Chapter 6: Priestly Ministries in the Modern Church, by Edward Rochie Hardy Jr.
[Edward R. Hardy, a deacon in the Protestant Episcopal Church, was professor of church history, Cambridge University and dean of Jesus College. He was a member of the World Council of Churches' Commission on Faith and Order from 1961. His writings include Militant in Earth: Twenty Centuries of the Spread of Christianity (Oxford 1941), Christian Egypt: Church and People (Oxford 1952), and with E.R. Fairweather, The Voice of the Church: The Ecumenical Council (Seabury 1962).]
Robed in the vestments of his office, the Bishop has taken his seat near the Holy Table. Before him stand the young men "whom we purpose, God willing, to receive this day unto the holy Office of Priesthood." In the final exhortation he warns them, in the impressive phrases of Tudor rhetoric, "of what dignity, and of how great importance this Office is, whereunto ye are called." They are
to be Messengers, Watchmen, and Stewards of the Lord; to teach, and to premonish, to feed and provide for the Lord's family; to seek for Christ's sheep that are dispersed abroad, and for his children who are in the midst of this naughty world, that they may be saved through Christ forever.
A great treasure is to be committed to their charge --
For they are the sheep of Christ which he bought with his death, and for whom he shed his blood. The Church and Congregation whom you must serve is his Spouse, and his Body. And if it shall happen that the same Church, or any Member thereof, do take any hurt or hindrance by reason of your negligence, ye know the greatness of the fault, and also the horrible punishment that will ensue. Wherefore . . . see that ye never cease your labour, your care and diligence, until ye have done all that lieth in you, according to your bounden duty, to bring all such as are or shall be committed to your charge, unto that agreement in the faith and knowledge of God, and to that ripeness and perfectness of age in Christ, that there be no place left among you, either for error in religion, or for viciousness in life.
Earnest prayer and daily meditation on the Holy Scriptures is necessary for those who hope to rise to such an ideal, and so the candidates are reminded
how ye ought to forsake and set aside, as much as ye may, all worldly cares and studies . . . to give yourselves wholly to this Office, whereunto it hath pleased God to call you . . . and draw all your cares and studies this way that so, by prayer for the assistance of the Holy Ghost, and by daily reading and weighing the Scriptures, ye may wax riper and stronger in your Ministry; and that ye may so endeavour yourselves . . . to sanctify the lives of you and yours, and to fashion them after the Rule and Doctrine of Christ, that ye may be wholesome and godly examples and patterns for the people to follow.1
Then after solemn prayer, introduced by the Carolingian hymn Veni Creator Spiritus, the bishop and assisting priests lay hands on the ordinands, with words based on the commission given to the apostles in John 20:22-23:
Receive the Holy Ghost (for the Office and Work of a Priest in the Church of God, now committed unto thee by the Imposition of our hands). Whose sins thou dost forgive, they are forgiven; and whose sins thou dost retain, they are retained. And be thou a faithful Dispenser of the Word of God, and of his holy Sacraments; In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.2
Such for four centuries have been the solemnities with which the Church of England and others of the Anglican Communion have continued the Order of Priests as, according to the Preface to the Ordinal, it has existed "from the Apostles' time." I do not intend to discuss here the theological question whether there is indeed such an Order in the Church of Christ, or the more technical problem whether the Anglican rites have adequately provided for its continuance. I shall assume, moreover, that in formal usage as in common speech the English word "priest" is, like the French prêtre, the equivalent of sacerdos or hiereus, in spite of its etymological derivation from presbyteros. Nor, except incidentally, do I intend to discuss the question of the proper relation of presbyters to the higher Order of Bishops, or to deacons and other Major or Minor Orders below them. In the Catholic tradition the fullness of the Christian priesthood properly belongs to the episcopate, presbyters possessing a share in it by delegation. However, in practice most priestly functions are commonly exercised by the presbyter, only certain special rights, including the crucial privilege of ordination, being reserved to the bishop. Such an order of priests is for the larger part of Christendom, today as in the past, central in the liturgical life and pastoral work of the Church. A full treatment of the subject would probably center around the priestly ideal as preserved in the Roman Communion and the Eastern Orthodox Churches. Within the limits of this volume, however, I must confine myself to the tradition which I know from within, with some reference to the Roman and Eastern traditions as they have been influences upon it.
The Christian priest, like the Jewish, stands for men in things pertaining to God (Heb. 5:1); with the same inheritance intensified by the apostolic mission, he also speaks for God to man. So as George Herbert wrote in that classic of Anglican pastoralia, A Priest to the Temple: or the Country Parson, in the 1630's --
A Pastor is the Deputy of Christ for the reducing of Man to the Obedience of God. This definition is evident, and contains the direct steps of Pastoral Duty and Authority. For first, Man fell from God by disobedience. Secondly, Christ is the glorious instrument of God for the revoking of Man. Thirdly, Christ being not to continue on earth, but after he had fulfilled the work of Reconciliation to be received up into heaven, he constituted Deputies in his place, and these are Priests. And therefore St. Paul in the beginning of his Epistles professeth this, and in the first to the Colossians plainly avoucheth that he fils up that which is behinde of the afflictions of Christ in his flesh for his Bodie's sake, which is the Church. Wherein is contained the complete definition of a Minister. Out of this Chartre of the Priesthood may be gathered both the Dignity thereof and the Duty: The Dignity, in that a Priest may do that which Christ did, and by his authority and as his Vicegerent. The Duty, in that a Priest is to do that which Christ did and after his manner, both for Doctrine and Life. [Chapter I]
The dignity of the priest comes from his union with the priestly work of his crucified Master, and is therefore only truly realized when the priestly life is in a real sense a life of sacrifice. It is this which the contented churchmanship of the eighteenth century seemed to fail to realize -- one thinks of such amusing illustrations as Adam Smith's discussion of the ministry in England and Scotland on the basis of its economic status 3 or the even more startling defense of diversity of orders in the Church by Archdeacon Paley on the ground that it "may be considered as the stationing of ministers of religion in the various ranks of civil life." 4 When the Catholic tendencies in Anglicanism were reinvigorated by the Oxford Movement in the nineteenth century it seemed in retrospect that "quiet worldliness" was the particular blot of the English Church.5 Famous examples are the blameless but barely ecclesiastical parsons who figure in the novels of Jane Austen. Yet even in 1827 it was natural for a Christian poet to pray
Oh! by Thine own said burthen, borne
So meekly up the hill of scorn,
Teach Thou Thy Priests their daily cross
To bear as Thine, nor count it loss!6
More formally, it is recorded of George Home, who became Bishop of Norwich in 1790, that he was accustomed to read over the solemn words of the service for the Ordering of Priests on the first Sunday of every month, on which practice his biographer observes that "the imitation of this example may be practiced with ease, and will be attended with advantage."7 The Oxford Movement reinvigorated but did not invent the tradition of the priestly ministry in Anglicanism.
By definition of the term, a priest is a minister of divine worship, a servant of the altar; it was primarily the development of Christian worship into an ordered liturgical action which naturalized the term sacerdos for the presiding Bishop or the presbyter who takes his place. Cautious though George Herbert's post-Reformation Catholicism sometimes is, he does not hesitate to emphasize the reverent care to be given to the church building --
that all things be in good repair as walls plastered, windows glazed, floors paved, seats whole, firm, and uniform; especially that the Pulpit and Desk, and Communion Table and Font, be as they ought for those great duties that are performed in them. Secondly, that the Church be swept and kept cleane, without dust or Cobwebs, and at great festivalls strawed, and stuck with boughs, and perfumed with incense. [Chapter XIII]
After the storms of the sixteenth century, the Anglican revival of the seventeenth brought with it a renewal of love for the glory of the House of God. The solemnity of Bishop Andrewes' chapel became the model for cathedrals, and as far as possible for parish churches, under the guidance of Archbishop Laud. The harshness of Laud's methods has been exaggerated. Still they were not such as to win popularity for a movement he represented. But with the Restoration his liturgical arrangements became the standard of dignified Anglicanism, as illustrated by the London churches rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1666. The pulpit is indeed prepared to be the parson's throne as Herbert calls it, but the church's center of dignity is the railed-in Holy Table at the east end, backed where resources allowed it by a carved and perhaps painted reredos.
