Thursday 20 December 2012

Pope Benedict writes for the Financial Times: "A time for Christians to engage with the world"

Courtesy of Vatican Radio, below is an English language article written by Pope Benedict XVI in Thursday's Financial Times newspaper (20 December 2012). The article originates from a request from the editorial office of the newspaper asking for the Pope's comments to mark the occasion of Christmas and following the recent publication of the Holy Father's book on Jesus' infancy (The Infancy Narratives).

“Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God,” was the response of Jesus when asked about paying taxes. His questioners, of course, were laying a trap for him. They wanted to force him to take sides in the highly-charged political debate about Roman rule in the land of Israel. Yet there was more at stake here: if Jesus really was the long-awaited Messiah, then surely he would oppose the Roman overlords. So the question was calculated to expose him either as a threat to the regime, or a fraud.Jesus’ answer deftly moves the argument to a higher plane, gently cautioning against both the politicization of religion and the deification of temporal power, along with the relentless pursuit of wealth. His audience needed to be reminded that the Messiah was not Caesar, and Caesar was not God. The kingdom that Jesus came to establish was of an altogether higher order. As he told Pontius Pilate, “My kingship is not of this world.”

The Christmas stories in the New Testament are intended to convey a similar message. Jesus was born during a “census of the whole world” taken by Caesar Augustus, the Emperor renowned for bringing the Pax Romana to all the lands under Roman rule. Yet this infant, born in an obscure and far-flung corner of the Empire, was to offer the world a far greater peace, truly universal in scope and transcending all limitations of space and time. Jesus is presented to us as King David’s heir, but the liberation he brought to his people was not about holding hostile armies at bay; it was about conquering sin and death forever.

The birth of Christ challenges us to reassess our priorities, our values, our very way of life. While Christmas is undoubtedly a time of great joy, it is also an occasion for deep reflection, even an examination of conscience. At the end of a year that has meant economic hardship for many, what can we learn from the humility, the poverty, the simplicity of the crib scene?Christmas can be the time in which we learn to read the Gospel, to get to know Jesus not only as the Child in the manger, but as the one in whom we recognize God made Man.

It is in the Gospel that Christians find inspiration for their daily lives and their involvement in worldly affairs – be it in the Houses of Parliament or the Stock Exchange. Christians shouldn’t shun the world; they should engage with it. But their involvement in politics and economics should transcend every form of ideology. Christians fight poverty out of a recognition of the supreme dignity of every human being, created in God’s image and destined for eternal life. Christians work for more equitable sharing of the earth’s resources out of a belief that, as stewards of God’s creation, we have a duty to care for the weakest and most vulnerable. Christians oppose greed and exploitation out of a conviction that generosity and selfless love, as taught and lived by Jesus of Nazareth, are the way that leads to fullness of life. Christian belief in the transcendent destiny of every human being gives urgency to the task of promoting peace and justice for all.

Because these goals are shared by so many, much fruitful cooperation is possible between Christians and others. Yet Christians render to Caesar only what belongs to Caesar, not what belongs to God. Christians have at times throughout history been unable to comply with demands made by Caesar. From the Emperor cult of ancient Rome to the totalitarian regimes of the last century, Caesar has tried to take the place of God. When Christians refuse to bow down before the false gods proposed today, it is not because of an antiquated world-view. Rather, it is because they are free from the constraints of ideology and inspired by such a noble vision of human destiny that they cannot collude with anything that undermines it.In Italy, many crib scenes feature the ruins of ancient Roman buildings in the background. This shows that the birth of the child Jesus marks the end of the old order, the pagan world, in which Caesar’s claims went virtually unchallenged. Now there is a new king, who relies not on the force of arms, but on the power of love. He brings hope to all those who, like himself, live on the margins of society. He brings hope to all who are vulnerable to the changing fortunes of a precarious world. From the manger, Christ calls us to live as citizens of his heavenly kingdom, a kingdom that all people of good will can help to build here on earth".

2013 and Future Steps for English Church Unity

The Director, Fr Mark Woodruff, writes in our December Newsletter:
2013 is the Centenary of the Catholic League. This will be a year not only to celebrate a dedicated history, but also to renew our prayer for Christian Unity, in fullness of communion in the Catholic Faith and in union with the Apostolic See of Rome.

2012 has seen the continued search of the Church of England to resolve its internal differences and, indeed, for its own internal ecumenism. If the Church of England majority, which sees the admission of women to the presbyterate and episcopate as a legitimate development to the received tradition, cannot allow a place for fellow Anglicans who believe the Church should keep to the Tradition on which all can be reconciled as they were once united; and, given the uncompromising tone with which some of their number have called for the rejection and even exclusion of the minority, it sends a powerful message to the ecumenical partners of Anglicans working with them, beyond ecumenism, towards reconciliation and fullness of communion. If most Anglicans do not want spiritual ecumenism to work within their own ranks, and fullness of communion cannot be achieved within the juridical bounds of the Established Church, how can it seriously engage with the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church on unity, let alone the other Churches stemmed from the Reformation?

The answer is the same basic “fact of life” that has animated the League for 100 years. There can be no ecumenism worthy of the name that does not take into account communion with the bishop of the See of Peter in Rome, not as the last piece in the jigsaw, but as the destination from the outset of our Christian ecumenical journey. Piecemeal ecumenism – such as the Porvoo agreement between the Anglican Churches of Britain and Ireland with most of the Lutheran Episcopal Churches, or the Union of Bonn with the Old Catholics, or the Leuenberg Agreement with non-episcopal Reformed Churches – is hopeful and should be encouraged. But where it constitutes to all intents and purposes the exclusion of the Apostolic Churches of East and West - most especially communion with the successor of Peter at Rome - there is a risk of “settling for less”, or even an ecumenism that is anti-Catholic. A substantial bloc of Anglicans and Protestants in a staged process of reconciliation that is not taking the Petrine ministry into account as a first principle (and as it is, not as some may wish it to be) is not necessarily a building block to Church union. All too easily it risks standing as a rival to Catholic faith and life; the instinct is for schism.

This is not even true to what the Reformers thought they were achieving by their reform of the Church, and its tradition as they had received it. To employ the terms of Pope Benedict for a different controversy, their thinking was that of a “hermeneutic of continuity and of reform”, and not of “discontinuity and rupture”. Continuity with the rest of the Latin Church has long been part of the Anglican apologetic, even though, along with the other churches of the Reformation, the new direction for the English Church led to rupture, because of the imposition upon it of the boundaries of a nation state. So it is surely a sore in the spirits of all belonging to the League that our Anglican members are seemingly forced by events further from their lifelong hopes for the reconciliation of their Church with the Church of the Apostolic See of Rome, the more faithfully they seek to live by the Common Tradition which has formed us all. As Pope Benedict put it, when he spoke to representatives of all the Christian traditions at Westminster Abbey on his Apostolic Visit, the account of the hope that lies within us that will be convincing to the world does not lie in a facile accommodation to the spirit of the age or theological relativism, but an ever deeper unity in the apostolic faith.

One of the things that has become apparent, in the two years since the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham was established, is that those who have joined it as they realised long cherished hopes for Anglican-Catholic reunion (perhaps not the way once planned, but the way that has been opened up by Divine Providence in the Church that God has given us) have moved by their conscience, not without cost; and that this has been rewarded by the focussed efforts of the Catholic Church to create, within its otherwise largely regimented system, new space that makes sense of 450 years of Anglican custom, culture, heritage and tradition. As Fr Aidan Nichols OP has recently observed, with an urgent need for a new evangelisation of an old Europe, it is seeking to fill a gap in the Catholic Church’s mission that it did not realise was there. The Catholic Church in England is a marriage of many worthy families - the recusants, the body of converts from the last two centuries, the Irish and Scottish diaspora of in the same period, and nowadays a large number of Catholics settling here from all over the globe. But what of our engagement with England, its people, its culture and its spiritual sensibilities? This is the question the Ordinariate will be addressing in its worship and mission. Properly understood, it is the most profound ecumenical signal that the Church’s supreme authority, exercising the Petrine ministry, has acknowledged that the Anglican tradition is not only an essential tool in the Christian Church’s mission across the Anglophone world, it is also to be seen as an integral component in the Universal Church as the Catholic Church understands it and hopes it can better manifest.

