Mgr. Barton Brown sees the Revival of The Collegiate Church as part of the Planning of to-morrow's Britain.
WHEN the late Cardinal
Vaughan conceived his great plan for the building of Westminster Cathedral, he had in his mind, as its primary object, the worship of Almighty God, which he intended should be carried out in the most perfect manner possible. This zeal for the worship of God has always been a characteristic of the Caiholic Church, and in England, in limes gone by, it found its expression in the foundation of the many Monastic and Collegiate Churches, the ruins of which are scattered over the countryside. in those days of Faith men were not satisfied with the restricted worship, which was all the Parish Church was able to offer. Whilst the great Monastic Orders were able to build their great Minsters and Monasteries, the Secular Clergy were not behindband in playing their part in the general desire to offer to God the most splendid worship possible. The method by which this was 'earned out was traced by the late Mgr. Moycs, notably in an article in the Dublin Review, .1899, and in two articles which appeared in the Westminster Cathedral Chronicle. September and October, 1914. Canon Moycs points out that there were only 23 Cathedrals in England, but so great was the zeal for the solemn praise of God that, in the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries, there were erected nearly 200 Collegiate Churches, which were staffed by the Secular Clergy, which with the Lent Monasteries became notable centres of Divine Worship, and also of education.
The Collegiate System in England The Collegiate System, the remnants of which persist at Oxford and Cambridge, seems always to have made an appeal to the minds of English Ecclesiastics. It is noteworthy that whilst only one Religious Order was founded in England, the number of Collegiate Bodies founded was very considerable. Even after the destruction of Catholicism as the National Religion, men still entered Colleges at Oxford and Cambridge, with the intention of ohtaMing Fellowships, and living a community life. When it is remembered that down to comparatively recent times, this involved celibacy, regular attendance in Chapel, the common table, and a certain obedience to rule, it becomes evident that there can always be found men who will find their vocation in some sort of common life. It is true, of course, that, as time went on, after the Reformation, the absence of the Faith, which had made such a life possible. produced certain scandals and corruptions. But the fact remains that down to the time when Newman was a Fellow of Oriel, Oxford life remained very much as it had been in Catholic times, and the litc in the Colleges was based on the Statutes formulated by pious Catholic founders. The only breach with the past, up to that time, apart from the change in religion, was the presence of married Heads of Houses, who lived in state in thcir own houses, far aloof from the community life going on at their doors. When the University Commission pet/tinted married Fellows, and the obligation of being a clergyman was abolished, the whole system became dislocated. Thus to-day the Oxford College is no longer a gathering of Seniors and students, living the Community life, but has become a hostel for students, only visited by its Fellows, when duty demands.
All Souls' College
In the year 1443, Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury. published his Statutes, for what has become one of the most notable. Collegiate Foundations. All Souls' College, Oxford, is perhaps unique in the world at the present day. It has the most distinguished company of Fellows, who seldom reside ; it has no students, and it only comes to life at week-ends during term time. Yet it undoubtedly exercises a. very great influence on the thought of the country.
But what was the object for which it was founded? Let us examine the introduction to the Statutes. They begin: " ffenricus, cognontento Chichilee. divine pernalssione. Cantuariensis Archiepiscopus, watts Artgliae Primes. et Apostolicae Sedks Legate s.” They explain that the object of this great foundation is to pray for the souls of those who had died for their country in the recent wets, and particularly to remember King Henry V. and Thomas Duke of Clarence, and all the souls of the departed. For this purpose the Archbishop forms a College, consisting of a Warden. and 40 fellows and scholars, of whom 24 are to be philosophers or theologians, and 16 lawyers and canonists. He further makes the most careful rules for the governance of his College. rules which, with very little modification, would govern satisfactorily a Catholic Community at the present day.
But at the present day his College stands, in all its structural beauty, its empty Chapel, its homely quadrangle, its glorious library, all perhaps awaiting the time, when, once more they may fulfil the purpose for which their pious founder intended them.
In the New Britain
Meanwhile " time marches on.' Another war has desolated many a home, and many souls need the suffrages of the Faithful.
An age, of planning has come upon
115. 1f the world plans, then the Church must plan.
Amongst the problems which face the Much arc the new " Satellite Towns,"
hick arc to be provided with every amenity and convenience for material welfare, and are to become social units, in every way self-contained. It would indeed be a hard task to set a single priest to tackle a new town, with the dice so loaded against him. He would be faced by a people who had at their disposal every worldly amenity and who would be provided with every kind of sport and amusement, under the very best conditions. The Church would have to present the truths of religion ill a modest building, staffed by one, or at the most, two priests. Here is the opportunity for planning, here the chance for a Chichele to make a noble foundation. For here is the place for the modern Collegiate Church,
A pubic building must be erected, staffed by a College of priests, where God may be worshipped in the most
splendid manner possible and where the clergy living a collegiate life in worthy surroundings will be able to form a religious, social and intellectual centre, which, in clue time, could undoubtedly dominate the district. A Collegiate Church has many times been a Parish Church. Thus Manchester Parish Church became a Collegiate Church in 1421, when its venerable Rector, Thomas tic la Warre, succeeded to the Barony and became Lord de lu Warre. This collegiation was confirmed in 1426 by Bull of Pope Martin V and provides a master, eight chaplains and other ministers to be therein canonically instituted. Such a Collegiate Establishment would have the oversight of a considerable district. People will come, and can come, some considerable distance nowadays for what they want, and if a really fine church were built in which Divine Worship is carried on with splendour and spiritual nourishment provided for the people, they will certainly take the trouble to come.
To this Church there would be attached a College, not an overgrown presbytery. Taking a small College quadrangle as a model, with hall, library and common room, the right atmosphere would at once be formed. Each priest would have his own set of rooms, on the lines of those of a College Fellow. Here the common life could go on, as it did in the ages of Faith. Indeed, it might, in time, come to pass that to be invited to dine in the College hall would be a valued privilege in the neighbourhood. Modern social conditions make some sort of community life a necessity. Let us make that community life Catholic.
It may be objected that the older priests, who would be necessary to the scheme, would resent the loss of their independence. No such loss need occur. A College is self-governing, subject to the Visitation of the Bishop. The members of the Community, living in their own rooms, administer their own rules, which exist to make their lives possible. Financially it would be much more economical to have, say, six prebendaries and six chaplains living in a College than it would be to run six presbyteries for six rectors and six curates.
' Of course, many other works might be added to such an establishment, a choir school, for instance. Whilst the College itself would form a centre for all those movements with which the Church is associated at the present day. Is this a dream? Great men have made such a dream come true. It could be done.
HENRY BARTON BROWN.