About the Author:
Mr. Charles Bartlett lives in Northern California with his four children and wife. He is a certificated high school instructor and United Episcopal lay-minister at Littlewood proChapel. More can be read at Bunny Trails & Penitent Presbyterian.
About Anglican Rose:
Anglican Rose can be a reference to Mothering Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent, when fasting is temporarily relaxed, joy shining forth midst penance. Mid-Lent was a time men returned to their ‘mother church’ or cathedral, giving chance to visit parents, siblings, cousins, and neighbors. Sons gave roses to their mothers. People crossed themselves at the baptismal font of their infancy. The Epistle Reading for Mothering Sunday is Gal. 4:24, “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all”.
The Rose Tree is the Glastonbury Thorn, the staff which Joseph of Arimathea planted, blooming upon English soil. The Rose Tree symbolizes our Mother, who, strengthens us with nursing milk from Bethlehem so we might grow, bloom, and ripen in alms and faith, “I will not cease from Mental fight, Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand Till we have built Jerusalem In England’s green and pleasant land” (Blake). In England both Crown and Bishops nurtured a baptized folk, watering a budding vine from Christ’s root. The Rose symbolizes such, reminding men not only of their natural affections but spiritual life fed through the paps of Word and Sacrament.
Anglican Rose is a quest for magisterial Protestantism within the context of primitive orthodoxy and reformational impulse. It is an exploration of our roots, particularly amongst northern Protestant & Erastian churches, where early Anglicans aimed for something older than Papacy– a Conciliar West where the national is fostered within the catholic. Here, early Protestants negotiated a balance with Continental and Eastern churches by way of secular monarchs, confessions, and convocations. They did not wish to overthrow Doctors or Fathers but restore primitive religion by them. Much of this blog is a consideration of these intentions and how Northern Catholicism, more particularly, the Elizabethan and the longer-English Settlement– that “Occidental Star”– might restore Protestant unity by her many sprigs. Let us revisit our mother’s baptismal font, recalling once again our spiritual birth-waters and humble parentage.
“I know a Rose Tree springing Forth from an ancient root, As men of old we singing, From Jesse came the shoot that bore a blossom bright Amid the cold of winter When half spent the night.
Where of Isaiah spake Is Mary, spotless maiden Who mothered, for our sake, The little Child, newborn By God’s eternal counsel On that first Christmas morn ~ Rosa Mystica, Hymn 17 (1940 Hymnal)”
Below are varied testimonies from those divines who sung their affection for the national church without missing Apostolik and catholik faith:
Bishop of Fund du Lac, the Rt. Rev’d Charles C. Grafton, believed the restoration of Christendom depended upon mutual recognition between national churches; in particular, the English to the Russian and Greek:
“If a reunion of Christendom is to be attained, it will come through the union of Anglican and Eastern Churches. It is in this direction the safe guiding providence of God directs His people. It requires largeness of vision and generous toleration of unessential differences, and much of the charity that hopeth all things, believeth all things, and of the faith that believes that with God all things are possible. For so glorious a consummation Anglicans must be willing to recognize the devotion, the missionary zeal, and the orthodoxy of the Russian and Greek Churches.” (Chp. XX, Works)
“On the other hand, while laying all due stress on catholicity, it is right also to recognize the privilege of local Churches to have their own ways in such matters of ceremonial wherever diversity seems justifiable and desirable. It is right also to recognize concurrently the obligation of loyalty in the individual to the local and national Church, in whose rites he takes a part, and to whose ordinances he is bound.” (Principles of Religious Ceremonial, p. 138)
In Loyalty to the Prayer Book (1904), the Rev’d Percy Dearmer begged the keeping of national ceremonial as the most effective way to reawaken the catholic soul of England as well as all Christendom:
“If English Priests had stuck to their formularies as Romans and Easterns have to theirs, then the English Church would to-day be as marked as the Roman or the Eastern Churches are by such practices as frequent Services, fasting, the supremacy of the Eucharist, and the use of distinctive vestments for the Sacraments. Those who still fancy that obedience is insular would do well to consider seriously what alternative they have to propose. They will find that the only alternative is anarchy, under which each parson may set up his own ideas of Church order and worship; and these ideas have persistently differed, not in details only, but in essentials, from the principles of the Church Catholic. By this system; or want of system, you may have a pseudo-Romanism in one parish, a pseudo-Puritanism in another, and a decorated worldliness in another, but in few will you have Catholic worship and order. Nor will you gain the respect or trust of the rest of the Church or of the world at large… But loyalty to the Prayer Book disarms the enemies of the Church, at the same time as it restores the effectiveness of her friends. And if we set–as we should–the fortunes of the Church Universal above those of our own communion, we shall still do well to remember that the weakening of Anglicanism would remove the greatest agency which God in His providence has left in the world for the reunion of Christendom.”
