Sunday, 14 May 2017

Maiden, Mother and Queen, by Roger Greenacre

Roger Greenacre, edited by Colin Podmore, Maiden, Mother and Queen: Mary in the Anglican Tradition, 2013 Canterbury Press

This is an anthology of papers, sermons and addresses by the late Anglican theologian and clergyman, Roger Greenacre, plus a few extra bits. Roger Greenacre was an Anglo-Catholic who served as both a parish priest and chancellor of Chicester Cathedral, as well as maintaining a heavy involvement in promoting ecumenical relations between Anglicans and Roman Catholics.

The first part of this book provides a biography of Greenacre, as well as several tributes to his life. I found it a little frustrating reading these tributes as I knew nothing of the man prior to coming to the book. Perhaps I should have read the rest the book before returning to this first section. The second quarter of the book is a collection of sermons by Greenacre on the merits and glories of the Blessed Virgin Mary. These are very edifying. The next section is a collection of lectures and essays by Greeacre about the place of Mary in Anglican worship and devotion, which looks at the Caroline Divines, the Book of Common Prayer and the revival of Mariology in the Oxford Movement. I was aware of some of the Caroline Divines that Greenacre mentions on the subject of invocation of the saints from reading William Palmer's annotations on the Russian Orthodox catechism. There is some repetition of material between the material presented here, as might be expected in an anthology.

The final part of the book addresses the subject of the Mother of God in ecumenicism. I found myself frustrated by the way Greenacre quotes approvingly of theologians who caution against excess and exaggeration in Mariology. Being a Marian maximalist, I hold that if one is orthodox in doctrine, there can never ever be any excess or exaggeration in devotion to Mary. We venerate Mary because she is the mother of Christ. If our veneration of Mary is 'excessive,' its 'excess' is ultimately directed towards Christ. He also argues that the proclamation of Mary's Co-Redemptorship and Co-Mediation would be a disaster for ecumenical relations with Anglicans and other Protestants. I would suggest that ecumenical relations have become so poor that we would be past caring about so subtle a theological point.

This is for the most part a lovely book, showing the depth of devotion that can be found among some Anglicans. I do feel sad that a man such as Greenacre who was so Catholic in his Mariology and so close to Catholics on a personal level never made the step of joining the Catholic Church.

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