Monday, April 23, 2018

"Fully Catholic" (Not)

I've been giving more thought to the bishops' use of the term "fully Catholic" in their recent letter to the Diocese of San Bernardino, especoially as it relates to Pope Francis's recent exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, the funhouse mirror portralyal of Catholicism we see on the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society blog, and Abp Garcia-Siller's remarks about not just unique but separate.

The Arlington Catholic Herald says of the Holy Father's exhortation,

The path to holiness, he wrote, is almost always gradual, made up of small steps in prayer, in sacrifice and in service to others.

Being part of a parish community and receiving the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and reconciliation, are essential supports for living a holy life, the pope wrote.

One problem that continues to bother me is that all but a few of the largest OCSP communities simply don't offer the resources and opportunities available in most diocesan parishes -- I outlined some of those yesterday. In fact, they probably serve to convince some members -- and it appears that the regular posters at the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society blog attend some of the smallest OCSP groups -- that they're being "fully Catholic" when they aren't doing much at all.

But in addition, one thing I've noted in gaining experience as a diocesan Catholic is the importance of sacramentals, yet how little stress is placed on them in catechesis, especially in the Evangelium program. This is especially problematic for ex-Protestants. We see here,

Sacramentals are often a stumbling block for non-Catholics who don’t understand their need or person. For instance, before his conversion to Catholicism, Dr. Scott Hahn was a staunch anti-Catholic Presbyterian minister. In his talks, Hahn often tells the story of how he discovered his grandmother’s rosary. His grandmother had just died and Hahn relates that he ripped the rosary beads to pieces pleading to God to set her free from the chains of Catholicism that had kept her bound.
Even high-church TEC parishes tend to minimize sacramentals -- at St Thomas Hollywood, for instance, there was a Sunday morning rosary group, but no adoration program and certainly no adoration chapel.
While they are similar in name, sacraments and sacramentals have a unique and distinct role in the life of the Catholic Church. Sacraments are outward signs that give grace to those who receive them in a worthy manner.

Sacramentals, on the other hand, “are sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church. By them, men are disposed to receive the chief effect of the sacraments, and various occasions in life are rendered holy” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1667).

I heard a homily from a priest who appears, from the details he gave, to have suffered from PTSD after combat deployments as a chaplain and fallen into what appears to have been serious clinical depression. He said that what pulled him out of it was the ability to go to adoration. My wife and I have found, after roughly a year of regular adoration, that it's been extremely helpful in our spiritual lives.

I have a very hard time understanding how a priest who hasn't been formed in the context of sacramentals can offer counsel based on their efficacy -- especially when Reformed doctrine explicitly rejects them, and we see in Article XXII:

The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping and Adoration, as well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.
Article XXV:
The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon, or to be carried about, but that we should duly use them.
Article XXVIII
The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.
I just don't see how a few make-up courses at a Catholic seminary, much less distance learning from Houston, can counteract this influence even in former TEC priests who've gone to Episcopal seminaries. Once again, I wouldn't go near one of these guys, especially for confession. And unless someone refers me to something particularly egregious there, I do not visit, and do not recommend, the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society blog.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Numbers Yet Again

In yesterday's post, I surmised that the numbers involved in the Murrieta group were one or two dozen. I wasn't far off. My regular correspondent reported,
Twenty-two people attended Wednesday's info meeting at the future site of HM, Temecula. If BJHN has not yet registered the minimum 30 families/100 people required for parish status it cannot really spare a dozen or two for this venture, I would have thought. Perhaps this is like the "groups of Anglicans" petitioning "repeatedly and insistently"---a narrative we have to accept on faith.
There are several implications here. One, from the evidence in the bishops' letter, is that a contingent from the Temecula Valley had been driving to Irvine for DW Sunday mass at BJHN. We've established that this is over an hour's drive each way, and if reasonable measures might be taken to make things more convenient for the Temecula folks, this might be good -- except that no matter how you slice it, this takes two dozen out of the BJHN total, and two dozen looks like the typical number that's put together in Podunk to ordain some ex Reformed guy trying to jump-start a career in the OCSP -- eventually, he's either going to get moved to a bigger parish, he'll age out or retire on disability, or he'll beat his wife. In any of those cases, the group disappears.

