As a convert from Anglicanism I have been curious since Benedict XVI paved the way for the creation of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham about what particular aspects of ‘Anglican patrimony’ – as the Pope emeritus put it – might be introduced into Catholic worship. Last night at the Little Oratory, Brompton Road, an Evensong and Benediction was celebrated that gave a strong indication.
If any of the upwards of 200 people crowded into the beautiful chapel had any doubts about the workability of the combined liturgy, few can have been in any doubt at the end.
The Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis are treasures at the very heart of Anglicanism, even though some would say they are not always appreciated as such. They were given their proper place here. But I had not realised how firmly the responses following ‘O Lord, show they mercy upon us’, had been set down in my own psyche, until I found myself praying them again after a gap of more than eight years. ‘Give peace in our time, O Lord, Because there is none other that fighteth for us, but only, thou, O God’, rings true with force, just as ‘O God, make clean our hearts within us, And take not they Holy Spirit from us’ equally but in a different way expresses our complete dependence.
But what about, ‘Oh Lord save the Queen. And mercifully hear us when we call upon thee’. I joyfully pray for the Pope at Mass. This prayer for the Queen, surely, takes us right back to the Reformation, and affirms our secular monarch as head of the Church. I asked the Ordinary and last night’s presider, Mgr Keith Newton, whether any difficult issues were raised here. ‘Not at all,’ he said. He was delighted to keep the prayer for the Queen, because it showed the confidence of Catholics as full and equal members of British society. To omit this seemed to him to make the Church too peripheral. And of course Pope Francis was prayed for too.
So what do Anglicans have that Catholics don’t? How about lines like: ‘O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed; give unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give … ‘?
And what do Catholics have? Well, the Real Presence of Christ, of course. At Benediction: ‘Therefore we before him bending this great sacrament revere … ‘; The Divine Praises: ‘Blessed be God. Blessed be His Holy Name …’ and afterwards the ‘Salve Regina…’
Mgr Newton told me that his Anglican services, at least, had been no stranger to these Catholic elements. But when one looks at the separate agonising and bitterness that has been in evidence in the compilations of new Missal translations and prayer books, one cannot help thinking that – on the evidence of last night – the opportunity for a powerful cross-fertilisation, based on a genuinely creative tension, has been there all along.
And is it not the case that, if ecumenism is to make progress, it will be first of all on the basis of deep common prayer? And if the Holy Spirit is not taken from us, the common doctrine will follow.
Turkey is reclaiming its jihadi past, while Europe is simultaneously erasing its own Christian heritage.
While unrest in Turkey continues to capture attention, more subtle and more telling events concerning the Islamification of Turkey — and not just at the hands of Prime Minister Erdogan but majorities of Turks — are quietly transpiring. These include the fact that Turkey’s Hagia Sophia museum is on its way to becoming a mosque. Why does the fate of an old building matter?
Because Hagia Sophia — Greek for “Holy Wisdom” — was for some thousand years Christianity’s greatest cathedral. Built in 537 A.D. in Constantinople, the heart of the Christian empire, it was also a stalwart symbol of defiance against an ever encroaching Islam from the east.
After parrying centuries of jihadi thrusts, Constantinople was finally sacked by Ottoman Turks in 1453. Its crosses desecrated and icons defaced, Hagia Sophia — as well as thousands of other churches — was immediately converted into a mosque, the tall minarets of Islam surrounding it in triumph.
Then, after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, as part of several reforms, secularist Ataturk transformed Hagia Sophia into a “neutral” museum in 1934 — a gesture of goodwill to a then-triumphant West from a then-crestfallen Turkey.
Thus the fate of this ancient building is full of portents. And according to Hurriyet Daily News, “A parliamentary commission is considering an application by citizens to turn the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a mosque…. A survey conducted with 401 people was attached to the application, in which more than 97 percent of interviewees requested the transformation of the ancient building into a mosque and afterwards for it to be reopened for Muslim worship.”
Even lesser known is the fact that other historic churches are currently being transformed into mosques, such as a 13thcentury church building — portentously also named Hagia Sophia — in Trabzon. After the Islamic conquest, it was turned into a mosque. But because of its “great historical and cultural significance” for Christians, it too, during Turkey’s secular age, was turned into a museum and its frescoes restored. Yet local authorities recently decreed that its Christian frescoes would again be covered and the church/museum turned into a mosque.
Similarly, the 5th century Studios Monastery, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is set to become an active mosque. And the existence of the oldest functioning Christian monastery in the world, 5th century Mor Gabriel Monastery, is at risk. Inhabited today by only a few dozen Christians dedicated to learning the monastery’s teachings, the ancient Aramaic language spoken by Jesus, and the Orthodox Syriac tradition, neighboring Muslims filed a lawsuit accusing the monks of practicing “anti-Turkish activities” and of illegally occupying land which belongs to Muslim villagers. The highest appeals court in Ankara ruled in favor of the Muslim villagers, saying the land that had been part of the monastery for 1,600 years is not its property, absurdly claiming that the monastery was built over the ruins of a mosque — even though Muhammad was born 170 years after the monastery was built.
Turkey’s Christian minority, including the Orthodox Patriarch, are naturally protesting this renewed Islamic onslaught against what remains of their cultural heritage — to deaf ears…
And from the conclusion:
Indeed, at a time when Turkey is openly reclaiming its jihadi heritage, Europeans are actively erasing their Christian heritage which for centuries kept the Islamic jihad at bay. Among other capitulations, Europeans are currently betraying church buildings to Muslims to convert to mosques and scrubbing references of the historic Turkish jihads against Europe from classroom textbooks, lest Muslim students be offended.
Meanwhile, here are neighboring Turkey’s Muslims openly praising the same jihadi warlords who brutally conquered a portion of Europe centuries ago, converting thousands of churches into mosques, even as they openly prepare to finish the job — which may not even require force, as Europe actively sells its own soul.