In connection with the care of churches, as with the pastoral labors of the clergy, the eighteenth century has sometimes been unduly denigrated. Nevertheless, there was certainly much carelessness and neglect, and Newman's rhetorical picture of the situation confronted by the leaders of the Catholic Revival is not wholly unjustified:
The author of the Christian Year found the Anglican system all but destitute of this divine element, which is an essential property of Catholicism -- a ritual dashed upon the ground, trodden on, and broken piecemeal; -- prayers clipped, pieced, torn, shuffled about at pleasure, until the meaning of the composition perished, and offices which had been poetry were no longer even good prose; -- antiphons, hymns, benedictions, invocations, shoveled away; -- Scripture lessons turned into chapters; -- heaviness, feebleness, unwieldiness, where the Catholic rites had had the lightness and airiness of a spirit; -- vestments chucked off, lights quenched, jewels stolen, the pomp and circumstance of worship annihilated; a dreariness which could be felt, and which seemed the token of an incipient Socinianism, forcing itself upon the eye, the ear, the nostrils of the worshipper; a smell of dust and damp, not of incense, a sound of ministers preaching Catholic prayers, and parish clerks droning out Catholic canticles; the royal arms for the crucifix; huge ugly boxes of wood, sacred to preachers, frowning on the congregation in place of the mysterious altar; and long cathedral aisles unused, railed off, like the tombs (as they were) of what had been and was not; and for orthodoxy, a frigid, unelastic, inconsistent, dull, helpless dogmatic which could give no just account of itself, yet was intolerant of all teaching which contained a doctrine more or a doctrine less, and resented every attempt to give it a meaning -- such was the religion of which this gifted author was -- not the judge and denouncer (a deep spirit of reverence hindered it) -- but the renovator, as far as it has been renovated.8
It is often observed that the Oxford Movement strictly so called, from 1833-45, was concerned with the theological bases of the Catholic Revival rather than with its liturgical and missionary expression. Like most generalizations, this is only very partially true. The Tractarians were certainly interested in preaching the Gospel of new life in the mystical Body of Christ to the poor as well as to the academic and clerical world -- as shown by the title of the series of Plain and Parochial Sermons by the Authors of Tracts for the Times. Newman introduced the weekly celebration of the Holy Communion at St. Mary the Virgin's, Oxford, for the first time in an Anglican parish church since the early eighteenth century. The mission chapel at Littlemore, usually remembered in connection with Newman's dramatic farewell sermon in 1843, was for some years before that a conspicuous illustration of Tractarian ideals of ministry to the underprivileged and simple parochial worship. Under the guidance of Newman's first curate at Littlemore, J. R. Bloxam, Littlemore exemplified the arrangement, partly based on the Laudian traditions preserved in some college chapels, which has become standard in modern Anglicanism -- the altar with cross and candles in the center and the pulpit and lectern on either side.9
The Gothic Revival in architecture was promoted as much by religious as by aesthetic considerations. It aimed to recover the sense of the church as primarily a place of worship rather than a preaching hall; its influence on the scene of priestly ministry is confluent with the Oxford Movement's revival of the sense of the authority and responsibility of the apostolic commission. The Cambridge ecclesiologists who founded the Camden Society in the 1830's are parallel to the Oxford Tractarians rather than dependent on them. As with the Oxford leaders, their influence spread rapidly. As early as 1839, the Bishop of New York praised the return in several new churches to the older style of the central altar, in contrast to the common arrangement of American colonial church buildings in which the pulpit either blocked the Holy Table from the front or dominated it from behind.10 The interests of the Cambridge group were continued in the many-sided ministry of John Mason Neale (1817-66) -- the scholar who was content to take up his lifework as pastor to a few old people at Sackville College, from which his influence became world-wide through his literary work in a number of fields, and his foundation of an Order devoted alike to the ideals of monastic piety and to missionary, charitable, and educational service, the Sisters of the Society of St. Margaret. Neale's career is an outstanding modern example of a life of joyful sacrifice and service inspired by the specifically priestly ideal of the Christian ministry. He was also one of the first Anglicans to revive the traditional eucharistic vestments. Though they originated from the daily Roman costume of the early Christian centuries, since the Middle Ages the alb and chasuble (and their Eastern equivalents) have symbolized the objectivity of the worship which the priest offers at the altar, as well as the unity of this particular priest here this morning with his colleagues of every age and every land. Indeed the same principle is true of the less solemn vesture which seventeenth-century Anglicans defended against Puritan attacks. Any priest may say, in the words of a young cleric of a century ago who was criticized by a lady in his parish for the tone of authority he assumed with his surplice, "Madam, when I have this on I am nineteen hundred years old." 11 Ritualism, as it is somewhat improperly called (since the area involved is that of ceremonies rather than of the spoken ritual itself) has never been defended on merely aesthetic grounds -- though these are not to be despised, since God is not glorified by ugli-ness, and beauty is one aspect of the truth in which he is to be worshipped. Ancient ceremonies display the ancient faith, as later developments of ceremonial exhibit its progress; in stately cathedral or in mission to the poorest, the offering of all that man has to offer in worship is part of man's response to the fullness of the Gospel of God. Detailed manuals like Dearmer's Parson's Handbook or Fortescue's Ceremonies of the Roman Rite are guides to one essential part of the priestly work of leading men in their response to the glory of God, and of bringing mankind within the sphere of divine grace.
No sharp distinction can be drawn between the work of the priest as leader of worship and his pastoral task of guiding men along their way to God. A connecting link is the administration of the sacraments. Sacraments are administered in an atmosphere of worship, while the proper preparation of candidates for the Sacraments is an important part of pastoral care. Herbert balances "The Parson in Preaching" with "The Parson in Sacraments," speaking of the central Sacrament of the Eucharist in surprisingly concrete terms:
Especially at Communion times he is in a great confusion, as being not only to receive God, but to break and administer him. [Chap. XXII]
Both adults and children are to be prepared by proper exhortations for their Communions; for the time of "first receiving" Herbert repeats and enforces the medieval rule of a minimum age of discretion:
When any one can distinguish the Sacramentall from common bread, knowing the Institution and the difference, he ought to receive, of what age soever. Children and youths are usually deferred too long, under pretence of devotion to the Sacrament, but it is for want of Instruction; their understandings being ripe enough for ill things, and why not then for better?
Herbert's pastoral directions make no mention of Confirmation, which in Stuart as in medieval England had to be secured whenever one was fortunate enough to find a bishop in the neighborhood. The association of this rite with fully responsible profession of faith led gradually to a postponement of the age of First Communion, from which modern practice has again turned toward an earlier stage of life, before rather than during the excitements of adolescence.
The priest's library is an important help in his homiletic and pastoral activities. So Herbert's parson is devoted above all to study and meditation on the Bible, with the help of "Commenters and fathers," and has at least one "Comment" (Commentary) on each book. His own will reveals the presence on his shelves of "the Comment of Lucas Brugensis upon the Scripture" and the Works of St. Augustine.12 In his preparation the parson will have read the Fathers, Schoolmen, and later Writers, "or a good proportion of all," to compile his personal "book and body of Divinity," which is "the storehouse of his Sermons." He will be versed in cases of conscience, as a matter of practical importance, and so presumably acquainted with the literature of the subject (Chapter V). Much of the literary production of Anglican divines during their enforced retirement under the Commonwealth reads like an attempt to fill up the country parson's shelves. Pearson's Lectures on the Creed (delivered in London in 1659) are an example of the "body of divinity," largely based on patristic sources, while many of Jeremy Taylor's works deal with matters of practical concern to the parish clergy. His treatises include works on Marriage, on Confirmation, and on the Holy Communion, and his ethical and devotional writings take up the principles of spiritual guidance as a pastor might want to know them in dealing with others, as well as assisting priest or people in their own inner life. In fact the whole series of English devotional manuals from Cosin's in 1627, which picks up the tradition of the medieval and Elizabethan Primers, down to Thomas Nelson's Companions (to the Altar and to the Festivals and Fasts), the work of a nonjuring layman
under Queen Anne, may be considered as the provision of tools for the clergy, in their pastoral work.
After the classic period of the seventeenth century the eighteenth was less productive in works of practical divinity, as distinct from the speculative and apologetic, and in books of devotion. A more prosaic age in English piety follows the epoch of Andrewes, Cosin, and Taylor, just as Roman Catholic writers in the eighteenth century do not reach the heights of St. Francis de Sales, Bossuet, or Fenelon. There are, however, splendid exceptions, such as the saintly Richard Challoner, Vicar-Apostolic of the London District, whose Meditations for Every Day in the Year were long standard among English Roman Catholics and also used by Anglicans, and among Anglicans Thomas Wilson, the self-denying Bishop of Sodor and Man, and William Law, nonjuring theologian and mystic. During some of his important Oxford years John Wesley was under Law's spiritual guidance. The Wesleys' interest in providing practical devotional material, especially in preparation for the Holy Communion, belongs to their Anglican inheritance. With the nineteenth century a revival of devotional as of theological traditions began. Early in the 1800's John Henry Hobart, later Bishop of New York, issued American editions of Nelson's Companions -- Cosin's Devotions were reprinted in 1838 (the first edition since 1721), and Bishop Andrewes' Preces Privatae translated by Newman in 1840 (Tracts for the Times, No. 88). Beginning in the later years of the Oxford Movement Pusey embarked on the enterprise of enriching the Anglican tradition by adapting Continental manuals, French or Italian, for English use. In the last century the production of devotional literature on various levels has been continuous.