But let's say Bp Lopes appears at a question session someplace, and someone in the audience asks, "Bishop, why is there no group for Anglicans in West Virginia?" Bp Lopes will improvise some answer along the line that he'd love to have a group in West Virginia, and it might be a great opportunity for someone to try to put something together -- except that the bishop, if nobody else, knows deep down that there's not enough interest in West Virginia, and even if a family in Wheeling thought this was a good idea, and they might get together with another family in Charleston, the distance involved simply makes this impractical, unless some ex Reformed guy is able to get -- and let's be realistic, not two dozen, not three, but closer to 100 -- people together and establish a practical plan that can be realized in clear steps.

So even if the OCSP hears from 100 people in North Dakota who express interest in forming a group, population density will make this impractical unless all are pretty close to Fargo. I'm not sure why nobody in Houston is applying this fairly simple rule to Southern California, which seems to be sprouting a series -- now up to something like four -- of groups, mostly numbering a couple of dozen, that based on six years' experience are never going to grow, and in fact, based on the same experience, will likely disappear if either the priest or key families relocate.

There's a more serious issue, which my regular correspondent recently raised. These groups of two dozen, especially if they meet in a law firm's chapel or a storefront, aren't going to be exposed to anything like real Catholic parish life. They won't meet Hispanic, Filipino, Italian, Irish, or Polish Catholics. They won't have access to daily mass, adoration, or serious Bible study, such as a parish-sponsored Jeff Cavins course, which would be beyond the audio-visual capabilities of an OCSP group, if not the finances. They won't have access to Lenten mission speakers like Fr Longenecker or any of a wide range of others. The adolescents won't have access to LifeTeen or Steubenville.

And this has bearing on the spiritual lives of these people. Over time, I listen to homilies from our diocesan priests, who sometimes talk about guiding parishioners through very serious crises like clinical depression or unemployment. What the Church has to offer them is in fact remedies like daily mass and adoration in addition to prayer, and of course the counsel of good priests with long experience. How is some jerk who sells insurance part time after training in a Reformed seminary (supplemented to be sure with a couple of night school catchup sessions) going to be able to help some Anglican going through clinical depression? I don't even want to think about this.

The bishops in yesterday's letter spoke of Anglicans being "fully Catholic", but if they don't have access -- which the poor folks hearng said mass from a part-time insurance agent in a storefront will not -- to the range of resources available in Catholic parishes, they aren't going to be "fully Catholic". But that's OK, Mr Schaetzel, Mrs Gyapong, Mr Coulombe, and others will explain the Anglican patrimony to them on a blog, and that'll fix it.

Right. Bp Lopes, you will be held accountable.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

San Bernardino Concordat

We've been following developments over a group-in-formation in the Murrieta, CA area since late last year, when my regular correspondent surmised that Bishop of San Bernardino Gerald Barnes had pushed back, leading to a postponenent. My regular correspondent sent me a link to a letter dated April 5, 2018 signed by both Bp Barnes and Bp Lopes and bearing the arms of both bishops. This strongly suggests that discussions had been under way, and the letter indicates the terms under which the group will be permitted to form.

There isn't a whole lot new, and that makes me think the CDF got involved and applied some pressure to Bp Barnes to get with the program.

The purpose of our joint letter is to clarify a new example of this diversity of Roman Catholic faith traditions that is now present in the Temecula Valley.
You can't get more awkward than this, huh? It rivals TEC at its most mealy-mouthed! It goes on with the expected stuff about spiritual traditions and Anglican patrimony while being fully Catholic, blah blah, although as a layman, I continue to be concerned that OCSP leadership remains silent in the face of semi-official statements from OCSP members that the Anglican patrimony exempts Catholics from the need to avoid near occasions of sin. (For the usual Catholic understanding, check this very recent YouTube.) There's something Bergoglian about this, the sense that statements can be made that different factions will interpret to suit their own agendas.

