Friday, April 21, 2006

The Benedictine spirit in Anglicanism
Dom Robert Hale on the virtues of tolerance*, reasonableness** and Mass-and-office Catholicism

Of course for most of its history the English Church was Roman Catholic.

As I like to say only two good things came out of the English ‘Reformation’: services and the Bible in English and an attempt to make the daily offices available to everyman. (The rest was a mistake.) Fr Peter Robinson notes that although the ‘Reformers’ initially cut away a thick underbrush of private Masses and devotions that may have got in the way of the liturgical cycle, even they didn’t envisage a round of services different to the requirements of the mediæval church (though they erred about the nature of the Eucharist): Communion every Sunday and important holy day and the office every day. (Because the people clung to the mediæval habit of receiving once or four times a year, the Protestants eventually only had Communion quarterly.)

Also, Benedictinism is so old that it’s like Orthodox monasticism*** (which has no ‘orders’, just one brotherhood and sisterhood following the same general rule): there really is no Benedictine Order but rather each abbey is largely independent. Until the mid-Middle Ages with the advent of friars (halfway between monks and active-works ministry) there simply was monasticism.

Recommended: Speculum Benedictinum, the quarterly newsletter of the Abbey of Christ the King, a traditionalist one in Cullman, Alabama under Abbot Leonard Giardina. Not scholarly but not polemical either — simply bits of classic spirituality. And of course there’s Clear Creek.

*In the orthodox sense of charity in non-essentials, not ‘tolerance’ of heresy and apostasy.

**In the sense the Schoolmen understood it — submitting to reason as in objective reality, the natural law.

***In the icon at the top of the article page St Benedict is dressed in the habit of an Orthodox schemamonk (the strictest ones)!

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