31 July 2008

Native religion...

Rev. Margaret R. Rose is the Director of Women’s Ministries in the Episcopal Church. She had this to say, regarding the ministry of women:

Just 2 years ago, January 2004 a gathering of 25 women, diverse in age, race and career path, all ordained 20 years or more gathered to take a look back, and a look forward. The questions we pondered were various aspects of: Was it worth it—for ourselves, for the church? And where do we go from here?

What emerged was that our call to priesthood, as shamans, as a way of representing the holy was as strong as ever. But that our commitment to the church as institution — well, we could take it or leave it.

…as “shamans.” That’s the way they see their ministry, apparently. And the commitment to their church? They "could take it or leave it." If they're shamans, they're not very dedicated ones.

This from the American Heritage Dictionary:

sha·man (shä'mən, shā'-) n. A member of certain tribal societies who acts as a medium between the visible world and an invisible spirit world and who practices magic or sorcery for purposes of healing, divination, and control over natural events.

According to traditional understanding, combined with Rev. Rose's understanding, here are some shamans:

On fire for the Lord...

I don't know when or where this brief video was made, but it does illustrate a little-known hazard which can be part of serving at the altar.

My advice to the young man: get a haircut.

30 July 2008

Born anew in the waters of baptism...

About an hour ago I got a call from the father of one of our young students here at the school. He didn't know who else to call -- his little niece, an infant, is having serious surgery tomorrow morning. She hadn't yet been baptized. The baby's parents had gone to their parish priest (who will remain nameless) when they learned of the impending surgery and asked him if they could have their little daughter baptized immediately, instead of waiting for all of the classes their parish requires. They understood the emergency nature of their request, but apparently the priest didn't. His answer to them? "We don't do that sort of thing. I can give her a blessing if you want."

I had them bring the baby straight to the church, and I baptized her. I didn't do anything extraordinary. Sadly, it was their own priest who did.

Maybe her miter is too tight...

This is how low the Lambeth discussions have sunk. Now a “lady bishop” is accusing some of her brother bishops of beating their wives. Needless to say, the bishops being accused (they know who they are) are outraged. She has no evidence, no reason to make such statements. Would you be surprised to know that those to whom she is referring tend to be the more conservative and traditional Anglican bishops? No agenda there, I’m sure.

The Rt Rev Catherine Roskam, Suffragan Bishop of New York, said domestic violence is deemed acceptable in some parts of the world and that "even the most devout Christians" are guilty of it.

She said some of the 670 Anglican bishops gathered in Canterbury for the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference probably beat their wives, and added that it is difficult to discuss it with them because they do not believe it is wrong.

Her comments have been condemned as outrageous and untrue, and a further example of the condescending attitude of western Anglicans to those in developing countries.

In the article in the Lambeth Witness, a newsletter produced daily during the meeting by the gay campaign group Inclusive Church Network, Bishop Roskam said: "We have 700 men here.

"Do you think any of them beat their wives? Chances are they do. The most devout Christians beat their wives.

"Culturally, many of our bishops come from places where it is culturally accepted to beat your wife. In that regard, it makes the conversation quite difficult."
(Read more)

A little haven of peace...

The courtyard between the church and the school is one of the prettiest spots in San Antonio. Here are a few pictures:

The nuns will be flying in...

Ok, ok, not like that. But the Poor Clares will be settling into the St. Joseph House during the week of August 11th.

I stopped in to see the progress at the house, and it looks great. Last in will be the new flooring and the kitchen appliances. The Sisters will be having a bit of a "recreation break" between leaving Hanceville and arriving here.

So... it really looks as though the week of August 11th will be the week. I know we've had lots of possible dates, but that should be it.

28 July 2008

Such music...

As I'm working in my office, I've been listening to music by Morten Lauridsen (b.1943), an American composer of Danish heritage. Music is a great love of mine. It's what I was planning to make my life's work, having begun my degree in organ performance. God had other plans for me, but never has my love for music -- especially sacred music -- lessened.

Lauridsen, although not a particularly religious man himself from what I understand, nonetheless is a tremendous instrument used by God to write some of the most exquisite contemporary music I have ever heard. I especially love his "O Magnum Mysterium," which you can listen to here:

Quite amazing...

Summer reading

“Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the praetorium, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe upon him, and plaiting a crown of thorns they put it on his head, and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him they mocked him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ And they spat upon him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe, and put his own clothes on him, and led him away to crucify him.”

In the course of readings for the Daily Office in the Book of Divine Worship I've been reading the account of the Passion in St. Matthew’s Gospel. It’s rather striking to be meditating upon the description of Christ’s suffering and death at this time of the year. We expect it during Passiontide, but to look at it now, in the midst of summer, makes it something unexpected. And I’ve found it to be helpful and very moving.

26 July 2008

Sunday, by George Herbert


O Day most calm, most bright,
The fruit of this, the next worlds bud,
Th’ indorsement of supreme delight,
Writ by a friend, and with his bloud;
The couch of time; cares balm and bay:
The week were dark, but for thy light:
Thy torch doth show the way.

The other dayes and thou
Make up one man; whose face thou art,
Knocking at heaven with thy brow:
The worky-daies are the back-part;
The burden of the week lies there,
Making the whole to stoup and bow,
Till thy release appeare.

Man had straight forward gone
To endlesse death: but thou dost pull
And turn us round to look on one,
Whom, if we were not very dull,
We could not choose but look on still;
Since there is no place so alone,
The which he doth not fill.

Sundaies the pillars are,
On which heav’ns palace arched lies:
The other dayes fill up the spare
And hollow room with vanities.
They are the fruitfull beds and borders
In Gods rich garden: that is bare,
Which parts their ranks and orders.

The Sundaies of mans life,
Thredded together on times string,
Make bracelets to adorn the wife
Of the eternall glorious King.
On Sunday heavens gate stands ope:
Blessings are plentifull and rife,
More plentifull then hope.

