Pope Paul VI to the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Michael Ramsey

"(B)y entering into our house, you are entering your own house, we are happy to open our door and heart to you." - Pope Paul VI to Dr Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What is Filipino Anglican Patrimony?

From Anglo Catholic blog posts I learned that the phrase "Anglican Patrimony" was coined by none other than Pope Paul VI in a message to the Archbishop of Canterbury. This implies that the Pope had a sense of what that patrimony is. Now that his successor Pope Benedict XVI has come out with Anglicanorum Coetibus, which uses the same phrase, Anglicans everywhere are now trying to find out what this is all about.

I asked Fr Joe Frary of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines what this was all about. He wrote me that Anglicanism is a system of many religions (many patrimonies) linked by the Establishment. Now this makes me wonder which "patrimony" will Rome let board the Pope's boat. It happened that I came upon a copy of William Fry's  "History of the Mountain Province" which has a whole chapter about Episcopal missions in the Cordilleras. The book has old pictures showing how the newly converted Bontocs worshiped in the Episcopal way. Perhaps the most interesting one was the first Episcopal service said in a newly consecrated chapel which eventually in the late 20th century, was raised to the dignity of a cathedral. The priest was vested in a Gothic chausuble and was apparently saying the words of consecration when the photo was taken. The people were on their knees. And the priest was ad orientem!

This is the only photo of Filipino Anglican Patrimony I ever found. There are photos of Staunton's St Mary's, and the first Episcopal confirmations of Filipinos.  Do these photos say much of Filipino Anglican patrimony? Perhaps our friends from the Episcopal Church can share their thoughts.


  1. I was in Sagada myself recently and worshipped at St. Mary the Virgin. Their early morning Masses tend to be celebrated ad orientem at St. Michael's Chapel.

    They have quite a number of vintage vestments (mostly stoles and maniples, including a few black ones) in their collection.

    The Prayer Book retains its pride of place in their patrimony. I reckon that the 1892 BCP will be the oldest one used in the Philippines (unless one counts what the British chaplains here used in 1762-64, which would be the 1662).

  2. Thank you. I am of the opinion that Filipino Anglicanism was Anglo-Catholic. In 1988, I recall the Mass at SMV was ad orientem and if I am not wrong the 1928 BCP was used.

    It is good to learn that the Prayer Book retains its pride of place there. I wonder if we can still call it the "Sagada Rite"?

  3. As of my visit, it was Rite II of 1979 or the provisional Order of the Holy Mass that enjoys use therein.

    The order of the Holy Mass is the same as used in the NC of SS Mary and John in QC, with occasional liturgies (such as the Order for Burial, Rite II) still based on the 1979.

    The altar that you saw in 1988 (complete with the reredos and other appointments) has been radically replaced with newer appointments, and the configuration permits celebration in both directions. Only St. Michael's Chapel retains its post-WWII ad orientem arrangement.

    Staunton, it must be remembered, was of a churchmanship that may have put him at odds with the more Protestant faction of the old Protestant Episcopal Church (which it was at the time of SMV's founding). Nevertheless, I did not witness any other distinctives that raised the bar. Candles were lit on the side altars to the Virgin Mary and Our Lord Jesus Christ, but Mass was not celebrated there for the vigil of All Souls. The Angelus bells still ring at the appointed hours, and the collect of the Annunciation is still intoned, although the Daily Office seems to have been sidelined. Oddly enough, All Saints' Day only filled the chapel, but All Souls' Day's Mass was said in the main church.

    In all, I might use the term "Sagada Use."

  4. Yes I have heard that the old Staunton altar was "renovated". Thus this Episcopal church has followed the unfortunate lead of historic Roman churches in the Philippines. The Anglican Use group is thinking of going up to Sagada in December. And as an Episcopal priest told me, the BCP offices are rarely said nowadays except in St Andrews.

    It is just ironic to note that in the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines today, the High Church Catholics are at odds with the Low Church Catholics in churchmanship. The Anglican Use group has to patiently explain to our host parish what tradition is all about.

    In the words of Diarmid MacCulloch "The Anglicans saved much if not all of what Vatican II threw out!"

  5. As a mainliner myself, I am very much in favour of keeping the more esteemed and time-hallowed features that characterized the best of Anglican practice (or Protestant in the richest sense of the term; Swedish Lutherans are probably higher in churchmanship) that have since become part of said patrimony. Surprisingly, most Protestant churches that can claim a lineage from Cranmer have preserved Anglican hymnody well. One such hymn is the oft-oversung "Amazing Grace," penned by John Newton, then rector at Olney. Despite some identification with the tent revival, he remained steadfast to his identity as an Anglican and remained in the Church of England, and was familiar with the work of the brothers Wesley (although one is not aware of the extent of their influence upon him). It is this fragment of Anglican Patrimony that has been claimed as belonging now to many, and its roots have been somewhat ignored or retold in a less accurate account to the point that people sing it in a context that actually opposes the said hymn's Church of Origin.

    As for the BCP, both the Wesleys and CS Lewis have lauded its virtues and sung its praises. All three worshipped with it (at least the 1662 edition). Another Church that has benefited from the BCP is the IFI, whose current liturgy was based upon it and for good reason: Ellsworth Chandlee, an Anglican, was on the committee that developed the current liturgy. Their use of the Collect for Purity and the Prayer for Humble Access in their regular rites show that they have inherited something from Anglicanism.

  6. Oh how we wished the Novus Ordo had inherited something from Anglicanism! But it is never too late. In God's grace that is about to happen. :-)


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