A Twitch on the Sarum Thread

It is nice to see signs of interest outside my own mind. Liturgical Boutique: Is Sarum Possible? has just appeared on the Rad Trad blog. His reflections sound as weary as my own, seeing that there has been a lot of academic interest in Sarum but very little done in practical terms. The problems are different in Roman Catholicism (both mainstream and traditionalist), Anglicanism (both Establishment and continuing) and Orthodoxy (Russian and Antiochian western rite groups).

The opportunity was there for the Ordinariate, but it was passed over once again. There is no point to discussing the question. In my own Church, I am grateful for the tolerance, but there is no interest in Sarum outside myself. I will continue in the sobering knowledge that it will only last for as long as I do.

It can be argued that questions of liturgical rites pale into insignificance compared with the threats we face from the neo-feudalism of the bankers and oligarchs on one hand and “medieval” Islam on the other. I sympathise with Pope Francis’ indignation at the way Greece is being financially colonised (though it can be argued that Greek socialism had it coming – running out of other people’s money and all that), and sigh when I see him holding a “Commie” crucifix like a character in a Don Camillo film. So much claptrap as spiritual darkness envelops the world as in the period leading to the Nazi takeover of Germany in 1933!

Only Anglican cathedrals still put on Choral Evensong most days of the week and some form of Sunday Mass. The devout always know where a Benedictine monastery can be found for a full liturgical life. The big problem with reviving liturgy of any kind is twofold: human and material. On the human side, you need priests, other clerics and lay people whose lives are compatible with giving the same priority to worship as monks. You also need churches and the money to maintain them. A third factor is not being fettered to ecclesial institutions whose legal systems rely more on positive law than custom (it’s forbidden unless authority says it’s allowed). On the other hand, if it is a “marginal” operation, no one is interested because it doesn’t have people, money or buildings. Who wants to attend a Sarum Mass in a private home, a garage or a converted shop?

Anyway, I appreciate others trying to make headway through the morass of legal positivism and all the other obstacles. In particular, I can only thank men like Dr William Renwick who have the perseverance and motivation to do the work necessary to avoid the old excuse claiming that there are no books or extant documents.

Sarum attracts interest, but the obstacles seem insuperable. Perhaps all we can do is maintain the availability of information and hope that another opportunity will occur in a couple of hundred years and that it won’t again be “blown”.

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3 Responses to A Twitch on the Sarum Thread

  1. Father Gregory says:

    Dear Father,

    It may be little comfort, but I am interested in Sarum as well. I mean interested in doing Sarum in English. I am in the process of establishing an Oratory and I am using your blog and what you’ve written as a guide.

    So for what its worth, I thank you for your efforts in making Sarum known and accessible.

    Fr. Gregory Wassen

    • Thank you, Father, and welcome to the ACC! I think there is a future in Sarum celebrated in English to contrast with the Roman (1570-1962) rite in Latin. Do you mean by “Oratory” a place of worship, private chapel – or the community of priests based on friendship as founded in Italy in the 16th century?

      • Father Gregory says:

        Thank you Father! I was received into the ACC some 4 years ago but am new to this Diocese. Well practically speaking I will be participating in the UK but I think canonically I’ll still be under the Metropolitan. Looking forward to this new step! I am trying – with permission from Abp. Haverland – to erect a place of worship. I haven’t had Communion since leaving the USA. I’ve been praying the (Anglican) Breviary and teaching my son Lauds & Vespers but that’s it. Though I may end up working in Ireland since work around here (Northern Netherlands) is rarer than hen’s teeth. If that should happen maybe I could stop by you on the way to the ferry?

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