Sunday, January 4, 2015

Foundations of the Anglican Church CI

The Laudian Altar at St. Peter's
Wolverhampton, an example of 
Laud's pushing the Church of 
England into a more sacramental
or even "Catholic" direction
There is so much to talk about—I want to finish some reflections on the Pope’s Christmas message to the Curia as it is a very dramatic innovation that helps us understand just how serious Pope Francis is in the Reform of the Church.  And then there is the matter of his new cardinals.  Very interesting choices: more interesting from the perspective of who was not chosen than for who was.  But I really want to get back to the Anglican history and we left off on the brink of some very crucial developments.  I must have been a Scandinavian in a past life as I seem to like the smorgasbord approach.  Or maybe—and more likely—I just have a short attention span.  But today we go back to England in the third and fourth decades of the seventeenth century.  Charles the I has just ascended the throne.  And it is a lively time for the Church of England.
Charles, incidentally has a wife that is openly Catholic.  His mother—Anne of Denmark—had been a Catholic ( a convert from Danish Lutheranism) but quite discreetly.  Charles’ wife, Henrietta Marie, was a French Princess and there was nothing discreet—much less clandestine—about her papist leanings.  Charles had a Catholic chapel—the Queen’s Chapel—built for her at the Palace of Saint James, the seat of the Court in London.  
During the reign of Charles there was a distinct move away from the stern puritan/Calvinism of the Church of England.    Charles named William Laud to be h is Archbishop of Canterbury and while Laud was a convinced Anglican, he was a bit of a throwback to the sort of Anglicanism represented in the First Book of Common Prayer (1549).  His views on the sacramental life of the Church were anything but Calvinist, much less the Zwinglism advocated by Cranmer in his later development.  Laud wanted to restore a certain dignity, even pageantry, to the Liturgy.  Moreover Laud and other “High Churchmen” moved away from the strict double predestinarianism of the Calvinists.  (This was the idea that God had predestined some to eternal salvation and others to eternal damnation and there was nothing that one could do alter the eternal sentence.)  We will go into more details about Archbishop Laud and “Laudian” Anglicanism in future posts, but suffice it to say here that the Archbishop’s preferences—and his determination to force a liturgical uniformity on the Church—only widened the split between the Puritans (who tended towards Presbyterianism) and the High Churchmen (who supported episcopalianism or governance of the Church by bishops). 
Meanwhile, the Catholic Church was in a period of great spiritual renewal generated by the Counter Reformation.  Spiritual writers were producing volume after volume about prayer and mystical theology.  The Spiritual Exercise of Saint Ignatius Loyola had given a mystical discipline to Ignatius’ disciples the Jesuits.  The writings of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross—two Spanish Carmelites—were being translated into all the European languages and being read by the devout.   The French Church in particular was undergoing an incredible spiritual renaissance.  Francis de Sales and his Introduction toThe Devout Life brought spirituality into the realm of everyday people.  English Catholic writers on the continent, notably Richard Crashaw, Robert Southwell, Dom Augustine Baker and Dame Gertrude More, helped introduce contemporary spiritual writings into the English world and the result was a renaissance of spirituality among Anglican divines as well.  Jeremy Taylor, Herbert Thorndike, and Thomas Ken are three examples of Anglican spiritual writers at this period.  The flowering of a spirituality was not conducive to the Calvinist spirit which was always suspect of any move away from a strict adherence to Scriptural doctrine and moral rigidity  to personal piety and subjective religion.  

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