29 March 2011

Springtime in the courtyard

It appeared even more beautiful to me, since I just got back from snow-covered Toronto, but when I saw the courtyard in all its Spring finery, I just had to post a few pictures...

28 March 2011

Canadian Ordinariate Meeting

Instead of repeating myself, here are links to several stories (and lots of pictures) of the very successful meeting we had in Toronto.  Under the leadership of Archbishop Collins, they're well on their way to the implementation of Anglicanorum coetibus.

You'll find things of interest here, and here, as well as here, and several pictures here.

23 March 2011

Preparing for the Canadian Ordinariate

I'll be in Toronto from the 24th to the 26th, speaking at the conference for Anglicans who plan to enter the Ordinariate when it's established in Canada.  The Archbishop of Toronto, Thomas Collins, is hosting the meeting, and I'm looking foward to the whole event.  It will be my privilege to offer the Anglican Use Mass on Friday evening for the Solemnity of the Annunciation.  This will be the first time for the A.U. Mass to be celebrated in Canada.

19 March 2011

My favorite St. Joseph story...

St. Joseph Shrine, Our Lady of the Atonement Church, San Antonio, Texas

I've posted this story before, but it's my favorite experience with St. Joseph -- and as I always say, if a story is worth telling once, it's worth boring people to death with it!

 I was a young Episcopal cleric just returned to Rhode Island from a stint of serving in the Anglican Diocese of Bristol, England. The parish I had come to was middle-to-high: vestments, occasional incense, a few statues strategically placed.

There was a parishioner who wanted us to have a new statue of St. Joseph. The old statue was small and not in terribly good shape. I was deputized to find a new one, but there were a couple of requirements. It had to be two feet tall and it had to be cheap. The only solution was to go to a local religious goods store and look for something that might look half-way acceptable if the lights were dim.

I found one. It wasn’t beautiful, but it didn’t look as though it had been dragged behind a truck either. “Wrap it up and I’ll take it,” I told the clerk. “Sorry, sir, but this is the last one and we don’t have a box for it,” was the reply. A dilemma. I was driving a Volkswagen, and the back seat was already fairly full with a child’s car seat and other assorted items. The only option I could see was to stand it up in the passenger’s seat and strap the seat belt around it, which I did.

I was just closing the passenger door. St. Joseph was safely strapped in, facing ram-rod straight ahead. I heard a voice behind me. “You might want to let him drive.” I turned around to see a young priest about my age, with a grin on his face. We exchanged quips about the statue with the seat belt, and then began to chat about other things. We quickly discovered that my Episcopal parish and his Catholic parish were located fairly close to one another. We seemed to click, we made lunch plans, and one of the most important friendships of my life began.

We got together regularly to talk. It didn’t take long for our discussions to turn into question and answer sessions – me asking the questions, and him giving the answers. I wanted to know about the Catholic faith. And he told me. He was always gentle in his answers, but he never watered down the truth. Even if the issue was a difficult one, he always told me what the Church teaches. I was grateful for that. I would have resented it if I had discovered that he was tailoring what he said to make it fit what he might have thought I wanted to hear. I learned Catholic truth, and when it was presented to me in its fullness and in its beauty, I knew I had to embrace it. I believed it completely.

How grateful I always have been to St. Joseph. Without saying a word, he helped bring me into the Catholic Church by introducing me to a faithful Catholic priest. The statue may not have been very beautiful, but everything else in the story is.

O God, who from the family of thy servant David didst raise up St. Joseph to be the guardian of thine incarnate Son and the spouse of his Virgin Mother: Give us grace to imitate his uprightness of life and his obedience to thy commands; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

18 March 2011

St. Cyril of Jerusalem

Our actions have a tongue of their own; they have an eloquence of their own, even when the tongue is silent. For deeds prove the lover more than words.
- St.Cyril of Jerusalem 

Strengthen, O Lord, we beseech thee, the bishops of thy Church in their special calling to be teachers and ministers of the Sacraments, that they, like thy servant St. Cyril of Jerusalem, may effectively instruct thy people in Christian faith and practice; and that we, taught by them, may enter more fully into the celebration of the Paschal mystery; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

16 March 2011

Sophora secundiflora

Better known as Texas Mountain Laurel, the natural landscape around the church has an abundance of them.  A sure sign of spring is when the gorgeous purple blooms hang like bunches of grapes.  Simply beautiful.

Pray for the people of Japan

O God, whose fatherly care reacheth to the uttermost parts of the earth: We humbly beseech thee graciously to behold and bless the people of Japan. Defend them from all dangers of soul and body; and grant that both they and we, drawing nearer to thee, may be bound together by thy love in the communion of thy Holy Spirit, and in the fellowship of thy saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.  Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

15 March 2011

Yikes! What is it?

It's happened to most of us.  A well-meaning friend gives us some objet d'art, and you have to spend lots of time and effort trying to figure out how not to hurt their feelings.  Those with no scruples re-gift such things, and let somebody else worry about it.

