30 December 2016

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.

O Lord Jesus Christ, who by thy wondrous holiness didst adorn a human home, and by thy subjection to Mary and Joseph didst consecrate the order of earthly families: grant that we, being enlightened by the example of their life with thee in thy Holy Family, and assisted by their prayers, may at last be joined with them in thine eternal fellowship; who livest and reignest with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

26 December 2016

St. Stephen Protomartyr


It’s only the second day of the octave of celebrating the birth of Our Lord, and already we’re commemorating the first one to die for his faith in that same Lord. St. Stephen – the great deacon, the compelling preacher, the martyr whose blood was a seed of faith in St. Paul – his was a life which showed very early that the Catholic faith isn’t for cowards.

Grant, O Lord, that in all our sufferings here upon earth, for the testimony of thy truth, we may steadfastly look up to heaven, and by faith behold the glory that shall be revealed: and, being filled with the Holy Spirit, may learn to love and bless our persecutors, by the example of thy first Martyr Saint Stephen; who prayed for his murderers to thee, O blessed Jesus, who standest at the right hand of God to succour all those that suffer for thee, our Mediator and Advocate; who livest and reignest with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

21 December 2016

The Christmas Schedule


Christmas Eve

5:00 p.m.
Solemn Vigil Mass

11:00 p.m.
Choral Music

11:30 p.m.
Solemn Proclamation of Christmas
Procession to the Crib
Solemn High Mass


Christmas Day

7:30 a.m.
Low Mass

9:00 a.m.
Solemn High Mass

11:00 a.m.
Solemn High Mass

20 December 2016

What the Holy Family was not...


This is the time of year when we come across tiresome statements about the Holy Family, all in an effort to make them into some kind of political symbol, I suppose.  If I could make it clear:
  • They were not homeless.  Joseph and Mary each came from perfectly good homes in Nazareth, and they were no more homeless than I was during the time we lived in England, when I had to travel from my home in Bristol up to the American Embassy in London to register the births of my children when they were born.  I'm sick of the stories that make them sound like vagrants, having to find shelter under the nearest interstate overpass.  The inn was full, yes.  All the inns were full.  Bethlehem was packed full of people.  It wasn't out of cruelty that the innkeeper offered them the stable.  It was probably done as a favor to them.  Inns were notoriously seedy places, and the stable was probably a whole lot cleaner and more private.  Homelessness in our society is a sad and tragic thing, caused by various circumstances.  But let's not use the Holy Family as a prop in the lobby for the homeless.
  • They were not illegal aliens.  Joseph and Mary were obeying civil authority when they went to the city of David, because Joseph was descended from King David. They weren't fleeing from an oppressive regime in Nazareth, and they weren't scrounging for work in Bethlehem so they could send some denarii back to the folks in the old country. Nor was that the case when they went to Egypt.  Yes, they were fleeing from a cruel ruler, but they weren't crawling through barbed wire or hiding from border agents.  They simply crossed over into Egypt because borders were immaterial. Whatever one's opinion is about illegal immigration, Joseph and Mary don't lend themselves as examples for any argument one way or the other.  The circumstances just don't fit.
  • They were not living in poverty.  Ok, they weren't rich.  But they weren't eating out of garbage cans or subsisting on food stamps, either.  Joseph, as a carpenter, had a perfectly respectable trade, and his work would be much in demand, wherever he was.  In fact, his occupation is described as tekton, which is more like a general contractor.  Mary's parents were respectable people.  Tradition hints that Anne was descended from one of the high priests of the Temple, and Joachim was well-off enough to have a flock of sheep, indicating that Mary's background was not one of grinding poverty, any more than was Joseph's.
The Holy Family is just that: the Holy Family.  Their place in history is unique.  But every year we're treated to shallow words by politicians and media hacks who think they're expressing deep thoughts, using the Holy Family to make some point or other about social ills.  These usually are the very people who are horrified by the mention of religion at any other time of the year.  Ignore them.

15 December 2016

Little Bethlehem


This is a good time of the year to remember that great things can come in small packages, and the village of Bethlehem certainly is a case in point. A place of little consequence became the focus of the universe, and in its most rude and humble spot the Savior of the world drew His first breath. We should remember Bethlehem, not just at Christmas-time, but every time we are feeling that our own lives are not grand or influential. God found room in a mean stable for His miraculous work; let Him find room in our hearts, and just see what He will do!

11 December 2016

Our Lady of Guadalupe


The miraculous image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is preserved in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, shows a woman with native features and dress. She is supported by an angel whose wings are reminiscent of one of the major gods of the traditional religion of that area. The moon is beneath her feet and her blue mantle is covered with gold stars. The black girdle about her waist signifies that she is expecting a child. Thus, the image graphically depicts the fact that Christ is to be "born again" among the peoples of the New World.

Pictured here is our parish Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which will be blessed by Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller on 14 December 2015 in the presence of the students of The Atonement Academy.

O God, who hast willed that under the special patronage of the most Blessed Virgin Mary of Guadalupe, we should receive an abundant measure of unceasing favours: grant us, thy suppliant people; that as we rejoice to honour her upon earth, so we may enjoy the vision of her in heaven; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Beata Maria Virgo Guadalupensis,
Imperatrix Americarum, Praesidium Nondum Natorum.

10 December 2016

Gaudete!


December 11th, the Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete!

Masses at Our Lady of the Atonement Church
will be at
7:30 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and 6:00 p.m.

The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols
will be at 4:00 p.m.

