Monday, September 29, 2008

St Honorius of Canterbury, Archbishop

Born in Rome, Italy; died at Canterbury, England, on September 30, 653.
Saint Gregory the Great (f.d. September 3) chose the monk Honorius to
evangelize England because of his great virtue and learning. Honorius
succeeded Saint Justus (f.d. November 10) as archbishop of Canterbury,
was consecrated at Lincoln by Bishop Saint Paulinus (f.d. October 10).
He received the pallium sent from Rome by Pope Honorius I, together with
a letter by the Pope's hand stating that whenever the sees of York or
Canterbury became vacant, the surviving archbishop should consecrate
the duly selected successor of the other.

During Honorius's episcopacy, the faith spread throughout the island and
took root in many hearts. He carefully selected and trained his clergy
to ensure their commitment to the Gospel (Bonniwell, Husenbeth).

Having missed the feast of St Michael and All Angels - the 'all angels' being an addition suggested by Bishop Cosin at the time of 1662 revision - it seemed fitting to remind all that there are many saints of the English Church and of Anglicanism in general that are not in the calendars of any of the classical prayer books. Should we forget these worthys? Certainly not. But a calendar can get over stuffed with saints days and there are many things more important than remembering them at the altar, the more especially when many of our churches are unable to provide the daily services, the daily offerings of Morning and Evening Prayer.

So what are we supposed to do? First, after the most important task of teaching Holy Scripture, we need to teach the history of the Church. Both we and our children and our children's children need to know what happened when and who did what. They and we need to know who occupied the important sees and which of those occupants were saints and why. And we need the example of the saints to encourage ourselves and others to seek a like path of holiness. Many of us seeing the example of Jesus in the scriptures know that we could never be him, but we can all aspire to follow the example of the saints in being His servant and soldier until our lives end.

Friday, September 26, 2008

St Marks, Regents Park, London

One of my very bad Internet habits is going to various church sites to look at the architecture and decoration. Among my particular favorites are those churches designed or refurbished by Sir John Ninian Comper. They have a beauty which is almost breath taking. St Mark's, Regents Park is one of those. Both the high altar and the Lady altar were designed by Comper who also did a number of the stained glass windows. If you want to see what it is like go to and enjoy.

However the point of this particular post is to object to a desecration of Comper's marvelous design for the high altar. It is reported in the parish history, also on their site thus: "Throughout the 1960s and 1970s the congregation grew – by 1977 the membership was over one hundred. The Vicar continued to make all sorts of improvements to the church to enhance the worship. The two candlesticks on the high altar (a number favoured by Comper) were increased to the traditional six, a thurible was made for the incense, new altar rails were installed and further candlesticks commissioned to replace those stolen from the All Saints’ Chapel. It was in the early 1970s that the sad decision was first taken to keep the church locked when unattended."

My objection is to the phrase "the traditional six" because they are not traditional. Rather it is two candles which are traditional as Comper knew from extensive studies in medieval illuminations. The six candles are taken from Roman usage coming from the use of Pius V. So you have the choice between Anglican usage which reflects the tradition of the centuries as against a Roman innovation of the 16th century. In short, the choice is between something which is really Catholic, according to the whole, as against something which is merely Roman and a relatively recent innovation.

Please go to St Mark's website and enjoy the pictures of the stained glass windows and the various altars. Simply don't accept the idea that things particularly Roman are Catholic.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Struggle

