30 November 2009

I guess you had to be there...

Picture it.  A group of Episcopalians gathers to elect their next bishop.  They're all together the night before, ostensibly for the purpose of praying for guidance.  It comes time for a reading from Scripture, and... well, let's go to the incident as it's recounted in an article by David Virtue, which he's posted on his website, VirtueOnline:
A cradle Episcopalian and parishioner at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church in Portland found herself mocked and ridiculed for reading a portion of Scripture relating to the qualifications for bishop on the eve of electing a new diocesan bishop.

Margaret Enriques was invited by her rector, the Rev. David L. Humphrey, to read 1Timothy 3:1-7 (NRSV), a passage relating to the qualifications for bishop. She promptly agreed. During the Opening Eucharist, she approached the lectern, announced the Lesson and began to read. When the second sentence was read, people began to laugh. Soon the sound of laughter became so great that she stopped and waited until it died down. Then she continued, but soon the laughter returned and grew so loud that she had to stop again and wait until she could be heard. Finally, she finished the reading.

"The laughter began when I started to read 'a bishop should not be a lover of money' and again later during the reading," she told VOL.

A few minutes later, in the introduction to his sermon, the Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb (appointed in 2008 to administer the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin) joked: "I'd like to have a word with whoever it was who picked those readings." The bishop did not make good his threat, Enriques told VOL.

Asked about her ordeal, Enriques said she was shocked and deeply saddened by what had happened, but it was not enough to make her leave The Episcopal Church.

Following is the text of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 (NRSV). "The saying is sure: whoever aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task. Now a bishop must be above reproach, married only once, temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an apt teacher, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way- for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil."
What would possess people to act like that?  How could they think that what the Bible has to say about qualities for a bishop would be something to laugh about?  Like I said, I guess you had to be there...

It wasn't long after I began my ministry as a young Episcopal curate that I was involved pretty closely in an election for a new bishop.  I was supporting the candidacy of my rector, and I was given the privilege of putting his name in nomination.  It was a solemn and very formal occasion.  In the eucharistic service before the meeting of Convention we listened carefully to God's Word.  When the nominations were made, the speeches included not only facts about the man's ministry (there were only men being nominated in those days), but most of us made the effort to relate the qualities of our candidate to the scriptural references about bishops.  Granted, that was almost thirty-five years ago.  But have things changed that drastically in that short a time?  Apparently so.

Things like this only point out more strongly the importance of what Pope Benedict is doing with Anglicanorum coetibus.    Although they weren't in evidence at the gathering in St. Matthew's, Portland, there are still good people, Bible-believing people, in the Episcopal Church.  And there are even more in the wider world of Anglicanism.  Right now, these people are "strangers in a strange land."  They need to know there's a place for them to go, and there's a real pastor who cares for them.  I know many of them have some anti-catholic feelings to come to terms with.  This isn't their fault.  They're the product of generations of otherwise good people who have feelings of distrust, of deep suspicion, when it comes to things catholic.  The very thought of "becoming Roman" isn't seen as a pleasant possibility.  I know this.  I was in that position myself.

But God can change hearts, and He very often does.  Benedict has opened the door and put out the welcome mat.  Those of us already in the Catholic Church need to have patience as our Anglican brothers and sisters assess the situation and begin to wrap their minds around the idea of making the journey "to Rome." 

Part of the beauty of Anglicanorum coetibus is that when these Anglicans arrive home, they'll find it furnished with what they already treasure.  They'll be welcomed as brothers and sisters in Christ.  And they can be darned sure they won't be mocked for believing God's Word.

29 November 2009

First Sunday of Advent

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

28 November 2009

Beginning Advent...

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

The Great Litany

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

27 November 2009

Anglicanorum coetibus in its context...

Anglicanorum coetibus didn't arise out of a void.  At various times over the past years, groups of Anglicans have made approaches to the Holy See.  Those in the news of late are but the most recent.

