Page 2, 10th September 1948

10th September 1948
Page 2
Page 2, 10th September 1948 — CATHOLICITY IN ENGLISH DRESS

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SIR,-How grateful I was for Mr. Ian Hamnett's letter in your issue of August 20. There must be many like me who left the Anglican fold for the Church with great pain and searching of heart in obedience to the call of God, and 16o, with all their gratitude to the Church Catholic, still look back to their foster-mother with affection, understanding, and a great deal of respect. I think it is from us. rather than from those who have turned from her with a sour detestation ta misinterpretation of their abjuration of heresy). that the way to the conversion of Anglicans may be learnt.

The importance of the Suasions, to which Mr. Hamnett has drawn attention cannot be over-emphasised. It seems to be only in England (where prejudice and antagonism still percolate subconsciously from the past and from a sister island) that they are ignored or forgotten. Care is taken in the Congo, in the Far East, in Orthodox lands, and elsewhere in the mission field abroad, to commend the Gospel of Christ so far as possible in the garb of the native culture and tradition.

Your columns have contained many items full of enthusiasm for the presentation of the Faith to Wales in terms of her vigorous Celticism. Odd that you should receive so many fervent protests against the plea that English people too should be offered Catholicism clothed in the best of English culture. Odder still when it is remembered that the Anglicans, whose conversion we are discussing, whatever their other deficiencies. have generally been accustomed to an extraordinarily high standard of English culture in public worship.

English culture in its inspiration and development since the Reformation (that is in its efflorescence) has been mainly Anglican. Catholics, driven overseas (except for a small minority, now swamped) unavoidably became alien and estranged from the stream. When the Church returned in strength, she came very largely from Ireland, speaking an Irish accent and importing Irish taste. Those who have been bred in the Church, and long accustomed to her ways in England, can hardly have realised, and naturally resent being told, how foreign, distasteful, and crude, the cultural atmosphere of most of our churches seems to be to the new convert and inquirer from the Anglican Church.

Buildings, ornaments, music, hymnology, often so inferior; odd lrishisms and Latinities; and oh, those illiterate translations. To attempt to convert Anglicans to a Catholicism so gratuitously disfigured is to set a stumbling block in the way of the weak and the blind.

But it is more than a matter of good taste, and of speaking the King's English instead of jargon. Surety if we are to Catholicise England, we must not write off the English achiesement and helitaee of the past 400 years as uncatholic and unfit for God. We must somehow take it over (so far as it is conformable with truth, as it very largely is) and baptise and Catholicise it, by adoption and use. The Catholic. for instance. who is ignorant of the greatest English classic, the Authorised Version (not to mention Crammer's prayer book), is cut off from one of the main inspirations of the English literary tradition. And what but prejudice makes this necessary? Why should not Catholics be allowed to use the Authorised Version with the few necessary corrections, and proper Catholic annotations? The Church in Germany has in effect done this with Luther's magnificent Version. (Of course, in England there is the Royal Copyright to be coped with, but surely it could be circumvented?)

I would even suggest a similar course with regard to Cranmer's most beautiful psalter. Cradle Catholics (whose devotion includes as a rule so little of the psalter) can hardly realise the devotional loss experienced by Anglican converts forbidden to use a beloved version

of the psalms that they know very largely by heart, and confined to the Vulgate, which they may not understand. or a strange and often clumsy version which they can rarely like. Is this frustration really necessary?

I would go still further. As Mr. E. I. Watkin has pointed out in his

excellent " Catholic Centre," conver sion to the Church involves for Anglicans some degree of loss, as well as inestimable gain, loss of

things germane to Catholicism which might rightly be asked of the

Church, but which in various places, at various times, may be obscured, or pushed to one side, though given a proper prominence in the Anglican Church.

I am sure that the spread of the Liturgical Movement, encouraging the dialogue Mass. and the congre gational singing or recital of Vespers and Compline in parish churches, would be a great help to the conversion of Anglicans. It is a method of worship which they know, appreciate and understand.

EDWARD RICHARDS. Ashford, Middlesex.


SIR-In your issue of September 3. your correspondent, Eoin O'Keefe, says that in my new book; Michael, 1 " emphatically state that even the name of God was never mentioned at the various betweenthe-wars conferences," whereas the speeches of Mr. De Valera at the League " will show that Fr. Owen Dudley slightly exaggerates."

Thank God for Mr. De Valera and his fearless witness of God I I think, however, that the monk's statement which Mr. O'Keefe quotes, still holds good, just as the state ment of Pope Pius XI in reference to those conferences, holds good to the effect that the statesmen of Europe had left Almighty God alone; perhaps Almighty God had left them alone.

The monk's statement surely may be regarded in the light of the exception proving the rule; in which case his argument stands-that since those European conferences as such entirely ignored Almighty God, hs could sec nothing that held any security for the future. but everything that spelt disaster ahead. Events have proved the monk right.

Owing F. Dreā€¢tzv (Row}

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