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.
"SEVEN YEARS OF PLENTY"
IT is arresting that the first printed record of S.S.C. should begin with an appreciation of John Keble. It is moreover fitting, seeing that he it was who, thirty years earlier, had struck the note from which the Catholic Movement, grew. Keble died March 29th (Maundy Thursday); 1866. At the Synod of the Society held exactly five weeks later, on May 3rd, 1866, the Master (Fr. A. H. Mackonochie) said,"We have to thank God that we have seen the work of the past thirty years crowned by the departure from among us of him, who was most eminently its father. We think of him, working as it were out of sight, in the deep of the earth of men's hearts, laying the foundation of the revival which has already passed its first and second periods. And now we have seen him pass away, in the faith wherein he has worked, rejoicing to see in his lifetime the fulfilment of so many of his hopes."
Bidding the Synod look away "from the calm of Keble's grave to the world outside," a reference was made to two subjects which, at that time, claimed the attention of Catholics. The one was the attack which was being made on the Church's Ritual; and the other the interest which was being manifested in the Reunion question and the prayers which were being offered for it.
It is difficult, nearly seventy years after, to realise the stir that was exhibited over ceremonial at that period of the sixties. The Bishop of London (Tait) in 1865 had stated in Parliament his disapproval of certain ritual observances and promised support, which he believed the other bishops were also ready to give, to any measure which would settle the Ornaments' Rubric by an alteration of the Prayer Book. The attacks, however, were having a great missionary effect on the religious and the thoughtful. They led to investigation, and many were brought to see that ceremonies corresponded with the language of the Church, and that they emphasised and confessed the mysteries of the Faith, and in particular those which unbelievers and misbelievers were endeavouring to explain away. The practical result of it was a powerful deputation waiting upon the Archbishop of Canterbury (Longley) with a gigantic petition against any such alteration. The Archbishop, while stating his own disapproval of ritual practices, promised that nothing should be done without the consent of Convocation.
The general interest taken in the Reunion question at that time was evident from the fact that Dr. Pusey's Eirenicon was being sold at the rate of one thousand copies a month. There could be no surprise therefore at these matters occupying an important place in the first printed report of the Society. Both then and since S.S.C. has taken a consistent and prominent part in the guidance of Catholic ceremonial, and always endeavoured to set up as a standard a following of the Western rule. As regards the Reunion problem, the Society has always acted with the same consistency in trying to further all right endeavours for the promotion of Reunion, and to oppose legitimately every proposal or action which tended to widen the breach.
In its early years and for some time after, it was the custom of S.S.C. to admit Candidates for Holy Orders as Probationers of the Society. This gives a special pathos, in looking back, to the following statement made at the May Synod of 1866."It has pleased Almighty GodI believe for the first time since the foundation of the Societyto call to Himself the soul of one of our brethren (A. W. Carver, Durham). The one taken is one of the youngest, if not actually the youngest, amongst us. Weak in body, yet strong in his zeal for God, he was looking forward eagerly to devoting himself to the Service of the Ministry. But it seemed good to his Lord to visit him with the withering blast of a Superior's disapproval of his efforts for preserving the Church of his Baptism, Being for this cause refused ordination at the last moment, his heart sunk within him. A tendency already existing to tumour on the brain increased rapidly and he passed away, thus early perfected, as we hope, from the communion of the saints on earth to that of those who wait for the coming of their Lord."
Brief reference was also made to two others present at the Synod, "who had been honoured with a share of the same kind of-persecution."The Rev. H. D. Nihill, who was the preacher, had the previous year been inhibited by the Bishop of Manchester (Prince Lee) for using the Mixed Chalice and kneeling at the Consecration and was forced to decline preferment in Scotland because the same bishop refused to countersign his Letters Testimonial. Sir Robert Phillimore had expressed the opinion, based on law,"I do not think Mn Nihill did anything illegal." It is conjectured that the other reference was to the Rev. A. Poole, whose licence, as related in the last chapter, had been cancelled a few years earlier by the Bishop of London, for exercising his ministerial office in the confessional.
We obtain, at this Synod, a glimpse of what the Society was actually accomplishing, at that time. It had been instrumental in suggesting the organisation of Parochial Confraternities. These consisted of full members united together by religious rules, while associated with them was an outer circle of associates, who shared in the secular benefits and amusements of the members, and whose qualifications were simply "steadiness of character."
Another practical expedient, very lacking at that time, is well illustrated by Prebendary Denison in his Church Recollections, where he has related the qualms and sensations felt at having to knock at a front door, or ring a bell, in order to arrange for making a confession. It is a presentation true to life of shyness and courage in conflict. It was realised that many souls entangled in vicious habits, and others struggling with temptations and sin, could be more readily helped, brought to repentance, and saved much suffering and sorrow, if easier means of access to a priest could be provided. At the suggestion of S.S.C. the practice was introduced of announcing the fixed hours at which a priest might always be found in church ready to hear Confessions. It was realised also that, while much was being done for women following evil pursuits, scarcely a hand was raised to help men to repent. The conversion of men was warmly pressed. In large towns leaflet tracts were distributed at the doors of places of amusement. It was found that many a man who would have hesitated to ring or knock at a door did find his way into a church, where no questions were asked as to who he was, and where he found a priest who exercised his ministry for the healing of his soul. As a safeguard for the young, the Society also strongly advocated that Confirmations should take place early and the bad custom which had arisen be broken, of deferring them to the very late ages of fourteen and upwards, when the knowledge of sin had led to the grave commission of it.
One of the most important happenings mentioned at the Synod of 1866 was a reference to the revival of the t; Religious Life for men,"I am able to mention," said Fr. Mackonochie, "the Brotherhood of St. John the Evangelist, at Oxford, under Br. Benson."Father R. M. Benson was the sixteenth on the Roll of S.S.C., while the Oxford Branch of the Society was the oldest and most honoured, for it had been associated with the revered name of Dr. Pusey. Fr. Benson, moreover, was one of the Vicars of the Society and also an active member of it. Not only in its aims and growth was his influence felt, but in practical ways his common sense was shown. A convenient lettering in the Society's Roll, for the assignment of locality, still used, owed its origin to him. He also proposed in 1867 that steps should be taken to procure a house for the Society. This was acted upon almost immediately by taking a house in Ash Grove, Hackney, rented by the Sisters of St. Mary's Priory. But it was held for a short time only, being re-let to the Sisters when, owing to a big defection, it was necessary to find a home for the faithful who remained. The proposal, however, was not lost sight of. It again matured for a time in 1872, when rooms were taken at 5 Greville Street, Holborn, which remained the Headquarters of the Society down to 1883.
In his book on Religious Communities, Mr. A. T. Cameron has related that a meeting was held in the rooms of St. Mary, Crown Street, at which were present the Bishop of Brechin (Forbes), Frs. Benson, Grafton and Tuke, and two laymen, Mr. George Lane Fox and the Hon. C L. Wood (Lord Halifax). The definite resolve was made by Frs. Benson and Grafton (the latter subsequently joined S.S.C.) to become Religious. At a following meeting at the House of Charity, when there were present in addition to those mentioned as being at the first, Dr. Pusey, T. T. Carter and Fr. O'Neill, it was decided to form the Community. In looking back over more than sixty years, and in the knowledge of what Cowley has stood for and accomplished, there is something more than sentiment in recording that both S.S.C. and Cowley were resolved upon in the same place, and that the Father Founder of the latter and nearly all those who joined him in the earlier years were brethren of S.S.C.
Other efforts to revive the Religious Life among men were being made by two other brethren of the Society. The Rev. T. W. Mossman had founded a Brotherhood of the Holy Redeemer at Great Torrington. This, however, did not take deep root, and after a few years ceased.
The other effort came from the Rev. J. L. Lyne, better known as Fr. Ignatius, who, when working with Fr. Lowder, in the St. George's Mission, assumed in 1862 the Benedictine habit and announced his intention of a revival of the Benedictine Rule which it had long been his cherished wish to effect. Leaving London, he went to the village of Claydon, near Ipswich, where the Rev. G. Drury allotted him a portion of the Rectory and gave him free scope to exercise his extraordinary powers as a mission preacher. He was, however, inhibited by the Bishop of Norwich. The stables of the Rectory were then placed at his disposal and were converted into a mission room, where Ignatius and his brethren did much work in the little village and lived their community life in conformity with the Benedictine Rule. In 1863 and during 1864 an interesting correspondence had taken place between Fr. Ignatius, who then and for many years afterwards belonged to S.S.C., and Fr. Mackonochie, the Master of the Society. The account given of Holy Week, 1863, in a letter preserved amongst the Records of the S.S.C. and written by Fr. Ignatius himself on August 13th, 1863, reads not unlike a chapter in the Life of the Cur³ dArs.
"During Lent, before my prohibition by the Bishop of Norwich, I preached frequently to overflowing congregations. "During Holy Week I preached seventeen sermons in the parish church here. After the sermon on Maundy Thursdays night above fifty persons, many dissenters, remained for their first confession then and there. The priest was hearing confessions till two in the morning, when the brothers said the office of Tenebrae. After which I sung the Litany and preached at 3.30 in the morning. Before Easter Sunday about twenty more persons came to confession. Now, dear sir, this apparent excitement was only the commencement of a Church revival which lasts in full force now."