One of the best accounts of the approach made in the 1970's has been chronicled by Fr. Jack Barker, one-time rector of St. Mary of the Angels in Hollywood, and now the pastor of St. Martha's, Murrieta, in the Diocese of San Bernardino.

Anyone interested in Anglicanorum coetibus really should read this history.  It's linked here.  Fr. Barker was a participant in it all, and he gives us an important and accurate eye-witness account.  At the end of his article there is the text of the Decree which established the Pastoral Provision, and also the petition which was presented to Pope John Paul II on All Saints Day, 1979.

Even a cursory reading makes it obvious that the possibility of what is provided in Anglicanorum coetibus is contained in the original Decree, and the hope of the original petitioners has been fulfilled by Pope Benedict XVI.

By the way, one small thing to look for in the article: mention is made of the participation of a young priest who served as the English-speaking secretary to Cardinal Franjo Seper, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  His name?  Fr. William Levada, now a Cardinal, serving as Prefect of that same Congregation, and who announced Anglicanorum coetibus to the world.

26 November 2009

Asking God's blessings...

Almighty and gracious Father, we give thee thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we beseech thee, faithful stewards of thy great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

25 November 2009

"I'm not hurrying. I'm just walking fast..."

When the text of Anglicanorum coetibus was made public, I had no hesitation at all in wanting to be part of an Ordinariate.  I happened to be in Rome at the time of the announcement, and I excitedly called my archbishop and said to him that I wanted to send in a request right away.  His response was, "What's your hurry?"

His question didn't make any sense to me.  In fact, I pondered it all the way back from Rome.  But I think I've figured it out. 

He knows me as a pastor, and us as a parish, because we're part of his archdiocese, just like his other priests and parishes.  Sure, we have a different liturgical use.  But heck, when you go around the archdiocese you'd swear that every single parish has its own liturgical use.  He knows that we're loyal to him as our archbishop.  He knows our school as one of the finest in the archdiocese, recognized nationally as an excellent educational institution.  We pay our money on time.  We're supportive of archdiocesan programs, such as pro-life efforts, the apostolate to the homeless and needy, the seminary, and a host of other things.  When he visits the parish we welcome him as our spiritual Father-in-God.  And then he gets a call from me, all excited about the new Apostolic Constitution, and the possibility of becoming part of an Ordinariate.  I didn't stop to think that he hadn't been particularly waiting for this development.  In fact, it hasn't been on his radar screen at all.  So when he hears me, naturally his first reaction is, "What's your hurry?"

The thing is, the immediate desire to be part of an Ordinariate isn't hurrying at all.  We've been working for this and praying for this for some thirty years.  When approaches were made to the Holy See back in the 1970's, we had no idea what the Church might do for us.  When the Pastoral Provision was established by Pope John Paul II, it was a huge step forward, and we entered into the process as quickly as we could.  Why would we have waited around?  We asked; Rome responded; we fulfilled the requirements as soon as possible, and we were welcomed home.  But even then we knew that some sort of separate jurisdiction would be necessary if our parishes were going to grow and increase in numbers.  And we took great comfort in the fact that the document outlining the terms of the Pastoral Provision allowed for this possibility. 

In section II, 1 of the Pastoral Provision document signed by Cardinal Seper on July 22, 1980, Prot. N. 66/77, it 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." (emphasis added).

That's precisely what has happened with the promulgation of Anglicanorum coetibus.  A new structure is being provided.  We tried it the way the Episcopal Conference wanted it to be.  Where we were allowed to exist, we were made part of the existing diocesan structures under the jurisdiction of the local Ordinary.  And that's the problem, clearly stated: "where we were allowed to exist."  There were a few bishops who allowed the erection of parishes, but many bishops refused to allow a parish to be established under the terms of the Pastoral Provision.  Some bishops were confused by it all, and would refer it to someone in the Chancery system, where the request would languish.  Many bishops saw this only in terms of "married priests."  Still other bishops couldn't see the purpose of us having our own liturgy, and a number of them told potential converts, "Sign up for RCIA, and just become Catholics in your local parish."

