Saturday, January 31, 2015

Fr Alexander Schmemann on Candlemas

Anticipation and Encounter 
with the Lord in the Temple

How striking and beautiful an image, the old man holding the child in his arms, and how strange are his words: “For my eyes have seen thy salvation . . .” Pondering these words we begin to appreciate the depth of this event and its relationship to us, to me, to our faith. Is anything in the world more joyful than an encounter, a meeting with someone you love? Truly, to live is to await, to look forward to the encounter. Isn’t Simeon’s transcendent and beautiful anticipation a symbol of this? Isn’t his long life a symbol of expectation, this elderly man who spends his whole life waiting for the light which illumines all and the joy which fills everything with itself? And how unexpected, how unspeakably good that the long awaited light and joy comes to the elderly Simeon through a child! Imagine the old man’s trembling hands as he takes in his arms the forty-day-old infant so tenderly and carefully, his eyes gazing on the tiny being and filling with an outpouring of praise: “Now, You may let me depart in peace for I have seen, I have held in my arms, I have embraced the very meaning of life.” Simeon waited. He waited his entire long life, and surely this means he pondered, he prayed, he deepened as he waited so that in the end his whole life was one continuous “eve” of a joyful meeting.

Isn’t time that we ask ourselves, what am I waiting for? What does my heart keep reminding me about more and more insistently? Is this life of mine gradually being transformed into anticipation, as I look forward to encountering the essential? These are the questions the Meeting poses. Here, in this feast, human life is revealed as the surpassing beauty of a maturing soul, increasingly liberated, deepened and cleansed of all that is petty, meaningless, and incidental. Even aging and demise, the earthly destiny we all share, are so simply and convincingly shown here to be growth and ascent toward that one moment when with all my heart, in the fullness of thanksgiving, I say: “let me now depart.” I have seen the light which permeates the world. I have seen the Child who brings the world so much divine love and who gives himself to me. Nothing is feared, nothing is unknown, all is now peace, thanksgiving, and love. This is what the Meeting of the Lord brings. It celebrates the soul meeting Love, meeting the one who gave me life and gave me strength to transfigure it into anticipation.

Fr Alexander Schmemann, Celebration of Faith: The Church Year Pp. 72-73

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The illustration is The Presentation of the Lord, by John August Swanson (Go HERE for further information.)

Mary and Joseph take the child Jesus to the temple with the offering of two doves. This was the offering of the poorest. It was a symbol of thanksgiving for their firstborn. At the entrance they meet Simeon and Anna who are both old and waiting and praying in the temple. They both approach the family and honour the new born Jesus.

In this scene are the gates, courtyard, steps, temple entrance, and the dome. It is night. People are carrying their offerings of candles and doves. The walls have intricate carvings of narrative scenes.  Angels open and guide the pathways and entrances. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Charles Stuart, King and Martyr

Painting by Ernest Crofts of King Charles
being led to his execution (London, UK, 1901)

“Charles did not want to die; he had much to live for. He was very much in love with his wife, Henrietta Maria, and she with him. He was devoted to her and to his six children-three sons and three daughters. It was a happy family which lived high moral lives in an era when the royal families in Europe lived dissolute lives. The importance of Charles I is the fact that he had a choice. The Puritans had offered to save his life if he would renounce the throne, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Church of England. Charles refused! Instead he lay down his life for the principles in which he believed. By his death he saved the Episcopate, and thus the Church of England.”

- From a paper given to the American branch 
of the Society of King Charles the Martyr in 2002 
by Professor William K. Tinkham

Go HERE to read an Essay on King Charles by Donald Hole, published by the Society of Our Lady of Walsingham in 1941.

Go HERE to read an Address given by Professor David Flint at All Saints’ Wickham Terrace, Brisbane, on this day in 2000.

O God, who by the victory of martyrdom didst exalt thy Servant Charles from his earthly principality to thy kingdom in heaven;grant that we may always enjoy the effectual defence of his prayers, and live in thy peace all the days of our life; Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth one God, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

- Western Rite

O Lord God, who out of thine infinite mercy and goodness didst bring back the captivity of Sion, and in good part restore this then afflicted Church, perfect, we beseech thee, this thy great deliverance. Hedge it about with thy continual protection, with the custody of Angels, with the duty of kings and princes, with the hearts and hands of nobles, and with the affections of all good people. Re-unite all our remaining divisions and reconcile our differences, that with one heart and voice we may serve and praise thee in thy holy Church, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

- from the original Office for January 30th,
compiled by Dr. Duppa, Bishop of Winchester 1661

King Charles the Martyr - the tract written by Father Donald Hole

Icon of Charles, from St Andrewes Press

This tract was published in 1941 by The Society of Our Lady of Walsingham, Walsingham, Norfolk {U.K.], and printed by The Southern Post, Ltd., 40 Fleet Street, London E.C. 4.

We are all familiar with the fascinating romance and poignant tragedy associated with the House of Stuart in connection with our country’s history. It has formed the basis of countless novels and songs and plays. The political history of the XVII Century—the struggle between King and Parliament—has given occasion to much controversy into which it is needless to enter here. Broadly speaking, it was the clash between the growth of parliamentary government and the royal despotism formerly exercised by the Plantagenet and Tudor monarchies. But anyone who imagines that the parliamentary cause stood either for democracy or for religious toleration is suffering from a strange delusion. The Parliament of those days— and indeed for long afterwards—was in no way representative of the English nation or of the common people. It represented the aristocracy, the squirearchy, and the commercial classes who had grown rich and powerful out of the “great pillage” of the Church’s property which had taken place in the previous Century, and who had founded great families upon the spoils of the monasteries. That good eventually came out of evil, and that the constitutional monarchy which was gradually evolved through the XVIII and XIX Centuries, together with a more adequate representation of the people, has been on the whole a great advantage, we may readily admit. But that does not alter the fact that the civil war of 16y42 was a war of religion quite as much as it was a war of politics. Politically it resulted, not in parliamentary government, but in military despotism. From a religious point of view it resulted in the temporary triumph of that foreign Protestantism which had been gradually growing in strength through the previous reigns, and, very nearly, in the total destruction of the Church of England. Few English churchmen at the present day seem to realize that, but for the courage and consistency of one man, who died a martyr’s death on 30thJanuary, 1649, the Church of England would no longer exist. There would be no Archbishop of Canterbury on the throne of Saint Augustine, no Bishops, no Dean of Saint Paul’s, no canons, archdeacons, rectors or vicars, and even Bishop Barnes would be unable to draw the emoluments of the see of Birmingham.

It has been sagely remarked that “Christian Monarchy was last achieved here by Charles I” (in a leading article of the Tablet for 28 September 1940). That, of course, does not mean that no subsequent sovereign has been sincerely attached to the Christian religion; it means that Charles was the last English monarch who realized, and attempted to put into practice, the idea of “Christian Kingship” as understood throughout the middle ages. We must try to understand what that was.

