A response to Mgr Edwin Barnes. RE: St Paul’s, London would make a good mosque
The orientation of Wren’s Cathedral would not facilitate its conversion into a mosque. The direction of the Kiblah is South East from London, so it would be rather difficult to place the Mehrab unless at an angle in the corner of the south aisle.
Email received from Westminster Fly this morning…
I don’t know if you heard about the Fatima event at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday 18th February. It was the most packed I’ve ever seen it. They had to close the doors at one point and stop letting people in.
We only went for the re-consecration of England by Cardinal Nichols, which World Apostolate of Fatima had previously advertised, as we had already got the TLM earlier that morning at another church. World Apostolate of Fatima (WAF) who organised the event, had previously announced in their flyer that the re-consecration of England would take place before Mass, so that was all we really wanted to go for, to witness that, and we hadn’t intended to stay for the Mass at Westminster. In the event, the re-consecration took place at the end of Mass, so we had to stay for Mass. We couldn’t leave as the place was so packed, that if we had gone out, we would never have got back in again.
Although the day was a great act of honour and devotion to Our Lady by the faithful, I couldn’t help feeling disappointed. The pre-event blurb specifically stated that Cardinal Nichols would re-consecrate England to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He did mention in his sermon that he was going to ‘re-consecrate ourselves and country’ at the end of the Mass, but when we read the re-consecration prayer in the brochure that he actually recited, it didn’t actually mention England at all. It seems to be a problem with those affected by the post-conciliar diabolical disorientation – they can’t actually understand that a nation/person/place/item to be consecrated, has to be specifically mentioned as being the object of the consecration. Hence, Russia still not being consecrated.
The prayer used was an ‘edited’ (read butchered) version of the prayer used by Cardinal Griffin to consecrate England to the Immaculate Heart in 1948. I wonder who was responsible for ‘editing’ the 1948 prayer? – whether it was WAF or the Cathedral authorities? I’ve noticed other butchering of prayers related to Fatima in order to accommodate the WAF party line. The Litany of Our Lady of Fatima, was authorised and indulgenced by the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon in 1938. The new version, has had the words ‘Our Lady of Fatima, preserve us from the dangers of communism’ removed – as if the world were now completely free from the threat of communism. Unfortunately, the World Apostolate of Fatima is going to do very well out of the Centenary – and spread a load of material in the UK saying that the consecration of Russia was done in 1984. I worry that the truth about Fatima is becoming increasingly marginalised.
The Church of England has changed a lot in the last 40 years. When I was a lad, a lot of churches didn’t celebrate the eucharist as their main service every Sunday, and in (probably) most churches, the priest wouldn’t wear an alb and chasuble to celebrate the eucharist. Anglo-Catholic churches were identifiably different: eucharistically centred, vestmented, and often with the lingering scent of smelly smoke after the Sunday Mass.
These days, most churches have the eucharist as their main service and eucharistic vestments are much more common than they used to be. Some churches are even noticeably smellier, in the “right” kind of way.
But there was something else about Anglo-Catholic churches that, far from being more common, I fear may be much rarer than it used to be: the doctrine you would hear preached from the pulpit.
Anglo-Catholic doctrine, I think, was very distinctive. There would be a strong accent on the objective nature and value of the sacraments. The teaching would also be solidly scriptural. The teaching and lives of the saints would often be referred to, especially those of the Patristic period. It was assumed that there was a historic continuity between the present-day Church of England and that planted in England in the first centuries of Christianity. It was rigorously intellectual, and yet also pastoral.
There were other strong themes in the Anglo-Catholic churches I’ve experienced, but I think the ones I’ve outlined could be said to be common to all (English) Anglican churches that might call themselves Catholic.
But it’s a long time since I’ve heard such teaching from the pulpit. In fact in the diocese in which I live, I can think of only two or three churches where it can be relied on, apart from those churches allied with Forward in Faith. And here’s my question: is the old, distinctive teaching of Anglo-Catholicism becoming increasingly confined to FiF parishes? Is it dying out in the more mainstream church? Have those of us who called ourselves Anglo-Catholic, but chose to go with the majority on certain Dead Horse issues, abandoned that distinctiveness? Are we all now merely liberals in vestments?
Or was I kidding myself all along that such Catholic teaching might have a place in the Church of England?
An article from a recent copy of the Daily Mail,
A play that portrays Jesus as a transgender woman who refers to God as ‘Mum’ is to be performed in a Church of England church today.
To the fury of critics who say the play is deeply offensive, the Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, will not block the staging of The Gospel According To Jesus, Queen Of Heaven.
The one-woman play by Jo Clifford, an award-winning Scottish playwright who has herself changed gender, imagines Jesus returning to earth as a ‘trans woman’ and retelling the parables with a transsexual slant.
At one point, Ms Clifford, who plays Jesus, says: ‘I love my Mum.
