Monday, September 2, 2013

Ordinariate Reservations

For my own personal edification, I'm doing a bit of writing on what I call Anglican Platonism. Ever since the Anglican Ordinariate was proposed, I've attempted to distill the essence of the Anglican patrimony. But I've given up on the Ordinariate being the institutional means of its continuation; that's not to say that I don't believe it won't be preserved in the Catholic Church. On the contrary!

But it won't be preserved at the bidding of a motu proprio or by the hand of the prefect of the CDF. The AP is a way of life, and its best elements have always come to light by means of a few friends working and praying in concert (think Methodism, Romanticism, Tractarianism, etc). It's not just a way of praying, but a way of doing theology and philosophy, of reading the Scriptures. Conscience, experience, and liberty figure largely. Greece is its spiritual master. Its liturgy is fundamentally Benedictine; its philosophy Platonic. Coleridge is its modern-day fons et origo; but Wordsworth, Ruskin, Paul Elmer More, Mascall, Farrer, Eliot (of the Four Quartets), George Grant, and Catherine Pickstock are no less exemplary.

Newman, Hopkins, and more recently, Aidan Nichols and Stratford Caldecott have made it a heritage of Anglophone Roman Catholics, but it has analogues in von Balthasar and in Ratzinger (whom we might provocatively call the first "Anglican" pope).

The problem of form in particular engages its attention; it eschews the mechanism of the English secular philosopher, and its robust poetic tradition balances English empiricism. Indeed, one might say that poetry and metaphysics share the crown between them (a bit of Platonic heresy, to be sure). The imagination is given a place of honor. It enchants the landscape, or rather it recognizes the enchantment already laid down.

Its parochial office enchants time: it is a religion of the twilight (Evensong beings its great liturgical contribution to the Christian world). And this is as it should be, for the world, though beautiful and delightful, is only a shadow and type.

These qualities can never be codified; they embody a particular way of living and attaining salvation. If they are to be made Catholic, it will only be because men and women continue in that way. The experts will dictate and the bureaucrats will push paper, but it is in the laity in whom we must repose our hope. It is our inheritance, to defend and exemplify.

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