Author Topic: Anglo-Catholic Oxford movement  (Read 4807 times)

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Offline Vlad

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Anglo-Catholic Oxford movement
« on: October 01, 2008, 01:04:49 AM »
I have done a little research on the Oxford movement in the Anglican Church. Is there much of an interest in this in the Anglo/Episcopal Church anymore?

Offline jnorm888

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Re: Anglo-Catholic Oxford movement
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2008, 11:09:29 AM »
I have done a little research on the Oxford movement in the Anglican Church. Is there much of an interest in this in the Anglo/Episcopal Church anymore?

It still exist, but it's not like the way it use to be. I know when I was Anglo-Catholic, I was advised to read this book.

"The Vision Glorious: Themes and Personalities of the Catholic Revival in Anglicanism" by Geoffrey Rowell

I'm sure Ebor could tell you more, since he's Episcopal. But then again.....I don't know what his feelings are in regards to the Anglo-Catholic wing of his church.

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Offline Ebor

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Re: Anglo-Catholic Oxford movement
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2008, 11:12:42 AM »
Anglo-Catholic parishes are not very common, though I do know of a couple in Maryland.  However, the Oxford Movement had a good bit of influence and that can be seen today in many Episcopal churches in the US, with things like weekly Eucharist and other services.

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Offline Keble

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Re: Anglo-Catholic Oxford movement
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2008, 11:35:23 AM »
The influence of the Oxford movement is hard to understate, particularly in the appearance of churches and the liturgy that goes on inside. To take an extreme example: Old St. Anne's, Middletown, DE is a rare example of a colonial building preserved essentially without modification. A 16th-18th century Presbyterian would feel right at home in it, even a modern Presbie would find it strange, and for most modern Anglicans it's nothing at all like what they would be used to. It has box pews, of course, and a gallery (for the servants and slaves-- slavery had to wait for the Civil War for abolition, though by the early 1800s it was largely gone). But it also has a triple decker pulpit, a magnificent but alien creature today. The lowest level is the reader's desk, from where the recited parts of the service (e.g. the psalms and canticles) are led; the next level up holds the lectern from which the scriptures were read. The pulpit proper sits on top, complete with a big sounding board as a canopy. All of the pews more or less face this structure. St. Anne's has a terrible website, but some of the pictures in this strip can help give you an idea:

The second from the left picture is taken from the gallery; the pulpit is just out of the picture to the right. If you look carefully just to the right of the chandelier, you can see a bit of stairwell, which IIRC leads to the reader's desk. Notice how all the pews point to the right except for those along the "back" wall.

Now look at the rightmost picture, which looks down on the altar and sanctuary. The big window and rail make this a rather ultra-Anglican arrangement, and it survives or was repeated in many, many Anglican churches over the centuries. But now look at the people along the bottom edge of the picture. They are sitting in the pews, and they are facing the pulpit, not the altar.  That's because the standard service of the era was morning prayer with sermon; communion was as infrequent as once a month.

All of this the Oxford movement swept away, in stages. Delaware was low church country, and even twenty years ago it was still hard to find communion on a second or fourth Sunday. But when St. Anne's decided they needed a new/bigger building, in town, they did what 90% of Victorian parishes did: they built a Gothic Revival pile. (The other 10% were Romanesque.) It has a big reredos, and all the pews face the altar. The pulpit and lectern were pushed off the center line and usually reduced considerably.

Fast forward further, and 1st and 3rd parishes are dying out; the Eucharist is the main service on all Sundays. The current 1979 prayer book describes "The Holy Eucharist" as "the principal act of Christian worship on the Lord’s Day and other major Feasts[.]" Surplices are rarely seen on priests during the Eucharist; chasubles abound. Most Anglicans take a high theory of communion and find the theory of real presence in the Articles of Religion too negative about substantial change (not to mention other RC communion practices, such as reservation and even adoration).

The Catholic conquest was not complete, however, for a variety of reasons:
  • There are lingering pockets of ultra-Protestant resistance (see for example the Diocese of Sydney).
  • Thomist theology never got much of a foothold. There was too much commitment to the Caroline divines to begin with, and then the fact that the Germans were willing to discuss and the Romans not meant that the former were listened to and latter ignored.
  • Sacramentals didn't attract much interest until their recent rediscovery by yuppies. They don't fit very well into the 40 hour work week.
  • The Marian material was still anathema. The difference between hyperdulia and adoratio was never sharp enough to satisfy the more Protestant critics, and the whole candle/statue thing continued to set off people's "idol worship" alarms. The dogmatization of the immaculate conception exacerbated this.
  • The Oxford movement was profoundly romantic, as well as being (after all) a reform movement. Therefore contemporary Roman practice was largely pushed aside in favor of modern versions of late medieval practice, particularly in terms of vestments and architecture. The older Anglican Georgian stuff was discarded because was based on pagan architecture, but Palladian and Baroque architecture were not even considered, because they were considered corrupted post-medieval styles. Gothic chasubles were revived; "fiddlebacks" remained Roman and therefore largely unused.

The Carolines and the romanticism were, in retrospect, the decisive forces. With the help of Gregory Dix in the mid 20th century, they pushed Anglicanism in a direction that was still Protestant underneath, but with a view towards sacraments and liturgy that coated the whole thing in a Catholic wrapper.

Offline lubeltri

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Re: Anglo-Catholic Oxford movement
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2008, 01:18:39 PM »
Thanks for the fascinating lesson, Keble!

Offline FrChris

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Re: Anglo-Catholic Oxford movement
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2008, 10:53:59 PM »
Indeed! Very informative! Thanks again!
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