17 June 2012

Reparation for English & Anglican Crimes

St. Oliver Plunkett, pray for us.

As a cradle Anglican I learned a version of my denomination's history that was not true.  As an Anglican priest I also repeated these errors without knowing the truth of things.  It was by a chance encounter with the record of the martyrdom of St. Margaret Clitherow that opened my eyes to the fact that the Anglican Church that I loved had blood on its hands, and no amount of washing could out the spot.

For a long time I studied, spoke with scholars, priests, nuns, and came to understand that those of us born now could not be held responsible for the blood and crimes  that cover the birth of the Anglican Church, the Elizabethan Era, the evil Penal Laws, the martyrdoms of God's true saints.... but I have found spiritually it is not that simple.  Reparation is essential.

There is a desire to sort of draw a line in the sand and create an ecumenism that doesn't look back beyond that line in the sand.  Lines in the sand blow away in the Wind of God, my friends.  Without acknowledging the great crimes and sins at the founding of the Anglican Church will those who grew up with Black Legends and fallacious spinning of history ever know the truth?

I am convinced that the Anglican Use Parishes and now the new Ordinariates have needed to be and must become communities that have reparation and penitence related to these matters at the heart and centre of spiritual life.  To do so does not eclipse those things of God grown up in that Anglican Church which Blessed John Henry Newman had said was not entirely bereft of its Catholic heart-beat.  

The Anglican Church has produced great martyrs like Archbishop Janani Luwum, great teachers like Evelyn Underhill, great spiritual directors like R. Somerset Ward.  Nothing I say is meant to take away from those whose lives and witness have done honour to the Lord Jesus Christ and the life of the Christian people.

What I suggest is that the Liturgical Kalendar be made to reflect more concretely the debt owed to the Catholic martyrs of the British Isles.  Yes, it repeats various memorials, but some deserve to be of the level of a feast.  And if it were possible, I would suggest that St. Oliver Plunkett deserves to be in the context of the Ordinariates and Anglican Use communities a sort of Solemnity of Reparation and Penitence.

There is also the matter of the dishonoured Catholic monarch Queen Katharine, the daughter of Isabella the Catholic.  It is high time that the dishonour done to her be addressed by us through holding an annual Mass of Reparation as a Requiem Mass for Queen Katharine according to the text of the Sarum liturgical books for the requiem for a monarch.  Those whose Latin is good enough should say it Latin.  It is my sincere belief that the children of the Anglican heritage now within the Catholic Church must honour her memory and pray for her soul.

It would also be salutary to hold a Mass of Reparation on the anniversaries of the destruction of Walsingham, Glastonbury, Ipswich, Ladyewell and the other major shrines of Our Lady.  Why?  Because the Anglican Church profited from the destruction of the Blessed Mother's Shrines.  And such a horrific thing must be placed into a context for remembrance and reparation by those who draw from the good things of the Anglican witness.

Is it too much to ask for attention to such things?  Too much to ask that masses of reparation be set in the Kalendar to at least recall and make reparation for the destruction of Glastonbury and Walsingham?

On another note, it would be salutary to elevate St. Elizabeth Ann Seton's day to that of a Feast.  As the first cradle Episcopalian convert to become a Saint, the reason for that should be self-evident.  And St. Margaret Clitherow?  As a convert and martyr... surely a Feast Day for the Pearl of York?

The matter of remembering Anglican worthies will be another post.

+The Blessed Company of All Faithful People