Another thing that has become clear is that Anglican Catholics are not “Romanisers”, or (as the press would have it) people of suspect loyalty, threatening to destabilise the Established Church and “defect” to Rome if they don’t get what they demand. They are Anglican churchpeople by conscience, devoted to Christ and his work in the Church and in the world, believing in the Catholic faith “as the Church of England has received it”, serving the ideal of Catholic unity, in the way that luminary Anglicans have striven to do throughout history, and convinced that they have an integral place within the communion of their own Anglican Church, none to say them nay. It has been sad, therefore, to hear this confidence and hope expressed in terms of recrimination against those who have accepted the Holy Father’s invitation. Indeed it is ironic that Catholics in the Ordinariate are enjoined by Rome to observe the provisions of their Anglican patrimony, while there are Anglicans whose ecclesiastical bearings are expressed in adhesion to Roman Catholic patrimony. This is not, however, the occasion for rivalry or a spirit of estrangement among those who are united in what Pope Paul VI called the “communion of origins”.

When the Church of England bishops and the Catholic Bishops of England & Wales first met as bodies together, they agreed that the task of mission and evangelisation in this country is so large that neither can encompass it alone and so, faithful to the integrity of their respective principles, must not work in competition but in mutual charity and peace, side by side. In the same spirit, there must be no condemnation from the Catholic side of those Anglicans who, believing in conscience that they must be faithful to the Tradition and remain committed to the Church of England, reminding it that, while its foundational principles may be Scripture, Tradition and Reason, no one may prevail and all must agree. By the same token, on the Anglican side there must be an end to hostility directed at the Ordinariate and those who have entered it no less as a matter of conscience, obedience to the Christ who calls us all, and in a spirit not of division but of healing the wounds in the Body of Christ that human sin has shown to be divided in this world.

In a society which is indifferent to the Gospel and the Church, even hostile, with our two Churches as leading fellow members of Churches Together in England, we rely on each other. Those who share the “communion of origins” in the Anglican patrimony by which we have been formed in the Spirit of God need to work together from both sides to draw Christians together, not apart. According to what is required by our times, it is up to us on both sides to remind the Church of England (and the wider Anglican Communion) that the Church cannot transmit God’s Holy Tradition in the new way that is called for, without passing on the Church’s doctrine, “pure and whole, without attenuations or distortions” (Address of Blessed John XXIII at the Opening of the Second Vatican Council). And it is up to Catholics and Anglicans together to reveal to the rapidly changing society in which we find ourselves, that its deepest questions, its spiritual sensibilities and its distinctive religious culture have a place in God’s purposes, not as an isolated, possibly declining, and even marginalised phenomenon, but as a key to the re-evangelisation of culture in the struggle for the soul of Europe that is currently being waged.

Anglican Catholics must restore their Movement to its original state – a relentless obedience to the logic of Catholicism, that it cannot be consummated without communion with Peter. And Catholics in England, members of the Ordinariate and members of the dioceses alike, cannot allow the Roman Apostolic Catholic Church to function as a self-sufficient club to the exclusion of those with whom we share the fact of Christian division in this world. The Catholic Church dropped the futile idea of itself as the “perfect society” at the Second Vatican Council, whose Decree on Ecumenism taught that the Catholic Church is somehow not Catholic in all her bearings so long as there are Christians and church communities separate from us. The impulse to Catholic unity is what drives our sacramental life, the pastoral mission of the Holy Father with a special care for all the Churches, and our relations and encounters with other Christians. Schism in Christ’s Church, and false ecumenism that settles for less, should make Catholics restless.

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Centenary Events for 2013

The first event to mark our Centenary in 2013 is fittingly the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which the League has done so much to promote throughout our history. Leaflets to help you pray this week most earnestly for reconciliation within the Church, are available for download from the left hand side of this website. 
The second event is a Celebration Centenary Festa on the weekend of March 15-17 with a Pilgrimage to the at the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. This will include both Catholic and Anglican elements, and it will be led by our good friend, Fr Luke Miller, Archdeacon of Hampstead. The League was the first to make an organised pilgrimage to the newly restored Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in the 1930s, and I hope that you will want to mark our place in its history and give thanks for our own 100 years. We would like as many to be there as possible, at least at some point in the weekend. Please do not think you cannot come because of the cost - £90 (£45 a night for two nights, full board, dinner on Friday to lunch on Sunday). Because it is a special year, we can make concessions – it is most important that you can come if you want to. Please contact the General Secretary, Mr David Chapman, to book your place.

Also during the year there will be a special Mass of Thanksgiving at a Catholic Church in London, near the July date of our foundation.
We also plan a launch for a new history of the Catholic League, its significance and achievements, now being prepared by the eminent historian of the papacy, Dr Michael Walsh.
In September we make our annual Pilgrimage for Christian Unity in Bruges to Our Lady of the Vine and the Basilica of the Holy Blood. The dates are 5th to 9th September 2013. Please write to the Director if you are interested in coming.
Finally, the year will be crowned by a Centenary Celebration of Christ the King at the Anglican Church of St Silas, Kentish Town on the weekend of 23rd and 24th November 2013.
On behalf of the officers and executive, I look forward to seeing you at the events, especially in England’s Nazareth. Meanwhile, please pray hard for the healing of divisions between Christians and especially for the peace of the Church throughout the Middle East region: “that they all may be one, as I am in you and you are in me, so that the world may believe it was you that sent me”.
Mark Woodruff

Sunday 18 November 2012

Pope Benedict addresses the Pontifical Council for Unity on Ecumenism and the New Evangelisation


Vatican City, 15 November 2012 (VIS) - The close ties between the work of evangelisation and the need to overcome the divisions that still exist between Christians was the central theme of this morning's address by the Holy Father to the members and consultors of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity on the occasion of their plenary assembly dedicated to "The importance of ecumenism in new evangelisation".

The Pope stated, "We cannot follow a truly ecumenical path while ignoring the crisis of faith affecting vast areas of the world, including those where the proclamation of the Gospel was first accepted and where Christian life has flourished for centuries. On the other hand, we cannot ignore the many signs indicating a persistent need for spirituality, which is made manifest in various ways. The spiritual poverty of many of our contemporaries, who no longer perceive the absence of God in their lives as a form of deprivation, poses a challenge to all Christians".

In this context, the Pope added, "we, believers in Christ, are called upon to return to the essential, to the heart of our faith, to bear witness to the living God before the world. … We must not forget what it is that unites us: our faith in God the Father and Creator, revealed in His Son Jesus Christ, effusing the Spirit which revives and sanctifies. This is the faith we received in Baptism and it is the faith that, in hope and charity, we can profess together.

"In the light of the primacy of faith we may also understand the importance of the theological dialogues and conversations in which the Catholic Church is engaged with Churches and ecclesial communities. Even when we cannot discern the possibility of re-establishing full communion in the near future, such dialogue facilitates our awareness, not only of resistance and obstacles, but also of the richness of experience, spiritual life and theological reflection, which become a stimulus for ever deeper testimony".

Benedict XVI emphasised that the aim of ecumenism is "visible unity between divided Christians". To this end, we must "dedicate all our forces, but we must also recognise that, in the final analysis, this unity is a gift from God, and may come to us only from the Father through His Son, because the Church is His Church. From this perspective we see, not only the importance of invoking the Lord for visible unity, but also how striving after this end is relevant to the new evangelisation.

"It is good to journey together towards this objective, provided that the Churches and ecclesial communities do not stop along the way, accepting the various contradictions between them as normal or as the best they can hope to achieve. It is, rather, in the full communion of faith, Sacraments and ministry that the strength of God, present and working in the world, will find concrete expression".
The Pope concluded, "Unity is on the one hand the fruit of faith and, on the other, a means - almost a prerequisite - for an increasingly credible proclamation of the faith to those who do not yet know the Saviour or who, while having received the proclamation of the Gospel, have almost forgotten this valuable gift. True ecumenism, recognising the primacy of divine action, demands above all patience, humility, and abandonment to the will of the Lord. In the final analysis, ecumenism and new evangelisation both require the dynamism of conversion, understood as the sincere desire to follow Christ and to fully adhere to the will of the Father".

The full text in English is here on the Vatican website.

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk congratulates and warns newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury

To the Right Rev. Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham

Dear Brother and Lord Bishop,

I would like to extend to you wholehearted congratulations on your election as Head of one of the oldest episcopal chairs founded by St. Augustine of Canterbury in the 7th century.

You have been entrusted with the spiritual guidance of the entire Anglican Communion, a unique union of like-minded people, which, however diverse the forms of its existence in the world may be, needs one ‘steward of God’ (Tit. 1:7) the guardian of the faith and witness to the Truth (cf. Jn. 18:37).

The Russian Orthodox Church and the Churches of the Anglican Communion are bonded by age-old friendly relations initiated in the 16th century. For centuries, our Churches would preserve good and truly brotherly relations encouraged both by frequent mutual visits and established theological dialogue and certainly by a spirit of respect and love which used to accompany the meetings of our hierarchs, clergy and ordinary believers.

