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Visionary Gleamings: the Ordinariate and the New Evangelization - Fr Aidan Nichols O. P.

posted Nov 15, 2012, 11:41 AM by Rochester Ordinariate   [ updated Nov 15, 2012, 11:47 AM ]
Fr. Aidan Nichols, O. P. has a characteristically brilliant piece published on the website of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Here is a portion focusing on T.S. Eliot:

I would like to invoke here the name of T. S. Eliot. Eliot has every right to be called an Anglo-Catholic luminary [see Barry Spurr, 'Anglo-Catholic in Religion.' T. S. Eliot and Christianity (Cambridge, 2011)], and undercutting modernity by ultra-modern means is exactly what Eliot was doing: not of course with the Internet but with his poetry. Here is what a writer in The Times Literary Supplement had to say prompted by the publication of Eliot's correspondence from the later 1920s. 'His sense of the inadequacy of Romantic attitudes to the self and of modern psychology to make sense of the world, and of how liberating an immersion in traditional and pre-individualistic cultures could be for him as both poet and confused individual, is at the root of all his art and thought. In the early years it led to a powerfully ironic and apocalyptic voice; now, he finds it leading towards a vision of a possible reinvention of pre Renaissance culture, one which is bound up with his recognition of the inadequacy of those attitudes in which he had been brought up and an embracing of Anglo-Catholicism' [Gabriel Josipovici, reviewing Valerie Eliot and John Haffenden (eds.), The Letters of T. S Eliot. III, 1926-1927 (Yale, 2012), in Times Literary Supplement 5718, 2 November, 2012, p. 4]. And what Eliot embraced for himself, he proposed by his poetry to others, using all the techniques of literary Modernism so as to displace modernity, the characteristically modern mind-set, and to replace it with the mind of the Great Church instead.

The Anglo-Catholicism Eliot embraced included certain features which the Ordinariate needs now to hold onto, and this not least because they will assist you in your own evangelizing vocation. The most obvious in our highly visual, post-Gutenberg, culture, is your liturgical sense - particularly insofar as it entails going to God along what Pope Benedict calls the via pulchritudinis, the 'way of beauty'. The Lineamenta for the recent Synod returns more than once to this question which, as its authors point out, is more than a matter of aesthetics. Liturgically, it has to do with the Paschal Mystery and the eschatological orientation of the Liturgy to the Kingdom, for these are inseparable from the glory of God (in the Cross and Resurrection) and the beauty of God (in the final vision of God). But more widely, outside the Liturgy too, the way of beauty is pertinent to all communion with God, the Super-essential Beauty. And that is not surprising because the Liturgy trains us in how to pray outside any specially sacred space, and how to have a Godward orientation in all things. The drafters of the Lineamenta find this a special emphasis of the Eastern Catholic Churches but that, I presume, is because the Ordinariates were not drawn to their attention. But you cannot easily follow the way of beauty in functionalist diocesan parish churches as erected from the 1940s onwards, which is why it is important, in due time, for you to find, perhaps with a more emollient Church of England establishment, another solution to your present shortage of suitable buildings.

Hat tip:  NLM