The Five Articles of Unity and the Ordinariate
(1) That in the Sacrament of the Altar, by virtue of the words of Christ duly spoken by the priest, is present realiter, under the kinds of bread and wine, the natural Body of Christ, conceived of the Virgin Mary, and also his natural Blood.
(2) That after the consecration there remains not the substance of bread and wine, nor any other substance, but the substance of God and Man.
(3) That in the Mass is offered the true Body of Christ, and his true Blood, a propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead.
(4) That to Peter the Apostle, and his lawful successors in the Apostolic See, as Christ’s Vicars, is given the supreme power of feeding and ruling the Church of Christ Militant, and confirming their brethren.
(5) That the authority of handling and defining concerning the things belonging to faith, sacraments, and discipline ecclesiastical, hath hitherto ever belonged, and ought to belong, only to the pastors of the Church; whom the Holy Ghost for this purpose hath set in the Church; and not to laymen.
A beautifully sinewy piece of prose! And very much the property of the Ordinariate. These Articles date from the start of Elizabeth Tudor’s reign; it seems to me that they express the continuity which exists between the Canterbury Convocation of 1559 (which enacted these Articles), and the Ordinariate; the Gathering of those who, from within the Provinces of Canterbury and York, finally shook off the burden and impedimentum of the centuries of schism.
On Saturday 25 February 1559, as the House of Commons in Westminster completed its treatment of a combined Bill for the restoration of a Book of Common Prayer and of the Royal Supremacy, a little way down the river, in Old St Paul’s Cathedral, the Convocation of Canterbury (York could not meet because its bishops were in London for Parliament) met under the presidency of Bishop Bonner and passed these Articles. The first three were, with minor variations, the same articles that had been put together by Queen Mary’s first Convocation in 1553 as the basis of the Disputation being planned in Oxford between Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer, and some Catholic divines. The first two Articles related directly to the 1552 Book with, between its covers, the Black Rubric denying “anye reall and essencial presence … of Christ’s naturall fleshe and bloude”. As Parliament hurried towards the re-enactment of the 1552 rite, Convocation in the most specific terms (‘natural’; ‘natural’) renewed its condemnation of the eucharistic doctrine which the Black Rubric expressed.
And on the very day that the Commons finished their work on the Royal Supremacy, Convocation defined unambiguously in its fourth Article the Church of England’s commitment to the Primacy of St Peter. It is hard to think of a more pointed declaration on a more significant day. But the fifth Article is perhaps the most bold and fearless of all (the Universities, when they subscribed the first four Articles, were apparently too nervous to pass this one). The first four Articles, on Eucharist and Primacy, undoubtedly nailed some very dangerous colours to the mast but they were not, when they were passed, actually contrary to Statute law as it stood at that moment. But to deny the competence of the Crown in Parliament to order ecclesiastical matters ran contrary to all the assumptions of all the years since 1533 – assumptions as real in the Marian statutes restoring the Old Religion as they had been in the Henrician and Edwardine statutes varying or abolishing it.
Our forefathers showed their courage at the moment when the regime enacted schism; and courage won the day when Benedict XVI enacted the Ordinariate at the request of three Anglican bishops, two of whom bore the titles of the places of St Augustine’s landfalls in 597 after his journey from Rome.
25 February 1559 – 15 January 2011. What a long and wearisome separation.