Regrettably, the late 20th century and the beginning of the third millennium have brought tangible difficulties in relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Churches of the Anglican Communion. The introduction female priesthood and now episcopate, the blessing of same-sex ‘unions’ and ‘marriages’, the ordination of homosexuals as pastors and bishops – all these innovations are seen by the Orthodox as deviations from the tradition of the Early Church, which increasingly estrange Anglicanism from the Orthodox Church and contribute to a further division of Christendom as a whole.

We hope that the voice of the Orthodox Church will be heard by the Church of England and Churches of the Anglican Communion, and good fraternal relationships between us will revive.

I wish you God’s help in your important work.

‘May the God of love and peace be with you’ (2 Cor. 13:11).

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk
13 November 2012
Department of External Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate

Thursday 5 July 2012

At the Feast of St Peter and St Paul on June 29th, the Holy Father prays at the Confessio, the resting place of the remains of St Peter the Apostle and Martyr, accompanied by Metrpolitan Emmanuel of the Orthodox Church in France. At this great Mass, the choirs of the Sistine Chapel and of the Anglican Westminster Abbey in London combined.

Ut Unum Sint!

Saturday 2 June 2012

God Save the Queen

The Prayer for the Queen
V. O Lord, save Elizabeth, our Queen.
R. And hear us on the day we call upon you.

V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come before you.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with your spirit.

Almighty God, we pray that your servant Elizabeth, our Queen,
who, by your providence, has received the governance of this realm,
may continue to grow in every virtue,
that, imbued with your heavenly grace,
she may be preserved from all that is harmful and evil
and, being blessed with your favour,
may, with her consort and the royal family, come at last into your presence,
through Christ who is the way, the truth and the life
and who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Approved by the Bishops' Conference

Tuesday 29 May 2012

Scott Anderson on the New Evangelisation and the Ordinariate

Scott Anderson, for many years vicar of St Andrew's, Willesden Green, and now a member of the South London Ordinariate Group, has written a thoughtful piece in the Catholic Herald on the useful role the Ordinariate can play in the Pope's programme of a New Evangelisation.

Although a sub-editor has given his words the trouble-making title "Ex-Anglicans are eager to lead others across the Tiber," this is not what he is talking about. The provision of Ordinariates for groups of Anglicans is a pastoral response, not poaching. Poaching the members of other Christian churches and uniatism have been repeatedly repudiated by the Catholic Church for a century, especially in the light of the teaching of Vatican II, as not just an offence to charity but destructive to the trust and hope needed for reconciliation. Poaching is a tactic used by a small number of unrepresentative Pentecostalist and extreme Protestant churches that have more in common with extreme sects and a loose hold on orthodox Scriptural theology. No matter how hard people convince themselves that fishing in other churches' ponds is mission, it is lazy. It is a waste of energies that could have been devoted to those who had never before had any encounter with the living Christ in his people, or who had not realised that it was Christ they were encountering in their society and culture, or who had forgotten an encounter that had once meant something to them.

Scott Anderson makes a useful point. The size of the Ordinariate groups in England is small and here lies their present value. It would waste that value - as some commentators, including bishops and even some Ordinariate priests, hope - if they are constrained to "integrate" or "assimilate" with their host parishes and dioceses. For one thing, this is expressly deprecated in Anglicanorum Coetibus. Yet people are at liberty to go and particpate where they like; and by the same token diocesan Catholic lay faithful may find they gravitate to Ordinariate groups and feel a sense of belonging and collobaration there: the Spirit blows where it is inclined to. Only last week I met a Caribbean Latin Catholic who regularly attends the Divine Liturgy at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral - a different rite in a different language, but a place and a community where instinctively she recognises her point of communion with the Church. Thus there is space in the Universal Church for everyone to follow the course by which they are drawn into the Kingdom. The Ordinariate, even in its embryonic state, is one of the vital new spaces like some of the new ecclesial movements that have emerged in our own times and conditions in society, for people to respond to as the "point of communion" when no others quite work. This is an evangelistic tool we would lose if the Ordinariate's groups were all assimilated with geographical parishes. All clergy know that there are faithful Catholics in our parishes who do not attend our church - they go to the Cathedral, or other churches in central London, or to a monastery or a religious house, or a chaplaincy, or somewhere other than where they live, or somewhere they can be anonymous. There is no reason why Ordinariate groups cannot serve, alongside the extensive variety of Catholic liturgical and pastoral life that is already there, as new places for people to belong to the Catholic Church in a way they could not before. Anderson likens the Ordinariate's groups to "church plants," small established bodies whose mission is to go where either there is no readily visible church, or there are rising new elements of society which do not identify with the existing church provision. They are meant to be supplementary to what the Church and its pastors are already doing, corroborating it, not compete against it. They are meant to reach the parts that others cannot reach.

To be honest, "church plants" in Anglican dioceses have a mixed record. Some faithful congregations (often High Church ones) with decades of solid pastoral efforts and a valued presence in their local communities, even when this does not translate into numbers on Sundays, have felt their struggles undermined and the effectiveness of their witness openly criticised by the arrival of a young, lively and often well-funded new worshipping church on their doorstep. They complain that their fortunes may have been different if the same investment and confidence had been placed in them as in the new ventures. They also say that the new arrivals do not seem interested in collaborating and sharing resources. Doubtless people thought the same of the old Anglo-Catholic mission churches of a century ago and more. On the other hand, parishes which no longer fulfil their earlier mission, because the local population has changed or even disappeared, have been revived by the planting of "Fresh Expressions" of the Church of Christ. Thus new groups have come in and transformed a church otherwise in decline. In the Catholic world, one can cite the entrusting of St Charles Borromeo, on Ogle Street, to meet the needs of the Neo-Catechumenal Way; the exciting restoration of St Patrick's, in Soho Square, as a centre for evangelisation in central London; and the devotion of SS. Gervais and Protais in Paris to the Jerusalem Community. Is the Ordinariate also a "fresh expression", able to respond to new needs, opportunities and gaps in the Church's mission?

If it is not, I cannot see what other purpose it serves, beyond a merely temporary means of transitioning numbers of Anglican clergy and faithful into the Catholic Church. Everyone agrees that this is not ecumenism, neither mission, nor respectful of the unique heritage and identity that God has given his Church through the Anglican tradition. That is why the Apostolic Constitution notes the enduring significance of Anglican patrimony as needed by and for the Catholic Church as a whole. For ecclesiological purposes, the Catholic Church desires the Anglicans' patrimony for being better at realising the Universal Church in all its bearings (cf the Decree on Ecumenism, Vatican II). For practical and ecumenical purposes, it seeks it for relating better to the Anglican Communion in the search for complete restoration of unity (inevitable, because it is the prayer of Christ). For evangelistic purposes, it wants it for extending the way it can relate to the multi-faceted cultures, shapes of society and networks through which people live and belong in the present age - and win them for Christ and his Kingdom. Clearly we need as many different evangelisations, structures that attract people's capacity for belonging, and spiritualities for this very new "old Europe" as the Church has inventively developed in the past.

Anderson cites the example of his own South London Ordinariate Group. It seems to have found a home in the parish of the Precious Blood, once a hive of local pastoral and missionary activity in the hands of the Salvatorians, and now depopulated with a very different cultural and social milieu grown up around it. The group has been welcomed alongside the existing parishioners as an invigorating new presence. Can Precious Blood, which might otherwise have faced amalgamation or closure liek many other inner-city churches, serve as a beacon of the distinctive mission that the Ordinariate alone can add to that of the wider Catholic community, and that the Catholic Church as a whole can thus bring to society in a new phase? Can it be a place where we can find the eagerly awaited Anglican Use of the Roman Rite, as a fresh liturgical expression of our Catholic Church's dialogue with the culture, public life and society in which we find ourselves? Can it be a place where, like the Salvatorians up until the present, the Ordinariate priests and people can consolidate their mission to draw people to an encounter with "Christ in his Mysteries" and his people? After all, such sacramental and liturgical evangelism was a driving impulse in classic Anglo-Catholicism at its finest.

