1 September 2015

The Divine Office in Anglo-Saxon England (3)

Continues ...
 I should add that Jesse Billett gives critical editions of three unregarded liturgical fragments, relegated to 'Appendix' status but all of them important and with each detail treated with scrupulous attention. I have not checked through the tables which are a prominent feature of the book and which make it easier to follow his discussion, but, in what I have looked at, I have not noticed errors.

This is an age in which Anglicanism, for reasons detailed as long ago as 1987 by Gary Bennett in his Crockford's Preface, has lost all the varied sustaining and combining features which, as recently as my youth, still gave it mutual coherence. I think Professor Billett has proved that the ecclesial community which produced fine Patristic scholarship in the nineteenth century and superb liturgical scholarship in the twentieth is still capable of producing scholars who provoke our admiration and enlighten our understanding.

The Roman liturgical Tradition does lie at the heart of our common Western experience, and to understand it, in depth and with clarity, is to understand what B Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey combined to call "the common ancient traditions"; and is thus, in the deepest possible way, to Do Ecumenism. That is why I characterise a book crammed with detailed footnotes and painstaking references and illuminating the daily and hourly life of prayer of the secular and religious English clergy of the period from 597-c1000 as a work of profoundly ecumenical significance. And I feel that we in the Ordinariates, in particular, should take this sort of scholarship immensely seriously. Such books; such studies; such interests; such writers; are part of the Bridge which the Ordinariates are meant, in God's Providence, to be. We shall be less than we should be if we do not ourselves sustain this Bridge.

I think there is a particular question which may in judgement be put to those of us who belong to Benedict XVI's Ordinariates: And what did you do to keep the Bridge open for those still on the other side?

31 August 2015

Ecclesia eadem Westmonasteriensis

Fascinating to have read those comments on my earlier post of August 4: again, thank you, everybody. They establish that those 'Lists' in Westminster Cathedral, which assert the Communion between the Popes and the Chief Pastors of the Catholic Church in England, do this by getting thoroughly confused about whether Archbishops of Canterbury were appointed by, received the Pallium from, and maintained communion with, 'the genuine' pope; or a 'wicked antipope'. Similarly, they fail to understand that the Vicars Apostolic of the London District were not (as the Archbishops of Westminster were to be) Coetus Episcopalis totius Angliae et Cambriae Praesides perpetui. Next time I'm there, I'll have a look to see how the Lists negotiate the status of Stigand, appointed Archbishop of Canterbury by the 'antipope' Benedict X; and check out whether (as I think I recall) the Lists imply that, throughout the Henrician and Edwardine schisms, Thomas Cranmer was in peace and communion with the Successors of S Peter. Incidentally, is it arguable that, from 1558-1579, Nicolas Heath, Primate of England, was Chief Pastor of the Catholic Church in this country? And how nice it would be to think of a reason for adding dear Cardinal Allen to the list. Surely, de facto ...

But the more interesting question, ladies and gentlemen, now surely becomes: who was responsible for this botched and even comical attempt to assert a tidy and problem-free rewriting of ecclesiastical history? I suspect (my suspicions are no more than hunches) Vaughan. If it was he, did he tell some  green young chaplain to draft it on a couple of sheets of paper ... "My dear boy, it's quite simple: you just stick the Popes down one side, and the Archbishops of Canterbury down the other side ... you can't go wrong ..."?

Or might these Lists be the most dramatic public and permanent examples of poor Abbot Gasquet's idiosyncratic, Alice-in-Wonderland, History-is-what-I-think-it-ought-to-have-been, style of Historiography?

30 August 2015

The Office in Anglo-Saxon England (2)

Continues ...
 Professor Billett establishes with a high degree of probability that the form of the Office brought to England by the Augustinian Mission was not the form which was later to be thought of as 'Benedictine'. It was 'Roman' in the sense of replicating what was done in the great Roman basilicas ... the dedications of which (Christ; Ss Peter and Paul; S Mary) S Augustine was recreating in his See city. What happened in Rome was itself, of course, not static; and evidence can be complicated by this fact, as well as by the probability that local religious Superiors exercised a degree of liberty. But the main outlines are clear and, needless to say, evolution, both in Rome and in England, was 'organic'. It was not until the middle of the tenth century that a monastic 'reform' in England resulted in a 'strict observance' of the Benedictine liturgical rules in a group of monasteries, leaving other monasteries, and the secular clergy, to continue the old Roman basilican liturgical tradition.

