Page 4, 15th August 1941

15th August 1941
Page 4
Page 4, 15th August 1941 — Column

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A "high Church" Road To The Church

Page 6 from 8th April 1949




Looking Backwards—VI


PASSING on to those churches where the " full Catholic Faith " was taught and practised, they were far less numerous than they are to-day. If

one happened to live in London, Bir

mingham, Brighton and a few other large towns there was a choice of churches which were then regarded as

extreme, but in other cities for

instance Manchester, Liverpool or Sheffield, there was in my youth only one church of the ultra Anglo-Catholic type, so far as 1 remember.

As to London, the diversity in ceremonial in the leading strongholds of Anglo-Catholicism was amazing, for none of the clergy appeared to agree in such matters. Some were out and out " Roman," others tried to be equally loyal to " Sarum," others invented peculiar rites and ceremonial of their own which was a mixture of Rolle. Sarum and Canterbury. With a change of rector the church might switch over to another " Use "; go back a little or suddenly plunge forward. A typical example of a change of this sort took place at All Saints, Margaret Street, soon alter I got to know that church. But the ceremonial that I recall there in the early days when Prebendary Mackay was vicar was quite " low " compared with what it seems to be to-day.

ALTHOUGH the ritual and ceremonial in some of these famous centres of AngloCatholicism were so " High " that quite a number of them were banned by the Bishop of London who refused to visit them, yet in my youth none of them had thrown over the Book of Common Prayer, although they added much to it. " Loyalty to the Prayer Book " was still part of the High Church claims in opposition to the Low or Moderate parties who, as the Anglo-Catholics were never tired of repeating, often ignored many of the rubrics that did not suit them.

In the extreme Anglo-Catholic churches the principal service on Sunday mornings was the Choral Eucharist (seldom if ever described as " Mass " on the notice boards, but almost always referred to as such from the pulpit or in conversation). There were sometimes one or two low masses earlier in the morning and also a Children's Eucharist at about 9.30. Evensong, with the celebrant vested in a cope, was still the normal service at night, and had not given place to Vespers or Compline as is now the case in some places. Incense was always used cerenfonially at High Mass and Evensong. The high altars were usually backed with tows of gradines upon which stood forests of candles and as many flower vases as could be crowded in. The " higher " the church, the greater the number of candles on the high altar—such was the general rule! No extra-liturgical devotions, such as Exposition or Benediction were indulged in, at least not publicly so far as I am aware, though they were held in secret in certain convent chapels. Lastly, there were very few parish churches, even the most advanced, that had started continuous reservation, and if they had done sn, the tabernacle, hanging pyx or aumbry was hidden away out of sight in a side-chapel, almost invariably kept locked and only accessible to the more devout church-worker' and such-like persons, Reservation was still regarded as a spiritual privilege which might be gained with patience. To-day there appear to he about fourteen hundred Anglican churches in Great Britain where (to quote the AngloCatholic Annual) " Communion may be received at any hour of the day or night."

THE influence of Modernism had not begun to be felt among Anglo-Catholics, except in a few cases. Taken as a whole imagine that they were more orthodox in their theology and they would have been horrified at being regarded as liberal, though quite a number were inclined to be what was then regarded as Socialist in their politics.

Their attitude towards the " Roman Claims " differed greatly. Some were as bitterly opposed to the Papacy as the most extreme Evangelicals and gloried in the fact that the Ecclesia Anglicana had broken away from Rome at the Reformation, though they would maintain that the Church of England was still a part of the " Western Patriarchate." Seldom if ever did I hear such violently anti-Roman sermons as at St. Stephen's, Clewer, near Windsor, where the vicar in all other respects was an uncompromising " Catholic." Clergymen of this school of thought would denounce the " Italian Mission " as schismatical and refuse to give absolution to anybody who confessed having entered a " Roman " church in this country. Yet, once these same clergymen had crossed the Channel they regarded it as a duty to attend churches which were in communion with Rome and not the Anglican chapels which in this case were held to be inscuthisni i there re were others whJ held quite opposite views about Rome. They were never tired of preaching " Corporate Reunion " and said they were only kept back from making their individual submission to the Holy See by the firm conviction that they possessed valid Orders, to deny which would be sacrilege. While accepting the judgment of Rome in all other matters of faith and morals, they believed that sooner or later the Papal decision on Anglican Orders would be revoked and some sort of Uniate Church set up in England.

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