The “Christian King” was the “eldest son of the Church”, subject to her laws in all spiritual matters, but bound by his office to defend her rights, and to give to her judgments the sanctions of secular law. He could exercise no spiritual function or jurisdiction, yet he was something more than a mere layman. He was a “persona mixta”—and this was symbolized by the ceremonies of his coronation. He was clothed in Episcopal garments—stole and dalmatic and cope—and he was anointed with holy oil. It gave him, moreover, both the right and the duty to exercise a certain supervision over the administration of ecclesiastical affairs, and was the only justification of his preponderating influence in the appointment of bishops. “Sir Henry Watton, diplomatist, ecclesiastic, and poet, wrote a ‘panegerick’ of his master which happily expressed what churchmen thought and courtiers knew about their young king eight years before. ‘When you had assumed the crown before all other things there was resplendent in you a religious mind, the support of kingdoms, and joy of good men. The Chapel Royal was never more in order. The number of eminent divines daily increased. Sermons in no age more frequented, in none more learned. No execration rashly proceeded from your mouth. Your ears abhorred not only any wanton but even the least sordid word!!. . . From first to last the King remained a devoted son of the Church.” (W. H. Hutton, A History of the English Church, p. 4)

The evening before his coronation was spent in religious exercises, when Laud (acting Dean of Westminster) instructed him in his duties and how to prepare for them. Laud became his confessor, and retained that office until his death, when it passed to Bishop Juxon. (Ibid., p. 4)

Charles exercised the utmost care in the choice of bishops and in other ecclesiastical appointments which came within his patronage, and he took care that those whom he appointed should realize their duties. Laud records how in 1626 he “chid” them all “that in this time of Parliament we were silent in the cause of the Church and did not make known to him what might be useful and beneficial to the Church, professing himself ready to promote the cause of the Church”. (Hutton, Hist. Eng. CH., p. 25)

Hutton remarks in this connection that Charles was “incurably Erastian”, but this charge is certainly not justified. Erastus, a German heretic of the XVI Century, taught that the Church’s function was merely to persuade and exhort, and that it had no power to enforce its teaching even by excommunication; the punishment of all ecclesiastical offences being the exclusive province of the civil a=magistrate. Charles, on the contrary, recognized most clearly the Church’s magisterium and did all he could to support the bishops in the exercise of it. It was Parliament, not the King, that was “incurably Erastian” in its claim to decide questions of theology and Church discipline, and it was on this very ground that the King and Parliament came into collision long before the political controversy developed. Yet underlying this charge of Erastianism there is a certain truth. The fact is that Charles’s position as a “Christian King” was hampered and to some extent vitiated, by something which he had inherited, and for which he was not responsible. He ascended the throne as the “Supreme Governor of the Church of England”. This “Royal Supremacy”, initiated by Henry VIII and reasserted by Elizabeth, was in fact a caricature of “Christian Kingship”.

For the first thousand years of her history the Church of England had claimed to form a part of the Catholic Church, not only on the ground of holding the Catholic faith and possessing the Apostolic Ministry, but as being included in the administrative unity of the Church Universal, which found its centre and focus at Rome. The Church of England had never claimed to be an independent ecclesiastical entity, but only to consist of two provinces of the church, which looked to the Chief Bishop of Christendom as their spiritual Head. Appeals lay to Rome from the English ecclesiastical courts which which administered the Canon Law common to the whole Church. The breach between England and Rome effected by King Henry VIII did not arise out of any theological difference, but from purely personal reasons. Henry wanted the Pope to grand him a divorce from his lawful wife, and the Pope refused. In order to attain his purpose the King first obtained complete control of the ecclesiastical machinery, and then, by Act of Parliament, forced his subjects to repudiate all papal authority and to accept him as Supreme Head of the Church of England In the picturesque language of Nicholes Harpesfield, he “cut off the head of Saint Peter and put it upon his own shoulders, an ugly sight to beholde”. For the Canon Law of the Universal Church was substituted the ecclesiastical law of Parliament and royal injunctions and letters patent.

Under Edward VI the Royal Supremacy was used to force upon the Church a new mode of worship and to foster the growth of foreign Protestantism, subsequently known as Puritanism. It was a grim nemesis, that Parliament, which had been the subservient tool in the hands of the Tudor monarchy, for establishing the Royal Supremacy over the Church, should in the following Century compass the death of the Church’s “Supreme Governor” for defending the Church’s faith and worship. Charles’s attempt to realize the ideal of “Christian Kingship” was hindered, not helped, by the fact that he was by statute law the “Supreme Governor of the Church of England”.

In connection with this we must consider his attitude with regard to Rome. By the time that he ascended the throne the “Roman Question” had become a political issue rather than a theological one, very largely through the misguided action of various Popes. Under Elizabeth, ‘popery’ had become associated with Spanish domination, and English nationalism rose up in protest against it. “Popish recusants” were unjustly accused of being disloyal to the English Crown, a charge which they disproved most effectively by dying in defence of the Crown and giving up all their temporal goods in the royal cause. It is true that there was a controversy between Anglican and Roman writers, exemplified in the famous dispute between Archbishop Laud and the Jesuit, Fisher; but if we study that controversy, it becomes clear that the points at issue were quite capable of reconciliation. They referred chiefly to current teaching and popular abuses common among Roman Catholics of that day, but not taught authoritatively by the Roman Church; of the exact meaning of the term “transubstantiation”; and of the papal claim to political domination. It must never be forgotten that the learned Franciscan, Christopher Davenport (known in Religion as “Sancta Clara”), chaplain to Queen Henrietta Maria, anticipated J. H. Newman and Bishop Forbes by 200 years, in showing that the XXXIX articles were quite capable of being reconciled with the teaching of the Council of Trent.

When King Charles and Archbishop Laud called themselves “Protestants”, they did not mean that they protested against the Catholic Religion, but that they protested against certain abuses which they believed to be current among Roman Catholics of that day, and against certain papal claims which they believed to be inconsistent with the national political independence.

The Caroline Divines did not protest against the Pope’s spiritual supremacy. Thus, Bramhall, Archbishop of Armagh, enumerates the papal power which the Church of England does not acknowledge:

(1) Power to dispense the law of the land;

(2) Judiciary power in respect of property;

(3) Legislative power indictating civil laws;

(4) Powers of patronage in disposing of English benefices;

(5) The exorbitant fees claimed by papal courts in the matter of granting dispensations, licences, etc.

There is not one word against the spiritual supremacy of the Pope. (Oxford Movement Centenary Tractates, No. VI, p. 20)

Several times during the XVII Century, a reconciliation between England and Rome, on the acceptance of the Pope’s spiritual Supremacy, came within measurable distance. King James I in a speech before Parliament said: “I acknowledge the Church of Rome to be our Mother Church.” In the oath taken at his coronation he pointedly refused to state “That the Pope hath no power to excommunicate me”, substituting the words “That no excommunication of the Pope can warrant my subjects to practice against my Person or State”. He even wrote to Pope Paul V offering to recognize his spiritual primacy and to reunite the English Church with Rome on condition only of his disclaiming political sovereignty over kings. The offer, however, was rejected. (ibid.)

King Charles I told Panzani, the envoy of Pope Urban VIII, “that he would willingly have parted with one of his hands, rather than such a schism (i.e., between England and Rome) should ever have happened. (ibid., p. 6) Sir Francis Windebank, a secretary of state, said to Panzani: “If we had neither Jesuits nor Puritans in England I am confident that union might easily be effected” (ibid., p. 7), and that “all moderate men in Church and State thirsted after reunion”.

