31 December 2011

Our Most Holy Mother Mary

Since the time our Lord Jesus walked this earth as the God-Man, there have been, over the centuries, numerous titles which have arisen to give honor to his most holy Mother. From the early centuries of the Church, she was known as Theotokos, or God-bearer, and as time passed, the Blessed Virgin Mary was honored with many other titles. Some of these titles are more widely known than others, but all convey a distinct attribute of Mary as a person who has found favor with God. Some titles describe her state of life, such as Our Lady of Grace. Others denote a location where she may have spoken spiritually to an individual, such as Our Lady of Walsingham. In some of her titles, she is associated with the redeeming work of her Son, and there are many such examples of this. But perhaps no other title in the world better describes the fullness of Mary's relationship with her Son as does the title of Our Lady of the Atonement.

The title embraces two mysteries of our faith: first, the atonement -- the wonderful at-one-ment which was achieved by our Lord Jesus Christ as He shed His Most Precious Blood upon the Cross at Calvary, through which came the reconciliation of man with God, and of man with man, making us "at one" in His Sacred Heart; and second, the role which Our Lady has in the atonement wrought by God -- her coöperation with the Divine Will at the annunciation, and her participation in her Son's sufferings and death as she stood at the foot of the Cross. These words which Simeon spoke to her came to pass: "Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." The crowning act of Redeeming Love -- the Atonement upon the Cross of Jesus Christ -- is for all of us the means whereby mankind finds salvation. Here Jesus gave us the greatest gift: His precious life. Here he gave us His Blessed Mother. Here Mary stood, and here we stand next to her, at the foot of the Cross. We are children of The Atonement and the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother, is Our Lady who bears witness to Christ's Atonement.

30 December 2011

Mary, Mother of God - Mass Schedule


Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

Saturday, December 31st
Vigil Mass at 6:30 p.m.

Sunday, January 1st
Masses at 7:30 a.m., 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.

There will not be a 6:00 p.m. Mass on Sunday evening.

29 December 2011

The Holy Family


Our Lord Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, who was espoused to St. Joseph.  Because Jesus was part of a family, this provides a singular blessing for each one of our families, because now we have the Holy Family as a model and an inspiration. Of course, the celebration of the Holy Family is much more than just a kind of "patronal feast" for families. It really provides a picture of the Church itself, which is the true Family founded by Christ. The Holy Catholic Church is that family in which St. Joseph is the paternal Guardian, the Blessed Virgin is the maternal Heart, and Jesus is mystically present as the Divine Son. It is the Church which is our true and abiding Family, and our own earthly families can be strengthened by imitating and being consecrated to Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Almighty God, grant us so to live as the Holy Family, united in respect and love, that we might come to the joy and peace of thine eternal home; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end.  Amen.

Becket: The Film

Here's the complete "Becket," surely one of the greatest films made -- or, perhaps it's great because of the saint it portrays.





























St. Thomas of Canterbury


"To look upon he was slim of growth and pale of hue, with dark hair, a long nose, and a straightly featured face. Blithe of countenance was he, winning and loveable in his conversation, frank of speech in his discourses, but slightly stuttering in his talk, so keen of discernment and understanding that he could always make difficult questions plain after a wise manner."
- from the Icelandic Saga

That’s the description of St. Thomas of Canterbury. A man who had astonishing worldly power, he valued only the power of Christ. A man who had the friendship of royalty, he desired only the friendship of the Divine King. He wore honour as a hair-shirt, and bore truth as a cloak around him. The Church was the mother he loved, and he died defending her maternal dignity.

When the sword was about to fall, he bent his head in prayer, commending himself and the holy dignity of the Church to God's keeping, and to the intercession of Blessed Mary and the martyr St. Denis. After the second and third blow, he spoke softly, "For the Name of Jesus and the protection of the Church I am ready to embrace death."

This was a bishop after Christ's own heart. As the labourer in the field sweats under the noonday sun, so did the blood pour down the body of this holy labourer for God's own people, until it pooled on the cold stone floor of God's own house. And in the silence of death his blood cried out. It cried out for the king's repentance; it cried out for the Church to stand firm upon her foundation; it cried out for the faithful to come -- and come they did, the pilgrims coming in such multitudes as had rarely been seen. They came to pray with Thomas, the bishop after Christ's own heart, the man blithe of countenance and frank of speech. And Thomas still prays. He prays for the return of his countrymen to the faith for which he died. He prays for clergy to use the courage imparted to them when they were anointed. He prays for all of us, that we may live – and die – "for the Name of Jesus."

28 December 2011

"Seeds of the Ordinariate"


A series of articles called "Seeds of the Ordinariate" has commenced on the super-site, Catholic.org.  In the first article, our parish is featured.  If you'd like to read it, go here.

26 December 2011

Our Deacons...


On this Feast of St. Stephen,
pray for our Deacons,
Michael D'Agostino and James Orr.

ALMIGHTY God, who by thy Divine Providence hast appointed divers Orders of Ministers in thy Church, and didst inspire thine Apostles to choose into the Order of Deacons the first Martyr Saint Stephen, with others; Mercifully behold thy servants; replenish them so with the truth of thy Doctrine, and adorn them with innocency of life, that, both by word and good example, they may faithfully serve thee, to the glory of thy name, and the edification of thy Church; through the merits of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and for ever. Amen.

24 December 2011

The Solemn Proclamation of Christmas


The twenty-fifth day of December.
In the year five-thousand one-hundred and ninety-nine from the creation of the world, when in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth;
In the year two-thousand nine-hundred and fifty-seven from the flood;
In the year two-thousand and fifty-one from the birth of Abraham;
In the year one-thousand five-hundred and ten from the going forth of the people of Israel out of Egypt under Moses;
In the year one-thousand and thirty-two from the anointing of David as king;
In the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel;
In the one-hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;
In the year seven-hundred and fifty-two from the foundation of the city of Rome;
In the forty-second year of the reign of the Emperor Octavian Augustus;
In the sixth age of the world, while the whole earth was at peace —
JESUS CHRIST,
Eternal God and the Son of the eternal Father, willing to consecrate the world by His gracious coming, having been conceived of the Holy Ghost, and the nine months of His conception being now accomplished, was born in Bethlehem of Judah of the Virgin Mary, made man.

