The Catholic Movement and the Society of the Holy Cross.
By J. Embry, M.A.,
Vicar of St. Bartholomews, Dover.
London: The Faith Press, 1931.
"NO SMALL STIR."
THE result of the Papal enquiry on Anglican Ordinations was regarded not so much as a failure, but rather as the falling short of the attainment of an ideal. Those who experienced disappointment, or saw it in the light of a disastrous policy, were in no sense moved because it had not turned out as they would have wished. With the exception of attention being drawn to the excellent and dignified reply of the two English Archbishops, and an appreciation of the weight given to the doctrine of the Mass by their pronouncement, direct reference to the matter disappeared. It had been said of a certain great prince that when one piece of work was done, well or ill, instead of dwelling on it he only saw himself set free to enter upon fresh tasks. In a like spirit S.S.C. laid aside the Bull and proceeded to consider other subjects.
At the same time it was aware that the Bull had put a re-sharpened edge to one of the weapons used in controversial warfare by the Roman Catholic congregation in England, and that amongst the English laity in particular there would be some who might receive a mortal cut from it. It was realised that the mind and will of the Society must act in concert. It was able to throw its mind forward in order to weigh the no small use that would be made of the Bull's decision, and how meagre oftentimes was the knowledge of first principles amongst those who were likely to be affected by it. Action in consequence should be directed, not so much towards wasted controversy concerning the Papal decision, as in promulgating more earnestly the true teaching concerning the doctrine of the Catholic Church. Those who had grasped this would be as little likely to leave the Catholic Church for another body as was a soldier to quit his regiment because it was possible that a skirmish might be unsuccessful. The necessity for definite teaching on the Church was not lessened by various confusions of thought which were being put out at this time, by some who possessed the Anglican ear, on the authority of General Councils, in which the Church had been represented as a witness of truth consented to, instead of as the authority for truth itself.
A double purpose of constructive teaching was served by the action of S.S.C. in confining its attention, for the moment, to the consideration of the Magisterium of the Church. It was strengthening against the Papal attack, and rectifying Anglican misconceptions. It was strongly insisted that the Church was the kingdom of truth, whose mission and office was to teach revealed truth. The Ecclesia docens teaches; the Ecclesia discens professes. Our Lord delegated to His Church His didactic, sacramental and governmental functions. This power was bestowed not on the laity but on the Apostles and their successors alone. The Church was constituted witness, teacher and judge; the latter was required because, as St. Paul said, "there must needs be heresies among you." Such judgment must be of Divine appointment and infallible. Our Lord, therefore, promised to be with His Church always and gave the Spirit of Truth to guide her into all truth and to be the principle of the Church's Infallibility. The object of this Infallibility was the certitude of objective truth and morals, the office of the Holy Ghost being to teach "all truth"moral as well as doctrinal. The Magisterium was exercised by the bishop as the Doctor of the faithful, in the Provincial Synod, and in the Oecumenical Council. By a General Council the Church understood a Council of the whole Episcopate, even if a majority of the constituent members were hindered from attending. The Church discens was the response or witness to the Church docens. It was pointed out that the "Vicentian Test," or that the matter of faith was that only which had been believed "always, everywhere, and by all," was often misapplied by non-Catholics. It was in truth a rule of what must be held, not of what may be held.
Reliance upon the ordinary Magisterium of the Church in its genuine character seemed to be the one great desideratum which would eventually set right the estrangements and discordances of Christendom and straighten out the difficulties and confusions caused by defective teaching, on the one hand, and the decrees of Councils not oecumenical, upon the other.
With reference to the mode whereby a bishop attained his power of ruling in the Church, an illuminative statement was made by the Rev. E. G. Wood, when speaking of the Confirmation of bishops. He said that it was:
"Important to remember that Confirmation is not a mere legal formality, but is that process by which the person elected receives potestas jurisdictionis. After Confirmation he can do with respect to his diocese all those acts for which the potestas ordinis is not required. He receives this jurisdiction from the universal episcopate as represented by the bishops of the Province acting through the Metropolitan as their mouthpiece. By Confirmation he becomes co-partner with them in the office of ruling the Church.
"The election is a matter of comparative unimportance. It was no doubt desirable that the election should become a reality, but it was still more important that the Confirmation should be so. The Confirmation was not of the election merely, but chiefly of the elect. In the writ to Chicheley to confirm Wakeryng to Norwich this was clearly stated, so also in the writ to confirm Goderich to Ely, the first issued after the cessation of Papal confirmations in Henry VIII's reign.