One of the appealing perspectives shared by Monseigneur Keith Newton at various ordinations has been the hope shared by him and his clergy to be of service to the priests and people in the dioceses and parishes alongside which they serve. 120 new priests and deacons in 18 months are a considerable gift that God has called into the Catholic Church, on top of the 500 or more new Catholic priests who have trodden a similar path in the two decades before, to say nothing of many thousands of the lay faithful. It would be a shame, however, to use this gift in a short term way that plugs holes for which dioceses need to form a longer term strategy, or that solves the immediate problem of where to house younger clergy with families and give them jobs and sustainable incomes. Both are important; but in the medium to long terms, if the mission of the Ordinariate as a God-given and vital component in our efforts at the New Evangelisation is to play its full part, we need to be able to locate the Ordinariate in worshipping communities, not just as an also-ran or a chaplaincy provision, but as a reality in its own right, where we can tune into its religious and cultural language, allow its distinctive liturgical voice to be heard, and appreciate the special orientation of its proclamation of the Catholic Faith that other Catholics may lack, but which can strengthen ours, as much as ours strengthens theirs.

Scott Anderson calls for dioceses and religious orders to take the brave step of looking at their parishes where there is either a pattern of declining use or under-use, or else an obvious turning point a change in mission and direction has arrived. Could it be, he wonders, that such churches be entrusted to the priests and people of the Ordinariate for a "fresh expression" towards the New Evangelisation of Old Europe, like parishes and mission churches were earlier entrusted to religious orders? Doubtless this is more easily said than done. It is not obvious that such places exist near where the present batch of groups are, or vice versa. And there will be communities of Catholics less disposed to embracing an Ordinariate identity, or an Anglican patrimony that is not their own. All that we are saying is that there is common cause to be made here - and some imaginative opportunities not to be missed.

Sunday 27 May 2012

The Ordinariate's Second Wave

At Westminster Cathedral this morning, 17 men were ordained for the diaconate of the Catholic Church in the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. All told they already had between them 500 years of priestly (and diaconal) service. This was not just in the Church of England. One had spent his entire ministry as a missionary in the Church of the Anglican Province of the West Indies; one had served as a priest of the Scottish Episcopal Church; three were formerly of the clergy of Anglican Churches that had never been in communion with the Anglican See of Canterbury: two from the Traditional Anglican Church in the UK, and another from the Anglican Province of America.

Westminster Cathedral has been generous not only in providing a space for the Ordinariate's inaugural series of ordinations, it has also made its fine resources of liturgical and musical ministers. And the Episcopal Delegate of the Bishops' Conference for the Implementation of the Ordinariate is Bishop Alan Hopes, an auxiliary of Westminster diocese; so there is always this special bond between Westminster and the Ordinariate. After all, the diocesan seminary at Allen Hall is also providing the courses and formation from which the Ordinariate's clergy are benefiting.

Fr Mark vests Deacon Masaki in the dalmatic,
photo (c) the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham
The Catholic League was represented by the General Secretary David Chapman, the Treasurer Cyril Wood, trustee Mrs Mary Bacon, Fr James Bradley, who served as the occasion's official photographer, and the Priest Director, Fr Mark Woodruff, a Westminster priest. Fr Mark had been invited to support and vest an Anglican priest and a small group received in his home parish in Lancashire, St Bernadette's in Blackpool, the Revd Masaki Narusawa, once of the Anglican Church in Japan but ordained in the Church of England Diocese of London.

John Hunwicke, photo (c) the Personal
Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham
But the League's turned out was especially heartfelt for its highly regarded and much loved, and long term member, the Revd John Hunwicke, whose learned analysis of matters liturgical, ecclesiological and ecumenical are available to a wide audience, through his blog, Liturgical Notes. We certainly hope this lively and informative blog will be resumed after Father Hunwicke's understandable online fasting while he prepared for ordination is over, and he is more Father Hunwicke than ever.

Congratulations to the Catholic Church's new deacons, especially Masaki Narusawa and John Hunwicke. Axioi!

In the usual Westminster custom, the great Liturgy of Ordination was marked with ceremonial precision and simplicity, and sung by the Lay Clerks of the Cathedral Choir. The Latin propers were sung at the Introit, Alleluia and Communion, allowing for three hymns to be appropriately added in supplementation from the rich patrimony of English hymnody. The ordinary of the Mass (Kyrie, Gloria and Agnus) was the peerless Mass for Five Voices by William Byrd from the 1590s, sung by men's voices. We have already commented on the significance of Byrd's liturgical compositions in promoting the liturgical renewal of the 16th century Catholic Church and his energies devoted to maintaining the identity and continuous musical and sacramental patrimony of the old medieval Church of England's Catholic constituency, while he also served as a court musician for Queen Elizabeth I. We have also mentioned the role played by Anglican musicologists in retrieving Byrd's music and restoring it by putting it into service in English Anglican Cathedral worship and from there to the wider Christian Churches. So something that forms rightly both part of the Anglican patrimony and the Roman Catholic:

Byrd was probably born in 1540 at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries. He witnessed the collapse of the shortlived and futile Henrician pseudo-Catholic Church in 1547 and its replacement by a more thorough Protestant Reformed Church of England under his son, with worship in English according to the First and Second Books of Common Prayer until Queen Mary restored the English Church's allegiance to the Catholic Church. Possibly by then he was a Chapel Royal choirboy. Certainly he was a pupil of Thomas Tallis, who as a Gentlement of the Chapel from 1543 to his death in 1585 was a leading court composer, serving Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I. Like Byrd he remained a Catholic throughout, but avoided religious controversy, adapting his musical style and output to the tastes and requirements of his royal employers. The young Byrd collaborated with Tallis, John Sheppard and William Mundy in writing new music for the Sarum rite used by the Chapel Royal towards the end of the reign of Queen Mary in 1558. Thereafter, with the Church of England re-established and its Prayer Book restored, Byrd's public musicianship had to serve the requirements of Queen Elizabeth. After he too became a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal in 1572, he collaborated with the aged Tallis on the publication of a collection of motets in Latin. Dedicated to the Queen, the collection comprised items used in the Chapel Royal, in which the Prayer Book was used in Latin translation. But Haec Dies comes from Byrd's own 1591 second volume of Cantiones Sacrae, containing his later output of motets more specifically reflecting his Catholic perspective. Like his subsequent Masses ...  they may well have seen service in the clandestine masses and performances of religious music in the houses of Catholic patrons.
So the composition of the Three Part Mass represents an attempt to recover the motifs, influences and  tradition of a Catholic musical and liturgical patrimony Byrd treasured from the time of his youth, as well as to renew it with influences from the continent and developing tastes in secular music, - all at the same time as his outstanding and innovative contribution to the emergence of the Anglican musical and liturgical patrimony.
But despite his high reputation as a master of European Renaissance music in his lifetime, and despite such illustrious pupils as Peter Philips, Thomas Tomkins and Thomas Morley, the English tradition of Latin sacred music died with him. The place of his secular music in the repertoire declined with changes in popular taste and it was only his Anglican music that preserved his fame beyond the Restoration, until it too fell out of use. But the story does not end there. Despite various attempts in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to revive interest in his enormous output over such a long life, it took an Anglican clergyman and musicologist, Edmund Fellowes, to edit and publish twenty volumes of Byrd's music as well as the remarkable series, Tudor Church Music, through which he also recovered the long forgotten works of other English Renaissance composers, notably Orlando Gibbons.
So the selection of this Mass could not have been more apt for the ordination of deacons for the Ordinariate:
Ostensibly a piece of Catholic patrimony from the age of the Tudors, it speaks of the genesis of the Anglican musical patrimony by the same hand. Furthermore, it was recovered for re-reception within Catholic worship through the scholarship of a Church of England priest, as a labour of love that he thought would enrich the Anglican choral tradition in such places in which he served as Bristol Cathedral, St George's Chapel, Windsor, and St Michael's College, Tenbury (1856-1985 - a school founded by Sir Fredreick Gore Ouseley as a model for church music raised to the highest standards, in reaction to its parlous condition in the mid-nineteenth century). It is interesting to reflect that the sacred music of the English Renaissance that is associated with the Anglican patrimony par excellence ... owes its place deep in the heart, imagination and folk memory of the Church of England's cathedral tradition to the efforts of a clergyman who flourished in the first half of the twentieth century, a matter of mere decades ago. It is also worth bearing in mind that long before Anglicanorum Coetibus, the restoration of Anglican patrimony brought with it some treasures to be restored to their rightful and much loved place in the Catholic liturgy too.
The readings were from Acts 6.1-7 and Matthew 20.25-28, although using the Jerusalem Bible translation customary among English Roman Catholics, and not the Revised Standard Version more familiar in North America and now the norm for the Ordinariates.

At the rite of Ordination, the prayer devised in 1995 for recognising Anglican ministry, its acceptance and incorporation in the sacrament of order of the Catholic Church was prayed and a fine sermon delivered by Monseigneur Andrew Burnham on the pastoral leadership set apart by the apostles for the maintenance and service of the churches they had founded on their journeyings.