In this same letter, Fr. Ignatius outlined in impassioned language the aim and rule of his community, and insisted that as Benedictines were the great missionaries of Europe in the past ages, so only by the same order could missions be carried out now. He appealed to the Society for financial help to further his project. There can be little doubt that, in the mind of the Society, there was a feeling that Fr. Ignatius was forcing the pace, and making what was one of its own special aims appear eccentric. His fault lay in blindly following the past and ignoring the wisdom of adapting it to the circumstances of his day. Some of his friends, moreover, could see what he could not, that his temperament was not such as to bestow on him either the virtue or the tact of ruling. In a considered reply, Fr. Mackonochie showed his great wisdom as a leader of; men and his clear grasp of constitutional order. He contrasted the way in which Fr. Ignatius had inaugurated his work, as compared with the St. George's Mission, undertaken by Fr. Lowder, and constitutionally associated with the Society. His wider vision of the need of Religious Life, and his magnanimity in doing what he could for Fr. Ignatius, the following will prove. During the year 18667, the Society put out a Memorial addressed to the Archbishop of Canterbury, asking him to lay the subject of Religious Orders of men before the bishops. The Memorial, while carefully worded, bore special reference to the case of Fr. Ignatius. It was signed by 460 priests and was not confined to the Brethren of the Society. The Memorial addressed to the Archbishop was as follows:
"We the undersigned priests and deacons of the Church of England, having heard that the Rev. J. L. Lyne has voluntarily submitted himself to your Grace's authority, and sought your sanction and guidance in the work which he has at heart, humbly beg to be heard in support of his petition for such sanction. We are persuaded that there are great numbers of persons who, with ourselves, are deeply interested in the restoration of the Devoted Life for Men in the Church of England. Without committing ourselves to any of the past words or actions of the Rev. J. L. Lynewho yet is known to several of us as a brother whose influence in the conversions of souls God has singularly blessedwe simply desire to testify to our concurrence with him in this one point, viz., an earnest longing for the re-establishment of Religious Orders of Men, living and working under Episcopal direction, in the Church of England. We are convinced that associations of men living under religious rule are no less a necessity of the times than the Sisterhoods, which have of late years become so completely established and have so rapidly spread in our Church. We know that on all sides there is a strong yearning for similar organisations of earnest men, and we humbly venture to suggest that the same liberty which is accorded to Religious Women, in the adoption of Rule, Name and Habit, distinctive of their calling and order, may fairly be allowed to such Brotherhoods. At the same time, we are deeply concerned to see so much zeal and energy springing into action apart from Episcopal control, and we therefore earnestly pray your Grace, with the other bishops of your Province, not to let pass this opportunity of consolidating good intentions and earnest efforts for the glory of God, but to take such measures as to your wisdom shall seem fit for establishing some form of Devoted Life for Men in that branch of the Church which is committed to your charge."
To this Memorial Archbishop Longley replied, on May 31st, 1867, as follows:"I have not failed to consult my Episcopal Brethren on the subject of the Memorial which you forwarded to me, signed by many priests and deacons of the Church of England, representing the earnest longing they feel for the re-establishment of Religious Orders of Men, living and working under episcopal superintendence in the Church of England. I did not find that there was absolute unanimity among them on the question; but there was certainly a very general and decided manifestation of opinion adverse to the view entertained by the subscribers. The Archbishop and bishops assembled could not but rejoice to hear of earnest men who were willing, while they maintained their own calling, to act under episcopal direction and in aid of the spiritual work of our churches in its parochial divisions; and whilst they could perceive many useful openings for Religious Associations among men devoted to the work of God, they declined the responsibility of taking any steps for the re-establishment of Religious Orders of Men, with a name and habit distinctive of their calling and order."
A Memorial of quite a different nature was addressed in 1867 to the Bishop of Capetown by the Society. The South African Church was going through a period of great distress and scandal, arising out of the Colenso case. Bishop Colenso having been deposed and excommunicated for his defection from the Faith, and a lawful bishop canonically placed in his room, the erring bishop had refused to submit to the discipline of the Church. The Memorial of S.S.C. was intended as an expression of gratitude to Bishop Gray for the noble stand he had made in defending Catholic truth and discipline and in upholding Church authority against any surrender to Erastian aggressiveness. The Memorialists received an affectionate reply from the Bishop of Capetown, together with some information regarding the faithfulness of the majority of the Communicants of the Church in Natal to the obedience of the Faith.
The aim of the Society from its beginning had been to present and establish a consciousness of Brotherhood amongst priests, to help them to realise the Catholic life, in order to avoid the danger of regarding the Movement simply as Catholic work. The ideal in the minds of the Founders was the sanctification of priestly life by adherence to a Rule of Life and the framing of a working Constitution which would insure a corporate unity. It can be seen, therefore, that no cut and dried plan would be either forthcoming or practical. A Rule of Life had to be tested by experience before it could become a fixed law, generally suitable to all the varying conditions and environments of priestly life. The Constitution, moreover, after its foundation had been laid, became a matter both of growth and repression. While the Constitution of S.S.C. has remained very much the same as in its early years, nevertheless all through its history proposals to revise and improve its Statutes have taken up no small share of its synodical and committee work. It was in 1866 that the Society first printed for the use of its brethren and associates its Statutes, Rules, Standards of Daily Life and the Order of Proceedings at Synods. It also issued in that same year the draft of a Directory for Priests, which dealt not only with the reverent rendering of Services and Administration of the Sacraments and an impression of the Seasons, but also with the private devotions, parochial work, demeanour and private dress of the priest. It would seem from the last, and by a comparison of clerical portraits, before and after the Society's rise, that even ecclesiastical tailors owe a debt of gratitude to S.S.C.
In his address to the May Synod, 1867, Fr. Mackonochie spoke in subdued joy of some ground that had been won during the eleven years of the Society's life, but also gave the warning that it could only be held by the most persevering labours. He stated the truism that the world always had struggled against the "Doctrine of the Cross" and would continue to do so. "We are not surprised," he said, "to find that the world bestirs itself to set the battle in array against us. The hated sign must be driven away, and we have the honour of being hated for its sake. The war has been brought into our own camp, on a matter which affects the foundations of truth."This was the only allusion made to what must have been in the minds of the thirty-seven present. Just five weeks before, on March 28th, 1867, the Bishop of London (Tait) had signed the Letters of Request to the Court of Arches, at the instigation of the Church Association, and thus given his consent to the commencement of the persecution which was destined to harass this great priest for the rest of his active ministerial life. The long suit "Martin v. Mackonochie" had begun. The citation was issued on Friday, April 5th, 1867. The hearing of the case was to begin on June 15th. The Synod offered its Master what practical sympathy it could. It was moved by the Bishop of Dunedin (Jenner) and seconded by Fr. Lowder, "That a grant of fifty guineas out of the funds of the Society be made to the St. Alban's Defence Fund, and that a fund for the same object be opened by the Treasurer."
At this same Synod a grant of 25 guineas was made to the Bishop of Nassau (Venables), a brother of the Society, for rebuilding his churches destroyed by hurricane. It was also resolved that he should be further helped by the Society pledging itself to provide the sum necessary for the maintenance of a student at St. Augustine's, Canterbury, for three years, who should be ordained to work in the Diocese of Nassau.
In these two resolutions, we possess an example of the Society giving expression to one of its main objects, viz., the defence and the extension of the Catholic Faith. At the Synod of 1868, we find the Society giving full effect to another of its aims, by its determination to present an Address on the subject of Catholic Reunion to the Conference of Bishops, which would meet at Lambeth in the autumn. The Address was eventually presented by the Bishop of Salisbury (Hamilton) and was signed by 1,129 clergy and 4,759 lay communicants.
There was no intention on the part of the Society that its life should be a dormant one. The Synod of 1868 reported the efforts which had been made at the Wolverhampton Church Congress of 1867 for the purpose of drawing attention to the Society. A new paper on the "Nature and Objects of S.S.C." was written for the occasion, and also, "An Address to Catholics. From the Brethren of the Society of the Holy Cross." This Address was republished in a more extended form in 1869 and was a well-reasoned and sober-minded pamphlet, which enunciated the true Catholic position of the English Church, in opposition to the theories put out by Roman Catholics, Protestants and Latitudinarians. It set forth the existing difficulties and pointed out the duty of "churchmen" to press forward and spread the Faith for "never was a fairer field or a better cause." Both of these papers were widely distributed.
It was resolved at this Synod (1868) that Spring Conferences should be held in some influential London church, a matter in which Frs. R. M. Benson and A. H. Stanton took a leading part. It was also thought well to communicate with Dr. Liddon on the subject.
That same year attention was specially drawn to the Brethren of the Society in the Colonies. There were three missionary bishops belonging to the Society, viz.the Bishop of Nassau (Venables), the Bishop of Dunedin (Jenner), and the Bishop of Honolulu (Staley). There were insurmountable difficulties in the way of holding foreign chapters, and, therefore, the suggestion was made that some brother should undertake "the office of Corresponding Secretary to the Brethren out of our own Islands." This led to the appointment at the May Synod, 1869, of the Foreign Secretary, as a recognised officer of the Society. The work was first undertaken by the Rev. F. G. Jackson, Cranbourne, Windsor, who held the office until circa 1872, when he was succeeded by the Rev. L. Alison, East Grinstead.
The years 18689 were marked by many defections from the Church, which led Fr. Mackonochie to declare,"We must cling to the Church of England, our one channel of union with Christ, for good or ill." The Society, moreover, appointed a Committee to put forth a statement "with the special object of quieting unsettled minds," and to set forth the definite authority for doctrine and practice on which Catholic priests acted. Those were difficult days and many hearts grew faint. The cry of disestablishment was loudly uttered, by enemies, who thought it would prove to be the death blow to the English Church; and by some of the Church's most faithful sons, who thought that they saw in it the only path to freedom. The controversies occasioned by the publication of Essays and Reviews, and also the Natal Scandal gave birth to deep misgiving. Further, the outcry raised against "Ritualism" led to the serious charges of lawlessness, disobedience to bishops, and rejection of authority being levelled at those whose very principles biased them to reverence the person and office of the bishop, in an even higher degree than those who made the charges. In the sense used and in the charges made, obedience to the bishops meant a false interpretation of the term. It raised the whole question of obedience. The English Provinces claimed to be both National and an integral part of the One Catholic Church of Christ. While the former claim gave them the limited liberty of a National Church, the latter claim bound them to the obedience due to the whole Church. The constitution, continuity, canons and Prayer Book of the English Church revealed this to be her mind. The bishops meant by the spirit, or mind, of the Church, their own minds and, in subjection to the State, seemed to think that, by the "great price" of Erastian bonds, they had "obtained the freedom" of ignoring Catholic claims. The obedience they asked for was a phantom one, which faded into thin air when measured by the standards of the Ordination Vows, or the Canonical Obedience which a priest has to render to his bishop. Obedience to their demands would have meant disobedience both to the Catholic Church and to the historical interpretation of the Prayer Book, and to the Church's true mind. There was, moreover, the sad experience of the past thirty years. It was an established fact that each step of the Movement had been carried through, not only without the consent of the bishops but frequently in open opposition to them. Even when certain improvements and embellishments had become popular, which at one time were considered "abominations," and in which the bishops themselves now took part, they still complained; that they were "powerless to arrest the rolling flood of Ritualism." There were two facts which they appeared incapable of grasping, first, the fact that a living movement must move and grow; and second, the fact of the Catholic Church as an organised life, in which the Provinces of Canterbury and York claimed to share, and in consequence of which, they were bound by conformity to Catholic consent. The voice of the Church, to them, meant the Prayer Book interpreted by their own prejudices and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, whereas to Catholics it meant what the whole Church decreed, held and taught with the Prayer Book interpreted by this oecumenical authority. The appeal of Catholics was to the existing canon law and formularies on the one hand, and to Catholic consent upon the other.