But now, with Anglicanorum coetibus, all that's changed.  Pope Benedict XVI recognized the constraints we've had for these many years, and he's provided a solution.  And not only provided it, but written it into the law of the Church, and extended it throughout the world.

There's nothing here for me to agonize over. The Holy Father has made his decision under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and he's signed the document, making the decision official and final. 

So, with the deepest respect to those who feel they need more time to consider their options, or to explore issues, or to think about what they should do - by all means, take all the time you need. 

And to those who think I'm hurrying, I've had all the time I need to think about it.  I've been thinking about it for nearly thirty years.  I'm happy to express my thanks by saying, "Yes."

24 November 2009


Despite what you read in the newspapers, Bishop Tobin isn't telling Patrick Kennedy how to vote.  Young Patrick can vote however he wants, on any issue he wants.  He can vote in support of abortion until his eyes cross and the cows come home.  All the bishop has told him is that if he does that, he can't receive Holy Communion.

Is that so tough for Patrick and his friends to understand?  No one's cramping his style.  The bishop's just pointing out that if you make a left-hand turn, you can't make a right-hand turn at the same time.

So, Patrick, don't lay this on the bishop.  You have a choice.  Support abortion and endanger your immortal soul, or support life and grow closer to Christ.  You're pro-choice, right?  So choose.

21 November 2009

Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

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

18 November 2009

Meeting on December 12th...

With the very generous decision made by the Holy Father, which has been published in his Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, we really are in the midst of one of those truly historic moments in the history of the Church. With this Constitution, Pope Benedict XVI has given resounding confirmation of what our parish has been doing for these past twenty-six years. Our Lady of the Atonement Parish will be hosting a meeting on Saturday, December 12th, which will provide an opportunity to learn more about the Holy Father's initiative, and what it means for us. We'll have a few speakers who will give brief presentations; there will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions, which will be answered with the information we have. During my recent visit to Rome, I spent some time speaking with some of the staff of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and in particular, with a priest who works closely with William Cardinal Levada, Prefect of the CDF. Much of what he said to me will be helpful to us. 

We'll begin with Mass at 10:00 a.m., and we should be able to begin our meeting in the St. Anthony Hall at about 11:00 a.m. We'll break for lunch, and continue after that for as long as people would like.  Email me at FrPhillips@atonementonline.com if you plan to attend, and let me know if you want lunch ($6.00, pay on the day).

Visiting NAC...

During our recent pilgrimage to Rome, we were able to visit the North American College, where many of our American priests receive their education.  One of our own parish boys is completing his time there, and was recently ordained to the diaconate in Rome.  Deacon Brian Noel showed us around the College, and we had a great time.  As many times as I've been to Rome, I'd never had the chance to visit before.  Here's a picture of Deacon Noel and me, pointing to his picture in the class photo hanging in one of the hallways:

But the real treat for some of our Upper School boys was when they had the chance to kick a soccer ball around the field:

Who knows?  Maybe one day some of them will be more than visitors!

17 November 2009

Save the date...

A few days ago I mentioned that we'd have a meeting at the parish to discuss the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus

This will take place on Saturday, December 12th.  We'll begin with our regularly scheduled Mass at 10:00 a.m., and then move to the St. Anthony Hall where we'll hear from a few speakers, including some of the staff of the St. Joseph Foundation, who will discuss what an Ordinariate is, and give some of the canonical background for this development, and what it means for those of us who are members of the Anglican Use parishes.

There'll be plenty of time for questions, and I'll get an email out to my regular list.  But I wanted to get the date out there, so those who'd like to take part in this can make plans.

15 November 2009

From the National Catholic Register...

