Wednesday, December 1, 2010

An Anglican in the Catholic Church.

I think I've realised something that I've been attempting to hide from myself for quite a while: There there is a whole lot of stuff that I brought with me when I left the Episcopal church for Rome. This doesn't mean that I'm some sort of crypto-protestant who secretly doesn't believe what the church teaches or anything like this. To be honest, there was'nt anything in the catechism, whether it be papal authority or the infallibility of the church, or life or moral issues that I didn't already accept back then.

But, there is a world of difference between being an anglo-catholic and a moderately traditional Roman Catholic. Sometimes it's just little things, like the wording of the apostles ' creed, the way one says the rosary, one's private devotions or things like what one does when attending mass or the office. There are things that I did then (And some of them I kept doing and still do) that I can't do now when with other Catholics. Those things simply will need to fall by the wayside and die.

There is also a kind of 'ethos' that is'nt present here. It's not something I can really put my finger on or describe adequately, but there is a way of seeing the church and her liturgy and prayer that often is hard to find here in Rome, but can easily be found there. I would say maybe it's continuity. It's obvious to anyone that the great shift that happened in the church after the Second Vatican Council (Even though the council itself did not mandate nor even remotely envision it) really ruptured the faith as most Catholics practiced it. Seemingly overnight, everything that was 'Catholic' in the minds of the faithful disappeared. There had been in parishes a long continuous line, where the same masses were said daily, with the same vestments and in the same manner. The same music was used. The same prayers and devotions were offered by the clergy for the building up of people's faith. There were societies in parishes that had existed for 100 or more years. A man could know that he was in a pew that 100 or so years ago, another man had knelt in, hearing the same words he heard and praying the same words he prayed. And nowadays, with the focus on novelty, that just doesn't exist anymore.

Nowadays, most people would have to admit that the Catholic from 1910 would be scandalised were he to walk into his parish church as it exists now and see what it has become. Thankfully, in many places there is a growing movement to restore this 'ethos' of continuity that we lost. But it was in this ethos that I first learned the Catholic faith, as a non-Catholic, and it was hard seeing that for the most part, this has been rejected. That's the interior disposition.

But the exterior is also not the same. Leaving for the pastures of Rome also meant leaving just about every external thing that I associated with the catholic faith as I understood it and practiced it: Boychoirs and processions, the daily office, Cranmer's English and Coverdale's psalms, anglo-catholic tracts and devotionals, and of course, the congregational hymn, among other things. It might seem like trivial things, but when one associates these things with Catholicism, it's painful to be told that such-or-such a thing is 'Not Catholic'.

While it's true that Catholicism doesn't require a monolithic uniformity in all things, it's obvious that you can't just bring in everything.I do wonder if there is the possibility of a median way where one is allowed to preserve the good things received from non-catholic churches without, in a sense, acting as if one never left. Now, don't anyone get crazy and think that I'm having some sort of crisis in faith or anything. I've just been wondering if, among the many rites and many ways of expressing the one true Catholic faith, if my old way is something that I really need to completely reject and deprecate at every moment.

And now, because you guys knew that I was going to post it anyway:



Anonymous said...

How did you say the Rosary as an Anglo-Catholic, and how does that differ from the way a Roman Catholic says it?

J.Samuel Ross. said...

I had two methods: my main method was the rosary as it is in The People's Rosary Book, put out by The Church Union, and the other was a a simplified version of

St.Pius V's rosary. In both, there are opening and closing versicles like in the divine office, the Salve regina is said before the rosary (And the wording I use is differes from the common Roman Catholic version, as does the creed)there are a series of prayers and collects that are said at the end of each mystery, and there is no Fatima prayer at the end of the mysteries.