The Anglican Reformation

The Anglican Reformation

 

In the sixteenth century the English Church threw off the yoke of Rome and claimed to return to the True Church of pre-papist times. Now in King Edward the Confessor’s deathbed vision, he had been told that the English could hope for a cessation of God’s great wrath against them “when a green tree, cut down in the middle of its trunk, and the part cut off carried the space
of three furlongs from the stock, shall be joined again by its trunk, by itself and without the hand of man or any sort of stake, and begin once again to push leaves and bear fruit from the old love of its uniting sap” (248).

But can we say that the branch which was cut off at the time of the Norman Conquest was regrafted into the tree of Holy Orthodoxy at that time? This can be affirmed only if: (a) the faith of the Anglican Church was the same as that of the Anglo-Saxon Church before 1070, and (b) the Anglicans sought, and obtained, communion with the trunk, the Holy Orthodox Church of the East.

The Anglican Reformation of the sixteenth century, in conformity with the Protestant Reformation generally, laid great stress on a return to the faith and worship of the Early Church; and there was indeed some recognition of the authority of the early Church Fathers, whose writings had been abandoned in favour of the scholastics in the medieval period. Thus Cranmer based his argument for an increase in the reading of the Holy Scriptures on a quotation from St. John Chrysostom, and some of the seventeenth-century divines, and William Law in the eighteenth, made use of the patristic writings. However, the official confession of faith of the Anglican communion, the 39 articles, was far from patristic, especially in the area of sacramental theology (only two sacraments, baptism and the eucharist were recognized, but not the priesthood!). Moreover, other practices of the Early Church, which were also accepted and practised by the Anglo-Saxon Church, such as fasting, monasticism, the veneration of saints, prayer for the dead, etc. – were rejected. Again, instead of the papocaesarism of the medieval period there was a return to the caesaropapism of William’s reign, the monarch and parliament being placed over the bishops of the church.

 

Moreover, the events that accompanied the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII made it clear that the English Reformation was more akin, through its violence and destruction of sacred things, to the “reformation” of William and Hildebrand, than to the restoration of Orthodoxy accomplished by St. Augustine.

Of particular significance were the ravages of England`s holiest shrines. In the north, the king`s commissioners came in 1537 to Durham to destroy the shrine and relics of St. Cuthbert. “After the spoil of his ornaments and jewels, they approached near to his body, expecting nothing but dust and ashes; but… they found him lying whole, uncorrupt, with his face bare, and his beard as of a fortnight`s growth, and all the vestments about him, as he was accustomed to say Mass… When the goldsmith perceived he had broken one of his legs, in breaking open the chest, he was sore troubled at it, and cried: `Alas! I have broken one of his legs`; which Dr. Henley hearing, call to him, and bade him cast down his bones: the other answered he could not them asunder, for the sinews and skin held them so that they would not separate. Then Dr. Lee stept up to see if they were so, and, turning about, spake in Latin to Dr. Henley that he was entire, though Dr. Henley, not believing his words, called again to have his bones cast down: Dr. Lee answered, `If you will not believe me, come up yourself and see him`: then Dr. Henley stept up to him, and handled him, and found he lay whole; then he commanded them to take him down; and so it happened, contrary to their expectation, that not only was his body whole and uncorrupted, but the vestments wherein his body lay, and wherein he was accustomed to say Mass, were fresh, safe, and not consumed. Whereupon the visitors commanded him to be carried into the vestry, till the King`s pleasure concerning him was further known; and, upon receipt thereof, the prior and monks buried him in the ground under the place where his shrine was exalted.” (249)

 

Thus the English Reformation both witnessed involuntarily to the holiness of the Anglo-Saxon Church and promptly buried that holiness in the ground of earthly thoughts and unbelief!