From all this we can gather King Charles’s attitude towards religion. His first collision with Parliament was on this very point. Richard Montague, a Canon of Windsor, wrote a pamphlet in 1624 which we should consider a very moderate expression of Anglicanism. He denied that the Church of Rome was apostate, though admitting that she was corrupt. He asserts the truth of the Real Presence, while rejecting transubstantiation. He asserts the power of Absolution though denying that confession was in all cases necessary. He defends the use of Images without worshipping or adoring them. This pamphlet was denounced in the House of Commons and an appeal was made by Parliament to the Archbishop of Canterbury (Abbot). The Archbishop was himself a Puritan, and advised Montague to revise his opinions, instead of which Montague appealed to the King. James, on reading the pamphlet, exclaimed: “If this is popery, so am I a papist”. Montague them presented a new pamphlet entitled Appello Cæsarem. The whole incident is eloquent of the confusion of the times. What right had Parliament to take cognizance of doctrinal questions? The answer is that the Tudor sovereigns had used Parliament for that very purpose. The Royal Supremacy itself stood upon an Act of Parliament. Now Parliament was taking the bit between its teeth and exercising its power independently of the King. If Parliament had made the King “Supreme Governor of the Church of England”, why should not Parliament take that supreme government into its own hands?

Montague, in his Appello Cæsarem, appealed from Parliament and from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the King—thereby acknowledging the Cæsaro-papalism introduced by Henry VIII. James, however, died before the book was published, and Montague had written another book in which he upheld the Invocation of Saints.

On 7 July 1625, Parliament decided to impeach him, and forthwith put him into prison. Charles, who had now ascended the throne, intimated to the House of Commons that “what had been there said and resolved without consulting him in the case, was not pleasing to him”, and he gave practical effect to his displeasure by making Montague (still in prison) one of his Royal Chaplains.

He did not, however, accept the “appeal to Cæsar”. He, perfectly correctly, referred the case to a committee of bishops—Montaigne (London), Neile (Durham), Andrewes (Winchester), and Laud (St. Davids). They reported that Montague’s book contained nothing but what was in their opinion the doctrine of the Church of England. The proceedings in Parliament were squashed, and in 1628 Charles promoted Montague to the see of Chichester. On the death of Abbot in 1633 he made Laud Archbishop of Canterbury.

Hutton remarks that the doctrine of the “Divine Right of Kings” and the duty of non-resistance, so clear to the Cavaliers of the XVII Century, was “the answer of English Controversialists to the claim of the Papacy”. It was certainly something very different from the doctrine of “Christian Kingship”. The Christian King was “the Lord’s Anointed” because of his sacring by the Church, but he had no “right divine to govern wrong”. In theory at any rate, the highest arbiter of justice and equity was the Universal Church speaking through the Chief Bishop of Christendom. Again and again, as in the case of Saint Anselm and Saint Thomas of Canterbury, the Papacy had been the only power that could protect the subject from royal tyranny and injustice. When England under Henry VIII became separated from the rest of Christendom, a new theory of kingship had to be sought, and it was found in the theory of “Divine Right”—the omnipotence of the king as king.

Charles, in spite of some unwise support given to the advocates of Divine Right, honestly attempted to govern as a Christian King. He realized most profoundly that he was the servant of the Church, not its master—that it was his duty not to make laws for the Church, but to see that the Church’s laws were carried out. In this he found a loyal supporter and a ready instrument in Archbishop Laud.

“There was no department of Church life”, says Wakeman, “which his energy did not enliven, no recess too dark for his eyes to penetrate. A visitation of his province, carried out by his Vicar General in 1633-1636, did much to remove the outward signs of Puritan nonconformity. The use of the surplice was enforced, kneeling at the reception of Communion enjoined, the Holy Table moved from the body of the church to the east end, placed altar-wise along the east wall, and railed in to preserve it from desecration.

Churchwardens were obliged to repair the church fabrics, and Cathedral chapters to observe their own statutes. The court of High Commission under Laud’s presidency kept a vigilant guard over the morals of the nation and the rights of the church. . . . The country squire who had seized part of the glebe or churchyard to round off his estate . . . the man of position who was guilty of incest, the courtier who treated his wife with cruelty, were all brought under the chastening hand of the High Commission.

‘Laud intended’, says Clarendon, ‘that the discipline of the Church should be felt as well as spoken of, and that it should be applied to the greatest and most splendid transgressors as well as to the punishment of smaller offences and of meaner offenders’. Under his influence the bishop began to make much more searching enquiries in their visitation articles, and so revive the discipline of the laity, which had been suffered to fall into disuse. . . . Householders were obliged to send their children and servants to be catechised. . . . All parishioners had to make their communions three times a year, and attend the services of their own parish church, to bow at the name of Jesus, and uncover their heads during the service.” (H. O. Wakeman, Hist. Ch. of Eng., pp. 368-9)

It must be understood that the nonconformists here mentioned were not ministers of a separate religious body, but Puritans who had been thrust into English livings, and who refused to obey the rules or teach the faith of the Church of which they were the official representatives. The conception of religious toleration—the existence of various religious denominations all equal before the law—had not yet arisen.

The puritans were as fanatically opposed to it as were the Anglicans. It was a question of which party should capture the Church of England. Charles, in supporting Laud’s efforts to enforce church discipline, was carrying out the ancient idea of Christian Kingship. Bit throughout their endeavours runs one ironical fact. Laud, in restoring the altar to its proper place, had to rely, not on catholic custom but on a royal injunction of Queen Elizabeth, while the Prayer Book, upon whose use he so strongly insisted, had no canonical authority whatever. It had never ever been submitted to Convocation, but depended solely upon an Act of Parliament—the Elizabethan Act of Uniformity—which same authority had also given to the English sovereign the statutory position of “Supreme Governor of the Church of England”! The Court of High Commission, through which Laud was constrained to act, in enforcing the discipline of the Church, was not an ecclesiastical court at all. It was a secular court set up by Elizabeth’s Supremacy Act, for the purpose of exercising the ecclesiastical jurisdiction attached to the Crown by the statute of Henry VIII.

This court had power “to exercise by delegation from the crown the spiritual jurisdiction formerly exercised by the Church”. (Wakeman, p. 319)

Nevertheless, it is true that Charles, in spite of all handicaps and all anomalies, did strive to realize the Catholic idea of Christian Kingship, and soon the issues were to be brought to a point when he would have to choose between a deliberate betrayal of the Church of England and dying a martyr’s death. That the civil war was a war of religion fully as much as it was a war of politics, is shown by the conduct of the parliamentary army and by Parliament itself.