The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to the flesh.

St. Francis and the crèche

Chapel of the Crib at Greccio

It was in a grotto at Greccio, on Christmas Eve in 1223, that St. Francis created a crèche depicting the birth of our Savior. It was a simple affair, but as word spread throughout the area the people began to arrive with torches and candles. There they heard the Poor Man of Assisi read the Gospel telling of Christ's birth in Bethlehem, and he preached about Jesus taking poverty upon Himself, so that we might become rich in our love for God.

Since that time, the scene has been recreated in our homes and in our churches, in places public and private, allowing us to "go to Bethlehem, to see this great thing which has come to pass..."

This is the contemporary account written by St. Thomas of Celano, a follower of St. Francis:

Francis’ highest intention, his chief desire, his uppermost purpose was to observe the holy Gospel in all things and through all things and, with perfect vigilance, with all zeal, with all the longing of his mind and all the fervor of his heart, "to follow the teaching and the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ." He would recall Christ’s word through persistent meditation and bring to mind his deeds through the most penetrating consideration. The humility of the incarnation and the charity of the passion occupied his memory particularly, to the extent that he wanted to think of hardly anything else.

What he did on the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ near the little town called Greccio in the third year before his glorious death should especially be noted and recalled with reverent memory. In that place there was a certain man by the name of John, of good reputation and an even better life, whom blessed Francis loved with a special love, for in the place where he lived he held a noble and honorable position in as much as he had trampled upon the nobility of his birth and pursued nobility of soul.

Blessed Francis sent for this man, as he often did, about fifteen days before the birth of the Lord, and he said to him: "If you want us to celebrate the present fast of our Lord at Greccio, go with haste and diligently prepare what I tell you. For I wish to do something that will recall to memory the little Child who was born in Bethlehem and set before our bodily eyes in some way the inconveniences of his infant needs, how he lay in a manger, how, with an ox and an ass standing by, he lay upon the hay where he had been placed.” When the good and faithful man heard these things, he ran with haste and prepared in that place all the things the saint had told him.

But the day of joy drew near, the time of great rejoicing came. The brothers were called from their various places. Men and women of that neighborhood prepared with glad hearts, according to their means, candles and torches to light up that night that has lighted up all the days and years with its gleaming star. At length the saint of God came, and finding all things prepared, he saw it and was glad. the manger was prepared, the hay had been brought, the ox and ass were led in. There simplicity was honored, poverty was exalted, humility was commended, and Greccio was made, as it were, a new Bethlehem. The night was lighted up like the day, and it delighted men and beasts. The people came and were filled with new joy over the new mystery. The woods rang with the voices of the crowd and the rocks made answer to their jubilation. The brothers sang, paying their debt of praise to the Lord, and the whole night resounded with their rejoicing. The saint of God stood before the manger, uttering sighs, overcome with love, and filled with a wonderful happiness. The solemnities of the Mass were celebrated over the manger and the priest experienced a new consolation.

The saint of God was clothed with the vestments of the deacon, for he was a deacon, and he sang the holy Gospel in a sonorous voice. And his voice was a strong voice, a sweet voice, a clear voice, a sonorous voice, inviting all to the highest rewards. Then he preached to the people standing about, and he spoke charming words concerning the nativity of the poor king and the little town of Bethlehem. Frequently too, when he wished to call Christ Jesus, he would call him simply the Child of Bethlehem, aglow with overflowing love for him; and speaking the word Bethlehem, his voice was more like the bleating of a sheep. His mouth was filled more with sweet affection than with words. Besides, when he spoke the name Child of Bethlehem or Jesus, his tongue licked his lips, as it were, relishing and savoring with pleased palate the sweetness of the word. The gifts of the Almighty were multiplied there, and a wonderful vision was seen by a certain virtuous man. For he saw a little child lying in the manger lifeless, and he saw the holy man of God go up to it and rouse the child as from a deep sleep. This vision was not unfitting, for the Child Jesus had been forgotten in the hearts of many; but, by the working of his grace, he was brought to life again through his servant St. Francis and stamped upon their fervent memory. At length the solemn night celebration was brought to a close, and each one returned to his home with holy joy.

The hay that had been placed in the manger was kept, so that the Lord might save the beasts of burden and other animals through it as he multiplied his holy mercy. And in truth it so happened that many animals throughout the surrounding region that had various illnesses were freed from their illnesses after eating of this hay. Indeed, even women laboring for a long time in a difficult birth, were delivered safely when some of this hay was placed upon them; and a large number of persons of both sexes of that place, suffering from various illnesses, obtained the health they sought. later, the place on which the manger had stood was made sacred by a temple of the Lord, and an altar was built in honour of the most blessed father Francis over the manger and a church was built, so that where once the animals had eaten the hay, there in the future men would eat unto health of soul and body the flesh of the Lamb without blemish and without spot, our Lord Jesus Christ, who in highest and ineffable love gave himself to us, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, God, eternally glorious, forever and ever. Amen. Alleluia, Alleluia.
The most important section of the sanctuary at Greccio is the Chapel of the Crib, which was built in the present form in 1228. A rock under the altar indicates the place where Francis arranged the manger. The cave wall is surrounded by a fresco from the school of Giotto. It shows Francis wearing the dalmatic of a deacon and taking into his arms the infant Jesus.

23 December 2011

Take comfort...


When some sorrow seems to overwhelm, when a bitter word cuts deep, when a loved-one disappoints, when one is tempted to think that God has forgotten...


...remember that even the most beautiful flower grows out of dirt.

Christmas Schedule


CHRISTMAS EVE

Sung Mass at 5:00 p.m.

Presentation of Christmas Music at 11:00 p.m.

Solemn Proclamation of Christmas and
Procession to the Creche, followed by
Solemn High Mass at 11:30 p.m.


CHRISTMAS DAY

Low Mass at 7:30 a.m.
Sung Mass at 9:00 a.m.

22 December 2011

One more step forward...