Still worse were the outrages committed at Glastonbury. There the Old Church built by St. Joseph of Arimathea and dedicated to the Mother of God had been burnt in a fire in 1184; but the other holy things associated with St. Joseph had been preserved by the Catholic monks, making Glastonbury one of the greatest sites of pilgrimage in Western Christendom. But the Protestants destroyed the icon of the Mother of God painted by St. Joseph of which Richard Pynson, the royal painter, had written about in his `Lyfe of Joseph of Arimathia in 1520. (250)

The Protestants also destroyed the famous Glastonbury Thorn planted by St. Joseph; but cuttings were made, and a descendant of the original thorn still exists. This remarkable tree bears witness to another apostolic tradition which Orthodox England guarded, but which Protestant England discarded. John Greed explains: “It is said that when he [St. Joseph] began to preach the good news of Jesus Christ at Glastonbury he met opposition which varied from common heckling to stone-throwing. Undaunted he persevered, but one Christmas Day on Wearyall Hill, when he spoke of the King of kings as being born humbly in a stable and laid in a manger, the crowd shouted derisorily for a sign. Then Joseph heard a voice tell him thrust his dry staff into the ground. He did so, and within a few minutes it put out branches, budded, and burst into blossom. The people, seeing a sign, accepted the message…

“Botanically, Rev. L.S. Lewis describes the species as a Levantine thorn, while Mr. Geoffrey Ashe in his book `King Arthur`s Avalon` says that it is a freak hawthorn or applewort, Crataegus oxyacantha. It cannot be struck but can be budded. There is no fruit, but it blossoms in May and also on old Christmas Day.

“In 1752 the calendar was changed by eleven days to bring Britain into line with Europe… where the calendar of Pope Gregory XIII was in general use. At Christmas, crowds gathered to see what the trees would do. To the delight of some and chagrin of others, the trees refused to follow the Papal calendar, and blossomed on 5th January – a practice which they continue to this day. Since 1929, gifts of the January blossom have been sent to the reigning monarch.” (251)

This tradition goes back at least to the reign of Charles I, who, one receiving it, remarked:

“Well, this is a miracle, isn`t it?”

“Yes, Your Majesty, a miracle peculiar to England and regarded with great veneration by the [Roman] Catholics.

“How?” said the king, “when this miracle opposes itself to the [Roman] pope? You bring me this miracle blossom on Christmas Day, Old Style. Does it always observe the Old Style, by which we English celebrate the Nativity, at its time of flowering?”

“Always.”

“Then the pope and your miracle differ not a little, for he always celebrates Christmas Day ten days earlier by the calendar of the New Style, which has been ordained at Rome by papal orders for nearly a century…” (252)

 

THE CHANGE FROM THE JULIAN TO THE GREGORIAN CALENDAR

 

The other side of the coin on this change of calendar.

The Gregorian calendar which is the calendar used today, was first introduced by Pope Gregory XIII via a papal bull in February 1582 to correct an error in the Old Julian Calendar, their astronomers had found this error when they studied the stars.

This error had been accumulating over hundreds of years so that every 128 years the calendar was out of sync with the equinoxes and solstices by one additional day.

As the centuries passed the Julian Calendar became more inaccurate. Because the calendar was incorrectly determining the date of Easter, Pope Gregory XIII reformed the Calendar to match the solar year so that Easter would once again “fall upon the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the Vernal Equinox” and Christmas Day would fall on the 25th December the pagan celebration of the birth of the new sun which was replaced by St. Augustine to celebrate the birth of the Son of God.

Ten days were omitted from the calendar to bring the calendar back in line with the solstices, and Pope Gregory XIII decreed that the following Thursday, 4th October, 1582 would be Friday, 15th October, 1582 and then on the reformed Gregorian Calendar would be  used.

The Catholic countries of Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain immediately observed the calendar change, but for almost 200 years Protestant countries refused to change to the New Calendar because it had reformed by a Roman Catholic Pope. The Greek Orthodox until the start of the 20th century, although some still keep with the Julian and are known as Old Calendarists, even though they do not follow the Julian calendar as their Christmas day is fixed on 5th January which since the change would now be on the 6th January and counting.