This day my Saviour rose,
And did inclose this light for his:
That, as each beast his manger knows,
Man might not of his fodder misse.
Christ hath took in this piece of ground,
And made a garden there for those
Who want herbs for their wound.

The rest of our Creation
Our great Redeemer did remove
With the same shake, which at his passion
Did th’ earth and all things with it move.
As Sampson bore the doores away,
Christs hands, though nail’d, wrought our salvation,
And did unhinge that day.

The brightnesse of that day
We sullied by our foul offence:
Wherefore that robe we cast away,
Having a new at his expence,
Whose drops of bloud paid the full price,
That was requir’d to make us gay,
And fit for Paradise.

Thou art a day of mirth:
And where the Week-dayes trail on ground,
Thy flight is higher, as thy birth.
O let me take thee at the bound,
Leaping with thee from sev’n to sev’n,
Till that we both, being toss’d from earth,
Flie hand in hand to heav’n!

from The Temple (1633), by George Herbert.

25 July 2008

Some movement on the TAC question?

The following letter appeared on the Traditional Anglican Communion website.

My Dear Fathers, Brothers and Sisters,

It is my great pleasure to be able to attach a copy of a letter I received this morning (25 July 2008) from Cardinal Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, via the Apostolic Nuncio in Australia. It is a letter of warmth and encouragement. I have responded, expressing my gratitude on behalf of "my brother bishops", reaffirming our determination to achieve the unity for which Jesus prayed with such intensity at the Last Supper, no matter what the personal cost this might mean in our discipleship.

This letter should encourage our entire Communion, and those friends who have been assisting us. It should also spur us to renewed prayer for the Holy Father, for Cardinal Levada and his staff at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and for all our clergy and people as we move to ever closer communion in Christ with the Holy See.

I am particularly thankful to the Cardinal Prefect for his generous mention of "corporate reunion", a pathway seldom travelled in the past, but essential for bringing about the plea of our Master to His Father "May they be completely one"’.

The Traditional Anglican Communion
Archbishop John Hepworth

Go here to read the Cardinal’s letter. Since I don’t speak Vaticanese, I don’t really know what it means, but we certainly should keep praying!

Looking for the perfect gift?

Got an uncle who’s a card-carrying member of the ACLU? Perhaps you’re on a first-name basis with an Anglican bishop. Maybe you’d like to impress one of the left-leaning Supreme Court justices.

Everybody’s got someone for whom it’s difficult to buy that “perfect” gift. Look no further. The tablets carried by Charlton Heston in the movie “The Ten Commandments” are for sale on Ebay.

Actually, they’d be ideal for Obama to carry around during his campaign. After all, he’s probably convinced he gave us the originals in the first place.

24 July 2008

Best quote of the day...

The mid-1960's through the early 1970's were my high school and college years. I managed to survive... and yes, I even learned quite a bit. One of the things I learned was how much I hated the pervasive "encounter groups" and "buzz groups" in which we were forced to participate. Did our teachers actually think we were going to gain knowledge and wisdom by sitting around and sharing our ignorance?

I couldn't help but think of that when I read what was being inflicted on the Anglican bishops gathered at Lambeth. Some refugee from the sixties thought it would be a good idea to have "indaba groups," which, according to the organizers, is a Zulu word. I guess this was supposed to impress the bishops from Africa, but it doesn't seem to have done that. Several of them have commented that the Lambeth indaba isn't anything like a real indaba.

Whatever. The point of the Lambeth process is to make people sit around and talk, talk, talk, without ever coming to a conclusion.

I thought this quote from one of the bishops, speaking about the indaba groups, was the best summary: "If they're so great, how come Africa is in such a mess?"

23 July 2008

Sermon gone bad...

I don't do puppets. I don't use props. I don't even tell jokes. When I preach it's my intention only to open the Scriptures and to teach the Faith as once delivered to the saints. Here's one reason why:

KOKOMO, Ind. - A pastor brought out a dirt bike during a church service to demonstrate the concept of unity. Now he's demonstrating the concept of healing.

Jeff Harlow, the senior pastor at Crossroads Community Church, broke his wrist when he lost control of the motorcycle at the start of Sunday's second service, driving off a 5-foot platform and into the vacant first row of seats. He underwent surgery on the wrist Monday.

"Jeff has already laughed a lot, so he's OK. I think his pride was bruised," said his wife, Becky.

Becky Harlow said her husband had recently attended a motorcycle race in Buchanan, Mich.

"He had this idea that he would bring this bike out onstage and show people how the rider would become one with the bike," she told the Kokomo Tribune. "He was going to just sit on it and drive it out. He was just walking the dirt bike out onstage and somehow it got away from him. It was not intended."

No one else was hurt.

Jeff Harlow had performed the demonstration at earlier services Saturday night and Sunday morning without incident.

22 July 2008

"When are they coming...?"

Everybody wants to know. When will the Poor Clares get here? Soon, I keep saying... soon. And it will be, I promise.

Before they could move into our St. Joseph House some work needed to be done. The layout of the rooms needed changing around. The kitchen needed updating. Some of the flooring was showing its age. I don't know how many of you have started down the road of making a few improvements around the house. You know how one thing leads to another. What started out as "fixing a few things" has led to a complete gutting of most of the house, and redoing it from the wall studs out.

But it really is almost finished. It won't be next week, but most likely the week after, and the nuns will finally be here. They're even more eager than we are, if that's possible. So pray for them, certainly. But more importantly, pray for the workmen over at the house. May St. Joseph the Worker protect them and guide them and help them finish things really fast!

19 July 2008

More from the Requiem Mass

Here are three video clips from the Requiem Mass which was offered at the opening of the recent Anglican Use Conference.

Pictures from the Conference

Go here to see lots of pictures from last week's Anglican Use Conference.

