liturgy itself. It also gives room for a more substantial, expository sermon than can usually be preached at Holy Communion. I generally find that twelve minutes is about your whack at "Slow Mass" if you want toretain any hope of finishing within an hour and a quarter or an hour and an half, but it is perfectly possible to go 20-25 minutes without going much over the hour at Morning Prayer.

Thirdly, not everyone is the same in their approach to the sacrament of Holy Communion. For example, some of us have a strong preference for fasting Communion, which becomes difficult if the celebration of Communion occurs at an hour later than 9.00am. Inspite of all the Liturgical Movement propaganda I have digested over the years, I still prefer to go to an early celebration and receive fasting, then come back later in the day for Matins or Evensong and an expository Sermon rather than put myself around a condemned breakfast and go to a mid-morning Eucharist. Others prefer the "Slow Mass" format. Others still, the old-fashioned Sung Eucharist. What I am saying is that one size does not fit all, and that priests need to listen to their people, and the people need to be open with their clergy about what they think will build up the Body of Christ in their particular parish.

In the old days, Morning Prayer and Communion were often combined. In the Church of Ireland the usual format was Matins to the end of the second canticle, then the Communion service with the non-communicants being prayed for and allowed to depart after the Prayer for the Church Militant. This occured monthly, and on the other Sundays Holy Communion was celebrated early. By the way, the 1928 American Prayer Book allows this too. If you think I am romancing look it up, or read "A Prayer Book Manual" (Boston, MA, 1943) where it is mentioned as one of the options for integrating MP and the Eucharist. Other parishes tackled the need for both Eucharistic and non-Eucharist worship by having a mid-morning Sung Communion and a late Morning Prayer, as was the case in my home parish in the 1960s and 70s. Still others has ealy and late said celebrations either side of Morning Prayer. Wherever one was, experiments were made, or at least the local pattern for worship was allowed to evolve to meet the demands of both the existing congregation and those of evangelism.

I guess what I am asking is for the parish clergy take seriously the need for non-Eucharistic worship, and also appreciate the need for flexibility in scheduling the parish's worship. I am also asking both clergy and laity to appreciate the breadth and the richness that exists in both our Eucharist and Morning Prayer Liturgies and allow both the opportunity to draw folks to Christ. One size does not fit all, and our attempts to make it so has lost Anglicanism a lot of support and membership down the years. The Anglican Way is both Reformed and Catholic and as a result we have to make room for both expository peaching and sacramental worship in our spiritual lives. The Reformers hoped to combine both within the Communion Service, but in all reformed traditions - Lutheran, Reformed, Presbyterian, and Anglican - the tendancy from about 1600 onwards has been for the two to inhabit different time slots and different services. Our belated attempts to re-realise the Reformers aspirations have not been altogether successful, so I would hope that we will have the courage to re-evaluate the teaching of the Liturgical Movement.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

An American Use?

Some years ago the Anglican Society published a little booklet that outlined a ceremonial to be used with the 1928 BCP Communion service which they entitled "An American Use." In outline it was somewhat similar to the forms set forth by the Alcuin Club and by Dr Dearmer in the Parson's Handbook. It was also vocal in its defense of the integrity of the Anglican Rite, something which I fear many Continuers fight shy of because they have been taught that, when it come to liturgy, the Rome of Pius V and Pius X is right. This is the product of that unfortunate tendancy to look to Rome as the sole standard of Catholicity. And that, to put it mildly, is a mistake.

However, given the history of the Continuing Anglican Movement, I feel that one needs to be subtle about reintroducing the bulk of Anglicans to the idea that their liturgical tradition has an integrity and a ceremonial of its own. After all, we do not need another series of divisive liturgy wars. The tide has been running in favour of the Romanized version of Anglicanism for some fifty to sixty years which is about as long as the "Ritual Notes and Water" approach has been dominant. That said, I cannot help but feel that the times are changing.

Firstly, I think the Roman Catholic Anglican Ordinariates are going to syphon off the more enthusiastic and active Anglo-Papalists to Rome. This will be healthy for them, as it will enable them to realise the full logic of their position. Secondly, this will tend to make the unhypenated Anglican identity stronger within the Continuum, but this constituency will need to be educated. Thirdly, thanks to the late Peter Toon and others there is a greater awareness of "Classical Anglicanism" than there was at the end of, say, the 1980s. So what are the implications of this for the liturgy?