In the United Kingdom the change took place on 2nd September, 1752 too 14th September, 1752, this caused riots as landowners and others demanded the full monthly rent, even though the month had been halved.

Also up to this point the New Year was on 25th March, so it was decreed that 31st December, 1751 should be the end of the old year and so 1st January became the first day of the New Year, 1752.

 

THE NON-JURORS

 

However, icons, the veneration of relics and the Church Calendar were not the only apostolic traditions which the Protestants destroyed. Soon the very dogma of the Church and the concepts of hierarchical authority in Church and State was under fire. “For the breach with Rome,” writes Christopher Hill, “and especially the radical measures of Edward VI`s reign had opened up hope of a continuing reformation which would totally overthrow the coercive machinery of the state church. The Elizabethan settlement bitterly disappointed expectations that a protestant church would differ from popery in the power which it allowed to bishops and clergy. The Episcopal hierarchy came to be seen as the main obstacle to radical reform.” (253)

At the Church tottered, so did the Monarchy become weaker. Thus in the seventeenth century we see a repetition of the pattern we noted in the eleventh: a decline in faith and morals, followed by the overthrow of the monarchy. For, as Archbishop Wulfstan wrote in 1023, “It is true what I say: should the Christian faith weaken, the kingship will immediately totter.” (254)

For the Divine right of kings is established, and prevented from becoming a mere despotism, only through its being sanctified and checked by the Church . if the Church is true and exercises her full authority, then as Shakespeare wrote in Richard II,

 

Not all the waters in the wide rough sea

Can wash the balm from an anointed king;

The breath of worldly men cannot depose

The deputy elected by the Lord.

 

But if the Church falls, then the Monarchy, too, will fail, bringing still more degeneration in its wake.

Thus when King Charles was beheaded in 1649, it quickly turned out as Denzill Holles, a leading opponent of the king, said: “The meanest of men, the basest and vilest of the nation, the lowest of the people have got power into their hands.” (255)

 

The beheading of King Charles elicited a reaction on the part of the so-called Non-Jurors which came close, for the first time, to reuniting at least part of the English Church to the Tree of Holy orthodoxy.

 

“The canonical position of the Non-Jurors group,” wrote Fr.George Florovsky, “was precarious; its bishops had no recognized titles and but a scattered flock. Some leaders of the group took up the idea that they might regularize their position by a concordat with the Churches of the East Non-Jurors maintained in theology the tradition of the great Caroline divines, who had always been interested in the Eastern tradition and in the early Greek Fathers. The Greek Church had remonstrated strongly against the execution of Charles I; the Russian Government had acted to the same effect, cancelling on that occasion the privileges of English merchants in Russia. Among the original Non-Jurors was Bishop Frampton, who had spent many years in the East and had a high regard for the Eastern Church. Archbishop Sancroft himself had been in close contact with the Eastern Church a long time before. Thus there were many reasons why Non-Jurors should look to the East.” (256)

 

In 1712 some of the Non-Jurors seized the opportunity presented by the visit of a Greek metropolitan to England to enter into negotiations with the Orthodox. Describing themselves as “the Catholic Remnant” in Britain, their intention, writes Florovsky, “was to revive the `ancient godly discipline of the Church`, and they contented that they had already begun to do this.” (257) However, the attempt failed, partly because the Archbishop of Canterbury opposed it, and partly because the Non-Jurors rejected several Orthodox doctrines: the invocation of saints, the veneration of icons, and the Mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ – all three doctrines which the Orthodox of Anglo-Saxon England had embraced without reserve. However, it seems that the real problem, from the Non-Jurors` point of view, was the Patriarch of Jerusalem`s confession that “our Oriental Faith is the only truth Faith”, so that, on Florovsky`s words, “there is no room for adjustment or dispensation in matters of doctrine – complete agreement with the Orthodox Faith is absolutely indispensable.” (258)