The appointment of an Ordinary for the U.S. Ordinariate is welcome news indeed, even if this story has broken somewhat prematurely.  You can read about it here.

Fr Jeffrey Steenson is a priest already known and respected by many of the Catholic bishops, and having him in this position will help to give credibility to this newest jurisdiction in the Church in this country.

My own acquaintance with Fr Steenson goes back several years, and the many impressive gifts he brings to this position bodes well for the future of the Ordinariate.

May God bless you, Fr Steenson, and all those who will be entering the Ordinariate!

20 December 2011

In the fullness of time...

O precious Lord, once born for us
in stable small and poor;
be born again within our hearts,
and there let us adore.
-
As once our Saviour thou didst come,
both Man and God divine,
so now thou givest Flesh and Blood
'neath forms of bread and wine.
-
Sweet Fruit of Virgin Mary's womb,
once hid from earthly sight,
may we thy children fruitful be,
and show the world thy Light.
-
Now stay with us, Lord Jesus Christ,
in solemn Mystery,
that when our work on earth be done
thy glory we may see.
-
Tune: "St. Botolph" by Gordon Slater (1896-1979)
Text: Fr. Christopher G. Phillips, 1992

17 December 2011

Late Advent

With the start of Late Advent we begin the great “O Antiphons,” which lead up to the Vigil of the Nativity. Each antiphon highlights a title for the Messiah: O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Rising Sun), O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel, and they are taken from the prophecy of Isaiah concerning the coming of the Messiah.

The order of the antiphons isn't accidental. If we work backwards, beginning with the last title and take the first letter of each antiphon -- Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia -- the Latin words ero cras are formed, meaning, “Tomorrow, I will come.” The Lord Jesus, whose coming we have prepared for in Advent and to whom we refer in these seven Messianic titles, tells us: “Tomorrow, I will come.”

16 December 2011

Nine Lessons and Carols


The Church of Our Lady of the Atonement

Invites you to attend

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols
for Advent and Christmas

Presented by the
Parish Festival Choir
St. Cecilia Youth Choir
St. Nicholas Children’s Choir

Featuring works by
Berlioz, Howells, Rutter,
Willcocks and others

Sunday, December 18, 2011
4 o’clock in the afternoon

A reception will follow in the Blessed John Paul II Library

A free-will offering will be received to support
the parish Music Series

The Crusader Bulletin


Go to this link to read the latest Crusader Bulletin, the newsletter from The Atonement Academy.  You'll find information about upcoming events, honors earned by our students, reports on various activities, and lots of pictures.

15 December 2011

"More than a prophet..."


"When the messengers of John had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, those who are gorgeously appareled and live in luxury are in kings' courts. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, `Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who shall prepare your way before you.' I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."
- St. Luke 7:24-28

10 December 2011

A pretty amazing project

Elizabeth Surovic, one of our parish girls and a Junior at The Atonement Academy, completed this project for her Gold Award in Girl Scouts.  It's a 24-foot altar used at the Investiture Mass for the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, which took place recently in San Antonio.  Have a look, and be amazed!

09 December 2011

St. Juan Diego


Although we don’t know very much about the life of Juan Diego before his conversion, we know that he was born in the year 1474 in part of what is today Mexico City. The Catholic faith was brought to Mexico in 1519 when Cortez landed on the coast of Mexico, and there were Catholic priests with him. Juan Diego was among the first of those the hear the Gospel, and in 1524, when he was 50 years old, Juan Diego was baptized by a Franciscan priest, Fr. Peter da Gand.

Juan Diego took his faith very seriously and attended Mass on a daily basis. He had a fifteen mile walk to Mass every morning, and on December 9, 1531, when Juan Diego was on his way to morning Mass, the Blessed Mother appeared to him on Tepeyac Hill, the outskirts of what is now Mexico City. She asked him to go to the Bishop and to request that the bishop build a shrine be built at Tepeyac, where she promised to pour out her grace upon those who asked for her prayers. The Bishop at first didn’t believe Juan Diego, and he asked for some sign to prove that the apparition was true. On December 12, Juan Diego returned to Tepeyac. The Blessed Mother told him to climb the hill and to pick the flowers that he would find in bloom. He obeyed, and even though it was winter time, he found roses blooming. He gathered the flowers and took them to Our Lady who carefully placed them in his mantle and told him to take them to the Bishop as "proof". When he opened his mantle, the flowers fell on the ground and there remained impressed, in place of the flowers, an image of the Blessed Mother, the apparition at Tepeyac.

With the Bishop's permission, Juan Diego lived the rest of his life as a hermit in a small hut near the chapel where the miraculous image was placed for veneration. Here he cared for the church and the first pilgrims who came to ask for Mary’s intercession.


O God, who didst endow thy servant St. Juan Diego with clarity of faith and holiness of life: Grant us, we beseech thee, to keep with steadfast minds the faith which he taught, and in his fellowship to be made partakers of eternal glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

07 December 2011

The Immaculate Conception

Archbishop Fulton Sheen famously said, “There are not over a hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions, however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church…” He was referring, of course, not just to the institution, but to what the Catholic Church teaches.

As Anglicans prepare to enter into full communion by way of Anglicanorum coetibus, many have been studying the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and so have been immersed in the richness of our faith. Others, however, are considering a rejection of Anglicanorum coetibus because they disagree with the Church’s teaching about one thing or another. Of course, people are always free to accept or reject – no one will ever be forced into communion with the Holy See. But it’s essential, I believe, that in making such a decision – which can have eternal consequences – people need to have an understanding of the actual doctrinal teaching of the Catholic Church.

Where to begin? Perhaps with the Marian dogma of the Immaculate Conception. This doctrine seems to be a red flag to some people. I’ve heard the assertion that it represents “an unhealthy emphasis upon the maiden from Nazareth,” and that it’s a “Romish addition to the Faith.” Let’s have a look at it. This won’t be an exhaustive study, but it may help bring some clarity to the place of the Blessed Virgin Mary in God’s plan for our salvation.