The first thing is to train more of the clergy to allow the BCP to be the BCP. In other words, we need to teach them a ceremonial that fits the BCP and does not cram it into the straight-jacket of someone else's ceremonial. The second step should be for some parishes to opt for being very definitely - even narrowly - BCP in their liturgical Use, though I hope that the Bishops and Rectors involved will use their collective loaves and authorize some suitable additional resources for minor holydays and Holy Week - for example "Lesser Feasts and Fasts, 1963" and the 1967 Scottish "Lent and Holy Week" booklet. Thirdly, there needs to be a concerted effort to reclaim the "Prayer Book Catholic" liturgical tradition from the taint of moderation and liberalism it has picked up in both the Church of England and TEC.

In order to get the ball rolling, so to speak, I want to conclude this posting with a few notes on the Scottish/American Prayer of Consecration.

1. Origins.
The Canon or Prayer of Consecration used in the 1928 BCP derives from that of the Non-Jurors as revised by Bishop Rattray in 1746 and 1764. The structure of the prayer is modelled on the Pseudo-Clementine Liturgy, which exerted a great fascination on early eighteenth century Anglican. In Pseudo-Clement, the Words of Institution are placed before the invocation of the Holy Spirit. However, much of the detailed wording derives from Cranmer's text of 1549 as modified in 1552 and 1637.

2. Structure.
The opening words of the 1764/1928 Prayer of Consecration are intended to follow on from the Sanctus. It is therefore best not to intrude the "Benedictus, qui venit" between the Sanctus and the Prayer of Consecration as the "Glory be to thee, O Lord Most High" of the Sanctus is echoed in the "All Glory be to thee" at the beginning of the Canon. After a brief passage stating the basis of the sacrament, the prayer passes first to the words of Institution; then to the Amnesis, which states what we commemorate by this sacrament; and then to the Invocation of the Word and Holy Spirit, which represents the climax of the consecratory monologue. This is then followed by the Oblation of ourselves as sanctified by the Eucharistic gifts to be a "reasonable, holy and living sacrifice." The prayer closes with a doxology.

3. Ceremonial.
After removing the cover from the Ciborium and the Pall or folded Corporal from the Chalice, the celebrant begins the Prayer of Consecration in a clear, loud voice opening and raising, then closing and lowering his hands at the opening words. He then continues with his hands in the "Orans" position until he reaches the words "until his coming again." He then performs the manual acts as prescribed in the BCP making sure that he lifts the large wafer to about face height to perform the fraction then replace it on the paten. He should also briefly raise the chalice to about face height at the words "he took the Cup." In the next paragraph he may elevate the paten and chalice together to about shoulder height at the words "which we now offer unto thee." This is a well attested Non-Juror custom that was preserved in the Scottish Episcopal Church until late in the nineteenth century. At the Invocation the celebrant should first join his hands and bow at the words "we humbly beseech thee, O heavenly Father." He should sign the cross over the paten and chalice together either once or thrice at the words "bless and sanctify with thy word and Holy Spirit." The priest then continues with his hands extended in the Orans position. At the end of the prayer he bows at the words "through Jesus Christ our Lord" then elevates the paten and chalice together whilst he recites the rest of the doxology. After the "Amen" he replaces the paten and chalice on the Corporal, bows (or genuflects) and then says the introduction of the Lord's Prayer.

By the way, it should be noted that in the above notes I took it for granted that the priest will join his hands and bow at the name of Jesus. This bow at the holy Name is required by the 1604 Canons, and is one of the few ceremonial gestures ever mandated by Anglican Canon Law. I should perhaps also add that one should be careful about changing existing ceremonial customs. If done at all, it must be done slowly!

Hopefully, that will get you thinking...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Prayer Book Catholicism

"Prayer Book Catholic" is not a term one hears very often these days. I have a suspicion that that may have something to do firstly with the disappearence of the Prayer Book in England, and partly because the liturgical revision has led to a drawing together of the mainstream A-C and Prayer Book strands in the Church of England. However, the term still has some relevance when talking about Anglo-Catholicism in the Continuum, even though "Prayer Book Catholic" has been a term little used in the USA.