The new translation of the Litany of the Saints, with responses at last designed to fit the well known melodies, came into its own. Unlike in some Ordinariate ordinations, perhaps reflecting the dioceses in which they took place, silence was allowed in, as Bishop Hopes went through candidate after candidate, all seventeen of them, to receive the promise of obedience to the Ordinary, the traditio evangeliorum - the placing of the Book of the Gospels into each deacon's hands - and the Kiss of Peace from the ordaining bishop to each one. During vesting, the clerks sang Ubi Caritas to Gregorian chant, an apt connection to the diakonia of Christ to his apostles on the night before he died and, so to speak, they concelebrated with him the First of all Eucharists.

The motet at the Offertory was Psalm 116/117, Laudate Dominum with Gloria Patri set by Thomas Tallis, Byrd's teacher and mentor. Queen Elizabeth granted them the joint monopoly of printing and publishing music, remarkable for two such well known Catholics - even more remarkable that she provided her patronage for their editions of Latin sacred music, since some of it could be used in the Anglican services in her Chapel Royal, which were in the Latin in which she was fluent, despite some of the pieces being clearly for none other than the Catholic liturgy. Laudate Dominum was thus dedicated to Queen Eizabeth, collected alongside the Mass Puer Natus and the Lamentations.  Some say that Laudate Dominum is likewise for the clandestine celebration of the Old Rite (the psalm occurs both as the last of five in Sunday and Festal vespers, and as the psalm in the truncated vespers at the end of the Easter Vigil rite on Holy Saturday), but it could equally have served in the Latin language Anglican Chapel Royal among the set course of psalms for Mattins of the 24th Morning of each month - perhaps December? In any case, it is not a motet for Mass (the Gloria Patri gives it away as a setting from the Office), or for Benediction, which had not then reached its present form and content.

The naming of the bishop remains a problem of ecclesiology in the Ordinariates, since their Ordinaries are not bishops, but rely on bishops of Latin territorial dioceses to ordain on their behalf. Thus, correctly, the order of service showed that these were not ordinations "in" the Diocese of Westminster but "for" the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. Bishop Alan Hopes, as a bishop of the Westminster Diocese in its Cathedral, was both generous host and welcome guest, and Monseigneur Newton was able to refer to this generosity of gift and service from Westminster Cathedral and especially from the Bishop in his concluding remarks. At the Eucharist prayer (the Roman Canon), Benedict our Pope was commemorated, Bishop Alan recalled himself as it the custom and then Vincent our Bishop and Keith the Ordinary. As Mgr Newton is head of the ecclesiastical circumscription that is the Ordinariate, who as such is the chief minister in communion with the Bishop of Rome (in much the same way as Abbots are mentioned in the Eucharistic Prayer in their monasteries), Keith is "our" ordinary, not "the" ordinary, in the Liturgies of the Personal Ordinariate. That said, Westminster is the primatial Cathedral of England, and its bishop is by long custom the English Catholic Church's primate, usually thus serving as President of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. It was only fitting, therefore, that, even though this was a Mass in the Ordinariate, Archbishop Vincent be commemorated in his own Cathedral Church, in his own diocese and as primate of the England & Wales Catholic Church of which he is presiding bishop and protos, and which includes the Ordinariate.

The Communion motet was Victoria's O sacrum convivium. We have commented on Victoria and his relevance to Anglican patrimony before:
Tomas Luis da Victoria was born in the province of Avila, Castile in 1548 and sent by Philip II to be cantor of the Collegium Germanicum founded by St Ignatius of Loyola in Rome. It may well be that he studied under Palestrina and he counts as one of the three great Catholic composers of the Counter-Reformation, alongside Palestrina and the Franco-Fleming from Mons, Orlande de Lassus. Not only was his music thus forged in the context of the Catholic Church reforming itself partly in response to the challenges of the Reformation, it also stands in a musical process of development that would later come to influence, through Andrea and Giovanni Gabrielli, the Protestant composers Hans Leo Hassler, Heinrich Sch├╝tz and thus the great musical theologian of Lutheranism, John Sebastian Bach. Again, we see how entwined the Anglican and Catholic liturgical and musical patrimonies truly are; as Pope Paul VI remarked of Anglicans and Catholics, they share a "communion of origins".

After the Communion and before the concluding remarks of the Ordinary, Bishop Alan called up the wives of the new deacons for a special blessing. These were each of them people who had devoted lifetimes as wives and mothers to their husbands, and served as fellow-workers and supporters of their ministries with a remarkable apostolate all of their own.

The complementary hymns were splendid. Prior to the Offertory in the Procession, we sang the great Ascensiontide hymn, Crown him with many crowns, by Matthew Bridges, 1800-72. He was a prolific versewriter, translator of poetry and church apologist. At first, he followed the Anglican evangelical line that the Roman Catholic Church was a manifestation of superstition sustained by the papacy; but, under the influence of  Blessed John Henry Newman and doubtless in response to similar intellectual and spiritual crises, he became a Catholic in 1848. In 1852 he issued Songs of the Passion, a collection of verse devotions to accompany the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, dedicated to Cardinal Wiseman. Crown him with many crowns appears as the Song of the Seraphs, to reflect the Third Sorrowful Mystery. This writer expects that many readers will have assumed that you could not find a more classic example of Anglican hymnody, yet this is a Catholic creation, albeit imbued with his earlier Evangelical fervour (cf. "for thou hast died for me" and the penultimate verse that we omitted and that forms the last verse in the English Hymnal, its second a line a delight to choirboys:

Crown him the Lord of years,
the Potentate of Time,
Creator of the rolling spheres,
ineffably sublime!
Glass'd in a sea of light,
whose everlasting waves
reflect His Form - the Infinite! -
who lives, - and loves, - and saves.)

It is no suprise that these inspired six verses, among Bridges' less remarkable poetry, became so popular. They were included in the Appendix to the Oxford Movement's Hymns Ancient & Modern in 1868.  This prompted the Revd Godfrey Thring, a prebendary of Wells, adapted them in Hymns and Sacred Lyrics of 1874 for use in the more Protestant-leaning parts of the Church of England, adding verses to stress the final achievement of the Atonement on Calvary, and to lessen the significance of the Marian reference to the Mystic Rose's role in the history of salvation, and the possible interpretation that the destructive side of the Sacrifice of Christ ("rich wounds yet visible above") is maintained or renewed in the Mass. Thring's verses are not the equal of Bridges' and thus they have not been retained in the memory of the Tradition. Matthew Bridges went to live for many years in Quebec, but eventually returned to England, dying in a villa belonging to the Sisters of the Assumption at Sidmouth, Devon in 1894. The usual tune, Diademata (which means 'crowned') is by Sir George Job Elvey, 1816-1893, who began his musical career as a choirboy at Canterbury, before he won the position of Master of the Boys and Organist at St George's Windsor at the age of 20. He remained there for the next fifty years. His two other famous tunes are Rock of Ages and St George's Windsor, well known as the tune to the great Harvest Festival hymn, Come, ye thankful people, come. Diademata was written for the hymn's inclusion in Hymns Ancient and Modern with its first Appendix in 1868.

At Holy Communion we sang the affecting and much treasured Just as I am, without one plea by Charlotte Elliott, 1789-1871. She came from a clerical family with links to the Clapham Sect in her parents' generation. At the age of 30 she became infirm and retired to Hove, where she spent the rest of her life battling her conditions and writing to poems, prayers and hymns to encouarage other invalids spiritually. Only Just as I am has stood the test of time, having been adopted by the Anglo-Catholic movement as a Communion hymn, because of its (unintended) allusion to the Agnus Dei in the Ordinary of the Mass and to the prayer O Lord I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof (Domine non sum dignus ut intres....), neither of which occurs in the Book of Common Prayer. The usual tune nowadays is Saffron Walden by Arthur Henry Brown, 1830-1926, written for the third musical edition of the Hymnal Companion to the Book of Common Prayer in 1890, another hymnbook from the Oxford Movement stable but, for a time, aimed at a more mainstream Anglican audience. Brown was an active member of the Gregorian Association, which supports the restoration and use of plainsong in Anglican worship, as did Sir John Stainer, the musical editor of the Hymnal Companion.