‘I am the daughter of God and almost certainly the son also. My Mum said let there be light and I say I am the light…’
In another, she says: ‘Our Mother who art on Earth, blessed is your name.’ Against images of gay couples kissing, she continues: ‘Give us this day our daily kisses, for yours is the Queendom…’
In the drama, to be staged at St Chrysostom’s church in Manchester’s Victoria Park as part of the city’s Queer Contact festival, the prodigal son is thrown out by his father for wanting a sex change.
The former Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, a leading traditionalist, said: ‘It is quite clear from the Gospels that the identity of Jesus is male, his ‘mum’ is Mary and he always refers to God as ‘Father’, so to suggest otherwise is contrary to Christian teaching.
‘In cases in which a play is to be staged in a church building, the bishop is perfectly entitled under Church law to direct the cleric in charge to ensure the content will be consistent with Christian teaching and not offensive to the public.
‘If the bishop’s directions are not followed, the matter becomes one of discipline.’
I heard a discussion the other day. It was about why so many young people do not come to Church. The difficulties of keeping First Communicants coming to Church and the difficulties experienced in Confirmation. Those who spoke had tried everything but nothing worked. There seems to be no way forward.
I remember being present one Saturday morning at the local school listening to the new catechism that was being brought in. It was called ‘Here I Am’ and there was no doubt that because it was in the Spirit of Vatican II era it just had to be successful. Only those living in the past would dare to question this. So i questioned it. Knowing that whatever I said would be appreciated by some parents but ignored by the teachers I restricted myself to pointing out that there was no mention of the Blessed Sacrament and added “If you do not mention or teach the true Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament you will destroy the faith of the children” And of course at that time the Real Presence had also bern omitted from the First Holy Communion programme. “The children are too young to understand” was the reply if you dared to ask. So the greatest treasure in the Catholic Church was put into the background as quite unimportant. What followed was even worse. Love and Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament was attacked inside the Church itself. We received as a Community we were told so when you receive the host you are not to go giving private love and devotion for that is meaningless until you rejoin the Community. To top this one parish tried to stop devotion by claiming that Jesus told us to chew and they gave us a new host which we could chew. This host would break in peoples hands and was quickly removed. But the stupidity of the people who would reason this way was outweighed by their lack of Faith in the Real Presence. In the Assyrian Church people prostrate themselves before receiving the Sacrament but in the UK altar rails were broken down and the people force to stand.
Of course the first person that was attacked by the new scholars was Our Mother Mary. It was at Vatican II that a Jesuit stood up and demanded that a document on Our Lady be thrown out since THIS WOULD PUT THE ECUMENICAL MOVEMENT BACK 10 YEARS. What an insult to Jesus and his Mother. No surprise then that this was followed by an attack on the standing of Mary in the parishes Devotions to Mary and the Rosary was stopped except for a few Catholics who struggled on. Almost unnoticed came the attack on the Authority given to the Church by Jesus Himself. Every priest is infallible in his own right or some believe they are. The Church no longer is a militant Church spreading the truth that the Spirit wants us to spread. No, we must not claim to have the truth it would hurt the feelings of Protestants.
Which brings me back to the beginning. How do we get the children back into the Church? Why do the children not want to be part of the Church? The answer is all about loving the Church. I have been part of the Church since my early youth since I loved the Church. I loved the Blessed Sacrament, I loved our Mother Mary, I loved the Rosary, I loved the lives of many of the saints. I loved the great treasures that young people are being denied. Were I a young person now I doubt if the Church would attract me. And there is a saying that if you do not have love then how can you pass it on? You cannot give what you do not have. The Church was created by Jesus to build his Kingdom on earth. To be holy by striving for holiness, by obeying the Commandments to show our love for God. Jesus said “If you love me keep my Commandments” So anyone who sees the Commandments as ‘just rules’ has already sinned against the Jesus of Scripture.
We lost thousands of young people to the reformers but there are signs that the Faith is returning. I think we owe this to a great extent to the immigration from Europe and the Southern Continents that started in the late nineties. Many of them did not experience the destruction of the Spirit of Vatican II and did not experience the zeal of the ‘experts’ of the Spirit of Vatican II. In the Diocese of Portsmouth we have a bishop who is keen to restore theCatholic Faith. Keep him in your prayers.
Clearly there are a number of reasons as to why the North America Ordinariate appears to be glorious whilst we this side of the Atlantic dwell in shadow.
Neither the USA nor the Dominion of Canada has an Established Church – an equivalent of the Church of England. Both, of course, have the shadow of a “National Church”, or rather did have but those days along with the Empire, have long since gone. The Episcopalians have been steadily declining for years – ever since the leaders of the two Churches began to sup with the devil and follow his advice – the lefty, worldly agenda of pc language and all that that entails. Such is the decline that even the national cathedral in Washington is now feeling the pinch : the nave is available for hire for dinner parties! Free from the need to bow the knee to the purple clad prelates of the establishment and their numerous hangers on, disillusioned Anglicans have summoned up the old pioneer spirit and moved on to pastures green.
Continuing Churches may have been the butt of many a joke, especially from Anglican toffs within the State Church in England, but their enterprise – building new churches and congregations with priests who were not afraid to undertake part time secular employment in, say, a local supermarket, has surely invigorated the Ordinariate. Indeed, many members of the Traditional Anglican Communion with others such as Anglican Use congregations have found the challenge of “starting up again” a familiar battle cry and have warmed to the cause. And nothing succeeds like success!
Doubtless one reason for the success of the North American Ordinariate has to be the appointment of Bishop Lopes. This was indeed a masterly stroke of genius. Bp Lopes is a cradle Catholic but one who is fully immersed in the Anglican tradition having been on of Benedict XVI’s “back room boys” who oversaw the creation of the Ordinariate. Neither can one overlook his youth – a bishop at forty. He has youth and youth’s energy. He also has a sense of vision and is not ashamed to proclaim Anglican Catholicism – the patrimony – the spirit of Anglicanism stretching back to the pre Reformation Church in England, through the Caroline Divines, through the Anglo Catholic Revival
of the 19C and into the heady days of the first half of the 20C and and great Anglo Catholic Congress period with notables such as Bishop Frank Weston whose rousing cries to Anglo Catholics still haunt the dome of the Albert Hall supported by Sir John Betjeman’s ” volley of south coast incense guns”. Yes, those were indeed the days and there are those who draw inspiration from them – a rich and fertile soil which has witnessed growth and the proclamation of the gospel.
But Benedict XVI didn’t simply establish an ecclesial structure, a sort of safe house, he gave us something infinitely precious – the Ordinariate Missal : The Book of Divine Worship. Here at last is a worthy companion to the Latin Rite Missal, a veritable Jewel to be cherished and used. This book lies at the very heart of what we are as Catholics, a book which combines treasures both old and new. A book which is at once familiar and redolent of all that we as former Anglicans are and hope to be. In North America it has been embraced. In this country ? Well, let’s be charitable and say nothing for now.
A comparison between the two sides of the Atlantic is somewhat pitiful and rather sad.
Yes, Mgr Barnes, buildings may well play a part, but I suggest, in a minor key, but buildings can be the next topic.
Why is it that the American Ordinariate seems so far ahead of us in England? Part of the reason I suggest has to do with buildings. Whereas in the States it is sometimes possible for the Ordinariate to purchase a former Episcopal church, this never happens here. Indeed there are some Anglican bishops who have said they would be more ready to let a church go to the Islam than to the Ordinariate. It is very rare indeed (I only know of the Torbay Mission) where a church building has been bought by the Ordinariate – and that was formerly a Methodist, not an Anglican, church,
It all stems, I think, from history. Until the 1530’s every church in England was Catholic. After Henry VIII – and once his bastard daughter Elizabeth I was on the throne – every church was nationalised for the ‘Church of England’. At different times, churches have occasionally been handed over to other Christian bodies. French Protestants, for instance, were given the use of some churches when the Huguenots were exiled to England. In the 20th Century, some churches have been given to Orthodox communities, or they have been permitted to buy or share them.
Also in the 20th Century there have been instances where other religions have bought or been given church buildings – the former St Luke’s in Southampton is now a Sikh Temple. The occasions when Catholics have been able to take over or use an Anglican building are very few indeed. In 19th Century Arundel there was a great legal battle when the catholic Duke of Norfolk presumed to rebuild the ruins of the Chancel of the Anglican Parish Church where his ancestors were buried for a Catholic Chapel.
In Walsingham, the equally ruinous Slipper Chapel was rescued from its use as a barn and brought back into Catholic worship. There is the former chapel of Ely House, London home at one time of the Bishops of Ely which had been sold and laicised long before. And that is about the sum of it.
In London, though, where Catholic congregations customarily fill their churches to bursting, the good old Church of England hangs on to its buildings even when congregations are down to a mere handful – in the hope perhaps of realising a good sum from a developer.
I was reminded of all this on visiting Wilton. There the old church was pulled down in the 19th Century and only the chancel left standing. In its place a sumptuous Italianate church was bult by the local grandee, the Earl of Pembroke; and it was fitted out with stained glass, carved woodwork and stone from all over Europe – the aftermath of the French Revolution and other upheavals. It must have seemed perfectly reasonable to the noble Lord that these Catholic artefacts should become decorations in an Anglican building.
We are very wedded to our buildings and our history, in a way which it must be hard for others – especially Americans I think – to understand. Perhaps the time is coming when Parliament will recognise that the Church of England is no longer the religion of the country, and that it would be sensible to find other bodies to take over some of the buildings which it struggles to maintain – but don’t pray for it too hard. St Paul’s erstwhile Cathedral would make such a good Mosque.
Anglo Catholic Bishop Frank Weston (1871-1924)
At the Lambeth Conference in 1920 Frank Weston came into his own. This followed the first Anglo-Catholic Congress in which he had played a seemingly insignificant part, but the unforgettable scenes which took place in the Albert Hall, when a vast number of men and women pledged themselves to the service of Christ, and cast jewels and riches into the alms-sacks, renewed his confidence in the Church of England.