31 October 2009

Collect for All Saints Day

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.

That certainly clears things up...

I'm grateful that the clarification has come from the Holy See, concerning the issue of celibate clergy in the Anglican Ordinariates.  Lots of ink and energy were being taken up by this, and it has caused unneccessary confusion among Catholics and Anglicans alike.  In fact, this one issue (a rather minor one, when considering the whole matter of the Ordinariates) was threatening to become the only thing concerning the Apostolic Constitution being talked about.

I think a great deal of the confusion came because of statements made by John Hepworth, the archbishop for the Traditional Anglican Communion, when he was being interviewed by "The Australian," a newspaper in his native country.  Here's the first mention:
Inquirer: How do the Pope's proposals mesh the Latin celibate discipline for all clergy with Anglicanism's longstanding acceptance of married priests and bishops?

JH: Bishops in the new Anglican structure will be unmarried. This is out of respect for the tradition of Eastern and Western Christianity. But priests who come from Anglicanism will be able to serve as priests in the new structure, whether married or not, after satisfying certain requirements. The truly radical element is that married men will be able to be ordained priests in the Anglican structure indefinitely into the future. It is anticipated that Anglican bishops who are married when they joined the new structure will still be able to serve as priestly ordinaries, exercising some of the responsibilities of bishops.

Then the issue is brought up a second time:
Inquirer: Critics who insist on seeing the Pope as God's rottweiler will be hard pressed to explain the fact that he is prepared to create a parallel jurisdiction with married Catholic priests. Even more surprisingly, the option won't just extend to the present crop of married men in Anglican orders, which most observers expected, but to future generations of clergy.

JH: The Anglican tradition has had married clergy for 500 years. It has a long experience of having a clerical family at the heart of the parish. Apart from Ireland, it was only with the expansion of the British Empire that the situation arose where married Anglican clergy worked in the same place as celibate Catholic clergy. The two traditions will continue to live side by side. Indeed, it would be hard to imagine how an Anglican tradition within Catholicism could sustain itself in the long term without married clergy. Permitting it is not in any way intended as a challenge to the rule of celibacy, but it is allowing the vision of a family at the heart of the parish to flourish at a time when the family is under great stress. On the other hand, Anglican Catholics are going to have to relearn the value of the celibate vocation. The TAC already has a number of celibate bishops and celibate communities of priests and nuns, so perhaps the lesson has begun to be learned.
When I first read this interview on October 24th, it seemed odd to me.  I didn't think there had been any indication that the Holy See was considering a change in the discipline that presently governs the Pastoral Provision; namely, those Anglican clerics already married would be considered for a dispensation from celibacy, and those who are unmarried would take a vow of celibacy.  Additionally, any future candidates for priestly ministry would be celibate men, and if a married man is widowed, he may not remarry.  This always seemed to us to be a reasonable and pastoral solution.  But when I read the interview with John Hepworth, I was very surprised at his understanding of what was now being offered by Rome.  I commented to several people that it didn't sound accurate, but perhaps he knew something we didn't know. 

As it turns out, he was indeed mistaken.  I can't imagine where he got the idea that future candidates for the priesthood could be married men.  If he thought the Apostolic Constitution was going to apply the discipline of the Eastern Rites to Anglicans, that was a very large and imaginative leap indeed.  We're not from an Eastern heritage; we're Latin Rite Catholics.  Canterbury traces its roots to Rome, not Constantinople.

Anyway, I'm glad it's cleared up.  Now we can get on with more productive discussions about the upcoming Apostolic Constitution.

Clarification on the Apostolic Constitution

This important clarification has been issued:


There has been widespread speculation, based on supposedly knowledgeable remarks by an Italian correspondent Andrea Tornielli, that the delay in publication of the Apostolic Constitution regarding Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church, announced on October 20, 2009, by Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is due to more than "technical" reasons. According to this speculation, there is a serious substantial issue at the basis of the delay, namely, disagreement about whether celibacy will be the norm for the future clergy of the Provision.

Cardinal Levada offered the following comments on this speculation: "Had I been asked I would happily have clarified any doubt about my remarks at the press conference. There is no substance to such speculation. No one at the Vatican has mentioned any such issue to me. The delay is purely technical in the sense of ensuring consistency in canonical language and references. The translation issues are secondary; the decision not to delay publication in order to wait for the ‘official’ Latin text to be published in Acta Apostolicae Sedis was made some time ago.

The drafts prepared by the working group, and submitted for study and approval through the usual process followed by the Congregation, have all included the following statement, currently Article VI of the Constitution:

§1 Those who ministered as Anglican deacons, priests, or bishops, and who fulfill the requisites established by canon law and are not impeded by irregularities or other impediments may be accepted by the Ordinary as candidates for Holy Orders in the Catholic Church. In the case of married ministers, the norms established in the Encyclical Letter of Pope Paul VI Sacerdotalis coelibatus, n. 42 and in the Statement "In June" are to be observed. Unmarried ministers must submit to the norm of clerical celibacy of CIC can. 277, §1.

§2. The Ordinary, in full observance of the discipline of celibate clergy in the Latin Church, as a rule (pro regula) will admit only celibate men to the order of presbyter. He may also petition the Roman Pontiff, as a derogation from can. 277, §1, for the admission of married men to the order of presbyter on a case by case basis, according to objective criteria approved by the Holy See.

This article is to be understood as consistent with the current practice of the Church, in which married former Anglican ministers may be admitted to priestly ministry in the Catholic Church on a case by case basis. With regard to future seminarians, it was considered purely speculative whether there might be some cases in which a dispensation from the celibacy rule might be petitioned. For this reason, objective criteria about any such possibilities (e.g. married seminarians already in preparation) are to be developed jointly by the Personal Ordinariate and the Episcopal Conference, and submitted for approval of the Holy See."

Cardinal Levada said he anticipates the technical work on the Constitution and Norms will be completed by the end of the first week of November.

30 October 2009

Coming and going...

The newspaper headline screams, "Episcopal bishop opens door to Catholics" and it gets your attention. The Episcopal bishop of Maryland gives the reminder that "the door swings both ways." Yes, the All Saints Sisters of the Poor just entered the Catholic Church, but the bishop proudly claims that he's taken in three Catholic priests over the past months. Tit for tat, you win a few you lose a few.

What the bishop neglects to mention is that the vast majority, if not virtually every case of a Catholic deciding to become Episcopalian is because of the search for a church that will make fewer demands or give approval to something that is unacceptable for Catholics. I've never met an Episcopal priest who was formerly a Catholic priest who hadn't made the switch because he got married (usually after an illicit relationship with someone before actually leaving the active Catholic priesthood). Certainly the married state is an honorable one -- unless that person is already bound by the vow of celibacy. Most of the Episcopal laity I've known, who tell me "I used to be Catholic," are divorced and remarried -- even multiple times.

It comes down to this: most of the traffic into the Catholic Church is because consciences have been sharpened; most of the traffic out of the Catholic Church is because consciences have been dulled.

29 October 2009

Nurturing an ethos...

