Thursday, March 27, 2008

Limbus Anglicanorum

Everyone should have their own heresy - most of the clergy do, after all.

Mine is devout belief in the Limbus Anglicanorum, that is, a special Limbo for Anglicans.

Now, all know that the gates of heaven were closed from the Fall until Christ's triumph over death, when He reopened the everlasting gates that had been shut fast those many ages.

From this, and from accounts in the Scriptures of Sheol or Hades or Tartarus, etc., it is known that the souls of the righteous dead, awaiting Christ to deliver them, were not in Hell itself - else they would have perforce been tormented with the damned - but were to be found instead as if on its edge (limbus), separate from their offended God, but unpunished save by the absence of His Majesty (though of course God is present everywhere by reason of His boundlessness, and is present in the hearts of the just by His grace; nonetheless earth is not heaven, because there one beholds God face to face in the Beatific Vision, which all those souls lacked who died before Christ). This zone, called in the Gospel "Abraham's Bosom" (after one of its foremost inhabitants) is therefore styled the Limbus Patrum, the "Limbo (border-region) of the Fathers".

However, once Christ rose victorious o'er the grave, having burst the bonds and shattered the gates of hell, He drew all ransomed souls forth and led them forthwith into heaven, at least by the day of His Ascension, when He rose above and beyond all the heavens, by reason of His Divine plenitude of power being able to locate His Body outside of all space and time, in the empyrean heaven wherein reigns the Trinity above and beyond all creatures*.

(*For - says Augustine - God is beyond all things, yet not above them; within all things, yet not contained by them; beneath all things, yet not below them; around all things, yet not outside them.)

This left the Limbus Patrum empty.

But Nature abhors a vaccuum, saith the Philosopher. Again, Entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity, avers William of Occam.

Hence God, in His all-seeing Providence, could not leave the Limbus Patrum empty, for that were a superfluous waste unbefitting Him.

It is clear, therefore, that this Limbo - distinct and separate from the Limbus Puerorum, the "Limbo of the Children" maintained for the unbaptized, as theologians have posited since Augustine, but yet sharing its property of being a place for the departed wherein is perfect natural happiness, but, alas, no Vision of nor communion with God - would not be suffered to remain empty, but would in due time be put back into use.

Hence, since "Outside the Church there is no salvation," and Anglicans are outside the Church, as all men know; and again, as the life of heaven is angelic, but these are not angels, but Anglicans (Non angeli, sed anglicani); and again, as the Anglican clergy customarily are "of the world, but not in it"; yet many among them have lived godly and pious lives in the esteem of mankind, as Thomas Ken, C.S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, Gregory Dix, and - some would add - their putative martyrs William Laud and Charles I, it would seem that these are spirits of a middle rank (Dryden, or Pope? I forget), neither fit for heaven nor worthy of hell, and so dropt down into a middle place: the Limbo of Anglicans.

Therein, the shade of C.S. Lewis takes tea with Ken and various other Non-Jurors (whose place in charity we assume is found with their sundered brethren), the soul of Lancelot Andrewes compares his pious meditations with those of Dorothy Sayers, and Gregory Dix works on the second edition of his magnum opus with William Laud, who had much practical experience in the pitfalls of being liturgical.

Comments, anyone?

No comments: