The last few weeks I've been pre-occupied with preparing several presentations. On Saturday I returned to the church of my baptism, Ealing Abbey
, to give some talks on 'Mary in the Mystery of Christ and His Church' for the excellent Maryvale Certificate in Catechesis. This is a part-time distance-learning course, spread over two years and involving a number of written assignments and study days. The 'students' came from all over London and represented a variety of ages and backgrounds. I fully recommend it to priest and catechist readers - for further information, visit the website
I've just returned from our Pastoral Centre at London Colney, giving a day of recollection for the diocesan ethnic chaplains. As I've said before, the Centre was originally an Anglican convent and boasts a stunning chapel by Ninian Comper. I was especially pleased to celebrate Mass this morning under the splendid baldacchino (see above), instead of using the modern altar placed at the church's West End.
The theme I was asked to speak on was the 'English Catholic Way.' I gave the chaplains an overview of our ecclesiastical history and then tried to draw out the chief characteristics of traditional English spirituality. I came up with the following list:
- A great love for Our Lady (England as Mary's Dowry)
- A close relationship with Rome (as seen in the long tradition of pilgrimages to the Eternal City and the English origins of 'Peter's Pence')
- Love of solitude (England was once famous for its hermits)
- Gentleness and moderation (many English spiritual writers display practical realism and a deep understanding of human nature. They don't like to confine themselves to a rigid system)
- This does not necessarily mean weakness and compromise, though, for the Faith survived long years of persecution and produced a crop of martyrs
- A profound devotion to the Mass - 'it is the Mass that matters'
- Formality, especially in the Sacred Liturgy and Prayer
- A tradition of migration and exile
I would quite like to expand this theme and would be interested to hear of your thoughts regarding the characteristics (at least historically) of English Catholicism.
Labels: Diary, History