Sunday, January 29, 2012


Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
  • The do-no-harm rule/golden rule again. Today’s epistle, Fr James’ sermon jumping-off point.
  • The music at Sung Mass today reminded me of Martha Eischen’s description of it: I have been the beneficiary of great grace and blessing as I have journeyed in my new “home”. My parish is Our Lady of Lourdes, Philadelphia, PA. We are surrounded with so much of what I grew up with as a privileged Anglo-Catholic. The music – organ prelude and postlude, Anglican processional and recessional hymns, and Gregorian chant in Latin for the Mass – is really just as good as old-school Anglican including Anglo-Papalist and, like Good Shepherd, Rosemont (where Eischen came from) used to be, American biretta-belt Anglo-Catholic.
  • Those last two long (late 1800s-mid-1900s) looked alike, looking like the Roman Catholic Church before Vatican II, but are based on different ideas. The first, a small minority, really were what most people took ACs to be, would-be Roman Catholics (they wanted corporate union). They were mostly British (but most Britons weren’t and aren’t among them) and after V2 went Novus Ordo, which they are now as the British ordinariate. (No problem now that the Pope’s fixed it in English.) They don’t need a course about Anglican vs Catholic doctrine to be ordained because they never believed in Anglican doctrine! Once they’ve been nulla osta’d, all they need is a semester or speed course to get acclimated. (Freshman orientation, not plebe summer or boot camp.) The other also took many/most of their practices from Rome in the good old days but used more of the Prayer Book and took the position that they didn’t need to convert because they believed in something they called Anglicanism, pieced together from their spin on the classical English divines, that they said was just as much a ‘branch’ of the Catholic Church as Rome and the Orthodox; better, they said, because it didn’t innovate with the post-schism doctrines Rome defined. That’s right: rather like (other) Protestants accusing Rome of unbiblical doctrine, they thought their church was more conservative than Rome! They seem best represented now by the Bob Hart Continuers. Of course I don’t agree but I respect them.
  • Then there’s the liberal version of the latter: many Episcopalians now and the mainliners who now run the Church of England. (The C of E also has Evangelicals.) ‘Affirming Catholics’: they believe nearly the same things about the creeds, the Mass and the sacraments as we do, and they love our liturgies and those liturgies’ gear, but it’s on their terms, not the church’s. Or to put it better, on the Anglican Church’s terms, not the Catholic Church’s: they don’t believe in an infallible church backing those creeds, that Mass and those sacraments but think their denomination’s power, by vote, to change any teaching is ‘the authority of the church’. (Doctrine is unrepealable in church infallibility.) Considering they’re now in communion with non-episcopal mainliners, it seems to me their logical conclusion isn’t the old branch theory based on claiming the historic episcopate but that the whole mainline, like the World Council of Churches, is the true church. I’m not angry at them. What’s the point? Out of respect I don’t blog about their business. I’m describing it here only to distinguish it from its Anglican relatives and from Catholic belief.
  • Sort of like the difference between the few high-church Greek Catholics, who do what Rome wants – loving Orthodox liturgics and theological expression, so they don’t latinize the churches and services – and Orthodox and OicwR anti-Westernism hating the graceless Latin heretics. (Traditional Roman Catholicism doesn’t order or pressure you to hate Orthodox practices.) They look alike – so a Roman Catholic might mistake an unlatinizer/delatinizer for an anti-Westerner/schismatic – but are very much not.
  • Off the top of my head, the things I like best about the Orthodox are the church as small parish/big ethnic family, grassroots traditionalism (no Novus), economy and Leonid Ouspensky’s view of icons (halfway between a picture or statue and God’s presence in the Eucharist).
  • It’s a blessing to live in a city big enough and Catholic enough that Sung Mass is a quick trip from home. That (weekly Mass, just enough) and with Winfred Douglas’ diurnal at home (Benedictine breviary using the old BCP psalms and canticles), to echo Eischen, you have the best of ACism to live in a Novus-free world.

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