Fr. Hunwicke, a priest of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, has a blog post asking whether the Ordinariates can do something to restore something of the vibrant Catholic life he was reminded of in looking at an old Anglo-Catholic parish magazine. Go on over to read the whole thing, but here’s an excerpt:
The following ‘Vicar’s Notes’ attracted my attention; not least for the sense of a vibrant Catholic parish life during that decade when the Catholic movement in the Church of England was riding so very high. Jalland is writing about the observance of the Patronal Festival, of the Translation of S Thomas of Canterbury, on Saturday July 7.
“On that day there will be Masses at 6.30, 7.30, and a High Mass at 9. It is likely that the first evensong of the feast will be sung at 7.30 p.m., on Friday evening, at which there will be a Sermon by the Reverend Canon A.G.G. Ross, Vicar of St Mark, Swindon. It is hoped that there will be many who will take advantage of this opportunity of adding corporate worship to their personal preparation for the Feast. Confessions will be heard on several days before the Festival … On the Sunday in the Octave the Sermon at Mass will be preached by the Rev. C. Gill, of St Alban the Martyr, Holborn, and after Evensong by the Rev.D Sargent, Vicar of St Cross, Holywell …”
Mass, fasting, before breakfast; multiple morning Masses and a High Mass on a weekday morning; First Evensongs; high jinks continuing into the Sunday within the Octave; lots of confessions; and oodles of Visiting Preachers. This is the Anglo-Catholicism which Betjeman remembered and celebrated in his verses, when the Faith was taught and fanned to a holy blaze. I suspect that those inter-war years were the last sparkling times before the Luftwaffe destroyed so many of the old Anglo-Catholic slum churches and dispersed the remnants of their congregations into suburbs and high-rise flats.
How can there be a restoration of vibrant parish life outside of only Sunday Mass when people no longer live within a short distance of their parish, even walking distance? For Ordinariate parishes, people come from an even wider catchment area. We have one consecrated hermit who drives at least an hour and a half one way to get to Mass.
There must to be ways to do it, creative ways to teach the faith and fan it to a “holy blaze” given the distances people have to travel, the demands of work, and the rise of technology and social media.
Pray the offices! That is one way to observe the First Evensongs and live daily inside the liturgical calendar. We do have a stress on personal preparation for Lent and for Advent, with encouragement to go to Confession. (We are very blessed in the easy availability of our priests for the Sacrament) Perhaps we could add preparation for Annunciation, Ascension, Pentecost, Assumption, Immaculate Conception?
I like the idea of considering Visiting Preachers!