Some of this literature seems to envisage learned clergy dealing with a sophisticated public. But Herbert's parson is also equipped with "a slighter form of Catechizing, fitter for country people" (Chapter V); the straightforward tradition of religious instruction which the modern parish priest inherits from his medieval predecessor has never been forgotten. The eighteenth century thought of religious teaching largely in terms of moral advice given in sermons -- the main duty of the clergy, says Paley, is "to inform the consciences and improve the morals of the people committed to their charge" until the Lord returns in judgrnent.13 Nothing, writes Addison at the beginning of the century, is more pleasant than a country Sunday on which the rustic population assembles "to converse on indifferent subjects. hear their duties explained to them, and join together in adoration of the Supreme Being,''l4 a typically Augustan description of the essence of religion. At the end of the century the High Churchman Bishop Seabury of Connecticut has a more definite idea of the content of religious instruction, though he is still a man of his age. The duties of the clergy as stewards of the mysteries of God, "that is, preachers of the 'great mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh' (I Tim. 3: 16), which virtually contains in it all the mysteries or sublime truths of Christianity" are extensive.
Their office, in short, as preachers or dispensers of the word, takes in all the revelations and dispensations of God to man, all the articles of christian faith, and all the particulars of christian practice.
Stewardship of the mysteries equally includes the right to admit men to the Church by baptism and "the power of administering the other sacrament, the sacrifice of the eucharist." 15
Since 1800 the responsibilities assumed by the Anglican priest have increased rather than diminished. One can only refer to the Sunday School and more modern forms of religious education in America, in which the clerical share is important in spite of the considerable lay leadership. In England there are also numerous church schools, which in the first half of the nineteenth century almost became a national parochial school system, and which still give many of the clergy a definite place in the general educational system of the country. Moreover, there are now more sacred rites to be administered and prepared for than the eighteenth or even the seventeenth century realized. After as well as before the Reformation, Confirmation was administered in England with remarkable casualness and sometimes even disorder. Since the 1840's clergy have assumed responsibility for the preparing of candidates, and bishops for providing at least annual opportunities for the administration of the rite. This along with many other modern ecclesiastical procedures owes much to the example of Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford 1844-69, of Winchester 1869-73, and founder of the modern Anglican episcopate both as a pastoral institution and an administrative enterprise. The Ministry of Absolution has always been provided for in the English Prayer Book, but though not infrequently practiced in the seventeenth century it became almost obsolete in the eighteenth, as shown by the disappearance of definite references to it in the American Prayer Book of 1789. (A partial recovery was effected in 1928.) None of the subjects treated in the Tracts for the Times was more definitely a return to lost traditions than this, which was boldly taken up fairly early in the series. Keble's Tract 17, for instance, "The Ministerial Commission a Trust from Christ for the Benefit of His people," lays special emphasis on the priest's right to declare pardon to the penitent in God's name to those who humbly desire it:
How then ought we to look upon the power which has been given us by Christ, but as a sacred treasure, of which we are Ministers and Stewards; and which it is our duty to guard for the sake of those little ones, for whose edification (2 Cor. xiii 10) it was that our Lord left power with his Church. And if we suffer it to be lost to our Christian brethren, how shall we answer it, not only to those that might now rejoice in its holy comfort, but to those also who are to come after us?
One of the episodes which brought on the crisis of the Oxford Movement was Pusey's suspension from preaching before the University after his sermon of January, 1843, on "The Eucharist a Comfort to the Penitent." Two years later when his suspension expired his turn came around again, and he continued his intended series with "Absolution a Comfort to the Penitent" and no man said him nay. Since then the hearing of confessions has found a regular if not universally accepted place in Anglican pastoral practice. Pusey himself exercised a widespread ministry as confessor, of which he ventured to write some years later:
If there is one part of our Ministry which God has blessed; if there be one part of our office, as to the fruits of which we look with hopefulness and joy to the day of our judgment, it is to the visible cleansing of souls, the deepened penitence, "the repentance unto salvation not to be repented of," the hope in Christ, the freshness of grace, the joy of forgiven souls, the evident growth in holiness, the Angel-joy "over each sinner that repenteth" which this ministry has disclosed to us. We have often in the subsequent growth in grace and "transformation" of the soul, by the "renewing of the mind," not been able to recall to ourselves the former self which we knew of, when first a person sought to hear, through our ministry, his Saviour's voice, "Thy sins be forgiven thee: go in peace."
In these, a Pastor dare delight
A lamb-like, Christ-like throng;
for his likeness has anew by Himself been traced upon them.16
The priest is celebrant of the holy mysteries, spiritual guide, teacher of the faith, hearer of confessions -- and, as we shall see, the pastoral interests of the modern priest are even more extensive than his strictly ecclesiastical activities. Who indeed is sufficient for these things unless he maintains the closest union with his Lord and Master? Herbert's quiet pages are crossed here and there by surprisingly ecstatic expressions of union with the sufferings of Christ. The parson
is generally sad, because he knows nothing but the Crosse of Christ, his mind being defixed on and with those nailes wherewith his Master was --
This sentence opens the chapter on "The Parson in Mirth" which admits that reasonable relaxation has its place, and may indeed be useful (Chapter XXVII). When despised, as he may expect to be, the parson reflects that
this hath been the portion of God his Master and of God's Saints his Brethren, and this is foretold that it shall be still until things be no more. [Chapter XXVIII].
Nor is the priest's way of life maintained only by occasional reflections. Prayer and fasting, holy study and meditation on Scripture, as well as sharing in public worship and Sacraments are its essential pattern and framework. So the English Prayer Book retains from its medieval sources the requirement that the daily Offices be recited privately, if not said publicly, by every priest and deacon. The traditional days of fasting were retained (Herbert comments in some detail on their proper observance, Chapter X), and since 1662 have been listed in the Prayer Book for reference. And as we saw at the beginning, the priest is reminded at his ordination of the importance of meditating deeply on the Scriptures as well as studying them formally.
Before noting more recent developments of the priestly rule, we may glance at some more general aspects of the cleric's life. The Reformation brought with it an acceptance of the propriety of the marriage of the clergy, but did not entirely abolish the principle that some are called to the celibate state. As Herbert observes, blending the medieval and the reformed traditions:
The Country Parson considering that virginity is a higher state than Matrimony, and that the Ministry requires the best and highest things, is rather unmarried than married. But yet as the temper of his body may be, or as the temper of his Parish may be, where he may have occasion to converse with women and that among suspicious men, and other like circumstances considered, he is rather married than unmarried. Let him communicate the thing often by prayer unto God, and as his grace shall direct him so let him proceed. [Chapter IX]
Indeed until the middle of the nineteenth century fellowships in the English universities were vacated by marriage (as, for instance, in the case of John Wesley, who remained Fellow of Lincoln until his marriage), a relic of medieval days when college fellows were necessarily celibate as either priests or possible candidates for the priesthood. Some English clerics accepted permanently the state of life then prescribed for a time. For much of the seventeenth century, as during part of the Anglo-Saxon period, the discipline of the English Church in effect resembled that of the Greek, with a married parish clergy presided over by a celibate episcopate. Some even spoke as strongly in favor of celibacy as Bishop Ken:
A virgin priest the altar best attends,
Our Lord this state commands not, but commends.17
Herbert himself was married during his brief parochial ministry, though his observations on the special problems of the celibate and how to meet them seem rather more sensible than his brief notes on marriage (Chapter IX). As is well known, the Eastern Church requires the clergy to assume either monastic or marital vows before ordination, and does not allow the remarriage of a clerical widower unless he abandons the exercise of his priesthood. The Latin Church requires the celibacy of the clergy, although this is now understood to be by acceptance of the obligation at ordination to the subdiaconate and not (as was widely held in the later Middle Ages) a matter of divine law.18
An interesting by-road of this subject is the call to celibacy felt by some of the eighteenth-century Anglican Evangelicals. At a time when the High Church clergy were as a rule contentedly married, some of the English Evangelicals revived the spirit of the preaching friar wholly devoted to the work of the gospel. Berridge of Everton spoke sharply on this matter -- "No trap so mischievous for the field-preacher as wedlock" -- and John Wesley's unhappy marital adventures were a warning to others as well as, occasionally, to himself.19 Of the Oxford Movement leaders, the hereditary High Churchmen Pusey and Keble were married (though Pusey lived an almost monastic life after the death of his wife in 1839), while Newman's sense of a call to the celibate life came to him during his Evangelical days. A similar case is that of William Augustus Muhlenberg (1796-1877), an Evangelical Catholic as he called himself, who had a large share in bringing the influence of the Oxford Movement to the American Episcopal Church, but was as much influenced by his German Evangelical connections. As his biographer tells us, some years after his ordination he was contemplating the possibility of an "alliance with a lady of very suitable connection" when on his way to take the lady to morning service he chanced to stop for a moment in a Roman Catholic church, and
these words of the preacher fell upon his ear: "We have but one heart; if we had two hearts, we might give one to God and the other to this world; having but one, God must have it all." "Amen!" said William Augustus Muhlenberg's inmost soul; "Farewell, - - - ," and he neither took the lady to church nor sent her the book she had asked to borrow of him.20
Since the days of the Oxford Movement a certain number of the Anglican clergy have, whether or not under formal vows, considered themselves dedicated to the celibate life. My own impression is that outside of the actual Religious Orders the number has not increased during the present century. However, several societies of clergy bound by rules which include vows of celibacy (usually not formally lifelong, but taken for a period with the expectation of renewal), have been founded, such as the Oblates of Mount Calvary in America, associated with the Order of the Holy Cross, and the recently organized Company of Mission Priests in England.21
The social and economic status of the clergy has varied from time to time. In England down to the rearrangement of endowments which followed the Reforms of the 1830's (as in France down to the Revolution) much survived of the medieval situation; there was a clerical proletariat, whose standard of life approximated that of the skilled laborer, and a clerical aristocracy, who, whatever their origin, expected to live on a scale comparable to that of the nobility. A late example of this is afforded in the career of Henry Phillpotts, 1778-1869, one of the last of the pre-Reform bishops, appointed to Exeter in 1830. Since its endowed income of £2700 would not allow him to maintain the dignity expected, he secured permission to hold a canonry of Durham along with his bishopric, one of the last cases of the benefice in commendam by which medieval and later Bishops had often profited.22 Phillpotts was an earnest administrator, and fought hard to raise the minimum salary for curates in his Diocese to £50.23 Such a range of 100 to 1 within honorable incomes in the clerical profession would scarcely be found in our times.