17 July 2008

It's not breaking news...

Damian Thompson of the Daily Telegraph wrote a story with the screaming headline, "Ex-Anglican communities to become Catholic, Rome confirms." The news shot around the world, and it sounded as though a new break-through -- a major Vatican decision -- had been made. Not so.

Mr. Thompson's attempt to bring "breaking news" to the world was based upon the keynote address given by Archbishop John J. Myers, when he spoke here at the parish to those who were assembled for the Anglican Use Conference. The archbishop wasn't delivering anything new to us. Rather, he was simply confirming what all of us already knew: that the Holy See had approved the Pastoral Provision in 1980 and had given us the Anglican Use liturgy in 1983. He expressed his appreciation for those parishes and communities which are using the liturgy, and spoke of the hope that it would be helpful and encouraging to those Anglicans who decide to become Catholics but who wish to retain elements of their liturgical and devotional life. It was a fine address, and quite moving. But it was no more than that, and it was not intended to be.

The Pastoral Provision and the Anglican Use liturgy exist in the United States. What will happen in England or in other countries, we do not know. But we certainly pray for our brothers and sisters who are struggling in a difficult situation. If the request is made for something similar to what we have, I would imagine the Holy See would grant the request. But at this point, any discussions are private. There is little point in trying to guess what is happening, and little good can come from taking a few paragraphs from a particular speech, given in a particular context, and attempting to extrapolate earth-shaking news from it.

UPDATE: Here's a far more balanced article from the Catholic News Agency.

16 July 2008

More images from the Conference...

The picture above and below are from the celebration of Solemn Evensong.

The Mass on Friday evening, concelebrated by Archbishop Gomez, Archbishop Myers and Bishop Vann, with the seventh candle indicating that the Ordinary is the principal celebrant.

The Deacon chanting the Gospel at the center of the Nave.

Bishop Vann and Archbishop Myers in the sanctuary.

Daughter, Mother and Spouse

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.

We salute thee, Holy Mary, Daughter of God the Father, and entreat thee to obtain for us a devotion like thine own to the most sweet Will of God.

We salute thee, Virgin Mother of God the Son, and entreat thee to obtain for us such union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, that our own hearts may burn with love for God and an ardent zeal for the salvation of souls.

We salute thee, Immaculate Spouse of God the Holy Ghost, and entreat thee to obtain for us such yielding of ourselves to the Blessed Spirit, that He may, in all things, direct and rule our hearts, and that we may never grieve Him in thought, word, or deed.

15 July 2008

Requiem Mass at the A. U. Conference

We celebrated a Requiem Mass for all those departed who have worked for the establishment of the Pastoral Provision and the Anglican Use liturgy. Here's a brief clip from the beginning of that Mass. I'll post more of the Mass tomorrow.

Here's a link to more video clips of the Requiem.

Keynote address by Archbishop Myers

Following is the text of the Keynote Address delivered by the Most Reverend John J. Myers, Archbishop of Newark and Ecclesiastical Delegate for the Pastoral Provision, at the Anglican Use Conference in San Antonio on 11 July 2008.

In 1959, when Good Pope John announced his desire to convene an ecumenical Council, he emphasized that unity among Christians would be a priority for the discussions of the Council Fathers. In the document Unitatis Redintegratio, issued regarding the unity of Christians, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council stated that “the division among Christians is a scandal to all people…and…moved by a desire for the restoration of unity among all the followers of Christ [they] set before all Catholics guidelines…by which all…[could] respond to the grace of [the] divine call [for unity]” Nearly fifty years later the restoration of unity among Christians remains a challenging work for the Church.

The meeting of His Holiness, Pope Paul VI and His Grace, Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury on March 23, 1966 was indeed an historic moment. The Holy Father and the Archbishop committed themselves to the words of St. Paul, “forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press towards the mark for the prize of high calling of God in Christ Jesus” and thus they inaugurated what we know as the ecumenical dialogue between Roman Catholics and Anglicans.

The dialogue which has taken place over the years has been quite promising at times. The work of the Holy See has been intensive in conversations with the Anglican Communion. Together they have tried to determine what we hold in common and where we agree. The conversations continue because the Catholic Church believes that the Anglican Communion holds a special place in relationship to her.

This relationship was stressed in a homily given on the occasion of the Canonization of the English Martyrs on October 25, 1970 by Pope Paul VI. He said:

"May the blood of these Martyrs be able to heal the great wound inflicted upon God’s Church by reason of the separation of the Anglican Church from the Catholic Church. Is it not one – these Martyrs say to us – the Church founded by Christ? Is not this their witness? Their devotion to their nation gives us the assurance that on the day when – God willing – the unity of the faith and of Christian life is restored, no offence will be inflicted on the honor and sovereignty of a great country such as England. There will be no seeking to lessen the legitimate prestige and the worthy patrimony of piety and usage proper to the Anglican Church when the Roman Catholic Church – this humble ‘Servant of the Servants of God’ – is able to embrace her ever beloved Sister in the one authentic communion of the family of Christ."

Even though the relationship and dialogue seem strained at times we are obliged to continue to pray and work for unity, to “press toward the mark,” so that the prayer of our Blessed Lord may be realized that all who profess faith in Him may be one.

Until that unity is achieved the Pastoral Provision serves somehow to close the gap. In the mid 1970’s, the tireless efforts of members of the Episcopal Church in the United States, in conversations with the Apostolic Delegate in Washington, D.C. and the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, brought forth the Pastoral Provision. The Provision, although not the work of ecumenism, is a vehicle through which individuals from the Episcopal Church can be reconciled with the Catholic Church and it also recognizes the “worthy patrimony of piety and usage” to which Paul VI referred.