One great characteristic of the American Continuum is that it is overwhelmingly a "small-c catholic" endeavour. Even the "Low Churchmen" can tick all the basic Anglo-catholic boxes - belief in the authority of Scripture, in the three Creeds, in the importance of the Early Fathers and Councils, in the apostolic origin of Holy Orders, in the Real Presence, etc.. The areas of dispute tend to lie in areas that are not core doctrine, such as what should we believe about the Blessed Virgin Mary and how important are Counter-Reformation devotions such as Benediction, the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Thus, within the Continuing environment "Prayer Book Catholicism" represents a sort of middle ground, firmly rooted in the Prayer Book tradition of worship on the one hand, and firmly catholic in doctrine on the other.

Prayer Book Catholicism seems to have had its origin in the Bisley School of Tractarianism, and among those Ritualists who thought that being Anglican was at least as important as being Catholic. Doctrinally, it tended to have a more of an interest in the Early Fathers than it did in modern Roman Catholic theology and placed a strong emphasis on Scripture as the test of what should be dogma. This basic theologial emphasis will give you an idea of where and how moderate Anglo-Catholic theologians differed from Rome. The obvious areas of dispute are those dogmas, doctrines and disciplines of the Roman Church that deviate from the practice of the first eight Christian Centuries. This resulted in a strongly Biblical expression of Catholicism that, in practical terms, valued the integration the sacramental Christianity into the personal commitment to Christ and a striving after holiness characteristic of the old Evangelicalism.

In ceremonial terms Prayer Book Catholicism developed along two paths. The slightly older appraoch is the "English Use" which is a deliberate attempt to revive the such late mediaeval ceremonies as are necessary to the Prayer Book liturgy. This approach was first explored in the mid-nineteenth century, then again c. 1900. It was always most popular in the UK, but, apart from a brief vogue in the 1920s and again in liberal Catholic circles c. 1950, the English Use never really caught on in the USA.

The characteristic Anglo-Catholic approach to ceremonial in the USA, where there is no Ornaments Rubric to point us to the "second year of King Edward the Sixth" has been what I call either "Fortescue and Water" or "Ritual Notes and Water." This approach, adopting and adapting the Tridentine Roman ceremonial in celebrating the Prayer Book services, dates from around 1875 and became popular due to the availability of mass produced items for this style of liturgy. Strangely this led to one of the more visible characteristics of American "Prayer Book Catholicism" - when Roman Usage and the BCP came into conflict, the BCP usually won. That said, there are some widespread additions to the BCP Communion service of which Prayer Catholics are guilty. The most popular of these have been the use of some of the personal prayers of the celebrant, and the addition of the Benedictus, and the Agnus Dei to the Communion office, and less frequently, the use of the Ecce, Agnus Dei before Communion. Also some of the commoner visual elements peculiar to the older Roman Rite - "the big six" on the altar, tabernacles, genuflection, the major elevations, cassocks and cottas for servers have been widely adopted.

Some folks have been tempted to label this Romanizing, but I think it represents the evolution of an American version of Catholic Anglicanism. It is also so firmly entrenched that to launch a new series of liturgy wars aimed at making everyone English Use would be a sinful waste of time and energy when there are souls perishing for want of the catholic Gospel of Christ. There is also a level on which it seems a little odd to tie a country and culture that evolved Post-Reformation to a mediaeval aesthetic. On the other, we should not allow our adoption and adaption the Baroque liturgical aesthetic become a simple ape-ing of 1750s, 1850s or 1950s Rome.

At the end of the day, what Prayer Book Catholic need to be careful to do is be "Bible" or "Evangelical" Catholics. This approach requires our expression of Catholic theology to be rooted in the Scriptures (as expounded in the Early Fathers) and for our worship to be sacramental, dignified, beautiful. Concern for the outward in worship is an extension of the incarnational principle in Christian theology. God-made-man teaches us that the created world special to God and also reminds us that man is made in God's image. It also says something very important about the sacredness of the physical world which was, after all, created by God. This leads us to conclude that the use of human talent, beautiful art, vestments and music, and the engagement of the senses in worship all reflect the incarnational approach to Faith and are an offering acceptable to God. The incipient puritanism of much of American Protestant worship reflects as sort of muted dualism where the physical is "bad" whilst the spiritual is the only true good. This can lead to other disconnects - not just between faith and art, but between religion and morality, faith and conduct, etc.. The common repudiation of art, good music, ceremonial and ritual in worship reflect a religion that over emphasizes the Atonement at the expense of the Incarnation, or more dangerously, especially in the liberal circles, places too much emphasis on Jesus the Great Exemplar and Social Reformer, and not enough of Jesus God Incarnate, our Redeemer, the Christ.