In the eighteenth century £40 was considered a reasonable minimum for beneficed clergy. The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel paid its American missionaries £50, expecting their congregations to provide as much, with a house and perhaps a glebe. If regularly paid, which was not always the case, such an income would have ranked respectably among professional incomes in the colonies. Money has gradually declined in value since then; the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church, founded in 1820, in its early days thought of $500 as a generous salary for a domestic missionary, and the first American bishop to be supported wholly by his diocese (the Bishop of New York in the 1830's) received $2500. In recent years the clergy have found their place in the greater security of a welfare society, as shown by the provision of Pension Funds for the clergy (such as the efficient Church Pension Fund in America, organized in 1917) in lieu of earlier efforts to relieve their distressed widows and orphans. English bishops are now generally freed from the responsibility of maintaining the medieval mansions in which some of them still reside; their salaries are now with a few exceptions equalized at £2000-£2500, while most English dioceses achieve a minimum stipend for incumbents of £500 or better.24 In available goods and comparable status this is probably somewhat but not much better than the "passing rich on forty pounds a year"25 Of two centuries ago. Herbert's Parson has servants and his wife maids, but this doubtless reflects his personal circumstances.
In modern times, even more than in the Middle Ages, it is possible to recognize the English clergy when you see them in the street. Canon 74 of the Canons of 1603 required the traditional clerical dress -- cap, gown, and tippet -- the "priest's gown" and square cap which the early Puritans had raged against in the 1560's. This was already worn mainly on formal occasions and in church; at home the clergy might wear any "scholar-like apparel," though expected to abstain from such indulgences as embroidered nightcaps, and in public they were at least not to appear without coats or cassocks. With a mixture of correctness and informality sometimes found in England today, a cleric-scientist of the period is recorded to have met his guests in "an old russet cloth-cassock that had been black in dayes of yore, girt with an old leather girdle, an old fashion russett hat that had been a bever tempore Reginae Elizabethae." 26 The cassock remained common clerical dress into the eighteenth century, but then except on formal occasions came to be replaced by black clothes of the ordinary cut. With a plain white stock or neckcloth this remained the distinctive costume of the Anglican cleric until the middle of the nineteenth century; Newman marked the definite renunciation of his Anglican Orders by coming to dinner at Littlemore one day in gray trousers.27 The more serious clerics of the post-Oxford Movement period revived the cassock, though it has not come to be commonly worn except in church and on ecclesiastical premises. The modern clerical collar dates from about 1865, and in spite of its common description as "Roman collar" is apparently a convenient Anglican invention.
The otherworldly aspect of Christian life and discipline in general, and therefore of clerical life and discipline in particular, was an important concern of the authors of the Tracts for the Times. Tracts in the series were devoted to such topics as the value of fasting on the days appointed (18 and 66) and the importance of the recitation of the Daily Offices (84). An elaborate tract by Newman presented the beauty of the complete system of the Latin Offices -- No. 75, "On the Roman Breviary as Embodying the Substance of the Devotional Services of the Church Catholic." The attractiveness of those Hours of Prayer, which the ordinary priest of the Latin rite has sometimes felt to be a burden rather than a joy, was one of the factors which led many of the Tractarian group to an increasing appreciation of the devotional treasures preserved in the Roman Communion. With some, including Newman himself, this was an important step toward final submission to the Roman obedience. Others who remained in the Anglican Communion prepared English adaptations of the medieval Sarum or modern Roman Breviaries, which became part of the daily prayer of the Religious Communities organized after 1845, and have been used by many of the clergy as supplements to the austere Anglican Offices. In recommending this practice H. P. Liddon writes of Psalm 119, which in the Sarum rite and until the reform of 1910 in the Roman was recited daily in the Little Hours of Prime, Terce, Sext and None:
The 119th psalm is at once infinitely varied in its expressions, yet incessantly one in its direction; its variations are so delicate as to be almost imperceptible, its unity so emphatic as to be inexorably stamped upon its every line....
Nothing, we believe, so expresses the true spirit of ecclesiastics as the 119th psalm -- the pure intention to live for God, the zeal for His glory, the charity for sinners, the enthusiastic love of the Divine law and the Divine perfections, the cheerfulness without levity, the gentleness without softness, the collectedness and gravity which is never stern or repulsive: in short, -- the inward and outward bearing of the Priest of Jesus Christ.28
Usually the secular clergy say the Lesser Hours privately, but sometimes even a busy clergy house has lived on a semimonastic schedule, as for instance in Wellclose Square, in the 1860's:
The first bell for rising was rung at 6:30; we said Prime in the Oratory at 7; Matins was said at 7:30, followed by the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. After breakfast, followed by Terce, the clergy and teachers went to their respective work -- some in school, some in the study or district. Sext was said at 12:45, immediately before dinner, when the household were again assembled.... After dinner, rest, letters, visiting or school work, as the case might be, and then tea at 5:30. After tea, choir practice, classes, reading or visiting again until Evensong at 8 P.M. After service the clergy were often engaged in classes, hearing confessions, or attending to special cases. Supper at 9:15, followed by Compline, when those who had finished their work retired to their rooms.29
W. G. Ward's book, The Ideal of a Christian Church, which brought on the formal crisis of the Oxford Movement in 1844-45, was largely a plea for the introduction to England of the devotional discipline and efficient pastoral methods so well exemplified, as he saw it, in the contemporary priesthood of France and Belgium. As has been shown, the English tradition had its own inheritance along these lines. No nobler statement of the ascetic priestly standards could be found, for instance, than in the private devotions of an Anglican Father whom the Tractarians greatly admired -- Thomas Wilson, Bishop of the island Diocese of Sodor and Man from 1699-1755. A typical passage is this statement of ideals:
Fervency in devotion; frequency in prayer; aspiring after the love of God continually, striving to get above the world and the body; loving silence and solitude, as far as one's condition will permit; humble and affable to all; patient in suffering affronts and contradictions; glad of occasions of doing good even to enemies; doing the will of God and promoting His honour to the utmost of one's power; resolving never to offend him willingly, for any temporal pleasure, profit, or loss.30
But there was in early nineteenth-century Anglicanism an excessive degree of informality, a tendency to accept the cultured gentleman as an adequate substitute for the trained and devoted ecclesiastic. The example of the contemporary Catholic revival, and the documents of the classic period of seventeenth-century French Catholicism (an age when the Gallican and Anglican Churches had much in common) were a challenging contrast. How different, for instance, from systematic meditation according to the methods of Ignatius Loyola or Francis de Sales was the picture of
a worthy clergyman in his study, -- he is resting his elbow on the table and reflecting on some portions of his Bible -- making remarks at intervals to his wife.31
This comes from an essay, first published in 1856-57, which then offers detailed instruction in the art of meditation or mental prayer, and as a whole is the first clear and practical description of the ideal of priestly piety for the modern Anglican cleric. This classical pattern of Eucharist, Office, Meditation, and more informal prayers scattered through the systematic day's work has been commended to generations of budding clerics ever since. In Anglicanism discipline is accepted rather than imposed; and many priests have found value in membership in devotional societies bound together by a common rule of life, some independent and some associated with religious orders.32
As the meditation is within the day, so is the Retreat (as it is rather unhappily called) within the year, a special period of attention to eternal things. It was not unknown to seventeenth-century Anglicanism -- though the examples recorded seem to be largely lay: Izaak Walton, Nicholas Ferrar, at the time a layman, and the great Christian gentleman, John Evelyn, who gave a week to devotion in London churches on entering his sixtieth year.33 The clergy who visited the Ferrar household at Little Gidding to share in its round of devotion were retreatants of sorts. However, in the eighteenth century Bishop Wilson seems to regret the absence of any such opportunity when he observes that ancient bishops had places of retirement near their cities for Lent.34 Informal retreats were known, as for instance the days spent in quiet by Samuel Wilberforce before his consecration to the episcopate in 1845. But organized facilities for retreats, such as Vincent de Paul had provided for the French clergy in the seventeenth century, were one of the desiderata of Ward's Ideal. They began, rather hesitantly, with a retreat-conference (in which there was discussion as well as prayer and meditation) arranged by Pusey at Christ Church, Oxford, in 1855. Soon thereafter they became in a more strict form a common feature of clerical life, for which a large country parsonage, a seminary like Wilberforce's Cuddesdon College, or a monastic house provided the setting.