30 November 2016

Making Merbecke Catholic Again

Most Anglicans, when they hear the name John Merbecke, probably think immediately of the very simple and plain setting used for “The Order for the Administration of the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion.” Each year in our parish we use this setting for some of the Sung Masses in Advent and Lent. Musically it’s not terribly exciting, but that’s the point of using it during these seasons. It’s tuneful but not overwhelming, and when it’s sung by the pure voices of children, it affords an interesting seasonal change.

The roots of this little setting couldn’t be more Anglican. In 1550, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer had asked Merbecke to provide service music “containing so much of the Order of Common Prayer as is to be sung in Churches.” It was to be simple and able to be sung by everyone, and the requirement was “for every syllable a note.”

We don’t know anything about Merbecke’s musical education, but apparently he was an accomplished singer and organist. Born in c.1505, by 1531 his name heads the list of choristers at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor. He was appointed Organist of St. George’s in 1541. The virulent protestantism creeping through Europe was making its way into England at that time, and Merbecke was drawn into it, even though he was serving at the King’s Royal Chapel. That was a strange time – King Henry had broken with Rome, but in many ways he remained conservative in his religion, and in those circumstances, Merbecke’s protestant sympathies forced him into a double life. Of course, it couldn’t last forever, and by 1543 his protestantism was revealed. He was accused of owning and writing heretical documents – something that was, in fact, true. Along with two other colleagues at St. George’s, Merbecke was arrested. Charged with being a heretic, he was condemned to death. Stephen Gardiner, the Bishop of Winchester, pleaded Merbecke’s case before the King, and he was given a reprieve. Released from his imprisonment, Merbecke returned to his post of Organist at St. George’s, where he stayed until his death in c.1585.

Although John Merbecke is probably best remembered for his 1550 work on the "Booke of Common Praier Noted," before the English Reformation he was a somewhat talented composer of liturgical music for the Catholic Church, although not many of his compositions survive. His "Missa Per arma iustitie" is still available, as well as the Marian anthem "Ave Dei patris filia." The antiphon "Domine Ihesu Christe" is probably one of his better works, although it’s more sturdy than beautiful.

John Merbecke became a convinced Calvinist, and he expressed great regret for his Catholic compositions. In fact, in 1550 he wrote, “…in the study of music and playing on organs, I consumed vainly the greatest part of My life.” It’s really his "Booke of Common Praier Noted," with its simple Communion setting, which has made Merbecke best known, and that wasn’t actually a work of composition; rather, it was a fitting of the words of the English liturgy to modified plainsong melodies.

I’ve wondered, as I hear his Communion setting being sung at a Catholic Mass, what he would think. I’m quite sure that if he had witnessed such a thing during his earthly life, he would have been appalled – but now that he has the knowledge which comes with eternity (and I do hope he’s spending it in heaven), I would imagine he appreciates the unexpected turn of events which has brought his music back to the Church in which he was baptized.

22 November 2016

St. Clement, Pope and Martyr


St. Clement I of Rome (92-101) was one of the first popes. According to St. Ireneus, he was the third after Peter, following Pope Linus and Pope Cletus. Clement died as a martyr, but otherwise we know little about his life. He may be the one Paul mentions as his companion in Phil. 4:3. St. Clement wrote a letter to the Corinthians, and we have the text of that, in which he intervenes as the Pope to that community, which had a number of troubles going on – showing us very early the place of the successor of St. Peter in the Church.

Because of his zeal for souls, Pope Clement was banished from Rome to a distant place, where he found two-thousand Christians who had also been banished. When he came to these exiles he comforted them. "They all cried with one voice: Pray for us, blessed Clement, that we may become worthy of the promises of Christ. He replied: Without any merit of my own, the Lord sent me to you to share in your crowns." When they complained because they had to carry the water six miles, he encouraged them, "Let us all pray to the Lord Jesus Christ that He may open to His witnesses a fountain of water." "While blessed Clement was praying, the Lamb of God appeared to him; and at His feet a bubbling fountain of fresh water was flowing." Seeing the miracle, "All the pagans of the neighborhood began to believe."

When the Emperor Trajan heard of these marvels, he ordered Clement to be drowned with an iron anchor around his neck. "While he was making his way to the sea, the people cried with a loud voice: Lord Jesus Christ, save him! But Clement prayed in tears: Father, receive my spirit." At the shore the Christians asked God to give them the body. The sea receded for three miles and there they found the body of the saint in a stone coffin within a small marble chapel; alongside lay the anchor. The body was taken to Rome by Sts. Cyril and Methodius and placed in a church dedicated to his honor (S. Clemente). This is one of the most venerable of the churches in Rome because it retains all the liturgical arrangements of ancient times.

O Everlasting Shepherd, favourably look upon thy flock: and keep it with perpetual protection, through the intercession of blessed Clement thy Pope and Martyr, whom thou didst appoint to be shepherd of the whole Church; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

20 November 2016

Presentation of Mary


St. Joachim and St. Anne, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, had prayed for a child, and part of their prayer was the promise that they would dedicate their child to the service of God. Little did they know at that time what great service would be given by their infant daughter.

When Mary reached the age of three, her parents fulfilled their vow. Together with their family and friends, they took her to the Temple. The High Priest and other Temple priests greeted the procession, and tradition says that the child was brought before the fifteen high steps which led to the sanctuary. It is said that the child Mary made her way to the stairs and, strengthened by the Holy Spirit, ascended all fifteen steps, coming to the Holy of Holies where only the High Priest could enter. Tradition then says that the High Priest, acting outside every rule he knew, led the Holy Virgin into the Holy of Holies, astonishing everyone present in the Temple. So it was that she, whose own womb would become the Holy of Holies, came into the presence of the God Whom she would bear.