As Christianity becomes marginalized by the Secular Progressive movement (and if you do not believe that is happening look at Western Europe) it becomes increasingly important to take a holistic approach to religion. Christianity should affect every part of the believer's life, not just Sunday mornings and Holydays of Obligation. Christianity should be taught not just as a religion, but as a way of life, a culture, an integrated system. Detaching Christianity from life - which is the logical consequence of teaching it as "just a religion" - actually plays into the hands of the secular progressives as it makes it far easier for them to portray Christianity as irrelevant to daily life - pie in the sky when you die.

When I talk about holistic religion, that naturally brings to mind another word that derives from the same Greek root - catholic. The essence of the catholic faith is both redemptive and incarnation. It values the physical as well as the spiritual as God-made. It is a culture as well as a religion. Thus in our teaching of the faith we need to teach ot just Christian theology, but Christian morality, Christian Liturgy, Christian Art, Christian Culture. If the Twenty-first Century is going to be the twenty-first Christian Century the Church is going to have to teach the fullness of Christianity in order to resist the in-roads of the Truth's two great enemies Secularism, and Islam. They are not shy about (mis)representing their errors as integrated world view; and we should be forceful in our declaration of Christian as the way, the truth, and the life.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Calendar for late May/June

The following Calendar derives chiefly from the Book of Common Prayer of 1662


17. Of Octave - W; PP
18. Of Octave - W; PP
19. Of Octave (St Dunstan) - W; PP
20. Octave Day of Ascension - W; PP
21. Feria - W
22. Feria - W

26. Of Octave & Ember Day (St Augustine of Canterbury) R; PP
27. Of Octave (Venerable Bede) R; PP
28. Of Octave - Ember Day - R; PP
29. Of Octave - Ember Day - R; PP

31. Feria - G


1. St. Nicomede, Martyr - R
2. Feria - G
3. Feria - G
4. Feria - G
5. St Boniface - R

6. TRINITY 1 - G
7. Feria - G
8. Feria - G
9. Feria - G
10. Feria - G (1928 PBCP - Corpus Christi - W)
12. Feria - G

13. TRINITY 2 - G
14. Feria - G
15. Feria - G
16. Feria - G
17. St Alban, Martyr - R
18. Feria - G
19. Feria - G

20. TRINITY 3 - (Edward, K. Wessex) - G
21. Feria - G
22. Feria - G
23. Fast - V/W
25. Feria
26. Feria - G

27. TRINITY 4 - G
28. Fast - V/R
29. ST PETER - R
30. Feria - G

It should be noted that any day named in CAPITALS should have both a first and second Evensong. Lesser feasts have only a first Evensong. The lesson for the Lesser Feasts should be taken from the Common provided in the Proposed BCP of 1928.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Varieties of Anglo-Catholicism

A friend of mine once quipped that Anglo-Catholicism comes in more varieties than Heinz's sauces! In the UK there was a very definite "party system" within the Catholic Movement in the Church of England. The basic division was between those who put the Anglican tradition first, and those who regarded their membership of the Church of England as being an historical accident, and therefore tend to look to Rome for authoritative guidance. In the UK we referred to the former as "Prayer Book Catholics" and the latter as "Anglo-Papalists."

The archetypal "Prayer Book Catholic" parish used the 1662 BCP, but made a few, uncontroversial additions, such as the Benedictus and the Agnus Dei at the Eucharist. They would also give pride of place in the worship schedule to what was increasingly referred to as the "Sung Eucharist." Eucharistic vestments, and a ceremonial patterned on that of "the second year of King Edward VI" - or less frequently a very diluted version of Roman practice - were the norm among Prayer Book Catholics in Britain. In terms of theology, they aligned with figures such as Charles Gore, Claude B. Moss, and later Michael Ramsey.

