Anglican Patrimony worth preserving–or not?

I have occasionally commented on the aspects of Anglicanism we are so glad to have left behind, whether it is: synodal and “democratic” approaches to doctrine whereby a truth or sacrament handed down by the Apostles gets overturned by a majority vote;  cafeteria Catholicism, whereby you pick and choose which beliefs in the faith to hold; and capitulating to the zeitgeist on all the touchy, politically correct issues of the day, particularly those in the arena of sexual morality.

There are, however, aspects of Anglican patrimony well-worth preserving and thankfully, the Catholic Church has generously made provision for us to keep these in the Personal Ordinariates for Catholics of Anglican Patrimony.

One of those aspects is the importance of beauty in worship, and not severing Beauty from Truth,  Goodness or Unity.

Interestingly,  former Anglican priest Fr. Dwight Longenecker wrote recently about the aesthetic niceties of the Church of England, but when beauty gets separated from the truth of right doctrine, and so on it becomes, merely “good taste, or,  as he writes:  “Practically Perfect Poppinism.” after Mary Poppins.

What can a sophisticated person dislike?

But the Church of England is practically perfect in other ways too. The Anglican Church seems to have kept all that is lovely about the Catholic faith and jettisoned all that is disagreeable. This applies in matters of taste as well as doctrine. So, for example, they have retained Evensong, but (for the most part) got rid of the monasticism from which it comes. They have retained tasteful statues of Our Lady of Walsingham, but are untroubled by the more tasteless apocalyptic apparitions to shepherd children in Ireland, Portugal or France. They have kept lovely cathedrals with tasteful art, but politely declined the souvenir shops that cluster in pilgrimage places with their racks of clacking rosaries, their hologram postcards of Jesus that turns into Mary and water bottles shaped like the Our Lady of Lourdes, whose crown unscrews so you can dash the holy water on demons.

While eschewing the tasteless aspects of Catholicism, they have also successfully selected from Catholic doctrine. They will have the Blessed Virgin, but not her Immaculate Conception, Glorious Assumption into heaven or her Coronation as the Queen of Heaven. They will have respect for the Pope–even some admiration, but they demur at calling him the Vicar of Christ and the infallible successor of St Peter the Prince of the Apostles. They allow for the creed to be recited–almost as a matter of choice, but dismiss the idea that there is such a thing as dogma which must be adhered to or else… Holy Communion is a lovely symbol which becomes the Body of Christ as you receive it, but one need not be troubled by something as literal and superstitious as transubstantiation. I could go on, but you get the idea.

Go on over and read the whole thing.

As members of the Ordinariates, we are Catholics who firmly believe in all the Marian dogmas—we sure were catechized on them, and we all signed on the dotted line that we affirmed them—and long before entering the Catholic Church we had a reverence for the Blessed Sacrament.   Thankfully now, we are assured of our Holy Orders and of the validity of our Eucharist.

We were so steeped in reverence, I would see liturgical abuses that made me gasp when I sometimes went to local Roman Catholic Churches, such as consecrating the Precious Blood in a glass pitcher, then pouring it afterwards into glass goblets that Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion then held while communicants dipped the Consecrated Host into them with no concern whether the Precious Blood was spilled in the process.

While that parish might have had a real Eucharist, we had a form of worship that was much more congruent with the Truth, even if it—importantly–lacked the guarantee of Catholic Communion.  Now we have the congruence of beauty, goodness and truth in our worship that is fully Catholic.

Fr. Longenecker writes:

After I became a Catholic, a former colleague in the Church of England asked, “Well, now that you’re a Catholic do you like the Catholic Church?”

I answered, “No. If I were choosing a church I liked I’d still be an Anglican. I didn’t choose the Catholic Church because I liked it. I chose it because it is the church Christ founded on earth.”

This is true.  Thankfully, we were not made to choose between the Church that Christ founded and all that was good and true in Anglican patrimony that of course had its origins in the English Catholicism that preceded the Reformation, and was touched by that Reformation insofar as the liturgy was translated into the vernacular by a man who who could translate the Catholic prayers in Latin into the most beautiful sacral English.

The Book of Common Prayer  has been foundational to culture of the Anglosphere for hundreds of years.  How marvelous what is worthy in this book has been preserved within the Catholic Church, while Anglican bodies jettison it, or worse, consider yet another revision that would remove all masculine references to God.

AUSTIN, Texas — A committee tasked with hearing desired revisions to the Book of Common Prayer listened to remarks on Wednesday from Episcopalian leaders and others who want to make the historical book’s text more gender-neutral by removing masculine nouns and pronouns for God and mankind. Some Episcopalians disagree, and have presented a resolution asking that no changes be made to the book, but rather that deeper devotion be given to the existing text.

“As long as a masculine God remains at the top of the pyramid, nothing else we do matters. We construct a theological framework in which we talk about gender equality … then we say that which is most holy in the universe is only and exclusively male. That just undoes some of the key theology that says we are equal in God’s sight, we are fully created in God’s image,” Wil Gafney, a Hebrew Bible professor at Brite Divinity School in Texas, who is among those calling for the change, told The Washington Post.

While the devolution and disintegration the the Anglican Communion continues apace, it saddens me to see signs within the One True Church of pressures to adopt aspects of the bad model of Anglicanism, such as some German bishops offering Protestant spouses the Holy Eucharist without conversion to the Catholic faith; or national bishops’ conferences or regional assemblies within them offering differing interpretations on Amoris Laetitia on whether the divorced and remarried without annulment can receive communion.





1 thought on “Anglican Patrimony worth preserving–or not?

  1. The false dichotomy we are offered is the Anglican form without substance, or else the Neo-Catholic substance without form – with either side trying to make one feel guilty for desiring what is lacking in what either of them have in stock. Both of them are opposed to the true spirit of Catholicism, which offers forms worth of the most glorious substance, and a substance too wonderful to ever properly give form to (although every traditional Liturgy of the Church, East and West, struggles mightily so to do). This is what is present in the Extraordinary Form, in the Anglican Use, and can be in the Ordinary Form – in such places as Brompton Oratory. But what a terrible judgement upon the present hierarchy that so doing requires a struggle! And what a judgement upon the laity that we have such a hierarchy! But I am grateful for the younger folk, lay and clerical alike, who get it – despite the insults occasionally tossed at them by the elderly.


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