LIBERA ME, Domine, Iesu Christe, ab omnibus iniquitatis meis et universis malis,
fac me tuis semper inhærere mandatis et a te numquam separari permittas. Amen.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

It does make you wonder . . .

I’m mentioning no names; but I came across something on facebook a little while ago which has raised some questions in my mind.

It’s an event taking place later this month at a leading Anglo-Catholic church : and I found out about it only because an Anglo-Catholic friend of mine – of whom I wrote recently because he is on his way to swimming the Tiber – had said that he was attending it; something I don’t for one second blame him doing just at present.

What worried me – and yes, I think worried is the right word – is the fact that there’s one very well-known Catholic who is also going : and I suppose I’m worried because this person is, I am sure, going because the liturgy will be more in accordance with their taste (being very strictly traditionalist) than is the liturgy in their own parish church (well-known for offering excellent liturgy in both Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms).

I’m sorry : but this just can’t be right . . . because although it may be very gorgeous, at the end of the day, this is elevating form above substance . . . the Rite used against the sacramental value of what is on offer . . . and I can’t see that being acceptable to God.

Just how, I wonder, do people arrive at the conclusion that this is acceptable ?

(Mind you, since writing the above, I notice that the same person has, in a discussion on another blog about the recent publication by the Redemptorists which approves of the ordination of women amongst other things, followed up a suggestion that HH Pope John Paul II made it quite clear that the ordination of women is impossible, and therefore not open to discussion, by suggesting that it is a pity that His Holiness didn't also make it clear that the Holy See does not have the power to amend the sacred liturgy. I think this must clarify the position : clearly an unaltered liturgy is a sine qua non for this particular Catholic. It's a pity, perhaps, that the Church's historical viewpoint on this issue seems not to have sunk in.)


  1. If you can in all confidence toe the Roman line and believe that all Anglican orders are utterly null and void, then the only explanation for what happens at S. Magnus is that it looks pretty or something like that. But do you honestly think we'd still be there if that were the case?

  2. ex_fide:

    People end up concluding that, though. How does one explain those High Church Anglicans (I was one) who leave an aesthetically beautiful environment such as St Magnus' in the knowledge that most Catholic liturgy is banal, and this will likely be in their Parish.

    Don't think Catholics like saying Anglican Orders are likely invalid; I for one would love the certainty of validity at otherwise wonderful places such as yours. However, the changes to the Ordinal under Edward (can't remember the number - I'm Scottish) irrevocably altered the nature of Anglican ministry.

    The Ordinal aside, there's also an issue of Communion. It is difficult to ask a Church which believes in the Real Presence to give approbation to one which has some that do and some that don't.

    So, you see, despite you conjecturing a seemingly unlikely hypothesis, people do actually contest for reasons just like that.

    Of course, don't take any of this to imply I don't have respect for what you do at St Magnus': I sincerely do, and take my hat off to you. But, you simply can't ask those in Communion with Rome to join in. It places them in an impossible position.

  3. P.S. Can you tell I was furiously typing away on my mobile phone?

    When I wrote 'contest', please read 'convert'. God bless.

  4. Mark,

    I'm not suggesting RCs ought to come to S. Magnus rather than their own churches. I'm saying that people need to drop the assumption that we're simply waiting-room RCs who will inevitably submit to Roman jurisdiction as soon as we see the error of our ways.

    Your argument about the ordinal is, I believe, rebuked in Saepius Officio, and trotting out the same argument simply doesn't move the debate forward. Especially since "the Orthodox" are considered to be in possession of valid orders, and indeed the Assyrian Church of the East (once reviled by Rome as 'Nestorian') is believed by Rome to have sacraments valid enough to be accessed by Chaldaeans, according to pastoral need.

    It's only anecdotal, but many Anglicans I know who have gone to Rome do so over issues of authority, not over orders, and some have trouble with the idea of rejecting the graces they received as Anglicans. Equally, issues of papal authority have alienated many RCs.

    But thanks for your kind words about Saint Magnus.