Shunning Controversy: The Greatness of Humility

Hood-doff to Christopher Mahon for posting the information below on John Keble’s _The Christian Year_, with an excerpt from his “Feast of the Annunciation” on this 25th of March.

Keble had been raised in the Church of England’s High Church wing as it had been understood before the Oxford Movement.  So, his Catholic perspective did not come from nowhere and was, in some respects, but a development of what he and other Anglicans already knew, which no doubt helps account for the popularity of his _The Christian Year_.

Oakeley’s description of the manner—indeed, the frame of mind—in which Keble acted is a helpful reminder.  Newman regarded Keble as being the one who truly launched the Oxford Movement.  But if I remember correctly from a biography of Keble I read many years ago, Keble had no interest in, or love of, controversy, which is a reflection of the same spirit our Lady exemplifies again and again.  Perhaps it was precisely because Keble—one of the guiding lights of the Oxford Movement—was interested in first principles and ideals rather than in stirring up controversy and making a name for himself that the Oxford Movement had an impact so far beyond what Keble or Newman or Pusey or Froude or any of the others expected

In this paradox of accomplishing great things while intending to do nothing other than faithfully and quietly living out one’s vocation, both our Lady and Keble are, it seems to me, exemplars for the Ordinariates.

Brother John-Bede Pauley, O.S.B.

Christopher Mahon’s post:

“Anglican luminary John Keble, of Oxford Movement fame (& featured in the Ordinariate‘s Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham), lauded Our Lady on Lady Day in his Christian Year: ‘Feast of the Annunciation’ : ‘Ave Maria, thou whose name / All but adoring love may claim.’

The author of Historical Notes on the Tractarian Movement (1865), Frederick Oakeley, who dedicated the work to JHN, wrote about this that ‘Among the facts which heralded in the Tractarian movement, and helped… towards its real success, was the publication of Mr Keble’s Christian Year, and its almost unexampled popularity. I am afraid to say how many large editions this work went through in a comparatively short time. It was in everyone’s hands—admired by literary men for its poetical beauty, and loved by religious minds for its calm and deep spirit of devotion. Appearing at a time when controversy was not suspected, it was the occasion of circulating—and that, too, in the form of all others the most attractive and the most valuable—sentiments which, if ever they had a place in the High Church schools of divinity, had, at all events, been long in abeyance. Not only was it free, to an extent at that time remarkable, from anti-Catholic phraseology, but it dared to plead, in terms than which even a Catholic could use no stronger, for the love of which our Blessed Lady should be the object.’”

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