Through the Anglican Use liturgy, individuals from the Episcopal Church who reconcile with Rome have the option to worship in a manner that is familiar to them, which many practiced from childhood, and which has nourished their faith in Jesus Christ. The value of this experience is important. For others, the Use is a welcome place where the beauty of the liturgical action, music, architecture and art enables them to raise their hearts and minds in praise of Almighty God. In some cases the sense of the sacred conveyed in the Anglican Use liturgy has been a vehicle of return for Catholics who had fallen away from the practice of their faith because of liturgical abuses during the implementation of the Novus Ordo. The Holy See, through the work of the Pastoral Provision, recognizes that there is a legitimate historical patrimony of the Anglican Communion.

Pope Gregory the Great sent St. Augustine of Canterbury to evangelize the English at the end of the sixth century. Writing to Augustine, Gregory stated: “You are familiar with the usage of the Roman Church, in which you were brought up. But if you have found customs, whether in the Roman, Gallican, or any other Churches that may be more acceptable to God, I wish you to make a careful selection of them, and teach the Church of the English, which is still young in Faith, whatever you can profitably learn from the various Churches.” Today, some fourteen hundred years after St. Augustine brought Christianity to England, can we not ask the English, or more appropriately those who have preserved the patrimony of the Anglican Communion, whether there is now something to learn from the Anglican tradition?

We are grateful to the Holy See that the Anglican Use liturgy is an approved Use of the Ordinary Form of the Latin Rite. However, at the same time, we must not forget that the Pastoral Provision was given for an indefinite period of time. It is important that we remember this. As Roman Catholics our obedience lies with the Holy See; it lies with the direction that the Holy Father sets for us – for this is the way Christ established His Church – upon Peter. This is a grace for us and we have an obligation to preserve unity within our Church. Catholic faithful who worship according to the Anglican Use must never see themselves as different from other Catholics or somehow privileged among other Christian Communions. We are Catholics together, obedient to the Holy Father, to those bishops in communion with him and ever faithful to Magisterial teaching.

The Church welcomes the Anglican Use liturgy because it protects and encourages the spiritual life of many and allows her faithful to grow deeper in their relationship with Jesus Christ by the customs and traditions which historically were an important part of the Anglican Communion.

England has been a place of fervent Catholic faith and the Anglican Communion inherited that faith. Centuries after St. Augustine brought the Christian faith to England, it was a Wessex-born Anglo-Saxon who became the Apostle of Germany. Our Holy Father, Benedict XVI, publicly expressed his gratitude to the English Christian tradition for the evangelization of his own homeland. Two years before being elected pope, then Cardinal Ratzinger wrote, “Nor can I fail to recall that…Saint Boniface brought the same Christian faith from England to my own forebears in Germany.”

From its earliest days, devotion to the Mother of God always has been an important part of English Catholic life. The tradition of the Holy Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, given to the universal Church through St. Simon Stock, derives from English soil. The famed medieval shrine to Our Lady of Walsingham and its tradition of pilgrimages is deeply rooted in English history and lives again today. The fervent devotion of England to Mary is exemplified poetically and beautifully in the concept of England as “Our Lady’s Dowry,” a devotion that tradition dates to King St. Edward the Confessor.

In the late fourteenth century, Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury, reflecting on “Our Lady’s Dowry,” wrote: “The contemplation of the great mystery of the Incarnation has drawn all Christian nations to venerate her from whom came the first beginnings of our redemption. But we English, being the servants of her special inheritance and her own dowry, as we are commonly called, ought to surpass others in the fervor of our praises and devotions.”

It would be a tragedy if these examples of faith and pious devotion were lost to the Church and to the faithful and it would be simplistic to dismiss the tradition. I was awestruck when I first experienced the Anglican Use liturgy at the English College in Rome during a pilgrimage last September. Its beauty was incarnated in the devotion manifested in the exquisite celebration of the Eucharist. I was humbled by the devotion of the faithful and I am encouraged by the fervor of the chapel and parishes that employ the Anglican Use liturgy here in the United States.

The Pastoral Provision has now been in existence for twenty-eight years. I know the journey has not been easy but we continue to persevere with patience. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the chapel and parishes of the Anglican Use. In a particular way, I offer heartfelt congratulations to the congregation of Our Lady of the Atonement Parish on the twenty-fifth anniversary of its establishment as a personal parish of the Archdiocese of San Antonio. Yours was the first Anglican Use parish in the United States to be established after the Pastoral Provision came into being. I am certain that Father Christopher Phillips and JoAnn had no idea what was in store for them when they packed their family in a car and headed into the desert. I had always thought that the road to the Promised Land was supposed to lead out of the desert! However, their faith in God and perseverance to do His will has brought life in Christ to this great State of Texas.

A quarter-century ago, Archbishop Flores, trusting in God and praying to the Mother of God, chose August 15th, the solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady, as the day to receive eighteen souls together with their pastor into full communion with the Catholic Church. Mary, Our Mother generously has blessed your efforts over the years. The beautiful Church and the flourishing school of this marvelous parish are ample proof of her bounty and love. All these are signs of what can be accomplished with trust in the Lord, building on faith, constant in prayer and in the desire to do God’s Will.

As the Ecclesiastical Delegate for the Pastoral Provision, I want to express my paternal affection for the people who participate in the liturgy according to the Anglican Use. It has been my honor to serve you as Ecclesiastical Delegate. I have greatly appreciated the work of my assistants, Monsignor William Stetson and Monsignor Robert Wister, and the dedication of all who care for and promote the Use.

Some great strides have been made in the last two years in improving the mechanics of the Pastoral Provision. We are working on expanding the mandate of the Pastoral Provision to include those clergy and faithful of “continuing Anglican communities.” We are striving to increase awareness of our apostolate to Anglican Christians who desire to be reconciled with the Holy See. We have experienced the wonder of several Episcopal bishops entering into full communion with the Catholic Church and we continue to receive requests from priests and laity about the Pastoral Provision. I also take this opportunity to thank the Anglican Use Society for their work under the Pastoral Provision, and for the invitation to address this conference.

