Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 51 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Musing on the Feast of James Otis Sargent Huntington

Today we once again celebrated the Feast of Fr. Huntington, the founder of the Anglican Religious Order of The Holy Cross. At one time this order was a POWERHOUSE in the Anglo-catholic movement. My old parish in Rosemont, PA, had Fr. Huntington in their stained-glass windows, and older parishioners mused about the days when the were always an OHC priest at the parish for retreats and quiet days, and at the old Valley Forge Conference (the precuror to the St. Michael's Conference for Youth).

Alas, the Order is not what it once was - a bastion of solid Anglican Catholic theology and priests living the unique rule of Fr. Huntington - making and impact on the Church at large- with parishes, schools, etc.

I recently read on their website in a sermon for the founder's day that their average age is 70, and another blog entry back in October talks about the changes in leadership which is a lot of changes for a community with 10 monks. I have seen pictures from youth conferences in the 1950's and 1960's with 10 monks there! I wonder how many were in the order then! They abandoned in 1984 Fr. Huntington's rule of life for a generic benedictine rule (benectine rule is great for benedictines, but it was never their charism) which focuses them on life in the monastery rather than outwards to the parishes (which fosters vocations as well).

Whereas their retreat topics (I several books and pamphlets from the Order from "back in the day") dealt with issues like The Holy Eucharist, the Real Presence, making one's confession (our brochure "Why I make my confession and why you should too" is written by an old OHC brother), I read on their current website that they are hosting retreats with leaders like this,

Waiting for Christ in the Womb of Mary
Embody the spirit of Advent: opening to the indwelling of Emmanuel and waiting for the incarnation of God's love. Enter the mystery, power, and rhythm of your body through yoga, chant, and mindful walking. "XXXXX XXXXX, teaching yoga since 1989 and Iyengar certified, teaches at Unity Woods Yoga Center and in the Sacred Circles program at the Washington National Cathedral."

Hardly Catholic Anglicanism as Fr. Huntington would have recognized.

I wonder what an order like this, or perhaps the Society of St. John the Evangelist who also has abandoned their founder's rule and the Catholic Anglican theology of the Church, would be like if it were to be converted to the fullness of the faith, and restored their particular charism. Would God bless them with new vocations?

In the Roman Church, groups that have returned to the original rules of their Orders that were abandoned after Vatican II have shown a marvelous increase in vocations while the 'post-council 1970's rule of life' orders grow grayer and monasteries emptier.
For example, Fr. Benedict Groeschel's newer order that seeks to restore the Capuchin Franciscan Rule of Life. He started with 8 people in the late 1980's, and pictured here are a group of the brothers in 2008 http://www.franciscanfriars.com/vocations/index2.htm
I doubt there are this many Capuchins left in any of the provinces of the 'regular' order.
May God grant a similar renewal and reclaiming of the Rule of the founders of the great Anglican Orders, and men with hearts to serve according to biblical standards to answer the call to participate.