First, it probably doesn’t need to be stated (but I will anyway!) what the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is not. It doesn’t refer to the conception of Christ in the womb of Mary, nor does it mean that Mary was somehow miraculously conceived. Mary was conceived in the normal way as the natural fruit of the marriage of Ss. Joachim and Anne, but at the moment of her conception she was preserved from original sin and its stain. As we know, the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve, became their bitter legacy to us. Original sin deprives us of sanctifying grace, and the stain of original sin corrupts our human nature. By God’s grace, given at the moment of Mary’s conception, she was preserved from these defects, and so from the first instant of her existence Mary had the fullness of sanctifying grace, and was unburdened by the corrupt nature caused by original sin. In this way, Mary becomes a “second Eve,” conceived in the same state of original purity as God intended for mankind.

Why would God do this? We state the reason every time we say the Creed. When we profess that Jesus Christ “was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary,” we’re proclaiming that God took human flesh upon Himself. And from whom did He take that flesh? From Mary. So the question must be asked: would God – who can have no part in sin – take upon Himself that which was fallen, stained and corrupt? The answer is apparent: of course He wouldn't. So, as we can see already, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception has as much to do with our Lord Jesus Christ and His Incarnation, as it does with the Blessed Virgin Mary. In fact, as we explore the various Marian dogmas, we see this consistently. What God does in and through Mary finds its ultimate purpose in Jesus Christ.

We can find a strong implicit reference to the Immaculate Conception in St. Luke 1:28. In the original Greek text, when the archangel Gabriel is addressing the young Virgin Mary, the word used is kecharitomene, which expresses a characteristic quality of Mary; namely, that she is “full of grace.” In some translations of scripture, Gabriel’s words are given as “highly favored one,” but that translation doesn’t capture the best and fullest meaning. Kecharitomene is a perfect passive participle of charitoo, meaning “to fill or endow with grace,” and since the Greek has it in the perfect tense, it indicates that Mary was filled with grace in the past, and the effect of it continues into the present. If we accept St. Luke’s record of the archangel’s words as being accurate, it’s apparent that the grace received by Mary didn’t come about through Gabriel’s visit; rather, she was always filled with grace.

What about the words Mary spoke in her Magnificat, when she says, “my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…”? If she wasn’t a sinner, why would she need a Savior? Remember, Mary was a human being, a descendant of Adam and Eve. When she was conceived, she was certainly subject to the contracting of original sin, like all of us. But she was preserved from it – and how so? By grace. Mary was redeemed by the grace of Christ, but in a special way; that is, by anticipation. There’s a helpful analogy which has been used by the Church to illustrate this: a man falls into a deep pit, and somebody reaches down and pulls him out. It would be true to say that the man was “saved” from the pit. A woman is walking by that same pit, and she’s about to fall in, but at that very moment someone reaches out and pulls her back from the edge. She also has been “saved” from the pit. And in fact, she didn’t even get dirty like the poor man did, who actually fell in. God, who is outside of time, applied Christ’s saving grace to Mary before she was stained by original sin, rather like the woman in the story who didn’t get dirty because she was prevented from falling into the pit. So yes, Mary had a Savior, and He is none other than Christ, her Son and her Lord.

Then we’ve got Romans 3:23, where St. Paul says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” Did St. Paul mean this statement to be understood in an all-inclusive, no-one-excluded way? Well, let’s consider. First of all, we have to exclude Jesus Himself. Even though He was fully man, we know He didn’t sin. And what about a new-born baby? If sin is the deliberate disobedience to God’s law, could we say that a little baby has committed sin? I don’t think so. Although St. Paul was certainly stating the truth about mankind, his purpose in writing this section of Romans wasn’t to discuss the possibility of exceptions; rather he was constructing an important argument about law and grace, justification and redemption. If anybody wants to apply Romans 3:23 to Mary, then they’d have to apply it to babies and young children, too.

Sometimes people object to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception using this argument: if we’re saying Mary was without sin, then we’re making her equal to God, because only God is without sin. However, we need to remember that in the beginning, Adam and Eve were created without sin, but they weren’t equal to God. The angels were created without sin, and in fact, from Scripture we know that only some of the angels sinned – Lucifer and his friends – but that means a lot of angels never sinned. And they certainly are not equal to God.

Tragically, after the fall of our first parents, sin became commonplace and even expected. In fact, think about how often someone will say, after doing something wrong, “Well, I’m only human,” as though sin is perfectly natural, and somehow even defines humanity. Actually, sin is unnatural. We weren’t created to sin; we were created to know God, and to love Him, and to spend eternity with Him in heaven. In Mary, because of the Immaculate Conception, we see a human being as God intends us to be. What was maimed by the first Adam and Eve, is restored by the Second Adam and the Second Eve.

So what about the Immaculate Conception? It’s logical, it’s scriptural, and it’s part of God’s loving act of redemption.

(I wrote this last year, and it was first published on The Anglo-Catholic.)

"Ambrose for bishop!"


St. Ambrose was born around 339 in what is now France, the son of the Roman prefect of Gaul. Following his father's footsteps, Ambrose embarked upon a career in law and politics and by 370 AD, he had become the Imperial governor of Northern Italy, where the main city was Milan. In about 374 the bishop of Milan died. At this same time, the Arian heresy that argued against the divinity of Christ threatened to destroy the Church. The bishop, who wasn’t a very good one, had supported the Arians. So now, the question was, who would take his place - an Arian or a Catholic? Both sides met in the cathedral and a riot broke out.

Public order was Ambrose's responsibility as governor so he hurried to the church and made a passionate speech not in favor of either side, but in favor of peace. He begged the people to make their choice without fighting, using restraint and moderation.

Suddenly, while he was speaking, what sounded like a child’s voice called out, "Ambrose for bishop!" Soon everyone was shouting, "Ambrose for bishop!" The neighboring bishops and the Emperor convinced him to accept this call as the will of God, and so the catechumen Ambrose was baptized and ordained first deacon, then priest, then bishop, all in a single week!

This politician, now suddenly a bishop, was very much aware of his lack of preparation for this great responsibility and so set himself immediately to prayer and the study of Scripture. His deep spirituality and love of God's Word, put together with the speaking skill he had acquired in law and politics, made St. Ambrose one of the greatest preachers of the early church.

St. Ambrose proved to be a fierce opponent of heresy. He battled to preserve the independence of the Church from the state and courageously excommunicated the powerful Catholic Emperor Theodosius I, who had massacred a group of innocent people in Thessalonica. St. Ambrose also had a significant impact on sacred music through the composition of hymns and psalm tones that are known to this day as Ambrosian chant. Besides many sermons and treatises on the spiritual life, Saint Ambrose is responsible for two of the first great theological works written in Latin, De Sacramentis on the Sacraments and De Spiritu Sancto on the Holy Spirit.

Around 385, a young man who was a teacher of rhetoric named Augustine came to hear Saint Ambrose preach in order to study his speaking technique, and in the process, was attracted to the Catholic faith. In 386 Augustine was baptized by St. Ambrose and went on to become bishop of Hippo in North Africa. Ambrose and his pupil, Augustine, together with St. Jerome and St. Gregory the Great, make up the four original Doctors of the Latin Church. Saint Ambrose, the great bishop of Milan, died on Holy Saturday (April 4) in the year 397 AD. His feast day is December 7, the day he was ordained bishop.

O God, who didst give to thy servant St. Ambrose grace eloquently to proclaim thy righteousness in the great congregation, and fearlessly to bear reproach for the honour of thy Name: Mercifully grant to all bishops and pastors such excellency in preaching, and fidelity in ministering thy Word, that thy people may be partakers with them of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

05 December 2011

"Rise, take up your bed..."


At that time: as Jesus was teaching, there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. And behold, men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they sought to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith he said, "Man, your sins are forgiven you." And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, "Who is this that speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?"  When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, "Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Rise and walk?' But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins" --he said to the man who was paralyzed-- "I say to you, rise, take up your bed and go home." And immediately he rose before them, and took up that on which he lay, and went home, glorifying God. And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, "We have seen strange things today."
- St. Luke 5:17-26

01 December 2011

A prayer for safety...


O God, who knowest us to be set in the midst of so many and great dangers, that by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright; Grant to us such strength and protection, as may support us in all dangers, and carry us through all temptations; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

27 November 2011

Swaddling-clothes and Shroud


The season of Advent has a unique sense of mystery all its own.  We know it best as that time of waiting before the Solemnity of the Nativity, but it contains a much more comprehensive expectation than mere preparation for Christmas.  Truly, it collects the many strands of our faith, and weaves them into one fabric which is both lovely and awesome, for during Advent the cradle rests in expectation of the cross; the child Redeemer speaks of the coming Judge resplendent in the clouds; the awaited birth of Jesus is the beginning of His passion; the swaddling-clothes prepared by the expectant Mother foretell the shroud of Christ’s burial.  Perhaps at no other time of the year is the totality of Christ’s work put before us so clearly as it is at this time of Advent.

26 November 2011

Advent I


Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and forever. Amen.

The Great Litany

At the beginning of Advent, it is our custom (after blessing the Advent wreath and lighting the first candle) to chant the Litany in procession through the nave of the Church, ending at the Rood.


The Great Litany


O God the Father, Creator of heaven and earth,
Have mercy upon us.

O God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy upon us.

O God the Holy Ghost, Sanctifier of the faithful,
Have mercy upon us.

O holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity, one God,
Have mercy upon us.

Saint Mary, Mother of God our Lord Jesus Christ,
Pray for us.

All holy Angels and Archangels, and all holy Orders of blessed Spirits,
Pray for us.

All holy Patriarchs and Prophets; Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors and Virgins; and the blessed Company of Heaven,
Pray for us.

Remember not, Lord Christ, our offenses, nor the offenses of our forefathers; neither take thou vengeance of our sins. Spare us, good Lord, spare thy people, whom thou hast redeemed with thy most precious blood, and be not angry with us for ever.
Spare us, good Lord.

From all evil and mischief; from sin; from the crafts and assaults of the devil; from thy wrath; and from everlasting damnation,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From all blindness of heart; from pride, vainglory, and hypocrisy; from envy, hatred, and malice; and from all uncharitableness,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From all inordinate and sinful affections; and from all the deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From all false doctrine, heresy, and schism; from hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word and commandment,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From lightning and tempest; from earthquake, fire, and flood; from plague, pestilence, and famine,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From all sedition, privy conspiracy, and rebellion; from violence, battle, and murder; and from dying suddenly and unprepared,
Good Lord, deliver us.

By the mystery of thy holy Incarnation; by thy holy Nativity and Circumcision; by thy Baptism, Fasting, and Temptation,
Good Lord, deliver us.

By thine Agony and Bloody Sweat; by thy Cross and Passion; by thy precious Death and Burial; by thy glorious Resurrection and Ascension; and by the Coming of the Holy Ghost,
Good Lord, deliver us.

In all time of our tribulation; in all time of our prosperity; in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment,
Good Lord, deliver us.

We sinners do beseech thee to hear us, O Lord God; and that it may please thee to rule and govern thy holy Church Universal in the right way,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to bless Benedict our Pope, and Jose our Bishop,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to illuminate all Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, and all Ministers of thy Church, with true knowledge and understanding of thy Word; and that both by their preaching and living, they may set it forth, and show it accordingly,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to bless and keep all thy people,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to send forth laborers into thy harvest,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to give to all people increase of grace to hear meekly thy Word, and to receive it with pure affection, and to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to bring into the way of truth all such as have erred, and are deceived,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to give us an heart to love and fear thee, and diligently to live after thy commandments,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to strengthen such as do stand; and to comfort and help the weak-hearted; and to raise up those who fall; and finally to beat down Satan under our feet,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee so to rule the hearts of thy servants, the President of the United States and all others in authority, that they may above all things seek thy honor and glory,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to guide all Judges and Magistrates, giving them grace to execute justice, and to maintain truth,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to give to all nations unity, peace, and concord,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to show thy pity upon all prisoners and captives, all who are in want, and all who are desolate and oppressed,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to give and preserve to our use the kindly fruits of the earth, so that in due time we may enjoy them,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to preserve, and provide for, all women in childbirth, all infirm persons, and young children; and all who are bereft of spouse or parent,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to preserve all who are in peril by reason of their labor or their travel,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to succor, help, and comfort, all who are in danger, necessity, and tribulation,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to have mercy upon all men,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to give us true repentance; to forgive us all our sins, negligences, and ignorances; and to endue us with the grace of thy Holy Spirit to amend our lives according to thy Holy Word,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to forgive our enemies, persecutors, and slanderers, and to turn their hearts,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to grant that, by the intercession of all thy Saints, we may finally attain to thy heavenly kingdom,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to grant to all the faithful departed eternal rest and perpetual light,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

Son of God, we beseech thee to hear us.
Son of God, we beseech thee to hear us.