One of the most significant achievements of the Council of Trent was the establishment of special institutions for the education of the clergy. The term "seminary" in itself comes from its canon directing the bishops of major sees to establish colleges for the training of youths destined for the service of the Church; as some proceeded to their work their places were to be filled so that the college might be a "perpetual seed-plot of ministers of God," Dei ministrorum perpetnum seminarium.35 With a variety of local adaptations, the theological seminary has been a central institution in the preparation of the Roman Catholic clergy ever since -- replacing the medieval system (not unlike that which still survives in Greece) of learned theologians trained in the universities and local clergy whose main preparation was an informal apprenticeship in the conduct of services. The Tridentine seminary did not aim at advanced theological studies, for which there were (and in some parts of Europe still are) Catholic university faculties; it was to concentrate on the practical side of ecclesiastical knowledge and on training in piety. Trent suggested taking boys at the age of twelve. The modern American custom is for boys to go from high school to a junior seminary, which is not necessarily residential. After a pretheological course of three or four years come four years in residence at the major seminary.36 In American Protestantism the theological seminary originated in the early nineteenth century. Standards of theological education were rising and college courses became less adequate for the future minister. The seminaries of the Episcopal Church (starting with General in 1819 and Virginia in 1823) began under these circumstances, and gradually replaced (never quite completely) an older system of "reading for orders" under a learned clergyman. They have gradually added more of the Tridentine seminary's emphasis on spiritual discipline. As might be expected in the Anglican tradition, seminary piety usually centers in the regular use of the liturgical services of the Church.
In England the theological college originated in a spiritual rather than an academic interest. Some were established to prepare nongraduates for Orders, like the Missionary College of the Church Missionary Society, founded at Islington in 1815. But the theological colleges for graduates aimed mainly to give a year or so of disciplined study and prayer to men who had already laid the foundation of general theological knowledge in school and university. Chichester was founded in 1839; Wells in 1840. But its founder, its position, and the definite Tractarian influence of its early leaders gave major prominence to Cuddesdon, established by Bishop Wilberforce in 1854 across the road from his episcopal palace, six miles from Oxford. H. P. Liddon was its first VicePrincipal, 1854-59, and developed and enforced at Cuddesdon his austere standards of clerical life. A minor involvement of Cuddesdon in the ritualistic disputes led to his retirement in 1859, but the basic tradition continued -- definitely settled in the days of Edward King, Chaplain, 1858-63, Principal 1863-73, who added to the spirit of discipline the radiant joy of holiness.37 Later Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at Oxford, then Bishop of Lincoln from 1885-1910, King is one of the great priests and pastors of nineteenth-century Anglicanism. In recent years the English theological college has become a more formal academic institution, but still thinks of itself largely as a place of spiritual preparation. Two modern Religious Orders have introduced variants of the Tridentine system, begun originally about 1900 to provide for vocations to the ministry among those financially or perhaps socially unable to attend the universities. The Community of the Resurrection sends its students through a university course at Leeds before bringing them for theology to the College attached to the mother house at Mirfield; while the Society of the Sacred Mission at Kelham, which in fact developed out of the educational work of its founder, Fr. H. H. Kelly, provides preparatory as well as theological training in its own monastic establishment.
As already illustrated several times, clerical ideals overlap with those of the monastic life. The ascetic ideal has never been entirely extinct in Anglicanism' nor the forms of personal ministry which the monk can provide. Modern active Orders may of course engage in work which in itself does not differ from that of others -- a Jesuit college for instance; but the Dominican motto contemplata aliis tradere, "to share with others the fruits of prayer," expresses the specific type of spiritual ministry appropriate to those whose main activity is the life of prayer. Nicholas Ferrar's community at Little Gidding was, in spite of its enemies' nickname "The Arminian Nunnery," rather a large and very pious household than a monastic establishment. However, it exemplified in its way the monastic ideal of a life devoted to prayer, work, and study. In the late seventeenth and eighteenth century similar aspirations were felt from time to time, but the only conspicuous Anglican ascetic is the controversial theologian, spiritual guide, and mystical writer William Law, who would certainly have found his place as a monk, or perhaps a hermit, in other ages of the Church. He did not actively exercise the priesthood which he received late in life from a Nonjuring Bishop,38 but his career certainly belongs to the story of priestly lives and ministries. As chaplain and tutor in the Gibbon family he was an urgent director of souls in the worldly London of the 1720's. His summons to serious devotion and prayer is enshrined in his great work, the Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life. This activity continued in his later years of retirement in the household of two good old ladies at Kings Cliffe, when he also became the chief representative in England of his time of the mystical tradition, not very much appreciated in the eighteenth century even by the godly.
This crosscurrent of ascetic mysticism in the Age of Reason has its counterparts in other countries. French Jesuits were almost as formal and rational as their opponents, but produced the two great apostles of simplicity in prayer in that rationalistic age, de Caussade and Grou. A similar movement, even more extensive, arose in Russia, the revival of primitive monastic ideals in the spirit of the early Fathers of the Desert begun by Paissi Velichkovski (1722-94), a monk on Mount Athos and later Abbot of a Moldavian monastery. Paissi and his followers engaged in a great work of translation of ancient ascetic and mystical literature, and renewal of the spirit of ancient Orthodox piety. The monastic "elder" (starets, plural startsi) to whom people of all kinds come for advice became an important figure. Seraphim of Sarov, the last Russian saint to be canonized, is a conspicuous example of the type. The most famous series is that of the startsi of Optino, a monastery in Central Russia, which lasted from 1829 until the eve of the Revolution. A remarkable feature of the typical starets is the simple, down-to-earth character of his counsel -- it is mysticism without fireworks, and often just simple common sense. The tradition is best known to the world at large through Dostoevski's Father Zossima in The Brothers Karamazov, although it is said that the monks of Optino when presented with the book did not recognize the portrait.39
In the Church of England the first revivers of the monastic life thought in terms of "Sisters of Charity." Orders of women practicing the mixed life of prayer and service were the earliest and are still perhaps the most typical Anglican foundations. Many of them were formed under the guidance of a priest as founder and chaplain, as Pusey was for the Sisterhood which survives as the Society of the Holy Trinity at Ascot, Canon Carter of Clewer for the Sisters of John the Baptist, Butler of Wantage for the Wantage Sisterhood, and John Mason Neale for St. Margaret's. W. A. Muhlenberg's Sisterhood of the Holy Communion in New York was more like the German communities of deaconesses, but out of it grew the more definitely monastic Community of St. Mary, inaugurated by Bishop Horatio Potter in 1865. Some Americans dreamed of missionary communities on the model of early medieval or Celtic missionary monasteries, but none of these survived as such -- Bishop Ives' Order of the Holy Cross at Valle Crucis, North Carolina, broke up, and the mission begun at Nashotah, Wisconsin, in 1842 continued only as a seminary.
In 1865 the first monastic community of men in the modern Anglican communion came into being -- the Society of Mission Priests of St. John the Evangelist, established by R. M. Benson at Oxford. Its main activity is the life of prayer under vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, with such formal and personal ministries as are compatible with it. One of the leading members of the Society in the past generation was an outstanding expert in the study of the SpirituaI Exercises of St. Ignatius, as well as in their adaptation for modern use. Other priestly Orders have followed -- in America Holy Cross in 1844, in England the Community of the Resurrection, which reflects the intellectual, missionary, and devotional interests of its founder Bishop Gore, and Fr. Kelly's Society of the Sacred Mission. In the present century Anglican Communities following the rules of St. Benedict and St. Francis have been established both in England and in America. Some twenty years ago a writer on Anglican monasticism noted the absence of one classical form from Anglican piety, the strictly contemplative male Community (there are several such for women in England
in which, to men who have already received the grace of priestly consecration there is added a further vocation to a life of intensive devotion and of contemplation, in whom there would be united the right to sacrifice, the will to suffer, and the power to pray.40
Carthusian or Trappist Communities have not yet been raised up in ecclesia anglicana, but a beginning has been made in Sussex where the Bishop of Chichester has recognized and enclosed a small Community of the Servants of the Will of God.41
From the most intensive aspects of the priestly life one may turn to its most extensive, to the priest as a minister of God not only in the sanctuary but in the world. Throughout its history the Christian ministry has been concerned for the temporal as well as the spiritual welfare of mankind; the definition of pastoral care which a church historian produced for sixth-century Gaul would apply to many other epochs as well:
Pastoral care of souls is that form of Christian charity exercised from day to day by a corps of consecrated men in a) maintaining Divine Worship for, b) communicating Sacramental Life to, c) providing inspirational guidance for, and d) procuring material benefits for that portion of mankind officially assigned to its charge.42
This would easily describe the program of Herbert's Country Parson, whose interests extend to the relief of the poor and the general well-ordering of the lives of his parishioners of every station -- he is "a father to his flock" (Chapter XVI), a title which I believe Herbert is one of the first to apply to the parochial clergy.43 The civic functions of Caroline prelates are not without significance in this connection. Part of Laud's policy was an effort to actualize the medieval ideal of regulation of economic life for the common good. The wide sweep of Bishop Andrewes' Preces Privatae shows a mind to which nothing in nature, society, or the world of grace is alien. Under the Restoration Thomas Ken both as priest and bishop ministered equally to the underprivileged and to those in high places -- and his morning and evening hymns aimed to make the spirit of the priest's daily devotions available for the boys of Winchester School. The Seven Bishops who faced trial for their protest against James II's unconstitutional Declaration of Indulgence in 1688 became for a moment the voice of the nation. That they were guided by conscience and not mere politics was shown a year later when five of the seven, along with one other bishop, surrendered place and power rather than take the oath to William and Mary. The noble but tragic nonjuring schism lost the Church of England some of her best leaders -- though even nonjurors could lead the nation through the pen, as shown in Jeremy Collier's bold attack on the immorality of the stage, and in the next century in the career of William Law.