I know that some of you experienced difficulty and anxiety at the time you made the decision to leave what was so dear to you when you felt the Lord calling you to come to the Catholic Church. In some regard your journey has been heroic. The Church is enriched by your struggles for our Lord.

John Cardinal Newman, who is numbered among the more famous of former Anglicans to reconcile with Rome, was no stranger to such struggle. He felt he was abandoning family, abandoning friends and colleagues. People and places who were dear to him, full of memories and tradition, speaking the same language of faith – how would it be possible to leave such things?

The struggle is real. The choice is not always easy. However, the Holy See’s allowance of the Anglican Use liturgy for now might help to make the burden a little easier for some to bear. The mark toward which we press as Catholics and as Christians is Jesus Christ. He is our goal and we can only find Him through the Church he founded on Peter. The sentiments which Newman expressed in his poem “Lead Kindly Light” speak eloquently of how we bear the difficulties we experience in our faith lives and the Venerable Newman teaches us that the ultimate goal is Christ and it is His will, not our own, that we seek:

Lead, kindly light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home –
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene, - one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou
Shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path; but now,
Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will: remember not past years!

So long Thy power hath blessed me, sure it still
Will lead me on.
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone;
And with the morn these angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.

Indeed, we are uncertain of the future and how details will be worked through. Therefore, we can only place our trust in Christ. Only through our prayer will we experience Him leading us, and He is our hope. He is the mark toward which we press. This is why the patrimony of the Anglican Use is so important. It is the way you can touch Christ here on earth.

G.K. Chesterton put his stirrings for conversion in this way; he desired “not a Church that will move with the world but a Church that will move the world.” The goal of finding Christ through His Church. It is this notion we hold out to society, hoping that those who are confused or misguided may find through Peter, Jesus Christ and His Church.

It is a blessing to be here with you today. I ask your prayers as I continue to serve you and together may we assist in some small way, those from the Anglican Communion who seek reconciliation with the See of Peter. May the Light, which is Christ, enable those who are lost in the dark to see through the struggles and challenges of our time. May they know that only Christ can bring them “holy rest and peace at last” .

Please stand and allow me to end with a prayer for the Church that Christians may find peace among themselves and unity in faith and mission.

Let us pray:
Almighty Father, whose blessed Son before his passion prayed for his disciples that they might be one, even as thou and he are one: Grant that thy Church, being bound together in love and obedience to thee, may be united in one body by the one Spirit, that the world may believe in him whom though didst send, the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, now and for ever. AMEN.

* * * * * * * *
In the light of Damian Thompson's "interpretation" of this address, you might want to read this.

Sermon by Archbishop Gomez

Here is the text of the sermon preached by His Excellency, the Most Reverend Jose H. Gomez, Archbishop of San Antonio, at the Mass on July 11th, during the Anglican Use Conference.

My brother Bishops, Priests, Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Today as we gather for this special celebration it is providential that we celebrate the feast of St. Benedict. We can say that he is the Patron Saint of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI. So, we especially pray for the Holy Father and his universal ministry in the Catholic Church.

This past April Pope Benedict XVI discussed the influence St. Benedict had on Western Europe. The pope said that “with his life and work St. Benedict exercised a fundamental influence on the development of European civilization and culture” and helped Europe to emerge from the “dark night of history” that followed the fall of the Roman empire.

As you probably know, also on this very day, July 11, 1533, exactly four hundred and seventy five years ago, Pope Clement VII formally excommunicated England’s King Henry VIII for remarrying after his alleged divorce from his legitimate wife, Catherine of Aragon. He also excommunicated the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, and withdrew the papal nuncio from England. This day of infamy marks the day in which England formally fell out of communion with Rome.

All this occurred 475 years ago. I therefore find it rather appropriate that on the feast of St. Benedict, we are gathered together today in the name of Christ and in the name of the Catholic Church as a witness to the beautiful reality of what was once Catholic England, and now is the Pastoral Provision for the Anglican Use established by our beloved Pope John Paul II, and in the Archdiocese of San Antonio by my predecessor, Archbishop Patrick Flores who, twenty-five years ago, decided to erect this personal parish of Our Lady of the Atonement in which many of the elements of English Catholicism are preserved and given new life in the Catholic Church.

Those of you here who possess an appreciation for Church history will realize the significance of today’s Gospel as it prophecies against kings who shall persecute the faithful.

In today’s Gospel, Christ warns his followers, “You will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake.” As we celebrate this year’s Anglican Use Conference, we might remember the namesake of the most recent pastoral provision parish, that of Saint Thomas More in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Saint Thomas More, as we all know, was an English Catholic who held true to the Catholic Faith. Two years after the papal decree, Thomas More would receive a martyr’s reward for his fidelity to the Pope in Rome.

The Pastoral Provision looks back to those sorrowful days and seeks to provide a way for the children of Henry’s “Church of England” to return once more to the universal embrace of Rome. Many of you here today are converts from Anglicanism of one sort or another. Some of you are former Anglican clergy. Perhaps, you were not “dragged before governors and kings” for the sake of Christ, but some of you were persecuted.

Some of you offered up your vocations and others of you may have received harsh words from friends and family members who could not understand your decision to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. Nonetheless, today we stand around the altar of Christ and we receive the consolation of Heaven.

In the past two years, Pope Benedict XVI has increasingly centered the Church’s attention on the mystery of the Church’s communio. Our Holy Father reminds us that we must be one in Christ and this union is ratified every time we celebrate the Holy Eucharist. Moreover, our union with one another is further realized when at each Mass, the celebrant invokes the name of the Holy Father in Rome.

Prior to being elected as Pope, Benedict XVI once wrote: “Communion with the pope is that communion with the whole, without which there is no communion with Christ. A part of Christian prayer and of the Christian act of faith is committing oneself in faith to the whole, overcoming one’s own limits. The Liturgy is not the setting up of some club, an association of friends; we receive it from the whole church, and we have to celebrate it as coming from the whole and directed toward the whole.”