O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy upon us.

O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy upon us.

O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,
Grant us thy peace.

O Christ, hear us.
O Christ, hear us.

Let us pray. Almighty God, who hast promised to hear the petitions of those who ask in thy Son’s Name; We beseech thee mercifully to incline thine ear to us who have now made our prayers and supplications unto thee; and grant that those things which we have asked faithfully according to thy will, may be obtained effectually, to the relief of our necessity, and to the setting forth of thy glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

23 November 2011

Thanksgiving

George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation.


Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789.

G. Washington



Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation.



The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

USCCB: Q&A


The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has published a "Question and Answer" document dealing with Anglicanorum coetibus, and I have published it on The Anglo-Catholic blog for your interest.

22 November 2011

Pope St. Clement of Rome



St. Clement was the third successor to St. Peter (most likely ordained by him), and was spoken of by St. Paul in his epistle to the Philippians as a fellow-worker for the Gospel. He was imprisoned under the Emperor Trajan, but continued his ministry among fellow prisoners. He was then executed by being tied to an anchor and thrown into the sea.


Prayer of St. Clement of Rome
We shall pray without ceasing to the Creator of all things, and beg him to preserve the number of his elect throughout the whole world, through his beloved son Jesus Christ, and not let a single one of them fall away. Through him you called us from darkness into light and gave us the knowledge of the glory of your name.


He taught us to hope in you, from whom all creation has its being. He opened our eyes so that we would recognise you, most high among the highest, holy and surrounded by holiness. You put an end to the pride of the arrogant, you frustrate the plans of the gentiles, you raise up the lowly and bring down those who are exalted. You give riches and give poverty, you dispense both death and life. You succour every spirit, you are the God of all flesh. You behold what is hidden in the depths, you see all that men do. You give help to those in peril and rescue to those without hope. You create all that has breath and watch over it; you multiply the peoples of the earth, and from among them you choose those who love you through Jesus Christ your beloved Son, through whom you give us wisdom, holiness, and honour.


We beg you, Lord, to be our help and our support. Free us from our troubles; take pity on the lowly; raise up those who have fallen; give help to the poor, health to the sick, and bring home those who have wandered away. Feed the hungry, ransom captives, give strength to the weak and courage to the faint-hearted. Let all peoples come to know that you alone are God, that Jesus Christ is your son, and that we are your people and the sheep of your flock.


For by your acts you made visible the everlasting structure of the Universe and set the Earth on its foundations. For all generations you have been faithful and just in your judgements, and wonderful in your power and majesty. Wisely you have created, and wisely you have kept things in being. All that we see shows your goodness; to all who trust in you, you are faithful, kind, and merciful. Forgive us our wickednesses and injustices, our sins and our transgressions.


Do not weigh down your servants with the burden of their sins, but purify us and direct the paths we take so that we go forward in purity and innocence of heart, so that all that we do is good and acceptable to you and to those who lead us.


Come, Lord, let your face shine upon us so that we may peacefully enjoy all good things. May your powerful hand be a roof over our heads and may your strength preserve us from all wrongdoing. Free us, Lord, from those who hate us without cause. Give peace and harmony to us and to all the inhabitants of the Earth, as you gave them to our fathers who called on you with trust and faith.


You alone can give us these gifts and confer these favours on us. We put our trust in you through Jesus Christ, our high priest, the guardian of our souls. Through him be glory and majesty to you now and through all generations until the end of time. Amen
- from his First Epistle to the Corinthians

St. Cecilia


St. Cecilia is one of several martyrs in the early Church who were young girls, and very serious about their faith. Cecilia was of noble birth. At an early age, she dedicated her life to God with a vow that she wouldn’t marry, but would give herself completely to Christ. However, her family wanted her to marry, and she was engaged to a young nobleman named Valerian. On her wedding day, she prayed to the Lord and asked Him to help Valerian to understand that she couldn’t live with him as his wife. History records, "The day on which the wedding was to be held arrived and while musical instruments were playing she was singing in her heart to God alone saying: Make my heart and my body pure that I may not be confounded." St. Cecilia's prayers were answered, and Valerian understood the importance of her vow to God. In fact, not only did he accept it, but he and his brother Tiburtius were both converted to the Christian faith, and were baptized.

At this time, Christianity was still illegal in Rome. Both Valerian and his brother Tiburtius were soon discovered to be Christians, and they were martyred. Cecilia was discovered soon after, and she was condemned to death. It required two attempts, however, before the death of Cecilia was successful. She was first locked in a bath in her own home to be suffocated by the steam. When she emerged from the bath unharmed, she was then beheaded. The stroke of the axe failed to sever her head from her body, however, and she lived for three days. During this time, she saw to the disbursment of her assets to help the poor, and she donated her home to be used as a church, and there is a great church on that site to this day, which bears her name. When Cecilia finally died, she was buried in the Catacombs of Callixtus. In the 9th century Pope Paschal I had St. Cecilia's remains unearthed from the catacombs and reported that her body was incorrupt and that her hands signaled the Trinity, with one extending three fingers and the other a single finger.

Almighty and everlasting God, who dost choose those whom the world deemeth powerless to put the powerful to shame: Grant us so to cherish the memory of thy youthful martyr St. Cecilia, that we may share her pure and steadfast faith in thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.