Finally, we sang the stirring Lord enthroned in heavenly splendour, by George Hugh Bourne (1840-1925) as a recessional hymn. On the face of it, it is an Ascensiontide hymn, but in fact it is a hymn of adoration to Christ in the Eucharist. It first appeared in Bourne's privately published Seven Post Communion Hymns of 1874, whence it passed into the First Supplement of Hymns Ancient & Modern in the 1875 Edition. So, in modern usage, its proper place is either in anticipation of the Consecration and the Real Presence of Christ in the eucharistic species at the Offertory, at as a hymn of thanksgiving as the Rite of Communion draws to a close. "Here for faith's discernment pray we, lest we fail to know thee now" makes the point, since in the Latin Roman rite we had, by this stage, consumed the Blessed Eucharist. Yet not in the Anglican rite for which Bourne, a long serving prebendary of Sarum, was creatively hymns to meet new liturgical needs. The 1662 Book of Common Prayer provides for the unconsumed "elements" of consecrated Bread and Wine to remain on the Holy Table until the end of the Holy Communion, when they are to be reverently consumed. This may sound odd to modern thinking, but it was a provision (a) to prevent the Consecrated Sacrament being ignored or thrown away as the service moved on (a practice that had grown as the memories of the old Mass and reservation faded), and (b) to promote reverence to Christ in his sacramental presence.

This reverence led some to a contemplative devotion to the Risen and Ascended Christ at this point in the Anglican Liturgy. In particular, this is expressed by the great and holy Charles Chapman Grafton, 1830-1912, who became second Bishop of Fond du Lac,  Wisconsin USA. He was a devout Anglo-Catholic priest serving in Maryland, but after the American Civil War he went to England where, with Richard Meux Benson and Simeon Wilberforce O'Neill, he was one of the three founders of the Cowley Fathers, the Society of St John the Evangelist, the first monastic foundation for men in England since the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII. Sixteen years he returned to the USA to take the missionary work of the Society there (its last surviving monastery is still in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the English congregation having to all intents and purposes died out), he was elected bishop of Fond du Lac and withdrew from the Society to concentrate on his new mission as a bishop. He has left behind a wealth of sermons and writings, which are testament to his evangelistic vigour and the significant growth he brought to his diocese. One of these is the beautiful Plain Suggestions for a Reverent Celebration of the Holy Communion. In chapter nine, The Mystical Meaning of the Liturgy, he focuses on the Post Communion section of the Anglican liturgy, in which the Eucharist is not merely left on the altar to be dealt with later but forms the climax of the reception of Holy Communion, with priest and people standing in the presence of the Lord of heaven:

It is full of the spirit of the risen and ascended Christ. As the first two portions of the Liturgy set forth His prophetical and priestly work, here He is brought before us as our risen and ascended King. The Roman mass practically ends with the priest's communion, and then he consumes the elements. Is it not something worse than disloyalty for an Anglican priest to imitate this in the face of our rubric, which enforces the reservation of the sacrament until after the benediction? If it was for communion only that the sacrament was instituted, we might conceive that as soon as the communions were made the sacrament should be consumed. But the Prayer-Book orders its reservation and that the Benediction shall be given in its presence. Like the apostles, we assemble about our risen Lord, and are with Him, like them, in the sacred enclosure of the closed doors. He is in the midst of us, and we have received Him, and He is in us and we in Him. We rejoice in Him and adore Him as our King. We are incorporated into His mystical body, and are ready to do all such good works as He has prepared for us to walk in. We gather about Him as when the disciples took their last walk with Him in the glorious sunlight of His resurrection, and He led them out as far as Bethany. Not unfittingly does our Liturgy reserve the Gloria in Excelsis for this place. It is the triumphantly filled-out response made by the Church to the angels’ song at Bethlehem. We have been raised up and made to sit in heavenly places. We gaze not up into a material heaven, but into the heaven whereof we form a part and wherein we are one with the apostles, as when they gathered beneath the benediction of the uplifted hands, and worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 
And then, after the blessing, the priest immediately and reverently consumes the sacred gifts, and can we but think of the saying: "He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight.

So, although it was not intended, here was a particularly thought-provoking reference to a forgotten facet of old Anglican Patrimony, that the shape of its classical eucharistic rite translates the Church on earth to stand among the Church Triumphant before the "Lamb who died, risen, ascended, glorified".

The hymn's tune is usually St Helen of 1874 (although I would love one day to hear the roof of a Catholic cathedral raised by Bryn Calfaria, the English Hymnal 's tune, by the Welsh congregationalist slate quarryman, William Owen, 1813-1893, written in 1852). It is by Sir George Clement Martin, 1844-1916, composed in 1874, the year he left being organist of St John's Edinburgh, to take on the training of boys at the new choral foundation at St Paul's Cathedral, where he stayed for the rest of his career, succeeding Sir John Stainer as organist in 1888. He wrote the Te Deum that was sung on the steps of St Paul’s for the famous open-air Diamond Jubilee service, celebrating Queen Victoria’s 60 years on the throne, for which she knighted him.

Saturday 26 May 2012

Thought for the Day

Evan Davis, the skilful communicator on economic affairs for the BBC, is an atheist. For ten years at least he has been saying that the Thought for the Day slot on the Today progragmme just after a quarter to eight “discriminates against the non-religious”. Since he became an anchorman on Today four years ago, he has continued to express this view. Journalists and presenters on the BBC are supposed to interrogate opinion and actions, not to pursue their own agenda, political or otherwise. Yet, despite a conflict of interest, Evan Davis agitates for change in overall editorial policy to conform to his religious worldview. He believes Thought for the Day should be kept, he believes, but instead of being “monopolised… by people of the cloth” it should “give space to serious and spiritually minded secularists”. In a free country he is entitled to his point of view. But surely it is a conflict of interests to press for such a significant change in overall BBC principles - in the programme you work on - when you are deploying your popularity and expertise to gain the BBC's conformity to your personal religious standpoint.

Thought for the Day is not supposed to be a merely “religious” slot. It is supposed to provide a reflection on the affairs and assumptions of the day, from out of the principles and values of the religious and spiritual tradition that formed our civilisation and in which it continues to share. In other words, while we become wrapped up in domestic politics and Westminster gossip, or absorbed with international crises, as well as human interest stories and great intellectual debates, space for the other dimension in our universe is salutary. To leave out the spiritual and religious means we are omitting to address our world and its problems in an holistic way.

What dismays me about his well intentioned campaign is not how misguided it is, but how unbalanced it is. I cannot imagine what a “spiritually minded secularist” is, unless it is someone of personal depth and reflection, who has examined himself and the people around him, mindful of one or other of the great traditions of moral philosophy that have characterised our various civilisations over the last three millennia. To say the least, however, these traditions are not distinctively secular. And, paradoxically, Christian ascetic wisdom agrees with what might be called a “spiritually minded secularist” that God is no mere projection “out there”, for really the “desert lies within”. But I do not understand what value such contemplation without God has, that is not already encompassed in the non-religious opinion, reflection, discourse, theories and debates that constitute all but two or three minutes of the three-hour programme that is the daily national news flagship. To examine ourselves as people and as a society we need to be holistic, and that means we have to make sense of ourselves in terms of all parts of us, including faith and the dimension of us that is in the realm of the Spirit, as much as by other criteria.

The imbalance is that the “space” for secularists that Evan Davis wants on Thought for the Day is begrudged elsewhere on TV and Radio. Occasionally on religious and current affairs programming, you will find articulate star atheists pitched against people of faith, who either do not match their skills at lively disputation and Christian apologetics; or they are so extreme and unrepresentative as to make for “good TV”, but bad examples of what mainstream religious adherence actually is. But the space where religion, especially the Church, is prohibited with Marxist-Leninist ferocity is radio and television comedy. Stephen Fry uses QI to mock the articles of religious faith and promotes atheism without challenge. Russell Howard turns his observational stand-up routines on his Good News to character assassination of Catholicism and its priests. Satire is devastating when it turns fact and experience on those who deserve to be deflated. But Howard is not troubled with accuracy, as all that is needed is caricature to please his crowd. Marcus Brigstocke, who features on The Now Show, one of whose presenters is Hugh Dennis, the son of an Anglican bishop, conveys his personal antipathy towards the Christian faith in his wry comic monologues with a force that is almost visceral. Each of these programmes has been produced at the expense of licence fee-payers by the BBC. Yet there is no challenge, or right of reply; and there is no like investment of public money in routine satire of atheism, such as handsomely rewards those who use the BBC to promote their personal, secularist religious standpoint.

St Gregory Nazianzus rightly counselled against point-scoring debates, because people will recognise Christ best in what we have come to be, not the words we say. St Francis de Sales reconverted much of his Geneva diocese from Calvin, believing that “the bee achieves more by its honey than by its sting”. Nonetheless, there are too many presenters who use Thought for the Day for a short homily, “preaching to the choir”. I am with Evan Davis, if he finds this dull and self-serving. What we need are wise, even witty, mirrors from the water in the well of life that, in the words of Pope Benedict on his visit to these shores, alone answer humanity’s deepest questions, and encourage the dialogue between religious faith and virtue in public life at every level of society.