“As the Parliamentary army set out from London in September, 1642, they sacked the churches on their way, burning the communion tables and destroying surplices and prayer-books. . . . At Oxford they fired shots at the statue of the Blessed Virgin with her infant Son in her arms over the new porch of St. Mary’s church. Later they hacked to pieces the representation of Christ on tapestry at Canterbury, and made a stone statue of Him a target. The cathedral church of Worcester was foully defiled, and many another after it. Charing Cross was destroyed by order of the Common Council on 2 May 1643. Before that, on April, the House of Commons had appointed a ‘committee for demolishing of Monuments of Superstition and Idolatry”. . . . Bishop Hall tells in sad words the ‘furious sacrilege’ which he witnessed in the ‘reforming the Cathedral Church at Norwich’. . . .” (Hutton, Hist. Eng. Ch., pp. 125-6) Under this order every “altar of table of stone” was to be destroyed, also all crucifixes, crosses, images, and pictures (especially of the Blessed Virgin Mary). Churches were turned into ale-houses, cathedrals used for stabling horses. Even the priceless old glass windows, depicting the lives of the Saints, were ruthlessly smashed.

In January, 1643, a bill was passed in both Houses for “abolishing episcopacy”. Later in the year, as the price of military assistance from the Scots, the House of Commons accepted the Solemn League and Covenant, pledging it to the extirpation of “popery and prelacy” and the acceptance of a Presbyterian ministry and Calvinistic doctrine.

“From the year 1643, therefore, the clergy began to be ejected from their livings, partly as malignants, or aiders of the king party, partly for refusing the Covenant and adhering to the Prayer Book. The number ejected cannot have fallen far short of two thousand”. (Ibid., p. 128)

“Some of the benefices thus vacated were filled by the patrons with Presbyterian or independent ministers who had been ordained by the presbyteries, or, in many cases, had not received any sort of ordination at all. Some were simply seized by men who made themselves ministers of the vacant parishes without any lawful authority whatever”. (H. O. Wakeman, Hist. Eng. Ch., p. 376) In 1644 the observance of church festivals was abolished. Christmas was ordered to be observed as a fast. The use of the Prayer Book, even in private houses, was made a penal offence. Laud, after a mock trial, was executed in 1645.

After the death of Laud an attempt was made to arrange peace. Commissioners from both sides met at Uxbridge on 29 January 1645. But the negotiations broke down “because Charles was determined to preserve episcopacy, while the Scots who now controlled the policy of Parliament, were determined on its destruction. Charles was willing, on the advice of his chaplains, to grant toleration, but he said: ‘Let my condition be never so low, I am resolved by the grace of God never to yield up this Church’.” (See W. H. Hutton’s article on Charles I in A Dictionary of English Church History, Edited by Ollard.)

After the battle of Nazeby it became evident that the royal cause was hopeless, and on 6 May 1646, Charles gave himself up to the Scots. He was king of Scotland as well as king of England, and a rift had already taken place between the Scottish Presbyterians and the English Parliament, which was by this time mainly Independent and disinclined to establish Presbyterian discipline to its full extent.

“Then came months of difficult negotiation. The king was willing to allow the establishment of Presbyterianism for a time, and the suppression of the Independents, in whom men like Baxter as well as the Scots already saw their most dangerous foes; but he insisted on the maintenance of some at least of the sees, as a security for freedom of Church worship and for the continuance of apostolical succession”. (W. H. Hutton, A History of the English Church, p. 138)

The Scots would only promise their aid on condition that the king would consent to the abolition of the Church of England and the establishment of a Presbyterian Church in its place after the Scottish model.

The king refused, and his doom was sealed. The Scots handed him over to the English Parliament.

During his imprisonment at Holmby House, another attempt was made to establish peace by what was known as the Treaty of Newport, but it came to nothing because the king still refused entirely to abandon episcopacy. “How can we expect God’s blessing”, he said, “if we relinquish his Church? . . . we should have neither lawful priests, nor sacraments duly administered, nor God publicly served, but according to the foolish fancy of every idle person”. (W. H. Hutton’s article in Dict. Eng. Ch. Hist.)

On 11 November he escaped to Carisbrook Castle, where he once more became a prisoner, and on 30 January 1649 he suffered death before a vast crowd assembled at Whitehall.

Thus there were three distinct occasions on which Charles might have saved his life and regained his throne by the sacrifice of his principles. There can be little doubt, as Bishop Creighton remarks, that “had Charles been willing to abandon the Church and give up episcopacy, he might have saved his throne and his life. But on this point he stood firm; for this he died, and by dying saved it for the future”. We are therefore justified in claiming King Charles as a Martyr for the Catholic religion. That dreadful deed, when, as G. K. Chesterton expresses it, a Puritan “cut off the anointed head of the sacramental man of the middle ages”, sent a profound thrill of horror through the whole country.

“From the very moment that the axe fell”, says Fr. Sillitoe (in a sermon preached at Saint Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe on 30 January 1937), he was hailed by popular acclamation as a saint and a martyr. Men and women surged to the scaffold to dip their handkerchiefs in the martyr’s blood and purchase blood-stained chips of wood to be preserved as sacred relics. Very shortly afterwards miracle-working properties were claimed for these relics”. “In 1637, three years before the Restoration, the dowager Countess of Devonshire built a Church at Peak Forest, Derbyshire, and though possible never used nor consecrated until after the Restoration, it was nevertheless at the time of its building dedicated to Saint Charles, King and Martyr, which dedication remains to this date”. (See article by Rev’d E. Milner-White in The Church Times for 27 August 1937.)

In ancient times (at least in some parts of the Church) this recognition of sainthood by popular acclamation constituted what afterwards came to be known as “canonization”. Many of the Celtic Saints could probably claim nothing beyond this. In more organized parts of the Church the matter lay in the hands of the local bishop or in those of the metropolitan or patriarch. “About the XII Century local canonization began to give way in the West to the centralized action of Rome. . . . Diocesan beatification, however, did not die out until the present elaborate process was finally defined by the Bulls of Pope Urban VIII in 1625 and 1634”. (See article by Rev’d E. Milner-White in the Church Times for 27 August 1937.) Under this process, the test required (after orthodoxy and heroic virtue) is miracles. Miracles are also demanded by some of the Eastern Churches, though not by all. “Rome”, says Fr. Milner-White, “is fast lessening its insistence upon ‘miracles’. It did not require them in the cases of More and Fisher, though it may be said that the fact of martyrdom overrode the necessity. But in any case, ‘miracle’ to Rome is coming to mean no more than an answer to prayer, following on the invocation of the holy man”. Incorruptibility of body used to be another test, but was definitely given up by the Church of Russia in 1705, and by Rome at a much earlier date. (article by Fr. Milner-White)

It is, however, interesting to note that even this test is met in the case of Saint Charles. In 1813, in the presence of the Prince Regent, the Duke of Cumberland, Count Munster, the Dean of Westminster, and the Royal Physician, Sir Henry Holford, the vault in Saint George’s Chapel (where the King had been interred) was opened, and the coffin was uncovered, when the body was found to have suffered no corruption. The narrative to this effect was drawn up by Sir Henry Holford and signed by the Prince Regent. It has been deposited in the British Museum. (J. G. Muddiman, Trial of Charles I, with preface by the late Earl of Birkenhead, p. 166)

We must now consider the formal canonization of the Royal Martyr. It must be admitted that the “Cavalier Parliament”, which met on 8 May 1661, made a bad start, almost amounting to bathos. It ordered that the 30th of January should be observed as a fast, as an act of national penance for having slain the King.

Here we see the doctrine of “Divine Right” in full play.