After 1689 the Anglican cleric was more inclined to defend the order of Church and State than to attempt to improve or guide it. Still, the work of missionary and charitable societies is an important feature of church life. The leading figure in this movement is Thomas Bray, who after his brief experience as Commissary in Maryland organized the Society for the Promoting of Christian Knowledge, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, and a series of less conspicuous charitable enterprises. The typical Hanoverian prelate may have basked on the summit, except when he descended for an occasional charity sermon, but many quiet pastors like Bishop Wilson were well aware of the practical needs of their people. Bishop Seabury had recent as well as ancient tradition behind him when he reminded the clergy of Connecticut and Rhode Island that they owed special attention to the sick and afflicted, the poor and oppressed, though he seemed a little vague as to what they could do for the latter class --
Though he [the faithful clergyman] may want power to rescue the oppressed from the hand of violence, his mediation may be of real service.44
Like many others of the colonial clergy, Seabury himself had acquired some medical skill as well as theological training. Also like many of his brethren, he had taken a considerable part in politics, in his case as a loyalist pamphleteer, though this belongs to his personal more than his official career. The Anglican clergy were presented by the Revolutionary movement with a special case of conscience revolving around the prayers for the King in the Prayer Book -- some continued with the full service unless or until forcibly restrained, others felt they could only perform occasional offices, and others with varying degrees of enthusiasm or regret accepted the transfer of allegiance and modified the services accordingly.
In the early nineteenth century the broader interests of the clergy revolve around the various church societies, especially those for education and missions. In the last years of the Oxford Movement there is an outburst of expansive activity, partly derived from the influence of the Oxford leaders, partly led by others with some contacts with them. G. A. Selwyn, Bishop of New Zealand from 1843-70, revived the ideal of a truly Missionary Bishop (slightly earlier was the first American Missionary Bishop under that name, Jackson Kemper in the Northwest, 1835-70). Samuel Wilberforce was an energetically pastoral diocesan. Self-sacrificing priests faced the pastoral and social problems of England's teeming cities. Hook at Leeds is one of the earliest -- soon comes Pusey's foundation of St. Saviour's in the same city, and the great London slum parishes such as St. Barnabas, Pimlico, St. Peter's, London Docks; and St. Alban's, Holborn. Butler from his parish at Wantage, Neale from his almshouse at East Grinstead, confronted the equally urgent problems of neglected country towns. As in the last two cases, the founding of Sisterhoods was often connected with this mission to the poorest. Two heroic figures of the end of the century are A. H. Stanton, pastor and preacher to London for fifty years, who spent his whole ministry as Assistant Curate at St. Alban's, 1862-1914, and the unconventional Father Dolling, whose ten great years were spent redeeming the almost barbarized area that surrounded St. Agatha's, Landport, in Portsmouth.45
Father Dolling is credited with the phrase that the Incarnation has something to do with the drains. In America Father Huntington laid the foundations of the Order of the Holy Cross while working in an East Side Mission in New York. Though later based in rural monasteries his Order has never lost its interest in human problems. Its foundations include a school in the mountains of Tennessee and a many-sided mission in the hinterland of Liberia. Members of the Order represent the Church at the great prison at Sing Sing and were instrumental in founding the Church Mission of Help, now a casework service usually known as the Episcopal Service for Youth. These activities are mentioned mainly as samples of priestly work. If the modern cleric often moves contentedly toward the vine-clad rectory in the fashionable suburb, or its equivalent, he at least must answer the question why he does not go and do likewise. Even broader than the vocation of the priests who serve the underprivileged is that of those who have been led to share in movements for social reform, F. D. Maurice's Christian Socialism grew directly out of his theology and his view of the Church as the Kingdom of Christ and the priest as its servant. The priest as reformer is represented by such great figures as Gore and Temple. Some lesser lights may illustrate concrete applications even better -- Father Huntington who at some moments seemed almost to make the Single Tax an article of the Creed, Father William, friar of the Society of the Divine Compassion, leading a demonstration of the unemployed of Plaistow in 1900, Basil Jellicoe describing his housing projects and recreational activities in Somers Town as an extension of his priestly work of consecrating bread and wine. The welfare state and the New Deal have reduced the call for some of the more conspicuous acts of priestly service among the poor. But modern urban and rural missioners still find enough concrete human needs as well as spiritual and ecclesiastical problems to meet.
Some of the greatest examples of the glory of the Christian priesthood since the days of Ambrose and Chrysostom have been the leaders of the generation now just passed. One thinks of Charles Gore, scholar and theologian, monastic founder, pastor of three great dioceses -- and always a missionary at heart, who hastened his death by a mission of service to divided Christians in India. One thinks of William Temple, who in more ways than one deserved the phrase humorously applied to him in early days, "not one, but all mankind in effigy," 46 Those who think of him first of all as philosopher, Christian socialist, ecumenical statesman, or evangelist should remember that it was the priesthood of the Church of England to which his life was primarily devoted, and by its traditions that he was inspired. Another many-sided figure is Frank Weston, Bishop of Zanzibar, lover of Africa and defender of Africans, theologian and monastic founder too, author of an appeal which the modern Catholic does not dare to forget:
You cannot claim to worship Jesus in the tabernacle if you do not pity Jesus in the slum. Now go out into the highways and hedges, and look for Jesus in the ragged and the naked, in the oppressed and the sweated, in those who have lost hope, and in those who are struggling to make good. Look for Jesus in them; and when you have found him, gird yourself with his towel of fellowship and wash His feet in the person of his brethren.47
Another such figure is that of Cardinal Mercier, professor and philosopher, pastoral prelate of the metropolitan diocese of Belgium, voice of his country during the enemy occupation of World War I, who in his last years embarked on the bold experiment, destined perhaps to greater fruition in the future, of the Malines Conversations between Roman and Anglican divines. The principle of his life is expressed in the striking phrase with which he justified the holding of the Conversations -- si la verité a ses droits, la charité a ses devoirs; its center was the simple chapel in which he began each day with an hour's meditation.48
The modern priesthood, as this essay has sketched its ideal and to some extent its practice, is of course continuous with that of the ancient and medieval Church. However, as in many other areas of Christian life and thought, modern forms have been largely determined by the developments of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the age of Reform and Counter-Reform. As in other cases, one naturally inquires whether some new word is not to be spoken today. I think there is, and that it is being found in the return to a more corporate understanding of the place of the Christian priesthood in the Church, in which we will both go back of the Middle Ages to the days of the early Christian community and forward into the future with new expressions of ancient life, bringing out of God's treasure things new and old. The individualism for which we commonly blame the Renaissance or Reformation is deeply ingrained in the thought and practice of the Middle Ages. It produces the tendency to think of the Christian minister as an individual practitioner who brings the grace of God to bear by preaching and sacrament and other ministries on a number of other individuals. The Liturgical Movement which has become so important in the Roman and Anglican Communions in the last fifty years reminds us that priest and people are brought by one Spirit into one Body. A document of at least semiofficial status, the reply of the English Archbishops to Leo XIII, describes the Prayer Book service in terms which suggest the point of departure of modern liturgical piety:
. . . we think it sufficient in the Liturgy which we use in celebrating the Holy Eucharist -- while lifting up our hearts to the Lord, and when now consecrating the gifts already offered that they may become to us the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ -- to signify the sacrifice which is offered at that point of the service in such terms as these. We continue a perpetual memory of the precious death of Christ, who is our Advocate with the Father and the propitiation for our sins, according to His precept, until His coming again. For first we offer the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; then next we plead and represent before the Father the sacrifice of the cross, and by it we confidently entreat remission of sins and all other benefits of the Lord's Passion for the whole Church; and lastly we offer the sacrifice of ourselves to the Creator of all things which we have already signified by the oblations of his creatures. This whole action, in which the people has necessarily to take its part with the Priest, we are accustomed to call the Eucharistic sacrifice.49
This is a step further toward emphasis on corporate action than we find, for instance, in F. D. Maurice's comparison of the Jewish and Christian priesthood written some fifty years before:
I do think a Melchisedec priesthood has succeeded to an Aaronical priesthood, even as the power of an endless life has succeeded to the law of a carnal commandment. I do think that he who represents the perfect sacrifice before God, and himself and his people as redeemed by that sacrifice, has a higher function than he had who presented the daily offerings, or made the yearly atonement before God. I do think he who is permitted to feed the people with this bread and wine has a higher work to do than he who came out of the temple to bless the people in God's name.50
Indeed, as the Archbishops observe, the pastoral function is in some sense more strictly peculiar to presbyters than the liturgical
seeing that it represents the attitude of God towards men (Psalm xxii, Isaiah xi. 10, 11, Jerem. xxiii 1-4, Ezek. xxxiv 11-31), while the latter is shared in some measure with the people. For the Priest, to whom the dispensing of the Sacraments and especially the consecration of the Eucharist is entrusted, must always do the service of the altar with the people standing by and sharing it with him. Thus the prophecy of Malachi (i.11) is fulfilled and the name of God is great among the gentiles through the pure offering of the Church --
as St. Peter Damian has pointed out that
this sacrifice of praise, although it seems to be specially offered by a single Priest, is really offered by all the faithful, women as well as men; for those things which he touches with his hands in offering them to God are committed to God by the deep inward devotion of the whole multitude.
