29 November 2009

Not an obituary ...

... there will be enough of those. Some memories: of the day when, by an act of papal primacy (immediate and ordinary and episcopal) dead in line with Vatican I, Sanctissimus Dominus Noster Georgius alterius orbis papa Carey sent a Guildford suffragan clutching a Primatial Commission in his hot little hands to "ordain" women for the Diocese of Chichester. Eric came to us at Lancing - he loved singing pontifical high Mass in Lancing Chapel - and then had lunch; his face grew redder and redder as the gin ... and the wine ... flowed, and we drowned our sorrows in the traditional Anglo-Catholic way. Memories also of the sermons he preached when Lancing had a head master, formerly head of Rugby, who did not share our foundational Catholicism. Somehow, Eric always seemed to be able to work into his homilies a scathing reference to "the ideas sometimes associated with the name of Thomas Arnold head master of Rugby". It was a commonplace that the Chichester diocese, during his pontificate, was the Indian Summer of the C of E; certainly, of the Catholic Movement. After he retired, the secret police went round the diocese gathering evidence of 'illegalities', and the rumour was that a man was going to be put in with a clear remit to "bring it back into the Church of England". So women began to receive the diocesan license to officiate; and the Roman Rite began to be persecuted.

Eric had exactly what Manning found so reprehensible in Newman; the old Anglican Oxford Patristic tone. It was a style of theological Anglican Catholicism which read and remembered; which argued and did Divinity in accordance with the rules of evidence and of logic; which was deeply marked by the continuities of the Anglican Catholic tradition and its rootedness in parish church as well as in Cathedral and library.

Sadly, Eric was a man out of his age. His gentle gifts of erudition and rational discourse seemed naked before the mechanised onslaught of the panzer divisions of Liberalism and feminism. It was under Eric's leadership of the Catholic Movement that, uneasily, we gradually became aware that we were winning every argument but losing the war. It took some time to realise it, but eventually we identified the strengths our enemies possessed. Their idea of 'discussion' or 'dialogue' meant shouting abuse until their foes fell silent. They would never engage in argument rationally because they already knew every answer. To disagree with them was but to manifest one's own psychological problems -one's phobias and hang-ups and prejudices. What defences had the methods by which Divinity was done on the banks of the Isis against this ruthless totalitarianism and its readiness to exterminate?

Only God knows if the Ordinariate game will work out in practice. If it does, this would be the best possible memorial to Eric: the old Oxford Patristic Tone - the Divinity of Pusey and Keble and Liddon and Kemp and and Carpenter and Farrer and Mascall and Chadwick and Cross and Kilpatrick and so many others - as a living and thriving reality in a broader Christendom. We owe it to them to ensure that the Anglican Patrimony is not just seen as needlework and anthems at Evensong.

13 comments:

Antonio said...

Perhaps someone could one day write something like brief biographical notes about all these men who worked so hard to make anglo-catholicism survive.
It would be something wonderful and a "must-read" for all members of the Anglican Ordinariates in communion with Rome.
(I'll never be a member, being a cradle Catholic from Argentina, but there's no doubt I would do my best to get a copy of that book).
Well, just a thought...

May he rest in peace.

AndrewWS said...

IIRC, the late great Eric Mascall was a Cambridge man (Pembroke, I believe) who did most of his teaching in London; Henry Chadwick (like his brother Owen, who is still with us to remind us of a more civilised age) also graduated from the establishment in the Fens.

AndrewWS said...

I presume there will be lots of people reminiscing about the celebrated "what we need is joy" sermon ...

Fr William said...

Your third paragraph in particular deserves to be widely read as a brief but telling analysis of what has happened to the Catholic movement in the C of E. But I have one question: when you write (inter alia) "Their idea of 'discussion' or 'dialogue' meant shouting abuse until their foes fell silent", was this a new phenomenon, or had we simply forgotten how to counter it? (Or did we still know, in principle, how to counter it, but were no longer sufficiently confident in our theological and ecclesiological presumptions to do so?)

Sadie Vacantist said...

Deeply concerned by this headline and article:

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/articles/a0000695.shtml which includes this quote from Archbishop Nichols:

"The Apostolic Constitution gives us the end game but not the process. It is up to us, working with the Church of England, to look at the process."

In other words, how can we make this process as difficult and humiliating as possible?

Steve said...

Under the legislation, +Eric had the right to ban the Guildford suffragan with the Archbishop's commission (or anybody else) from ordaining his deacons to the priesthood. Can anyone tell us why he let him do it?

andrew said...

Antonio, if you enjoyed this you might enjoy Fr Davage's *patrimonial* sermon at:

http://www.puseyhouse.org.uk/chapel/sermons/?sermon=70

Sir Watkin said...

In response to Steve:

I seem to recall that, whilst under the Measure bishops had the right to make their dioceses no-go areas, as part of the deal that led to the Act of Synod those bishops who would have exercised this right agreed to waive it.

The choice they were faced with was between:

a. Keeping women ministers out of a handful of dioceses (and only whilst the incumbent bishop remained in office -thereafter the diocesan's right to exclude them would lapse).

b. The provision of a system of "extended episcopal care" for traditionalists throughout the provinces of Canterbury and York.

As it happened they judged that sacrificing a. was a price worth paying for b.

Antonio said...

Andrew: Thank you very much for the link.
I guess I'll have to read it along with Wikipedia, since Father William is speaking for people who knows much more than me about anglo-catholicism.
But we (non English Roman Catholics) need this kind of material, because the Holy father has been "crystal clear" that we need your gifts.
The first thing I think I'm going to read is "John Keble’s sermon on the National Apostasy" if I find it.
"National Apostasy"... sadly I know a lot about it.

Fr William said...

In partial answer to my question above, I cannot resist quoting the following from C S Lewis' 1941 essay "Bulverism":

You must show that a man is wrong before you start explaining why he is wrong. The modern method is to assume without discussion that he is wrong and then distract his attention from this (the only real issue) by busily explaining how he became so silly. In the course of the last fifteen years I have found this vice so common that I have had to invent a name for it. I call it "Bulverism". Some day I am going to write the biography of its imaginary inventor, Ezekiel Bulver, whose destiny was determined at the age of five when he heard his mother say to his father — who had been maintaining that two sides of a triangle were together greater than a third — "Oh, you say that because you are a man." "At that moment", E. Bulver assures us, "there flashed across my opening mind the great truth that refutation is no necessary part of argument. Assume that your opponent is wrong, and the world will be at your feet. Attempt to prove that he is wrong or (worse still) try to find out whether he is wrong or right, and the national dynamism of our age will thrust you to the wall." That is how Bulver became one of the makers of the Twentieth Century.

Refutation is no necessary part of argument – the perfect motto for the proponents of the New Church Agenda.

Fr William said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve said...

In response to Sir Watkin: Thank you for that. It was still +Eric's choice though.....

Sir Watkin said...

It was his choice, but only in the rather limited sense that it's your "choice" to take poison, if the only alternatives I offer you are that or being hanged.