"The Hampden case settled nothing. The canonical position was then most ably argued by Mr. Badeley and Dr. Addams, and the constitutional by Mr. Archibald Stephens. The Court was equally divided, and so the mandamus did not go. It was a complete mistake to suppose that if the Archbishop refused to confirm the person elected because, after having heard the case judicially, he concluded that he was an unfit person, he would incur the penalties of praemunire. The archbishop was compelled to proceed to the function of confirmation, but he was as free to reject the person presented to him for confirmation as he was for just cause to reject a clerk presented to him by the Crown for institution to a benefice. All the legal penalties were intended to secure the liberties of the Province as against interference from Rome."
In another matter bearing on the discipline of the Church as regarded fasting generally and with special reference to the fast before Communion, the subject was treated in a new way, and viewed from a different standpoint, in a valuable paper on "The Medical Aspect of Fasting." Later, it was published. Its author was the Rev. F. C. Kempson, who had joined the Society in 1896 and was a great asset to S.S.C. It could be said of him that his knowledge and experience of things were in proportion to his stature. He was truly "a big man," in every applicable sense of the term. He took his M.B. at Cambridge in 1893 and was ordained two years later to Little St. Mary's, Cambridge. For twenty-three years he filled the unique position of being both a working priest and the Demonstrator of Anatomy in the University of Cambridge at the same time (18931920). His accurate knowledge of science and of the Catholic Faith, with his medical qualifications, fitted him to render many special services, and in particular to members of the University and others who had difficulties concerning the Faith, or were taught to imagine that science and faith were in collision. Dr. Kempson was a prolific writer, especially of articles for the Church Press, in which capacity he possessed the genius of writing on hard subjects in an easy way and illustrated them not infrequently with sketches of his own, which sometimes conveyed moreover his sense of humour. A volume was produced by him in 1907, entitled The Future Life and Modern Difficulties, the end of which was to deal with the doctrine of immortality under its Creed aspect and its scientific aspect, and to show that, if the latter had nothing to contribute to Christian belief, at least it had nothing to offer by way of hindrance. Dr. Kempson was a keen sportsman both on land and water, and gave evidence of his expertness in the latter by his authorship of Oarsmanship and Training. His devotion to S.S.C. was very great and his varied knowledge was always at its disposal. Those who knew him well were aware of the inconvenience he was prepared to put up with rather than surrender to the loss of his daily Mass. When the War broke out in 1914, he joined the R.A.M.C. and continued with it until the close. He did much war work in the Dardanelles. After the War, he again took up his active interest in the Society, as a reader of papers and a writer of letters on subjects under discussion. He read a paper at the May Synod, 1926, his subject being "The Priest as Teacher." Six days later, May 10th, he passed away somewhat suddenly at his Cornish Vicarage, St. Newlyn East, Newquay.
To return to the events of 1897, we find the Society continuing its imperative policy of impressing the first principles of Church Authority. The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria was bound to raise the question of what was to be done on that day as an expression of loyalty which was consistent with Catholic principles. The same difficulty had arisen ten years before. It had then been shown that the "Accession Service" and the "Jubilee Service" put forth by the Queen's Printers had no authority for their use. The former was no part of the Prayer Book, not being in the MS. attached to the Act of Uniformity or in the "Sealed Book." It had no authority either ecclesiastical or civil. The present form had been inserted in 1703 simply by the authority of the Crown. In issuing the "Jubilee Service" (1887) the Archbishop of Canterbury had not only over-ridden the rights of the whole Province of Canterbury, but those of the Archbishop of York and of the Northern Province as well. It became necessary to remember again in 1897 what had occurred in 1887, and to be reminded that the Crown and Privy Council in the first case could no more dispense with the Synodical Acts of the Church than they could with the Statutes of the Realm; and in the second that, as regarded issuing services, the Archbishop had no authority within the Dioceses of his comprovincials. What was done in several Churches was the offering of a Solemn Mass pro regina with a special Epistle and Gospel sanctioned by the Diocesan, with Procession, Te Deum and National Anthem. It was made clear that the matter was entirely one of Church principle and not a judgment on the Service per se put forth by the Archbishop.
During the remainder of this year (1897) further attention was given to "The Teaching Authority of the Church" and to subjects coming within its range, such as practical questions dealing with the Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament, Baptism, Sponsors, Penance, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, the Sacrifice of the Mass, and an inciting on theological grounds to a regular study of the Summa.