The year 1869 was an inevitably sad one for Catholics. It was the death year of their two Episcopal Champions, the only two who had not opposed the Catholic Movement. Bishop Phillpotts of Exeter and Bishop Hamilton of Salisbury had both died within the year. Archbishop Longley had died October 28th, 1868. In November, Mr. Disraeli offered the Primacy to Dr. Tait, who as Bishop of London had shown himself opposed to the Catholic Revival. In making the appointment, Disraeli had owned that he had in view the rallying of a church party, which should unite all other sections of the Church, but omitting the extremes of rationalism and ritualism, and that he was prepared to support a "Church Discipline Bill." (Life of Archbishop Tait, Vol. I., p. 536. 3rd Ed. 1891.) Archbishop Tait entered upon his duties as Primate in January, 1869. Mr. Gladstone was now Prime Minister and remained so until 1874. He was succeeded in office by Mr. Disraeli, who continued in power until 1880,years which proved to be fateful ones for the Catholic party.
Archbishop Tait possessed a power of statesmanship which his predecessors in the Primacy had not. He succeeded in forming, as it were, an Episcopal Cabinet, made up of all the bishops and furnished with a definite policy. This policy was more or less summed up in the phrase of the day, "put down ritualism." In the many speeches the Archbishop made, whether in the House of Lords, or in the Upper House of Convocation, he in temperate yet firm language made this aim quite clear and, when attacking either Catholic doctrine or Catholic practice, he almost always stated that he was but the mouthpiece of the whole bench of bishops.
It is not altogether surprising that many, soul-wearied with controversy and discouraged by the toleration of error and the opposition to Catholic truth in high places, sought the refuge of another communion, while those who remained faithful knew not from day to day what fresh difficulty or intimidation might arise. The S.S.C. did what it could at this juncture, both to stem the defections and to stimulate the discouraged. A Committee consisting of Frs. A. H. Mackonochie, R. W. Corbet, G. C. White, J. Newton Smith, F. H. Murray, E. D. Cleaver, J. Going, G. Nicholas, A. B. Goulden, C. Grafton, Dr. Littledale and J. W. Chadwick, were asked to draw up an address to Catholics, which might tend to assure those who were unsettled, by setting forth a concise statement of the Catholicity and jurisdiction of the English Church, and the authority for doctrine and practice on which priests rested, together with a clear enunciation of the most prominent contested points. This the Committee did, and An Address to Catholics was published, which had a wide circulation. It was the address of 1867, but rewritten and much enlarged.
At that time, the Society was using all the legitimate means it could to make its influence felt and appreciated. : It was impossible to do so without encountering a certain amount of opposition, and this it met with, especially from militant protestantism. This type of opposition has always been noted for its strong language and use of foolish innuendoes. It strove to stir up prejudice against S.S.C., by describing it as "a secret society," well aware of the effect which the use of the sinister adjective "secret" would have upon the mind of the British public. It could not see, or affected not to see, the difference between a private meeting and a secret one. A problem which the Society had to face, after it had reached maturity, was how it could best make itself known without resorting to the vulgar methods which would have defeated its spiritual ends. There is a publicity that secularises and one that edifies; to edify was the very reason of the Society's being. With that end in view, it held meetings at the Church Congresses, which usually resulted in an increase of membership. When it put out important memorials, it invited other clergy to co-operate. It issued, whenever its funds would permit, popular tracts, pamphlets, devotional and practical booklets. Among such publications may be mentioned, Pardon through the Precious Blood, written by the Rev. G. R. Prynne; Are Catholics Catholic? a sermon preached in Synod by the Rev. J. W. Horsley; Jurisdiction in the Confessional, by the Rev. E. G. Wood, a paper read before the Society, and several others, which, like those mentioned, belong to this particular period of the Society's history.
The work done by the Local Branches in the early seventies for making the Society better known met with a fair proportion of success. The Brighton Branch, at that time, was spoken of as one of the most promising and was carrying on a vigorous campaign. The names of its officers guaranteed this. They were Orby Shipley, H. Hollingworth and R. W. Enraght. The Oxford Branch, it was reported, had set itself on an active basis. It held a meeting in 1870 which was attended by a large number both of priests and undergraduates; many of both joined the Society, and others made up their minds to do so in due course. This Branch set before it, as a special work, the diffusing among the undergraduates of a definite conception of the Vocation for the Ministry and the need of special training for corresponding with it. The Officers of the Branch were W. C. Macfarlane, C. E. Hammond and A. L. Lewington. In addition to these, the following well known priests were attached to the Oxford Branch and were well calculated to further its aims,T. Chamberlain, R. M. Benson, R. L. Page, J. Greatheed, G. C. Grafton, S. W. O'Neill, A. B. Simeon, J. W. Horsley, H. R. Bramley, C. Deedes, A. W. Hutton and R. J. Wilson. Of Oxford Undergraduates who joined the Society about that time, as Candidates for Holy Orders, were H. C. Shuttleworth, N. Y. Birkmyre and E. V. Collins.
