Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Quo Vadis?

A typically incisive and thought provoking (and also highly entertaining, by all accounts) sermon from Canon Robin Ward, the Principal of St Stephen’s House, was preached on Saturday at the 125th anniversary mass at Pusey House, Oxford.
Pusey House will always have fond memories for me; when I was an undergraduate at Keble, reading law, my occasional visits there (only occasional, to my lasting regret) were, in retrospect, instrumental in the recovery of the faith which I had lost in adolescence.
Fr Ward’s address should be read in full by all Anglican Catholics
- link here to the Pusey House website

Here are two short extracts from the homily – but, if you haven’t already, read it all!

“Secondly, fullness of worship: has the mission of this House ever seemed more prophetic than in its fidelity to the vision of the Ritualist Movment? This Movement was conceived from the start as having a pastoral purpose: to restore in our Church the dignity of the sacraments and in particular that of the sacrament of the Altar, a re-sacralization of gesture and vesture and setting which was and is a core component in authentic Catholic evangelization. And the fidelity of Pusey House to the classical fullness of this vision, hard won in times of persecution and the object of modish and myopic condescension in more recent times, has been amply vindicated by the Benedictine revival of liturgical tradition, which has placed us at the height of fashion as well as orthodoxy once again. It is not faithful to tradition to assert that the identification of the Eucharist as a meal means that its sacrificial character is best exemplified by a celebration in which the meal-like aspect occludes all others.”

“You do not need me to tell you that Catholic Anglicans are in a place of acute perplexity at this time. Our mission, the mission of this House and of all those who have served the Movement since its inception, is founded on a confidence that we have an authentic ecclesial mandate grounded in Scripture and Tradition, and sacramental assurance in the ministrations which arise from that mandate. We must be frank when we admit that the great majority of the Churches who name themselves catholic in faith, order and practice have always seen this in us as more a matter of assertion than fact. But for us it has not seemed to be a house built on sand. S. Gregory tells us that if we are hemmed in and held captive, then the best rule is to jump off where the wall is lowest – the shortest fall makes for the softest landing. If we are not to be entirely strangled by our perplexity we are going to have to learn to jump, because the basis on which we have carried out our mission in recent years – the doctrine of a Church of England with two integrities - is coming to an end. Blessed Pius IX told Dr Pusey that he was like a bell summoning people to church but never entering it himself; might we not hope for a better future in a larger room for Pusey House?”

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