While I was on pilgrimage I was contacted by Edward Pentin, the Rome Correspondent for the National Catholic Register.  His whole article can be read here.  Below is the section referring to my conversation with him:
Speaking to the Register Nov. 10, Father Christopher Phillips, pastor of the first Pastoral Provision parish, Our Lady of the Atonement in San Antonio, said he is waiting to see what might happen when the Church establishes the first ordinariate. “It seems as though the Pastoral Provision has done its job,” he said, adding that it “wouldn’t seem logical for the Pastoral Provision to continue” within these new international structures.

He said everyone in his parish was “very excited” about the papal decree, and that they had been “working for this and waiting for this for an awfully long time.” But he stressed his parish has had a very good relationship with the diocesan bishop and that relationship will go on once his parish becomes part of an ordinariate. “We want to make sure it goes on,” he said. “It’s written into the constitution that there has to be constant cooperation.”

Our Lady of the Atonement has grown rapidly since its humble beginnings in the early 1980s. Starting with just 18 worshippers, it now has 500 families and a thriving school.

Father Phillips sees even more promise with the ordinariates because they won’t be left to the whim of a local bishop, as Anglican-use parishes are currently.

“The reason there are so few [Anglican-use parishes] is because so many bishops didn’t want the Pastoral Provision in their diocese,” he said. “An ordinary has the powers of a bishop to establish personal parishes wherever they’re needed, so I think we’ll see a real flowering of this.”

And although his parish is fortunate to have a good relationship with its bishop, Father Phillips said it still felt somewhat “on its own” because the bishop had other priorities to attend to. The only job of the new ordinary, he said, will be “to think of ways for this to grow.”

He added that he didn’t think there would initially be “a huge wave of converts” because of the new ordinariates, “but if it grows slowly, it’ll grow in a more healthy way.”

Said Father Phillips: “It’ll strengthen the whole movement and bring lots of people home.”

14 November 2009

Have Liturgy - Will Travel...

Our Anglican Use liturgy is well-travelled, and it travels well.  During our pilgrimage we celebrated Mass according to the Book of Divine Worship in so many places which are important to our faith - in the Basilica of San Clemente, in St. Peter's Basilica, in the Basilica of St. Francis at Assisi, in the Chapel of the Eucharistic Miracle at Orvieto, in the Basilica of Santa Croce at Florence, in the Basilica of St. Francis at Siena in the presence of the Miraculous Hosts, in San Onofrio which is the lovely little church staffed by the Graymoor Friars and is the church of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, in the Basilica of St. Mary Major - and in nearly everyplace we celebrated the Mass there were people who asked the same two questions: when they saw our students in their uniforms they would ask "Where are these beautiful and polite students from," and then they would ask about the impressive liturgy. 

All we'd have to say about the students is that they were from San Antonio, Texas, and the immediate response was, "Ah! Texas!"  When it came to the liturgy we would mention the new Apostolic Constitution, and there would be immediate recognition and big smiles.  It's pretty amazing: people are fascinated by the Holy Father's generous provision for former Anglicans.  People who perhaps haven't given much thought previously to Anglicans are now beginning to see the immense importance of Anglicanorum Coetibus.  And it was the experience of a life-time for our pilgrim students.  To be in Rome at the very time of its announcement, and for them to see the response of others to it all, prompted one of our young people to say to me, "Father, it's like our parish is ground zero!"

Indeed it is.  The past twenty-six years of our parish's existence have helped to lay the groundwork for this great day, and it's really humbling to have even this small part in it all.

13 November 2009

We're back...

Our little group of pilgrims arrived in San Antonio this evening.  We had a wonderful time, but I won't try to write something sensible right now - my bed is beckoning...

12 November 2009

Conference on Apostolic Constitution

Even while I'm still in Rome, there are so many who want to have the chance to discuss and learn more about the Constitution and what it means for the existing parishes and other interested Anglican clergy and laity.  I've been communicating with experts in canon law as well as others who might be able to provide further insights into the ramifications of our Holy Father's generosity.