 

The Non-Jurors` rejection of this revealed that they did not have a real understanding of what reunion in the Church means – that is, the conversion of those who have been in disunity and schism to the Faith and Church of the Orthodox. Instead they approached ecclesiastical reunion in a political manner, through the offering and demanding of concessions and compromises. They believed in the perfect correctness of all the beliefs which they had held till then. They would not accept that in certain matters – perhaps not through any fault of their own – they were wrong. They would not bow down before the heavenly wisdom of the Church, “the pillar and ground of the Truth” (1 Timothy 3.15), but rather sought to make the Church change her faith to accommodate them.

 

The failure of the Non-Jurors` initiative seems to have had a negative effect on religious life in England; for it is at this time that we find the beginning of that “heresy of heresies”, Ecumenism, whose devastating effects are so evident now.

 

Thus in 1717, as William Palmer records, “a controversy arose on occasion of the writings of Hoadly, bishop of Bangor, in which he maintained that it was needless to believe in any particular creed, or to be united to any particular Church; and that sincerity, or our own persuasion of the correctness of our opinions (whether well or ill founded) is sufficient. These doctrines were evidently calculated to subvert the necessity of believing the articles of the Christian faith, and to justify all classes of schismatics or separatists from the Church. The convocation deemed these opinions so mischievous, that a committee was appointed to select propositions from Hoadly`s books, and to procure their censure; but before his trial could take place, the convocation was prorogued by an arbitrary exercise of the royal authority…” (259)

Again, in 1723 Ecumenism was placed among the basic Constitutions of Craft Masonry in the newly founded Grand Lodge of England. For “though in ancient Times Masons were charged in every Country to be of the religion of that Country or Nation, whatever it was, yet, `tis now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that Religion in which all men agree, leaving their particular opinions to themselves.” (260)

 

Thus once again did the secular power trample on the strivings of the English towards truth and freedom in Christ; for not since 1066 had England experienced that true “symphony” between Church and State which is the foundation of the truly Christian – Orthodox Christian – society.

 

THE BRANCH THEORY

 

Contacts between Anglicans and Orthodox were resumed in the early nineteenth century, thanks particularly to the efforts of William Palmer, who met several Russian prelates and conducted an extensive correspondence with the famous Russian Slavophile, Alexis Khomyakov. (261) However, the same obstacle presented itself here as in the time of the Non-Jurors: the Orthodox Church`s insistence that she is the one true Church. The “Branch Theory” of the Church proposed by the Oxford theologians, according to which the Orthodox, the Catholics and the Anglicans were all different branches of the single Tree of the Church, was anathema to the Orthodox (and the Catholics).

Thus “the Russianswere staggered, as Palmer himself stated, `at the idea of one visible Church being made up of three communions, differing in doctrines and rites, and two of them at least condemning and anathematizing the others.`” (262)

For, as Archbishop Hilarion Troitsky said in reply to an American Episcopalian initiative early in the next century: “What happened in 1054 was a falling away. Who has fallen away is another question; but someone did fall away. The Church has remained one, but either only in the East or only in the West.” (263)

This was a challenge to the Anglicans to re-examine the history of their own country, and especially the history of the Norman Conquest, when according to the Orthodox, the English branch was cut off from the True Vine. Palmer, however, reacted by joining the Catholics; and many followed his example. In this way he, and they, confessed their belief that the True Vine to which the English Church should return was not the Orthodox Church of the East, with which the English Church had been in full communion until the Norman Conquest, but that “Church” which William the Bastard and Pope Gregory Vii had imposed on the land by fire and sword, and which Edward the Confessor had foreseen as being the execution of God`s wrath on an apostate people. In this way they confessed that the fundamental schism in English Church history was not that which took place in the eleventh century between England and the Orthodox Church, but that which took place in the sixteenth century between England and Papal Rome. And tragically, whenever the Anglican Church has taken yet another step down the road of the apostasy – in recent times, these have included especially the ordination of women and the recognition of sodomy, – the characteristic reaction of dissenters has been to return to the Pope.