19 November 2011

Christ the King


The Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe, was dragged before a minor earthly ruler, Pilate, and was asked the question, “Are you a king, then?” Such a simple question, and yet so fertile. As a seed bursting with the beginning of life when it falls into good soil is able to produce a harvest beyond imagining, so Christ’s answer to Pilate’s question (if it had been met with some glimmer of grace, some hint of human charity) might have lifted the life of that petty potentate into the upper reaches of God’s glory, for our Lord told him, “My kingdom is not of this world…” But that, Pilate could not grasp. And so instead he has been immortalized with the phrase “…suffered under Pontius Pilate…” which describes the death of the King he could never understand. We, however, have been given to know this kingdom “not of this world,” and so have been spared the blindness which afflicted Pilate. In the cross we see a throne. In the thorns we see a crown. In the wounded side we see a gateway to Christ’s kingdom, which is eternal.

Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in thy well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

18 November 2011

Ss. Peter & Paul


Almighty and eternal Father, who out of the living stones of thy chosen people hast made a temple meet for thy glory; Multiply, we beseech thee, thy blessings upon the Church, that thy faithful people may draw ever closer to the new and heavenly Jerusalem; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

17 November 2011

Ordinariate? Pastoral Provision?


I posted this article on The Anglo-Catholic:

Cardinal Wuerl has announced the date on which the Ordinariate will be established in this country. Now comes the inevitable parsing of every word and phrase, looking for nuanced clues in a way which would make Sherlock Holmes envious. Anglicanorum coetibus itself is able to bear such scrutiny because of its very nature as an Apostolic Constitution, but a report to members of a bishops’ conference cannot, nor should it.

Speculation about the continuation of the Pastoral Provision office under the able leadership of Bishop Vann, running parallel to the Ordinariate under the leadership (also able, we hope) of an Ordinary, has led to guessing as to the reason why this will be. Some commenters on this blog have concluded, after hearing Cardinal Wuerl, that the Ordinariate will be only for those clergy who enter with a group of laity; whereas the Pastoral Provision will be for those solitary clergy who come with no community. Respectfully, I would assert that is not the case. The divide is not to be determined by whether there is a parish or community entering with a cleric.

Anglicanorum coetibus makes it clear that Anglican patrimony is the definitive reason for an Ordinariate to come into being. Pope Benedict XVI stated that there is a three-fold objective when it comes to this patrimony: that it is to be preserved, that it is to be nurtured, and that it is to be shared with the wider Church. This is what should determine the path for an incoming Anglican clergyman. If a man is dedicated to the ideals outlined in the Apostolic Constitution, the Ordinariate is the place for him; if he is not especially interested in our Anglican patrimony, proceeding through the Pastoral Provision into diocesan ministry would be more appropriate.

One path is not better than the other. They simply are different, and are intended to accommodate people’s different spiritual journeys. The same it true for the laity – there are some who find that their best spiritual home is in the local diocesan parish, while others find strength and sustenance in a spirituality which reflects our patrimony.

Even at the beginning of the Pastoral Provision, these two paths were evident. A majority of the Pastoral Provision priests have carried on fruitful ministries in diocesan parishes and chaplaincies, with no reference whatsoever to the Anglican Use. Others of us felt called by God to establish parishes and communities in which we could do what the Ordinariates are now coming into existence to do.

Just because a priest has an Anglican background, doesn’t mean his place is necessarily in the Ordinariate – in fact, I remember a former Episcopal priest who had entered into full communion with the Church just before I did, who said (referring to the fact that we were bringing a separate liturgy with us), “They should give up those things, and become real Catholics.” I hope that attitude is a thing of the past, but it indicates that the Ordinariate wouldn’t be the best place for that particular priest.

The Holy Father is giving us an opportunity to use our liturgy, our devotional life, and our particularly Anglican approach to the Faith, as a tool for evangelism and a means of helping to bring about Christian unity. To fulfill that mandate, the Ordinariate needs clerical leadership which is committed to the vision outlined in Anglicanorum coetibus. It takes more than simply coming from an Anglican background. It requires a commitment to the raison d'être of the Ordinariate.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Elizabeth lived in the 13th century, and she was a princess, the daughter of the King of Hungary. She married the young man she had loved for as long as she could remember, Ludwig of Thuringia, and their life together was blessed with three children. St. Elizabeth took seriously her duties as wife and mother, and because of her deep love for Christ, she took seriously also her duty toward the poor. She embraced the words of our Lord, “Whatever you do to the least of these, you have done it to me.” She put herself at the service of widows and orphans, she cared for the sick and the needy. Her life was really an expression of her deep love – love for God, love for her husband and children, and love for those who had no one else to love them. Her’s was a very beautiful life, and I’m sure she would have liked it to go on forever.

But sometimes, things can change dramatically – we might not understand why, but it’s always for God’s purpose. St. Elizabeth experienced an especially painful change in her life when her husband, whom she so deeply loved, went off to the Crusades, and there he was killed. Elizabeth was devastated – and not only was she sorrowing for the death of her husband, but her husband’s family, who never approved of her charitable works, cast her and her children out of the family home, and left her with no means of support.

Here was Elizabeth, a princess and the widow of a nobleman, reduced to poverty, wandering with her children for a place to live, until a poor man whom she had helped previously was able to offer her shelter in an abandoned pig sty. Her faith sustained her – not only was she not bitter, but she put in even more effort to caring for the poor, with a renewed feeling for them, since she and her children were now counted among them. She supported herself and her children, as well as her works of charity, by spinning wool and making cloth to sell. She exhausted herself, and was only 24 years old when she died.

15 November 2011

January 1, 2012!!


Report

on the

Implementation of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

November 15, 2011


by

His Eminence Cardinal Donald Wuerl

Archbishop of Washington


Thank you Archbishop Dolan. With me for this presentation are Bishop Robert McManus and Bishop Kevin Vann, the other members of the Conference’s ad hoc Committee on the Implementation of Anglicanorum coetibus.

With us, as well, are Father Jeffrey Steenson and Father Scott Hurd, who have worked with the committee.

At our June General Assembly meeting in Seattle, I provided a brief report and update on the progress being made in the implementation of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus. At that time, I asked for and received a show of support for the material I presented by way of a consultation with the bishops.

At the September Administrative Committee meeting, I was asked to prepare an update for this General Assembly meeting which I am pleased now to present.

Between the time of my last report and today, a total of 67 dossiers of Anglican clergy seeking ordination as a Catholic priest have been prepared and sent to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. To date, 35 have received the nulla osta from the Congregation, which means that the individuals are free to move to the second stage, which includes a criminal background check, psychological evaluation and obtaining a votum from the Catholic bishop where the individual resides and from his Anglican ecclesiastical authority, if possible.

You may recall that earlier I wrote to each member of our Conference to ask for your observations on any Anglican community in your diocese that had indicated an interest in becoming a part of a future Ordinariate.

More recently I have been writing to you for those men who received a nulla osta asking if you would collaborate in helping them receive the necessary criminal background check and psychological evaluation. I am grateful for the collaboration of so many of you in not only facilitating these two procedures but for underwriting the cost. I have also written to those bishops in whose jurisdiction lives an Anglican cleric who has received the nulla osta, noting that Saint Luke Institute has generously offered to provide the psychological evaluation at a greatly reduced cost. I want to thank all of you who have already responded in such a gracious manner.

In the meantime, two Anglican communities have come into full communion in the Catholic Church in anticipation of the formation of an Ordinariate. One community was received in the Diocese of Fort Worth, another in the Archdiocese of Washington.

On October 29, 2011, I received a letter from His Eminence Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, indicating that “in an audience granted to me on October 28, 2011, Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has approved the erection of an Ordinariate in the United States. I therefore write to authorize you as this Congregation’s Delegate for the implementation of Anglicanorum coetibus to address the plenary session of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, due to meet in Baltimore…in order to advise the Bishops of these developments.”

The Congregation has communicated that the canonical erection of the Ordinariate will take place on January 1, 2012, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. At that time, I assume that an Ordinary will be named and the Ordinariate will begin its work.

What lies ahead of both the Ordinariate and all of us who will be working with the new Ordinary includes a number of steps.

For those Anglican congregations who wish to become a part of the Ordinariate, there is a program of catechesis prepared by your ad hoc Committee for the Implementation of Anglicanorum coetibus and approved by the Holy See. This program will be made available through the Ordinariate once it is functioning. Our Conference’s United States Catholic Catechism for Adults is designated as the catechetical tool for the review of the faith by those who wish to be received into full communion in the Catholic Church. You may also recall that I asked during the presentation last June if, in an effort to assist this catechetical component, you might be willing to have diocesan or parish catechists be engaged with the Anglican congregation in its catechetical formation during this transition.

As for those seeking ordination as a Catholic priest, the program of priestly formation for them, approved by the Congregation, is based at Saint Mary’s Seminary in Houston and is available either on campus or through the University’s distance learning program.

Again, I want to thank His Eminence Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, for his generosity, wise counsel and support in helping to move forward this formation program. Your Eminence, I am also grateful to the Rector of your seminary and its staff for their collaboration.

In a particular way, I want to thank Father Jeffrey Steenson, a Pastoral Provision priest who was formerly the Episcopal Bishop of Rio Grande, for his assistance in the preparation of the program of priestly formation for those Anglican clerics seeking ordination as a Catholic priest. I also want to recognize Father Scott Hurd, a Pastoral Provision priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, who functions as staff to our Committee. The Committee is deeply grateful to both priests.

At this point in the process, between now and the erection of the Ordinariate, your ad hoc Committee and Father Hurd will continue to work with all of those Anglican clergy who have received the nulla osta to move on to the second stage and to write to each of you involved, asking for your support in obtaining for the candidate the criminal background check, the psychological evaluation, and your votum. I will also ask for your kind assistance in the oversight of catechetical preparation of the communities seeking to join the Ordinariate.

Personally, and on behalf of the committee and all of those involved in the implementation of the Apostolic Constitution, I want to thank you for your keen collaboration and your gracious support of this effort.

I remain convinced that this Ordinariate will be a true expression of the Catholic Church because of your engagement in the steps leading up to the acceptance of the candidates for ordination and for your involvement in the catechetical formation of the members of the congregations seeking membership in the Ordinariate. Your involvement is one of the guarantees of the well being of the Ordinariate as it is established and begins to receive both clergy and congregations.

A number of questions have arisen, and I would like to touch briefly on them. If the Ordinary of the new Ordinariate is married, then he can be ordained a priest, but not a bishop. Thus the ordination of priests for the Ordinariate will need to be carried out by one of us. My hope and recommendation is that since the former Anglican who will now become a Catholic priest will live and serve in the diocese of one of us, even though belonging to the Ordinariate, each of us would offer respectively to ordain the new priest. There is no adaptation or change in the Ordination Rite for someone being ordained to the Anglicanorum coetibus Ordinariate.

Discussions are underway with the Military Archdiocese to ensure that those Anglican clergy who serve as chaplains to the military and who come into full communion as a part of the Ordinariate will be available for service in the Military Archdiocese.

Regarding the liturgical provision for Personal Ordinariates, it is important to note that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for Divine Worship have established an interdicasterial body which will be responsible for provisions for the liturgical celebrations of the Personal Ordinariates. However, from its erection, an Ordinariate will have the option of using the Roman Missal or the Book of Divine Worship already used by the Pastoral Provision or Anglican Use parishes.

Speaking of the Pastoral Provision, Bishop Kevin Vann has been nominated the Pastoral Provision Delegate for the United States and at the conclusion of my remarks I would ask him to share his observations with us.

Finally in concluding these remarks, I want again to thank all of your for your enormous support. It was two years ago that I was invited to Rome for the initial conversations in response to the Holy Father’s expressed desire to move forward in a way that would adequately answer the requests for some form of corporate reunion with the Catholic Church. The response of our Conference in immediately establishing an ad hoc Committee for the Implementation of Anglicanorum coetibus and your support, encouragement and practical advice have brought us to the point where in some six weeks time the Ordinariate will come into existence.

I hope you know how truly grateful I and your ad hoc Committee are to you. Thank you!