Tuesday 1 May 2012

The Archbishop of Canterbury

In March, Archbishop Rowan Williams announced his decision to leave the most senior non-royal office in the land, that of our country’s principal religious leader, to return to the groves of academy. Immediately, The Times denounced his archiepiscopate as a pragmatic and political failure, absorbed in a “futile quest for unity” among the Church of England’s and the Anglican Communion’s factions. Obviously the writer had never read John 17. It was all so different in 2002 and 2003, when people on all sides were hoping and calling for the Archbishop of Wales to come to Canterbury. Since then many of those same voices have, by turns, criticised, undermined and blatantly disobeyed the leadership they asked of him. At least twice his carefully framed and widely consulted on plans, for enabling people and provinces to be full stakeholders in the Anglican Communion or in the Church of England as a national Church, have been rejected. Presiding with a profound sense of love and duty over a Church which, increasingly, cannot realise its historic purpose as comprehensive of all, as it becomes factional and confessional over two now live issues that were never at stake at the Reformation - nor occurred to the founders and drivers of the twentieth century ecumenical movement, and which several different worldviews now render insoluble, as the present phase of Catholic-Anglican dialogue seems to bear witness - it is hardly surprising that he feels his position is untenable. The great Anglican tradition has come to something, when its two greatest orthodox intellects and teachers in contemporary Britain have given up the chief pastorship of the Church, to revert to academic standing. The loss of Bishop Tom Wright of Durham and now Archbishop Williams from their leadership constitutes a grave loss to the whole body of Christians in this country.

The quest for unity can never be futile, however difficult and even painful it is, because it is the will and prayer of Christ. We greet Archbishop Rowan as he draws to the end of his distinguished service as Archbishop of Canterbury. His deep understanding of Catholic and Orthodox theology have profited us all and, whatever side of the Anglican debates people have stood, his efforts to be true to people’s principles and what Hooker calls their “participation” in the Church, and the wider work of the “unity of all humanity in the charity and truth of Christ” (as Paul Couturier put it), of which the unity among Christians is the sign, have been heroic.

We wish him well; and we thank him for his friendship, even a critical friendship, to the Catholic Church and not least the person of the Holy Father; but most of all for his service to the unity of Christians, not just towards other Churches but within his own too, “so that the world may believe”.

Vatican II Hymnal: Book Review

Vatican II Hymnal, ed. Jeffrey Mark Ostrowski, Corpus Christi Watershed, Corpus Christ Texas, 2011, pp. 709 plus indices.

In some ways this is the hymnbook Catholics should have had 40, or even 30, years ago. Put briefly, it is a compendium of all the music and text needed for the worthy sung celebration of the revised form of the Roman Mass, supplemented with a modest collection of hymns and tunes that lie largely in the public domain. A good number of these hymns belong to the body of Catholic devotional verse that was available for extra-liturgical services like Benediction, or permitted to be sung in association with Low Mass; but most come from the riches received from other western Christian traditions (through their North American manifestations), thanks to Catholic entry into using the English-speaking hymn tradition at Mass, by way of the ecumenical exchange of gifts suggested from the Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism onwards and allowed for in the rubrics of the liturgy revisions under Paul VI.

At first glance, it may not look like such a contemporary resource for Catholic worship; but it is actually the print interface of a large online project to ensure that the mass reformed after Vatican II, especially when celebrated in the vernacular, benefits from access to Catholic liturgy's broad and continuous musical tradition in both Latin and English. So, technologically speaking, it would not have been possible to have this hymnal even ten years ago. Furthermore, the Vatican II Hymnal is issued through low-cost self-publishing to order; in other words, production costs do not reflect the business plan of a large book-publishing and distribution house. My hardback draft & review copy cost $17-91; and the final version edition is now ready at $19, costing less per copy the more you order. Also available are supplementary printed books for SATB choir or vocalists' settings of masses and responsorial psalms (notably Jeff Ostrowski's St Noel Chabanel psalm project; and Aristotle Esguerra's modal Responsorial Psalms) and for organ accompaniments, at similarly low prices, or by download to your computer. This in itself is an interesting development for the promotion of quality new writing for Church liturgy and hymn resources, as well as of familiar standard material (and there is also a remarkable parallel online resource providing all the propers in English and Latin with accompaniments). There is now no excuse for churches and their musicians to be bound to the printed books and collections stocked in the organ loft or the choir vestry, or to the poor mass music and low quality worship songs that have formed our habits for decades. For the Vatican II Hymnal not only provides a core repertoire, it also has the capacity to extend itself constantly with the compatible invention of new and restored resources on line.

But what is the Vatican II Hymnal like? Being for Catholic use, it is primarily a liturgical resource to put in order the music for the ordinary and the proper of the Mass, including appropriate "strophic", metrical hymns that can also be included in the Ordinary form of Mass. So it is a hymnale, not a hymnbook, that is a collection or approved selection of hymns. Thus its contents are arranged to serve the celebration of mass. This marks it out as different in structure and presentation from other hymnbooks, even those used and approved in Catholic circles. Thus it is almost a Sunday missal, lacking the variable prayers, but including the readings and the texts of the chants of the Proper of the Mass (think of the similar pages in the English Hymnal), that often neglected but in fact integral component of the Mass, which provides all the Scriptural texts of the variable chants at the Entrance, the Gradual (psalm between the readings), the Offertory and at Communion. Apart from the hymns (to which we will return), the Hymnal draws on a large body of work developed by Watershed, a charity founded in 1996 in the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas (see the links above). Watershed has expended considerable energy on collating music from the historic, liturgical patrimony (Gregorian and polyphonic) that can be newly deployed in the service of the revised form of mass - they do not need to have been set aside, and can be re-received. It has also been promoting the work of composers, who see their task is to develop fresh sacred music for the Ordinary Form of Mass (especially in view of the new translation) that stands in continuity with the same traditions as music written for the solemn sung musical celebration of Mass from before the Vatican II reforms, yet not in Latin but the vernacular. In this the group seeks to be in accord with the spirit of Vatican II's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium. The driving philosophy is that, while for most of us the revised form of mass in the vernacular seemed to mark a radical rupture from what went before, the Council Fathers actually envisaged not abolition but direct continuity - with some desirable organic develoment, certain improvements and corrections -and an aggiornamento, an updating, to enable the people of the present day to be drawn into and participate in the mass, "actively" (i.e. not merely attend as passive spectators) . Far from a wholesale change, the contention is that the Council sought previously obscured aspects of the Catholic tradition to be restored to them, through the growth and enrichment of what was already in place.

Yet, as is well known, in many if not most places, choirs, organs, Gregorian chant, motets and settings in Latin - and even singing the mass apart from some hymns - were abandoned. Two generations have passed since this rupture and we have become accustomed to folk groups, guitars and bands, liturgical music loosely similar to contemporary popular music (although not always of like quality and creative skill). There is also a body of supposedly distinctive Catholic non-hymnic worship songs, created because their advocates reject the English-language hymn tradition as essentially Protestant. Yet they resemble neither the English liturgical custom of strophic metrical hymns, nor the Roman Graduale's native tradition, whether in using Gregorian chant or other compositions to set the Proper (the Latin tradition is, at heart, to sing the psalms of the Bible at mass with responses). As Professor Paul Fiddes, the great English Baptist theologian, has often observed, you will get more Scripture heard and read at a Catholic mass than at many a Protestant service. But these "distinctively Catholic" liturgical songs are by no means always related to the Scriptures or to the Propers, and thus they stand in clear contrast to many a suitable and well chosen classic hymn, rooted in the metrical singing of psalms and the other Scriptures. This is all by way of saying that for years Catholic eucharistic musical worship in English has been in search of its idiom and identity. It began by adopting aspects of contemporary culture; it looked to some of the features of music and hymnody in the worship of ecumenical friends; it developed its own formats to meet the shape of parts of the renewed rite (eg the Gospel acclamation); and, in the influential minds of some leading Catholic "pastoral musicians", strove for a musical and doxological genre that could distinguish vernacular Catholic worship as different. The search has been protracted and hardly successful.