"The Puritan party from the days of Elizabeth to the present time have never honestly accepted the Prayer Book : its members have been too much of Churchmen to leave the Church, but too little of Churchmen to value its principles: They have remained in a false position, attempting to subvert the system to which they nominally conformed. It has been pointed out how openly the attempt was made in Elizabethan times; and, though it has in God's good Providence failed all along to win any substantial recognition, it has been able at times to establish an evasive and false tradition of Prayer Book interpretation which has practically popularized and sought even to justify a system of disloyalty to the Prayer Book. The party has had its conflicts with more loyal and wholehearted churchmanship, and the issues have hitherto not been finally decisive. The failure of the Elizabethan attempt to puritanize the Church inaugurated the period of loyalty of the early Stuart times: the success of this recovery was too rapid and too injudicious, and so the revenge came speedily; for a while sectarianism and even puritanism had their way, until a short experience of their results under the Commonwealth produced a fresh reaction. The failure of the Puritans at the Savoy inaugurated another period of loyalty under the later Stuarts, but, when Church life was systematically crushed in the 18th century by Whig politicians and Latitudinarian bishops, the reign of the false tradition and the evasive, disloyal or merely torpid attitude to the rules of the Church's worship again set in; and those who tried to be loyal to the Church system, whether early followers of Wesley, Clapham Evangelicals or Oxford Tractarians, were all alike in turn charged with innovation, disloyalty and even with Popery. The contest still survives; the Puritan party still works for a system, which is not the system of the Catholic Church or of the English Prayer Book, and defends its disregard of plain rubrics (e.g., as to fasting or daily services), and its want of sympathy with the system (e.g., as to the frequency and discipline of Communion by appealing to the evasive tradition, which in the dark days of the history it has been able to form, and would like to fasten permanently upon the Church. Thus there is no feature more marked in the history of the Prayer Book than this contest between the Church system of worship expressed in the Prayer Book and the false interpretation which has grown up through a continuous tradition of evasion and rebellion."

This quotation, taken from Proctor and Frere's New History of the Book of Common Prayer, is still as true as the day it was written and published. The Continuum has been repeatedly split by this fight which has been made the worse by those who should have been the best of Churchmen adopting and practising a tradition equally at varience with the Prayer Book and the Church, i.e., an imitation of the very worse of what even Roman authorities have labeled as "Roman bad taste." The result is that those who know and actually practise the Anglican tradition seem to have become fewer every year. But it is that tradition, the way of the classical Prayer Book Catholic, which this blog has embraced and will continue to do our best to set before all those who call themselves Anglicans and the world at large.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

St Matthew, Apostle, Evangelist, Martyr

St Matthew is one of my patron saints. The twist here is that I did not choose him; he chose me. Very important things in my life began happening on his feast day or in and around churches and other places named for him and thus under his patronage. In a way I suppose that I ought to feel honoured, but most what I feel is a bit scared. This is the twenty-first century and things like this are not supposed to happen and continue to happen.

Nonetheless I am happy that this year his feast fell upon a Sunday. That means that I can pay a little more attention to it and celebrate it with a little more splendour than normal. The ancient custom of the feasts of the greater saints as well as the feasts of dedication and title displacing the proper of the Sunday during lesser liturgical seasons seems a more than fitting way of celebrating what Jesus the Annointed can do in the lives of quite ordinary people when they fully surrender and commit themselves to Him.

Unfortunately the number of us doing that for St Matthew and those other of the apostles whose feast fell upon a Sunday this year is going to be a great deal fewer that in past years and centuries. Why? Because the modern liturgical movement, rejecting tradition instead of explicating it. This means that those still in TEC and in the new Anglican lite groups who fail to understand that the 1979 book is heretical will be doing a Sunday after Trinity - excuse me, a Sunday after Pentecost - as they have broken with the ancient tradition of the English Church and classical and orthodox prayer book Anglicanism for something invented almost yesterday. This is not only a denial of Anglicanism; it is a rejection of Biblical principle which tells us to keep to the old paths, the ancient ways.

St Matthew wrote his gospel for the Jewish people and quoted extensively from the Old Testament so that they would know that it was all about the Messiah, his coming and his mission. Eusebius says that he wrote his gospel originally in Hebrew before translating it into Greek. He wanted the Jews, his people, to know that Jesus was the Lord for whom they waited and that he had come at last to same them and us from our sins. And this, above all things, is the reason that we should honour him this day because in honouring him we actually honour the one who was his Lord and Saviour and, hopefully by his gospel, ours as well.

