The blogger, JP Pauley, at Music and the Anglican Patrimony (great discovery for me, but maybe I’m way, way behind the curve in knowing about it) commented in this post about a recent talk by Fr. Ed Tomlinson gave on ‘The English Way.’
JP Pauley left a substantial comment (welcome, welcome !) at that post which I am going to re-post here to make sure it does not get overlooked by people who are only reading the latest blog posts. He writes:
Fr. Tomlinson’s noble attempt ( http://www.tunbridgewells-ordinariate.com/blog/?p=3724 ) to summarize the Anglican patrimony is stirring, but it also causes concern.
To be fair, pinning down the elements of the Anglican patrimony is not easy. Too, Father is a successful pastor, which means he probably has little time for extensive scholarship and ferreting around for footnotes. Also, his presentation does occasionally point in the direction others have explored through scholarship. (An example of such scholarship: pp. 161 et seq. in _Anglicans and the Roman Catholic Church_, ed. S. Cavanaugh. Yes it’s my essay. But my essay does nothing more than gather the solid scholarship of others.)
But what causes concern in Father Tomlinson’s fine talk is that the Anglican patrimony is identified as simply the English way of being Catholic, which means, according to Fr. Tomlinson, being “rooted in beauty, culture and a striving for excellence.” It could be that Fr. Tomlinson recognizes that other spiritual/ theological/cultural expressions in the Catholic Church are also rooted in beauty, culture, and excellence. But if he does, it leaves un-answered the question of what makes the Anglican patrimony distinct. (Therefore, why the Ordinariate indeed?) And some will choose to read Father Tomlinson’s comment as implying that other spiritual/theological expressions in the Catholic Church are not interested in beauty, culture, and excellence, which also suggests Anglican converts are here to save the day. That notion will not endear us to our brother and sister Catholics.
The scholarship referred to above indicates that the Anglican patrimony has developed from much deeper roots that go all the way back to the patristic era, the Desert Fathers, and the Rule of St. Benedict. English Christianity at the time of the Reformations was unique in that it preserved this spiritual/theological perspective to a degree neither continental Catholicism nor continental Protestantism did. (Sound scholarship establishes this.) The result was a spiritual/theological perspective that has since come to be regarded as English but is—at a deeper level—patristic/monastic: meditative reading of Scripture, a “poetic” understanding of liturgy, etc. (See also Newman’s reference to the Benedictines as poetic and Fr. Francis Bethel, O.S.B.’s essay on Newman’s observation, pp. 14 et seq. here: https://stbenetoblates.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/oblate-newsletter-lent-2017-rev-2-final.pdf .)
This concept is not an easy one to communicate, I realize. It means plowing through a number of historical and textual details. It also means acknowledging the schizophrenia of the English Reformation’s love of monastic spirituality while it dissolved monastic institutions. That a monastic view (not a mendicant view, not canonical-religious view, but a monastic view) of Scripture and liturgy characterizes the Prayer Book is a notion some Protestants are loath to accept. And some Catholics balk at acknowledging that some aspects of pre-sixteenth-century Catholicism were in better hands in Protestant England than in Catholic Europe. But this concept is worth taking seriously, by which I mean spending time with the research and the reasoning and accepting or refuting it on its own terms. bvg
“To be fair, pinning down the elements of Anglican patrimony is not easy,” he writes.
That’s a purpose of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society —to be a forum for discovering, researching, expressing, debating, and promoting our Anglican Patrimony while knowing it is difficult to pin down and that for some even the use of the word “Anglican” is problematic. Thus, some would prefer to use “English Catholicism” to identify our patrimony. Hey, but isn’t Anglican the Latin word for English?
Some of the problem is political—ecumenical reasons so as to distinguish ourselves and not offend our Anglican brethren in the Anglican Communion of Continuing bodies; integration into the Roman Catholic Church and ensuring the hierarchy sees we identify as Catholic now; that we are not to think of ourselves as having a “rite” or a “use” but we have a “form,” of the Roman Rite; and, well, I’m sure you can think of four of five other reasons.
When we were debating our name change from the former Anglican Use Society, some of these divisions and concerns came to the fore. Some of us –I include myself here—would have been happy to stay with the old name. But, since our Ordinariate authorities here in North America preferred we not use it, we made an effort in good faith. We also discovered from members in the UK and Australia that the word “Anglican” didn’t have the same cachet.
I would have preferred Anglican Patrimony Society or Anglican Heritage Society but those names were dinged by others who didn’t like the word Anglican for a bunch of reasons. Names in Latin were proposed, which I objected to because I think we have to affirm our identity—whatever it is—and resist pressures from within of our own new converts to Catholicism who are tempted to go overboard and become uber-Catholics and either do everything in Latin or the reverse, become as like an normal Roman Catholic parish as we can in style.
“The only Latin name I would approve of is ‘Anglicanorum Coetibus Society,'” I said during one of our board meetings. We had a ranked ballot for names and I am guessing it was everyone’s third choice so it won.