The close of 1897 and the opening of 1898 brought a disagreeable incident to S.S.C. which drew an attention of which it was not worthy. A person, who appeared to be an earnest Catholic, staying at a Vicarage in Gloucestershire, had appropriated from the postal delivery some of the Society's Papers addressed to the Vicar and offered them for sale to the Church Association. The Secretary of the latter (Mr. H. Miller) had written a reply stating that the first offer of S.S.C. Acta he did not care for, and added,"It is not easy to judge the value of the Report of the Synod without seeing, as the contents of these documents vary. I should be willing to offer you a guinea or 25/- for it and if you post it to me I will send you a remittance by return." It was suggested that the matter should be brought before the Post Office authorities asking if they saw their way to prosecute, but the Society immediately passed a resolution to the effect that,"It is no part of the province of S.S.C. to prosecute or to try to procure the prosecution of a wrong doer." It transpired later that the purloiner of the papers was brought up at the Brighton Police Court for stealing books, when the defence, instructed by the solicitor of the Church Association, stated that S.S.C. had instigated the prosecution in spite, on account of the publication by the Church Association of S.S.C. Acta. It was resolved that if necessary this should be rebutted at the trial by the production of the Society's Resolution of January, 1898. The only effect of the incident on the Society was the expression of a wish that when the "Statutes" were revised the "bugbear of secrecy" might be removed. It may again be mentioned that the use of that ill-starred word was never what its opponents meant and referred only to the conferences of what was a private Society of Priests. When permission was asked to show outside persons particular papers on subjects which might help their particular needs, it was never refused. Outside priests under certain circumstances were given permission to be present, and there was a time when layfolk, attracted by the solemnity of the Synod Services (such renderings being less common than they are to-day), were allowed to be present at them. When the Society was led to take any action, it had always done so openly, and when it was deemed right to present either protests or petitions, never once had the Society camouflaged these under numbers, but by the setting down of names and the direct statement that they had emanated from S.S.C. Its members were known, or could at least be recognised by the Badge of the Society which was openly displayed on the person. Setting aside the strange methods of the Protestant Paul Pry to get information about other people's business, such questionable actions could only be interpreted as either a case of "being afraid where no fear was," or a compliment paid to the scholarship and expert ecclesiastical knowledge of the Society, whose papers were apprised at such a high market value. In point of fact, it was neither, but a little contribution to a big protestant crusade which was being stirred up against the Church.
In 1897, a certain agitator, now for many years dead, had rendered himself notorious by disturbing solemn services and committing acts of unseemly brawling in several London churches. A band of trained roughs, bearing the appellation of "Gideonites," were held in readiness for purposes of disturbance when called upon. Mr. Clifton Kelway unearthed these "gentlemen" during one of their drills and exposed the whole of the matter in the columns of the Sun newspaper, of which he at the time was Editor.
The agitation, which should have been stamped out at once, and could have been, but for the weakness of those chiefly responsible for order in the Church, was destined later on to lead to big results, its final fruition, after thirty years, being the Proposed New Prayer Book.
In 1928, there occurred what became known to Catholics as the "Scandal at St. Ethelburga's, Bishops-gate Street." The agitator referred to above had been making himself particularly troublesome at this church and had rented an office in the parish, in order that he might be legally qualified as a parishioner. Having done this, he sent a legal notice to the priest in charge of St. Ethelburga's (Rev. W. Phillips) to the effect that he intended to present himself for Communion on the Sunday (January 16th). Fr. Phillips had seen the Bishop of London a few days before on another matter, when the bishop referred to the proposal and said that Communion was to be given. A rearrangement of affairs was taking place at St. Ethelburga's, and it had been planned that Fr. Phillips should resign his position late in the summer at the earliest. As Fr. Phillips wrote to the bishop stating that he did not feel justified in giving Communion to this particular person, the bishop sent his chaplain on the Sunday morning before the Mass, bearing a letter from him inhibiting Fr. Phillips from taking the service and giving his chaplain power to conduct it, which the latter did; and the agitator was communicated. A correspondence ensued in which the bishop accused Fr. Phillips of claiming the right to excommunicate, of disobeying his bishop, and threatened to withdraw his licence if he did not immediately resign.