So in similar terms Pius X exhorted the faithful not only to pray at Mass, but to "pray the Mass with the priest," whatever precisely that might mean.51
This emphasis on the common action of the Body of Christ, in the Liturgy and in common life, is the spiritual message of the modern liturgical movement. The priest is still essential in the priestly community, the totus Christus of St. Augustine; but rather as standing in the midst of the community as its leader than as confronting, dominating, or even serving the congregation (I Pet. 2:5, 5:3; I Cor. 1:24). So in modern churches the altar is often brought out from the east wall to which Laud had carried it back. Some have adopted the custom, preserved from ancient times in Solemn Papal Masses, of the celebrant's facing the people across the Holy Table. This is open to some objection, however, as stressing in a new way the distinction between priest and people. There is much to be said for the principle set forth by the English bishops at the Savoy Conference of 1661, that when the priest proclaims God's Word to the people he should face them, and when he leads them in prayer all should face the same way.
The liturgical movement will presumably call for a new kind of literature on the priesthood and its vocation, differing in emphasis from the pastoral guides of the last three centuries. An interpretation of the historic and biblical faith as bringing all human life to the altar of God, and of devotion, theology, art, and social reform as radiating from it, such as F. D. Maurice laid the foundations for a century ago and as A. G. Hebert sketched it in Liturgy and Society in 1935, calls for a new approach to the ideal of the priest. This has I think begun, and its beginnings can be traced in current literature. Efforts toward a new understanding of the life of the parish have significance for the priest as well.52 Some individualistic forms of traditional priestly piety such as the private Mass are being questioned, and simpler yet more demanding forms of prayer than the formal meditation are being urged. The faith is ever old yet ever new, unchanged yet ever changing, and the Christian priesthood shares this combination of qualities.53
The breadth and depth of interests, the exacting and exciting character of the priesthood in the modern world, should appear even in this brief discussion. It is one particular form of the vocation which comes to all Christians to press on to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. If one thinks largely of responsibility and labor, there are boundless joys too -- perhaps the priest may take to himself the remark of a modern Chinese Christian about the mystic way, that "the sorrows are the sorrows of the ages; but the joy is the joy of eternity." 54 Moreover, within the priesthood there are numerous possibilities of specialization or expansion of interests. We have thought mainly of the pastor, but there is also room for the scholar, the teacher, the chaplain, or the social worker. Some have proposed experiments under modern conditions in ordaining men whose daily work would be "in the world" rather than "in the Church." More may yet come of the French experiment of worker-priests, at present suspended if not abandoned, or of the proposal for "voluntary priests" which has been put forward in England. But perhaps it is better to leave priest and layman to fulfill their vocations without mixing them; meanwhile, the Trappist monk going from the altar to milk the cows may serve to represent the principle that no honorable labor is unbefitting the priesthood as such.
To priests, as to all men, the hour of death finally comes, and what does life look like then? This subject, solemn but not necessarily depressing, is often propounded for meditation in retreats for priests. Legend has it that the worldly Patriarch Theophilus of Alexandria thought, as he came to his end, of a noble scholar who had left the palace classroom for a desert hermitage, and murmured, "How I envy you, Arsenius, you were always mindful of this hour."55 Sometimes at least the end fittingly crowns the work. It is told of Newman's Roman Catholic diocesan, the straightforward English monk Bishop Ullathorne of Birmingham, that he said something on his deathbed about St. Benedict and the angels, and when asked if he saw them answered, yes he did.56 Frank Weston returned from the plaudits of London crowds to die, as he would have wished to, in his mud and straw "palace" at Hegongo. Almost alone in his last agony, he was buried with a funeral that proud prelates might have envied:
. . . when we went out to take the body to the grave, Padre Canon Samwil Sehoza finished the prayers. Everyone you looked at, he was crying.
At the end of the prayers the body was covered up. Ah! alas! the lamentation which arose was very great. People cried very much. Then we returned to the house at a quarter-past six to thank the God Who had given us a good father, and now had carried him to a place of greater peace that he might rest from the troubles of the world. God grant him eternal rest and let light perpetual shine upon him.57
Of Charles Gore it is recorded that almost the last words heard from his lips were "transcendent glory:"58 perhaps the theologian's unconscious mind turned to familiar topics, or perhaps the lover of God looked at last upon the face of Him in whom he had so long hoped and believed.
FOR FURTHER READING
J. P. Camus, L'Esprit du Bienheureux Francois de Sales, 6 vols., published 163941 -- the best English selected versions of The Spirit of St. Francis de Sales are by H. L. S. Lear (London, 1872), and by C. F. Kelley (New York, 1952).
George Herbert, The Priest to the Ternple, or The Country Parson, published 1652, J. B. Cheshire, ed. (New York, 1908); and in editions of Herbert's Works.
Thomas Wilson, Sacra Privata, published 1781; and vol. V of Wilson's Works in Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology (London, 1860).
J. G. Barry and S. P. Delany, The Parish Priest (New York, 1926).
H. S. Box, ed., Priesthood, by Various Writers (London, 1937); historical and practical.
H. P. Liddon, Clerical Life and Work, (London, 1894).
Leo J. Trese, Vessel of Clay (New York. 1950).
Francis Underhill, ed., Feed My Sheep, Essays in Pastoral Theology (London, 1927).
C. Biographical -- a few suggestions among many
Vida D. Scudder, Father Huntington, Founder of the Order of the Holy Cross (New York, 1940).
John Ilyich Sergieff, My Life in Christ ("Father John of Cronstadt"), tr. (London, 1897).
H. Maynard Smith, Frank, Bishop of Zanzibar 1871-1924 (London, 1926).
Chapter VI. Priestly Ministries in the Modern Church
1 From exhortation in "The Form and Manner of Ordering Priests," Book of Common Prayer (in the American Prayer Book, 538-41); the arguments for ascribing this majestic exhortation to Cranmer (who here writes as Catholic Reformer) rather than to Martin Bucer advanced by W. K. Firminger ("The Ordinal" in W. K, L. Clarke, Liturgy and Worship, London, 1932, 671-72) seem to me conclusive -- Bucer's De ordinatione legitima is not a source of the English Ordinal but a proposed revision of it -- see Bucer's own statement in Scripta Anglicana, 1577, 504, and editors' note there.
2 The clause in parentheses was added in 1662 for further clarity; the intention of the service, however, was throughout as noted below.
3 Wealth of Nations, Book V. chap. i, part iii, Article 3.
4 Sermon, "A Distinction of Orders in the Church Defended upon Principles of Public Utility," William Paley, Works, Newport, 1811, IV, Sermon ii.
5 R. H. Church, The Oxford Movement, 1891, chap. 1 (reprinted London, 1922, 4).
6 John Keble, The Christian Year, "Evening" (the source of the hymn, "Sun of My Soul").
7 H. J. Todd, Some Account of the Deans of Canterbury, Canterbury, 1793, 250-251 (quoted in R. D. Middleton, Magdalen Studies [London, 1936], xi).
8 J. H. Newman, "John Keble" (review of Lyra Innocentium, 1846), in Essays Critical and Historical, 11, London, 1871, 443-44.
9 On Littlemore see R. D. Middleton, Newman and Bloxam, the Story of an Oxford Friendship (London, 1947), chap. 3, 31-50; and on church arrangements generally G. W. Addleshaw, The Architectural Setting of Anglican Worship, (London, 1948).
10 Journal of the Proceedings of the 55th Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of New York, 1839, 31, 33, 4344, this was Bishop B. T. Onderdonk whose predecessor, the High Churchman John Henry Hobart, had promoted the arrangement of churches with the pulpit behind the Holy Table, as at least making the altar visible -- it is occasionally found in the eighteenth century, as in the Wesley Chapel at Bristol or Bishop Seabury's church at New London, built in 1784-86 (Robert A. Haliam, Annals of St. James's Church [New London, 1873], 89-90).