As soon as I get back to San Antonio we'll firm up a date for the parish to sponsor an 'informational conference' to discuss Anglicanorum Coetibus.  This will take place soon - within a matter of weeks - and will be open to anyone who's interested, whether clergy or laity, Catholic or not.  Let me know if you'd like to receive further information when I have it.

It's all the talk...

The Apostolic Constitution certainly is widely known!  As we've been celebrating our Anglican Use liturgy in various churches and chapels - in Rome, Assisi, Florence, Siena - and as our students have been making a wonderful impression on those who see them, we're asked where we're from.  When I say, 'Have you heard of the new Apostolic Constitution for former Anglicans...?' the response is always, 'Oh yes!  So you're part of that?'

It's pretty exciting to be here in Rome at the very time it's announced, and to be able to be an example of what it's going to look like.

Today's our last day.  We'll be celebrating Mass in the Basilica of St. Mary Major, and the students have been preparing some music... probably the Viadana setting of the Mass.  It'll be a beautiful conclusion to what has been an inspiring pilgrimage.

I might have time to post one more time before we leave tomorrow morning.  And I have to say, it'll be nice to be back in San Antonio.

11 November 2009

Response to questions...

Of all the aspects of the Apostolic Constitution, the section which seems to be the cause of most concern and questions is found in the Complementary Norms, Article 5 §1. The lay faithful originally of the Anglican tradition who wish to belong to the Ordinariate, after having made their Profession of Faith and received the Sacraments of Initiation, with due regard for Canon 845, are to be entered in the apposite register of the Ordinariate. Those baptized previously as Catholics outside the Ordinariate are not ordinarily eligible for membership, unless they are members of a family belonging to the Ordinariate.

First of all, this is referring to future situations because at this point there is no Ordinariate.  Therefore, every Catholic baptism, whether in an Anglican Use parish or in a territorial Latin Rite parish, is administered 'outside the Ordinariate.'  Does this mean that the hundreds of people I've baptized at Our Lady of the Atonement over these past twenty-six years will be ineligible for membership in the Ordinariate?  Obviously that would not be the intention expressed in the Constitution. 

What about Catholics who have been baptized as regular Latin Rite Catholics whose children have received one or more of the Sacraments of Initiation at an Anglican Use parish?  Obviously, the child is eligible for membership in the Ordinariate, and it's apparent that the parents would have that same eligibility.

Because there have been Anglican Use parishes in existence for many years, there are many people who have made attachments to these parishes.  They've been married in these parishes; their children have been baptized in these parishes; their loved ones have been buried from these parishes.  Do we think for a moment that the Holy Father, who has been overwhelmingly generous in this Constitution, would intend that these Faithful should not maintain their ties - indeed, their membership - in these parishes? Of course not.

What about an older couple, with no other ties to a parish other than the fact that they've attended for years and have made the parish their own?  Would the Church tell them, 'Sorry, this isn't your parish any more.'  I doubt it.

In fact, I asked these very questions when speaking with a couple of members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  As I was told by one of them who has been closely involved in developing the Constitution, 'What does membership mean, other than a person attends regularly, receives the sacraments regularly and contributes to the work of the parish?  There will be nothing stopping people from doing that in parishes of an Ordinariate when they are established.'

The only time there will be actual canonical questions is in the case of marriage.  The Sacrament of Matrimony must be witnessed by the proper pastor (or his delegate) of one or both of the parties.  If two persons wish to be married in an Ordinariate parish, neither of whom would be automatically eligible for membership, delegation can be given by one of their proper pastors for the marriage to be witnessed by a priest or deacon of the Ordinariate.  But those cases will probably not be frequent, and there are always ways of dealing with such things in a pastoral way.

I think the bottom line is this: the rule sounds as though it's exclusive.  But even the rule is tempered by the word 'ordinarily.'  Those baptized previously as Catholics outside the Ordinariate are not ordinarily eligible for membership...  There's no such thing as a wasted word in an Apostolic Constitution.  The word 'ordinarily' wouldn't have been included in the text without the probability that there will be exceptions.  Those wonderful words, 'for pastoral reasons,' will be much in evidence, I have no doubt.

