I AM ADDRESSING MYSELF to people who grasp the concept of the solidarity of the Catholic Church, which transcends nationalism; who realize that, whereas one may properly speak of the Mozarabic rite, the Eastern rite, and the Ambrosian rite, it is a contradiction in terms, strictly speaking, to speak of the Church of England or the Church of Italy, or of Constantinople. There are no such things.
Yet, as there is an evil nationalism, and a commendable patriotism, so there is a proper loyalty and love for that part of God's great Church to which one belongs?and it did my heart good to be able to say, after living with great and simple functions in the Church in Spain, after having assisted at the Mass of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Saint Peter's great basilica, sung by that perfect celebrant, Merry del Val, at vespers, procession, and benediction at which the Cardinal Archbishop of Piso pontificated, a solemn Mass of the Ambrosian rite in Milan's inspiring cathedral, that the most satisfying Masses I had attended were at All Saints', Margaret Street, and Saint Alban's, Holborn, London, and I want to add?the glorious Mass of the Catholic Congress in Albany.
As I viewed that glorious service in Albany I could not help thinking of the time when a choleric Low Churchman arose in Convention and shouted, "Those ritualists are like a wart on a man's face, prominent out of proportion to their size." As the Negro preacher proved, "The sun do move."
There is no doubt that the best Anglican functions are exemplary. I was talking to a coterie of Roman clergymen coming home from Europe. "What is the best example of Catholic worship you have chanced upon?" I asked. "Of course, Westminster Cathedral," said a parish priest of Philadelphia. "And where did Westminster Cathedral get this perfect ceremonial?" I queried. "I know where you would say?from you Anglicans." "Well, how about it?" I quartered. "I am afraid they did," he answered.
We get the principles of Christian worship from two sources, revealed religion and natural religion. As we get the idea of God from nature and the mind of man, so that awful human cry, the need of sacrifice, reverberates through the world, and there is instanced, and in Israel's religion is satisfied, men's longing for holy places, trysting-places with God. More, natural religion, quite as truly as Leviticus, directed us to that external exhibition of sacrificial worship which we call ceremonial.
Many years ago I was ciceroning the clever wife of a leading Baptist minister around Chinatown in Los Angeles during a great Buddhist festival. Near the plaza we came upon an altar with three Buddhist priests before it. My companion looked at me and sneered, "What do they look like?" "Catholic priests," I answered, "but instead of that being an argument against Catholicism, it is an argument for it. It tells us that natural religion taught religious ceremonial."
Broadly speaking, then, Christian worship derives from natural religion, the Jewish liturgies, and Christian revelation. That this worship crystallized very early may be inferred from Saint Ignatius' insistence on the "one Eucharist." Moreover, that insistence predicates a certain uniformity in worship and Justin Martyr's letter to Antonius Pius lends further color to this. But it was not before the three hundreds that the forms of worship, variable in details, made up largely of extempore prayers or memorized prayers, but probably uniform in outline, crystallized into what we call the parent rites of Christendom.
There are different enumerations of the parent rites. Some, for example, name four, the Antiochene, the rite of Alexandria, that of Rome, and the Gothic rite. Myself, I think the parent rites may be reduced to two; for there is good reason to believe that the later rites derived from Rome or Antioch.
Our Lady sounded the underlying notes of Catholic worship in her canticle of the Incarnation?magnificence and joy. All through the Christian ages they have reverberated. I want to try to paint for you the magnificence of Catholic worship from the standpoint of continuity.
Stand with me, then, you people who are surrounded by religions of a day, in that temple of your ancient Church, which is called today the Mosque of Saint Sophia. I know no building in the world which can so impress you with the grandeur in its continuity of the worship of your historic Church.
The first Church of Saint Sophia was built in 360 A. D. The present building was consecrated in 537 A. D. It was the glory and the triumph of Byzantine art; for ten centuries the leading architectural wonder of Europe. There was this fane, a triumph of architecture, so startling, so solemn, so magnificent, so glorious, so mysterious, that Lew Wallace tells us it brought the infidel to his knees. What was the essential thing about it that changed this mass of masonry and goldsmith's work, this creation of human hands, into a place of mystery, made you look through the iconostasis if haply you could see the secret of it all? Sixty million dollars carved and builded and gilded into this birthday present to Jesus Christ on Christmas Day, 532 A. D.! The genius of it? What made it unearthly? There is mystery about it. What mystery? The mystery of Emmanuel, God with us in the Blessed Sacrament, the glory of the Christian Shekinah; for these men believed that to Christians, as to the Israelites, the promise still held true?"My Presence shall go with thee and I will give thee rest."
"The law of praying is the law of believing." This belief was imbedded in their formularies of prayer and made them beautiful, as it made this temple glorious. There is magnificence in the thought of the continuity of your Christian worship. The Byzantine liturgies are just reforms or shortening of the liturgy of Antioch, the Eastern parent rite. When the Church of Saint Sophia was consecrated in 532 A. D., this liturgy of the imperial city was used. In 1453 A. D., nine centuries afterward, when the Turk broke in, tradition has it, a priest was saying Mass. If this was so, he was celebrating this ancient liturgy?and in 1912 A. D., if the Balkan allies had won to their ideal, to celebrate the Christ-Mass in Saint Sophia's, it would have been sung in the words of this selfsame liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, a liturgy of your Church which connects you at least with the three hundreds.
I am going to invite your attention to an even more striking example of the continuity of Catholic worship and one which touches ourselves nearly in our attempts at liturgical and ceremonial reform.
The centuries of the crystallization of Christian worship into varied rites were the fourth and fifth centuries. There came to be many liturgies in the East, but in the West there were two rites?the ancient Roman rite and the Gothic rite. The Goths were the earliest of the Teutonic races to absorb the Roman culture. Their sphere of influence included northern Italy, Gaul, and Spain. To denote this second Western use by the term Gallican is to use a particular for a general.
It boots not to discuss whether the oriental influence on the Gothic rite came through the Church of Lyons or by the imperial highway of Milan. This fact remains. The Gothic liturgy was so leavened with orientalism that it was practically an oriental rite. We have now before us two liturgical elements in the West?the ancient Roman liturgy and the Gothic rite. This was the liturgical situation in Europe down to the middle of the eighth century.
In the middle of the eighth century, Pippin the Short and later Charlemagne sent to Rome for her liturgical books and constituted commissions to reform the Gallican use. The members of these commissions did not feel themselves estopped from combining what was best in both uses. Their product was a composite rite, made up of the Gothic rite which Duchesne tells us was so leavened with orientalism as to be practically an oriental rite, and the ancient Roman rite, a composite rite, representative of the worship of all Christendom.
Now about the eleventh century, this composite rite, representative of all Christendom, superseded the ancient Roman rite in Rome herself. Duchesne says: "It is even extraordinary that the ancient Roman books?representing the genuine use of Rome up to the ninth century?have been so completely displaced by others that not a single example of them is now to be found." Hence, accurately speaking, there is no such thing as the Roman rite. Rather, the normal rite of the West since the eleventh century is "the Western Rite," a composite rite, representative of the worship of all Christendom. For example, the Creed, the Gloria, the Offertory prayers, and the lavabo were all Transalpine contributions to this Western rite and it is noteworthy that the introduction of the creed at Rome was synchronous with this supersession in the eleventh century of the ancient Roman rite by the reformed Gothic rite.
Moreover, here is a thought which is interesting, albeit a somewhat phantastic theory. There are certain things which grow together: the creeds, ritual, holy days, and architecture. Architecture is a language, the expression of the life of a people, as influenced by its thought. Dr. Cram tells us that the Gothic style is apparently without traceable ancestry; that its advent was as sudden as it was victorious, that it is a mental attitude, the visualizing of a spiritual impulse. It is interesting that the Gothic style arose when the Western rite had supplanted all other rites of Western Christendom except those of Milan and Toledo. Gothic architecture, as the Western rite, is representative of the spiritual impulse of all Western Christendom.