Read Br. Stephen's entry on his excellent blog, Sub Tuum.  I love his description of Evensong at All Saints, Margaret Street, but more especially I am moved by his very helpful thoughts about the patrimony Anglicans can bring to the Ordinariates.  A brief quote:
These decisions are not so much about the loss of bricks and mortar or a diminishment of smells and bells as they are about the fear of losing an ethos. It is not about singing "For He hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden" instead of "For he has shown me such favor--me, his lowly handmaiden" as it is about knowing how many people around you are smiling and the sense of tranquility you are sharing together at that moment. It is not the arrangement of notes and words in Vaughn Williams' "For All the Saints" so much as it is the lack of self-consciousness with which the congregation lets its hearts and minds soar along. Yes, sometimes people get blown off course as they soar, but that reaching up in joy seems to be a particular Anglican gift. This is what is at the heart of the "distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony" mentioned in the CDF note on the apostolic constitution. And it is the fear of trying to sing the Lord's song in a land that is at the same time strange and home that gives many pause.
Do yourself a favor, and read the whole thing.

Anticipated by a hundred years...

With all the talk about Anglican conversions -- who? how many? where? -- let's not forget a very important conversion anniversary which took place on 30 October 1909.  On that day Fr. Paul Wattson, Mother Lurana White, and fifteen others (including friars, sisters and laity) were received corporately into the Catholic Church.  Originally founded as a Franciscan community within the Episcopal Church, the Graymoor Friars and Sisters were, as Fr. Paul said, "the first-fruits of our prayer for unity."  The previous year they had begun what was then called the Church Unity Octave, afterwards renamed the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity. 

The Graymoor story is a fascinating one, and is especially precious to us in this parish.  The patronal title we took, Our Lady of the Atonement, is a title of the Blessed Mother with its origin at Graymoor.  During their lifetime, Fr. Paul and Mother Lurana could not have imagined that the day would come when the Holy Father would open the doors so generously to Anglicans.  But surely the coming of this day was assisted by their heavenly prayers, and we should all be grateful for their pioneering example.

So, to the Graymor Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Atonement: Happy Anniversary!

28 October 2009

All in God's time...

As various prominent Anglican clerics continue to react to the announcement by the Holy See about the Apostolic Constitution which will outline the establishment of Ordinariates, it's apparent that paths will not be beaten to be part of it.  At first, anyway.  I've lost count of the number of people who have spoken or written to me asking what it might mean if there aren't lots of conversions.

"Don't worry about it, just pray for them," I keep telling everybody who asks.  Of course, for the sake of souls and out of sincere love for others, I hope there are overwhelming numbers.  But if that doesn't happen, it's no cause for worry about the future of the offer.  It's an open offer, and the Holy Father knows what he's doing.  He's a patient man and a generous man.  He is, above all, a real shepherd of souls.  He's been working with Anglicans for many, many years.  He's fully aware that there will be hesitation by many, if not most.  He knows, too, the power of the Holy Spirit to move hearts and form open minds. 

This wasn't some kooky idea he had when he woke up one morning.  Pope Benedict has thought this through, and he's committing the Church to this for the long haul.  So don't worry.  Just pray.

27 October 2009

"This is not the case."

The newspapers and email in-boxes were filled yesterday with the news that the Anglican Bishop of Chichester had decided to become a Catholic, and would accept the Holy Father's offer which will be outlined in the upcoming Apostolic Constitution.

I had listened to the recording of Bishop Hind speaking at the Forward in Faith Assembly, and I didn't hear him say that.  But then I thought, "Maybe I missed it."  So I listened again.  No luck the second time, either.

He has posted this statement on his diocesan website:

October 25, 2009

An article has been published today in the Sunday Telegraph asserting that I have announced that I am about to become a Roman Catholic.

This is not the case.

The report appears to come from a misunderstanding of an answer I gave to questions from the floor at the recent ‘Forward in Faith’ assembly, at which I spoke.

A questioner had asked about the Papal condemnation of Anglican Orders. I responded by speaking about the subtlety of the position. I referred to the moment when it seemed as if the issue of how the Roman Catholic Church sees Anglican orders might be reopened but how the ordination of women to the priesthood and other developments have now made that impossible.

In the light of that I stated that in the event of union with the Roman Catholic Church I would be willing to receive re-ordination into the Roman Catholic priesthood but that I would not be willing to deny the priesthood I have exercised hitherto.

This is clearly a contentious and complex issue and one where it is easy to misunderstand the nuances of the debate. I think I made my position clear in my address at the Forward in Faith assembly. The text is available below and a podcast may be found on the Forward in Faith website.

+ John Cicestr:


It would be a marvellous example if a bishop like John Hind, respected by those who consider themselves Anglo-catholics, took this important step.  For now, it's not happening.  And that's all right.  Better for him and others like him to take time to consider this prayerfully.  Just as it's not good for a person to get married in order to escape from an unhappy home, so it's not good to make this kind of important decision simply because things are falling apart where he is at the present time.  The Holy Father's offer is an open offer.  There's no time limit.  And the Holy Spirit -- the Spirit of Truth -- is always active in open hearts and minds.

25 October 2009

Home to Rome: Our San Antonio Story.

TWENTY-FIVE years as a time frame takes a little perspective. As a young Anglican cleric I was serving in the Church of England as the assistant curate of St. Stephen’s Southmead, Bristol. After having lived abroad for five years, we decided it was time to return to America. But where to go? I contacted Bishop Belden in Rhode Island, where we had lived before moving to England. He told me about a parish which he thought would be a good match for me. They were looking for a curate. The rector, he told me, was one of the great old priests of the diocese who, other than a brief curacy in another parish, had served his whole ministry in this one parish. I got the feeling that I was going to meet someone approaching the age of Methuselah, who had been rector since the age of the Great Flood! And when I met Fr. Olsen, indeed he did seem to be a fairly old man, and he had been at St. Barnabas for a very long time. It didn’t dawn on me until he died a few years ago, that when I went to be his curate, Fr. Olsen was the very same age as I am now, and he had been at St. Barnabas for twenty-five years, the same amount of time I have been here.

It’s amazing, isn’t it, that when you’re on the starting side of twenty-five years, it seems so long; but when that quarter of a century has passed, it’s flown by. And that’s what we’re marking this year: twenty-five years of the Anglican Usage in the Roman Rite, which started when Our Lady of the Atonement was established as a Catholic parish. But what took place twenty-five years ago didn’t happen in a vacuum. We were fortunate here in San Antonio that the rescript arrived from the Holy See, allowing for my ordination, and the archbishop was ready to proceed immediately. But he didn’t wake up one morning and think, “I guess I’ll start an Anglican Use parish.” No, there were many who had done yeoman work for many years before, preparing the way for the formal beginning of the work – people now departed, like Canon Albert Dubois and Fr. W.T. St. John Brown; people like Pope Paul VI and Cardinal Seper and Pope John Paul II. Others who were amongst those had this vision are still with us, some of whom are even here at this gathering, probably wondering as I am: “How did the time pass so quickly?” And, of course, we mustn’t forget the interest and encouragement shown by a certain Cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger, now our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. It was during his time and under his authority as Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, that the Book of Divine Worship was approved. I’ll speak more about that later.