In the November of that same year (1870), the Master (A. H. Mackonochie) spent a fortnight in Scotland in the interests of the Society, and was present at a Synod of the Northern Province at Aberdeen, and at a Chapter in Edinburgh.
The other Branches of the Society, with their respective Officers, at that time, were,Aberdeen (J. Comper, A. Harper, T. I. Ball); Carlisle (T. S. Barrett, C. H. V. Pixell); Cheltenham (T. Humphris Clark, H. M. J. Bowles); Dundee (J. Nicholson, J. W. Hunter); Leeds and Wakefield (J. W. Chadwick, J. M. Gatrill); Manchester (T. Ramsbotham, J. E. Sedgwick); Cambridge (E. G. Wood, C. D, Goldie, G. G. Kemp); Dolgelly (G. Arthur Jones, E. Lewis, R. Jones); Edinburgh (A. D. Murdoch, C. E. Bowden, W. G. Bullock); Liverpool (C. Parnell, J. Bell Cox); Plymouth (G. R. Prynne, R. M. Blakiston, A. W. Ford).
The chief external work done by the Society in 1870 was the, production of' the Memorial repudiating the authority of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in causes ecclesiastical and spiritual. It was presented to Convocation in February, 1871, by the Prolocutor in the Upper House, and by the Rev. H. C. Joyce in the Lower. The work of this had been a very heavy tax upon the Secretary (H. E. Willington). The occasion of the "Repudiation" Memorial arose from the Ritual Prosecutions which were now taking place. The Judicial Committee had assumed to itself the spiritual power of suspending Fr. Mackonochie for three months, and in the case of Elphinstone v. Purchas had reversed the decision of the Court of Arches that vestments, eastward position, wafer bread and the mixed chalice were legal. If the Judicial Committee had taken upon itself to enthrone a bishop, institute an incumbent, or license a curate, the ultra vires of the act would have been recognised immediately. Or if it had declared, for example, that an official order for a military full dress parade, or the use of the regalia for a court function, the "shall be" worn, meant "shall not be," it would have been ridiculed for its absurdity. As it was, the matter involved was too serious for ridicule. Behind it all lay a determined attack on Divine truth and worship, veiled by a high civil court assuming spiritual powers which it could not possess, and which in its original appointment it was never intended to possess. In looking back over the more than half a century that has elapsed, it can be seen how great a debt is owing to S.S.C. not only for the firm stand it made at that time, but also for its help towards creating the atmosphere which eventually brought discredit to the authors, methods and agents of these so-called disciplinary proceedings.
A wisely ordered piece of strategy was developed to reduce to effeteness the puritanical tyranny by revealing the unsuspected yet real hold which Church principles had in the country. It was suggested that there should be a list of priests ready to declare their determination to adhere to Catholic practices in the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist, as far as they had seen right to return to them in their respective churches, at all costs to themselves and in defiance of any decision of the Judicial Committee to the contrary. Also that there should be a list of those not wearing the legal eucharistic vestments who would undertake to revive their use immediately on a prosecution being commenced against any priest for more advanced ceremonial than their own. In the event of a prosecution for the use of vestments, it was urged that others should come forward to a certain definite level,such as the use of vestments and lights, with the addition of the two most important points, because belonging to our Lord's InstitutionUnleavened Bread and the Mixed Chalice.
The resolve of the Society itself was to be true to the Name it bore, and, by the grace of Him Who died upon the Cross, to stand firm in its place and conquer.
There were other matters exercising the minds of Churchmen at that time, (a.) The admission of a Socinian to Holy Communion in Westminster Abbey, in connection with the Revision of the English Version of the Sacred Scriptures, caused the Society to take an active part in the protest which was forwarded to the Archbishop of Canterbury, (b.) The letter sent about that time by the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Patriarch of Constantinople, in which he disclaimed for the Church of England the practice of Prayers for the Faithful Departed, induced the Society to request Dr. Littledale to write a short treatise setting forth the testimony of the English Church to its Catholicity, (c.) The attempts which were being made to secularise education and to oppose Church Schools generally led to practical suggestions to counteract them, such as forming an Order of Certificated Teachers for securing religious teachers in Church Elementary Schools, and also the formation of Guilds for the children, (d.) The Report of the Ritual Commission with its suggestions for the revision of the Lectionary and suggestions of alterations in the Prayer Book led to the formation in the Society of a "Committee of' Convocation," whose office it was to help Catholic leaders in Convocation, and to prepare Petitions, as occasion should determine, such as, for example, the Memorial presented against any interference with the Athanasian Creed; and also to the appointment of a Standing Committee on Canon Law, which dealt with the many difficulties that were always presenting themselves. The general trend of the latter's work may be gauged from the first three publications it issued, viz.Study of Canon Law, Marriages in Lent, The Burial of Suicides.
The mention of a Standing Committee on Canon Law at once suggests what has always been the strongest point of S.S.C. From the time of its foundation and right through its subsequent history, it has never swerved from its tenacious loyalty to the Constitutional Government of the Catholic Church. Its first object is "to maintain and extend the Catholic Faith and Discipline," for it is only on this basis that it can carry out the secondary part of its object,the formation of "a special Bond of Union between Catholic priests." Further, in the ways laid down in the Society's Statutes for the attainment of the object, it can be clearly seen that they rest entirely on this basis of universal faith and discipline, or a recognition of, and obedience rendered to this Universal Constitution named in the Creed, as the Holy Catholic Church. To take only the first two,"By promoting holiness of life among the clergy," and "by carrying on and aiding Mission work at Home and Abroad." Allowing for the moment the very widest interpretation, a priest not obedient to the rule of the Church is unthinkable, most certainly as making any progress in the way of perfection, for to obey is better than the priestly function of sacrifice. While Missions not carried out at least according to some definite constitution or order must end in confusion instead of conversion.