In The Destiny of Anglican Churches (1931), the Rev. Edwin J. Palmer, while elaborating on the Lambeth Report of 1930, describes the prayer book as England’s Christianity filtered through a national temperament:
“In the view of the Church of England there meet in every land two living forces, the life of Christ and the life of the nation. The life of Christ presents itself as a life flowing through His Body the Church. There follows the apprehension of that life not only by men as individuals, but by nations as nations. Just as when Christ’s life is apprehended by a person, the product of this process is his personal Christianity, so when Christ’s life is apprehended by a nation, the product of that process is its national Christianity. What is called Anglicanism is the result of this meeting of the English character with Christ’s life offered to it through His Church…Anglicanism is the Christianity of the early undivided Church taken to English hearts, practised by English wills, and stated by English brains. There is no alteration of the content of that Christianity. But there is something specially English in the proportion and balance of the doctrine and practice of the English Church, according as things seem to the English mind important or convincing or helpful. The Book of Common Prayer is the fruit and record and the expression of Anglicanism.”
Wading deeper into the national principle, Palmer explains the indissoluble nature of it:
“Co-operation is of the essence of human life. When co-operation among a group of men becomes customary, a society comes into existence which has a life of its own. That life takes up into itself the individual lives of the members, and it enters into each, greatly enriching it. We know that God wills to take each of our individual lives into His own through the Church, and by so doing gives it new life. Is it not probable that similarly He wills to take the corporate life of each natural human society into His own through the Church, and by so doing to give it new life? And what are more natural than the societies which are founded on unity of place? On this view it is God’s design to pour His own life through the parish into the life of the village; through the diocese into the life of the city or district; and through the National Church into the life of the nation. In so doing He will take up these existing corporate lives into His own life, and transform them.
We will not listen to those who urge that the Church has no call to attempt the redemption and sanctification of these lesser unities because its task is to bind together the world in a unity which would transcend and annihilate them. The lesser unities are providential and cannot be dissolved, but it is only when brought under the power of the divine life that they can be fitted into the unity of the world which has hardly, as yet, been born.
The value of these lesser unities may also be seen from their contributions to the life of the whole Church. How much, for instance, the whole Church owes to the Churches of countries such as North Africa or Spain, or of cities such as Alexandria or Rome. But in order that such contributions should be made, it is necessary for the genius of a nation or of a place to come to its own in one Church, full of harmonious activity. [* Lambeth Conference, 1930, Report, pp. 161-2 (National Churches), p. 56 (Res. 52), and p. 29.]”