So, looking back over this past quarter of a century, perhaps the first question is, “Why? Why did several of us make the journey into the Catholic Church?” It would be nice if I could point only to the noblest motivations; that we were happily going along as Episcopalians, but then saw the truth and beauty of the Catholic Church, and through pure attraction, just had to make the journey. Maybe it was that way for a few, but for most of us it wasn’t like that.

Obviously, I can’t speak for everyone, but my own experience was probably generic enough. For me, the answer to the question, “Why?” was because I knew I couldn’t stay where I was. Now, I didn’t like the idea of moving away from my ministry as an Episcopalian. If fact, where I was wasn’t all that bad—’28 Prayer Book with Anglican Missal additions, very nice people with a fairly catholic understanding of the Faith—but with the crisis of authority which was becoming more and more evident in the Episcopal Church, with decisions being made by General Convention which represented dramatic changes in doctrine and in the ministry of the church, it was evident that whatever claim to catholicity I thought there was, was quickly disappearing. So, for many of us, the initial thought of moving was for negative reasons—the need to escape from a disintegrating situation. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Let’s face it: imperfect contrition can develop into perfect contrition, and sometimes it takes a kick in the backside to get us moving.

As long ago as the mid-1970s it had become evident to me that with the crisis of authority in Anglicanism, there would be a gradual crumbling of what had been a venerable (although incomplete) expression of the Christian faith. Of course, the Church has always been free to change her discipline. But the idea of changing doctrine at the whim of a simple majority vote is antithetical to the will of Christ. When a very small majority of a very small part of the Anglican Communion could make a decision, for instance, about ordination—an issue which strikes at the very foundation of sacramental life, or when a justification for abortion and all sorts of other immoralities was able to be cobbled together, I realized that the Episcopal Church wasn’t a safe place to be. For me, it wasn’t just the issue of the ordination of women (as impossible as that is, in a Catholic understanding of Holy Orders), nor was it that some were able to wander off into a moral wasteland; rather, it was that the authority to make such decisions was claimed by whichever majority could push its agenda the hardest. “What next?” was all I could think. And indeed, we’ve seen what has come next—a series of decisions which makes many people question whether the Episcopal Church is even a Christian denomination any more.

Of course, there are still many good people there, and I can’t help but wonder how they’re able to continue. When I see otherwise faithful people remaining where they are, while their religion falls apart around them, I can’t help but think that maybe some of them have what might be called “The Vicar of Bray Syndrome.” You know the story of the Vicar of Bray. There was a clergyman who managed to hold his position as parish priest in the village of Bray for more than fifty years, from the days of Charles II until the time of George I. He was perfectly comfortable becoming Catholic or protestant according to the religion of the reigning monarch. When he was reproached for his constant changing back and forth, his classic statement was, “Even if I changed my religion, I am sure I have kept true to my principle; and that is, to live and die as the vicar of Bray!’” It’s sad when holding a position becomes more important than holding the truth.

I think I can speak for most of us when I say that the reason for leaving the Episcopal Church was because each of us arrived at the point of saying “This far, and no further.” That point may differ from person to person. It might be the matter of women’s ordination; it might be Prayer Book issues; it might be some aspect of moral teaching. There can be any number of “trigger issues,” and some people seem to have a greater tolerance for those sorts of things. But I think all of these issues reduce down to one: the matter of authority. It became evident that there is but one place where we would find stable, trustworthy and godly authority, and that was in the Church which was undoubtedly founded by Christ, exercising the authority which He gave to St. Peter and his successors. So, the short answer to “Why?” is that we were looking for a home that didn’t have a constantly shifting foundation. And what a joy it is to wake up every day knowing that what was true yesterday is still true today, and will be true tomorrow.

And thanks be to God, the Church to which we were led opened her arms with the approval of the Pastoral Provision. With that, there was no excuse to remain outside, and so personal, hard, practical decisions had to be made. And as I was faced with making this decision, I remember reading something from C. S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity: “We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be and if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man. We have all seen this when we do arithmetic. When I have started a sum the wrong way, the sooner I admit this and go back and start over again, the faster I shall get on. There is nothing progressive about being pigheaded and refusing to admit a mistake.”

Of course, it’s hard to admit that we’ve got to turn and go in another direction. And that kind of decision most often involves some pretty heavy sacrifices. I know, for each one of us here who has made that decision, there were tough times. My story is only one of many, and it isn’t any more remarkable than the stories many of you could tell.

For my family, it was on January 17th in 1982 that we arrived in San Antonio from Rhode Island. We had driven for almost five days, having left New England in the midst of a near-blizzard. I had taken our rather decrepit Volkswagen to a mechanic before we left, and when I asked him if we’d make it to Texas his reply was, “Hell, Mister, I don’t think you’ll make it out of town!” We did, though. We arrived with our (then) three very young children, our dog and a hamster, along with whatever supplies we could pack in around them.

On the day we left Rhode Island, I was removed from the clerical ranks of the Episcopal diocese. I was officially deposed by the bishop. My salary had, of course, been terminated. We had lived in parish-owned housing, which we were required to leave immediately. We had been stricken from all diocesan insurance policies, and even my small pension plan had been confiscated. As we approached San Antonio, I have to say, it didn’t feel like much of a triumphal entry. Of course, God had a plan. It would have been nice at the time to have known what it was, but I suppose He wanted us to learn to walk in faith, which we did.

Looking back, those were some tough days. We had virtually no money. There was only a handful of people even interested in what we were doing. But as difficult as those times were, they were exciting, too. We were doing something worthy, something that hadn’t been done before. Big challenges led to little victories, as we worked and waited for our entrance into the Catholic Church.

Every one of our parishes and communities in the Anglican Use has an interesting story. I know each one of us has experienced struggles and triumphs, and we each have inspiring stories of God’s loving care for us. The things I’m sharing about our own experiences here will, I hope, strike a chord in those of you who have been through similar experiences, and even more importantly, I hope these stories will encourage those of you who are at the beginning of your journey within the Catholic faith. Ours is a “common history,” and we need to keep our stories alive for the sake of those who will come after us.

After the parish was canonically erected on the 15th August 1983, I began to search for a permanent location for us to worship and to grow from the original eighteen people who made up the parish when we were established. We were, at that time, meeting at San Francesco di Paola Church, in downtown San Antonio. It’s a beautiful little place, built by Italian immigrants, but the location wasn’t very well-suited for us. Everyone had to travel quite a distance, and it was difficult to build up a communal life in a place which was fairly remote for all of us. Subsequently we moved to a convent chapel on the north side of town, but of course, that was temporary, too. So I began to look for some land.

It seemed to me that the future growth of San Antonio would be taking place on the northwest side of the city. Everything pointed to it, and that’s what has happened. Several years before, the archdiocese had purchased a small plot of land for the possibility that a territorial parish might be needed. When I inquired about locating our parish there, the answer was, “Yes, that would be fine. There’s not much happening out there anyway, and we probably won’t need it for a territorial parish.” The short-sightedness of that statement aside, it worked out well for us. To get the property, we were required to pay a rather hefty sum to the archdiocese, which eventually we did.