Although we may share liturgical variations, we are united in the Eucharist and we celebrate our communio with one another by being in constant communion with our bishops and, ultimately, with the successor of Saint Peter.

In his recent Apostolic Visit to the United States, Pope Benedict XVI left us some challenges. One of them is the promotion of unity in the Church. In his homily at the Mass in Washington, DC, he said: “As the church in the United States gives thanks for the blessings of the past 200 years, I invite you, your families, and every parish and religious community, to trust in the power of grace to create a future of promise for God's people in this country. I ask you, in the Lord Jesus, to set aside all division and to work with joy to prepare a way for him in fidelity to his word and in constant conversion to his will. Above all, I urge you to continue to be a leaven of evangelical hope in American society, striving to bring the light and truth of the Gospel to the task of building an ever more just and free world for generations yet to come” (4/17/08).

We just heard the words of the Prophet Hosea who said:
“Let the wise man understand these words.
Let the intelligent man grasp their meaning.
For the ways of the Lord are straight,
and virtuous men walk in them”

Let us take Hosea’s words to heart today. The way of the Lord is straight. Let us recommit our lives to Christ this day and continue together along the narrow way of salvation drawn out for us by holy men and women, such as St. Benedict, Thomas More, Cardinal Newman and many others, to the gates of Heaven.

And let us share with all those who treasure the Anglican traditions the joyous conviction that the new Israel draws its life from the fullness of communion in the Word of God, in the Eucharist and with the See of Peter.

Let me finish invoking the intercession of Mary Our Blessed Mother for each one of us, for the Pastoral Provision, for the Catholic Church in the United States and for the Universal Church.

To her, Mary, Our Lady of the Atonement was dedicated this Parish, the first one of the Pastoral Provision. May she continue to accompany us in our journey of faith, hope, unity and love and for the greater glory of God. Amen.

14 July 2008

More from the Conference...

This Monday morning has turned out to be busier than I anticipated, and I haven't had a chance to post an account of the recent Anglican Use Conference, along with pictures. That will be coming, but in dribs and drabs, I fear.

But I do want to call your attention to the very excellent talk given by Dr. Jeffrey Steenson, former Episcopal bishop and now a Catholic. The title of his talk is "The Causes for My Becoming Catholic," and I encourage you to read it. You can find the text here.

12 July 2008

Excellent conference

Until I have time to report on the Anglican Use Conference, have a look at Taylor Marshall's story on Canterbury Tales.

10 July 2008

The gathering of the clans...

People are beginning to arrive for the 2008 Anglican Use Conference, being held here this year as part of our twenty-fifth anniversary celebrations. We have more than two hundred registered for the conference, and it'll be a great time, getting to see old friends and meeting new ones. There will be a number of individuals coming who want to know more about the Pastoral Provision, and we'll be praying they'll see their future here, with us, in communion with Peter.

We're looking forward to hearing Dr. Jeffrey Steenson, former Episcopal bishop, tell about his own journey into the fullness of the Catholic faith. And we'll be hanging on every word from Archbishop John Myers, our Ecclesicastical Delegate.

There'll be plenty of food and drink, along with convivial company. When it's over I'm sure the verdict will be, "A good time was had by all."

09 July 2008

Feast of Our Lady of the Atonement

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of the Atonement, a date kept first by the Graymoor Friars and Sisters, and then extended to our parish at the time of our foundation. The following words reflect the thoughts of Fr. Paul of Graymoor:

Since the time that Christ 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. In 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 of these 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 Fatima. In some titles of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 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 of Our Lady 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 -- 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.

08 July 2008

The Vatican's response...

VATICAN CITY, 8 JUL 2008 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a communique released late this morning by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, concerning recent events within the Anglican Communion.

"We have regretfully learned the news of the Church of England vote that paves the way for the introduction of legislation which will lead to the ordaining of women to the episcopacy.

"The Catholic position on the issue has been clearly expressed by Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II. Such a decision signifies a break with the apostolic tradition maintained by all of the Churches since the first millennium and is, therefore, a further obstacle to reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the Church of England.

"This decision will have consequences on the future of dialogue, which had up until now borne fruit, as Cardinal Kasper clearly explained when on 5 June 2006 he spoke to all of the bishops of the Church of England at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

"The Cardinal has been invited once again to express the Catholic position at the next Lambeth Conference at the end of July".

07 July 2008

Bitter medicine...

So the Church of England has voted to have female bishops. Was there ever any doubt? And while I'm sad to think of the agony this is causing many good, catholic-minded Anglicans, I say it's just the medicine they need. The idea of the "catholicity" of Anglicanism has been critically ill for a long time, and although I'm certainly not in favor of euthanasia, there comes a time when death must be allowed.

I remember my own feeling of utter abandonment and depression when the same vote was achieved in this country. It was as though a black pall was settling down over me. But it made me look more deeply for the truth. It helped me to realize the Anglicanism is not "the Church." Rather, I came to know with assurance that the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church was founded by our Lord Jesus Christ upon that Rock which is Peter. And with that assurance it all become quite clear. Sad as it was to leave, I realized that my real Mother -- Holy Mother Church -- had been waiting for me all along.

So I pray for those in the Church of England who are feeling an abandonment tonight. And I pray also that they will quickly come to realize that God has not left them comfortless, but that He has a place ready and waiting for them.

05 July 2008

Help! We're drowning!

The penmanship might look pretty, but as the handwriting on the wall becomes clearer it’s apparent that the message is pretty devastating. What used to be the Anglican Communion is now little more than a collection of factions, ranging from staunchly evangelical protestants to full-blown Gnostics. Some think things are hunky-dory. Others want to go it alone. Still others claim to be the “real” Anglicans, whatever that might mean. And some are looking – albeit gingerly and anonymously – towards Rome.