11 Told of Thomas F. Davies, later Bishop of Michigan, 1889-1905, in J. G. H. Barry, Impressions and Opinions (New York, 1931), 83-84.
12 Chap. IV; Herbert's Will in G. H. Palmer, ed., The English Works of George Herbert, III (Boston, 1905), 218.
13 Sermon, "A Distinction of Orders," Works, IV (Newport, 1811), 44.
14 In Roger de Coverly papers, Spectator, No. 112, July 9, 1711.
15 Samuel Seabury, Discourses on Several Subjects, no. I, part iu, "The Duty of Christ's Ministers," I (Hudson, 1815), 16-18.
16 The Church of England leaves her Children Free to whom to Open their Griefs (London, 1850), 3.
17 Thomas Ken, Edmund, Book IX, lines 129-30. Herbert's reference to "the temper of his Parish" indicates a circumstance which has affected Anghcan as it has Eastern Orthodox practice -- namely, that when the choice is open, the ordinary laity seem to prefer married pastors, not necessarily for reasons of suspicion.
18 The rule is therefore one that could be changed, cf. observations of J. Jorgenson, St. Bridget of Sweden, II (New York, 1954), 217.
19 Charles Smyth, Simeon and Church Order (Cambridge, 1940), 259.
20 Anne Ayres, The Life and Work of William Augustus Muhlenberg, 4th ed. (New York 1889), 69, 70 which the biographer adds, "His visits had been those of an acquaintance only, and he was free to excuse himself." The episode is dated vaguely some years after Muhlenberg's ministry at Lancaster, 1821-26; the biographer further explains that "he believed, indeed, and inspired others with the belief, that in all ages and in all the parts of Christendom, there have been individuals who, from supreme love to God chose to forego the ordinary ties of earth, remembering our Lord's words, 'He that is able to receive it, let him receive it', but he condemned entirely the imposition of rules to this end upon organizations or classes, either of men or women" (70). Phillips Brooks was also an unmarried preacher of the Word, though he probably belonged more to the class of clerical bachelors than to that of celibates.
21 Peter F. Anson, The Call of the Cloister, Religious Communities and Kindred Bodies in the Anglican Communion (London, 1955), 217-18, 542.
22 The apologist Joseph Butler, for instance, held the wealthy Deanery of St. Paul's along with the relatively poor bishopric of Bristol.
23 G. C. B. Davies, Henry Phillpotts, (London, 1954), 92-96, 117-21.
24 In American exchange, $1400 but in internal purchasing power probably at least twice that sum (as of 1955j. The American Missionary Society figure of $500 will be found in W. W. Manvoss, The Episcopal Church in the United States, 1800-1840 (N. Y., 1938, 120-21).
25 Oliver Goldsmith, The Deserted Village, line 124.
26 William Oughtred, described in John Aubrey, Brief Lives, s. v.
27 W. Ward, The Life and Times of Cardinal Wiseman, 2nd ed,, I (London, 1897), 248.
28 H. P. Liddon, Clerical Life and Work (London, 1894), 41. (From an article, "The Priest in His Inner Life," first published in 1856-57); since 1910 the Breviarium Romanum appoints this psalm for Sundays and greater Festivals.
29 Quoted from Charles Lowder, A Biography by Maria Farrar (New York, 1883), 157-58.
30 From Wilson's Meditations on His Sacred Office (Sacra Privata), reprinted in Tracts for the Times, No. 48: Devotions for Wednesday (in Works, 1860, V, 152-53).
31 Liddon, op. cit., p. 22
32 As a sample I may quote the rule of Priest-Associates of the Society of St. John the Evangelist (American Congregation) known as the Cowley Fathers; to secure an hour daily for prayer and devotional reading, public or private -- to say daily the offices of Morning and Evening Prayer, or the day hours of the Breviary -- to celebrate the Holy Eucharist, if possible, every week and on the greater festivals, in all cases fasting from midnight; and if debarred from sacramental, then to make an act of spiritual Communion -- to say daily the three Memorials of the Society, and, as opportunity offers, to make use of the missionary Memorials -- to read daily a portion of Holy Scripture as God's voice to the soul -- to observe the fasts and days of abstinence appointed by the Church -- to make sacramental confession to a priest at least once a year, at Easter, and at other times when convenient -- to dress as a priest unless especially dispensed. As a modern parallel to Liddon's essay cf. Francis Underhill, "The Priest of Today," in Feed My Sheep, F. Underhill, ed. (London, 1927).
33 Izaak Walton, Life of George Herbert, at beginning; S. Jebb, "Life of Ferrar" in J.E.B. Mayor, Nicholas Ferrar, Two Lives (Cambridge, 1855), 11. John Evelyn, Diary, 1680, Oct. 31-Nov. 7.
34 Walton, op. cit., near end; Wilson, Meditations, Wednesday (Works, V, 158-59)
35 Session XXIII, July 15, 1563, Canon 18.
36 A rather similar program is provided by the Lutheran Missouri Synod and (although in one institution) by the Greek Orthodox Church of America.
37 Cf. on this history generally the admirable book of Owen Chadwick, The Founding of Cuddesdon (Oxford, 1954), a model of institutional history.
38 Law was in Deacon's Orders when he refused the oath of allegiance to George I in 1714, and soon after his ordination to the priesthood in 1732 retired from active participation in church affairs. (Henry Broxap, The Later Nonjurors (Cambridge, 1924), 313.
39 Information from the late Professor G. P. Fedotov; see Macarius of Optino, ed. Iulia de Beausobre, Russian Letters of Direction, 1834-1850 (Westminster, 1944), Nicholas Arseniev, Holy Moscow (London, 1940), especially 89-91; Metropolitan Seraphim, Die Osikirche (Stuttgart, 1950), 290-320.
40 H. L. M. Cary, S.S.J.E., "Revival of the Religious Life," in Northern Catholicism, 365.
41 Church Times, London, Jan. 16, 1953; Anson, Call of the Cloister (London 1955), 214-17.
42 Henry G. J. Beck, The Pastoral Care of Souls in South-East France during the Sixth Century (Analecta Gregoriana, LI, series fac. hist. eccles., B., n. 8) (Rome 1950), xiv.
43 The Prayer Book uses it only of bishops; in monastic usage the tide "Father" for abbots, or for older, professed, or ordained members of the monastic family generally is ancient; in modern times it gradually spread, through the active missionary orders doubtless, to the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland; the heroic ministry of Charles Lowder and other priests during the cholera epidemic of 1866 in London seems to have started the common use of "Father" for nonmonastic Anglicans. (See Charles Lowder, A Biography, 227.)
44 Seabury, Discourses, I, 37.
45 Biographies exist for most of the men mentioned in this paragraph; there is an interesting portrait of Dolling as "Father Rowley" in Compton Mackenzie, The Altar Steps.
46 Ronald Knox, "Absalom and Abitofhell,"line 56 Essays in Satire [New York, 1930], 83.
47 Address to Anglo-Catholic Congress of 1923, quoted in H. Maynard Smith, Frank, Bishop of Zanzibar, (London, 1926), 302.
48 I owe this item to a Belgian illustrated paper sent to me at the time of the Cardinal's death by the late James J. Lyons, S.J., of Santa Clara, then a student at Louvain.
49 Reply of the Archbishops, Saepius officio, March 29, 1897, in Anglican Orders (English and Latin versions), (London, 1943), XI. Though issued in the names of Archbishops Frederick Temple and William Maclagan, the Reply was mainly drafted by John Wordsworth, Bishop of Salisbury, in consultation with the previous Archbishop of Canterbury, E. F. Benson (see E. W. Watson, Life of Bishop John Wordsworth (London, 1915) 326-33).
50 The Kingdom of Christ (London, 1843), Pt. II, chap. 2, iv, 341.
51 Reply of the Archbishops, XIX, with footnote quotation from Peter Damian, Dominus Vobiscum, viii; Pius X in Motu Proprio on church music.
52 Cf. Abbe Michonneau, Revolution in an Urhan Parish, Eng. tr. (Westminster, 1952); Joost de Blank, The Parish in Action (London, 1955); I venture to mention This Holy Fellowship, The Ancient Faith in the Modern Parish, Hardy and Pittenger, ed. (New York, 1939).
53 Among recent works cf. Priesthood, H. S. Box, ed., (London, 1937); L. Bouyer, Liturgical Piety, (South Bend, 1954); more conservatively E. G. Mascall, Corpus Christi (London, 1953); and the series of attractive books on the priesthood by Leo J. Trese, e.g. Vessel of Clay (New York, 1950).
54 John H. C. Wu, Beyond East and West (New York, 1951), 360.
55 Apophthegmata Patrum, Theophilus 5 (Patrologia Graeca LXV, col. 201).
56 C. Butler, The Life and Times of Bishop Ullathorne, II (London, 1926), 295.
57 H. M. Smith, Frank, Bishop of Zanzibar, 264, 317 (account of the funeral by an African deacon).
58 G. L. Prestige, The Life of Charles Gore (London, 1935), 532-33.