There is something very distinctively 'Anglican' in Professor Billett's thesis. The Romanitas of the English Church received much emphasis from an earlier generation of Anglican liturgists, not least Geoffrey Willis. Many readers will remember the conclusion of a particular 'purple passage' by Gregory Dix: "This very morning I 'did this' with a set of texts which has not changed by more than a few syllables since Augustine used those very words at Canterbury on the third Sunday of Easter in the summer after he landed". And Billett, in a book which I suspect will not be superseded for a very long time, draws into his conclusions a vast amount of secondary literature, some of it largely ignored today because of the lack of interest displayed, since the 1960s, on anything which did not point towards the targets desired by the dominant fashionistas of that decade. One example is Camille Callewaert: not a name to conjure with among the Diocesan Directors of Liturgy of our generation ... but his little finger was thicker than their thighs. (Even the biggest names are now little known ... Bishop ... the Benedictine liturgical school of the Interwar Period ... Eizenhoeffer ... Christine Mohrmann ... are these names that crawl all over the notebooks of modern seminarians or even DPhil students?) Billett also summarises and utilises the work of scholars currently active, such as our own very popular Professor Regia of Ecclesiastical History here at Oxford, Sarah Foot.

Repeatedly, I found myself reading some single lapidary sentence in this book, perhaps especially one including a negative, and suddenly pulling up short with the reflection: It must have taken him a couple of days to check through that, not only verifying the references but, particularly, looking into every conceivable nook and cranny to assure himself that he hadn't failed to notice a piece of contrary evidence which would subvert his negative.
To be continued.


29 August 2015

Off with his head?

As History and S John Paul II both teach, the Rosary has been/is a flexible devotion. I sometimes recall my great Patron by saying these decades: The Annunciation to Zachary; the Visitation; the Nativity of S John Baptist; the Baptism of Christ; and the Decollation of S John Baptist.

In this delightfully hypersynodical age, what a very topical festival today's commemoration is. How sad it never occurred to S John Baptist to make clear to Herod and Herodias that all would be tickety boo about their interesting and fulfilling 'union' if only they performed an episcopally-authorised 'Penitential Path'.

Anyway, the Good News is that nobody has decapitated Cardinal Marx.

28 August 2015

Lavington again; and some questions.

Lavington Church (vide antea) was rather harshly treated by Street ... although I do feel the need to remind myself that the much-criticised Victorians had to make something of church buildings which had often received at best little more than patchwork ad hocery since the Reformation. You will find within it Soapy Sam's crosier ... I wonder when Anglican bishops resumed the use of the crosier? And the little church has early Victorian widows in which, bestriding the gulf between the later ideologies of Zionism and Nazism, the Star of David and the Swastika alternate as decorative motifs. And, unmentioned by Nairn [Pevsner], there is what looks to me like a Georgian pulpit with a rather worn brass plate recording that it was given to the Church of ... S Mark's, Kennington! Does anybody know where it had been originally; how it got to S Mark's Kennington (the 'Waterloo' church opposite the Oval Underground Station, on the spot where they killed the officers of the Manchester Regiment after the '45); and how it migrated thence to Lavington?

As I turned away from Caroline's grave, I found myself wondering how often the Cardinal Archbishop quietly murmured, as the Ministers turned away from him at the Altar so as not to overhear the Names, "... qui nos praecesserunt cum signo fidei et dormiunt in somno pacis: et praesertim coniugis meae carissimae Carolinae ..." [the manuals of that age suggested that one could offer Mass for departed schismatics but only privately]. The former Rectory, later renamed Beechwood, does not seem to have a blue disk recording his residence.

Newman is sometimes, and naturally, thought of as the more 'Anglican' of our two greatest modern English  Cardinals; but Lavington can suggest a new approach to Blessed John Henry's confrater in purpura. His background in England's Squirearchy; his own years as a country parson; above all, his affection through so many decades for a wife, surely give him a dash of 'Anglicanism' or at least of Englishness in fields where the mighty Beatus lacked it. Should the historians reclassify him as an outlier jure conjugis of the great Wilberforce clan? Could we thus insert Manning, and his role in settling the London Dock Strike, into a continuum linking the Anti-Slavery Movement and Rerum Novarum?

27 August 2015

Excellent ...

... pieces at Father Zed (on pews); and at Rorate, by Professor de Mattei, on a first-millennium Adulterous Synod.