A full page later, the letter reiterates the criteria in the complementary norms for OCSP membership, although it now adds "a fully initiated Catholic who no longer practices their faith". But "membership" doesn't get you what membership in an Anglican parish gets you (the right to vote at parish meetings), while "canonical membership" doesn't have the same implications that canonical membership in Eastern Rite jurisdictions carries. In effect, it's meaningless.

Again, though, we have prominent cases like Mr Coulombe, a regular poster at the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society blog, who as a cradle Catholic of French Canadian background, not married to an Anglican and apparently with no other Anglican family connection, becomes not only a de facto OCSP member but a semi-official spokesman for what constitutes Anglican patrimony. If "membership" was presented to Bp Barnes to reassure him, I don't see how it limits much of anything.

Interestingly, the letter approaches its conclusion in asserting "there is no need for division or suspicion of any kind", although this suggests that up to April 5, there had in fact been division and suspicion of some kind, possibly on Bp Barnes's behalf. If that's the case, I don't blame him. The only good part of this is how few people are involved.

This brings me to another part of the letter, the background of the Holy Martyrs group.

Several families from southwest Riverside County who come from this tradition were traveling to Irvine each week to attend Mass at Blessed John Henry Newman. Based on this observed interest, Holy Martyrs of England and Wales was established as a mission of Blessed John Henry Newman in the greater Murrieta area.
All I can rely on here is the wording on the page, but from that, I've got to conclude that "several families" means a dozen or two people, and those dozen or two will no longer attend mass at BJHN Irvine. There's no net gain, at least at the start. On the other hand, if there's been money to rent a storefront and install a reredos and communion rail, someone at least is supporting this effort -- although again, this is money that would otherwise potentially go to BJHN, which leads to the question of whether effort is being diluted.

We'll have to see what develops, but as my regular correspondent frequently points out, Fr Bartus has an extensive track record of proposing plans that never reach fruition. The reasaurance I would offer Bp Barnes is that these aren't laity he's going to miss, if they've in fact been poached.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Whither The OCSP?

Prompted by the link in yesterday's post in my correspondent's comments, my wife and I both looked at the photos of the Houston chancery on the architect's site. Here's a sample:

I've worked for national US corporations whose headquarters are pusillanimous in comparison. But the OCSP's laity numbers only in four figures by any credible estimate. And how many movers and shakers will actually ever sit in that meeting/board room? The only conclusion I can draw is that this was built on speculation, with the representation to the donors that the OCSP would be much larger than it has actually emerged.

I shudder at the air conditioning bill alone in comparison to the OCSP's income. On the other hand, this is clearly the kind of place you want to show visiting TEC bishops, who'll approvingly note that it's almost as good as what TEC has.

This brings me to my regular correspondent's most recent comments:

In answer to your question "where is the OCSP's bishop here?" I would say that the answer is "in an awkward position." It is one thing to allow small and apparently unsustainable communities, almost all inherited from the ACA, to quietly wither away. Where there is robust lay leadership they may survive without much intervention from Houston, but in the case of those entirely dependant on the leadership of their clergyman they will simply disappear when he leaves, as St Gilbert's, Boerne has done, or St Anselm's, Corpus Christi.

But tying the ordination of married candidates to the formation of new communities simply ensures the formation of more small groups with no long-term prospects. A man who has ties to Podunk is told that if he can gather together one or two dozen local worshippers he could be a candidate for ordination. As we have discussed before, the clergyman who can build up this handful of worshippers into a large congregation supporting a building and a school is the rare exception, not the norm on which one can build a business plan.

In any event a sizeable percentage of his congregation, be it large or small, will be people who previously attended another local Catholic church. And if he does show potential to grow the congregation, there is a strong possibility that he will be moved on to a larger group which has become leaderless, as happened to Fr Stainbrook and Fr Lewis. If the group they have left has not achieved sustainability, it will probably fold

The Darwinian struggle is good for the biosphere but it is not a particularly edifying spectacle in the Catholic church. I read the FB pages and similar sources week after week and wonder why these people want, as you say, to forego all semblance of parish life for the opportunity to attend said DW in some cubbyhole. Noted, as a sidebar, that the St Timothy's, Ft Worth website, long-neglected, shows as the Clerk of the Parish Council a woman who died last year and whose funeral was held at a local TEC church.