The first time I saw this land, I knew this was the spot. I had visited it before making the request. I had to crawl through the underbrush, literally on my belly, to make any kind of exploration. I had a small medal of Our Lady of the Atonement with me, and I buried it in the earth as I was making my slow progress through the woods and brush, claiming it for our Lady and her parish. Shortly after burying the medal, I came into a small clearing, allowing me to stand up. With the thick undergrowth surrounding me, I saw in the middle of the clearing a wooden cross stuck into the ground, and fastened to the rough cross was a small crucifix—and I took it as a sign from God. This was the place. This was where our Lord and His Blessed Mother wanted us to be. But I need to tell you why such a sign was necessary.

At the same time as I had requested the possibility of our getting the land, some Dominican priests had approached the archbishop about staffing a chaplaincy for the University of Texas, which is a short distance away. Even though we had asked first, the archbishop thought perhaps a better use for the land would be to give it to the Dominicans. I told the archbishop, “You can’t! I’ve already claimed it for Our Lady of the Atonement.” He expressed his regret, but told me his mind was set. I warned him that we’d begin praying. And so we did.

For nine evenings we gathered to pray the Novena to the Holy Ghost. By the fourth evening, the archbishop contacted me. “I don’t know what kind of prayer you’ve been saying,” he said, “but the situation with the Dominicans has fallen through. You can build there.” We finished the novena as an act of thanksgiving. We were intensely grateful to God, but not surprised at what He had done. Mind you, I have nothing against the Dominicans, but the Blessed Mother had other plans for the land.

I saved that little crucifix. We built a simple wooden shrine to Our Lady of the Atonement on the property where the crucifix had been found, and fastened it onto the peak of the shrine’s roof. In time we made plans to celebrate a Mass there, and to break ground for the church.

Today there stands the newly-completed shrine, a copy of the original wooden one, but now in stone. Within the altar is the simple wood altar which stood there originally, now protected by a permanent stone altar. And the little crucifix is there, incorporated into the shrine.

So it reminds us of our beginnings, and of how God guided and protected us as new converts to the Catholic faith. And God continues to do these sorts of things. He has in your own parishes, and He’ll continue to do things like this in future parishes and communities of the Anglican Use. For those of you at the beginning of your adventure, take heart; for those of you who might wonder if you should begin a work like this in your own area, by all means, do. If God can do it here, He can do it anyplace.

Now, a look at these twenty-five years calls for a few words about the Book of Divine Worship. The initial request made to Rome included the desire for the Catholic ordination of Anglican clergy, which was granted. It included the request for some sort of parish structure to which the lay converts could belong, which was granted. And it included a request for elements of our Anglican liturgical heritage. And this, too, was granted. What form this would take was anybody’s guess, at the beginning. There were some who wanted a restored Sarum rite. Some wanted one of the traditional Anglo-catholic Missals. Some wanted the 1928 Book of Common Prayer with a few Catholic additions. There were others who thought that the most we could hope for would be a couple of traditional prayers thrown into the Mass of Paul VI.

In 1983 a special commission was established by the Sacred Congregation for Sacraments and Divine Worship, in conjunction with the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The task of the commission was to propose a liturgical book to be used by the parishes and congregations being established under the Pastoral Provision. I was privileged to serve on that commission. We met in Rome, in the Curial Offices looking out on St. Peter’s Square. The membership of the commission was very much a “mixed bag.” Archbishop (now Cardinal) Virgilio Noe served was chairman, and there were various liturgists and theologians taking part. It was evident from the beginning that not everyone had the same agenda. Some of us were working hard to include as much as possible; others wanted to include as little as possible. Some were willing to use the 1928 Prayer Book as the foundational document; others insisted that it had to be the 1979 Prayer Book. There were those who said that if something was not in an approved Episcopalian Prayer Book, then it shouldn’t be included. This was of particular importance when it came to the Canon of the Mass—the Eucharistic Prayer. Using the 1928 Eucharistic Prayer was never in the cards; however, the Gregorian Canon was included in various Anglo-catholic missals, and it was my request that we be allowed to use that traditional translation, or something close to it, rather than following the general consensus of the commission that we should simply use the ICEL translation. It was pretty sobering, and not a little frightening, to be the sole voice defending the inclusion of the Gregorian Canon in traditional English, and I was nearly hooted out of the conference room by the professional liturgists there—one of whom you may know from the news—Piero Marini, until recently the papal Master of Ceremonies. But I was given a chance to make the case, in which I had to speak before the whole commission, which turned out to be a successful attempt.

I know there are Anglo-Catholics still in the Episcopal Church or in the Continuing Anglican Movement who look at the Book of Divine Worship, and find great fault with it. And their criticisms are, in some respects, quite legitimate. It isn’t a perfect book. There are lots of things about it that I find dissatisfying. In some ways, it’s incomplete. There is a jarring intrusion of ICEL language at the Offertory. It’s entirely too much “1979 Prayer Book.” But there’ll be opportunities to improve it in the future, and the bottom line is this: it may not be as much as we wanted, but it’s a whole lot more than we expected. I think we sometimes forget just how astonishing it is, that the Catholic Church should add a whole new liturgy—not just the Mass, but also the Daily Offices, Baptism, Marriage, Burial of the Dead, and everything else which has been given to us. When we read of the recent debates by the Bishops’ Conference about simple words like “ineffable” and “gibbet”—to think that we have a whole book full of that kind of language is quite astonishing! And it’s our own living liturgy. There’s no reason to think that it will necessarily remain frozen as it is, and as we see room for improvement, so I think there will be opportunities to develop it and refine it. But for now, I think it’s quite magnificent, and it’s nurturing a new generation of Catholics—a generation born and raised in the Anglican Use, a generation of Catholics who know no other kind of liturgical life.

Which brings me to an important point. And that is, the future of the parishes of the Anglican Use. We all know our numbers, for now, are small. After twenty-five years, we would be right in thinking that there should be more of us. And there would be, except for a few factors. One is that all but a few Anglican clergy have converted individually, and have not brought their people with them. Of course, not every one can bring others with them, and very often it’s because the local Catholic bishop isn’t open to having a parish of the Anglican Use in his diocese. And that brings us to an even more serious problem. It’s difficult to convince Catholic bishops in many places that such a parish would be a great addition, rather than a financial drag. They’re not accustomed to having such small parishes. When parishes of a couple of thousand families is normal, to establish a parish which begins with only forty or fifty people is simply beyond their experience. Of course, we know it can be done. As I said earlier, this parish began with only eighteen people, including the children.

What’s the solution? In the short term, presenting our case more clearly to our bishops is important. Of course, we can’t do that by ourselves. We need the Office of the Ecclesiastical Delegate to be willing to help educate the bishops about the Pastoral Provision and the Liturgy of the Anglican Use. The Pastoral Provision isn’t just about getting more priests for the Church, as important as that is. It’s also about restoring that unity for which Christ prayed. It’s about “gathering up the fragments, that nothing be lost.” For every Episcopal priest who enters the Catholic Church, there may be twenty-five or fifty or a hundred or more laity who could be brought into the Church.

At some point in the future there may well be the possibility of some sort of juridical structure which would facilitate the establishment of parishes. This possibility was recognized even in the original document which outlined the Pastoral Provision. When speaking of the structure of this Common Identity, the document states, “The preference expressed by the majority of the Episcopal Conference for the insertion of these reconciled Episcopalians into the diocesan structures under the jurisdiction of the local Ordinaries is recognized. Nevertheless, the possibility of some other type of structure as provided for by canonical dispositions, and as suited to the needs of the group, is not excluded.”