St. Joachim and St. Anne returned to their home, but the Handmaid of the Lord remained in the Temple until her espousal, where she was prepared by God and protected by angels.

Almighty and everlasting God, who by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit didst prepare the body and soul of the glorious Virgin Mother Mary to be a dwelling place for thy Son: grant that we who rejoice in her Presentation may at her tender intercession be kept unspotted, and made a pure temple for his dwelling; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.


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Christ the King


The Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal King of the Universe, was dragged before a minor earthly ruler and was asked the question, “Are you a king, then?” Such a simple question it was, 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 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 that 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.

18 November 2016

Basilicas of Ss. Peter and Paul


We commemorate the Dedication of the Basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul because the Church wants us to remember the importance of consecrated places in which the worship of God takes place. It reminds us of the importance of the consecration of every Catholic Church throughout the world. It is a reminder to us of the incarnational principle on which our faith is based – that God extends His spiritual blessings to us through the use of physical things. He took human flesh upon Himself. He has instituted seven sacraments which use outward forms to communicate inward grace. He has established a hierarchical Church, with a physical presence in the world, to be a sign of His own presence with us.

Defend thy Church, O Lord, by the protection of the holy Apostles: that, as she received from them the beginnings of her knowledge of things divine; so through them she may receive, even to the end of the world, an increase in heavenly grace; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

07 November 2016

November 9th


At this time we're especially concerned about the leaders we have and about the upcoming election. We're rightly concerned about the direction of our country, and what might happen no matter who is elected.

Regardless of what happens on November 8th, on November 9th God will still be on His throne. He will still be in control. You and I will still have our same responsibilities. And the best way to prepare for November 9th – and for all the days and months and years ahead – is to make our relationship with God as strong and close as possible.

We need to care for our souls and the souls of our children and grandchildren – because no matter what happens, this life, this world isn't our final destination. Heaven is. And what we do here, how we love God here in this life, and how we manage the tough times as well as the good times is what determines eternity for us.

The things of this world will pass away. Eternity is forever.

31 October 2016

Solemnity of All Saints


Tuesday, November 1st
O Almighty God, who hast knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our Lord: Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that, through their intercession, we may come to those ineffable joys which thou hast prepared for those who unfeignedly love thee; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Masses at 7 a.m., 9:15 a.m., 12 noon, and 7 p.m.

This is a Holy Day of Obligation.

24 October 2016

Our Lady, Queen of Palestine



Because many of us at Our Lady of the Atonement Church are members of the Equestrian Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, we commemorate Our Lady, Queen of Palestine, who is the Patroness of the Order.

In 1927, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Msgr. Louis Barlassina, because of his great concern about the political situation in the region, built a monastery, church, and orphanage in the village of Deir Rafat, and dedicated them to Our Lady, Queen of Palestine. In 1933, he instituted October 25 as a feast day in her honour under that title, and it was confirmed by the Holy See. Ever since, Deir Rafat has been a place of pilgrimage for this devotion, a much-needed source of solace for the Catholics of the Holy Land.

It is understood that this name designation, namely “Queen of Palestine” has not and has never had any political connotation since the entire Holy Land, at the time, was under the British Mandate, and was known as “Palestine." The title reflects that historical reality.

Please pray for the Christians of the Holy Land.
O Mary Immaculate, gracious Queen of Heaven and Earth, we are prostrate at your feet, sure of your goodness and confident in your power.

We beg you to look kindly on the Holy Land, which, more than any other country, belongs to you since you have honored it by your birth, your virtues and your pain, and that it is here where you gave the Savior of the World.

Remember that you were made Mother and dispenser of graces. Deign to grant special protection to your earthly homeland to dispel the darkness of the error, so that the sun of eternal justice may shine on it and that the promise, fallen from the lips of your divine Son to form one flock under the guidance of one shepherd, may be fulfilled.

Obtain us to serve the Lord in righteousness and holiness, every day of our lives, so that by the merits of Jesus, with your maternal protection, we can pass from the earthly Jerusalem to the splendors of the heavenly Jerusalem.

Grant us, O merciful God, protection in our weakness: That we who celebrate the memory of the holy Mother of God, Our Lady Queen of Palestine, may, by her intercession, be delivered from our sins; 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.

21 October 2016

The Duruflé Requiem



On Sunday

November 6th

at 4 o’clock in the afternoon

Solemn Evensong
for the
Commemoration of All Souls.

Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis
by Thomas Morley

Preces and Responses
by Brett Patterson



Evensong will be followed

by the

Requiem

by Maurice Duruflé

All sung by

The Parish Festival Choir

and

The Atonement Academy
Honors Choir

13 October 2016

St. Callistus, Pope and Martyr


Imagine if what anybody knew about you was information that came from someone who really didn’t like you at all. And imagine if there was the added difficulty that the person who didn’t like you was also a saint! That’s the situation with St. Callistus who lived at the end of the 2nd century and into the 3rd century – most of the information about him comes from his enemy St. Hippolytus, who at first was kind of a troublemaker in the early Church, but who later, just like St. Callistus, became a martyr for the Faith.

Callistus was a slave in the imperial Roman household. He was an educated slave, and because of his financial talent, he was put in charge of a bank by his master. Unfortunately, because he made some loans to people who didn’t pay them back, he lost almost all the money that had been deposited. Callistus panicked, and he ran away. Of course, he was eventually caught and was put in jail. After being imprisoned for a while, his master released him and told him to do everything he could to recover the money. Apparently Callistus got a little too carried away, and eventually he was arrested again because he had started a fight in a local synagogue when he went after someone there who hadn’t paid back a loan. This time he was condemned to work in the mines of Sardinia, which usually was a death sentence because of the horrible conditions there. But through the intervention of an influential person who had pity on him, he even managed to be released from the terrible life in the Sardinian mines. So far, it doesn’t sound much like the life of a saint, does it?