The Anglo-Papalists favoured the English Missal or the Anglican Missal for the Mass. Most parishes continued to use the BCP for Matins and Evensong, and for the occasional offices, but the unofficial Missals were the rule for the Eucharist. However, Missal could cover a multitude of sins - anywhere from a mildly enriched BCP service through to the Tridentine Mass in English. Anyone who wants an idea of how this worked out in practice need only look at the Ninth Edition of Ritual Notes (Knott, London, 1946) which makes provision for both approaches to celebrating the Mass. Theologically, when they were not using Roman Catholic text books they drew on works such as those of Darwell Stone, Frank Weston, and Fr Carleton of "King's Highway" fame.

In truth, most Anglo-Catholic parishes fell somewhere between the two poles. For example, All Saints' Margaret Street in London was very "Roman" in its externals, but for most of its history they used a rite which was recognizably Prayer Book. As one of its Vicars (Fr. Cyril Tomkinson, if remember aright) noted "the rule here is music by Mozart, decor by Comper, choreography by Baldeschi, but, my dear boy, libretto by Cranmer." This underlines the underlying loyalty to the Anglican tradition, as enshrined in the BCP, felt by many in the Anglo-Catholic mainstream. In short - Roman in externals did not necessarily mean Roman in doctrine.

This final point was even more true of the Anglo-Catholic movement in the USA. Of course, there were, and are, parishes that are traditionally Anglo-Papalist - such as St Clement's, Philadelphia, and Church of the Resurrection, NYC. On the other hand, the "English Use" Prayer Book Catholicism so often found in the UK never got a lot of traction in the USA. Instead there was an indigenous form of Prayer Book Catholicism that drew on Rome for its externals, but generally kept close to the 1928 BCP in liturgy.

However, there was one thing that united Anglo-Catholics and that was the opposition they faced from Low and Liberal Churchmen. In a sense it was this common feeling of being somewhat "up against it" that provided the glue that kept the Anglo-catholic Movement together. Many of the problems that Anglo-Catholicism in the Continuum has encountered in the past thirty years have come from the fact that Anglo-Catholics are no longer the minority, but rather the dominant party within a much smaller church. This has led to some unfortunate behaviour with the formerly oppressed behaving as oppressors of those who do not share their views on theology and liturgy.

After thirty years of being Continuing Anglicans rather than Episcopalians there are signs that things are beghinning to settle down a little. Some of the shrillness that used to come from being a minority within the Episcopal Church has departed, and with it some of the liturgical preciousness has gone. Both of these developments are undoubtedly healthy ones, as they reduce the tendancy for "churchmanship" to be a point of division between Anglicans in the USA. However, our continuing, uncompromising commitment to Catholic Faith and Order in its Anglican expression do create some difficulties.

The first difficulty is that our commitment to ancient Catholic Faith and Order make ecumenism with Rome difficult. Our default position would be the Patristic Consensus that evolved after A.D.500 but before the theological "hardening of the arteries" that occurred under the influence of scholasticism. The modern tendancy of Rome during to make dogma things that are not Biblical constitutes a major bar to unity, and one that is not easily resolved.

Secondly, there are difficulties in our ecumenical contacts with Orthodoxy. The greatest of these seems to focus on what I call the cultural element. There is little conception of within Orthodoxy of a western orthodoxy. To the Greek Orthodox especially being Orthodox means being Eastern Rite, and if possible a Greek or a Slav. The old joke is that whenever a westerner converts to Orthodoxy he has to become Russian or Greek in order to fit in.

The third difficulty that has to be dealt with is our relationship with "neo-Anglicanism." The principal representative of this neo-Anglican perspective in the USA is the ACNA. In terms of doctrine there is potentially little that divides us, though I have to admit that the charimsatic and neo-evangelical elements in ACNA fill me with a mild form of dread. However, there is a truly major problem when it comes to ACNA's understanding of the doctrine of orders. In effect they try and embrace two contradictory positions, then compound the difficulty by treating Holy Orders as a secondary doctrinal issue when in truth, any matter that concerns the integrity of the sacraments is of the first important doctrinally speaking. Whilst the majority in ACNA would agree with the St Louis Continuum in saying that women cannot be admitted to Holy Orders, and influential minority continues to ordain women to the priesthood and diaconate. Even among those who reject the ordination women within ACNA their acceptance of the ancient three-fold ministry seems to be dependent on historical precedent, and not upon its Apostolic institution. Of course, I think I can assume that the Anglo-Catholic minority would accept the traditional view, but they are not in the driving seat in ACNA. When it comes to those in ACNA who ordain women to Holy Orders, they have to realise that this was the decisive issue which marked the Episcopal Church's departure from Catholic Faith and Order, and led to the departure of the original ACNA (now ACC, APCK and UECNA) from ECUSA. The new ACNA also has to realise that until it resolves its doctrine of Orders in favour of the traditional point of view it is impossible for the St Louis Continuum Churches to enter into full Communion with them. However, I have to make it clear that I wish them well, and pray that they return to the fullness of Catholic truth instead of trying to compromise with modernism and revisionism.

The Continuum's major task is to find a way of being a unified church not only in doctrine, but in organisation. This will not be an easy task, as we have become used to operating apart, but I would like to see the creation of a standing conference of Anglican bishops in the USA that will faciliate open channel communication between the three St Louis Churches, and begin to dissolve the distrust that has built up thanks to twenty-five years of sometimes ill-considered unilateral actions. Our major mission remains to be faithful witness to the Gospel of Christ and to the Catholic Faith and Order that he gave to His Church. Beyond that we should have no agenda.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Easter Even - the Triduum Part II

Easter Even begins with Morning Prayer, which is read very simply with the Venite and the Glorias omitted. The church is then prepared for the Vigil, and Evening Prayer is read privately.

The Vigil, after many years of being celebrated on the morning of Holy Saturday, moved back to the evening in the 1950s. Unfortunately, the traditional rite was dismantled at this time and replaced by the present unsatisfactory mess. The 1967 Holy Week Booklet follows the 1956 Pian Rite, but it avoids, or does not legislate some of the less satisfactory forms such as the "temporary stand" in the centre of the sanctuary.

The ministers are vested in violet, with folded chasubles for the deacon and subdeacon, at the start of the Vigil. This old custom was maintained in the 1951/52 editions of the revised Roman Holy Week rite, but dropped in 1956. This year I finally got a satisfactory "New Fire" by turning a coffee can into a brazier and filling it with paper and dry juniper sticks. With a little encouragement from the liturgical "Bic" it burned hot and bright in the evening air as we blessed the new fire. We then ignited coals for the thurible and blessed the candle before lighting it from the New Fire. The candle is then carried in procession to its candlesick on the north side of the High altar with three stations being made, one at the back of the Church; one amidships, and the last just in front of the altar steps. The deacon then reads or sings the "Exultet" before changing back into violet vestments and taking his place while two robed readers read the four prophecies. After each prophecy a collect is read.

At the end of the prophecies the sacred ministers process in the proper order to the font. The font is then blessed using the form in the 1928 BCP, then the congregation renews its baptismal promises and holy water is sprinkled over the congregation. For this I use the same bundle of twigs that I used for the washing of the altar on Maundy Thursday. A Litany and a hymn then follow as the sacred minsters return to the altar.

The remainder of the service consists of a fairly standard Sung Eucharist, but the Creed is omitted. The church bells are run during the Gloria in Excelsis to greet the Lord's Resurrection.

The 1967 order for the Easter Vigil has the usual issues associated with the Pius XII reform. The Exultet really works best when the Hastar or Trident is used and the candle is blessed in its stand by the altar and the five grains are blessed and stuck into the candle at the appropriate point in the prayer. However, the renewal of Baptismal Vows, though excoriated by traditionalists, works well.

Easter Sunday sees the usual Morning Prayer, said Holy Communion, and sung Holy Communion. Our Easter festivities conclude with a potluck lunch. After that it is time for the clergy to take a well earned rest - provided they are back again for Matins and Mass tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Triduum - Part 1

The Triduum gets off to a dramatic start with the Maundy Thursday. The morning office is somewhat sombre as we follow the tradition of omitting the glorias at Morning and Evening Prayer during the Triduum. This is not strictly BCP, but was widely tolerated in even Low Church dioceses in times past. The major liturgical function of Maundy Thursday is the Eucharist. However, this differs from the standard Roman/Anglo-Catholic model in that English liturgical tradition, as represented by Sarum, does not have separate Chrism and "evening" Masses, but rather a single Eucharist that covers both, which, in former times was celebated in the morning, with Vespers occuring straight after communion.

In accordance with the older custom, I took the option of focussing on the institution of the Lord's Supper. The Gospel is the shorter of the two Gospels appointed in the 1928 BCP which focuses on the "new commandment." The older rites do not incorporate the foot washing into the service; that was part of a separate function in the chapter house in the old Roman Rite and in the Sarum Use.

For the most part the Maundy Mass is a standard 1928 BCP Solemn Eucharist. As the Bishop is the celebrant, we use white, rather than the festal red prescribed by Sarum for a priest celebrant. With our relatively slender resources the altar party consisted of the bishop, deacon, subdeacon, thurifer, and crucifer. Standard High Mass ceremonial as per the English Use is followed, but things begin to "go wrong" at the end of the Prayer of Consecration when we came to the blessing of oils. In the absence of any authoritative guidence, I followed the old custom I stopped after the words "and pardoning our offenses" to bless the oil of the sick; then, after the Lord's Prayer the Oil of the Catechumens and the Chrism are blessed before Communion. After Communion, the Eucharist concludes with the Prayer of Thanksgiving, the Blessing and the sacrament for tomorrow's Mass of the Pre-Sanctified being reserved in "the accustomed place."

Evening Prayer then follows, with the Gloria Patri omitted as in the morning. The sacred ministers then go to the sacristy and remove their outer vestments. They then strip the altar while Ps. 22 was read. Lastly the bishop washes the altar with water and vinegar. The church is left stripped and bare for Good Friday.

The Good Friday begins with Morning Prayer with its three proper psalms. Again there is no Venite, no glorias, and with Ps 51 as the first Canticle. This latter touch is "borrowed" from the proposed English BCP of 1928. Unlike many places which, incorrectly, wear only cassocks, normal choir habit is worn by the clergy. Being a bishop, I wear rochet and black chimere, but on Good Friday I omit the usual signs of Episcopal jurisdiction - the ring and the staff. Mattins is followed with the Litany, and concludes with Ante-Communion and a short address.

The afternoon service is that appointed in the 1967 Scottish Holy Week booklet. For this service the celebrant wears an alb and either back, or a dark red chasuble, the deacon alb and stole, and the subdeacon an alb. A lay reader in an alb takes the place of the third "passion" deacon. I favour dark red as the colour for Good Friday as that is more in keeping with English tradition.

The 1967 Booklet provides an outline into which BCP elements are fitted rather than a complete service. At St Paul's the service begins with the three Good Friday collects. This is followed by three lessons - Hosea 6, Hebrew 10, and St. John 19 interspersed with Ps 31, 1-6, and Ps 140. The Passion is read by the deacon, subdeacon, and reader. A short address then follows. The service continues with the nine solemn collects, which in our case consist of a long bidding read by the deacon followed by a suitable prayer from the BCP read by the priest. This arrangement is similar to the modern Roman Rite, but commended itself to me not for that reason, but simply because it is practical.

When the nine solemn collects are completed, the celebrant removes his chasuble and goes to the sacristy to collect the Cross. As he brings it in he makes three stations at the rear of the nave, "amidships," and just in front of the altar steps. Each time he lifts up the cross and says "Behold the wood of the Cross, whereon hung the world's salvation" and the congregation makes the response. The cross, rather than being individually venerated, is placed on its bracket above the altar and the service proceeds with the Reproaches from the English Hymnal ending with the hymn "Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle."

After this the reserved sacrament is brought from the side altar. The celebrant washes his hands and the service proceeds with the General Confession, Absolution and Comfortable Words, Lord's Prayer, Prayer of Humble Access, and Agnus Dei before communion is administered. The ablutions are taken in the normal manner, and there is a closing collect. The ministers leave in silence, and remove their vestments. The reader extinguishes the candles and removes them from the altar, and the linen cloth is also removed. The clergy then put on choir habit and return to church for Evening Prayer which is said in the usual form for the Triduum. This placement of Evening Prayer immediately after the principal liturgy is an adaption of the mediaeval custom of saying Vespers "infra missam" to the rubrics of the BCP.

This series of blog entries will conclude with the next post, which describes with ceremonies of Easter Even, and the Vigil.