H. F. B. Mackay on love of God and love of neighbour
In 1928 Fr H. F. B. Mackay, one of the leaders of the Catholic Movement in the 1920s, published Saints and Leaders, which included pen-portraits of six ‘Men of the Catholic Movement’ – Lowder, Dolling, King, Stanton, Benson and Weston. Introducing his memoir of Bishop Edward King of Lincoln, he wrote as follows.
You want to be the Lord Christ’s messenger to your neighbour? Very well, to be that, your love must instinctively seize on and love what is lovable in your neighbour.
A truism, you say. If so, the most neglected of all truisms, because, as a matter of fact, the possession of a religious and ethical standard strongly tempts us to think that criticism and not love is our first duty towards those who differ from us.
Incomparably the most grievous sin of Christians is criticism and detraction of others. There is nothing at all which retards the spread of the knowledge and spirit of Christ as that does. If the natural desire of the minds of Anglo-Catholics was to find beautiful points of agreement with their friends, if they naturally shrank from dwelling on points of difference, if love to their neighbour was natural to them and disagreement with their neighbours, when a moral necessity, a matter which needed the help of supernatural grace, then the whole Anglo-Catholic Movement would be transformed because it would have put on Christ.
Think of our Lord. It was natural to Him to love all men and all things. Form, atmosphere, colour, scent, flowers and children, birds and beasts and fishes, He loved them all and saw in their beauty symbols of all spiritual beauty which He still discerned in those whom sin and disorder of mind and body had particularly wrecked.
Such was our Lord’s nature, and the same nature inspired His controversy and His condemnations. They were always His defence of love against that which would injure or destroy it.
Now, if the Anglo-Catholic Movement is a true movement of the Spirit of Christ, this will be its spirit, it will be eagerly sympathetic and loving towards those to whom it goes.
In the main our English people are believers in God the Father and in our Lord; they are baptized, they hold to the Bible, and they pray. “In all this,” said Edward King once, “there is matter for great thankfulness and hope.”
Here is our common ground; we must always begin by joyfully uniting ourselves with our neighbours in holding these precious truths. That is what is meant by “Anglo” in the double word Anglo-Catholic. “Anglo” stands for a recognition and love of what is truly Christian in our English religious tradition, that which makes the basis of an appeal for a wider and deeper Catholicism.
Of the six meant I am speaking about, three, Lowder, King and Benson, were disciples of Keble and Pusey, and were devout lovers of the English religious tradition. The other three, Dolling, Stanton and Weston, were disciples in some respects of Frederick Robertson, in others of Hurrell Froude, and were painfully sensitive to the defects in the English religious tradition. But they were all six passionate lovers of Him who has continued to maintain life in the English tradition, our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the sacred Scriptures which point to Him.
We want both these strains in the Anglo-Catholic Movement. At source they are one, and both are needed for the proclamation of the full truth.