But what about the parishes and communities we do have? It’s important that we continue to make them as strong as possible. The decision we made here was to have as one of our major apostolates that of having a Catholic school—one of the most rewarding and yet demanding decisions we ever made. Fourteen years ago we began with Kindergarten through Third grade with only sixty-six students, and after adding grades over the years, we now offer a classical and Catholic education from Pre-Kindergarten all the way through High School, with a student body of almost five hundred. Not only does this institution impart a solid and excellent education, but it is also a tremendous evangelistic tool, as families who perhaps have been lukewarm are, through their children, returning to the practice of their faith. And it has done more to spread the experience and knowledge of the Anglican Use liturgy than perhaps any other means. All the students and faculty attend Mass every single day, so even the youngest children are learning and experiencing our traditional prayers and devotional practices. Five hundred children praying the Prayer of Humble Access and singing the Healey Willan setting of the Mass every day is a pretty encouraging thing for the future of the Anglican Use!

I know there are great and inspiring things going on in all our parishes and communities. You all have stories of great faith, changed hearts, conversions and growth. But we need more parishes, which means we need willing bishops and a supportive structure within the Church to help that happen. We all know there are people scattered throughout the country who are looking for guidance and help in forming the nucleus of an Anglican Use community. We know from the Gospels that Christ isn’t pleased when His sheep are left to scatter, and we know that He thinks it’s pretty important to “gather up the fragments that nothing be lost.” Twenty-five years isn’t a very long time in the big scheme of things. And if this can happen over the course of twenty-five years here, we know it can happen in many places. I take great encouragement from this gathering here, and from what we’re reading in the news even today. We’ve got a lot of praying to do for those Anglicans who are finally coming to realize that they can’t stay where they are. So let’s be an example to them of what it’s like to come home to Rome.

Collect for Sunday, 25 October

From the Book of Divine Worship:

Almighty and everlasting God, give unto us the increase of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain that which thou dost promise, make us to love that which thou dost command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

ICEL version:

Almighty and ever-living God,. strengthen our faith, hope, and love. May we do with loving hearts what you ask of us and come to share the life you promise. Grant this through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

23 October 2009

Forward in Faith? Forward to Rome.

The National Assembly of Forward in Faith is meeting in London.  This group is comprised mostly of those who would consider themselves Anglo-catholic, and it's a presence in several provinces in the Anglican Communion.  The galvanizing issue for them is the ordination of women.  Obviously, they're against it.  Of course, there are other issues that concern them, and they tend to be fairly traditional on things like the liturgy, their understanding of sacraments and ecclesiology.  It was formed in 1992 and is really an amalgamation of several different catholic-minded groups within Anglicanism.  Many, of not most of the members would have reunion with Rome fairly high on their agenda.  Knowing that about them, I thought it would be really interesting to listen to the speakers, and they have the audio presentations available.  You can listen to them at their website

Frankly, I was disappointed.  Yes, they called the news from Rome "historic."  They acknowledged that some people might be interested in the Personal Ordinariates.  But most of their talk was about derailing the push towards having women bishops in the Church of England, and protecting their place as Anglo-catholics.  They wanted to see what Rome was really offering, to see if it would be a better deal than they could get in the Church of England.  They were disappointed because they want "corporate reunion" between Anglicans and Rome -- although how they think there could be anything like that when they can't even get along among themselves, I do not know.  I mean, the Holy Father did everything except somersaults, and these people are still shopping around for the best deal?  I think some of them were surprised that in order to be part of an Ordinariate, they'd actually be expected to become Roman Catholics.

I don't mean to sound negative.  I have no doubt that there is a goodly number of serious-minded Anglicans who will prayerfully and gratefully grasp the Holy Father's outstretched hand.  I think the Ordinariates will be built slowly, which is no doubt the best way.  I liken it to the very gentle snowstorms I remember from my childhood in New England, which would start with a slight dusting of flakes on the ground and then slowly, slowly building up until everything was completely covered and sparkling white.  The Ordinariates will be provided as they're needed, until they spread out wider and wider, and I believe more and more people will come to the realization that their real spiritual home is to be found in full communion with the See of Peter.  That, along with the inevitable and natural growth of our existing parishes, means that the future of our beautiful patrimony is secure. 

England, and by extension, all of Anglicanism is Mary's dowry.  Since we belong to our Lady in a special way, we know her deepest wish is to have her whole dowry back in the Catholic Church as it was established by her Divine Son.  At the end of the 14th century, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Arundel, wrote to his bishops, "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 fervour of our praises and devotions."  And now, finally, at the beginning of the 21st century, Pope Benedict XVI is helping to bring that very thing to pass.

More thoughts...

To expand just a little more on my previous posts, here, here and here, I've been thinking a lot about the renewed hope for the expansion of what is now the Anglican Use within the Pastoral Provision.

Article after article, blogger after blogger, wonder how many Anglicans will actually avail themselves of this generous offer the Pope is making.  But with the speculation over how many Anglicans will come into the Catholic Church, the larger effect is ignored. What the Apostolic Constitution establishes is a permanent thing, and will reach the point that it will not require converts for its existence. If the Holy Father had done this only for the conversions it might enable, he would not be giving it its permanent nature. No, what he has done is to say that the Anglican Patrimony (everything consonant with the Catholic faith that forms its ethos) is worthy not only of preservation, but of growth. It won’t take long for the strength of the Personal Ordinariates to depend not so much on converts as on its own organic growth. Children will be raised up in this form of Catholic spirituality, and they will grow up to have children; seekers after truth will be attracted to the spiritual life of the Ordinariates, just as people used to be attracted to Anglicanism; clergy will be trained and educated for work in the Ordinariates, and they will in turn become missionaries throughout society, planting new parishes and forming new Religious communities.

The Holy Father is taking the best and most worthy elements of Anglicanism, which are now wilting and near death, and he’s giving them a new place in which to grow and thrive. Certainly, this is a most welcome open door to those Anglicans wanting to come into full communion with the See of Peter; but more importantly, Pope Benedict is giving a new beginning to all that is lovely and true in Anglicanism, so it can continue into the future as a legitimate and worthy expression of the fullness of Catholic Faith.

22 October 2009

The reward of patience...

The Apostolic Consitution builds a sturdy and wide bridge for Anglican converts.  To think that they can enter the Catholic Church into a jurisdiction expressly created for them!  Those of us who were making the move a generation ago could only dream of such a thing.  In fact, I can remember in the very early years (when I was young, somewhat naive and politically unsophisticated) I suggested to a certain member of the Catholic hierarchy that perhaps we should ask for our own jurisdiction.  After the hoots of incredulity stopped echoing in the room, I was told, "It'll never happen, and it would be insulting to ask!"  But I never stopped thinking about the importance of jurisdiction, and at every gathering of Anglican Use clergy the point would be made: "we need our own jurisdiction if this thing is going to grow as it should."  And now, after all these years, it's happening.  I guess the idea wasn't so insulting, after all.