It looks as though the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham has a similar problem.  The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have ear-marked a building for use by the Ordinariate.  St. Anne's, a now-closed Catholic Church on Laxton Street near King's Cross in London, has to be (by every objective standard) one of the ugliest buildings ever designed for public worship.

Dear Lord, what were the bishops thinking when they came up with this idea?

14 March 2011

First rose...

There are hundreds of rose bushes planted around the church and in the courtyard, and when they're in full bloom, it's breath-taking.  But there's nothing quite so pretty as the very first bloom of the season.  I saw this one this morning as I was walking along the path towards the Lady Chapel.

13 March 2011

Blessed John Henry Newman Shrine

Nearly completed is the Shrine of Blessed John Henry Newman, which has been installed in the baptistry of Our Lady of the Atonement Church in San Antonio, Texas. Many of those who attended the first "Becoming One" Gathering saw the partially-finished painting and contributed towards the cost of the shrine in thanksgiving for Anglicanorum coetibus. The painting was done by Leo Garza, a local San Antonio artist, and the shrine itself was built by Shayne Bernier, both members of Our Lady of the Atonement.

The shrine should be completely finished within a matter of weeks, when it will then be blessed. Prayers will be offered daily for those who are entering full communion through an Ordinariate.

11 March 2011

Stations of the Cross

For nearly thirty years we have used an order for the Stations of the Cross at the parish which was assembled by the now-departed Fr. W. T. St. John Brown. I have always found this particular version of the Stations to be especially beautiful, a lovely combination of traditional devotions coupled with Collects from the Book of Common Prayer, and readings from the scriptures. I guess it’s the scriptures that really get to me. Or, to be more specific, the version of the scriptures which is used is what I love; namely, the old Authorized Version, also known as the King James Version. Yes, I know -- there’s a lot of baggage that goes along with that. But I can’t help it. There’s something about those familiar words that really burrows down deep in my soul.

Fr. Brown’s order for the Stations can be found here, and as an added bonus there are some reflections by John Henry Cardinal Newman. We don’t use the reflections in our public saying of the Stations, but they’re included for your edification.

We pray the Stations of the Cross at the parish each Friday in Lent, first with the students of the Academy at 2:15 p.m., and at 7:00 p.m., we have Solemn Evensong, then Stations, followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

09 March 2011

...unto dust shalt thou return.

Ash Wednesday Mass at The Atonement Academy.

08 March 2011

The Annual Farewell to the Alleluia

For an account of this morning's "Farewell to the Alleluia," along with pictures, go here.

07 March 2011

Beginning Lent

Lent begins on Wednesday this week.  In preparation for that, we'll be saying "farewell" to the Alleluia on Shrove Tuesday.  When the alleluias have died down, the triptych will be closed at the high altar, and the purple vestments will be laid out for the Ash Wednesday Masses:

7:00 a.m. - Low Mass
9:15 a.m. - Sung Mass
7:00 p.m. - Sung Mass

There will be Imposition of Ashes at all the Masses.

Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

02 March 2011

Could you help, please?

There's a faithful and hard-working priest who is pouring all his energy into his parish, improving the lives of his people by preaching the Gospel, administering the Sacraments, and providing an education to the local children through the parish school.  His name is Fr. Firas Nassib Aridah, and he needs our help.

We were able to visit Fr. Aridah, and St. Joseph's, Jifna, during our recent parish pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  We prayed in the church, and then had a full tour of the school.  Father has done a tremendous amount of work to expand what the school is able to offer, but an area needing serious improvement is the facility for the Kindergarten children.  The equipment is old, and the rooms need repairs. 

Life is difficult for the children of Jifna, and their time in school is one of the bright spots in their lives.  Living in the West Bank, just north of Ramallah, these children need a safe place where they can learn and develop into young adults who crave peace, rather than the strife they now experience on a daily basis.

Can you help?  Or perhaps I should ask, "Will you help?"  Our Academy students will be raising money during Lent, which will be sent to Jifna.  It would be terrific if you could help, too.  The total project being done by Fr. Aridah -- which includes fixing plumbing, installing a rest room, replacing bad flooring, purchasing tables and chairs, along with other needed equipment, will cost about $19,000.  Some substantial gifts combined with our students' efforts, could go far in helping to complete this project.  I'm hoping someone out there might feel moved to donation a few thousand dollars, or perhaps a thousand or even five hundred dollars. 

If you can help, please make your check out to The Atonement Academy and mark in the memo that it is for "Jifna."  Send it to the Academy office at 15415 Red Robin Road, San Antonio, Texas 78255.  Every single dollar that comes in will go directly to St. Joseph's School in Jifna.

01 March 2011

St. David of Wales

March 1st is the commemoration of St. David, Patron of Wales, and the "saint of little things."  Living as we do in an age which seems to value most those things that tend to be big and flashy, the final words of St. David serve as a good reminder of what makes for a steady and faithful life.  He lived to be over a hundred years old, and just two days before he died, St. David preached a sermon which included these words, "Be joyful, and keep your faith and your creed. Do the little things that you have seen me do and heard about."

For a longer entry on St. David's life, including some recipes for authentically Welsh food, go to the story I posted on The Anglo-Catholic.