I would say that a good part of the "continuing" impetus came from murmerers within Anglican Communion denominations. You can't build anything solid from murmerers, who'll simply continue to murmer wherever they are -- this is one key lesson we should take from St Mary of the Angels. The little OCSP groups seem to be attracting diocesan murmerers, who, because existing Catholic schools aren't good enough, will build castles in the air over wonderful home school co-ops that never emerge.

I think that among other things, Bp Lopes and the OCSP need to develop a contingency plan for how to dispose of that chancery building. But I don't see an up-and-coming insurance agency having much interest.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Yet Again, Why Are We Doing This?

In the context of my recent musings on Cram, Goodhue, and Anglo-Medievalism (or perhaps simply Anglophilia affected in late middle age), my regular correspondent comments,
A recent post on the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society blog featured a picture of a woman wearing a brightly-patterned chasuble with the caption "Come back to the Episcopal Church!" The Church of Bad Taste, apparently, and yet this flies in the face of the more frequently iterated message, that the Episcopal Church/Church of England is the repository of taste and tone: architecturally worthy buildings, sacral language, music of artistic quality performed by well-trained choirs and organists.

The Ordinariates are there to shelter Catholics from the polyester vestments, servers in running shoes and "Here I Am, Lord" with guitar accompaniment they would encounter in a typical OF parish. Come experience the Anglican Patrimony of crustless sandwiches and Enid Chadwick. It's really all about money and class.

Here is the architects' description of the OCSP Chancery building. Not sure how the Italian palazzo ties into the gothic revival cathedral, which apparently started out as a "pseudo-Wrightian" style hall, but the point is that no expense has been spared.

I continue to wonder what's going on with the overall pattern in the OCSP. As I've observed, there's the "company China" side of things, the TEC bishop invited to Our Lady of Walsingham to note the liturgy, the music, and the young pastor from Nashotah House -- but then there's the everyday silverware situation, the little groups of a dozen or two meeting in basement chapels for evening prayer, led by a Reformed candidate whose career never quite got going as whatever.

Yet it's the basement chapel types -- an example might well be Mr Coulombe, associsted most closely with the Pasadena group -- who seem to be some of the snobbiest. When I first seriously encountered TEC at St Thomas Fifth Avenue, I thought it was something impressive, and I still think there's something impressive about it. But they did in fact have, and indeed still do have, something to be snobby about, or at least proud of. Not only could they raise the money to build it, they can still raise the money and marshal the talent to maintain and restore it.

But isn't there a sleight-of-hand going on here, especially with the chapel groups and the small quasi-parishes? These folks don't seem to be able to bring together the resources to pay their marginal clergy, or make any serious start at acquiring property, much less build anything in Gothic Revival. It reminds me a little of the petty nobility in 19th-century Naples, who had carriage doors with their coats of arms on them, which they substituted for the plain doors on the carriages they hired like taxis.

My correspondent noted just today,

I did not comment on this aspect of of the picture previously mentioned, of the woman in the chasuble. But now Mr Coulombe has a post on the AC blog where he muses about Queen Elizabeth's views on the ordination of women---not my idea of a burning issue but then I'm not an American member of the Monarchist League or whatever it's called.

In any event, the post is sprinkled with references to "Bishopesses" and "Deanettes." Since from Mr Coulombe's perspective as a lifelong Catholic, Richard Chartres, or indeed the "sainted Graham Leonard," is/was no more a bishop than Sarah Mullally, why waste time with terms that are clearly meant to demean and ridicule?

Anglican orders were no more valid before 1976, or 1982, or 1994, or whatever other day that shall live in infamy is selected, than they have been since. The ordination of women may have been a wake-up call to many, at least in North America, to depart for another denomination but it wasn't the Catholic church. Mixing up discernment of the claims of the Church with misogynistic dog-whistles is depressing to me.