In contract with this, the Bishop of Winchester (Bryan Duppa) issued a form of prayer for that day.” (W. H. Hutton, A History of the English Church, p. 196):

“O Lord, we offer unto Thee all praise and thanks for the glory of Thy grace that shined forth in Thine anointed servant, Charles; and we beseech Thee to give us all grace by a careful studious imitation of this Thy blessed Saint and Martyr, that we may be made worthy to receive benefit by his prayers, which he, in common with the Church Catholic, offers up unto Thee for that part of it here militant, through Thy Son, our Blessed Saviour Jesus Christ.” Here we have a clear example of the ancient form of diocesan canonization already alluded to. But something more was needed than diocesan action.

Mr. Chesterton says:

“Whether or no we believe that the Reformation really reformed, there can be little doubt that the Restoration did not really restore. Charles II was never in the old sense a King, he was Leader of the Opposition to his own ministers.” (G. K. Chesterton, A Short History of England, p. 179) He certainly did not restore the idea of Christian Kingship so firmly held by his father—he was content to rely upon the Royal Supremacy. When the question arose of restoring the use of the Prayer Book, he sought for a compromise with the Presbyterians by referring the matter to the Savoy Conference, composed of divines of both parties in equal number. When he found that agreement was hopeless, he referred the matter to Convocation—but not as to a body which had supreme spiritual authority in the Province. He ordered it to “review” the Book of Common Prayer, and to send to him in writing any additions and alterations they might think fit “for his further allowance and confirmation”—which, if he approved, he would then recommend to Parliament “that the said Book of Common Prayer shall be appointed to be used”. (See preamble to the Act of Uniformity, 1662.)

Convocation carried out this mandate very conscientiously, and submitted more than 600 “additions and alterations”, all in a Catholic direction, which, on receiving the royal approval, were embodied in the Act of Uniformity of 1662. In reviewing the Kalendar, Convocation inserted the name of “King Charles the Martyr” against the 30thJanuary. It also drew up a “form of prayer” for use on that day, as for a “red-letter” Saint’s Day. It included special psalms and lessons at matins and evensong, and a special collect, epistle, and gospel at Holy Communion. This may be said to constitute the Provincial canonization of Saint Charles, and to justify the dedication of Churches in his honour. There are six churches under this dedication:

Saint Charles, King and Martyr, Peak Forest (1657)
King Charles the Martyr, Falmouth (1662)
Charles Church, Plymouth (1665)
King Charles the Martyr, Tunbridge Wells (1684)
King Charles the Martyr, Newtown-by-Wem (1861)
King Charles the Martyr, South Mymms (1940)

On 1 September 1665, Ward, Bishop of Exeter, writing to Archbishop Sancroft, speaks of his consecration of a church in Falmouth “by the name of Charles Church, in memoriam Caroli Regis et martyris,out of the honour which every true son of the Church owes to his memory (the only person canonized for a martyr by it.”. (Hutton, Hist. Eng. Church., p. 194) This may show some doubt in the mind of the good bishop as to when the Church of England was founded (he may even have thought that it was in the reign of Queen Elizabeth!) abut at least he shows no doubt as to the formal canonization of Saint Charles.

The “form of prayer” drawn up by Convocation for use of 30thJanuary, was not ready in time to be included in the “Book Annexed”, which was authorized by the Act of Uniformity, but it was issued under a Royal Warrant which was repeated at the beginning of all subsequent reigns until that of Edward VII. The Kalendar, on the other hand, formed part of the “Book Annexed”, and was duly enacted by Parliament.

Various attempts were made by the Whig party to get rid of the services commemorating King Charles the Martyr. These finally succeeded in 1859, when the Royal Warrant authorizing them was revoked, and it was directed that the services should no longer be printed with the Prayer Book. At the same time the name of King Charles was expunged from the Kalendar—but it was done quite illegally by the Queen’s printers on instructions received from the Home Secretary.

It has been remarked that “The loss of the actual services for the 30th January” (drawn up by the Convocation of 1661) “is hardly to be deplored, for the emphasis throughout the Office was on reparation for the murder of the King, and there appears little of the joy which the Church delights to show on the birthday of a Martyr.”

Various attempts have been made to get the name of King Charles restored to the Kalendar. The Lower House of Convocation in 1915, 1917, and 1918 petitioned for its restoration, but each time it was refused by the bishops of the Upper House.

This raises some very interesting and complicated questions. In the first place, it is difficult to see how Convocation could “restore” what it had never abrogated. The insertion of King Charles’s name in the Kalendar has already all the authority that the Church (or Parliament either) can give to it. All the Convocation could do would be to request the Home Secretary to instruct the King’s printers to abstain from their illegal action!—a petition which is not very likely to produce much result. But even if it were successful, what “form of service” should we use for the 30thJanuary? Should we feel inclined to use that prescribed by the Convocation of 1661? I do not think so—at least not without some modifications. For some years past the feast of Saint Charles has been observed in a growing number of churches. In the early 1900s it was observed at Saint Margaret, Pattens, and later at Saint Cuthbert, Philbeach Gardens, and at Saint Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe. The Society of King Charles the Martyr was founded in 1894, and one of its objects is to encourage the observance of this feast, and it has issued an Order of the Mass for use on that day. The Epistle and Gospel (suggestive as they are of the doctrine of Divine Right) are the same as those authorized by the Convocation of 1661. But the collect composed by Bishop Duppa has been substituted for the Convocation collect, and the service has been enriched by the addition of Introit, Gradual, Tract, Sequence, Offertory, Secret, Communion, and Post Communion. The Bishops of 1661 would hardly recognize it!

This raises the whole question of the canonical authority of Convocation—bound hand and foot, as it is, by the “Submission of the Clergy” and the Royal Supremacy, and in enforced separation from the Centre of Catholic Christendom. The “form of service” for 30th January had the approval of Convocation—so had the revised Prayer Book of 1662. But neither one nor the other was promulgated by Convocation; the former was promulgated by Royal Warrant and the latter by Act of Parliament. The whole position of the Church of England is anomalous, and will remain anomalous until Catholic Reunion has been effected and the Royal Supremacy abolished.

Under these circumstances the tendency among English Catholics has been to revert to older models of liturgical worship, which have the sanction of 1,000 years of Catholic use and authority, from the introduction of the “office hymn” at Evensong to the celebration of the Mass of the Presanctified on Good Friday. Such sanction cannot, of course, be pleaded for the commemoration of Saint Charles the Martyr. All that can be said is, that Convocation, with its strictly limited powers, has given it such Provincial recognition as it was able to give. For the actual form of service, we may well use a very wide discretion, keeping as closely as possible to Catholic models for celebrating the festivals of the Saints.

The great point is that the Festival should be revived. It has already received all the sanction that Provincial authority is capable of giving to it, and Englishmen need to be reminded of the last exponent of “Christian Kingship” and of all he did and suffered on behalf of the Ecclesia Anglicana. We may well be assured that Saint Charles, in glory, has not forgotten the Church in whose defence he died; may his prayers hasten the time when that Church shall once more regain her full Catholic heritage.

From a Corruptible to an Incorruptible Crown

An Address given by Professor David Flint at All Saints’ Wickham Terrace, Brisbane, Australia, at Evensong on Sunday 30th January, 2000, at my invitation, commemorating the Martyrdom of King Charles 1.