The following story is from London’s Sunday Telegraph:

They met senior advisers of the Pope in an attempt to build closer ties with the Roman Catholic Church, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt.

Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was not told of the talks and the disclosure will be a fresh blow to his efforts to prevent a major split in the Church of England.

In highly confidential discussions, a group of conservative bishops expressed their dismay at the liberal direction of the Church of England and their fear for its future.

They met members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the most powerful of the Vatican's departments, the successor to the medieval Inquisition, which enforces doctrine and was headed by Pope Benedict XVI before his election.

The names of the bishops are known to The Sunday Telegraph, but they have asked for anonymity because the talks are of such a sensitive and potentially explosive nature.

The disclosure comes on the eve of a critical vote as members of the General Synod – the Church's parliament – prepare to decide whether to allow women to be bishops without giving concessions to staunch opponents.

Up to 600 clergy gave warning in a letter to Dr Williams that they may leave the Church unless they receive a legal right to havens within the Church free of women bishops. (read more...)

Looking to the Catholic Church as a means of escape probably isn’t the best reason to consider conversion. But the Anglicans certainly have plenty of motivation to look someplace. Who knows? Perhaps what started for negative reasons for them may well turn into the positive desire actually to become Catholics. It’s rather like the difference between imperfect and perfect contrition. Wanting to avoid hell is a pretty good reason to get to confession. Loving God and not wanting to offend Him is an even better reason.

Conversion can be like that. Sometimes the best journeys start with phrases like, “Let’s get the heck out of here!”

04 July 2008

If you're a procrastinator...

We've been getting calls from people who are asking if it's too late to register for the Anglican Use Conference which will be taking place in San Antonio July 10th through the 12th.

No, it's not too late. There is now a registration form which you can complete online. Fill it out and click "submit," and we'll see you in San Antonio!
If you're an Episcopal clergyman, and you require a little financial help so you can attend, make your needs known and we'll see what we can do.

A Prayer for our Nation

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

02 July 2008

Novena to our Patroness

The Feast of Our Lady of the Atonement is on July 9th; however, because this is our Patronal Solemnity, and to keep it with greater solemnity, we're transferring it to the nearest Sunday. This year we'll be keeping it on July 13th, and we prepare for it by offering the Novena to Our Lady of the Atonement. The Novena begins this year on Friday, July 4th.

To take part in the Novena:

On each day, if possible, assist at Holy Mass, and go to Confession and Communion at least once during the Novena. The following prayers are recommended to be said daily:

(One Our Father, ten Hail Mays, one Glory be.)


Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy, hear and answer me. Amen.


We salute thee, Holy Mary, Daughter of God the Father, and entreat thee to obtain for us a devotion like thine own to the most sweet Will of God.

We salute thee, Virgin Mother of God the Son, and entreat thee to obtain for us such union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, that our own hearts may burn with love for God and an ardent zeal for the salvation of souls.

We salute thee, Immaculate Spouse of God the Holy Ghost, and entreat thee to obtain for us such yielding of ourselves to the Blessed Spirit, that He may, in all things, direct and rule our hearts, and that we may never grieve Him in thought, word, or deed.


Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us. Christ hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God, the Father of Heaven,
have mercy upon us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
have mercy upon us.
God, the Holy Ghost,
have mercy upon us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
have mercy upon us.

Our Lady of the Atonement, Daughter of God the Father,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Mother of God the Son,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Spouse of God the Holy Ghost,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, standing by the Cross,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, given to us as a Mother,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, our Mediatrix,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, firm Hope,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, sure Refuge,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Mother of Divine Love,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Shepherdess of the wandering sheep,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, pillar of Unity,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Mother of Conversions,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Mother of the outcast,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Star of the pagans,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Mother of missionaries,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Mother most sorrowful,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Lily of Israel,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Model of resignation,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Haven of peace,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Comfort of the afflicted,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Guide of the doubtful,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Welcomer of the pilgrims,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Handmaid of the Father,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Mirror of the Son,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Queen of the Precious Blood,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, true Model,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, strong Protectress,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, hailed by the Archangel Gabriel,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Splendor of Heaven,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Delight of the Saints,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Strength of the weak,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Comfort of the dying,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, triumphant with Jesus,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Queen of the Universe,
pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Queen of the Children of the Atonement,
pray for us.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy upon us.
Pray for us, O Blessed Mother;
That we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray. O God, who didst deign that we, thy children,
shouldst invoke our Mother Mary under the title of Our
Lady of the Atonement; grant that through her powerful
intercession we may obtain the fullness of thy blessings;
through thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ, who liveth and
reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost ever, one
God, world without end. Amen.

Outdoor shrine to be blessed

Although the major celebration of our Patronal Solemnity will be kept on Sunday, July 13th, the actual Feast Day of Our Lady of the Atonement will not go unmarked. On July 9th, at 7:00 p.m., we will be blessing the new outdoor Shrine and the Holy Mass will be celebrated at that altar. This also will commemorate the anniversary of the first Mass celebrated on the parish grounds, which took place on July 9th 1985. This stone altar marks the place where the first Mass was offered, and within it is the original wooden altar we used on that occasion.

01 July 2008

A tale of two letters...

Have a look at these two written statements. Here’s the first one, from the Transalpine Redemptorists:

1 July, 2008
Feast of the Precious Blood

My dear friends,

I am happy to inform you that last June 18th, before Cardinal Castrillon and the members of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei in Rome, I humbly petitioned the Holy See on my own behalf and on behalf of the monastery council for our priestly suspensions to be lifted.

On June 26th I received word that the Holy See had granted our petition. All canonical censures have been lifted.

Our community now truly rejoices in undisputed and peaceful posession of Communion with the Holy See because our priests are now in canonical good standing.