It is the reverse of strange, therefore, that the revisers of our Prayer Book should have guided their labors by this liturgical norm of Western Christendom, this composite Gothic, Roman, and oriental liturgy which we call the Western rite.
It is analogous with ceremonial. It is indifferent whether we follow McGarvey or Fortescue or other directoriums. They are all redactions of this Western use, which is a composite of all the uses of Christendom. The impulse of all liturgical and ritual scholars, except Sarum archaeologists, consciously or unconsciously, is to approach this norm.
There has been a big revolution in the American Church since I was a boy. The worship in our churches today were unthinkable then. Today, again, we are in a state of evolution in our worship, in a state of flux. It has been very disquieting to many congregations and to many priests who are ancient like myself. But we ancients, clerical and lay, must beware lest we obstruct. Saint Vincent de Paul said, "I was once in Saint Germain-en-laye and I saw eight priests saying Mass in a different way," and he did not like it. Neither do we. Some of us remember the day when practically all Catholic-minded priests celebrated alike. Saint Vincent would not have been worried. But today I go into a strange sacristy and the M. C. comes up to me while I am vesting: "Do you tarp, Father?" "Yes, and I G.A.B., too," but I am not dead sure I think it wise. What I should like to suggest to the younger clergy and to the lay sacred-congregations-of-rites is that tarping and gabbing and the sub-deacon's humeral veil do not necessarily predicate an out-and-out Catholic. I know of nothing which can make people so thoroughly irritated as the right way to worship God. Myself I like to have a spike for a curate. He is a fine counter-irritant. A curate of mine, after he went back East, said, "I like California, but Father Gushée is too Protestant." Spikes are irritating, but they help us; for as the Bishop of Nassau said, "We must not relinquish the offensive."
"Lex orandi, lex credendi," and there has been a marvelous evolution of the exhibition of Anglo-Catholic faith in Anglo-Catholic worship. Lord Halifax told at the Leeds Catholic Congress of the consecration of Saint Saviour's being held up for three hours by a wrangle in the sacristy between the bishop, Dr. Pusey, and Dean Hook over an inscription carved in a stone?"Pray for the soul of the sinner who gave this Church." In view of the revision of our Prayer Book, that contretemps is unthinkable.
But how did the liberty to pray for the dead come? By so-called lawless people praying for the dead. How did the Magnificat get back in Evensong? By priests and people singing it. How did that Lord be with you before the Collect emerge? By those irritating spikes using it. A young priest said to me: "How in the world are we to get the Gloria in Excelsis back where it belongs?" I answered him by a story of Arthur Ritchie. A serious young priest went to Dr. Ritchie and asked what was the best way to introduce incense. "The best way I know," answered Father Ritchie, "is to burn it." The Bishop of Colorado was making a speech at a luncheon after the annual Mass of the Catholic Club in Los Angeles. He said: "There are two authorities in the American Church?General Convention and the Catholic Clubs." That was a joke, but there is truth in it. Anyhow, it is the Catholic parishes and the Catholic Congresses and the Catholic Religious and Catholic literature and Catholic retreats which help this dear old Church of ours to "get a move on." To that the ardent jurist of Memphis, Tennessee, bears witness.
At the present time, where there is some little disturbance concerning changes in worship, it is very desirable that we recognize the norm to which all liturgiologists and ritualists are approaching whether they realize it or not, the composite Western rite, representative of all Christendom. But in approaching the fulness of that rite I believe that it is competent to determine whether or not the re-introduction of consecrating on the corporal or archaeisms like the Lord be with you at the Offertory or the sub-deacon's humeral veil is best for the Catholic cause in this country. I, myself, am guilty of all these things and, after two years of growing pains, I have come to realize that the most simple and dignified worship is the way of the composite Western rite, but I believe that Catholics should study, not what will benefit one's own parish but what will advance the cause throughout the American Church.