These are just my private thoughts.  I'm not writing with any authority or in any official way.  But I know how things have been working for the past twenty-six years in our parish, and have no reason to think things will change with the Apostolic Constitution.  And remember - the Ordinariate will have an Ordinary, a real live person who has the pastoral responsibility for those who are attached (or who desire to be attached) to this spiritual patrimony.  Surely he, in his pastoral role, will assist any Catholic who has a sincere desire to be part of this, no matter where they've been baptized.

Honestly, I don't think there's anything to worry about.  God's in control, and this is really going to work.

10 November 2009

Posting from Rome...

Here are a few brief thoughts, while perched on a stool in a hotel lobby, using free internet access.  Even though I'm far away from home, it's like being in a 'second home,' and with phone and internet connections, I'm managing to keep up with the marvellous and historic events of these days.

Questions are being asked by many, 'How do I do this?  How do I get involved in the process of becoming part of an Ordinariate?'  Actually, a plain reading of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus makes it pretty clear. In section IX it states, Both the lay faithful as well as members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, originally part of the Anglican Communion, who wish to enter the Personal Ordinariate, must manifest this desire in writing.  To whom should this be made manifest?  Again, it's made clear, this time in Article 1 of the Complementary Norms for the Apostolic Constitution: Each Ordinariate is subject to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It maintains close relations with the other Roman Dicasteries in accordance with their competence. 

There is no mention of the Pastoral Provision or the Pastoral Provision Office in the Constitution or in the Complementary Norms.  It seem apparent to me that this new and generous act by the Holy Father not only extends what we have been doing in the parishes for the past twenty-six years, but it clearly designates the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as the point of contact, and the decisive Office for the establishment and nurture of the Ordinariates.

These are my initial observations, and I'll have more to come.  Meanwhile, know that I'm praying for all of us who are, or who will be, part of the Ordinariates.  Mass today was in the Chapel of the Eucharistic Miracle in Siena, and the speedy implementation of the Constitution was at the top of my list of intercessions.

God bless you all -- I'll be posting more soon.

03 November 2009

On pilgrimage...

Please pray for our safe travel as I take a group of our Upper School students on pilgrimage to Rome, Assisi, Florence, Orvieto and Siena.  We'll be gone from November 4th, returning November 13th.

My first visit to Rome was when I was part of the small group working on the Book of Divine Worship.  Now, having lost count of how many times I've been, there's a new excitement with the possibility of the Apostolic Constitution being made public at any time... maybe while we're there...?  That would certainly make this pilgrimage stand out!

Whether or not that happens, I always love taking our students there.  It's almost like experiencing it for the first time all over again, seeing things through their eyes. 

I'm looking forward to a time of spiritual refreshment, and to spending some time with these wonderful students.
O God, our heavenly Father, whose glory fills the whole creation, and whose presence we find wherever we go: Preserve all those who travel; surround them with your loving care; protect them from every danger; and bring them in safety to their journey's end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

02 November 2009

For your contemplation...

Here's something to ponder on All Souls Day.  It's the great Doom Painting over the chancel arch in St. Thomas, Salisbury, England.  Painted in 1475, it was whitewashed at the time of the Anglican break with Rome, and then rediscovered and restored in the 19th century.  This is the largest such painting in England, and is in the parish church I often visited during my time as a student in Salisbury.

In your charity, pray for the departed.

Requiem Masses at 7:00 a.m. and 9:15 a.m.

Solemn Evensong at 7:00 p.m., followed by Requiem in D minor, opus 48, by Gabriel Urbain Fauré.

O God, the Maker and Redeemer of all believers: Grant to the faithful departed the unsearchable benefits of the passion of thy Son; that on the day of his appearing they may be manifested as thy children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.