Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Reigning from on high...

One of the ironies of this merging and mingling of Anglican patrimony into the Romish stew is the adoption of the Roman kalendar of saints days by the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. Today in the Ordinariate kalendar is Pius V. Whether or not you believe Pius V to have lived a godly life is irrelevant, but his inclusion in the kalendar of the Ordinariate presents, at least to me, a number of historical and liturgical problems. On the one hand, you have the problem of reconciling the 1559 Prayer Book with the Roman liturgical tradition, inextricably linked up with the authority wielded by two historical figures. On the other, deciding what place (if any) Queen Elizabeth I has in the Anglican Catholick tradition comparable with Pius V. Pius V, you see, had blasted Queen Elizabeth for "ordering that books of manifestly heretical content be propounded to the whole realm and that impious rites and institutions after the rule of Calvin" replace the Sacrifice of the Mass. However, Anglicanorum Coetibus says that the liturgical books proper to the Anglican tradition are "treasures worthy to be shared." Some starry-eyed Anglican Papalists might have jumped for joy to read that but in the light of the Revised Standard Version and a few trite Cranmerian phrases in the Ordinariate liturgy, all this seems very spurious to me. Hence my view that the Ordinariate is a dried up old onion. I am not an Anglican and indeed despise the Church of England but there are certain traditions and heroes of that fallen communion which be dear to me, and among them is Queen Elizabeth of happy memory.

If we are to understand "Anglican Patrimony in the Catholick Church" as the blessing of an Anglican pilgrimage towards Rome (assuming, for the sake of argument, that Rome is that Church spoken of in the Nicene Creed) then what place would Queen Elizabeth have? Pius was her enemy, declared her removed from the community of Christ's Church and sowed the seeds of sedition in her realm. For her part, Queen Elizabeth steered the English Church in the time of its growing identity; the time of Archbishop Parker who sought to align the Elizabethan Church with the faith and tradition of the Saxons ere the Normans brought Romanism to our shores; the time of Tallis, Merbecke and Byrd who shaped Anglican liturgical musick; and the time of other wise clerkes of the faith, Richard Hooker, for example, and Lancelot Andrewes whose scholarship was surpassed by none in that age. Queen Elizabeth presided over this English Renaissance. Are the members of the Ordinariate expected to anathematise her, as Pius V had done, her considerable contribution to Anglican patrimony notwithstanding? Would it not be fair to say that Elizabeth was ostensibly rather an instrument of God in the cultivation of many of the dearest of our traditions and not an usurper and persecutor of a faith driven underground and thrice worthy of damnation?

O Lord, save The Queen!

Maybe I'm talking about an Anglican who doesn't exist...or perhaps the battle going on in my head everyday? I certainly don't hold with the sanctity of Pius V. I hardly think that encouraging sedition is a catholick ideal and, assuming for the moment that he was "universal pastor," he ostensibly failed in his ministry by leaving the Elizabethan recusants to the spy master at the English court by publishing Regnans in Excelsis. C.S Lewis, in characteristic patrimonial wisdom, seems to propose an answer. In a Latin epistle to Don Giovanni Calabria he mentioned having an untold reverence for both Thomas More and William Tyndale. He says:

Ex vestris Tetzel, ex nostris Henricus VIII, perditi homines erant: adde, si vis, ex vestris Papam Leonem, ex nostris Lutheram (quamquam egomet de ambobus mitiorem sententiam darem) sed quid sentiam de vestro Thoma Moro, de nostro Gulielmo Tyndale? Tota opera et huius et illius nuper perlegi. Ambo mihi videntur esse viri sanctissimi et toto corde amare Dominum: neque huius nec illius caligas solvere dignus sum. Attamen dissentiunt et (id quod me torquet et attonitum habet) illa dissensio mihi videtur non ex vitiis nec ex ignorantia eorum, immo ex virtutibus et fidei eorum penetralibus oriri - ita ut quo optimi sunt eo maxime dissentiunt. Credo Dei iudicium de hac dissensione altius absconditum esse quam tibi videtur: etenim iudicia eius abyssus.

God grant that pious Elizabeth finds a place in the hearts of those Anglicans who have dared to swim the abominable Tiber. Remember that not all piety, goodness and tradition comes from Rome. I believe St Gregory the Great said something like that to St Augustine when he brought the Roman Rite to our shores.


  1. 'O Lord, make thy servant Elizabeth our Queen to rejoice in thy strength:
    give her her heart's desire, and deny not the request of her lips;
    but prevent her with thine everlasting blessing,
    and give her a long life, even for ever and ever. Amen.'

    So true then and so true now. Thank God for the genius of the first Great Elizabeth and for the second Great Elizabeth, our own beloved and most blessed Sovereign Lady.

  2. I have come to understand that Pius V as Grand Inquisitor before he was elected to the Papacy was no less nasty than Torquemada. Get the comfy chairs!