If any blame could be attached to the Society, it would be for the rigidness and almost scrupulosity of its faithfulness to the law of the Universal Church. Having had amongst its brethren many whose ecclesiastical scholarship was of an expert kind, the Society, not infrequently, has been in advance of the ordinary conceptions of the day respecting the Church. For this reason it has often been misunderstood and accused of undermining the "church," when its sole aim has been to glorify the Church, and educate men to see the greatness of their Catholic heritage and to live accordingly.
For the same reason, individual members of the Society have sometimes been accused of "contumaciousness," and subjected to petty tyrannical acts, nicknamed "discipline." The truth is that Catholics in England have seldom been asked to obey. They have often been asked to submit to repression and curtailment, which is quite a different matter. Obedience in the Church's meaning and by the principle of theology, as pertaining to things ecclesiastical, or spiritual, is that the matter of obedience must be something which is not contrary to the prescribed Rule of the Catholic Church. No individual bishop, or provincial group of bishops, can over-ride the laws and consent of the whole Church in faith, worship, or discipline, any more than a bench of magistrates can over-ride the laws of England. In the difficulties which arose, it was the bishops themselves who were in fact unconsciously "contumacious," not the priests who were accused of being so. When the former employed the word "church," and obedience to it, they did not mean the Church of the Creeds, but an insular bit of it confined to England and Wales, and whose law was interpreted by Acts of Parliament, decisions of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and other State encroachments upon the Elizabethan Settlement, and all, the while ignoring the plain statements of the Preface to the Book of Common Prayer and the thirtieth Canon of 1604. Catholics, on the other hand, always used the word "Church" in the Creeds' sense, and in which they were called upon to confess their belief. Therefore, by belief in the Church, they did not mean belief in what was once termed "the Anglican Paddock," or one piece fenced off from all the rest, or one society placed side by side of many others, but the One, Divine Society founded by Christ, possessed of the Apostolic Ministry, Faith, Sacraments, Tradition, and Rule, and extended to all men. Thus it could not be regarded as of any particular nation, but being supranational could only be in it. The Catholic said with St. Augustine,"I am in the unity of all nations."
S.S.C., as a Catholic Society and with the steady aim of promoting Catholic Faith and Discipline, had never fallen into the error of supposing that the "Church of England " was an isolated entity free to go its own way, but saw in it an integral part of the Catholic Church, consequently bound by the constitution, order and consent, of the whole Church. It always offered an uncompromising opposition both to "Anglicanism," when this had meant a contrariness to the mind of the Church, as also to protestantism in its attempts to belittle the Church. It always upheld uncompromisingly the true liberty, the mission, jurisdiction and order of the Church in England, and endeavoured, according to its opportunities, to instil these ideals in the minds of its members, and to help them to frame and fashion their priestly lives accordingly. The Society has never wavered in its recognition of the jurisdiction and order of the Church in England, even under the most trying circumstances. It has never sanctioned anything that could be suspect of infringing Catholic order. In the government of itself, it was the first to revive the Synodical form, and its general influence in this way alone has extended far beyond the limits of the Catholic Movement. In any question touching Church order, great or small, it has always been jealous in following the right canonical course.
Striking evidence of this was forthcoming in the attitude the Society adopted towards the "Order of Corporate Reunion" (to be referred to later). It is sufficient to say, for the moment, that a very senior member of the Society, closely associated with the O.C.R. and obdurate in his adherence to it, was removed from the Roll. The criticisms of Father Ignatius and the advice tendered to him, not only in regard to his work, but also for the guarding of his property from falling into the hands of another communion, illustrate the same principle. Further proof of the Society's consistency was afforded by the proposal to found an Oratory in London. The proposal, good in itself and desirable, was not, however, encouraged, tactfully by the foresight of no prospect of its immediate foundation, but really because it would have led to a violation of Canon Law, owing to the difficulty of erecting an altar without the express permission of the bishop.
This strict adherence to the constitutional spirit and discipline of the Church was also emphasised by a case arising in a Yorkshire Convalescent Home which was a centre for the promotion of Catholic progress. The Archbishop of York had withdrawn the licence of the chaplain, and the question arose, whether the stress of circumstances justified the continuance of the services. The Society was consulted and the Canon Law Committee drew up a Report, which was adopted, printed and published. The Report, while strongly sympathising with the promoters of the Home, and expressing deep regret at the Archbishop's action, deprecated the continuance of services as morally and canonically contrary to the spirit and discipline of the Church, and being fraught with imminent danger to the true interests of Catholic truth and progress. The Society earnestly advised priests not to exercise their functions in the chapel without the permission either of the Diocesan or of the parochial authority.