Yeah, I don't understand. Why are these semi-official spokespeople for the OCSP spending all this time and effort spitballing TEC, when the operant Church doctrine stems from Apostolicae Curae of 1896? Wouldn't effort be better directed at soliciting donations for a building fund at some deserving group, for instance? But a key difference between TEC and the OCSP is that TEC is not cheap. Er, how much of this home school co-op fantasy, for instance, comes from a desire not to pay Catholic school tuition?

By the way, where is the OCSP's bishop here? The most I see is a tacit endorsement for a continued strategy of poaching disgruntled cradle Catholics (like Mr Coulombe) from diocesan parishes on some sort of pretext that they'll have real liturgy and a reverent environment -- with no apparent need to give sacrificially to reach this goal, and with leadership from guys who'd been unable to build Potestant careers.

Here's anolther question. Polyester vestments, flip-flops, and halter-tops are a atraw man. Catholic parishes very widely in atmosphere and observance. So St Ipsydipsy down the street is all guitars and tambourines -- has anyone gone to the diocesan website and looked for a parish 15 minutes farther that isn't that way? How much farther do these folks drive to reach their sad little OCSP group in the basement chapel, said DW mass at 5:30?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Florida Ordinations

My regular correspondent reports,
Near the end of this article is a link to three Facebook pages for "Anglican Patrimony Groups." One of them, the Tampa Bay Group, was familiar to us as the one that the local bishop asked to have shut down, at which point the former Anglican clergyman involved, Philip Mayer, became a diocesan seminarian under the Pastoral Provision. But apparently the group lives on, now assisted by Mr David Hodil, a transitional deacon due to be ordained priest for the OCSP this year.

Mr Hodil sells insurance but he has a degree from the Reformed Theological Seminary and more recently has taken courses at St Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, FL He is a separated (or perhaps now divorced) man, with children. He is connected to Incarnation, Orlando, which I suppose will be looking for a new pastor down the road as Fr Holiday is of secular retirement age.

Although a former curate there, Jason McCrimmon, will be ordained priest at the same time as Mr Hodil. He is currently attached to St John Fisher, Orlando, a small group meeting for a Sunday evening mass in a hospital chapel whose main purpose seems to be to be part of Mr McCrimmon's "ministry plan." So, an embarrassment of riches in Florida.

This brings me to the very odd two-tier focus in the OCSP. We have the "showcase" parishes, like Our Lady of Walsingham, that are good enough to make a TEC bishop like Bp Martins observe that it's doing a very good job of looking Anglican. There are a few of these, although in the context of St Thomas Fifth Avenue (or St Thomas Hollywood), there are many more TEC parishes that do a competent job of looking Catholic. (But isn't there a game of let's pretend going on in both cases? Why in particular should Catholics need to do this for anyone?)

The great majority of OCSP communities simply aren't at this level. These seem to hold spoken masses (if that), and squint to imagine the Men's and Boys' Choir, the carved reredos, the statuary facade, the expensive vestments. It appears that this appeals to only small numbers, and likely will never appeal to more than that.

I don't see any of the current crop of candidates for ordination providing anything like the leadership that would put their little groups past the squinting stage. This brings me back once again to St Thomas Fifth Avenue, which recently received an award for restoring its stained glass windows and facade:

In the words of Peg Breen, President of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, “These awards are the Oscars of the preservation world” and another honoree said “I’d rather receive a Lucy than an Oscar”. Accepting the award on behalf of Saint Thomas was Barbara Pettus who, in a brief speech , closed with the following:

“So many people helped make this possible. Julie Sloan oversaw the work done by twelve studios from California to New Mexico and from Virginia to Boston. Walter Melvin Architects advised us on major stone restoration work which was required once the windows were removed and on the best way to clean the stone traceries of all the windows and, later, on cleaning the fa├žade. Eagle Scaffolding designed a cantilevered scaffolding system that made the project all but invisible to worshippers and visitors. And our general contractor, Westerman Construction, along with our Facilities Manager, Angel Estrada, coordinated schedules, budgets and vendors so that we finished the project on time, under budget and accident-free. Many thanks to all of you!“

In the wake of the ParishSoft disaster, the former regime in Houston is said to have acknowledged that the OCSP lacked the depth in lay leadership and parish staff and volunteers to accomplish even a fairly simple task like implementing a parish accounting system, something routine for Catholic dioceses and parishes in the US, and which indeed continues to be eminently possible in TEC at parishes like St Thomas Fifth Avenue. (The best that can be said of OLW is that there ain't much to restore.)