The Divine Office in Anglo-Saxon England 597-c.1000 (1)

Ecce the title of a book recently published in the Subsidia series of the magnificent Henry Bradshaw Society. The author is Professor Jesse Billett, of Trinity College Toronto.

It is not often realised, either by Anglicans or by Roman Catholics, what a remarkable phenomenon it was, that little mission which Pope S Gregory the Great planted in Canterbury in 597. It happened a couple of centuries before the Carolingian Renaissance, before an imperious Frankish dynast embarked upon his project of replacing 'Gallican' liturgy with books copied directly from exemplars of the City. S Augustine's 'Church Plant' in Kent resulted in a little island of Romanitas being planted in the furthest North; and was, in political terms, magnificently timely. The King of Kent was clearly aware that Christianity was the cult of the Big World; he so valued his links with that world that he had accepted a Christian Frankish princess as his queen, with a Frankish bishop as her chaplain. Yet, to adopt her religion ... his Father-in-law's religion ... would have made him appear an appendage of her apron-strings, if not a vassal of her father. But the offer of a direct relationship with the Papa Romanus; to have a dialect of Christianity more august than theirs parachuted in; enabled him to trump the dignities of his in-laws. To be addressed as Rex Anglorum and as gloriosissimus, praecellentissimus by a Pope who compared him to Constantinus piissimus imperator ... to be instructed that the dedications and the liturgical dispositions and the choral arrangements of the churches being constructed in Canterbury precisely paralleled those of the great City itself, making Canterbury a new, Northern Rome ...

If there was one single over-riding characteristic of Anglo-Saxon Christianity, it was its Romanitas. Professor Billett's concern is to examine the surviving evidence for how the Divine Office, the round of daily prayer, was performed in the monasteria, 'minsters', of Anglo-Saxon England; and to demonstrate that it is inaccurate and anachronistic to speak of this as 'Benedictine'. Although there is plenty of evidence for the respectful study of the Benedictine Regula in the English Church, an assumption that this must have included a careful replication of S Benedict's directions with regard to worship contradicts the hints given in the evidence of the period concerned. I say 'hints' because writers naturally fail to describe in detail what they assume their readers will take for granted (throughout my blog posts you will not find any evidence that I use a knife and a fork while eating ... because we all do that ... and the remarkable thing would be if I did not do so ... and in that case I would explain to you my aberrant behaviour). Nevertheless the evidence is sufficient to fill some 500 pages and to build up a formidable case.
So how did they worship? To be continued.

26 August 2015

Lavington Churchyard

A few days in Sussex gave us the opportunity of walking to Lavington Church to visit Caroline (nee) Sargent's grave. I hadn't been there since the mid-1950s, and we had trouble rediscovering it ... you know how hard inscriptions can be to read when lichen has superimposed its own arabesques upon the lettering. Eventually we found it, under a shady wall, right under the steep and sunless wooded North incline of the Downs. I had to kneel down to trace the inscription with my fingers, my knees crunching in the beechmast. Her husband is not buried beside her.

They were married in 1833 in the nearby church by her brother-in-law Soapy Sam, later bishop of Oxford and then of Winchester, who was to earn eternal detestation among prim and humourless people by getting a cheap laugh at Darwin's expense. Four years later, childless, she died of consumption. Had she lived, might she have been the wife of an Archbishop of Canterbury? I have lost count of the number of bishops, not to mention the mere parsons, in her family connections.

Her husband succeeded her father, whose curate he had been, as Rector of Lavington and Graffham. He left behind him diverting accounts of his peasant parishioners, in which the summaries, if critical, ex. gr. 'addictus inebrietati', 'familia malo et ignaviae addicta', are in Latin or Greek. "The morning and evening prayers and the music of the English Bible for 17 years became part of my soul. If there were no eternal world, I could have made it my home".

A friend described his deathbed, nearly sixty years after the marriage: "I was by his bedside; he looked around to see that we were alone: he fumbled under his pillow for something; he drew out a battered little pocket-book full of a woman's fine handwriting. He said 'For years you have been a son to me, Henry; I know not to whom else to leave this - I leave it to you. In this little book my dearest wife wrote her prayers and meditations. Not a day has passed since her death, on which I have not prayed and meditated from this book. All the good I may have done, all the good I may have been, I owe to her. Take precious care of it'. He ceased speaking and soon afterwards unconsciousness came on".

You will remember the edifying accounts of how, when the body of S Thomas More was prepared for burial, under his outer finery was discovered a hair shirt. But on this occasion what they found on this corpse was a small locket, containing the portrait of his 'dearest wife' Caroline.