In connection with the difficulties which had arisen at St. Ethelburga's, a committee was formed consisting of a few members of S.S.C. and one other priest, to prepare a Memorial to the Bishop of London. The matter was referred to the Dean of St. Paul's (Dr. Gregory), who took it up warmly and drafted the Memorial. It was signed by the Dean of St. Paul's, four canons, two prebendaries, five rural deans, eight or nine vicars, two licensed curates and two laymen, and was sent to the Bishop of London by the Dean of St. Paul's. The Bishop met the Memorialists at The Deanery, St. Paul's, on January 21st. At a second meeting, with Canon Newbolt in the chair, a General Memorial was presented and accepted, to be signed by Clergy and Lay Communicants in the Dioceses of London, St. Albans and Rochester. It was hoped that the Dean's Memorial would form a general public opinion which would strengthen the Bishop's hands in maintaining the safeguards against the profanation of the Blessed Sacrament provided in the Prayer Book and the Canons.
The agitator, who was described as "a Protestant bookseller," some of whose earlier retail works were referred to in a straight exposure from Truth, did his utmost to disturb congregations and worship. He promised a thousand riots in the same number of churches throughout the country on a definitely named Sunday. This promise, however, was withdrawn, as the day drew near, on the plea of not being feasible. At this same time, Sir William Harcourt, who was a convinced Erastian, allowed himself to run riot in wild utterances against the Catholic clergy in Parliament; while, out of Parliament, he wrote a series of letters to the Times to stir up a puritanical outburst against "ritualistic practices." Later, he was joined in the campaign by Lady Wimborne and others. The storm of a quarter of a century earlier had once more burst out. Threats of punishment, deprivation and other effective means to uproot Catholicism were the chief utterances from protestant platforms, while the more vulgar hoped to see the Mass and Confession rendered illegal by Parliamentary action, so foolish and excited had a few become. Before 1898 closed, the movement had so extended itself that the correspondence columns of the newspapers bulged with opinions, many of which were foolish and some of which were wiser, while the words "The Crisis in the Church" constituted a daily press-heading. The agitation reached its climax in the first month of 1899. In the February of this year, the Archbishop of Canterbury (Temple) announced that in accordance with a direction given in the Prayer Book Preface, he was prepared to hear and decide cases where doubts had occurred concerning the right mode of conducting the Church services. By a process of fortiter in re, the Bishops of London and Norwich respectively persuaded the Rev. H. Westall, Vicar of St. Cuthbert's, Philbeach Gardens, and the Rev. E. Ram (a member of S.S.C.), Vicar of St. John's, Norwich, to submit themselves to the Archbishop's "spiritual" decision on the Liturgical use of Incense and the use of Portable Lights. The Archbishop of Canterbury called to his aid the Archbishop of York, in spite of the fact that neither of the priests concerned belonged to the latter's Province. The hearing was opened on May 10th, 1899, and on July 31st, the Archbishop of Canterbury gave his "opinion" with which the Archbishop of York concurred. The priests who had appeared found no "spiritual" decision awaiting them, but only a prohibitive utterance, based on a rendering of a sentence in the Act of Uniformity. Much irritation was felt, mingled with disappointment and humiliation, at the attempt to over-ride a Catholic usage which, at the lowest esteem, had been considered an ecclesiastical congruity not contrary to Holy Scripture and not confined to pre-reformation days. It was not surprising that the "opinion" produced comment of varying vein and that protests were forthcoming, in which S.S.C. as a Society took no part, and which culminated in the great overflow demonstration in St. James's Hall, at the time of the London Church Congress.
Something far worse than the Incense and carrying lights "opinion" was to follow. The Archbishop of Canterbury, on the presentation of the Archbishop of York and the Bishops of St. Albans and Peterborough, had referred to him for consideration the question of the practice of the Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament. The priests concerned were the Rev. E. Lee of Christ Church, Doncaster, the Rev. T .E. Hill of Little Canfield, Essex, and the Rev. A. S. Altham, All Saints', Welling-borough, none of whom belonged to S.S.C. The Archbishop delayed giving his opinion until May 1st, 1900, when he declared that the English Church did not "at present allow Reservation in any form." Whatever may have been felt regarding the first "opinion," the second one cut a deep wound. It was inevitable that, although there were a few who had faithfully followed a Catholic resistance to the first "opinion," there would be a great many more who in this vital question would place the mind of the Universal Church of God above that of the Archbishop. The irony of the whole affair was that, in taking a statement out of the Prayer Book as the ground of action, it was the first serious attempt that had been made to set aside "a laudable practice of the Catholick Church" which the Preface declared was contrary to its intention.
