24 July 2012

Required Reading: Anglican Origins

For converts to the Church of Rome from the Anglican churches

Holy God,
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy upon us.
(The Book of Divine Worship)

This post has in mind those Anglican converts who will serve as clergy, catechists and Sunday School teachers in the Roman Catholic Church. It can be a very great shock to the psyche to realise that one was taught something not true and that one has dutifully taught that same falsehood to others.  Some prefer to refer to such things as "misconceptions".  Others prefer to call them damned lies.    The reality is that Anglican converts must 'unlearn' the official story taught by Anglicanism with regard to its origins in the era of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I and then set out to learn what is the truth of the matter. 

My interest is not in supporting claims or battling contentions.  I am interested in Anglican converts educating themselves and discovering the whole truth of Anglican origins.  I believe the only way to achieve this is through committed self-study, and to that end I provide something of a 'required reading list' in this post.

There is but one book I would insist a convert should read from cover to cover:

The Other Face:
Catholic Life
Under Elizabeth I

Collected and Edited
By Philip Caraman

This may seem an obscure choice, but I am one who is most moved by primary sources rather than scholarly reflexions and historical recreations.  After reading this book—after taking in the martyrdom of St. Margaret Clitherow if nothing else—the convert will want to learn as much as possible about the truths they were not taught as Anglicans.

From this point, my required reading list turns to Eamon Duffy:

  • The Voices of Morebath
  • Marking the Hours
  • The Church of Mary Tudor (Duffy and Loades)
  • Fires of Faith (Kindle version available) 

  • The first two in the list above are essential:  The Stripping of the Altars and Saints, Sacrilege, and Sedition. Although I am inclined to list other books, let me summarise in a shorter form what I have said above would form the very minimum for a reading list:

  • The Other Face — Philip Caraman

  • The Stripping of the Altars — Eamon Duffy

  • Saints, Sacrilege, and Sedition — Eamon Duffy

    (The temptation to go on with a much longer list is very great, but I will only suggest that one could go on and read Dr. Christopher Haigh's English Reformations or  Professor J. J. Scarisbrick's The Reformation and the English People.)   

    [Update: Ash Wednesday A.D. 2017]

    Before one enters into the communion of any Church or denomination, one must soberly consider the fact that there is no Eden in our fallen world.  There will still be human beings wherever one goes who treat others shabbily, there will be bishops, priests, and deacons who hurt the Witness of the Body of Christ, there will be clergy who lie, there will be Laity who do not know their Faith, there will be Laity who are rude, crude, and socially unacceptable.  In other words, wherever one pitches his tent in the Body of Christ, one will find a hospital in this broken world, a hospital for the soulsick and the lost.

    I was reconciled to the See of St Peter when Pope St John Paul II sat upon the Papal Throne.  It could be said to a great degree that his witness and his writings are essential to understanding why I found a home in the Church of Rome.  I will be honest in stating that had Pope Francis been the pope at the time of my enquiry into the Roman Catholic Church, I would have waited.  It is not at all clear to me what is happening in Rome and throughout the Catholic Church, and such chaos does not indicate the godly order that obtains when the Holy Spirit is leading the Church into all truth as Sacred Scripture teaches us.

    I am reminded of the state of things when Jesus spoke his most difficult teaching and enormous numbers abandoned him. The Lord turned to His apostles and asked them if they two would turn and leave.  Peter (Kepha) alone said in reply "Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life." So for all of us, let us turn to the Lord Jesus Christ and listen to him.  

    A papal reign can be thought of in brackets, put into parantheses within the totality of the Church's history.  Some of those "reigns" led to outright schism. Some led to the election of multiple claimants to the See of St Peter (the antipopes).  The "reign" of Pope Bergoglio will bear its fruit: adding the name of St. Joseph to the Canon of the Mass, raising St Mary Magdalene's day to a Feast of same rank as the Apostles.  Additionally, the current Pope's reign will also leave a residue of items that will remain within the brackets of his "reign" and will be dealt with by his successors and some will be set aside quietly and some will be overturned by official Papal acts in the future.