Painting by Ernest Crofts of King Charles
being led to his execution (London, UK, 1901)

On that sad, bitterly cold day 351 years ago, the 30th January 1649, before he was to die, Bishop Juxon offered these words of comfort to King Charles I:- “There is but one stage more . . . which though turbulent and troublesome yet is a very short one; you may consider it will soon carry you a great way; it will carry you from Earth to Heaven, and there you shall find, to your great joy, the prize to hasten you, a crown of glory.”

And the King replied; “I go from a corruptible to an incorruptible crown, where no disturbance can be, no disturbance in the world”.

From a corruptible to an incorruptible crown ...

I take as my text words which were to have been read at the King’s funeral, but which were prohibited. They are from the Fifteenth chapter of the First Epistle of the Blessed Apostle Paul to the Corinthians.

(Indeed, they are part of the very lesson prescribed in the Burial Service)

“All flesh is not the same flesh; but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption; it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

“And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; he last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit, that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.”

The theme of this text was no doubt the inspiration for the King, for among his last words were those I have just read:- “I go from a corruptible to an incorruptible crown, where no disturbance can be, not disturbance in the world”

With your leave, I propose to speak first on the martyrdom of the King. And second on the reasons why it is right that we remember this act of martyrdom.

The 30th January 1649 is a day which, is at one and the same time, a day of infamy, a day of sadness and yet, a day of glory.

It is a day of infamy, for the murder of an anointed king shakes the very foundations of civilization.

Shakespeare reminds us of the enormity of this crime of, this crime of the murder of a King, of Regicide. Thus Richard II laments:-

“Not all the waters in the rough rude sea
Can wash the balm from an anointed king;
The breath of worldly men cannot depose
The deputy elected by the Lord:”

Not all the waters in the rough rude see can wash the balm from an anointed King.

That the unlawful execution of the King constituted a murder - the heinous crime of Regicide - there can be little doubt. Indeed, the King himself reminders his tormentors of this. When the president, Bradshaw, reminds him he was before a court of justice, the King replies, dryly - “I am before a power.”

A power. Not a court, a power. And the King throws the proceedings into disarray when he points to its fundamental illegality. Hear the King’s own words:-

“No earthly power can justly call me (who am your King) in question as a delinquent . . . I would not any more open my mouth upon this occasion, more than to refer myself to what I have spoken, were I in this case alone concerned: But the duty I owe to God in the preservation of the true liberty of my people will not suffer me at this time to be silent.”

And then the King reminds his tormentors of this fundamental proposition that a prosecution must be ruled by law:-

“There is no proceeding just against any man, but what is warranted, either by God’s laws or the municipal laws of the country where he lives . . . Now I am confident this day’s proceedings cannot be warranted by God’s laws . . . Then for the law of the land I am no less confident that no learned lawyer will affirm that an impeachment can lie against the King . . . One of their maxims is “the King can do no wrong...”

And the King reminds the so-called court that it was constituted only by one part of the Parliament, by a vote of the House of Commons. Even then only by a House purged of every member - except those in league with Cromwell. For as the King says:-

“The major part - are detained or deferred from sitting. But how the House of Commons can erect a court of Judicature which was never one itself (as is well known to all lawyers) I leave to God and the world to judge. And it were full as strange, that they should pretend to make laws without (the) King or Lords’ House...”

And then the King, with remarkable prescience, anticipates Cromwell’s response - that the people have an inherent right to overthrow a tyrant. Now this is a right which will be claimed one century later in France and the United States. But it is a right which can be so terribly abused. As it was against Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. And as it was even more grotesquely abused in our own century. At Yekaterinberg. When not only the Tsar and Tsarina but also their children and servants were so brutally slain.

But let us go back to 1649.

Can Cromwell truthfully say that the trial is justified because the people have risen up against the King?

Charles anticipates this. Hear again the King’s own words:-

“And admitting, but not granting, that the people of England’s commission could grant you (this) pretended power, I see nothing to show that; for certainly you have never asked the question of the tenth man of the Kingdom, and in this way you manifestly wrong even the poorest plowman, if you demand not his free consent . . . nor can you pretend any colour for this your pretended Commission without the consent at least of the major part of every man in England of whatsoever quality or condition, which I am sure you never went about to seek, so far are you from having it.

“Thus you see that I speak not for mine own right alone, as I am your King, but also for the true liberty of all my subjects, which consist not in the power of government, but in living under such laws, such a government, which may give them the best assurance of their lives, and property of their goods.”

And the King concludes his impeccable answer, which Cromwell does not rebut and which Cromwell knows he cannot rebut:-

“Thus having showed you briefly the reasons why I cannot submit to you pretended authority, without violating the trust which I have from God for the welfare and liberty of my people, I expect from you either clear reasons to continue my judgement, showing me that I am error, . . . or that you withdraw your proceedings”.

So the King’s trial was delayed. The trial was of course little more than a show trial of the sort we have seen in Soviet times. Those who sat are well aware of the illegality of their proceedings. And the “judges” are well aware of the monstrous and bloody conclusion that Cromwell demands of them.

Charles was right to say that he stood for the rule of law and the liberty of his people. For under the Lord Protector that liberty was to be snuffed out. Even the simple pleasures of life were proscribed. The Lord Protector controlled the parliament, the council. He was to even take the right to nominate his successor. Palaces and vast areas of London were to be dedicated to his use.

And so the 30 January was a day of infamy and it was a day of sadness. But, my brethren, it was also a day of glory.

For Charles died not only defending the rule of law, and, as he saw it, the liberties of his people. He died for more than that. He died so that the Church itself, our Church, might live. That is why he achieved the glory of martyrdom. He was prepared to concede more political power than any Tudor King had. But he would not deny his Faith. He would not preside over the death of the Church.

In the struggle with Parliament, it was clear that by 1641 the constitution had been changed to the disadvantage of the King. In fact that Parliament is now much the same position as was to be guaranteed later by the Bill of Rights at the time of the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

But although Charles had given up so much, even more was demanded. And that related to the Church.

Let us recall that once the English Church had been cut off from Rome in the previous century, it could not fail to be influenced by what Gardiner calls “the tides of opinion flowing in from the perturbed continent”. (Samuel Rawson Gardiner, The Constitution Documents of the Puritan Revolution, 1625-1660, 3rd edn, Oxford University Press, 1979, XV, XVI.) Indeed, at the end of Elizabeth’s reign the doctrine taught by the greater part of the clergy was Calvinist. While Elizabeth insisted on the use of the Book of Common Prayer, she was flexible. For example, she tolerated the refusal of some to wear the surplice. But Elizabeth’s successor, and Charles’ father James I were not so wise.

This festering dispute was more than about the wearing of the surplice. It was about doctrine. It was about discipline. For within the Church there would always be those who would join in the Creed and say with conviction: “And I believe One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church”

One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. One which attaches special value to the doctrine of sacramental grace and the sacred ministry. One which regards the episcopacy, the bishops, as divinely ordained successors to the Apostles. One which finds comfort and authority in the writings of the Fathers and the early Councils.

The disputes about vestments and ceremony were of course the more visible evidence of a tension within the very bosom of the church, a tension which has lingered these four centuries and which is but a mirror of the whole Church.