In looking back over thirty years, it seems incredible that the "opinions" should ever have been delivered. That they were bound to fail in their purpose was inevitable, in spite of the pressure used by the majority of the bishops to enforce their success. It is true to say that the Archbishop was one to whom ceremonial made no appeal and he knew nothing about it. It was said of him "that he knew the Act of Uniformity and he knew the Prayer Book, and he knew nothing more about the matter." His sincerity no one ever had the temerity to doubt. He himself repudiated all mention of the matter as either a "court," or a "trial," and frankly admitted that the decisions were merely his own "opinions."
In turning to the affairs of S.S.C. during these times of anxiety, it was noted that within the Society the year 1898 was one of quiet and peace, and exactly what was needed, "in face of the tumult and controversy raging in the world around against Catholics." The last year of Fr. Chase's Mastership was overshadowed by one of those severe illnesses to which he was subject. At the May Synod, 1898, the Rev. G. C. Ommanney was elected Master and he held the office until 1901 and consequently during the whole of the difficult time known as "the Crisis in the Church." The choice was both a new and a happy one. Having joined the Society in 1876, he had gone through the stormy period of the Society's life. His work in Sheffield had already made St. Matthew's an impregnable Catholic fortress, while the first Synod of the Society held outside London had been in his church. He was deeply steeped in the true spirit of S.S.C. and understood well its strength and its weakness. He had always felt that much of the latter came from its Statutes (a feeling shared in by many others) which had grown somewhat clumsy, unworkable and over-weighted, as experience had proved; hence he had frequently urged that they should be revised. His inflexible courage in upholding Catholic principles had long been tried and proved, and this, combined with a magnanimity towards others' views which were not vital, made him an ideal Master. Fr. Ommanney was peculiarly fitted to guide the Society at this difficult time, not only as one in the vanguard of the fights forced on Catholics, but also as one well versed in the nature of the "ecclesiastical" courts and many practical questions which the controversies had raised. And still more, by his power of impressing the Society with the realisation of its own polity of affection and friendship to all the Brethren, with a confidence in each other, made specially necessary by reason of the Church's difficulties.
The Bishop of London (Creighton) whose deep and expert knowledge of the late Mediaeval Papacy had prejudiced his view of Latinised Christianity and Canon Law, and constituted him the champion of the separate entity of National Churches, was a High Churchman, whose predilections were of a different kind from those of S.S.C. Humorous and persuasive, he used his personal influence in preference to coercion. In spite of his judgments on the Papacy, it was reported of him that he had a papal mind regarding the obedience which a priest ought to yield to his bishop. When the agitation against "ritualistic practices" had become unusually noisy, the Bishop invited a member of the Society, who had been requested to bring others with him, to a Conference at which suggestions for a Liturgical agreement might be discussed. The Bishop made it clear that a distinction had to be made between Prayer Book services rendered ornate, and omissions and supplements which gave them another form. He contended that there was an irregularity about services not in the Prayer Book if the jus liturgicum of the bishop had not been invoked. The Bishop was prepared to support his clergy in using the ceremonies legitimately involved under the Ornaments' Rubric in the Prayer Book service and incense was taken as the example. He asked that extra services should be submitted to him, not necessarily to forbid them, but to make the position regular. The Society recognised the force of what the Bishop had stated and appointed a committee to consider whether his wishes could form the basis of a course of action which could be recommended to the Brethren of S.S.C. Before the Committee drew up its Report, the Bishop had issued a circular letter to his Diocese stating his wishes about additions and omissions from the Prayer Book Services. To this letter several priests, including a considerable number of S.S.C. members, had replied and assured his lordship of their dutiful and loyal compliance with his directions. When the Committee presented its Report, its only recommendation was to suggest that, under similar circumstances, members of the Society should adopt the course as that of the London priests.
The difficulties arising out of the anti-church agitation and the attempts to disturb services by mob-law led to a better understanding between the bishops generally and the Catholic clergy. Some of the former were not slow to use the opportunity as one for the curtailment of ceremonial and an attempt to reduce the conduct of Divine Service to conformity with the findings of the "Lincoln judgment." The members of S.S.C., for mutual help and counsel, related their varying experiences and, with the exception of a Scottish case, evidence was forthcoming of the sympathetic feeling displayed on the side of the bishops, who at this juncture "recommended" rather than enforced the removal of a few external adjuncts of devotion, and in the rendering of the services an adherence to the actual letter of the Prayer Book.
