Sunday, November 29, 2009
Oxford Movement, Personal Note, and Mariology
Today I wrote a fascinating paper on the Oxford Movement and the birth of Anglo-Catholicism as well as the conversion of the Ven. John Henry Cardinal Newman. It was a great story to hear and to see how it was tied to the lives of other eminent Victorians I'd studied like William Gladstone and Lord Palmerston, etc, was really cool.
I have alot more respect for Newman now, after seeing the way his life played out, but also no naivety about the clear flaws in his character. Like one story about him said that a man who entered the Oratory apparently offended him with one comment (he didn't even know how) and Newman didn't say a single word to the man for over a decade (i want to say it was something like 18 years). He had a capacity to hate for sure.
But I also found it interesting how his biographers wrote that Newman had the courage to follow through with the logic he had started. As we study Victorian society it's hard to stress how much propriety and social standing meant and for someone to throw it all away - which even today is quite a gesture - was a great witness back then.
I feel like Keble and some of the others were a bit cowardly in that sense.
Then I read about the Ritualists and the work of the Anglo-Catholic priests among the poor in the London Docks. Allegedly that is where priests in England began being referred to as 'father', which I don't know if I believe, but if it's true, how ironic, that the Anglicans started it.
It also reminded me of the historical disagreement I have with some people who say the Anglican church was purely a Reformed/Calvinistic church with Bishops. When I think of Nicholas Ridley, of Lancelot Andrewes, and even to some extent Cranmer I don't see how this could be true. But perhaps I need to study more. Certainly the majority did fall under Calvinist influence in some areas, and yes it did only get gradually more "Catholic" over time, but there was -I think- a distinct belief in the continuity of the Catholic faith, etc. (in a way not shared by other Reformation churches)
On a personal note, I've made it 1 day without falling into mortal sin by the superabundant grace of God. I prayed the rosary twice today and felt so much peace from it. I'm starting to understand the beginning of the phrase "De Maria Numquam Satis" - a phrase my level of Latin can actually deal with: "of Mary enough can never be said" or "Of Mary there is never enough". It helped to read more Mariology about how she is never admired in and of herself, but almost as an empty shell which Christ occupies. In many ways it's not so much the actual person of Mary as much as the typology she represents, of cooperating with God, of having Christ within us, etc. But that sounds dangerously modernist as if I were Bultmann describing the resurrection or something.
Read Ratzinger/Papa Benny on Mary and was sold, he responds so kindly to Hans Kung even though you can tell he considers Kung to be a complete heretic.
I'm not even trying to be Marian at all, it's just happening. In some ways like I've mentioned before I'm stilling being nagged by Protestant soteriology a bit, but I feel like the Rosary is becoming a strong part of my devotional life. As well I read somewhere an Augustinian phrase the other day which was "solus christianus nullus christianus", 'A solitary Christian is not a Christian'. In this book on the Catholic doctrine of grace it talks about how at the end of the day, the doctrine of grace cannot in the Augustinian system be separate from the doctrine of the Church, they are both intrinsically tied. This has all been helpful, as has Pelikan's description of the near universal acceptance of the Anselmic model of atonement which is acceptable for Catholics, i.e. that Christ has made satisfaction for our sins and offered God something better than we ever could have, which ties nicely into the doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass as Christ holding himself and his sacrifice before us and allowing us to partake in it and be cleansed of sin and acceptable and blameless before God.
So it's all good, and I'm wanting to go on a pilgrimage now to see the Oratory in Birmingham, and possibly, Our Lady of Walsingham.