Friday, September 19, 2008

English Use


It is a term used to denote obedience to the living rules of the English Church. In other words, it is the 'administration of the Sacraments and other rites and ceremonies of the Church according to the Use of the Church of England.' It involves the straightforward fulfilment of a contract solemnly made--not exactly like a business contract in which unforseen risks may have to be faced, but a contract in which all the evenualities are clearly stated and accepted at one of the most solemn moments of a priest's life, namely his ordination.

In essence, the term 'English Use' has no geographic significance, but is a reference to the title-page of every Prayer-Book. It is not merely the preserving of insular eccentricities, a sort of archaeological craze, but a deliberate desire to carry out the directions in force in that part of the Lord's vineyard in which our lot is cast. In other words, to do what we are told instead of what we like. In the Catholic outlook obedience has spiritual value because of its sacrificial character. It is indeed entering the mind of Him Who said, 'I am come to do Thy will, O Lord.'


1. If the Church of England has power to make a priest, it has power also to tell him what kind of service to perform; how exactly, for instance, he shall celebrate the Holy Eucharist.
2. It has power also to say what feasts and fasts are to be observed, how its churches are to be furnished, and what clothes its minsters shall wear during public worship.


The are embodied in the Book of Common Prayer.
For instance, an individual clergyman might be quite right in supposing a certain order of prayers at the Consecration of the Eucharist to be more beautiful than that which is prescribed by the Church that made him a priest. He is entitled to think that, but if eh follows his own preferences when he is celebrating the Eucharist, he is not celebrating according to the English Use--which he has sworn to do.
So the services, exactly as set down in the Book of Common Prayer, or within the variations allowed by the Revised Book of 1928, words and rubrics, are the English Use, the living rite, and to speak of the ceremonial rising out of it as 'the old English Use', or as 'Sarum Use' is to misunderstand the very foundation on which the term rests.


Instead of making a list and description of all the permissible 'ornaments' (which means things worn and used in worship), the Church of England gives a clear but broad pointer in a date when the ornaments of a church and its ministers set the desired standard. That pointer is the 'Ornaments Rubric', and the date to which it points is 1549.
That was an age when the word 'catholic' was still prized, but when the word 'primitive' was weaving a new spell, when scholarship was respected, intelligibility craved, and liturgical adventure not shirked. It was also an age of intolerance, and it is a lasting tribute to the divines of the Church in England that they drew their definitions skilfully and widely enough to achieve a simplification yet to leave room for variety of style and of elaboration.
It is thus possible for an extremely simple celebration of the Holy Communion to be as compatible with our Ornaments Rubric as a much fuller ceremonial with the three 'Sacred Ministers', clerk, taperers, and incense.
The other directions of the Book are clear, but generally they are not minute or exhaustive. When they were compiled, they were sometimes designed to correct the then current practice; but in the absence of direction, the old familiar ceremonial background might be assumed. (It is to this extent that Sarum customs--as one might say, the 'English' customs of that day--have a claim on our serious attention.) What could not have been assumed, and should not be now, is ceremonial behaviour incongruous with the rite itself.