Lord Halifax, who had been in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury, thought the moment favourable for proposing a Conference between leading Catholics and Evangelicals, and thought that good might be effected and some understanding be reached thereby. The Society, while doubtful whether any immediate practical result could be hoped for from such a gathering, yet welcomed the proposal as a favourable opportunity for a few representative Catholics to meet the Archbishop and two or three other bishops, and hoped that Lord Halifax would try to arrange such a meeting.
S.S.C. enunciated very clearly, as a help during these controversies, the meaning and limitations of obedience to the bishops. So many charges were levelled against the Catholic clergy of Romanism, disloyalty, disobedience and alienation, that it was very necessary to rebut the assertions. Canonical obedience, it was demonstrated, meant obedience according to a known rule or order, and, therefore, was rendered not directly to the Superior but to the law of the Church as represented by him. Obedience as a consequence in matters of doctrine, discipline and ceremonial was limited, and at times rendered impracticable by the uncertainty, indecision and inconsistency of those in authority The charges made against Catholics at this time remained unchanged, what had changed was the subject matter of the attack. The bishops of the day were not only admitting but practising the very things which fifty years earlier their predecessors in the Episcopal office had denounced as singular, Popish, mediaeval, superstitious and alienating, and had called for their cessation on the very same grounds. The bishops of 1898 had practically accepted the contention of the Catholic Revival, they could not consistently go back. Yet on the plea of "canonical obedience" they were attacking the self-same principles which they had accepted and to which Catholics had always appealed. Obedience was limited by the principles to which the bishops themselves had given their non-adherence.
It seemed likely that not the least attack would be directed against the revival of Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament. It was pointed out that as regarded the right and duty of Reservation there were not two opinions. If that principle were conceded, then directions under certain conditions and for a certain time would be conceded also. The Tabernacle was in use in England in the second year of Edward VI. although the hanging Pyx was more general. The congruity of the Tabernacle, apart from its legality, was that it was less conspicuous. For the sake of the Church at large, it was urged that the time had come when Incumbents should seriously consider this duty of Reserving. It had to be made known that Reservation was a point on which no Catholic would move.
In January, 1899, matters began to move apace. What was called the "crisis in the Church" reached its ripest point. A private meeting of the bishops had been held at Lambeth; two more letters had been sent by Sir W. Harcourt to the Times; in press and on platform militant protestantism was making no small stir; the Bishops of London and Norwich were urging two priests to appear before the Archbishop of Canterbury.
A meeting convened by the Revs. H. M. Villiers, C. E. Brooke, R. A. J. Suckling and W. B. Trevelyan, and attended by at least two hundred incumbents, was held in the Holborn Town Hall, on January 13th. This meeting adopted three resolutions. The first, proposed by the Rev. G. B. Roberts and seconded by Canon R. Bristow, declared the meaning of "canonical obedience"; the second, proposed by the Rev. C. N. Gray and seconded by the Rev. J. Wylde, pledged the meeting to refuse obedience to any demands that clashed with usages, customs and rites possessed of oecumenical or provincial and canonical authority; the third, proposed by the Rev. E. G. Wood and seconded by the Rev. the Hon. H. Douglas, gave its adherence to the Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament and the ceremonial use of incense, and maintained that these could not and " must not be abandoned."
In S.S.C. the Rev. A. M. Y. Baylay, whose unsuspected liturgical knowledge could only be described as vast, who the previous year had edited an English edition of Battifol's History of the Roman Liturgy and later his History of the Breviary which had received the compliment of the Imprimatur of the Roman Catholic authorities, gave at this time a paper on "The Ceremonial Use of Incense." He particularly urged that no reduced use of incense should be adopted which was foreign to the mind of the Church. It could be disused at a Missa Cantata, but to put it aside at High Mass would only make that service a parody. He contended that the great point was to go quietly on and take no notice of announcements, the existing excitement could not be maintained, while the present troubles were awakening an enquiring spirit. What the Society deprecated at this time regarding ceremonies and especially the use of the thurible was, as the Rev. W. J. Scott facetiously expressed it, the methods of "superior persons who were continually making new discoveries out of the dustbins of the Record Office," while the "still" use of incense and other ways suggested were "just as reasonable as to put on the Mass Vestments in an absurd fashion."
On the advisability or otherwise of priests appearing before the Archbishop much discussion was aroused within the Society, owing to differences of opinion. As a result, no opinion was constitutionally expressed.
