4 October 2009

Episcopal inertia

"He entered the Church, of course, after the Gospel". Anglican Catholics, nurtured on the writings and wit of our great mystagogue and monk Dom Gregory Dix, scourge of bishops ... " remember that the sign of a Bishop is a crook, and of an Archbishop, a double cross" ... might suspect that the habitually lazy lout described above must have been a bishop. (Dix once wrote: "Even when the stately summer of the Carolines was over, the 'Whig grandee' Bishops of the eighteenth century and the 'Greek Play' Bishops of [the 1860s] still had something for which the genial energy of a business man in gaiters does not quite compensate". He penned that in the 1940s; with what phrase, equally swift and just as catty, might one bring it up to date?)

We might think there was little trouble in placing the attitude betrayed here, so careless at once of liturgical propriety and of the proclaimed Evangelium - but who was the bishop, and of what age? Benjamin Hoadley? Talleyrand? - but he would probably have remained outside until after the Creed. But the culprit is, in fact, a sixth century Irish abbot, an example of austerity and of penitential endeavour, S Columba himself. Moreover, he was accompanied by four other monastic founders. And Columba was even the celebrant of the Mass!

Was S Columba really too sluggish an old gent to get out of bed before the Gospel? An ancient manuscript once in the library of the Dukes of Buckingham and now kept in Dublin gives the answer to this conundrum.

Continues later.

8 comments:

Warwickensis said...

I guess, Father, that Epsicopal Inertia is why they have Bishops' steering committees to keep them moving in the correct direction (whatever "correct" means).

Fr Anthony said...

Sometimes the Church is compared with a boat or a barque. Anyone who goes on a boat will know that the rudder cannot steer a boat if it is stopped or going too slowly. Same with an aeroplane...

Fr. Anthony

Gengulphus said...

"He entered the Church, of course, after the Gospel".

But everybody knows that the service counts as long as you are there in time for 'Militant'. The detail to which you allude is surely a most compelling demonstration that St Columba was an Anglican.

William Tighe said...

I know the answer, but I'm not saying (b/c Fr. H. sent me the article).

Independent said...

Perhaps he entered after the sermon. That would still in many cases be a wise course of action.

Jacob Hicks said...

Perhaps he felt that were he to arrive before the Gospel, he might be tempted to receive Holy Communion when he felt unworthy so to do.

BillyD said...

Maybe it is referring to the order that the two entered the church building in a procesiion - he entered the church towards the end, while the book of the Gospels went before?

Nebuly said...

'But everybody knows that the service counts as long as you are there in time for 'Militant'. The detail to which you allude is surely a most compelling demonstration that St Columba was an Anglican.'

Gengulphus forgets that St Columba is Irish and thus as a member of the Church of Ireland would LEAVE the church at 'Militant'