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Sunday 5 October 2014

Edward King, Ritualist Saint

Bishop Edward King, Lincoln
I am often given to wondering how some of my favourite Anglo-Catholic "saints" would respond to the call to unity in the Church today in light of the changes being mandated in faith and morals in many parts of the Anglican Communion and the offer of reception into full communion with the See of Peter represented by Anglicanorum Coetibus.

One of the luminaries who intrigued me in  my youth, along with missionary bishops like Frank Weston and Trevor Huddleston or scholars like Eric Mascall, Austin Farrer and Dom Gregory Dix was Bishop Edward King of Lincoln. 

A man of deep prayer, scholarship and devotion to the Church as the Body of Christ, Bishop King was a model pastor devoted to the care of his people.

It is almost beyond imagining that he was caught up in law suits for such Catholic practices as placing candles on the altar, facing "eastward" (that is, toward the altar) and mixing a little water with the wine in the chalice understood as a symbol of human nature being incorporated into the Divine Nature as we are united with Christ through the Sacrament. 

Remarkably it was objected that he used the Agnus Dei ("O Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us") as a hymn just before the receiving of Holy Communion.  

Finally, he was also charged with making the sign of the Cross when blessing the congregation. 

None of these practices is controversial today, but they were then thought by some to be signs of inclination to Catholicism.  King was tried by a Church Court presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury. His ritual practices were, of course, signs of a much deeper Catholic theology at work in the Anglican Communion of the time.

In our day these and many other Catholic practices are present in the worship of many Protestant churches but the Catholic doctrine and theology that they are meant to express is most often absent.
A statue of Bishop King in full pontificals which were rare in his day in the C of E.
Would Bishop King and others find his beliefs represented in the Ordinariate? Almost certainly he would. 

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