letters to the editor

A photo from a reader, by way of
encouragement to others who find the way to
church sometimes arduous and daunting.

Father Gregory and RooT

From Sister Mary Michael chc

It seems appropriate to add a postscript to the excellent appreciation of the life and work of the late Father Gregory cswG which appeared in the November 2009 issue. Many of us Religious in the CofE, and especially members of root, are aware that we owe Father an immense debt of gratitude.

His many-faceted vocation included a share in the ongoing restoration of the Religious Life within Anglicanism. At a time when liberalism was making inroads even into our Communities, he consistently sought to bring us all back to the essentials of the monastic way in keeping with the Tradition deriving from the Desert Fathers and Mothers before the tragic divisions between East and West.

Father’s influence on us was felt through his own life and that of his ongoing Community at Crawley Down, and through his writing and teaching. The Advisory Council on the Relations of Bishops and Religious Communities benefited from his wisdom over the years, as did the Superiors of our Communities during their annual Leaders’ Conferences. He was not always fully understood or perhaps even patiently borne with, in private at least, but was nevertheless both loved and respected.

Traditional Religious owe Father another debt. It was he, in conjunction with Mother Mary Teresa from Walsingham, who first recognised the need for Religious unable to accept the priesting of women and other issues in the CofE back in the 1990s, to meet together in mutual support at least annually. In the teeth of some misunderstanding and criticism this came about and is the origin of the group now known as ROOT, Religious of orthodox Tradition. We acknowledge our founding Father with gratitude.

Providence has decreed that Fr Gregory should be called to his reward before the astounding news of Anglicanorum coetibus broke upon us.

How would he have responded? It is not for us to conjecture. Suffice it to say that for most of his monastic life Father was concerned to harmonise the Eastern and Western traditions. Eastern Orthodoxy was at the forefront of his spirituality, though firmly within the Anglicanism he equally loved. However, latterly, he was being led to a deeper appreciation of the Western Roman tradition and the role of the papacy through personal respect for Pope Benedict and through contact with Vassula Ryden and her writings, and the True Life in God movement generally.

How would Father have suggested that Religious should respond to the papal initiative? That is his secret now. Anyway, without a doubt, he would have beavered on faithfully in his daily life of prayer and monastic observance until the Holy Spirit clarified the situation. ROOT members are not likely to do otherwise either, at least in the short term. We can surely believe that Father Gregory is still at prayer for us all in realms beyond our own necessarily limited vision and understanding.

Mary Michael cHc

Holy Cross Convent, Rempstone LE12 6RG

 

Biting the hands

From Fr Ivan Clutterbuck

After seventy years in Holy Orders, I am saddened not only by the sad state of my Church but also by the plans of some fellow Anglicans to send church members into a limbo of uncertainty. It ill befits them. Perhaps we need to relearn a short history lesson.

In the early 1800s many pronounced the Church of England dead, because it had become a mere government department, and bishops its ministers. But a few priests in Oxford refused to accept the verdict, and looking back to Laudian days (not to Rome) uncovered its Catholic heritage. In the face of stiff opposition the Tractarians began the task of revitalizing their Church, not least by reminding bishops of their apostolic dignity.

Despite discouragement from fellow Anglicans, abuse and even imprisonment, their work of restoration changed the face of the CofE to such an extent that by the twentieth century few churches remained untouched. In most cathedrals and churches the Eucharist is now celebrated at least weekly, by clergy richly dressed.

All this is due to the Anglo-Catholic party over nearly two hundred years. These are the Christians condemned to an uncertain future by some members of the General Synod, by members who are now enjoying the result of their labours. Is this not a case of dogs biting the hands of those who fed them?

Ivan Clutterbuck

College of St Barnabas, Lingfield RH7 6NJ

 

A distant age

From Ann Westerman

‘Nobody nowadays pays the least attention to the rather striking terms in which the 1920 Lambeth Conference condemned artificial contraception’ [John Hunwicke, February], but as late as the 1960s there were clergy in Australia advising couples and individuals that it was fornication, not family planning.

Ann Westerman

7 Welman Street, Launceston, Tasmania 7250

 

Dark suspicions

From Mr Robert Briton

A word of warning to all those priests and bishops who are considering moving to Rome, and I agree with those sentiments expressed by the Vicar of St Peter’s Chorley [Letters February]. In New Directions as in other magazines and newspapers, there seems to be some confusion over what it is to be a Catholic. The Roman Church in particular insists that it is the ‘Catholic Church’, and like so many Anglicans forget that the Anglican Church is the Catholic Church in this country, same firm, different department.

Anglicans have always been Catholics for at least five hundred years before Augustine came here to make his take-over bid for the Anglican Church, a takeover much like that of Kraft and Cadburys at the present time, and with the same results. Despite promises made, most will never be kept, far better to remain who and what we are, rather than enter into some arrangement where we are neither fish, flesh nor fowl. I have always been a Cadbury’s man. Caveat emptor.

Robert Briton <michael@alghainam.orangehome. co.uk>

 

Homeric Greek

From the Vicar of St Mary’s Willesden

I began to read John Shepley’s article in the February edition but was unable to progress beyond the first three words in Greek, H ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ ΕΑΥΘΕΡΩΣΕΙΥΜΑΣ

Knowing New Directions to be fastidious in accuracy, and suspecting a subtle altering of Holy Scripture in the higher reaches of Anglicanism, I was intrigued by the reprinting of the motto of the Compass Rose of the Communion.

With the absence of a space between the definite article and its noun, the first word must surely be translated as bad breath. The following word appears to be a Homeric rendering of will cause a warm glow about oneself or will set oneself on fire.

The truth may no longer set us free in the Church of England, but amidst all the contemporary shenanigans, the cry must go up – salvation by Ready Brek and halitosis will not do. Quite catchy.

David Clues S Mary’s, Willesden, London NW10 2TS

 

No commendation

From the Revd Jonathan Frais

Alan Edwards writes that, ‘as the BCP service shows, the burial service is to commend the departed soul’ [ND January]. Strictly-speaking, we (a) recognise that ‘it hath pleased God of his great mercy to take unto himself the soul of our dear brother here departed’; (b) ‘commit his body to the ground’; and (c) pray that the living ‘may be found acceptable in thy sight’ – but the Book of Common Prayer does not commend the departed soul.

Jonathan Frais

11 Coverdale Avenue, Bexhill

 

A touch of mace

From Mr James Stephenson

Many thanks to Digby Anderson, for his wonderful encouragement to eat fish. It is a cultural thing, a gift of Catholicism. To me, the great English contribution to this heritage (the only one? and rare here in Catholic France) are Potted Shrimps. Is it a coincidence that they come from Morecombe Bay in recusant Lancashire?

James Stephenson <jamesstephenson@live.fr>

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