Most recently, however, the beginnings of a different, and healthier reaction can be discerned. Following in the steps of early pioneers in the movement of Anglicans returning to Orthodoxy – for example, Frederick North, fifth earl of Guildford, who was baptized into the Greek Church in 1792 with the name Demetrius (264) – several Anglicans, including over many Anglican priests, have joined the Orthodox Church . although most, unfortunately, have joined churches that are members of the apostate World Council of Churches, the movement in general must be welcomed as an implicit recognition of the fundamental fact: that reunion with the True Church means reunion with `Orthodoxy`, the Faith and Church of England before 1066.

What, then, is now required to help this movement to gather strength and give it that firm foundation in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church which alone can save England?

The Psalmist says: “Depart from evil, and do good” (33.14). Before embracing the good of Orthodoxy, therefore, it is necessary to depart from all the evil of the last nine hundred and more years since the fall of Orthodox England: first of all, the papist heresies of the Middle Ages, many of which were discarded by the Reformation, but some of which remain; then the Protestant heresies of the 39 articles; then the ecumenist “heresy of heresies” of today, which renounces objective truth in matters of faith and morals in favour of an acceptance of every kind of error and abomination.

Are these three stages of heresy – Papism, Protestant and Ecumenism – the “three furlongs” along which the branch of the English Church must travel before returning to her ancient trunk, according to St. Edward`s vision? (265) We do not know. But that each of them has to be traversed again in the opposite direction – that is, explicitly and publicly renounced – is certain.

For it is impossible to go with confidence into the future if one has not thoroughly repented of the mistakes of the past. Only after such repentance with the English people be ready to embrace the good of Orthodoxy in the fullness of the Orthodox doctrines and traditions, not excluding those traditions, such as the veneration of icons and saints, and those doctrines, such as those of the Eucharist and of the One and only One True Church, which have proved to be particular stumbling blocks in the past.

 

“HE THAT RESTRAINETH”

 

A good starting point would be the establishment of the veneration of the last Orthodox King, Harold II Godwinson, not simply as a national hero, but as a defender of the faith – to which title he has much greater right than any of the Anglican monarchs. Even now a feeling for the sacredness of the Christian monarchy has not been entirely lost in England. No democratic politician has enjoyed for more than fleeting moments the popularity and reverence felt for the monarch.

Only a few years ago, the relics of the first canonized king of all England, St. Edward the Martyr, were discovered and returned to the Orthodox Church, (His relics now reside in St. Edward`s Brotherhood, Cemetery Pales, Brookwood, Surrey, GU24-0BL). The body of his fellow royal martyr, St. Harold, should now be given an honourable public burial to right the wrongs committed against it by William and Hildebrand. In this way it would be recognized that in his short reign of nine months and nine days King Harold fulfilled the function of “him that restraineth” (II Thessalonians 2.7) the coming of the Antichrist for the English and Western peoples.

In this act the English people would do well to draw on the experience of the Russian people, who have also, after a period of captivity and martyrdom at the hands of atheists, come to realize what they lost in their last Orthodox Tsar. His relics, too, have been discovered after an attempt to destroy and dishonour them. Indeed, the nearest historical parallel to the fall of Orthodox England in1066 must surely be the fall of Orthodox Russia in 1917. And just as Russian Christmas today hope and believe in the resurrection of Holy Russia, so English Christians must hope and believe in the resurrection of Old, Holy England, not in her physical and material features, but in her spiritual countenance, in her faith.

