Thursday, February 13, 2014

Patrimony: Canon Winfred Douglas: What is a Catholic

THE high name of Catholic cannot be truly appropriated by merely reciting it in the liturgical use of the ancient Creeds, which nevertheless embody its full significance; nor yet by its etymological use emptied of its historic content: still less as a shibboleth of partisanship in the Church of God, or as the insufficient coda of a hyphenated title. The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church requires of its members an effort for Unity in a charity which flows from the heart of Jesus Christ, and in a love of truth founded on faith in the Holy Spirit, who can guide us into all truth. She requires an effort for Holiness which must both underlie and transcend all forms of external worship. She requires an effort for Apostolicity which may not rest in any policy of a mere convenient "historic Episcopate," but rather in a divinely constituted order and authority in her organic being, of whose very essence is the Apostolic Commission, "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature." The universality of the Catholic name must include each of these elements and efforts. Everyman, rightly to assume it, must be becoming
“the catholic man who hath mightily won
God out of knowl
edge and good out of infinite pain
And sight out of blindness and purity out of a stain" (Sidney Lanier, The Marshes of Glynn)

through Jesus Christ, the Maker and Ruler of men, the Head of his living Mystical Body the Church: of which, pray God, all who praise him may be Catholic members indeed. No mere being a high Churchman or a low Churchman or a broad Churchman: an Episcopalian or a Roman Catholic or a Baptist or a Methodist or a Presbyterian, can give us a right to that lofty name. "It is for us to live, not an incomplete, but a Catholic life, claiming for ourselves and our day all the noble characteristics, the mystic beauty, the irresistible power, which have adorned the individual Christian centuries or epochs, but which we would gather into one galaxy of glory for all the people and for all time. . . . The vicious habit of referring everything to the Reformation of the sixteenth century is the antithesis of Catholicity.” (Bishop Charles H. Brent in The Return of Christendom, Macmillan, 1922). 

Church Music in History and Practice; Studies in the Praise of God. New York, Scribners, 1937. p. 311 (The Hale Lectures)

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