Some of the bishops were now taking a stronger line. The Archbishop of York (Maclagan) had issued "an unsigned Pastoral" giving certain directions. The Lady Day Services at Christ Church, Doncaster, and the Palm Sunday Services at St. Matthew's, Sheffield, had been reported to him. In the matter of the former, the Archbishop threatened that he would have "no further parley but legal proceedings." The Vicar of Doncaster, at the same time, had written to His Grace to say that he should continue the practice of evening communion, which the Archbishop had expressly forbidden. His Grace wrote saying he wished him to continue what he had been accustomed to.
The attention of the Society was drawn to the action of a few bishops towards priests entering upon new work, in which endeavours were made to place them under certain restrictions in the matter both of ceremonial and of extra services.
At the May Synod, 1899, which was held at St. Matthew's, Westminster, on the 3rd and 4th of the month, while the affairs of the Church at that time were considered, very little was said of the coming incense affair, beyond an expression of agreement that there could be no compromise of a principle and no false expediency resorted to. The time had not yet come for any decided course of action. The Archbishop's hearing of the "Case for Incense " opened the following Monday, May 8th.
It became known before the Archbishop declared his "opinion" on July 31st, that he had said that the arguments brought forward so ably by the Rev. T. A. Lacey, the present Bishop of Truro (Dr. Frere) and others had influenced him not at all, and that as regarded the question of Reservation his mind was strongly in favour of its being argued on legal grounds. The point which was exercising the mind of S.S.C., no less than that of other Catholics, centred around the expediency of presenting a protest. It was recognised, however, that it ought not to be made before the case was heard, and if made before the opinion was given there were two objections.
In the first place, a protest made before would practically bind to a submission to the decision; while in the second, it would be inconsistent to protest against the Archbishop's claim without seeming to recognise it.
The Archbishop's "opinion" against the liturgical use of incense, given on July 31st, 1899, made things extremely difficult for Catholics, especially as most of the bishops acted upon it. It created a situation more difficult than that of twenty-five years earlier. That had been a stand against the unlawful demands of the State; this was one against the unlawful demands of the bishops. The consequence of the latter was that it was more likely to be misunderstood by the public. The majority of priests chose the easier course and suspended the liturgical use of incense, or used it only outside the prescribed service. There were a few who remained firm to the appointed use, while some members of S.S.C. at once introduced its liturgical use into the Mass. There is little need to dwell further on the incense episode. It has long since gone the same way as other like attacks. Notwithstanding, it probably would not have done so, if the faithful remnant, in spite of petty ostracism, had not stood firm. They were at least determined that Malachi's prophecy and Catholic usage should not fail in England. One member of the Society who specially suffered for his faithfulness to the English Church at this time was the Rev. N. Y. Birkmyre, Vicar of St. Simon's, Bristol, who stood absolutely alone and consequently became the object of much suspicion and the recipient of many petty tyrannies. The Master (G. C. Ommanney) also, at Sheffield, had his work hampered and many unworthy restrictions placed upon him in the exercise of his ministry.
While at this time there was much divided opinion within the Society, not of principle, but of action, it spoke well for S.S.C. that its sense of brotherhood, in the presence of a great strain, prevented any condemnation of those who thought it right to take up the weaker position, and stopped the severances which might have occurred in any other Society less united in aim and ideal.
When the Archbishop pronounced against "Reservation in any form," it came as no surprise. This he did on May 1st, 1900. The "opinion" had been a foregone conclusion for more than a year. It was an open secret that much panic was in the background. The Archbishop dreaded disestablishment more than anything else and wished to prevent any disruption in the Church. Two of the most extreme bishops had declared that if Reservation was not put down they would "secede from the Church of England."
The day succeeding the delivery of the "opinion," S.S.C. was holding its Synod at St. Peter's, London Docks. The Rev. E. G. Wood volunteered a short criticism of the Archbishop's pronouncement. He went over the old ground, of the nullity of a local Church's action in claiming to abolish the universal practice of the whole Church of Christ and the total opposition of the Prayer Book and Canon XXX. of 1603 to such a claim. He met the Archbishop's contention that Reservation begat worship by pointing out that "the Celebration of the Lord's Supper itself" is the same, and would remind the Archbishop that the Court of Arches and the Privy Council refused to condemn Mr. Bennett for "himself adoring and teaching his people to adore" Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament. His closing words on this troublous occasion were:
"One word of counsel to priests who practise Reservation in any form. Sit still, go on quietly as you are. Make no protests, either public or private. If your bishop should issue a public pastoral, take no notice of it. Wait until he writes to you as an individual and demands that you give up Reservation. Then simply write and say with all possible respect that you are entirely unable to comply, that you are bound to obey the Church rather than an individual bishop. Let nothing be said, not even from the pulpit; but let priests act. Act by simply going on. By God's blessing we shall win. That is the only way to fight this matter."