After he won his freedom, he was put in charge of the place where Christians buried their departed loved ones – this cemetery was called a catacomb, and in fact this cemetery was the first land actually owned by the Church, and it still exists as the Catacomb of St. Callistus. He was so faithful in this work that the pope ordained him as a deacon, and Callistus became his trusted friend and adviser.

Callistus had such a changed life and had become so faithful that he was himself elected pope, and it was then that the rivalry between Callistus and Hippolytus became so bitter – in fact, Hippolytus himself wanted to be the pope because he didn’t agree with many of the decisions made by Callistus. This rivalry was healed eventually, however, and Hippolytus was eventually martyred, and these two former enemies are now saints together in heaven. St. Callistus was martyred in Rome during one of the persecutions of the Church in the 3rd century.

O God, who didst raise up Pope Saint Callistus to serve the Church and attend devoutly to Christ’s faithful departed: strengthen us, we pray, by his witness to the faith; so that, rescued from the slavery of corruption, we may merit an incorruptible inheritance; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

01 October 2016

Holy Guardian Angels

The Holy Guardian Angel,
located at the main staircase in
The Atonement Academy.

God shows His love to us in many ways, and one of the most comforting and constant expressions of this is that He entrusts each of us to a particular angel, who is our guide and our guardian. The statue pictured here is what greets our students every morning, a reminder of the protection and prayers of their Guardian Angel throughout the day.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that "the existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls 'angels' is a truth of faith” (n. 328), and it goes on to say (n. 336) "Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life."  Our Lord Himself tells us, "See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father" (Matthew 18:10).

St. Bernard of Clairvaux, in writing to his spiritual sons (and equally applicable to all of us) says this:
“Be alert in your every action as one should be who is accompanied by angels in all your ways, for that mission has been enjoined upon them. In whatever lodging, in whatever nook or corner you may find yourself, cherish a reverence for your guardian angel. In his presence do not dare to do anything you would not do in mine. Or do you doubt his presence because you do not see him? Would it really help if you did hear him, or touch him, or smell him? Remember, there are realities whose existence has not been proven by mere sight.
Brethren, we will love God's angels with a most affectionate love; for they will be our heavenly co-heirs some day, these spirits who now are sent by the Father to be our protectors and our guides. With such bodyguards, what are we to fear? They can neither be subdued nor deceived; nor is there any possibility at all that they should go astray who are to guard us in all our ways. They are trustworthy, they are intelligent, they are strong — why, then, do we tremble? We need only to follow them, remain close to them, and we will dwell in the protection of the Most High God. So as often as you sense the approach of any grave temptation or some crushing sorrow hangs over you, invoke your protector, your leader, your helper in every situation. Call out to him and say: Lord, save us, we are perishing.”

O God, who in thine ineffable providence dost vouchsafe to send thy holy Angels to guard us: grant, of thy bountiful goodness; that we thy humble servants may continue in safety under their protection, and hereafter rejoice in their abiding fellowship; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

22 September 2016

St. Pius of Petrelcina

St. Pius was born in 1887 in Petrelcina, a town in southern Italy. His family were farmers, and his father worked also as a shepherd to support the family. In fact, when St. Pius was a boy his father was gone for periods of time because he had come to America looking for work, sending money back to his family. When St. Pius was 15 he entered the novitiate of the Capuchin Friars and made his first vows when he was 19. He suffered several health problems, but he was eventually ordained at age 22 on 10 August 1910, and was known after that as Padre Pio.

He had been a priest for about eight years. One morning he was praying before a crucifix, when he received the stigmata. He is the first priest ever to receive this outward mark of union with Christ Crucified – St. Francis of Assisi was a deacon. In fact, because this became a source of curiosity for so many people, Padre Pio was forbidden from having any public ministry for some years, even having to say Mass privately. This was a tremendous burden for him, but he accepted it in complete obedience to his superiors. But as word spread, especially after American soldiers brought home stories of Padre Pio following WWII, the priest himself became a point of pilgrimage for both the pious and the curious. He would hear confessions by the hour, reportedly able to read the consciences of those who held back. He was able to bi-locate, levitate, and heal by touch, although he himself never understood or emphasized these gifts.

People always seem to be most fascinated with these dramatic gifts, but the foundation of St. Pius' life was his total love for Jesus, especially in the Blessed Sacrament, and his life of prayer for others, especially prayer for healing – both spiritual and physical healing. In fact, in 1956 he founded the House for the Relief of Suffering, a hospital that today serves about 60,000 patients a year.

St. Pius died in 1968, and people continued to report many miracles and healings that had come through his intercession. Pope John Paul II beatified him in 1999, and then in 2002 he was canonized in the presence of more than 300,000 people who gathered in Rome for the Mass.

Almighty everliving God, who, by a singular grace, didst give the Priest Saint Pius a share in the Cross of thy Son and, by means of his ministry, renewed the wonders of thy mercy: grant that, through his intercession, we may be united constantly to the sufferings of Christ, and so brought happily to the glory of the Resurrection; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

15 September 2016

Ss. Cornelius & Cyprian, Martyrs


Rome had been without a bishop for about a year because of the persecution of the Emperor Decius, when Cornelius was elected Bishop of Rome in 251. Although it was a time of persecution, that wasn’t the biggest problem he had to face. Divisions in the Church had been taking place, stemming from the argument about whether or not the Church could forgive a person’s very serious sins – for instance, if someone had turned away from their faith, but then wanted to return to the Church, the question was whether the Church could give forgiveness and take that person back. A fairly popular priest during that time named Novatian was against the practice of giving forgiveness. He claimed that the Church had no power to pardon those who had lapsed during time of persecution. The same applied to cases of murder, and other serious sins. In fact, Novatian felt so strongly about this that he set himself up as a rival pope.