So we find in 1628, a House of Commons Committee rails against the placing of the Communion Table, and against praying towards the East, against the use of pictures and candles, against standing during the Gloria, against making the sign of the cross. And there is outrage against the King in his “Declaration of Sports” in 1633. He promises that on Sundays after divine service “our good people not be disturbed, letted or discouraged from any lawful recreation, such as dancing, either men or women; archery for men, leaping, vaulting or any such harmless recreation, nor from having of May games, Whitsun ales and Morris dances, and the setting up of May poles.” (But there is “. . . still prohibited all unlawful games... as bear and bull baiting and at all times in the meaner sort of people by law prohibited, bowling...”)

Archbishop Laud’s (and the King’s) great mistake was the failed attempt to impose the Anglican liturgy on Scotland. This encouraged the English puritans who dominated parliament to want not only to remove all political powers from the King; they were determined to change the fundamental nature of the English Church so that it would no longer be part of that One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

So, in the Grand Remonstrance of 1641, which the Commons published, with studied discourtesy, even before the King had seen it, the Puritans call for the suppression of “oppressive and unnecessary ceremonies” and that the bishops lose their right to vote in parliament. Then there is a call that the King abridge “their immoderate power usurped over the clergy and other your good subjects which they have perniciously abused to the hazard of religion, and (the) great prejudice and oppression to the laws of the Kingdom, and just liberty of your people”.

But soon the Parliament wants even more. Civil War is now inevitable. In 1642 they effectively demand that all government be in their hands. Parliament would have unlimited powers. It would be a dictatorship. Early in the war, in the Oxford Propositions the Parliament insists the King agree to a Bill:- “for the utter abolishing and taking away of all Archbishops, Bishops, their Chancellors and Commissioners, Deans... Chapters, Archdeacons, Canons... Chanters... Sacrists... Vicars Choral and Choristers of any Cathedral or Collegiate Church.”

The English puritans are now in the ascendant. They have tasted blood. Not only do they call for Sabbath observance, there is a Bill for the perpetual suppression of stage plays. The religious enemy is now not only Popery, but to this is added “Prelacy”. Prelacy - that is the very concept, the truth of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. That now is the target.

But prelacy, the Apostolic Succession is fundamental to the King. So, the King, now in captivity, replies to the Speaker, in 1647, in these words:-

“That for the abolishing Archbishops, Bishops &c., His Majesty clearly professeth that he cannot give his consent thereunto, both in relation as he is a Christian and a King; for the first he avows, that he is satisfied in his judgement that this order was placed in the Church by the Apostles themselves, and ever since their time hath continued in all Christian Churches throughout the world, until this last century of years; and in this Church in all times of change and reformation it hath been upheld by the wisdom of his ancestors, as the great preserver of doctrine, discipline and order in the service of God. As a King at his coronation, he hath not only taken a solemn oath to maintain this order, but His Majesty and his predecessors in their confirmations of the Great Charter (the Magna Carta), have inseparably woven the right of the Church into the liberty of the subjects”.

But he offers a compromise. This is the continuation of the existing de facto presbyterian government of the church for three years. That is not enough for Cromwell.

And that is the King’s stand. He will not surrender on this point. On this he is firm.

Now in captivity he writes about this to his Roman Catholic wife, Queen Henrietta Maria who is in France. But she has little sympathy with his “tiresome conscience”. Surely, she argues, any promises he makes need not be permanently binding. And surely it is better in the end to be a Presbyterian King than no King at all. After all, it is not as if he were a Roman Catholic (Christopher Hibbert, Charles I, 1968 p.240)

But the King will not give way. His conscience will not allow him to abandon the Church. He will not renounce his belief, the belief in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

And so he is to die for this, to die, he says, as a “Christian according to the profession of the Church of England.” And a martyr.

So, I come to the second part of my address. Why should we observe what was Charles’ final admonition - “Remember”? And what is all this to us, in a distant land and at another time?

My dear brethren. The King’s martyrdom is of living significance for this reason. His sacrifice was not only for those who profess the Anglican faith, but all who affirm the Creeds. And while Anglicans may disagree on ceremony and on doctrine, they are united in their support for the Apostles’ and the Nicene Creeds.

The Constitution of the Anglican Church in Australia contains three Fundamental Declarations. So fundamental they cannot be altered (s.66). They are:-

First, “The Anglican Church of Australia, being a part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ, holds the Christian Faith as professed by the Church of Christ from primitive times and in particular as set forth in the creeds known as the Nicene and the Apostles’ Creed.”

Second, “This church receives all the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as being the ultimate rule and standard of faith given by inspiration of God and containing all things necessary for salvation.”

Third, “This Church will ever obey the commands of Christ, teach His doctrine, administer His sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion, follow and uphold His discipline and preserve the three orders of bishops, priests and deacons in the sacred ministry.”

His Grace the Archbishop of Sydney (Donald Robinson, Archbishop, 1982-93) in 1986, sitting on the Church’s Advisory Tribunal, held that the phrase “the three orders of bishops, priests and deacons... indicates that both ‘the sacred ministry’ and ‘the three orders’ in that ministry are well-known and require no further definition within this Chapter.

“It is not enough to recognize merely some form of ministry, or to preserve the names of the three orders, or three orders of anyone’s devising. ‘The three orders of bishops, priests and deacons in the sacred ministry’ can only be the ministry and orders referred to in the Thirty-Nine Articles (see for example articles 19, 23, 26, 32 and 36) and in the Book of Common Prayer, especially the Ordinal. Just as ‘the canonical Scriptures’ in Section 2 of the Fundamental Declarations depend on the Thirty-Nine Articles for their correct definition (see Section 74), so ‘the three the sacred ministry’ depend on the Articles and Prayer Book for their correct definition. This definition claims catholic and apostolic, not merely Anglican, status for the three orders. The orders are in fact common to the Anglican, Roman and Orthodox communions. The sacred ministry itself is declared in the Ordinal to have been ‘appointed for the salvation of mankind’, and the orders in that ministry are said to have been in Christ’s Church ‘from the Apostles’ time and to have been appointed by God’s divine providence.’

His Grace concludes:

“There can be no doubt that what Section 3 commits this Church to preserve are these orders in this sacred ministry.”

This is the carefully considered opinion of the Archbishop of Sydney. In it, His Grace points out that the three orders of the sacred ministry are not merely Anglican, they are common to the Anglican Roman and Orthodox communions.

So the reason all Anglicans (indeed all Catholics, Roman and Orthodox) should give thanks for the life and service of the Martyr King is that he stood his ground. He could have surrendered. He could have washed his hands. As Pilate did. Then there would be no Church of England as we know it, as an integral part of that Holy Catholic and Apostolic church. It would not have been only the King who died on that day in January 1649. It would have been that link, the Apostle Succession, which comes to us through Augustine. That line from Augustine would have ended. As well that precious jewel the Book of Common Prayer would not have survived. It certainly would not have made its equally indelible stamp on our liturgy. And It would not have made its indelible stamp on the language and culture of the whole English speaking world. My brethren: we must therefore be eternally grateful to the Martyr King that by his life he saved these treasures for us.