The reason is because it lost touch with its own underlying tradition, continuous for 1,500 years. In England, the Vatican II Constitution seeking to re-establish the solemn sung mass as the norm for Sunday worship - opening up the accessibility and implementation of the sung High Mass - has by and large not been implemented. Instead we have remained wedded to the idea of a spoken out Low Mass, with such additional material for singing as resources or inclination allow, as the intended and welcome manifestation of the reform. Thus, long since English became the norm, it is still usual at many a Sunday Mass for the psalm not to be sung, but to constitute a dialogue between the faithful and the reader. Even where the Alleluia is sung to one of a handful of tunes that people know (often the antiphon from the end of the old Vesperal Paschal Vigil, stuningly effective of in its annual simplicity, but devalued by overuse, as though we are incapable of encompassing anything more demanding), the verse is often merely said. The entrance chant and the communion antiphon as given in the missal, without their psalm verses, are declared as slogans where they are used at all. Few parishes can rely on a well known tune to which to sing the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus. The new translation of the Missal into English, backed with some firm directions from the bishops (e.g. an expectation of the greetings and prayers to be sung by the priest), boldy attempts to move the worshipping Church to the original objective of the full sung celebration as the norm, casting other forms of mass seen as gradations that cut down on that norm, according to available resources and circumstances. But a culture shift from seeing the said Low Mass as the basic buiding block, with musical settings seen as optional and potentially complicating extras, will take decades of unrelenting determination to succeed. This is why such an initiative as the Vatican II Hymnal is a godsend. As its name implies, it sets our to implement the vision of what many are coming to believe is something approaching the shape and culture intended by the Constitution on the Liturgy. Arguably, we had to go through what we have experience and experimented with over the last five decades, in order to evaluate the true direction of our liturgical tradition for the future as well as for retrieving its past. Arguably, too, we may be too late to recalibrate the momentum of the vernacular tradition as it is now, upon the trajectory of the larger tradition out of which it is supposed to have arisen. There are those, too, who will say that the genie is out of the bottle, and that too much change and innovation has become so ingrained and accepted by the faithful as the authentic liturgical language of the Anglophone cultural continuum, that it cannot be undone with more alienating rupture. But at least the Vatican II Hymnal has arrived and can influence for good what lies ahead in the organic redevelopment of our tradition.

Clearly, the Hymnal resonates within a North American culture, at a time when there is fresh heart among a new generation of musicians who have realised that "modern" can soon become dated, and that in the Church's long tradition there are many compositions that were once modern, that stood the test of time, or were later revived when their moment came again, and that this should never have been something we swept away, but built upon. The present writer, a Catholic priest, came from an Anglican musical background, where a mature musical and choral culture was able to take reforms to liturgical texts and formats in its stride because, far from dispensing with the treasury of the past, there was an assumption that it was still available to be pressed into service, and even added to. (Incidentally, this difference in culture is one reason why some Anglicans, convinced of the truth of the Catholic faith, have nevertheless found it difficult at points to make a transition to the Catholic Church's liturgical life in Britain. This is nothing to do with fondness for elaboration in ceremony, or the complexity of music with choirs and organs, but the rupture in the mediation of a culture of sacred poetic and musical art and its sacral performance. A good pastoral and evangelistic point is that music - through involvement in choirs and organ-playing, as well as other kinds of instrumental ministry - strongly embeds its performers in the life, rhythms and custom of Christian belief and worship. As many vocations to the priesthood and religious life came from singing and accompanying at Church services regularly for years on end, as from serving at the altar. Sadly, there are fewer routes for this spiritual deepening nowadays as once there were. In my view, it is an urgent work, for the renewal and building of the Body of Christ, to have choirs and music-making for children and young people that can inspire and stretch their love of worship and, in turn, of God himself. I know from experience that, while it takes hard and long term work, it is not difficult. But the opportunities are now rare. An English vision like that of Watershed in Corpus Christi, Texas, building on, retrieving, newly creating, and developing a deep and continuous liturgical music tradition, is needed sorely. The Music Makers, led by the excellent Jeremy de Satge in Balham, London, are perhaps the standard bearers for a better approach in England and they deserve keen support.

But the Vatican II Hymnal, having been devised with North American customs and familiar pieces in mind, even with so much good new writing, cannot be transferred as it stands to England. That said, whole portions of it - the settings of the Ordinary of the Mass, the excellently conceived psalm response in Gregorian and modern styles, the Alleluia chants - are a model of what a hymnal resource should be. In conception, it reminds me of the Hymnal Companion to the Book of Prayer and the English Hymnal Service Book from the Anglican tradition. In other words, it is not a supplement of hymns, but a handmaid to the liturgy, with the chants that the liturgy requires and the arrangement of hymns to suit the needs of the rite and its seasons. I would take issue with the adaptation of some of the Gregorian chants to English texts, as more than occasionally the relationship between melody, stress and quantity have escaped the editors. But the efforts are nonetheless very singable and serviceable; and they amply demonstrate that it is not only possible to sing the liturgical texts without having to locate or compose a modern substitute, but that the tradition we ought to be more conscious of having received and standing in can adapt, grow and be no less native in English than it is in Latin.

What impresses me most about the Hymnal is its treatment of the hymns as theological and liturgical texts, not as stand along pieces that can be inserted. First, however, I will say something adverse. The selection suffers from being a gathering of texts that are mostly out of copyright. This means that a huge number are at least over fifty years old. The many classic texts have not always been selected with proper heed to the sources. So, accretions and lesser editorially adapted versions have crept in because of common usage, in preference to retrieving, for the formation of the future tradition according to the principles of establishing a classic Catholic liturgy in the vernacular, the authentic texts or their best developments. It also means (and I recognise that there are copyright and royalty implcations that may have made it prohibitive) that the best of the so-called "hymn explosion" in the last half century, has been missed (in England one immediately thinks of the work of the Anglicans Christopher Idle and Bishop Timothy Dudley-Smith, and there are many more Catholics and Reformed/Methodist writers who justly stand in the classic hymn tradition).

As it is, given the texts of the missal, lectionary and propers, the hymns in the Vatican II Hymnal occupy perhaps just a fifth of the book. But the positive thing to say is that these have been set out with regard not just to the seasons, but also to the place they could occupy - and the purpose they could serve - in the liturgical celebration. For many years, hymnbooks, and the various guides to liturgy and music for it, have proposed helpful lists of suggested hymns and songs - a tradition begun by the English Hymnal of 1906. But unless I am very much mistaken this is the first time we have had a hymnbook (even with so few hymns - just items 203 to 373) that sets out in order its suggestion of which Christmas or Lent hymn should come at the Entrance, Offertory, or Communion, or after the eucharistic action. 170 hymns is not much to work on for an English hymnodist, but the structure and conception is very helpful. Hymns need not replace or overshadow the Proper of the Mass in the Roman rite. But in a contemporary liturgical setting, where we use the vernacular for the engagement and access of the people of the present age, hymns - another aspect of our deep-rooted religious and doxological tradition alongside the historic riches of our tradition - can supplement and amplify it. For instance, as I wrote in Hymns: the Sound of Communion in 2010, this treasury of our religious, social and musical culture, faithful both to the Scriptures and the Tradition of the Church's teaching grounded in them, can provide splendid adornments to the Latin rite liturgy both in English and Latin. For instance, a great hymn in English can precede the Introit and form an act of worship at the conclusion of mass. Certain kinds of English hymn can serve as a Sequence alongside the Gradual and Alleluia (Adeste fideles began in this way, but there are other great hymns that likewise reflect on the scene to be announced in the Gospel). Already, even in some Latin celebrations, an English hymn can stand in for the traditional motet in the place of the Offertory or at Communion. I think particularly of the Solemn Christmas Mass at St George's Cathedral in Southwark, England, where a Latin ordinary of the mass and other chants, has been adorned with the addition of Latin and English hymns for the sake of the people's "active participation", and it works very well. By the same token, there is a wealth of Wesleyan and Anglican hymns that were devised for the celebration of the Eucharist, and not for eucharistic adoration at Benediction, which lend themselves to the rite of Communion in a way in which some English Catholic hymnody does not. All this is pointed to in the Vatican II Hymnal. What is needed in an English milieu, however, is a much more ample treatment of the classic English hymn tradition, along with its development in the last half century and more. This would call for a collection of nearer three hundred strophic, metrical hymns (in association with the provision of the other liturgical music setting the Ordinary and the Propers as in the Hymnal, as well as the online resources), but arranged not in reference to themselves as a collection from the great corpus of hymns, but in terms of how, when, where and how, they can serve the celebration of the Mass and the observance of the Catholic liturgical year. This would be a large ambition, exceeding in scope what the editors of the Vatican II Hymnal set themselves, but it would be a remarkable service to the Church in its present situation and to the development and re-enrichment of our tradition in its English vernacular and pastoral appearance.

Fr Mark Woodruff (RC Diocese of Westminster), Priest-Director of the League
Precentor, St Edmundsbury Cathedral, 1989-91, Organist, St George's Anglican Cathedral, Jerusalem, 1982.