Such resurrection have taken place before. Thus in the late second century, when the Apostolic faith had all but died out, King Lucius sent to Pope Eleutherius for missionaries, who came and rekindled the flame. (266) Again, in the six century St. Augustine restored the faith that had been driven west by the pagan Saxons. Again, in the ninth century King Alfred restored Orthodoxy when almost the whole land was in the hands of the pagan Danes…

Resurrection, then, is possible – but only if we honour the memory o these saints who resurrected England in the past, and consciously join ourselves, in faith and life, to their faith and life. The attempt to resurrect England by ignoring her history and her saints who intercede for her before the throne of God, is doomed to failure. We cannot reverse almost 1000 years of apostasy if we do not reach back beyond it to the 1000 years of True English Christianity – the “dark ages” of English history that were in fact filled with the most glorious light.

In this respect a hopeful sign was the establishment, in the year 2000, of a feast of the saints of the British Isles, on the Third Sunday of Pentecost, by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church. (267) And in 2006 Bishop Photius of Marathon, secretary of the True Orthodox Church of Greece, blessed the foundation of a monastery in honour of the saints of the British Isles, with a chapel dedicated to St. Harold and the Martyrs of Hastings, in a suburb of Hastings itself…

 

THE RETURN OF THE BRANCH

 

So if we would love God as the saints of our land loved Him, then, as an English priest of the Russian Church Abroad, Fr Andrew Philips, writes, we would, firstly, “love God through the saints. They would be familiar to us, literally familiar, part of the family to which we would belong. And not only the universal saints, such as St. Peter and St. Paul, the patrons of London, but also the local saints. The long litany of their names would be known by us by heart, we would feast them on high days and holy days; there would be national festivals in their honour. Instead of absurd `Bank holidays` (as if banks could be holy, or worthy of feasting), there would be national holy days on the feast of the Apostles of England, on 12th march (Feast of St. Gregory the Great) and on 26th May (Feast of St. Augustine of Canterbury) and no doubt on other saints` days. We would name our children after these saints and children would know their lives when still small. How could we forget St. Mellitus, St. Laurence and St. Paulinus, the patron of York and all the North? Long ago we would have asked the French authorities to give back the relics of St. Peter of Canterbury [and St. Edmund of East Anglia].  St. Oswald of Heavenfield would be venerated amongst us; St. Benedict Biscop, that lover of icons and holy books, would be patron of Church art; the great Theodore, the first Greek Archbishop of Canterbury (may God send us a second), and his faithful companion Adrian, would have their icons hung in our schools and seats of learning.  The Wonderworker of Britain, St. Cuthbert, would be known to all, St. Wilfrid, St. Bede amd St. Aldhelm would intercede for us at the Throne of the Most High. We would read the life of the great fen Father, Guthlac, the English Antony, as we read the lives of the ascetics of Egypt, Syria and Russia. Women would find their place in living according to the examples of Audrey (Etheldreda) and Hilda, Mildred and Edith and that host of holy women, who were drawn to the great Abbesses. St. Erkenwald, `the light of London`, would be commemorated in the Capital, St. John of Beverley would stir Yorkshiremen. The altruism of young people would be stirred by those greatest of missionaries and Englishmen, Boniface of Crediton, Apostle of the Germans, and Clement [Willibrord] who brought the light of Christ to the Frisians and much of Holland, who went out like elder brothers and sacrificed themselves for the love of the Gospel. Edmund the Passion-Bearer would be the patron of East Anglia, the humble Swithin would heal the sick in our hospitals. The feast of King Edward the Martyr would once more be a day of national penitence as before, and the town of Shaftsbury would again be called `Edwardstowe`. At our end we would utter the same words as St. Oswald of Worcester: `Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost`. Or perhaps we would think of St. Alfwold of Sherborne who so loved the Saints of England that at his end, before the icon of St. Swithun, he could only repeat the words of his favourite hymn from the service to St. Cuthbert. And what can we say of St. Ethelwold, “the Father of Monks`, or of St. Dunstan whose Byzantine coronation rite is still essentially that used by our monarchs today. And we would ask the prayers of St. Neot, who together with St. Neot appeared in a vision to King Alfred the Great and blessed him to victory against the pagan Danes. And of the martyred Archpastor of England, Alphege… And we would keep the custom of old – the calendar of our forebears. At midnight at Christmas would some not take their children to farms to see the cattle kneeling in their sheds and stalls in honour of the new-born King? Is that not what our forefathers and foremothers believed? And at Holy Easter would there not be some to go at sunrise to see the sun dance to celebrate the joy of the Resurrection?…