So really the Constitution will fulfill a two-fold purpose: it's a means of entrance for converts, and it's a means of growth after they get here.  Amazing.

21 October 2009

Thoughts about the future...

As I think more about the Apostolic Constitution, and talk with others about it, the irony of the whole thing just struck me: Pope Benedict XVI is working to preserve the worthy elements of Anglican worship and devotion, while the majority of the Anglican hierarchy is doing everything possible to destroy it!

The canonical permanence of the Personal Ordinariates means that within a generation or so, when there are no real Anglicans left to convert, the best of Anglicanism will still be growing in the Catholic Church.  Although our parish has a number of Anglicans in the process of becoming Catholics, our greatest growth is coming from our own families.  Have you noticed the tremendous number of children we have?  Our growth has become an organic growth, rather than just depending on the occasional inquirer coming through the doors.  This healthy and organic growth is the real future of what the Holy Father is establishing with the Apostolic Constitution.  He's giving a place for the patrimony we love so much to flourish.  Ironic, but true.

20 October 2009

Questions, questions...

What a day it's been.  I'm still trying to get my mind around just how historic and consequential this Apostolic Constitution will be.  I've had lots of calls, emails and visits.  I've talked with the media, with other Anglican Use clergy, and with many parishioners.  There's plenty of excitement, and lots of questions.  Nothing can be answered in any definitive way until the Apostolic Constitution is promulgated.  Of course, that doesn't stop any of us from trying to figure it all out, right?

I've been asked how this idea of a Personal Ordinariate is different from what we already have in the Pastoral Provision.  Here's an imperfect analogy: it's kind of like the difference between living in an apartment and living in a house.  What do I mean?  As things are now, we have a wonderful home in the Catholic Church.  We have a beautiful liturgy.  We have a marvellous church and school.  We have a terrific archbishop who readily expresses his respect and affection for us.  We're extremely fortunate.  That's not the case in many other dioceses.  There are bishops who have made it clear that they don't want an Anglican Use parish in their jurisdiction, and there have been many cases where requests have been flatly refused.  Many chancery officials view the Pastoral Provision as being temporary, and will do very little to assist Anglican clergy and they completely ignore the inquiries of Anglican laity.  As it is now, the Anglican Use depends upon the charity of the local ordinary.  That's a very shaky foundation for building anything permanent.  A landlord can eventually get rid of an unwanted tenant.  A home-owner has a whole lot more stability.

When an Ordinariate is erected, it becomes (in every important way) like a diocese, with its own prelate, its own clergy and its own laity.  As a juridical person, it owns property.  While there must be cooperation with other bishops, the existence of the parishes of the Ordinariate won't depend on someone else's permission or good will. The prelate will determine when a new outreach should take place, and where a parish should be erected.  The training and ordination of clergy will be coordinated within the Ordinariate, and their assignments will be directed by the prelate.  All this contributes to a stability and permanence which will lead to further growth and effectiveness.

Some people have asked, "What about our beautiful liturgy?  Will that change?"  Actually, it probably will -- and for the better.  The present Book of Divine Worship, while it's a thing of beauty and is far more than we expected at the time, isn't completely satisfactory.  The liturgical politics of twenty-five years ago meant that we were required to "novus ordo-ize" parts of the Mass.  Too much was incorporated from the 1979 Prayer Book, which is not the version most of us knew and loved.  Many of us had come from what were called "Missal parishes," where we used things like the Anglican Missal, the English Missal, or the Knott Missal.  These were beautiful expressions of the traditional Catholic Mass, in impeccable English, incorporating the Prayer Book along with traditional and ancient Catholic elements.  Many of the Anglicans who will enter the Church through the Personal Ordinariates come from those same kind of parishes, and will be looking for that kind of liturgy.  The Book of Divine Worship serves us well, but it needs to be amplified and improved.  It's my hope that this will happen now.

We'll know lots more when the Apostolic Constitution is promulgated.  How long before that happens, we don't know.  But the Holy Father won't take more time than is necessary.  Until then, we'll keep talking and asking questions and filling the space with what we think might happen. 

The whole thing is just fantastic, and quite honestly, I never thought I'd live to see this day.  Deo gratias.

More on the recent announcement...

This is the first chance today I've had to sit down and mull this whole thing over.  As it happens, this is the day I teach a scripture course in the high school, and then I had appointments right after that.  Now that the important mid-day activity (lunch!) is over, I can think about this extraordinary development for the Anglican Use.

The first thing that strikes me is that this will be established by an Apostolic Constitution.  That's big.  This is the highest level for a papal decree.  Higher, even, than a papal encyclical.  It's the most solemn form of a papal decree.  Quite incredible!

That's my thought for now.  I need to read about all this some more, and I'll post more in a while.

Thanks be to God!

An historic step has been taken by the Holy See in announcing the creation of Personal Ordinariates -- that is, a juridical structure -- for Anglicans who desire to be in full communion with the Catholic Church, while retaining a common identity, including their own liturgical use. The official announcement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith follows:

With the preparation of an Apostolic Constitution, the Catholic Church is responding to the many requests that have been submitted to the Holy See from groups of Anglican clergy and faithful in different parts of the world who wish to enter into full visible communion.

In this Apostolic Constitution the Holy Father has introduced a canonical structure that provides for such corporate reunion by establishing Personal Ordinariates, which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony. Under the terms of the Apostolic Constitution, pastoral oversight and guidance will be provided for groups of former Anglicans through a Personal Ordinariate, whose Ordinary will usually be appointed from among former Anglican clergy.

The forthcoming Apostolic Constitution provides a reasonable and even necessary response to a world-wide phenomenon, by offering a single canonical model for the universal Church which is adaptable to various local situations and equitable to former Anglicans in its universal application. It provides for the ordination as Catholic priests of married former Anglican clergy. Historical and ecumenical reasons preclude the ordination of married men as bishops in both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The Constitution therefore stipulates that the Ordinary can be either a priest or an unmarried bishop. The seminarians in the Ordinariate are to be prepared alongside other Catholic seminarians, though the Ordinariate may establish a house of formation to address the particular needs of formation in the Anglican patrimony. In this way, the Apostolic Constitution seeks to balance on the one hand the concern to preserve the worthy Anglican liturgical and spiritual patrimony and, on the other hand, the concern that these groups and their clergy will be integrated into the Catholic Church.

Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which has prepared this provision, said: "We have been trying to meet the requests for full communion that have come to us from Anglicans in different parts of the world in recent years in a uniform and equitable way. With this proposal the Church wants to respond to the legitimate aspirations of these Anglican groups for full and visible unity with the Bishop of Rome, successor of St. Peter."

These Personal Ordinariates will be formed, as needed, in consultation with local Conferences of Bishops, and their structure will be similar in some ways to that of the Military Ordinariates which have been established in most countries to provide pastoral care for the members of the armed forces and their dependents throughout the world. "Those Anglicans who have approached the Holy See have made clear their desire for full, visible unity in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. At the same time, they have told us of the importance of their Anglican traditions of spirituality and worship for their faith journey," Cardinal Levada said.