I return to that sad, bitterly cold day in London. That day of infamy. The trial had been delayed because of the King’s brilliant and irrefutable argument that the trial is illegal. Cromwell has put pressure on those charged with the execution to sign the Death Warrant.

Its cruel words come down to us today:-

“Whereas Charles Stuart, King of England, is, and standeth convicted, attainted, and condemned of high treason, and other high crimes; and sentence upon Saturday last was pronounced against him by this Court, to be put to death by the severing of his head from his body; of which sentence, execution yet remaineth to be done; these are therefore to will and require you to see the said sentence executed in the open street before Whitehall, upon the morrow, being the thirtieth day of this instant month of January, between the hours of ten in the morning and five in the afternoon of the same day, with full effect. And for so doing this shall be your sufficient warrant. And these are to require all officers, soldiers, and others, the good people of this nation of England, to be assisting unto you in this service.

“To Col. Francis Hacker, Col. Huncks, and Lieut.-Col. Phayre, and to everyone of them.”

And the death warrant bears the signatures of the men whose hands are to be forever soaked in blood:-

“Given under our hands and seals.
John Bradshaw
Thomas Grey
Oliver Cromwell &c. &c.”

And so on that bitterly cold day, the 30th January the King woke between five and six.

“I will get up”, he says to his servant, “I have a great work to do this day. I fear not death, death is not terrible to me. I bless my God that I am prepared.” He speaks with Bishop Juxon for an hour, and then receives the Sacrament. The Second Lesson at Mattins on 30 January is especially relevant. it is the 27th Chapter of St. Matthew, the Passion of Our Lord.

Then he is taken in procession with drums beating to Whitehall. He probably sees the scaffold. It is half past ten. The King waits in his room for the knock at the door which will signal the walk to the scaffold. He waits and he waits. He is to wait until almost two. And why this final torment to the King? Two reasons are suggested. Those to whom the death warrant is directed have then to sign the order of execution. One, Colonel Huncks, loses his nerve. Cromwell intervenes. He shouts at him - he is a “peevish fellow”. But still he will not sign. Cromwell decides to go ahead without his signature.

The other reason is that the republicans forget the elementary proposition that they can kill the King. But they cannot kill the Crown. They forget the law of royal succession expressed in the acclamation: “The King is dead. Long live the King.” The Crown passes immediately on the death of the King to the Prince of Wales. And there is no time to pass legislation to declare a republic. This is to be done later. So they pass a so-called law making it an offence for anyone to proclaim a new king. In this they are to fail dismally. It has no effect. Charles II’s reign begins on that same day, the 30th January 1649.

So, near two o’clock, they finally bring the King to the scaffold.

Divided by ranks of soldiers from the crowds, he addresses some words to those who can hear. He begins by forgiving his murderers. He declares that he has forgiven all the world, “and even those in particular that have been the chief causers of my death: who they are, God knows, I do not desire to know, I pray God forgive them.

“I wish that they may repent, for indeed thy have committed a great sin in that particular; I pray God, with St. Stephen, that this not be laid to their charge. Nay, not only so, but that they may take the right way to the peace of the Kingdom: for my charity commands me not only to forgive particular men, but my charity commands me to the last gasp the peace of the Kingdom...”

He addresses himself to the role of the people: “Truly I desire their liberty and freedom as much as anybody whomsoever; but I must tell you their liberty and freedom consists in having of government, those laws by which their life and their goods may be most their own”.

And finally, he affirms his faith: “that I die a Christian according to the profession of the Church of England, as I found it left me by my father . . . I have a good Cause and I have a gracious God; I will say no more”

Then Bishop Juxon says, “There is but one stage more, which though turbulent and troublesome, yet it is a very short one; you may consider it will soon carry you a very great way; it will carry you from Earth to Heaven; and there you shall find, to your great joy, the prize you hasten to, a Crown of Glory.”

And the King replies, and once more, listen to his wisdom, his grace: “I go from a corruptible to an incorruptible Crown, where no disturbance can be, no disturbance in the world.”

He now takes off the insignia of the Garter, the last of his jewels; he gives it to the Bishop with the one word, “Remember.”

The King stands for a moment raising his hands and eyes to Heaven and praying in silence, then slips off his cloak and lies down with his neck on the block. The executioner bends down to make sure that his hair is not in the way, and Charles, thinking that he was preparing to strike, says, “Stay for the sign.”

“I will, an’ it please Your Majesty,” says the executioner.

A fearful silence falls on the little knot of people on the scaffold, on the surrounding troops, and on the crowd. Within a few seconds the King stretches out his hands and the executioner on the instant and at one blow severs his head from his body.

A boy of seventeen, standing a long way off in the throng, sees the axe fall. And he remembers as long as he lives the sound that broke from the crowd. (C.V. Wedgwood, The Trial of Charles I, Collins, London, 1964)

“The blow I saw given and can truly say with a sad heart at the instant whereof there was such a groan by the thousands present as I never heard before, and desire I may never hear again.”

Such a groan... as I never heard before and desire I may never hear again...

The executioner seizes the Kings head and holds it up, saying, “Behold the Head of a traitor!”

The cavalry disperse and scatter the people.

The body is taken to Blackfriars. The King’s head is sewn on and the body embalmed.

Cromwell will not allow the body to be buried in King Edward’s chapel. This is far too dangerous - it may become a shrine. The King is buried secretly at Windsor. The use of the Book of Common Prayer is already prohibited by Parliament. No exception is allowed. Bishop Juxon is not permitted even to read the burial service. He carries the Book of Common Prayer with him - closed. He refuses to extemporize in the Puritan fashion.

In that vault lies the body of Henry VIII. On one side, his third wife, Jane Seymour. His sixth wife and widow Katherine Parr was to have been buried on Henry’s other side. But she married again and is buried elsewhere. That is to be King Charles’ tomb.

And so, the King’s body was lowered into the vault in silence.

As Redmond observes, they are strange companions in death: “The King who broke the Church of England from the Roman communion to gain political advantage and to satisfy his sexual appetite, and the King who died because he saw in the Anglican faith the best and purest form of the Christian doctrine and the Church Militant on earth.”

And so on that day of infamy, that day of sadness, and that day of glory, the King goes from a corruptible to an incorruptible crown.

Let us recall the concluding words of the lesson from St. Paul, the lesson which was not permitted to be read at the King’s burial:-

“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold I shew you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality; then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

Charles went, as he said, from a corruptible to an incorruptible crown. He died that the Church might live.

Let us pray (according to the Collect for the Order for Evening Prayer on the 30th January)

“And now, to Almighty and Everlasting God, whose righteousness is like the strong mountains, and thy judgements like the great deep; and who, by that barbarous murder (as on this day) committed upon the sacred Person of thine Anointed, hast taught us, that neither the greatest of Kings, nor the best of men, are more secure from violence than from natural death: Teach us also hereby so to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom, and grant, that neither the splendour of any thing that is great, nor the conceit of any thing that is good in us, may withdraw our eyes from looking upon ourselves as single dust and ashes; but that, according to the example of this thy blessed Martyr, we may press forward to the prize of the high calling that is before us, in faith and in patience, in humility and in meekness, in mortification and in self-denial, in charity and in constant perseverance unto the end: And all this for thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ his sake; to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost be all honour and glory, world without end.” Amen.