Friday, November 15, 2013

Broad Birettas and Canterbury Caps

I was enormously privileged to go to the Provincial Synod in Newport Beach and to meet so many people. When you are in a tiny Diocese out of the mainland of the Anglican Catholic Church, it's easy to think it's just you against the world. Of course, I found myself amid many fascinating and wonderful folk from all around the world, from Colombia to the Philippines.

Of course, the "regional variations" that I mentioned below were very much in evidence for me at the synod. I was wrong-footed a couple of times due to pronunciation and by the slight alteration of texts. I'm of course used to the Venite as being the entirety of Psalm 95 following Benedictine and 1549 practice. The main liturgy book in use in the U.S. is of course the much beloved 1928 Book of Common Prayer. It's easy to see the passion and love that my American counterparts have for the 1928 BCP. For them, it stands as a rock to which to cling during the liturgical vicissitudes of the prevailing culture.

Culture, of course, is responsible for the "regional variations". During the Synod Mass, I saw mozettas and cottas and surplices and piping and birettas (both 3 and 4 ridged) and mitres and Canterbury caps and lace and academic hoods and tippets and rochets and chimeres and copes. It was a beautifully colourful Mass! It is of course possible that one might have taken issue with the wearing of a surplice and hood at Mass, or of preferring the biretta to the bare head. Ritual Notes could well have been in conflict with the Directorium Anglicanum or with Fortescue. Purists may well have balked, but the Mass was celebrated by the correct minister (to wit: Archbishop Haverland) using the correct matter with the correct form and the correct intention - in short, despite the variations in dress, the Mass was valid and we were all in communion.

In discussion with Bishop Damien Mead, we felt that what this demonstrated quite clearly is the idea of the ACC as a potentially Broad Church. This might cause eyebrows to raise with those who have always regarded the ACC as the High Church of the Continuing Anglican movement, and especially with those who find our stance a barrier to seeing how we are both Anglican and Catholic.

In the U.K., we are somewhat different from many of the Dioceses of the U.S. This is to be expected. The histories of individual dioceses is bound up in their locales. Yet, even in the Diocese of the U.K. there are variations in how things are done. My parish is a "High as a Kite" English Missal Parish. The Bishop's own parish in Canterbury uses the 1549 Canon. One of our clergy cannot say the filioque in the Nicene Creed out of a perfectly justifiable conviction. In the U.S., there are those who hold to the defining principles of the XXXIX articles. Most of us in the U.K. don't. The folk at St Matthew's Newport Beach have an Evangelical flavour added to their Masses which would cause the little old Anglo-Catholic matriarchs to drop a few stitches!

It doesn't matter. We are all Anglican Catholics and we are together.

However, following my experiences at the Anglican Catholic blog (currently in hiatus) in which I was accused (unfairly, I thought) of ignoring other Anglican jurisdictions, I do want to say categorically that Continuing Anglicanism is very much alive and well beyond the confines of the ACC. I had a very pleasant chat with Bishop Chandler Jones of the APA. Also present at the Synod were Archbishops Brian Marsh of the ACA and Peter Robinson of UECNA. There are faithful Anglicans all over the place of all sorts of stripes, be they Anglo-Catholics, Anglican Papalists,  Anglo-Protestants, Classic Anglicans, Anglo-Calvinists, Anglo-Orthodox, whatever. They all stand for some expression within the broad umbrella, unlike that large body which claims to define Anglicanism which in many places simply isn't even Christian, let alone Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.

Anglicanism is indeed a broad church, but admittedly there is probably very little in common between Anglo-Catholics and those who interpret the BCP to be Calvinist. Disagreements over doctrine do happen, and one must without fail follow one's conscience as long as it is kept properly informed. As I have said below, I can never be a Calvinist and this seems to have stirred up more ill-feeling. I do not think Calvinism is correct doctrine, nor do I think its central tenets to be provable from Holy Scripture as interpreted by the Church. However, it is entirely possible that I am wrong. There must necessitate a "walking apart" between me and those who subscribe to TULIP. It is a fact of life, a fact of humanity and a fact of fallenness.

That doesn't mean that "walking apart" needs to be an unkind affair in any sense. If they are both truly valid versions of Christianity, then they must necessarily be walking in the same direction and to the same source. As long as can be found within them the Doctrine of Jesus Christ the Son of God preached faithfully and passionately, then there can only be a common end, and that end can only ever be decided by God alone. The hand of friendship can certainly cross all borders if one is willing either to offer it, or to receive it. If we cannot share the chalice, then sharing a cup of tea is a start.

Shall I put the kettle on?

1 comment:

Auriel Ragmon said...

As a former Anglican, now Orthodox, I would have loved to attend your synod, but time and finances prevented me. May God bless all your efforts in the furtherance of His Kingdom!

Rdr. James Morgan
olympia, WA