However, St. Cornelius, with the strong support of St. Cyprian, the bishop of Carthage in North Africa, insisted that the Church did have the power to forgive apostates and other sinners, and that they could be re-admitted to Holy Communion after having performed an appropriate period of penance. Some letters of Cornelius to Cyprian together with Cyprian’s replies have survived.

A synod of Western bishops in Rome in October 251 upheld Cornelius, condemned the teachings of Novatian, and excommunicated him and his followers. When persecutions of the Christians started up again in 253 under Emperor Gallus, Cornelius was exiled and he died as a martyr.

His great friend and supporter, St. Cyprian was from a very wealthy pagan background, but he became a Christian, and was known as a great orator. After his baptism he distributed most of his wealth to the poor, and was eventually ordained as a priest, and then became the bishop of the city where he had grown up, Carthage. Just as Pope Cornelius faced persecution, so did Cyprian. He was a strong defender of the teaching of Cornelius, and even though they lived a continent apart, after they were both martyred, they were always linked together in the mind of the Church as having stood up for the mercy of God, and His desire to forgive the sins of those who repented.

O God, who didst give Saints Cornelius and Cyprian to thy people as diligent shepherds and valiant Martyrs: grant that, through their intercession, we may be strengthened in faith and constancy and spend ourselves without reserve for the unity of the Church; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

31 August 2016

A visit to the Academy


I have recovered enough from hip replacement surgery to make a visit to my beloved students at The Atonement Academy.  This picture shows my visit with Upper School students out in the courtyard.  I had the opportunity to visit several classrooms, too.  It won't be long before I will be able to spend lengthier portions of the day, eventually restoring my regular schedule.

27 August 2016

Better each day...


Most of you know that about a week ago I had a rather nasty fall in the rectory which resulted in a broken hip. There was no dramatic reason for the fall – it was simply my inattention which caused me to stumble on a small set of steps leading into the kitchen which sent me “airborne” resulting in landing square on my hip on a tile floor.

In what was a typical (for me) attitude that ”these things never happen to me” I decided that the excruciating pain was the result of a pulled muscle and I proceeded to try and walk it off (what a mistake!) which only exacerbated the injury. After a night of being propped on a sofa, even I was willing to admit that there was a good chance I had broken something. That was confirmed after a visit to the Baptist Emergency Hospital (newly built on 1604 near us). I was then transferred to St. Luke’s Baptist Hospital, where I was given a complete hip replacement. The care I received was consistently marvellous, and your prayers are putting me over the top!

Although it’s still a bit difficult for me to negotiate very far, and I still get tired fairly quickly, I do plan to make a visit to the school sometime this week. I’m working regularly with my physical therapist (a wonderful Catholic lady from Boerne) and her exercises are making me stronger. She and the visiting nurse, in consultation with the surgeon encouraged me to remain at home this weekend, but they agreed that a visit to the school next week would be good for everybody!

Of course, I yearn to be back at the altar in the place I love so much, with the people who are so dear to me. Right now, I’m not able to stand for any extended period of time, but it won’t be long before I’m back with renewed energy. Thanks for your prayers!

14 August 2016

Thirty-three years ago...

I was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood on 15 August 1983, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven,  At the same time, the Parish of Our Lady of the Atonement was canonically erected and I was appointed to be the Founding Pastor.  Apparently there's still work to do, because I'm still here!

Procession into the Cathedral of San Fernando
15 August 1983
for the Mass of Ordination.


Being examined by the Archbishop before priestly ordination.

The Litany of the Saints.
JoAnn (holding Sarah), my father and mother, my grandmother.
In the pew behind my family are some of the
Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus,
and I served as their Chaplain for several years.

The Laying on of Hands.
Bishop Popp, Archbishop Flores, Fr. Peter Scagnelli.
The Priest's First Blessing.

Our family at the time.
JoAnn (expecting Catherine), me, Sarah, Christian, Nathan.

12 August 2016

The Consecration of the Altar

As we get closer to August 15th, we move towards the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the day when we celebrate many of our important parish anniversaries -- the founding of the parish thirty-three years ago, the dedication of the church and consecration of the altar, the founding of the school, and for me personally it will be the thirty-third anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood.

Here are pictures of the Dedication of the original church, and the Consecration of the High Altar. Archbishop Flores officiated on that occasion, and as plain as the building was at that time, he was genuinely surprised that our then-tiny parish was able to build a dignified temple for the worship of God. When he began his sermon he said that he needed to change his prepared text, because he had expected us to have only a multi-purpose hall at that point so early in our history, and he was going to urge us to move forward in building a proper church. He told us with kindness and generosity, "...but when I saw it, I thought it was a basilica in the woods!" From that time on, we have referred to our "basilica in the woods," remembering with great fondness the archbishop's surprise.


Praying the Litany, before the Consecration of the Altar.


The Prayer to Consecrate the Altar.


Placing the Relics of St. Thomas Becket, and Anointing the Altar stone.


The Archbishop giving his personal Rosary to be placed in the hands of the Blessed Virgin Mary.


Placing the linens on the newly-consecrated Altar.


Opening the Triptych.


Placing the crucifix and candles at the High Altar.


Celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on the newly-consecrated Altar.