In the lecture, Christianity and Politics (1889), the Rev’d W. J. H. Campion likewise recognizes the national and catholic principle as two-sides of the same coin:
“But the truth remains that religion is an element in the highest national life. ‘A national church alone can consecrate the whole life of a people’. And a national church can only mean an established Church, and a Church which either has great inherited wealth of its own, or is supported in part by national funds…The Christian religion has been acting on the group of States which we call Christendom from the first days when stable organization formed themselves after the entrance of the new life of the Germanic race into the remains of the dying Roman Empire. It has been the strongest of all the influences that have moulded them throughout their history. It has pierced and penetrated the life of individuals, the life of families, the life of guilds, as well as the laws and institutions, the writings and works of art in which they have embodied their thoughts and hopes. They are in a sense its children. It is impossible to regard them as S. Augustine regarded pagan Rome. But deep and penetrating as has been her influence and manifold her consequent implications with the existing national and social life of mankind, the Church is essentially Catholic, and only incidentlly national. It is their Catholic character so far as it remains, at least their Catholic ideal, which gives to the different fragments of the Church their strength and power. The ‘Church of England’ is a peculiarly misleading term. The Church of Christ in England is, as Coleridge pointed out, the safer and truer phrase. And this fundamental Catholicism, this correspondence not to one or another nation, but to humanity, rests on the appeal to deeper and more permanent needs than those one which the State rests. It is thus that the true type of the Church is rather in the family than in the State, because the family is the primitive unit of organized social life. Not in the order of time, but in the order of reason, the Church is prior to the State, for man is at once inherently social and inherently religious. And therefore it is only in the Church [viz. national and catholic] that he can be all that it is his true nature to be”
An 1839 public address by the Rev. Hugh M’Niele to the English Protestant Association insists the national principle can no more suffer than the universal one. Consequently, he implores:
“The principle then, upon which our Associations are formed, may, with propriety, be briefly called NATIONALISM IN RELIGION. We do not indeed object to the designs and operations of those religious institutions already alluded to by preceding speakers, whose principle is more exclusive and separating. On the contrary, we take a deep and lively interest in the progress of the spiritual labours of our Missionary Societies, both to Jews and Gentiles, and with our valued brethren who conduct them we cordially co–operate. I will not yield even to my beloved brother from Birmingham (the Rev. W. Marsh) in attachment to the Jewish cause. Still, however valuable those institutions are, and however we would sincerely deprecate any act, and grieve over any event which would diminish their efficiency, we must confess that they are not patriotic enough for us; they are not national enough to meet our whole heart’s desire and prayers. We cannot agree in that cosmopolitan view of religion which undermines the particularities of our national establishment, any more than we could agree in such a cosmopolitan view of philanthropy as would extinguish domestic affections, in all their vivid and constraining peculiarity of influence.”
A 1902 sermon, preached by the Rev’d John de Soyres, explains the bidding prayers as exemplifying both national and catholic principles working together:
“So, although in our creed we profess allegiance only to the Universal Church, our hearts are not debarred from including our own Communion also. In the English Cathedrals and Universities the Bidding Prayer before sermon begins: “Let us pray for Christ’s Holy Catholic Church that is, for the whole congregation of Christian people dispersed throughout the whole world;” but then it adds: “especially for that pure and reformed part of it established within these realms.” So we, believing in the Catholic Church, longing for her realization, praying for that unity that shall fulfil the prayer of Jesus Christ, yet we also pray for our National Church: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.” We do not depend upon memories of the past only. We can recall events in these latter days testifying that the power of the Church of England…”
Likewise, the Rev’d F. D. Maurice believed England’s old spirit of nationality secured the Christian faith, partly due to the interwoven nature of secular and ecclesiastical law:
“But I apprehend, a national felling may be a very noble and a very godly one. It seems to me that the godliness of England has always depended, and must always depend greatly, on the preservation of its nationality; that the moment we lose it, we shall become the most immoral and godless people on the face of the earth. Nor I think can this national godliness be separated from the assertion of the Sovereign’s Supremacy. IN so far as that supremacy has been the protest of the nation against foreign jurisdiction and a mortal ruler, in so far has it been the witness that God is the real ruler of the land, and that the Sovereign has an actual, not a nominal, a direct, not an indirect, responsibility to him.” (The Church a Family. 1850. p.viii)
In 1844 Alexei Khomiakov‘s letters to the Rev. William Palmer poetically expressed the cultural heart of England’s churchman– that national affection may sing with the eternal:
“… In reality every Englishman is a Tory at heart. There may be differences in the strength of convictions, in tendency of mind; but the inner feeling is the same in all. Exceptions are rare, and are as a rule found only in people who either are altogether carried away by some system of thought or beaten down with poverty or corrupted by the life of the large towns. The history of England is not a mere thing of the past to the Englishman; it lives in all his life, in all his customs, in almost all the details of his existence. And this historical element is Toryism. The Englishman loves to see the beafeaters guarding the Tower in their strange mediaeval costume … he likes the boys in Christ’s Hospital still to wear the blue coats which they wore in the time of Edward VI. He walks through the long aisles of Westminster Abbey, not with the conceited vanity of the Frenchman, nor with the antiquarian delectation of the German, but with a deep, sincere, and ennobling affection. These graves belong to his family, and a great family it is; and I am not speaking now merely of the peer or the professor, but about mechanics and cab-drivers; for there is just as much Toryism in the common people as there is in the upper ranks of society… Whiggism may be his daily bread; but Toryism is all his joy in life . . . his sports and games, his Christmas decorations and festivities, the calm and sacred peace of his family circle, all the poetry, all the sweetness of his daily existence. In England every old oak with its spreading branches is a Tory, and so is every ancient church-spire which shoots up into the sky. Under this oak many have enjoyed themselves, and in that ancient church many generations have prayed.”