The provision of this new structure is consistent with the commitment to ecumenical dialogue, which continues to be a priority for the Catholic Church, particularly through the efforts of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity. "The initiative has come from a number of different groups of Anglicans," Cardinal Levada went on to say: "They have declared that they share the common Catholic faith as it is expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and accept the Petrine ministry as something Christ willed for the Church. For them, the time has come to express this implicit unity in the visible form of full communion."

According to Levada: "It is the hope of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, that the Anglican clergy and faithful who desire union with the Catholic Church will find in this canonical structure the opportunity to preserve those Anglican traditions precious to them and consistent with the Catholic faith. Insofar as these traditions express in a distinctive way the faith that is held in common, they are a gift to be shared in the wider Church. The unity of the Church does not require a uniformity that ignores cultural diversity, as the history of Christianity shows. Moreover, the many diverse traditions present in the Catholic Church today are all rooted in the principle articulated by St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians: ‘There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism’ (4:5). Our communion is therefore strengthened by such legitimate diversity, and so we are happy that these men and women bring with them their particular contributions to our common life of faith."

Background information

Since the sixteenth century, when King Henry VIII declared the Church in England independent of Papal Authority, the Church of England has created its own doctrinal confessions, liturgical books, and pastoral practices, often incorporating ideas from the Reformation on the European continent. The expansion of the British Empire, together with Anglican missionary work, eventually gave rise to a world-wide Anglican Communion.

Throughout the more than 450 years of its history the question of the reunification of Anglicans and Catholics has never been far from mind. In the mid-nineteenth century the Oxford Movement (in England) saw a rekindling of interest in the Catholic aspects of Anglicanism. In the early twentieth century Cardinal Mercier of Belgium entered into well publicized conversations with Anglicans to explore the possibility of union with the Catholic Church under the banner of an Anglicanism "reunited but not absorbed".

At the Second Vatican Council hope for union was further nourished when the Decree on Ecumenism (n. 13), referring to communions separated from the Catholic Church at the time of the Reformation, stated that: "Among those in which Catholic traditions and institutions in part continue to exist, the Anglican Communion occupies a special place."

Since the Council, Anglican-Roman Catholic relations have created a much improved climate of mutual understanding and cooperation. The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) produced a series of doctrinal statements over the years in the hope of creating the basis for full and visible unity. For many in both communions, the ARCIC statements provided a vehicle in which a common expression of faith could be recognized. It is in this framework that this new provision should be seen.

In the years since the Council, some Anglicans have abandoned the tradition of conferring Holy Orders only on men by calling women to the priesthood and the episcopacy. More recently, some segments of the Anglican Communion have departed from the common biblical teaching on human sexuality—already clearly stated in the ARCIC document "Life in Christ"—by the ordination of openly homosexual clergy and the blessing of homosexual partnerships. At the same time, as the Anglican Communion faces these new and difficult challenges, the Catholic Church remains fully committed to continuing ecumenical engagement with the Anglican Communion, particularly through the efforts of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.

In the meantime, many individual Anglicans have entered into full communion with the Catholic Church. Sometimes there have been groups of Anglicans who have entered while preserving some "corporate" structure. Examples of this include, the Anglican diocese of Amritsar in India, and some individual parishes in the United States which maintained an Anglican identity when entering the Catholic Church under a "pastoral provision" adopted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and approved by Pope John Paul II in 1982. In these cases, the Catholic Church has frequently dispensed from the requirement of celibacy to allow those married Anglican clergy who desire to continue ministerial service as Catholic priests to be ordained in the Catholic Church.

In the light of these developments, the Personal Ordinariates established by the Apostolic Constitution can be seen as another step toward the realization the aspiration for full, visible union in the Church of Christ, one of the principal goals of the ecumenical movement.
My first reaction is, "Thanks be to God!" The Church has now confirmed that what we have been doing for more than twenty-five years should be expanded. There will be lots more to say about this, but for now we have the assurance that the seed sown by the Pastoral Provision, and the parishes like ours which have made the Anglican Use a reality in the Church, will not only continue, but will grow.

19 October 2009

Something's happening...

This announcement from the Holy See:

We inform accredited journalists that tomorrow, Tuesday 20 October 2009, at 11am, in the John Paul II Hall of the Press Office of the Holy See, a briefing will be held on a theme pertaining to the relationship with the Anglicans, at which His Eminence Cardinal William Joseph Levada, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and His Excellency Mgr Joseph Augustine Di Noia OP, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments will take part.
Whatever it is, it seems that the Archbishop of Westminster and the Archbishop of Canterbury have scheduled a joint press conference for the same day.  It'll all be very interesting, I'm sure...

18 October 2009

The Collect for Sunday, 18th October

Almighty and everlasting God, who in Christ hast revealed thy glory among the nations: Preserve the works of thy mercy, that thy Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of thy Name; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

St. Luke the Evangelist

The Sunday celebration takes precedence, of course, but today is also the Feast of St. Luke - a faithful companion of St. Paul, the writer of a Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, and also a physician. It's a good day to remember all doctors, nurses, and other medical workers, commending them to the intercession of this faithful disciple of our Lord.

Almighty God, who didst inspire thy servant Luke the physician to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of thy Son: Graciously continue in thy Church the like love and power to heal, to the praise and glory of thy Name; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

17 October 2009

A new Deacon!

It was a happy day at San Fernando Cathedral today, as Jeff Moore was ordained a deacon by Archbishop Jose Gomez.  Deacon Moore has been in the Pastoral Provision process for the past few years, after resigning as an Episcopal priest and entering the Catholic Church.  Congratulations to him and his beautiful family!

Deacon Jeff Moore with Archbishop Gomez

Deacon and Mrs. Moore, and their children Emily, Lilly and Jack, with the archbishop

16 October 2009

"I am God's wheat, ground fine..."

"No earthly pleasures, no kingdoms of this world can benefit me in any way. I prefer death in Christ Jesus to power over the farthest limits of the earth. He who died in place of us is the one object of my quest. He who rose for our sakes is my one desire. The time for my birth is close at hand. Forgive me, my brothers. Do not stand in the way of my birth to real life; do not wish me stillborn. My desire is to belong to God. Do not, then, hand me back to the world. do not try to tempt me with material things. Let me attain pure light. Only on my arrival there can I be fully a human being. Give me the privilege of imitating the passion of my God."

- St. Ignatius of Antioch, c.107

Almighty God, we praise thy Name for thy bishop and martyr St. Ignatius of Antioch, who offered himself as grain to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts that he might present unto thee the pure bread of sacrifice. Accept, we pray thee, the willing tribute of our lives, and give us a share in the pure and spotless offering of thy Son Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

15 October 2009

2009-2010 Music Series

The first two events of our parish Music Series will take place in just a few weeks.

On Friday, October 30th at 7:30 PM, Clive Driskill-Smith, Sub-Organist at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford, UK will present an organ recital on our Casavant organ.

On Monday, November 2nd at 7:00 PM, the members of our Upper School Honor Choir will join with the Parish Festival Choir in a service of Solemn Evensong in commemoration of all the faithful departed. Included in the service will be a performance of the "Requiem" by Gabriel Fauré, featuring chamber orchestra and soloists.