I have been speaking to you of the exhibition of Catholic worship on its public side. I now come to another phase of Catholic worship.
A priest said to me: "Anglicans can worship only in concert." I have told you what a great inspiration the Albany Congress was to me?the great audiences, the many Masses in the morning, the glorious pontifical Mass. But here was the greatest thing. If you went into that great church at any time during the day, when no service was going on, you came upon people engaged in their devotions before the altars; you beheld people still in the Presence of God. That told me that the Catholic revival in the American Church is going over the top.
I want to say a word on "quiet worship." An article in a popular monthly on "Rough Neck Religion" voiced the average American's misapprehension of religion. "A Rough Neck," says the writer, "believes it is a million times better to do good than merely to be good." Not only that, but, as Maude Royden implies, the popular American religionist tries to see to it that the other fellow is good. It may be better to do good than to be good. It is likewise far easier. We Anglo-Catholics have learned to pray and worship in concert and it is glorious, but the power comes?alone with God. Hence the power of Brother Laurence, the Curé d'Ars, Foch, Kitchener, and the great Cardinal of Belgium. Why are the Religious so uniformly efficient? Because they have filled their dynamos with power by what the Benedictine calls "the work of God," the work of prayer.
The Religious are the flower of the Catholic life. We are beginning to have enough Catholic life in this country to get more flowers, more vocations to the Religious life; and the way to get them is to foster this "quiet worship," going apart into the mountain with God. That is what a retreat is. I do not want to be president of a Catholic club the clerical members of which can afford not to go into retreat once a year. Such a club is a joke.
The same holds good with parishes. We have had missions galore. We are sold on missions. We have had almost a mission complex. But many thoughtful priests are coming to think that what we most need is the parochial retreat. Recollect, the present recrudescence of the Catholic revival in England began with the retreat movement. The essence of retreat is this "quiet worship," silence before God. The outstanding mark of Catholicism is the realization of the nearness of the supernatural, and this comes from the discipline of realizing God's presence. When I see my people going into church to be "in the secret of His Presence when their hearts delight to hide" I know that the Catholic religion is getting across in my parish. The very simplest Catholic ought to be a mystic; for, after all, mysticism is just realizing God's presence.
It is this which I call quiet worship which refines and comforts, that is?gives power. The Jesus of the Tabernacle is the Champion of the poor, the Comforter of the sorrowing and sinners. Come with me into the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament in a church in the slums of a great city. A woman is kneeling there in the Secret of His Presence?silent with Jesus and the Jesus talks with her. "And Lord," she murmured, "and Lord I fell, and who's to raise me?" And the Jesus seemed to her to be stretching down from the tent of the Glory and she seemed to hear Him say, "I suffered then and therefore can I raise thee." It is before the Jesus of the Tabernacle that one comes to realize our Lord's apostleship of temptation and suffering?and ours. It is before the tabernacle in this "quiet worship" that you come to say with Saint Paul, in the words of a little child, "He, His own self, bore our sins in His own Body on the Tree." Let me repeat. The certain sign of the success of Anglo-Catholicism is the recrudescence, after an hiatus of five centuries, of "quiet worship," periods of peace before God, visits to Emmanuel, God with us.
I am going to ask you to let me end my paper with the words of a prince of the Church, the great, magnetic leader of Anglo-Catholics, the late Bishop of Zanzibar?God rest his soul! "The whole secret of life is to learn to be alone with God. It is not anything merely sentimental, not merely trying to have a nice feeling that God is near me; it is the reality of life. The only thing that saves us from the sting of temptation, from the pain turning into bitterness?the ultimate thing and the only thing that is so real that it can help us, then, is the touch of the Presence of God, for then I know that I am not alone."
Catholic worship is the means whereby that Presence is realized and the expression of the realization of that Presence.