“Secondly, with all our souls we would love God through places. We would know a spiritual geography of England, a geography where the English Earth. On Thanet, were that wonderful Apostle of Christ, Augustine came ashore, there would today be a great monastery, a centre of pilgrimage and there we would kiss the earth as holy, for Christ trod there through His servants. And we would honour Canterbury as our spiritual capital, the Mother-City and cradle of the English Faith, the spiritual birthplace of England and its 22 sainted Archbishops. London would remember the Holy Apostles, Paul in the East, and Peter, in the West. Westminster would once again be the monastery in the West. The Holy Mountain of the English Church, the Athos of England, would not be a mountain, but an island, Holy Island, Lindisfarne. There would be a pilgrimage to Glastonbury, the English Jerusalem with its traditions. There would be a great monastery in the fens at Crowland, to honour St. Guthlac, to whom the holy Apostle Bartholomew gave a scourge the Devil. There we would remember all the martyrs, Theodore, Sabinus, Ulric and the others, slaughtered like lambs by the heathen. We would go on pilgrimages, `from every shire`s end of England` to Winchester and Worcester, Wimborne and Winchcombe, Jarrow and York, Whitby and Hexham, Ely and Evesham, Lichfield and Wilton, Dorchester and Hereford, the Buries of St. Alban and St. Edmund, the great cities and little hamlets where visions and saints have been see. And all along the roads there would be crosses and wayside shrines, where lamps would shine in the darkness to show the way. And thus there would be isles and havens of peace in this land.

“Thirdly we would love God with all our minds. We would not think of some Economic Community [still less of a totalitarian European Union!], but of a Spiritual Commonwealth. Our industry would build churches. All the tools of the modern world would be turned Godwards. Our culture would be dominated by the quest for the Spirit. In art we would paint icons and great frescoes of the spiritual history of England. Our literature would be about the lives of the virtuous. Our cinemas would show ascetic feats, our schools would train young people either for married life or else for monasticism. In a word, our minds would be occupied with the one thing needful, the salvation of our souls, the love of God.

“And so have we English become Angels as the Great Gregory wished? What have we done with that icon of Our Saviour that St. Augustine brought to these shores in the year of our Lord 597? Alas, we have buried it in the tombs that our hearts have become. Let us bring the light of repentance to our hearts that the icon may be found again, and honoured and revered and wept for. and then all we who are spiritually dead in the tomb shall be awakened anew to the Way and the Life and the truth, Our Lord and God and Saviour,

But one relic of St. Augustine`s mission has been preserved – his Gospel-book. And it is significant that when the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury prayed together in Canterbury in 1982, neither of them sat on the throne of St. Augustine, but instead his gospel-book lay there. For only one who has faith of St. Augustine is worthy to sit on his throne and take up his Gospel-book, the Gospel of that “Shepherd and Bishop of our souls” (I Peter 2.25) Who does not twist and turn like today`s false hierarchs, but remains “the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13.8).

Then the branch seen by St. Edward in his prophetic vision, instead of fruitlessly continuing to attempt a life independent of the trunk of Christ`s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and withering away until it bears not even an external resemblance to the tree from which it was severed – for, as the True Vine said, “if a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15.6) – will joyfully return to her and “begun once again to push leaves and bear fruit from the old love of its uniting sap”.