St. Teresa of Avila

"If Christ Jesus dwells in a man as his friend and noble leader, that man can endure all things, for Christ helps and strengthens us and never abandons us. He is a true friend. And I clearly see that if we expect to please him and receive an abundance of his graces, God desires that these graces must come to us from the hands of Christ, through his most sacred humanity, in which God takes delight.

Many, many times I have perceived this through experience. The Lord has told it to me. I have definitely seen that we must enter by this gate if we wish his Sovereign Majesty to reveal to us great and hidden mysteries. A person should desire no other path, even if he is at the summit of contemplation; on this road he walks safely. All blessings come to us through our Lord. He will teach us, for in beholding his life we find that he is the best example.

What more do we desire from such a good friend at our side? Unlike our friends in the world, he will never abandon us when we are troubled or distressed. Blessed is the one who truly loves him and always keeps him near. Let us consider the glorious Saint Paul: it seems that no other name fell from his lips than that of Jesus, because the name of Jesus was fixed and embedded in his heart. Once I had come to understand this truth, I carefully considered the lives of some of the saints, the great contemplatives, and found that they took no other path: Francis, Anthony of Padua, Bernard, Catherine of Siena. A person must walk along this path in freedom, placing himself in God’s hands. If God should desire to raise us to the position of one who is an intimate and shares his secrets, we ought to accept this gladly.

Whenever we think of Christ we should recall the love that led him to bestow on us so many graces and favors, and also the great love God showed in giving us in Christ a pledge of his love; for love calls for love in return. Let us strive to keep this always before our eyes and to rouse ourselves to love him. For if at some time the Lord should grant us the grace of impressing his love on our hearts, all will become easy for us and we shall accomplish great things quickly and without effort."
- St. Teresa of Avila

O God, who by the Holy Spirit didst move St. Teresa of Avila to manifest to thy Church the way of perfection: Grant us, we beseech thee, to be nourished by her excellent teaching, and enkindle within us a lively and unquenchable longing for true holiness; through Jesus Christ, the joy of loving hearts, who with thee and the same Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

13 October 2009

Edward, King and Confessor

O God, who didst bestow upon thy blessed confessor King Edward the crown of everlasting glory: Grant us, we pray thee; so to venerate him on earth, that we may be found worthy to reign with him in heaven; 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.

11 October 2009

The Collect for today...

Lord, we pray thee that thy grace may always precede and follow us, and make us continually to be given to all good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

For your interest, here's the Collect in Latin:

Tua nos, quæsumus, Dómine, grátia semper et prævéniat et sequátur, ac bonis opéribus iúgiter præstet esse inténtos; per Dóminum nostrum Iesum Christum, Fílium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte Spíritus Sancti, Deus, per ómnia sæcula sæculórum. Amen.

And here's the ICEL version:

Lord, our help and guide, make your love the foundation of our lives. May our love for you express itself in our eagerness to do good for others. We ask this through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Now, decide which version - the Anglican Use or the ICEL - is most faithful to the Latin original.  An interesting exercise, no?

10 October 2009

Upper School Accreditation

We have an important time coming up here at the parish.  The full accreditation of our Upper School will be taking place, with an accreditation team visiting us from Sunday, October 11th, through Wednesday, October 14th.  Our Lower and Middle Schools were fully accredited a few years ago, and after the Upper School was established it was provisionally accredited in preparation for this full accreditation.  We're well-prepared, and we look forward to welcoming the visiting team.

As part of the Academy's welcome to our visitors, the Upper School Honors Choir (pictured above) will be presenting a short concert.  They are absolutely wonderful -- I'm so proud of them!

08 October 2009

Let me know when they're done...

From the "I'm Glad I Wasn't There" Department:

"Mass" at Plobsheim, France, Pentecost 2009 from Donald Jenkins on Vimeo.

What a bunch of idiots.

07 October 2009

Our Lady of the Rosary

At Mass this morning I had the opportunity to tell all the students the exciting story of the Battle of Lepanto, and of the part our Blessed Mother had on that October 7th morning, back in 1571.  God intervened in a marvellous way, as the rosary was prayed fervently throughout Europe.  Click here to read the marvellous story.

This afternoon the school gathered again for Solemn Evensong and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, as we once more honored our Lady, and gave thanks to God for His marvellous blessings.

06 October 2009

The Crusader Times

If you'd like to read the latest newsletter from The Atonement Academy, click here. (It's a PDF file, so you'll need Acrobat Reader to open it).

I'm delighted to announce...

...the ordination of Jeffery Moore to the Sacred Diaconate.  Jeff and Ellie, and their children Emma, Lilly and Jack, moved to San Antonio from the Diocese of Forth Worth, where Jeff had entered the Pastoral Provision process for eventual ordination to the priesthood.  He had been ordained in the Episcopal Church, but upon his conversion he began the process which is now reaching its happy conclusion.  We don't yet have a date for his priestly ordination, but he will be ordained to the diaconate on Saturday, October 17th at 10:00 a.m., at San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio.

ALMIGHTY God, who by thy divine providence hast appointed divers Orders of Ministers in thy Church, and didst inspire thine Apostles to choose into the Order of Deacons the first Martyr Saint Stephen, with others; Mercifully behold thy servant now called to the like Office and Administration: so replenish him with the truth of thy Doctrine, and adorn him with innocency of life, that, both by word and good example, he may faithfully serve thee in this Office, to the glory of thy Name, and the edification of thy Church; through the merits of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and for ever. Amen.

05 October 2009

Life Chain 2009

For the past twenty years or so, our parish has participated in the annual Life Chain, and yesterday about two hundred of us from Our Lady of the Atonement joined others in San Antonio to stand up on behalf of the unborn.  It's a small sacrifice to give an hour on a Sunday afternoon to make a prayerful and public witness to the sanctity of human life.  A huge number of our parishioners are very active all year round in all the various aspects of pro-life work, and many of our families have adopted children who have been saved from being aborted.  In addition to the important active apostolates, this annual time of silent prayer and public witness may plant a seed in the heart of someone who is unsure about the issue.  So for that reason we include the annual Life Chain in our activities.  I like to think of it as another way of answering Christ's question, "Could ye not watch with me one hour?"

03 October 2009

The Collect for Sunday...

Almighty and everlasting God, who art always more ready to hear than we to pray, and art wont to give more than either we desire or deserve: Pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy, forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask, but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

02 October 2009

Angelic guidance and protection...

Angele Dei,
qui custos es mei,
Me tibi commissum pietate superna;
Hodie illumina, custodi, rege, et guberna.

Angel of God,
my guardian dear,
To whom his love commits me here;
Ever this day be at my side,
To light and guard, to rule and guide.

This prayer, although commonly attributed to St. Anselm, was more likely written by Reginald of Canterbury, a 12th century Benedictine monk. The Latin poem was later added to the works of St. Anselm – I suppose to give it added importance. But it has its own beauty, simplicity and power, no matter who wrote it.

01 October 2009

Our Lord's Little Flower

"Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love."

O Lord Jesus Christ, who hast said, Except ye become as little children ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven: Grant us, we beseech thee; in meekness and lowliness of heart to follow the footsteps of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, thy holy virgin, and so at last to come unto thine everlasting kingdom; where thou livest and reignest, with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.