Saturday, September 17, 2011

A New Oxford Movement

It mightn't have been precisely what Cardinal Kasper meant in 2008 when he called for "a new Oxford Movement" in the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, but look at how the renewed leadership for our people in the Church of England is emerging from Oxford!

Not only is the new Bishop of Ebbsfleet and Chairman of Forward in Faith the Principal of Pusey House (The Rt Rev’d Jonathan Baker SSC), but it has been announced this week that Father Ross Northing SSC, Vicar of S. Mary & S. Giles, Stony Stratford in the Diocese of Oxford is the new Secretary of Forward in Faith, and Father William Davage SSC, until recently Priest Librarian and Chief Custodian of the Library of Pusey House, has been appointed Honorary Chaplain at Christ the King, Gordon Square. (Not forgetting, of course, that the new Bishop of Richborough - The Rt Rev’d Norman Banks SSC - is himself an Oxford man.)

Members of Forward in Faith as well as others who look to Forward in Faith and the Provincial Episcopal Visitors for godly and visionary leadership in these difficult times are very grateful for this particular little “Oxford Movement” and the encouragement it provides for the uncertain immediate future.

Married to Janet and with a son, Luke who is married to Felicity, Father Ross Northing was ordained to the Priesthood in 1995 having served as a Church Army Officer for five years prior to priestly formation at St Stephen's House Oxford. He served his title in the Parish of Up Hatherley, Ss Philip & James. In 1998 he was appointed Vicar of Stony Stratford, St Mary & St Giles and Rector of Calverton, All Saints. He serves on the Bishop of Ebbsfleet's Standing Committee and Council of Priests. He keeps a Parish Blog.

Born, brought up and educated in Newcastle upon Tyne, Fr William Davage was a schoolmaster at the Robert Smyth School in Market Harborough before training for the priesthood at S. Stephen's House, Oxford. Ordained to the Priesthood in 1992, he served his title at S. Hugh of Lincoln, Leicester. He was appointed Priest Librarian and Custodian of the Library at Pusey House in 1994. He is the Patronage Secretary of The Society for the Maintenance of the Faith and a member of the Council; he is a Council Member of the English Clergy Association; he is a member of several Catholic societies including the Church Union and the Society of King Charles the Martyr.

I was at the Forward in Faith National Assembly on Saturday 24th October, 2009 when at a great Votive mass of Our Lady, Father Davage preached with real dynamism and vision. To mark these encouraging appointments, I share his sermon with you. (All of it can be found HERE)


“. . . promises ought to be fulfilled and it is important that promises should be kept. God’s promise to Mary and Our Lady’s promise to God, her brave and even reckless promise to God, her abandonment to his will: ‘Be it unto me according to your word’ were rewarded: ‘Blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’ That cosmic collision of God’s promise to his people and Our Lady’s promise to God brought about our salvation in the Incarnation: that central doctrinal tenet of Tractarianism, the unique salvific revelation in Jesus Christ, our incarnate God, the God of all knowledge, wisdom, power and truth.

“His Holy Mother’s ‘fiat’ is echoed in his own submission to the will of God. Neither would allow the cup to pass from their lips and both kept their promise. And they keep their divinely-infused promises still. Our Lord’s promise that we would not be left comfortless, that he would be with us until the end of time is eternally renewed in his sacramental presence, those elements that become for us his Body and his Blood on this and on thousands upon thousands of altars as the Mass is offered, the Sacrifice pleaded: an eternal promise, everlastingly fulfilled.

“Our Lady’s promise that we would ever have recourse to her protection and intercession; that those who fly to her would not be left forsaken, is eminently demonstrated in those holy places of her appearing, among them Fatima, Lourdes, and our ever-beloved Walsingham. Here are promises we can rely on, promises divinely inspired, divinely guaranteed. Our promises one to another should be invested with that same sense of divine authority. They should not be something lightly entered into, not capricious, not mere conversational tics. They cannot be other than solemn obligations, unbreakable contracts, given in a divinely ordained society that is the Church.

“So what of the promises made to us by our own Church? Is a binding and lasting undertaking and promise to last a mere seventeen years: a blink in the eye of God? But when doctrinal and ecclesiological self-indulgence has reduced an institution to the shape of the Church of England, confidence in the General Synod requires no more than a sense of the ridiculous. The General Synod is the HBOS of the Church of England; willing to mortgage its future on toxic doctrine. You cannot re-write the Faith once delivered to the Apostles. You cannot dilute the Faith as would the liberal catholic: that suppurant oxymoron.

“. . . The crisis through which we are passing, fundamental to our understanding of the nature of the Church and its sacramental authenticity, has meant that we have become enmeshed in a ludicrous, bureaucratically-driven legislative process which has only engendered despondency and debilitating fatalism, lightened by the occasional false dawn, and a forlorn nostalgia for more certain times. They did not exist. Look at the history of Anglo-Catholicism. Nostalgia is one of the legitimate and certainly one of the most enduring of human emotions: but the ecclesiastical politics of nostalgia is at best distracting and at worst pernicious. (See Irving Kristol quoted in The Spectator 26 September 2009) We cannot live in the past, however refulgent and glorious.

“We are battling for the future, not the despondent present. I spend most of my days in the company of bright, intelligent, committed young people, committed to the Catholic Faith. It is their future in the Church that matters. We owe them a Catholic future and we can only do that by keeping a promise to them. We must have ‘the courage to dare’ (Feodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment) not supinely to acquiesce or to accept the scraps thrown at us. As we commit ourselves with fresh determination and resolve to secure our Catholic future, we must be conscious that we are part of something greater. Our Catholic unity here this morning is but a small part, a microcosm, of that wider unity to which Christ summons all his faithful. There is a Catholic future open for us: new light shines, hope and promise of a new dawn. The future is ours, if we seize the day and the hour. We can do so because we commit our cause to Our Lady, whose promise never fails. Confident that we have a merciful God, for with the Psalmist we can say: ‘under the shadow of thy wings shall be my refuge, until this tyranny be over-past.’ (Psalm 57: 1) Determined that ‘All is not lost,’ we possess an ‘unconquerable will / And courage never to submit or yield / . . . what is else not to be overcome.’ (John Milton, Paradise Lost I. 1. 105)”


Post a Comment