A love for the national church was likewise felt by the catholic evangelical, the Rev’d John Wesley, pleaded English Methodists keep their first [national] love despite poor watchmen in the established church:
“We look upon England as that part of the world, and the Church as that part of England, to which all we who are born and have been brought up therein, owe our first and chief regard. We feel in ourselves a strong storgh, a kind of natural affection for our country, which we apprehend Christianity was never designed either to root out or to impair. We have a more peculiar concern for our brethren, for that part of our countrymen, to whom we have been joined from our youth up, by ties of a religious as well as a civil nature…We look upon the Clergy, not only as a part of these our Brethren, but as that part whom GOD by his adorable Providence, has called to be watchmen over the rest, for whom therefore they are to give a strict account. If these then neglect their important charge, if they do not watch over them with all their power, they will be of all men most miserable, and so are entitled to our deepest compassion. So that to feel, and much more to express either contempt or bitterness towards them, betrays an utter ignorance of ourselves and of the spirit which we especially should be of (Reasons Against Separation, 1758).”
By the end of the 19th-century, at perhaps the height of British Empire, there emerged a fraternal love by Americans to their English counterparts, felt not only among Anglicans but with a broad swath of enthusiastic Protestants. The Christian Science Journal reported this sentiment, regarding the importance of a common Anglo-Saxon civilization and its Christian mission:
“When the Anglo-Saxon alliance shall come it will be pillared on more substantial ground than that of mere commercialism. The two flags will float side by side in a deeper unity than that of fleshly ties. They will float as the unified emblem of a brotherly love as broad as the teaching of the great Nazarene. They will stand as the signal for the restoration of Israel. They will herald the dawning of the millennium. They will speak in mute eloquence of the forthcoming redemption of the race. They will, in the fulness of time, blaze forth the story of the building up of the waste places. They will wave over a people who have made the desert-valleys to bloom with resurrection flowers, — the roses of Sharon. They will float over a people whose God is one God, and whose mission it shall be to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and cast out demons throughout the world. . . ” (A Significant Prophecy, Christian Science Journal, December 1898)
Related to the emergent Anglo-American Alliance, the importance of Anglicanism taking root outside of England was Bp. Francis Fulford’s impassioned surety of catholicity. In 1866 Fulford hints the future good of the disestablished churches like Scotland and the USA may give to England:
“The Church in England, whatever be its traditions of the past or its influence at the present day, can only claim to be numerically, and still more geographically, a very small branch of the existing Church Universal. We justly feel confidence in the purity of her doctrines and the Apostolic character of her ministry, but where are we to look for the tokens of her present Catholicity, unless it be in the increasing witness echoed back from her Colonies in every quarter of the world–from the Church in Scotland, and from the great and rapidly growing Church in the United States of America, all her own children in the faith? Had not the Church in England these living witnesses for her Catholicity beyond her territory at home, living witnesses and growing witnesses, free from all dependence on the support of a legal national establishment; were it not for these, we might well be apprehensive that we might see her powerless to contend against the growing Erastianism of the present day, and be coming, what she is so often reproached with being, a mere creature of the State. While, therefore, many are advocating what can often be only visionary and in the present circumstances dangerous schemes of comprehension between the Church of England and other Churches, against many of the errors of which we are still bound for the truth’s sake to protest; while many are disputing about ceremonies and details of ritual observances of more or less significance and value, let us hope that the time is approaching when, as a great witness for Christ and His truth, the Anglican Church in all its branches will make some more real and effectual advance towards manifesting her unity before men, and gathering up the scattered fragments of the great human family in one body in Christ, by bringing together witnesses from every land, for those children, whom the Lord has already given her, and who are now really and actually one with her in their faith and ministry. As a spiritual body, and apart from its privileges as an established national Church, what the United Church of England and Ireland is to England and Ireland, what the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States is to the United States, what the Church in Canada is to Canada, what any other branch of our communion is to the country in which it is planted, that the whole gathered together should be to the world.”
In our present day, the Rt. Reverend Paul Hewett also has preached for a renewed Alliance between UK and USA churchmen. His 2012 address implored a prophetic cooperation:
“It is of utmost importance that we should know whence we come, and whither we go. We need to know what our destiny is. The Anglo-American Alliance has existed in the past because of the Church of England and the Episcopal Church. Nearly all its leaders have been Anglicans and Episcopalians. This is but one reason why the devil is so interested in our community and wants to tear us apart. Today it is up to us to put everything we can back on the rails, in our relations with Anglicans abroad, especially in the Mother Country, and this is part of the high calling of Forward in Faith International. “
In a similar ecclesiastical spirit, the Rt. Rev’d Ray Sutton judged the special role Anglicans have yet to play with any reunion of Christendom. Sutton speaks in an ethos shared by most national catholics, especially Grafton, when he says:
“North America requires re-evangelizing. It will not happen without the union of Christendom, beginning with that branch of the Church that was so instrumental in the founding of this great part of the world. Orthodox Anglicanism has in its spiritual DNA the capacity to lead the way for Christ.”
Indeed, what character America possesses from the Church of England may prove vital for christian revival in the States. The Most Rev’d Peter Robinson recently described some indelible marks or touchstones:
“However, orthodox Christianity, and especially orthodox Anglican Christianity is too important to be merely the hobby of the holy huddle. We need to reassert the need for God in the everyday world. This was something our Hanoverian forefathers intuitively understood, but we have lost. Until recently, there were a large number of common phrases in our language that were drawn from the BCP and from the King James Version of the Bible. These were perhaps the ultimate testimony to the impact of Anglican Christianity on our culture.” (3.14.10)
Yet Britain’s importance is not limited to America. There are also implications with the German Reformation. The Most Reverend Robinson ventured the scope of the English Church according to its ancient charge as a brilliant “orb” for the whole catholic north:
“However, as a counterbalance to this there is some evidence that in the case of the Gallican and English Churches there was a certain amount of local autonomy. Local councils were held – such as the English Council at Clovesho in the 10th century – to resolve local difficulties and make Canons. We also have that somewhat cryptic letter of St Gregory to St Augustine of Canterbury referring to the later as “‘Patriarch’ of the other orb.” Implying that the Archbishop of English Church had a certain degree of independence from Rome and was to make his own decisions in keeping with the Catholic and Apostolic faith. He was perhaps also expressing a hope that the Archbishop of Canterbury might one day become a Patriarch to the Germanic peoples of Northern Europe.”
Perhaps national affections are the very way to restore a catholic peace whereby neither principle opposes or diminishes the other. I believe these eddies are incredibly important for conceiving Anglicanism as a beautiful yet delicate blossom, unique among Christian trees, having an old root that descends deeply into native soil yet having limbs that shade lesser trees, each growing along that living water. Bishop Giles de Bridport once spoke of England’s old liturgy in the same tone,
“The Church of Salisbury shines as the sun in its orb among the Churches of the whole world in its divine service and those who minister it, and by spreading its rays everywhere makes up for the defects of others.”
Please consider these pure water pools for reflection regarding our Anglican parents, predecessors, and their genius: