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.
"STRIVINGS ABOUT THE LAW."
THE twentieth century brought with it a view of Church affairs differing widely from that of the nineteenth. The Victorian period had been famed by a regard for law, higher probably than the country had ever before attained, so that when the Episcopal Rulers called to their side the power of the State to put down by Act of Parliament what they disliked they seemed to be wielding an irrefragable weapon. They had learned, however, that it was not so and the P.W.R. Act had been relegated to the room for useless lumber. There still remained the unsolved problem of the relation of Church and State and the anomalies arising out of it. The Catholic Movement had developed a strength and energy which had more than carried it through its first struggle for existence. Even those who had not followed the Movement had been influenced by it and awakened to a conception, even though an inadequate one, of the Church. With such, there was a growing conception that the Church should in some way try to unwind the cords of State interference and obtain a greater freedom for the settlement of her own disputes. There was material enough to call forth new church organisations, or at least to transform the old. Church Reform, in the sense of obtaining a greater power of representation and of self-government, became the predominant note with the majority of churchmen during the first part of this present century. The laudable desire to be rid of Erastianism was one thing; but to talk of "Church Reform" was another. To Catholic ears, such a term would always be ill-sounding. Belief in the Catholic Church excluded the idea, while at the same time it pointed to the necessity of churchmen deepening their faith and exerting themselves in duty. What was not realised was that the Church already had her organisation and that to go to the law, under a pretext of obtaining the Gospel, would be changing the position of the Erastian fetters but not undoing them.
Speaking generally, the century opened with a policy of expediency and persuasion rather than of State coercion on the part of the Church's rulers. Following up the lead which Archbishop Benson had given and the backing it had received from the more recent Lambeth "opinions" on incense and Reservation, many of the bishops took the course of claiming in their spiritual capacity the right to regulate ceremonies. They had realised (not that there was any great wish to do so) that it was futile to appeal to Caesar. When Fr. Wainwright, about this time, was threatened with prosecution at the instigation of a certain Baron Porcelli, the Bishop of London (Creighton), who had interposed his veto against it, had written,"He will not appear before the Arches Court and will pay no attention to its sentence. Doubtless he will be ejected by the police ultimately amidst universal sympathy, and no one will be able to work his parish. . . . Incense will come back, and reservation for the sick will become general."
The real difficulty to the acceptance of the bishops' policy lay in the different conception which they and the Catholic party held of the Church and the Catholic Movement. At the most, the Catholic Movement meant to the more sympathetic of the authorities a magnifying of the Anglican Communion, coextensive with the Union Jack, equal with the symbolism of the latter, to follow its own course, a freedom to enter all sees, and the supreme right to a self-expression even in matters oecumenically accepted. The real conception of the Catholic Movement, on the other hand, came through a sense of isolation on the part of the English Church from the rest of Catholic Christendom, and was essentially a movement towards reunion. To Catholics, the English Church was but a part of the greater whole and consequently she owed obedience in faith, morals and customs to the infallibility of the Church Catholic. To surrender such obedience would be ipso facto to cease to be a Catholic.
When the Movement, half a century before, turned from the Universities to the slums, towns and villages, and ceased to be academic, it found itself cut off from sympathy with the scholarship of Oxford and Cambridge. It had to train itself in Catholic theology on scholastic lines in Canon Law and oecumenical authority,subjects moreover for which at non-catholic universities no provision was made. And so without professorial chairs, or academic setting, yet possessed of individuals who were theologians, scholastic students, canonists and experienced priests, S.S.C. had, under God's providence, educated many in the science and sanctity of priesthood. The result of this was that Catholics knew from their methods what it was they wanted and the reason why. They possessed the vision not of insularity, experiment and expediency, but of the perpetuity, indefectibility and authority of the Catholic Church. This was their impregnable defence and the ground and strength of their position. It had, however, as was inevitable, engendered the conflict between Church law and State law encroaching on the Church. And what was harder still, it forced them to impress in the teeth of opposition what Anglican authorities were always forgetting, that Provincial Synods, much less individual bishops, had nothing to do with questions of Faith and oecumenical usage, except to see that the one was taught and the other observed. They could only legislate in what was not contrary to the universal law and practice of the Church.
This meant that at this particular time many Catholic priests, while not handed over to the State Courts, as in the seventies, were nevertheless being harassed on account of their obedience and loyalty to the customs and laws of the Church.
The big and dangerous questions of Church Reform which were now on the horizon occasioned much misgiving. The Education Bill of 1902 was being conceded to far too readily, on the part of the Church's representatives. The Bishop of London had owned that the "Church had offered concession after concession, almost to the very verge of surrendering that for which it was righting." The Bill set up one authority for dealing with both primary and secondary education, which was a blow to destroy the Church's influence over its schools. A most serious defect was that it could really expel the parish priest from his own schools. His right of entry would be as one of six managers, so that he would teach not as the parish priest but as an official acting under an Act of Parliament.
The general outlook of religion at the opening of the century was far from cheering. The "Free Churches" were united by the practical suppression of many truths, which had resulted in the exaltation of natural goodness and kindness, while sanitary and social reforms were much in evidence and seemed to have taken the place of faith. The poor, except in certain parishes, were alienated from all religion, the smaller tradesmen, while still mostly dissenters, had lost much of their former piety and become partisan; the working man brought up in Board School religion was ignorant of the Christian faith; the middle and upper classes were commonly indifferent and unbelieving. The tendency in Church matters was rather human than divine. The efforts made for Church Reform were evidences of this humanising tendency and of the attempt to eliminate the supernatural from religion. The English Church, at this time, by its general procedure was moving more and more towards religious insularity and self-sufficiency. Catholics, meanwhile, were additionally hampered by the persistent attacks levelled against the Church's doctrines and practice, both in Parliament and without, accompanied by charges of lawlessness and disobedience. To satisfy the clamours of those who were anxious for legislation, the Prime Minister (Mr. A. J. Balfour) took the safe course which precedent provided of appointing a Commission, on April 23rd, 1904, to "inquire into the alleged prevalence of breaches or neglect of the law relating to Divine Service in the Church of England and to the ornaments and fittings of churches and to consider the existing powers and procedure applicable to such irregularities." Sir M. Hicks-Beach was chairman. Archbishop Davidson of Canterbury, Bishop Paget of Oxford, Sir L. Dibdin, and ten others were placed on the Commission. An extensive enquiry took place; many meetings were held; and many witnesses were examined. The Committee issued its Report on June 21st, 1906. The Report arrived at two main conclusions. (1.) That the law of public worship in the Church of England was too narrow for modern requirements; and (2.) that the machinery for discipline had broken down. It recommended a new Ornaments' Rubric and a general revision of rubrics with a view to their enactment by Parliament; the carrying out of the system of Courts proposed by the Commission of 1883; the ceasing of "illegal practices" significant of doctrine; and machinery provided for creation of new dioceses. The result of the Report was that Letters of Business were issued to the Convocations on November 10th, 1906, bidding them report on the desirability of carrying out the recommendations and to form a new Ornaments' Rubric with other modifications. From this sprang the long process of Prayer Book Revision with the sequence of events of the last few years, which befell the Proposed New Prayer Book.
Turning to the particular history of S.S.C. at the beginning of the century, the May Synod of 1901 elected the Rev. W. B. Trevelyan to the Mastership. He, however, for health reasons, asked to be excused from serving, a request to which the Society acceded. The Election in consequence fell through. It became necessary to adjourn the Synod for the purpose of a fresh election, but before doing so the subjects on the Agenda Paper were proceeded with. This Synod marking, as it did, the first new era of the twentieth century in S.S.C., it will not be without interest for the order of its Agenda Paper to be given. The Synod, which was held at St. Peter's, London Docks, on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 7th and 8th, 1901, was preceded by a Solemn Mass at 10.30 a.m., with a Sermon by the Rev. F. F. Irving. After the suspension of the formal business (for the reason just mentioned) a paper was read by the Rev. A. H. Baverstock on "The Mystical Interpretation of Holy Scripture." The value of such interpretation for the exposition of the faith was insisted on and shown to have been the practice of the Church which none could question. It was the corollary of the Church's belief in Holy Scripture as the Word of God and prevented its being treated as the word of man. As the traditional method of interpretation, Catholics could not ignore it, particularly as non-catholics despised it and employed only human methods of Protestant exegesis. He pointed out the limits which were to be set. There was neither a subjective nor any one age limit. Such limitation was the same as that which bound dogmatic utterances. It must not contradict the faith, or interpret it in a way which had not received the sanction of the Church. No interpretation which rested on the authority of canonised Doctors, unless contradicted by other canonised Doctors, could be impugned without rashness. The Rev. E. G. Wood added that, in the case of mediaeval writers, it was necessary to put what they said in modern form. He had found the Mystical interpretation most useful for those who never read the Old Testament because it "did not help them." There was a veil over the faces of those who read the Old Testament to look for history, instead of for Christ.
The Rev. G. C. Ommanney followed with a paper on "The Present Outlook of Religion," in which he stated what was outlined in a paragraph above on the same subject. His remedies were to promote union, for the healing of divisions in the whole Church, and the gathering together of all who believed in the great doctrines; to give clear definite teaching whenever the chance presented itself; and never to support undenominationalism in any way.
Much time was devoted at this Synod to the "Roman Question," which was treated "Historically," by the Rev. E. Denny; "Dogmatically," by the Rev. T. A. Lacey; and "Practically," by the Rev. F. G. Turner.
The knowledge that the Government meant to take a firm hold of the secular education throughout the country and proposed to appoint a local authority distinct from the School Board, and so make it difficult to keep up Church Schools, furnished the occasion for the Rev. N. Y. Birkmyre to prepare a paper on "The Clergy and their Schools." His points were to show the reason why Church Schools were worth preserving and the essentials which must be preserved, the first being the opportunities of teaching the doctrine and discipline of the Church and the second that the Religious Teaching must be entirely under the control of the clergy and the teachers appointed by the Church Managers. The long and persevering fight which Fr. Wainwright made for the maintenance and independence of his Schools at St. Peter's, make his remarks on this occasion interesting to record:
"The importance of Church Schools cannot be overrated. Things taught to people as children come back years afterwards. Again, the children gain us admission into many homes and hearts which would otherwise be closed to us. With regard to teachers, they can often be brought on by patience; let them teach as far as they can, and leave out what they themselves don't believe."
The Rev. J. H. E. Binney read a paper on "Rules for Fasting," in which he pleaded that S.S.C. should draw up a report on the matter of fasting, and more particularly through the long fast of Lent, and state what course must be adopted in obtaining dispensation from the rule. The Rev. E. G. Wood pointed out that this was one of the ways in which S.S.C. had given guidance in the past when drawing up a Rule of Life. He reminded the Synod that the parish priest could give individual dispensation from fasting, but only the bishop could grant a general dispensation to the whole parish. He thought that in all cases it was much better to apply to the bishops, in order to impress on them what their powers were. A Committee was appointed to inquire into the practical working of the Church's Rule of Fasting and to make a report.
The Rev.W.J.Scott read a paper on "Blessed Thomas More as an Author." It is unfortunate that there is nothing of this extant beyond this meagre statement, and consequently no indication of the line of thought this "interesting" priest would have taken on a subject which so well corresponded with his own appreciation of things. It can only be surmised that the ascetic writings with their wonderful knowledge of human nature and treated by Blessed Thomas More, with "his layman's privilege to use a livelier style," were chiefly dwelt on. The imagination that could picture the pompous man standing at a window admiring his own funeral, or the gentleman thief having his arms painted on a post in Newgate before proceeding to Tyburn, was of the kind that Fr. Scott, in degree, could himself have used for purposes of edification.
The adjourned Synod was resumed on Thursday, June 13th, 1901, at St. Mary Magdalene's, Munster Square. It was found that the Rev. E. G. Wood had been elected Master. He was re-elected to the Office down to the May Synod, 1904, when he was again succeeded by the Rev. G. C. Ommanney, who held office for the three ensuing years, i.e. from May, 1904 to May, 1907.
Fr. Wood, when first elected to the Mastership, as far back as 1886, had made it his policy to impress upon the Society the primary object its Founders had in mind when they originated it. It had been founded, under the title of S.S.C., to help forward the sanctification of the Priestly Life by adherence to Rule. The Society, by the Divine blessing, had been the instrument of forwarding the Catholic Movement in a manner of which the original "six" had never dreamed. Fr. Wood was convinced that it was only by its faithfulness to the first intention that this had been accomplished. With almost the spirit of an Aymon, or a Matteo da Bascio, he never deviated from this during the nine years of his periods of office. There could be no surprise, therefore, that the September Synod had been so arranged as to deal solely, without discussion, with subjects related to priestly demeanour, devotion and work. They were as follows:Humility (F. F. Irving). Self-restraint (E. P. Williams). Gravity of Manner (F. C. Finch). Prayer (H. F. Hinde). The Priest in Study (T. A. Lacey). At the Altar (A. M. Y. Baylay). In the Pulpit (G. D. Nicholas).
At this particular time (1902) in the history of the English Church, it was impossible not to be aware of a new tendency that was developing. The Roman attitude assumed towards English Ordinations together with Ultramontanism caused a setback to the vision of reunion. The idea of the separate entity of a great National Church, which the scholarly influence of Bishop Creighton had caused to enter many minds, appeared to be creating an "Anglican point of view" subversive to faith in "the Holy Catholic Church," and to give the suggestion of a claim to the possession of some special tenets, or of doctrines of the Catholic Church held in some modified form. The isolated position of the English Church with regard to the rest of Christendom was in a sense magnified rather than deplored. A "Church in penitence" for the schisms of Christendom with a desire for the restoration of peace and unity between the Churches of England and Rome, which had been a feature of the Tractarian leaders, seemed now to be absent. Episcopal utterances like those of Bishop Montague of Chichester in the seventeenth century, and of Bishop Barrington of Durham in the eighteenth, advocating the duty of removing every obstacle and of promoting every effort to the work of Catholic Union were never heard. On the contrary, one bishop, at this very time, had most unhappily described the Church in England as "a self-going concern." The attitude of mind into which the Church was drifting was one of antagonism to the principle of the Unity of the Church and to the hope of Reunion. In discussing this dangerous tendency, one speaker asked, and not a whit too strongly,"Is it not time that a stand was made for a healthier tone with regard to our relations with the rest of Christendom and, what is more important, an acknowledgment of our suffering and loss from our isolation?" The Master (E. G. Wood) in concluding the discussion said:"What we had to combat was the notion that, as a certain bishop had said, ' the Church of England was a self-going or self-governing concern.' The real fact of course was that there was no such entity as the 'Church of England,' no such organised religious body at all, any more than there was such a body as the 'Church of Rome.' There was but one holy Catholic Church. We had also to deplore the fact that so many were quite content with our present position of isolation, and did not seem to realise that without reunion we could not act freely and with the complete authority that we of these provinces otherwise would act. To the majority, the dictum of some English divine was of more weight, or some local custom of more value, than all the traditions of Catholic Christendom."
In 1902, public attention was riveted on the preparations that were afoot for the Coronation of Edward VII. So long a time had elapsed since the last Coronation had taken place that only a very few, if any, were living who had witnessed it. Since 1838 very much had happened. When Queen Victoria was crowned the Oxford Movement was only five years old. The ecclesiastical ceremony on that occasion had been shortened as much as possible. For example, it had been forbidden to sing the Gloria in excelsis. If surprise be felt at this, it has only to be recalled that, as late as 1841, there was but one church in England and no cathedral where it was sung, and that was in the parish church, newly consecrated, at Leeds, where Dr. Hook had introduced a Choral Communion Service. In places where they sang, it was the custom to substitute a metrical psalm for the Gloria. Things were different in 1902. All the same, there was one blot in the Service put out for use on the Coronation Day. It contained a phrase not to be found in the Prayer Book and which was a plain contradiction of what the Church in England claimed to be in faith and practice. The objectionable phrase was "Protestant Reformed Religion." The use of these words constituted the service a stringent non-use for Catholics. S.S.C. immediately took action. A Committee was formed, which was empowered to prepare a letter to be signed by priests and addressed to the Press, declining to use the Service on account of the false and mischievous phrase. The Secretary of the Committee was the Rev. G. B. Roberts, who did the work of carrying out the arrangements for the publication of the letter. In due course he presented an interesting Report which ran as follows:
"The total of signatories is exactly 150, and 27 have expressed sympathy, although for various reasons they have deemed it inexpedient to sign.
"I have been supplied with about 200 Press cuttings. The letter has been sternly discussed in all the principal provincial newspapers. With few exceptions, editorial comments have been adverse, but in most cases such comments have been challenged locally and effectively. Where mere abuse has not taken the place of argument, it has been argued that ' protestant' never has been and is not commonly used to mean anti-Catholic. Mr. Miller, of the Church Association, gave this lead, and insisted on 'the truly Catholic character' of the Church of England as opposed to 'the superstitions which Rome has perpetuated through the last thousand years.'
"The agents of the Church Association have sent round to a good many papers an annotated list of the signatories, stating to what ' lawless societies' they belong, and what are their illegal practices. But, upon the whole, the censors of the letter do not seem to have excited any violent or sustained indignation. The difficulty has been to lay hold upon any statement in the letter which could be controverted.
"Two or three of the London papers did not insert the letter. The Editor of the Saturday Review wrote a private and sympathetic letter, in which he explained that his rule prevented the publication of a letter which had appeared elsewhere. The Spectator and St. James both forgot good manners, and their comments were merely vulgarly offensive. An admirable reply, signed 'Veritate non vi appeared in the next number of the Spectator, and not only rebuked the Editor sharply, but vindicated the justice of our protest. The leading- article in the Standard was remarkably respectful, and not altogether unsympathetic. It marks a great change in the attitude of London journalism. There was a short appreciative note in the Saturday Review not wholly agreeing with our omission of any reference to the investiture with the ring. The Globe appreciated, though not altogether approving, our attitude; and the Rambler had nothing but praise. It is needless to refer to the so-called 'religious papers.' They all said just what they might have been expected to say. The Guardian, however, was surprisingly sympathetic; and the Pilot, which falls under another category, strongly supported us.
"There has been a useful correspondence in the Times. Prebendary Villiers, who did not sign our protest, attacked the use of the term 'protestant,' in reply to a letter from Lord Mount Edgcumbe, and drew from the Bishop of Durham (Moule) the avowal that the phrase 'the protestant Faith,' if not 'a monstrosity ' (as Mr. Villiers described it), is 'inaccurate. Protestantism is not a faith, but a principle conditioning belief in important respects.' Mr. Berdmore Compton's letter to the Times, showing the illegality of the proposed service, has not been answered. For Canon Teignmouth-Shore's extraordinary idea that it fell under the provision in Elizabeth's Act of Uniformity for Ordaining further Ceremonies or Rites was speedily annihilated by Canon Maccoll.
"On the whole, our object has been well attained. Bishops have been pressed, and have agreed to almost anything. Many of the clergy who, without a lead, would have done nothing, have taken action more or less laudable. An impression has been produced on the bishops, and the term ' protestant' has been maltreated in a multitude of letters and sermons, whilst the Catholicity of these two Provinces has been abundantly vindicated. On the other side there has been abuse and vituperation, but neither argument nor enthusiasm."
In connection with this matter, or arising out of it, the Rev. E. G. Wood offered a suggestion which afterwards gained publicity. It was, "that at a Coronation it was fitting that all subjects of the Empire should be present, but it was profanity that unbelievers should witness the celebration of the Holy Mysteries. He suggested that it would be better that the King should receive the Blessed Sacrament at the hands of the Archbishop of Canterbury in Westminster Abbey, and then in Westminster Hall be crowned by the Lord High Chancellor, as representing the whole Empire; the crowning by the Archbishop was an anachronism."
In 1902, there came into practical being the first step, from which would eventually emerge a new mode of procedure in the English Provinces. It came in the form of a Report issued by Convocation, on the Question of Laity in Synods, and the Proposal of the Committee of Convocation for a National Council. The Report was a valuable one, but while it was intended to lead up to the Resolutions it did not do so. The Resolutions caused much heart-searching amongst Catholics and were considered both vague and dangerous, while the very title of the Proposal bore its own condemnation. "Church reform" will ever be an unsavoury term to Catholics, as it had always been. It was so now. Reformers always blame the particular constitution they attack, as the cause of failure; Catholics, on the other hand, assign failure not to the constitution, but to the individuals held responsible for its working. Reformers and Catholics have ever been poles asunder, seeing that the wide divergence has been that of the difference between opinions and beliefs. Opinions are often little more than thoughts put into shape, while beliefs are fabrics of facts toned and coloured by the experience of ages. Reformers give utterance to opinions; Catholics make a stand for beliefs. It works out into a struggle between what is experimental and what is real, or, for exactness, between what is intellectual and what is spiritual, or the difference between the human and the Divine. It is the belief of Catholics that the constitution of the Church is that of a Sacred Hierarchy Divinely appointed, to teach, witness and rule. In these Hierarchic prerogatives no layman can have a share. To this truth the word "Churchman" itself testifies, confined as it was, before language grew loose, to those in Sacred Orders. The "proposal" which Catholics had to face was one which tended to supplant the hierarchic kingdom by a democracy. The regality was an unalterable possession of the whole Episcopate to exercise the Magisterium of the Church; a democracy, apart from its illegitimacy, might become little more than compages of opinions. It would be superfluous to record that S.S.C. stood for Catholic beliefs and not for Reformers' opinions.
It does not belong to this story to give details of the way in which the Report led on to the Representative Church Council of 1904, as this in 1913 led on to the appointment of the Archbishops' Committee, the Report of which resulted in the "Enabling Act" of 1919, and the ultimate setting up of the Church Assembly. From the S.S.C. standpoint, it is sufficient to add that, while belief in the Divine Constitution of the Church can never change, inevitable occasions arise, when the will of majorities has to be acquiesced in (and majorities are generally said to be wrong) because by a higher law of Providence "Sparta is your portion." It can regard the human constitution without perturbation, as its members do, who are Proctors in Convocation, through the grasp of the Divine constitution, which is immeasurably older, aware that it is only by the imperishable that the perishable is preserved to fulfil some plan for the future triumphs of the Church.
It becomes a momentary relief to turn from the controversies without, in order to make a passing mention of the renewed activities of the Society within, to promote its real aim. The weariness and constraint of Mesech emphasise the necessity of soul progression to bear with it. As the introduction of Retreats into the English Church was one of the good works of S.S.C. and the yearly retreat for priests one of its recommendations, the Society had always made this particular exercise one of the chief notes of its life. In the early part of 1902, the Retreat Committee, in accordance with a resolution of the Society, had made arrangements for a series of monthly Retreats, to be held in different London churches, while later, in order to facilitate opportunities, the Secretary was empowered "to issue a List of Retreats selected from the Church House List, and containing any others that he might know of." Members of S.S.C. were frequently sought after as Conductors of Retreats, in fact, in the earlier days of the Movement, they might have been said to have possessed the monopoly of this work. The individual efforts made by S.S.C. priests in different parts of the country for many years to provide Retreats deserve honourable mention, even if they were too many to particularise. The Retreat Movement in the English Church, which has spread so widely and which forms such a great and accepted part in her spiritual provisions, will always remain as one of the greatest memorials to S.S.C. and if it stood alone, would in itself be sufficient to justify the existence of this, the oldest Catholic Society within the English Church.
The year 1903, within the Society, was chiefly concerned with questions that "compassed the altar." There were signs of a tendency to break away from the rigour of the "Lambeth Opinions." One bishop, at least, was laying down in certain churches regulations for Reservation, the chief of which was that the Blessed Sacrament should be kept in a locked chapel, to which the Faithful were denied access. The fight for Eucharistic Truth was now being renewed for the third pitched battle. Catholics had gained their victories over the attacks made on the Real Presence and the Sacrifice of the Mass, the fight was now developing into one for the lawfulness of the Tabernacle and the sequential consequences of legitimate Reservation.
The Incense Prohibition, at this time, also showed signs of cracking. Its fuller use was gradually coming back in several churches where, for the sake of expediency, it had partially been laid aside. It was stated that there was a tendency in some cases to sanction the use of incense where it had been in use for five years.
Some difficulties in connection with St. Michael's, Shoreditch, and a statement issued by the then Vicar of that Church, before he resigned the Benefice, caused the Society nolens volens to be emphatic on the Catholic interpretation which could be applied to the Thirty-nine Articles.
Much attention was given to a treatment on the "Mass of the Pre-Sanctified" for Good Friday use. It was considered historically and liturgically, by the Rev. A. M. Y. Baylay; doctrinally, by the Rev. J. E. Swallow; and practically in relation to the Modern English Liturgy, by the Rev. C. F. G. Turner. The papers on this occasion were of the most valuable kind. Fr. Turner's contribution most certainly helped forward the restoration of this old service in many churches. The conclusion of Fr. Baylay's erudite paper, dealing as it did with the Elevation, was helpful and convincing. He had just demonstrated that the Elevation in the Mass of the Pre-Sanctified both by its position and occasion was for adoration and not for pleading the Sacrifice, and continued,"this fact that the elevation of the Host, both in this service of the Pre-sanctified and in the Mass, is for the purpose of adoration is most important, as showing that the Western Church holds Consecration to be completely effected by the recitation of our Lord's words of institution, and that its completeness is in no way dependent on any Epiclesis in the succeeding part of the Canon."
The question of the Church Schools at this time was one that could not be overlooked. The Education Act of 1902 was, from the Church point of view, unsatisfactory and unjust. There remained, however, one great asset, in the indirect instruction which could be given and the church "atmosphere" which could be maintained. There was, in spite of this, the possibility that the State Educational Requirements might become so intolerable that fresh difficulties would arise affecting the position of Church School property. The tenure of this, apart from deliberate confiscation, could be held to be safe. There would still be a difficulty, should the situation become intolerable, concerning the future use of the schools, since to maintain title, it was necessary that the schools must be used for educational purposes. The conclusion expressed by the Master was really the truth of the matter, that Church schools no longer existed, except in those cases where the buildings were privately owned, and the managers were prepared to carry on without the aid of public money. This was not, of course, to imply that there was to be any policy of surrender, or that the opportunity was not to be used to the utmost to take advantage of all that remained. In spite of the perilous situation, it was felt that a wise Catholic could probably teach what was sufficient; and that if the children learned real religion from him, they would come on Sunday to receive fuller instruction.
In 1904, the British and Foreign Bible Society was about to celebrate its Centenary. In accordance with a proposal made, the Archbishop and several of the bishops had asked their clergy to take part in a joint celebration of the Centenary by all the "protestant" bodies both English and Continental, including the Church of England and the other provinces in communion with Canterbury. It was further proposed that the third Sunday in Lent should be kept as "Bible Sunday" and that special Psalms and Lessons should be substituted for those of the Sunday. It needs scarcely to be mentioned that S.S.C. at once realised the danger of this undenominational arrangement, as also the taking for granted that the Church of England was a "protestant denomination," to say nothing of the false principles involved and the risk of becoming abettors of schism. S.S.C. was aware that it had to act in some way, while it wanted to escape the quandary of a possible accusation of objecting to the circulation of the Scriptures, or of not thinking them a proper subject for thanksgiving. It was proposed and carried that a brief paper should be drawn up urging the most telling reasons against the observance of a "Bible Society Sunday." A leaflet giving seven short reasons was drawn up for distribution and sold at a cheap rate. The reasons in brief were:1. The Society was not a Church Society. 2. The character of the work done by the Society was a sacred one, but it was unlawful to communicate in sacris with schismatics. 3. The English Provinces were Catholic without part or lot with protestant bodies. To join in the Centenary would tend to confirm the false impressions of foreign Catholics respecting the English Church. 4. The Church as the "Keeper of Holy Writ" could alone authorise the work of translating the Holy Scriptures. The mode of the Society's distribution exposed the Word of God to irreverence. 5. It mistook the character of Christianity, in supposing that it could be propagated by distributing a Divine Book, instead of by the Divine Society. 6. The proposal to keep the third Sunday in Lent as "Bible Sunday" was a violation of Church liturgical principles. 7. The Society never issued a complete Bible. It excluded the Apocrypha from its publications.
The above reasons were drawn up by the Rev. E. G. Wood, than whom none was more fitted to state definitely Church principles and the basis on which they stood. His grasp of all that pertained to the Catholic Church was wonderful, the utterances of which gave the impression of being but a small trickle drawn from the large reservoir which supplied them. His byways of ecclesiastical knowledge were unique, as the following example, taken from a minute of 1904, will prove:"A curious instance of Mediaeval 'Anglicanism.'The Master described a Bull of Urban V. (1368) to the Archbishop of Canterbury, sending therewith the copy of a forged bull of his predecessor, purporting to give to the Merchants of the Staple of Calais the privilege of appointing an English priest to minister to them, they having alleged as grounds for this arrangement reasons which were curiously like the present-day arguments for Continental Chaplaincies. Their demand was rejected by Urban. Ten years later, however, Calais and its dependencies were placed by Urban VI. under the immediate jurisdiction of Canterbury, to which See they remained subject until 1500, when Alexander VI. annexed them to Winchester."
The appointment of the Royal Commission, April 23rd, 1904, led to the selection of a Committee of ten Members, who were nominated by the Master "to consider what steps, if any, should be taken with regard to the Royal Commission, and to advise priests thereon." It was felt by some that it might be well to refuse to have anything to do with the Commission, on the ground that it was monstrous that a Commission, appointed to inquire into disorders in the Church, should have among its members the Judge of the Divorce Court, who by his very office promoted and encouraged disorder. There were, moreover, lawyers on it, none of whom, with the exception of Sir L. Dibdin, knew anything of ecclesiastical law. Wiser counsels prevailed in the end, and the majority agreed, that those who were summoned were bound to go as loyal citizens, but it ought to be arranged that the men best able to answer should go before the Commission.
In May, 1904, Fr. Ommanney was elected Master, and he held the Office by re-election down to 1907. There was a special fitness in this. As he had been at the head of the Society during the difficult time of the "Lambeth Opinions," so now his courage and sane optimism were to be inspirations during the difficult period of the Royal Commission.
While the Royal Commission was holding its 118 meetings, examining its 164 witnesses, and propounding its 23,638 questions and answers, S.S.C. was asking one question and finding an answer to it, in divers ways, in which Moral Theology played an important part, with warnings of the grave risks bodily and spiritually, which they ran, who tried to thwart God's purpose. The question S.S.C. was asking concerned the decreasing birthrate.
By the time of the May Synod of 1904, it was possible for Catholic priests to gauge the nature of the hindrances some of them were likely to meet with in the near future, in their maintenance of Catholic practices. A few bishops were already beginning to act in consequence of communications received from the Royal Commission. The Archbishop of York (Maclagan) had softened a little in his attitude towards Fr. Ommanney, that is to say, he had taken off the humiliating conditions formerly inflicted on Confirmation Candidates and extern preachers at St. Matthew's, and was content with refusing to license curates and ignoring the Parochus, whom in conversation with others he had spoken of as a "nonconformist." The injustice of all this was that Fr. Ommanney had never been brought before any Ecclesiastical Court or given the opportunity of self-defence. He had been condemned as guilty of disobedience to the Church without any hearing.
In the Salisbury Diocesan Gazette of December, 1904, the Bishop (Wordsworth) had written a letter to the clergy and churchwardens in the Diocese, in which he insisted on the necessity of seeking faculties, or confirmatory faculties for ornaments, specifying some which were unquestionably ordered by the Ornaments' Rubric itself. He also gave directions forbidding certain ceremonies and regulating others. Most of these were of a kind impossible, at least for a Catholic, to accept.
The Bishop of Norwich had forbidden a priest in his Diocese to elevate the Blessed Sacrament at the Consecration, had accused the priest, whose conscience would not allow him to comply, of breaking the ordination vow of obedience, and had broken off all relations with him. The Bishop had made it quite clear that the reason of his prohibition was that the Holy Sacrament was not to be adored.
These were a few indications of what was likely to happen in the immediate future, as a result of the Commission. It was no matter for surprise that some of the bishops were supposed to be endeavouring to stop certain Catholic practices, so that in giving evidence before the Commission they could say that the clergy to whose practices the Commission had directed their attention had conformed to their directions. There seemed every prospect that the future would bring a continuation of those sad conflicts between .bishops and parish priests wherein obedience to the bishops would mean disloyalty to the Catholic Church of God.
A few priests of S.S.C. had recently been forced to face attacks made on Catholic devotion to our Lady and the Saints. There was little doubt that before long it would have to be faced by the greater number. To be the more ready to meet the attack, the Society in 1905 gave considerable attention to the important subject of the Catholic terminology of the Blessed Virgin Mary and what was of faith as to her Office. It was arranged according to the following scheme:1. Blessed in her Conception and Office. 2. Ever Virgin. 3. Theotokos. 4. Liturgical. 5. Popular, Devotional and Ascetical.
Although necessity was laid upon S.S.C. to be in some of the thickest frays of the Church Militant, it never lost sight, as mention has already been made, of its primary aims. In addition to the Spiritual Address at each Chapter, and the Sermon at the Synods, it was not unusual for a large portion of the time of a Synod to be occupied by "Spiritual Conferences." In 1905, at the May Synod, which was the Jubilee of S.S.C., although no allusion was made to it, there was something unde-signedly strange in the fact that the Synod should have been called on to listen to a short course of Conferences on a subject which S.S.C. was founded to hinder. The subject was a solemn one,"Failures in the Priestly Life." The four roots of failure were assigned to: 1. Secularity. 2. Disappointment. 3. Unconversion. 4. Lack of Vocation.
In the autumn of 1905, there was a growing speculation as to the effect the Report of the Royal Commission would have. Although its appearance was now due, it seemed unlikely that it would be issued before Christmas, owing to the Chairman's absence from England on Government business. As a matter of fact, it was delayed until June 21st, 1906. It had been reported that many priests were growing despondent over the state of things in the Church. Repression, interpreted by the experience of history, could only be regarded as a sign of decadence and this was the only sign exhibited by those who were responsible for ruling in the Church. On the other hand, the majority of those who were the objects of the repression had proved themselves unequal to the task, as the Incense episode had shown, of standing up against it. What hope was there that those who had caved in to the "opinions" would not submit to further repressions, when the Report appeared, and was followed perchance by direct legislation? Could the very few who had stood firm be a sufficient energy to stay the decadence? Whatever truth there may have been, or otherwise, with regard to such reports, the Master of S.S.C. used them as a lever to inspire with confidence, even if they were called upon to suffer, those who might be tempted to despond. At the May Synod (1906) Fr. Ommanney, after emphasising the truth that the hardest thing a Catholic ever had to do was to disobey his bishop, seeing that the spirit of obedience and submission to authority were the foundation of all his belief and practice; and pointing out that if the bishops gave lawful and canonical directions, instead of petty injunctions and directions which militated against some part of the faith or practice of the Church, they would be gladly obeyed, concluded by saying,"If only we had all stood firm some eight years ago, how much better things would be now. If only we stand firm and united in any coming trial, we must win. We believe our cause is God's cause; then, if we work in God's way, by readily suffering at His call, we need not fear the result; suffering means the cleansing of the Church, suffering means the manifestation of the truth, suffering means victory. We, more than others, are pledged to the Cross. Let us take it up cheerfully, when it is offered to us, as the Divinely appointed means of triumph."