This reminds me too of Woodrow Wilson, when he was president of Princeton, acknowleding at the dedication of some Ralph Adams Cram commissions at his campus, that Cram had added 500 years to Princeton's history. (Woodrow Wilson made a joke??) Isn't the intent of Anglicanorum coetibus in some key way to add 500 years to the Catholic Church's history?

What are the CDF and Bp Lopes trying to accomplish here other than a few "showcase" parishes and a larger collection of Potemkin villages?

Monday, April 16, 2018

Ralph Adams Cram And Bertram Goodhue

I did quite a bit of research over the weekend on Ralph Adams Cram and his colleague Bertram Goodhue. The two worked in various architectural partnerships between 1892 and 1913; Goodhue, after leaving the Cram partnership, did his best work in the following decade. Both were major exponents of Gothic Revival. Looking at their work, I've done more thinking about Anglo-Medievalism, Anglo-Catholicism, and their relation to Anglicanorum coetibus.

I've mentioned St Thomas Episcopal Church Manhattan already. This, opened in 1913, was their last collaboration and is described in Wikipedia as "the most integrated and strongest example of their work together". Here's a photo of the Fifth Avenue facade:

Apparently the overall design came from Cram, while the decoration and figures came from Goodhue and another collaborator, Lee Lawrie. There are numerous photos of the statues and other decorations at the parish website here. The statuary includes representations of major saints and other figures in the Old and New Testaments. Their range is difficult to imagine outside a Catholic context, and in fact, the interpretation of Biblical history the statuary implies would go to the issue that the Catholic Church is fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.

According to Wikipedia,

The style of worship at Saint Thomas Church has varied greatly over the history of the parish. Beginning with the rectorship of John Andrew in 1972, however, it has followed the Anglo-Catholic or High Church tradition within the Episcopal Church that developed out of the Oxford Movement. This was further developed under the rectorship of Andrew Mead. Sunday services include Low Mass, High Mass, and Evensong, and Solemn Mass on Christmas, Easter and major feast days. Special liturgies and processions are held for Advent, Epiphany, Candlemas and Holy Week. The Litany is sung in procession in Advent and Lent. The choir of men and boys sing most Sundays in term time and, if there are no visiting choirs during the school vacation, the gentlemen of the choir sing the services.
The problem I have is that the Gothic Revival movement is a deliberate revival, in effect an affectation. If it's adopted outside a Catholic context, it seems to me that it's a stylistic feature that doesn't necessarily reflect what's actually going on in the building -- an extreme example would be the Hearst San Simeon mansion, which uses the outward design of a church to enclose what is in effect a series of residential apartments.

Goodhue did design at least one Catholic church building, St Vincent Ferrer (1918), also in New York:

The use of statuary is very similar.

Goodhue eventually departed from Gothic Revival to establish Spanish Colonial Revival as an important California theme, but his 1924 Los Angeles Central Library, completed after his death, was clearly inspired by the 1922 discovery of King Tut's tomb.

Unlike Cram, who worked in Gothic Revival throughout his life, Goodhue seems to have regarded it as a style to use, rather than a central principle. This may contribute to my sense that the statues -- whether at St Thomas, St Vincent, or the LA Public Library -- aren't quite serious. There's an eye-rolling, campy quality to them.

This goes to the almost routine observation that same-sex attraction has always been a feature of Anglo-Catholicism. From my resarch, it appears that Cram and Goodhue were part of an important group of Boston esthetes at the turn of the 20th century, and their relationship may not have been solely professional. This in turn takes me back to Fr Longenecker's observation that Anglicanism is something that "looks like" Roman Catholicism.