The same strictness and straightforwardness of ecclesiastical procedure was shown in the matter of the Carlisle Oratory, and the issue was successful. In 1872, the Rev. C. H. V. Pixell, who at that time was the Incumbent of Skirwith, Cumberland; laid before the Society the total lack of Catholic feeling and privileges in Carlisle, and stated the plan which certain promoters had in view to provide an Oratory, under the Private Chapels Act, to supply what was needed. The Society approved of the scheme, subject to the necessary funds being raised by private subscription or the securing of a site in the parish of Holy Trinity, whose Incumbent had given his consent to the proposal. The bishop was quite willing to encourage the work and had consented to license a chaplain to the proposed Religious House. The cost was £880, of which £210 was raised by subscription and the rest borrowed, one portion being a loan of £200 free of interest. The Oratory was opened in January, 1873, in spite of strong protestant opposition led by Dean Close, who tried in vain to make the bishop recall his recognition of the Oratory. There were certain difficulties in securing the services of a permanent chaplain, which led to the proposal, eventually discarded, of trying to obtain an ecclesiastical district for the Oratory. The work was much appreciated by many Carlisle residents. The continuation of the chaplain difficulty,an excellent priest having to resign on account of ill-healthled the Society to hand over the entire management of the Oratory, except as to the property; to a committee of the Carlisle Branch. The Committee rwas Empowered to offer it to any Religious Society, or to any particular priest for his lifetime, or so long as the bishop continued his sanction. While the property increased in value, and the services were for a time maintained, the real intention of its foundation languished. : A proposal to sell the property, after deliberation, fell through, and the Society retained it for several years.'Eventually it was conveyed by the Rev. C. H. V. Pixell to the Society for the Maintenance of the Faith, on condition that profits arising from it were to be spent for the furtherance of the Catholic Faith, primarily in the City of Carlisle, or else somewhere in the Diocese of Carlisle. By the help of rents received from the property, the S.M.F. (from information given by the Rev. T. Outram Marshall) has helped Christ Church, Carlisle, and while Fr. Crosse remained at Barrow-in-Furness, his Church also. The rents, moreover, have enabled the property to be freed from all encumbrances, and it is now entirely in the hands of the S.M.F.
The work of the Society at that time to realise its aims of spreading the Catholic Faith and sanctifying the lives of the clergy, as also its Mission work, was done largely through Committees and through the Local Branches. Committees, provided they are small enough, are usually the surest agencies for getting things done. The Committees of the Society at that time were energetic and swift in their findings. With an almost amazing punctuality, a question referred to a Committee at a monthly Chapter was reported on at the succeeding one. It is also true to say that some of the most abiding of the Society's usefulness has been what its Committees have done. A mention of the Committees then at work will be sufficient to indicate the lines adopted. "The Rule of Life Committee" and the "Retreat Committee" need no comment to show their purpose. The existence of a "Tract Committee," a "Canon Law Committee," a "Penitentiary Committee," a "Foreign Missions Committee," an "Affiliation of Guilds Committee," and a "Literature Committee," at that time (1873), each composed respectively of experienced and expert priests, is an index of the Society's methods to forward its aims. Mention has already been made of some of the publications put out by S.S.C. and modestly ascribed to "A Committee of Clergy." The Literature Committee was specially active and was full of big ideas. It was proposed that there should be brought into existence a Literary Organ in which questions of general interest, social and other, should be treated from an intellectual and Catholic standpoint, to show that there was no antagonism between Catholicism and progress. "It was also thought desirable that works of a devotional and ascetic character should be published under a Committee consisting of Dr. Littledale and Brs. Humble, Wilson, E. G. Wood, Shipley and Foster. Financial reasons forbade, for the time, the Society being responsible for this. Those, however, who possess second-hand copies of The Ascetic Library, issued about that period, will have an indication of the kind of works contemplated. A discussion arose in the Society, in 1873, concerning the practical ways and means for bringing Catholic literature within reach of the people, and the Rev. J. Comper, St. John's, Aberdeen, suggested in S.S.C. the introduction of what is now an almost general practice, viz., the plan of placing a stall, or stand, at the church's entrance for the sale of pamphlets. The need was also expressed,this sounds odd to-day,of a good translation of the Imitation. If the adoption of the "Parish Magazine" now to be found in every parish be not the actual creation of S.S.C., it nevertheless owes its inspiration to one who for many years was a revered member of the Society. It was the Rev. W. J. E. Bennett of Frome who was the Father of Parish Magazines and who introduced them to the Church in the publication, The Old Church Porch.
In 1873, it was also resolved to issue a descriptive catalogue of published books which were useful to the parish priest in his parochial work, with a list of tracts, setting forth the special character of each, the class of reader it was meant to instruct, the object it had in view, and the shade of theological thought which would be found in it.
The Church Congress at Bath in 1873 gave the Society another opportunity of making its principles known. A meeting was held at which several priests were present.
These "Seven Fruitful Years" of the Society's life and progress may be summed up in the review made by Father Mackonochie in 1873. Having spoken of the Divine blessing which had rested on the Society's efforts, in the teeth of the greatest opposition, and remarked that S.S.C. had been "no insignificant means to the attainment" of the growth of Catholic Truth and Worship, he went on to declare that it had developed into "the most open publicity, so far as its existence and objects were concerned, and had struck its roots into the ground from the north of Scotland to the shores of the English Channel; from the German Ocean to the Irish Sea; into the mountains and valleys of Wales and Cornwall; across the water to the Isle of Man and Ireland; and even further, from the Bermudas in the West to Calcutta in the East.