After the Report had been issued, together with the Archbishop's Letter, the Society held a special Chapter to consider the Manifesto. That there should be unity of action was the point chiefly impressed, while it was prudently decided to make no general declaration at this time; that the Master's Council should act as a consultative Committee to advise priests in difficulties; and to keep in close touch with the E.C.U.
In view of the grave difficulties with which Catholics were faced, and wrong impressions concerning the utility of S.S.C. in the minds of many who ought to have belonged to it, the Master took the occasion of the September Synod to point out the many benefits which accrued to the priests who belonged to S.S.C. These he set down as five. 1. The bond of union which it formed. 2. The inestimable value of the Masses and prayers offered by the Brethren for each other. 3. The knowledge S.S.C. helped priests to gain. 4. The leading to efforts after greater holiness of life by the obligation of the Rule. 5. The opportunities for consultation it afforded both in parochial difficulties or when attacks were made upon the Faith or Practices of the Church. "Revive the work of S.S.C." said Fr. Ommanney, "give it life; once let it become what it should be, a Guild embracing all priests who believe, practise and teach the Catholic religion, then we shall have power to fight more keenly against the various evils, and a greater will to fight because the result will not seem so far off, nor the effort so hopeless. There exists no other Society to do the work."
In the autumn of 1906, some of the bishops opened attacks on a few priests of S.S.C. The Bishop of Oxford (Paget) inaugurated a prosecution against the Rev. O. P. Henly, Vicar of Wolverton St. Mary, for Reserving the Blessed Sacrament. The result of the bishop's action was that the priest was deprived of his Benefice. The Society passed a very warm vote of sympathy with him in the attack made upon him, and desired to express its thankfulness to him for the firm stand he had made. It was also announced that the Bishop of Liverpool (Chavasse) had threatened prosecution against two Brethren of S.S.C., unless certain demands made by him were at once complied with. Of a minor kind, raising to-day a smile of incredulity, was the attack made by some of the bishops on the newly-published English Hymnal, exhibiting thereby scant reverence for the compositions of early writers whom the Church had canonised. It was moreover an attack on the prescriptive right of the parish priest to determine what hymns, if any, should be used. A right which could only be taken away by a Canon of the Provincial Council. The truth was the English Hymnal had been made the occasion of an attack on doctrine. The Report of the Royal Commission and the statements of the bishops showed that there was a direct attack on Eucharistic Adoration.
During the years considered in this Chapter (May, 1901May, 1907), the Society had to place on its Roll of Deceased Brethren, the names of some of whom in their relation to S.S.C. it could be said in the words of the Sacred Chronicle,"whose brethren were strong men." They were active in the Society and have all been mentioned in the preceding pages. The Rev. Canon T. T. Carter, sometime Rector of Clewer, and Father Founder of the C.S.J.B., Clewer, died on October 28th, 1901, at the age of 93, having worked right to the end. He belonged to the first years of S.S.C., having joined it in 1859, and had been a former Master. His Life and Letters have been published, while his spiritual writings had at one time the very widest circulation. Probably no priest in the English Church was more eagerly sought after as a spiritual guide and director, just as there was no priest more esteemed by all men of good will in the Church for his saintliness of character. The Rev. A. G. Stallard, whose active and varied ministry closed at St. Stephen's, Devonport, on February 22nd, 1902, had often enriched the Society with his theological and carefully prepared papers, while in his Local Chapter, and in the West of England, he was regarded as a tower of reliability in every matter that concerned the Church. The Rev. T. S. Barrett, who had joined the Society in 1864, had in years past fought a good fight for the faith when he was at Barrow-in-Furness. He had also done much work in connection with the Carlisle Oratory. During the last year of Fr. Mackonochie's Mastership (1885) he had for several months discharged on his behalf, with great advantage to the Society, all the duties of the Mastership. He passed away somewhat suddenly, June 13th, 1903. The same year, November 28th, the Rev. J. W. Kempe, who for many years had been one of the prominent priests of S.S.C., also passed away. The Rev. Alfred Poole, one of the Founders of S.S.C. whose work and suffering for the Sacrament of Penance have been related, died January 23rd, 1904. The Rev. G. A. Jones ("Father Arthur Jones of Cardiff") was well known and highly respected in the Church in South Wales. He did a remarkable work on strong Catholic lines at St. Mary's, Cardiff, where he turned much active opposition into loyal appreciation and service by his patience, perseverance and good sense. Canon George Body wrote of him, after his death, which occurred September 22nd, 1906,"In the true sense of the word he was an Evangelical Catholic who loved, confessed and taught the truth as it is in Jesus. In him was manifested the power of the Holy Ghost, and in him the grace of God was magnified." A Memoir of him was published in 1907. Other priests who, if they were not active in the deliberations of the Society, were nevertheless faithful, good and true in their appointed work, passed away during these years. Such were, the Revds. W. Weekes, A. Wynell-Mayow, C. M. Preston, C. F. Russell, W. Featherstonhaugh, N. Larchin, J. A. Eldridge, W. H. H. Jervois, O. Churchyard, H. J. S. Gray, S. H. Bennett and A. T. Waitt.