As an Anglican formed in the Catholic Faith and Tradition of the Church, I have always struggled to define who I am in theology. In working on my research paper on the sacramentology of Charles Fuge Lowder, an early Ritualist Slum Priest and founder of the SSC, I have found that I am truly a child of the Evangelical movement of Charles and John Wesley and the Oxford/Tractarian movement of JH Newman, EB Pusey, and J Keble. To best describe myself, I am an evangelical Catholic formed in the Anglican patrimony. I am a weird love child of John Wesley and John Henry Newman. I hold that the Word is needed to be heard and exposited, but not to the exclusion of high ceremonial and ritual in the worship of God Almighty. You can (and should) have smells, bells, icons, and vestments AND have a homily that is thought through and expresses the Gospel.
I have found that in studying Lowder, he was very similar minded. All he did from preaching to local missions to a ceremonial and ritualistic Mass was for the salvation of the souls of men and the pursuit of the right worship of God. His high view of the Church and Her Sacraments led him to a high view of the Preached Word and a high view of mission & evangelism. It also led a high view of God’s preferential option for the poor. Lowder, in the footsteps of S. Vincent de Paul, showed that a eucharistic life is only possible when it’s filled with Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy.
So shake off those hymnbooks and sing the ancient hymns and the hymns of Wesley. Preach your socks off, priests and deacons! Study and live out your homilies. But also, don’t be afraid to use incense or to ring some bells or to wear some vestments. To have the beauty of the Church displayed to the world. Ritual done for ritual’s sake is not good, same as a sermon preached just to have a long sermon. What we need to do is think upon what it means to preach eucharistically and to offer the eucharistic evangelically so that the Gospel is proclaimed in all that we do!