The Master (G. C. Ommanney) all through this trying time was a pillar of strength, in urging men to be faithful in their resistance to the unlawful demands which were made. He could do this more cogently, by reason of the witness which he himself was bearing. At the time of the incense "opinion," when it was rumoured that a course of submission in some degree was contemplated, he made the strongest appeal he could, and with all the authority of his position, to those who were wavering that they would reconsider their action and be loyal to the Church of England, to the whole Catholic Church and to their Brethren. Even at the darkest moment he was optimistic, as he urged forward to "the glorious work" of making England Catholic. The ultimate success of this mission, he declared, was assured by the infallible sign of the Divine favour they had received,they were the only Christians in England who suffered persecution for the truth's sake.
After the Lambeth Declaration on Reservation, a difference of opinion arose between S.S.C. and the E.C.U. The latter Society proposed putting forth a Declaration on Eucharistic Doctrine. There was an initial and forcible objection raised by S.S.C. to a declaration made by a collection of people who were not theologians, and the majority of whom were not ecclesiastics, that certain statements expressed the faith of the Church. It came very near putting the Ecclesia discens in the place of the Ecclesia docens. The phraseology employed was not theologically or philosophically exact. From the practical point of view, it was urged that declarations tended to provoke counter declarations. They usually made for controversy rather than calm. S.S.C. had learned by experience that declarations should be avoided. The Society sent to the President of the E.C.U. two resolutions, one that it was of opinion that it was undesirable for any Declaration to be made, and another raising "grave objection" to some of the phraseology.
It must not be supposed that during these years the questions arising out of the prevailing controversies were the only matters that occupied the mind of the Society. All through, as aforetime, it had followed its usual course of discussing subjects which bore on priestly life and work, while its spiritual addresses were delivered with regularity. The attendance at the Synods and Chapters during these years was unusually good.
In the autumn of 1899, public attention was partially diverted from ecclesiastical disputes to those of another kind. On October 11th, 1899, war was declared against the Boers in South Africa. A week later, the enemy laid siege to an almost unknown town which contained no regular soldiers and most inadequate artillery, whose name was soon to become a household word. Mafeking was made famous. Its relief came after seven months of extreme danger and privation on May 17th, 1900, and occasioned more outward signs of rejoicing than any other event of the War, just as it coined a new term for boisterousness. The Rev. W. H. Weekes, the present Dean of Bloemfontein and a Brother of the Society, was at the time stationed at Mafeking. He had stood by his flock instead of coming home, in spite of personal danger to himself. His own house had become uninhabitable; his church was damaged, although services had been held all through the siege. At the June, 1900, Chapter, the following resolution was proposed and carried:
"That this Chapter of S.S.C. congratulates Br. W. H. Weekes on his preservation from many dangers during the siege of Mafeking, and desires to express its admiration of the courage he showed in remaining at his post, and ministering to the soldiers and people in that town, in the presence of so much danger and privation."
The General Election, in the autumn of 1900, although essentially a "khaki" one, was made an occasion in a few places of dragging Church questions across the platform. In the new Parliament there were a certain number of the Puritanical type who, whenever the opportunity offered itself, did what they could to keep alive the attack upon the Church. The Government had no desire to meddle with the Church, while Catholics knew that, in the event of their doing so, it would not make them give up either their faith or their practice of it.
On January 22nd, 1901, Queen Victoria passed away. At the earliest Chapter that was held, the Standing Orders were suspended that the Master might introduce the following resolutions, which were carried:
1. "That the Brethren of the S.S.C. assembled in Chapter desire to record, first, their deep thankfulness for the many blessings bestowed on the Church by Almighty God during the reign of our late most gracious Sovereign, Queen Victoria, and for the great benefits received by our nation through her influence; and, secondly, their continual loyalty and devotion to the Throne in the person of King Edward VII."
2. "That a Special Notice be sent to the Brethren requesting them to unite in saying Mass for the repose of the late Queen's soul, on or about the thirtieth day after her death."
During the three years that have been under review the Society lost by death the following members:The Revs. F. A. Ford, A. G. E. Wallop, E. Tottenham, R. E. Knightley, J. E. Hatton, P. R. Harcourt-Chambers, C. R. J. Wallace, R. C. Hill, C. J. E. Smith, F. W. De Castro and J. A. Foote.