October 22, 2009

Very Random Post on this Anglican Business

I won't pretend that I have anything new to say or add to this business with the Anglicans or Benedict's upcoming apostolic constitution that is supposed to unify procedures for their entrance into the Catholic Church. To be honest, what it makes me think of the most is how I wonder when and if there will ever be a new season of "The Tudors," and wasn't it a shame when the mean old king had Natalie Dormer's pretty head cut off, and when is Jonathan Rhys Meyers going to get all fat or at least wear a fat suit and wouldn't that be entertaining.

The whole business reminds of the day Roger Clemens was traded to the Yankess, which according to to baseball-reference.com was February 18, 1999. On that one of my college friends, just then finishing his doctorate, was returning to Connecticut College to give a lecture. So on my way to New London I stopped at one of my West Haven neighborhood's several seedy liquor stores to get him a present to mark the occasion. It was at the liquor store that I heard of the trade. An elaborate conversation was occurring on what it might mean and for whom. My next stop was the philosophy department at Connecticut College, where I found all of my old professors standing around having precisely the same conversation, and without any elevation in the level of the discourse, mind you. In the same way, wherever I have gone for the last couple of days, this Anglican business has been the topic of conversation.

There is a large Episcopalian church in downtown Yonkers. It's right on the route from my favorite off-site spot to go to confession to my favorite taco stand. So today as I was making that walk, I stopped in to say a prayer. It's a beautiful church in classic Episcopalian stone. The windows are imposing and beautiful. In one of them St. Paul looks over your head sternly as he grasps the sword with which he will be martyred. The kneelers and the side chapels are intact. Would that we could say that for some of our churches! The altar in the sanctuary looks like it has been pulled out for prayer versus populum, but not so far as to make ad orientem impossible. It would still look right to do it. But I don't know anything about the Anglican/Episcopalian history on this question.

Appreciating the place, I sat down and offered a prayer of thanksgiving for Benedict XVI, the Pope of Christian Unity, and in thanksgiving for all--on whatever side of whatever issue--who will find some peace through his efforts.


Matthew Ignatius said...

There is an Episcopalian church in Brockton which runs a soup kitchen out of it's basement that feed a lot of homeless in the city. When I was intern for Stonehill's volunteer services program, I worked with the church and with the soup kitchen to coordinate volunteer opportunities for students. The original altar of the church, which was still intact, stood at the far back end of the church, ad orientem, behind the choir. When I was speaking with the pastor, she told me that the forward altar, which stood just in front of the choir, was actually new to the parish. Previously they had celebrated ad orientem, but that could not have been more than a few years ago when she changed the position of the altar.

I've seen High Anglican and High Lutheran traditions still celebrate ad orientem in their liturgies, so I'm not sure if anything was ever codified in that regard... but then again, I really have no understanding of Anglican liturgical practice. Presumably they use an equivalent to the Roman GIRM, since they have a standard liturgical practice, or at least it seems that way.

As far as the Anglican issue goes, I'm slightly worried that a larger influx of married Anglican clergy,or possibly abuses of the system, such as a Catholic man converting to Anglicanism, getting married, being ordained, then returning to the Catholic Church, could be a threat to the sacred vow of celibacy taken by Roman clerics and religious.

Qualis Rex said...

I lived in the UK for a few years and met 4 Catholic priests who were all converts from Anglicanism. They explained to me that there is no standardization in the Church of England pretty much on anything. The church has swung drastically in pro-"catholic" and pro-Protestant directions throughout its history; each side attempting to codify and make its indellible mark on the church. Around the 18th century, to quell any further Cromwellian purges or high-Anglican backlash, the church sought accommodation by simply allowing these different "wings" to coexist. This is what is called euphemistically as "the beauty of Anglicanism". One priest told me you will actually find a group walking in prayer to a Marian shrine with protesters flanking them, shouting epithets and condemning them for heresy; Anglicans all.

In the Anglican communion, you can essentially believe ANYTHING (ranging from the intercession of saints & transubstantiation to predestination and sola scriptura) with the exception being Papal primacy - that is a no-no. So, to answer the question, as they say in Spanish "Nuevos Reyes, nuevas leyes." Meaning, when a new pastor comes to town, he may be more liberal or conservative minded and of course after weighing in with the church's board decide to do ad Orientem or strip the whole church down to Cranmer's table. It's entirely at their discretion. But obviously, church boards would tend towards procuring Pastors of their own mindset to NOT disrupt the status quo (unless that's what they wanted to begin with).

If this doesn't make any sense at all, it's only because it really doesn't.

Warren said...

Well QR,

I was an Evangelical High-Anglican (whatever that is) between 1992 and 2002.

Then I became Roman Catholic. The old fashioned way, where you go through RCIA and all that.

But it seems that one could be welcomed, as part of your Anglican anglo-catholic parish, and be Roman Catholic, and welcomed back into the full unity with the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic, while still using the Book of Common Prayer, which is quite the thing, I say. Quite the thing. Yessiree, bob.

Never once, as confused as QR thinks Anglicans to be, did I ever see Anglicans hold hands for the Our Father, or see Anglican Priests do the "howdy folks" intro to the Mass, nor did I ever see glass chalices, or day-glo vestments.

For that, you need to visit one of those Crazy Roman Catholic things known as a "spirit of vatican 2" parish.

Welcome home Anglicans, but beware. It's crazy in here.



Warren said...

matt: Why should he convert to Anglicanism when he could just be a Eastern-Rite Catholic instead?
No converting required. Methinks thou dost worry too much:-)

The most loud and strong declamations in FAVOR of a celibate priesthood are known to come from married Anglican priests who have converted. They are not permitted the same kinds of appointments as regular priests are, because the Church understands that their first duty of care is first, and always to their wives and children. As such, they are not as free to follow Christ as priests, as they could have been had they been celibate and single.

They understand this, and value this discipline in the Catholic Church. They do. Just ask one.


Brother Charles said...

Warren throws out an interesting practical point about priestly celibacy. Much of my work with people as a parish priest occurs during the times when ordinary folks are able to be with their families: early morning, evenings, and weekends. I am free to have appointments and meetings during these times precisely because I don't have a family myself. Interesting.

Qualis Rex said...

Warren if you didn't experience any wackiness in the Anglican church, then you were either very shielded or very fortunate. All you need do is take a trip to youtube to see such examples here or here here. Yes, there are horrid, scandalous and I would say evil innovations going on in certain Catholic parishes. But that is why God had sent us our blessed Pope Benedict (may God grant him 100 years) to clean house and restore the dignity to the liturgy and church as a whole. And not a minute too soon.

Mike Farley said...

Brother Charles, thanks, from an Anglican Franciscan!

BTW, the verification text was "vignabio" - sounds very liturgical to me - something about the correct way to do the church flowers? ;-)