07 August 2016

St. Dominic, Priest and Founder


Born in old Castile, Spain, St. Dominic was trained for the priesthood by a priest-uncle, studied the arts and theology, and became a canon of the cathedral at Osma, where there was an attempt to revive the apostolic common life described in the Acts of the Apostles.

On a journey through France with his bishop, he came face to face with the then virulent Albigensian heresy at Languedoc. The Albigensians (Cathari, “the pure”) held to two principles—one good, one evil—in the world. All matter is evil—hence they denied the Incarnation and sacraments. On the same principle, they abstained from procreation and took a minimum of food and drink. The inner circle led what some people regarded as a heroic life of purity and asceticism not shared by ordinary followers.

Dominic sensed the need for the Church to combat this heresy, and was commissioned to be part of the preaching crusade against it. He saw immediately why the preaching was not succeeding: the ordinary people admired and followed the ascetical heroes of the Albigenses. Understandably, they were not impressed by the Catholic preachers who traveled with horse and retinues, stayed at the best inns and had servants. Dominic therefore, with three Cistercians, began itinerant preaching according to the gospel ideal. He continued this work for 10 years, being successful with the ordinary people but not with the leaders.

His fellow preachers gradually became a community, and in 1215 he founded a religious house at Toulouse, the beginning of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans).

His ideal, and that of his Order, was to link organically a life with God, study and prayer in all forms, with a ministry of salvation to people by the word of God. His ideal was “to speak only of God or with God."

Almighty God, whose Priest Dominic grew in the knowledge of thy truth, and formed an order of preachers to proclaim the faith of Christ: by thy grace, grant to all thy people a love for thy word and a longing to share the Gospel; that the whole world may be filled with the knowledge of thee and of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

03 August 2016

St. John Vianney


St. John Vianney, also known as the Holy Curé de Ars, was born May 8, 1786 in Dardilly, near Lyon, France to a family of farmers. He was an unremarkable student and his bishop was reluctant to ordain him.  He did so in 1815 only because there was a shortage of priests.  He was then sent to the remote French community of Ars in 1818 to be a parish priest.

Upon his arrival, the priest immediately began praying and working for the conversion of his parishioners. Although he saw himself as unworthy of his mission as pastor, he allowed himself to be consumed by the love of God as he served the people.

St. John Vianney slowly helped to revive the community’s faith through both his prayers and the witness of his life. He gave powerful homilies on the mercy and love of God, and it is said that even staunch sinners were converted upon hearing him. In addition, he restored his church, formed an orphanage, and cared for the poor.

His reputation as a confessor grew rapidly, and pilgrims traveled from all over France to come to him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Firmly committed to the conversion of the people, he would spend up to 16 hours a day in the confessional.

Plagued by many trials and besieged by the devil, St. John Vianney remained firm in his faith, and lived a life of devotion to God. Dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament, he spent much time in prayer and practiced much mortification. He lived on little food and sleep, while working without rest in unfailing humility, gentleness, patience and cheerfulness, until he was well into his 70s.

St. John Vianney died on August 4, 1859. More than a thousand people attended his funeral, including the bishop and priests of the diocese, who already viewed his life as a model of priestly holiness.

The Holy Curé of Ars was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1925. He is the patron of priests. Over 450,000 pilgrims travel to Ars every year in remembrance of his holy life.

Almighty and merciful God, who didst wonderfully endue Saint John Vianney with pastoral zeal and a continual desire for prayer and penance: grant, we beseech thee; that by his example and intercession, we may win the souls of our brethren for Christ, and with them attain glory everlasting; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

22 July 2016

Catholic Claim to Anglican Patrimony


Before it gets lost in the bowels of the internet, I thought it would be good to reprint what might be considered to be one of our historical documents; namely, a paper I delivered in October 2011 at the conference titled "Council and Continuity" which took place in Phoenix, Arizona. The paper outlines the background to "The Book of Divine Worship," which resulted finally in "Divine Worship" which today is used by Ordinariate and Pastoral Provision parishes and communities.

________________________________________________________________

THE BOOK OF DIVINE WORSHIP: A Catholic Claim to Anglican Patrimony
A paper delivered at the Conference “Council and Continuity”
Phoenix, Arizona in October 2011
by Fr. Christopher G. Phillips


The Book of Divine Worship is one of the results of the implementation of the Pastoral Provision of Blessed John Paul II, which he approved in 1980, and which opened the way for Anglicans to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church while maintaining worthy elements of their Anglican heritage. In this brief presentation, we are looking particularly at the Book of Divine Worship as it contains many of those elements, and as part of the Church’s response to requests which had come from various corners of Anglicanism, but most especially from some Episcopal clergy in the United States.

The initial appeal made to the Holy See included a request for the Catholic ordination of Anglican clergy, with the possibility of dispensations from celibacy for married clergy, which was granted. It included also the request for some sort of parish structure to which the laypeople could belong, which was granted. And it included a request for elements of our Anglican liturgical heritage to be incorporated into a fully Catholic liturgy. This, too, was granted. It is this liturgical aspect of the Pastoral Provision which interests us for the purposes of this presentation.

When we made the request for “elements of our liturgical heritage” to be approved, those of us who asked knew very much what was in our minds. In addition to the daily Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer, it was a request for what would be needed for parish life, not only such things as the Rite of Baptism, Matrimony, and Burial of the Dead, but especially it was a request for a fully Catholic rite of the Mass.

The liturgical life which had formed us, and which had nurtured in us the desire for full unity with the Catholic Church, had always found its expression in the traditional Missals found in Anglo-catholicism – whether the English Missal (known as the Knott Missal) or the Anglican Missal, or the American Missal – all of which are variations based upon the same principle; namely, the supplementing of the Book of Common Prayer to make it a more Catholic expression of our faith. Although the various Anglican Missals had been developed while we were in a state of separation from the Holy See, nonetheless these developments tended to focus and define our desire for Catholic unity, and so our request was based on our desire to bring this enriched form of Prayer Book worship into the fertile soil of full Catholic communion.

In 1983 a special committee was established by the Holy See, under the jurisdiction of the Sacred Congregation for Sacraments and Divine Worship (as the CDW was called then), in conjunction with the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The task of the committee was to propose a liturgical book to be used by the parishes and congregations being established under the terms of the Pastoral Provision. I was privileged to serve on that committee. Then-Archbishop (later Cardinal) Virgilio Noe served as chairman, and there were various liturgists and theologians taking part. I was the only member of the committee who would actually be using the liturgy we were to discuss.

As we began our deliberations, it became evident the members of the committee did not all have the same agenda – and that, of course, would not be unexpected. The majority of the membership did not share an Anglican background, and so had not been formed by an Anglican liturgical life – again, that would be expected, and it was perfectly reasonable that the committee membership would be comprised of people from different backgrounds.

Within a short time after beginning our work, it became clear that there were three positions developing within the committee. There was the position (certainly my position) that all of the Anglican Missal tradition should be approved; there was the position that none of the Anglican Missal tradition should be approved; and there was the position that we should pick and choose, incorporating bits and pieces of the Book of Common Prayer.

The Book of Divine Worship which resulted shows much of the strain we experienced within the committee. It is marked by evidence of necessary compromise and committee decisions. There is some evidence of the Missal tradition; however, there is even more evidence of the desire by many on the committee to jettison that tradition, and to make this a liturgy more contemporary in its style, which meant that much of the source material was taken from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer – a version of the Prayer Book which none of us who had made the initial request had ever even used.

In some ways, the Book of Divine Worship is an unsatisfying book, easily criticized by those on both banks of the Tiber. In some important instances, it is incomplete. There is a jarring mixture of linguistic styles within it. It has the feeling of being a “cut and paste” document, because, in a very real sense, it is exactly that. Bits of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer have been joined with pieces of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The Offertory Rite from the modern Roman rite has been inserted. The Gregorian Canon has been lifted out of the traditional English Missal, and inserted as an alternate form of the First Eucharistic Prayer, but it bears the marks of some ICEL adaptations in the words of institution, and with the Mysterium Fidei separated from its tradition place. Even such things as the magnificent Prayer of Humble Access – so much a part of our traditional preparation before receiving Holy Communion – is in a truncated version, quite different from its more traditional and familiar form.

A list of the shortcomings of the Book of Divine Worship could go on at some length, but to what end? Its importance is not so much in what it contains; rather, it is important because of what it is. The existence of the Book of Divine Worship, as a fully-approved Catholic liturgy, means that it is – at the very least – a place-holder, a “foot in the door,” if you will. For the first time, because of the approval given to the Book of Divine Worship, the mellifluous English translations of Thomas Cranmer were fully incorporated into a liturgy of the Catholic Church. What Dr. Cranmer would think of such a thing, we cannot know; however, although his heretical theology has no place here, his brilliant skills as a translator most certainly do. It is this “Cranmerian” or “Prayer Book” style of English which is perhaps one of the greatest treasures of our Anglican patrimony, and it is what defines the traditional versions of the Anglican Missal. It is what moves the Anglican Missal away from simply being the Extraordinary Form in English, and transforms it into a liturgy which is firmly grounded in the traditional Catholic rite of the Mass, but expressed in a particularly Anglican way, with specific Anglican enhancements. It is this “Prayer Book” style of expression which is basic to the Book of Divine Worship. In fact, the “cut and paste” sections of the Book of Divine Worship are immediately evident, because there are portions of it which depart from this traditional style of English.

We should make a special note that it is not simply a matter of including “thee” and “thou” in the text. There is something else about the soaring phrases and time-proven sentences which make them so memorable and so pleasing to the ear. Consider, for instance, the Collect for Purity, one of the opening prayers of the Mass, which has its roots in an ancient collect, but which has been superbly translated by Cranmer:
Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Or, even lovelier I think, the Prayer of Humble Access, said just before Holy Communion:
We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy. Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.

Certainly, the sentiments expressed in these and so many of our traditional prayers make them memorable. But there is more to those prayers than just the thoughts contained in them. There are principles having to do with the particular rhythm of the words, and the cadence of the phrases, which were put into practice and perfected by those who compiled the prayers found in the Book of Divine Worship, and which we consider to be an important part of our patrimony.

There is an excellent essay titled “The Prayer Book as Literature,” written by Dr. W. K. Lowther Clarke in 1932 and included in his larger work, Liturgy and Worship. In his essay he discusses possible reasons for the beauty of some of the phrases we use in our worship. In part, he says, “A particular theory has recently been propounded to account for the literary qualities of the sixteenth-century Prayer Book, namely, the survival of the cursus, or flow of the cadence in prose. The beauty of Latin prose depended on the arrangement of long and short syllables, especially at the end of the sentence… The cursus had three main forms: planus, with the accent on the second and fifth syllable from the end; tardus, on the third and sixth; and velox, on the second and seventh.”

Just as music follows certain rules to achieve a beautiful end, so it is with literature. Excellent writing does not consist simply of stringing words together. It involves a rhythm. It shows sensitivity to the zenith of a phrase. It allows for a cadence. In the liturgy, when we think of a prayer as being “beautiful,” it describes not only the sentiment it contains, but also the way in which the thought is expressed. This is why so many contemporary prayers are unmemorable. The ancient principle of cursus has been put aside because of the mistaken notion that ignoring it would somehow make prayers clearer.

The “Prayer Book style” (if I may call it that) has survived in the Book of Divine Worship, and it is part of the very patrimony being referred to by Pope Benedict XVI in his Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum coetibus. In the third section of that Constitution, the Holy Father says,

III. Without excluding liturgical celebrations according to the Roman Rite, the Ordinariate has the faculty to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and the other Sacraments, the Liturgy of the Hours and other liturgical celebrations according to the liturgical books proper to the Anglican tradition, which have been approved by the Holy See, so as to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared.

We should notice an important statement within that section of Anglicanorum coetibus, where it refers to “…the liturgical books proper to the Anglican tradition, which have been approved by the Holy See…” One of the principles expounded by some members of the 1983 committee was a requirement that the only material that could be used in the Book of Divine Worship was material which could be found in a Prayer Book which had been approved by an official Anglican body. It was this (mistaken, I believe) requirement that kept out liturgical material from the traditional Anglican Missals, which had not received such authorization, even though such material was very much a part of Anglican tradition. But Anglicanorum coetibus states clearly that the Ordinariates may use elements of the Anglican tradition “which have been approved by the Holy See,” with no reference to previous official Anglican approval.

Now that we are entering the era of the Anglican Ordinariates, we have a unique liturgical opportunity. In fact, although the title of this short presentation is “The Book of Divine Worship: A Catholic Claim to Anglican Patrimony,” I think that title might be backwards. In light of what Anglicanorum coetibus is calling for, a more accurate title might be “An Anglican Claim to Catholic Patrimony.” In other words, we want – indeed, we need – a fully Catholic and historic liturgy, which can be expressed in a particularly Anglican way. We need a liturgy with its own integrity – not a “cut and paste” effort which attempts to put an “Anglican veneer” on an invented liturgical use. The Book of Divine Worship was a necessary first step towards an authentic Anglican Use liturgy. At the press conference on the day Anglicanorum coetibus was announced to the world, Archbishop DiNoia held up a copy of the Book of Divine Worship and stated that it would be a “template” for the Ordinariate liturgy. But we should not stop with a “first step,” nor should we consider a “template” to be a finished product. This liturgical chapter in the Church’s history must have its place in the hermeneutic of continuity.

Some of us have been using the texts of the Book of the Divine Worship in public worship for a generation. Because our spiritual and liturgical lives were formed by the Anglican Missals of the past, so we have attempted to uphold that important hermeneutic of continuity by conforming the Book of Divine Worship to those Missals as completely as the rubrics would allow. Our efforts are now confirmed by the words of Anglicanorum coetibus itself: that the members of the Ordinariates are “to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared.”

The various editions of the Anglican Missals are undoubtedly part of Anglican tradition, since their very purpose was to enhance and enrich the Prayer Book liturgy, moving it in a more Catholic direction. These Missals were used by Anglo-Catholics within the Anglican Communion throughout the world. Those of us who entered into full communion through Blessed John Paul’s Pastoral Provision a generation ago, were using some version of the Anglican Missal up until the time of our reception, and those Anglicans awaiting their reception into the Church through the Ordinariate continue to worship according to a traditional Anglican Missal.

Certainly, the Ordinariate Catholics who wish to use the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite – or even the Extraordinary Form – have full permission to do that. It is stated very clearly in Anglicanorum coetibus, and in fact that is presently the preference in the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in England.

However, for those who will enter the Ordinariate in the United States, or Canada, or Australia, there is a clear preference for a liturgy which exhibits a hermeneutic of continuity with the historic Missals which have been foundational to the spirituality which has brought us home to the Holy Catholic Church.

The Church has called for an Anglican Ordinariate liturgy. We know this liturgy is to have the Book of Divine Worship as its starting point. The Book of Divine Worship is now poised to be enriched and completed by what we have known in the various editions of the Anglican Missal. Therefore, to ignore the Missals in the development of a global Anglican Use liturgy for use in the Personal Ordinariates would be not only a rupture with the past, but it would miss the clear expectation expressed in Anglicanorum coetibus, to maintain those good things from our Anglican heritage which have nurtured our faith.

21 July 2016

Construction update...

Here are some pictures of the construction for the expansion of The Atonement Academy...

Architect's rendering of the finished building.


The steel structure is being erected.


The building will add approximately 117,000 sq. ft. of space.


It will be a three-story building.


We hope to have a completed section for use sometime in January.


15 July 2016

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel


O God, who didst adorn the Order of Mount Carmel with the especial title of thy most blessed Mother the Ever-Virgin Mary: mercifully grant; that as we do this day remember her in our solemn observance, so by the help of her succor we may be found worthy to attain to everlasting felicity; who livest and reignest with the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Flower of Carmel, vine blossom laden,
Joy of heaven, who yet a maiden,
Bore God's Holy One.
Gentlest Mother, who never man did know,
On Carmel's children your privilege bestow,
Star of Ocean.

Root of Jesse, flower in the cradling bud,
Take us to you, keep us with you in God,
His together.
All chaste lily, rising despite the thorn,
Strengthen, help us, so feeble and forlorn,
Great Protectress!

Be our armor, valiant for Christ when war
Rages round us, hold high the Scapular,
Strong and saving.
In our stumbling, guide us on God's wise way,
In our sorrow, comfort us when we pray;
Rich your mercy.

Holy Lady, Carmel's great Friend and Queen,
Feast your people from your own bliss, the unseen
Grace, God's goodness.
Key and Gateway, opening on Paradise,
Mother, win us a place with you in Christ
Crowned in glory.


Elijah's Cave atop Mt. Carmel, where we have offered Mass while on pilgrimage.