I hope they had the decency to leave that locket where they found it, round his neck, beneath the pallium. I like to feel, as I approach the Byzantine edifice to which they moved his body, that, under all the haughty marble assertion, beneath the dangling red hat, there lies a tiny picture of the very devout and pretty girl who was the daughter of a squarson and the wife of his curate and who lies in spe beatae resurrectionis under the beechmast in Lavington churchyard.

25 August 2015

Appeal for help!

Since B Dominic Barberi was beatified in 1963, there must exist a Mass for him according to the conventions of the Missal of 1962. Can someone tell me where to find it, or email it to me? His feast is tomorrow, and I would prefer to use the authorised form rather than Os iusti.

24 August 2015

S Bartholomew's Day

The Day of the Great Ejection, in 1662, of those two or three thousand Protestant Ministers who would not accept sacerdotal Ordination by a Bishop in the Church of England; a day also to remember because of the concomitant 'sacerdotalising' changes to her rites of Ordination. This initiated an era only ended by the unhappy 'Porvoo Agreement' in which the Church of England herself formally declared, as Leo XIII had declared a century earlier, that her Orders were identical with those of Continental Protestantism (1995).

Granting the views expressed by Dermot MacCulloch about the Protestant character of the Elizabethan Reformation, should we see S Bartholomew's Day as the moment when the Church of England definitively and formally set out upon a course distinguishing herself from Common Protestantism? A course upon which she remained until the events of last two decades concluded it (Women priests, Porvoo, Anglican-Methodist Covenant, Women Bishops).

August 24 1662: just one small step on the happy road towards the Ordinariate, but, nonetheless, a step?

Dies calculo notandus?

23 August 2015

Ecce Sacerdos Magnus! (5)

If you browse through the Pontificale Romanum as it so admirably was before the post-Conciliar alterations, you will discover that the most solemn liturgical blessings and consecrations both of persons and of things had one constant feature. They began like the Preface of the Mass, with Dominus vobiscum; Sursum corda; Gratias agamus; Vere dignum et iustum est, aequum et salutare .... This is how Major Orders were conferred; how Chrism and the Paschal Candle were blessed; how Abbots, Abbesses, Virgins and Queens, Churches and Altars, were solemnly blessed. The custom was not 'primitive'; but fitted very beautifully the 'primitive' understanding that it is by Thanksgiving, Eucharistia, that things are blessed and made over to God. Nowadays, apart from the Mass, the Paschal Candle appears to be the only survival of this noble custom (apparently, in modern liturgical theology, candles are more sacral objects than Bishops or even Virgins!). Couratin provides the Prayer for the Ordination of Priests remodelled in this way. Here we have something more than just an elegant literary embellishment; it is in itself a theological statement. Priests are something more than the merely functional.

The Rite of Ordination which I have described was only used in one diocese (as far as I know) and possibly only during two episcopates. I must emphatically disclaim any intention of investing my narrative with any broader theological significance. But that Diocese was a rather special star in our Anglican firmament (fuit Troia, fuimus Troiani ...), and Kirk was a profoundly significant figure in the now vanished Anglo-Catholic world of Dix and Mascall and their associates. Surely, it cannot fail to be a matter of interest precisely how just such a bishop solemnly administered the Sacrament of Holy Order in his Cathedral Church of Christ in Oxford?

Does anybody know how Robert Mortimer, another Good Egg, did things down in Exeter?


22 August 2015

Docuit Ecclesia Westmonasteriensis ...

I've just returned from a period away from my computer and have endeavoured to deal with emails (400ish) and comments. I have, I think, enabled all the comments except for one (which tried to discuss at length the errors of the C of E rather than engaging with the actual subject of my post); and another which asked whether it was S Pius X or Pius XII who changed the collect for Assumption Day ... believe me, it was the latter!

A very good haul of comments on the piece I wrote on August 4 (Docet Ecclesia Westmonasteriensis) about the grandiose brass plates inside Westminster Cathedral. They seem to clarify that it was the antipope John XXIII who provided Chichele to Canterbury and sent him the Pallium ... and that the London Vicars Apostolic were, as I suspected, not senior to the other Vicars Apostolic. I thank all my erudite contributors and earnestly enjoin you to read their contributions.

I keep getting stuff about Facebook. I do not do Facebook. If you are being informed that I have rejected you as a Facebook Friend, this is why!