We are very grateful to our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI for issuing, last July, the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum which called us to come into undisputed and peaceful Communion with him.

Now we have that undisputed communion! It is a pearl of great price; a treasure hidden in the field; a sweetness that cannot be imagined by those who have not tasted it or who have not known it, now for many years. Its value cannot be fully expressed in earthly language and therefore we hope that all traditional priests who have not yet done so, will answer Pope Benedict's call to enjoy the grace of peaceful and undisputed communion with him. Believe us, the price to pay is nothing; even all the angry voices that have shouted against us and calumniated us are as nothing when weighed in the scales against undisputed communion with the Vicar of Christ; others have died for it; what are raucous voices?

We publicly thank all those souls who have prayed for us over the last months; some of you have truly stormed heaven for us. You have kept us afloat. We are deeply grateful. Especially we thank that priest who was unknown to us, until June 16th when he wrote in fraternal support. Where did he come from? Why us? But he told us of the number of Masses, Offices, prayers and sacrifices he had personally said for us; he had also enlisted the prayers of contemplatives and Third Order societies and had a great number of people fervently praying for us with an abundance of prayers. We were amazed! Thank you Father! Thank you also to that brave person who, so kindly wrote to us to say that if he said any more prayers for us he would be floating! What wonderful people! Thank you!

Looking to the future, the next stage will be to have our community canonically erected. So please, dear friends, keep praying for us, there will be many crosses to bear; but they will be yokes sweetened by the grace of these last days.

We assure you all of our very best wishes.
Your devoted servant,

Fr. Michael Mary, C.SS.R.
Vicar General

Here’s the second, from the SSPX:

of Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos

Released on July 1, 2008 from DICI.

On June 4, 2008, at the request of Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, the Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X, His Excellency Bernard Fellay, went to Rome accompanied the Second Assistant General, Fr. Alain-Marc Nely.

During the interview, he was given a memorandum in the form of an ultimatum, demanding an answer by the end of the month of June. On June 23, contrary to the established custom, the Italian daily Il Giornale revealed the existence of the ultimatum and, the next day, published its content in its online edition. In the days following, the information was broadcasted by all of the international press. Thus, to the urgency of the ultimatum was added media pressure.

Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos’ document expressed five demands: besides a positive answer requested before the end of June, the Society of St. Pius X, in the person of its General Superior, had to commit itself (1) “to give a response proportionate to the pope’s generosity”; (2) “to avoid any public comment which would not respect the person of the Holy Father and would have a negative impact upon ecclesial charity;” (3) “to avoid claiming a magisterium superior to the Holy Father’s and not to set the Society in opposition to the Church;” (4) “to demonstrate its will to act in all honesty and ecclesial charity, and in the respect of the authority of the Vicar of Christ.”

We must observe that the very general — not to say vague — character of the demands singularly contrasts with the urgency of the ultimatum. The conditions seem to be meant to obtain an atmosphere favorable to a further dialogue, rather than imply any precise commitment on definite issues. The Society of St. Pius X wishes that the dialogue be on the doctrinal level and take into accounts all the issues, which, if they were evaded, might jeopardize a canonical status hastily set up. The SSPX considers that the preliminary withdrawal of the 1988 decrees of excommunication would foster serenity in the dialogue.

The SSPX does not claim the exercise of a magisterium superior to the Holy Father’s, nor does it seek to oppose the Church. Following in the footsteps of its founder, it wants to hand down what it has received, namely “what has always been believed everywhere and by all.” It claims as its own the profession of faith addressed by Archbishop Lefebvre to Paul VI on September 24, 1975: “Jesus Christ has entrusted to His Vicar the charge of confirming his brethren in the faith, and has asked him to make sure that every bishop faithfully keep the deposit of the faith, according to St. Paul’s recommendation to Timothy.”

In a letter to Pope Benedict XVI, dated June 26, 2008, Bishop Fellay answered in this sense. Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos acknowledged receipt of the letter the next day.

Until further details are available, we will make no comment.

Notice any difference in attitude between the two?

Here's the problem...

I don't often wax political here, but why do I feel that some of our nation's most dangerous terrorists have seats on the Supreme Court? Since the days of that irrepressible swinger, Sandra Day O'Connor, we seem to lurch from a 5-4 decision one day, to a 4-5 decision the next. And now another mystical reed-bender, Anthony Kennedy, keeps her chair warm. I can't remember where I read it, but a columnist recently made the suggestion that we save a bunch of money and dismiss the other eight Justices, and just go with Kennedy, since he usually casts the deciding vote anyway.

Rich Lowry's recent article, "The High Court's Supreme Clown," gives an idea of just how serious the present situation is:

Why did the Founders bother toiling in the summer heat of Philadelphia in 1787 writing a Constitution when they could have relied on the consciences of Supreme Court justices like Anthony Kennedy instead?

Kennedy is the Supreme Court's most important swing vote and its worst justice. Whatever else you think of them, a Justice Scalia or Ginsburg has a consistent judicial philosophy, while Kennedy expects the nation to bend to his moral whimsy. With apologies to Louis XIV, Kennedy might as well declare "la constitution, c'est moi!"

In a 2005 interview, Kennedy said of the Court, "You know, in any given year, we may make more important decisions than the legislative branch does -- precluding foreign affairs, perhaps." (He was wise to include the "perhaps," in light of the recent Guantanamo Bay decision.) He went on to note how judges need "an understanding that you have an opportunity to shape the destiny of the country." (read more...)

Thanks to this little man in a big chair, we're getting a taste of what it would be like to live in a dictatorship. Given the oversized position the Supreme Court has developed, the importance of the next national election cannot be overstated. One of two men will have the responsibility of nominating replacements for two or three Justices. Don't sit back and let someone else choose the next president. I'm not excited about our choices, but at least we do have a clear choice, especially when it comes to the kind of Justice we might see sitting on a future Supreme Court.