1. You will hear the whole of the Communion service. No part of it is secret; all the prayer belong to the people and it is not according to the mind of the English Church that any of them should be inaudible (see the Communion rubrics, 1928) : the faithful must be 'praying with the Church'. Certainly, too, the Prayer Book does not require an elevation, or a bell, or incense, during the Prayer of Consecration.
2. Vesture. Our rubric gives us the chasuble, dalmatic, tunicle, and cope. It points to a period when vestments were still dignified and ample. The 'cotta' was not known at that time; then, assistants round the altar wore either albe, or surplice, or rochet. If one could bear the inadequacy of the short cotta one might argue that it is cheaper, or easier to wash than the longer rochet or surplice. That may be so, but that is not the point: our directions indicate something else. Mercifully our rubric comes from an age of beauty, and the graceful folds of an ample garment are ours by right.
3. The Altar Upon its surface may stand two lights and perhaps a cross. The desire to multiply ornaments on the altar is contrary to age-long tradition and the precise number of six candles is purely a papal direction. Other lights may strand around. Sometimes the altar is surrounded at its ends by enshrining curtains (perhaps suspended between columns which may or may not bear tapers), or surmounted by a canopy, both features reminiscent of the shrouded altar of the undivided Church.
The front of the altar is covered by an altar cloth (that is, a 'frontal').
Many of these features are in themselves aesthetically attractive and intrinsically beautiful, and it is interesting to notice how many of them are being adopted or revived in the Roman Communion under the influence of the Liturgical Movement. But in themselves, though they are according to the English Use, they do not constitute the English Use.
We come back to the starting point: the English Use is the Book of Common Prayer in its wholeness, and the keynote is obedience to the spiritual authority of the Church of England, which 'hath power to decree Rites and Ceremonies'.


It is not necessary to be elaborate: the sternest simplicity may be within the term. But whether the plain or the rich be desired, it will rest upon the principle, not of individual preference, but of honest obedience, from whence is born, perhaps almost unexpectedly, fruit of great beauty and joy.

The above is taken from a series of Alcuin Leaflets published as Liturgy in the Parish. What is in the above called 'English Use' should now be called 'Anglican Use' because its principles extend beyound the Church of England to the whole of classical Anglicanism. Those who take their Anglicanism and the classical prayer books seriously must choose how they look, how their services look and even how they sound if they and we are going to be taken seriously and regain the reputation and credibility which Anglicanism once had and which for the good of all 'who call themselves Christians' it needs to regain.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Some Reminders of What Anglicanism Means

“We and our people-Thanks be to God-follow no novel and strange religions, but that very religion which is ordained by Christ, sanctioned by the primitive and Catholic Church and approved by the consistent mind and voice of the early Fathers." Queen Elizabeth I, 1563 A.D.

"See to it that you teach nothing. . .which you would have religiously held and believed by the people, save what is agreeable to the teaching of the Old or New Testament, and what the Catholic fathers and ancient bishops have collected from this self-same doctrine." The Canons of the Church of England, 1571

"Protestant and Reformed according to the principles of the ancient Catholic Church." Bishop John Cosin (d. 1672)

I die in the holy catholic and apostolic faith, professed by the whole church before the division of East and West; more particularly I die in the communion of the Church of England, as it stands distinguished from all papal and puritan innovations, and as it adheres to the doctrine of the cross." Bishop Thomas Ken, 1711

[A]ntiquity [is] the true exponent of doctrines of Christianity and the basis of the Church of England. John Henry Newman, 1947

We have no doctrine of our own. . .We only possesses the Catholic doctrine of the Catholic Church enshrined in the Catholic Creeds, and these Creeds we hold without addition or diminution. We stand firm on that Rock. Geoffrey Francis Fisher Archbishop of Canterbury 1945-1961

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Happy Birthday, Queen Elizabeth . . .The First, That Is.

Yes, today, the seventh of September, is the birthday of Elizabeth Tudor who upon the death of her half sister Mary became the queen of England. Having survived her sister's reign, she set about also restoring the Book of Common Prayer which she saw amended in a Catholic fashion from the changes made not by Church and parliament, but by her brother's Council to the book of 1549. Historians, not understanding the religious questions of the time, call her a Protestant, but she thought of herself as being "as good a Catholic prince as any in Europe." Without her what we think of as classical prayer book Anglicanism would only be a very small footnote to the history of England. Because of her the world was remade and political freedom and science was given a new birth.

So, a very happy birthday, Your Majesty! May you and the faith and practise of the classic Anglican prayer books have many happy returns of this day.