30 June 2012

The First Martyrs of Rome

“It was through envy and jealousy that the greatest and most upright pillars of the Church were persecuted and struggled unto death.... First of all, Peter, who because of unreasonable jealousy suffered not merely once or twice but many times, and, having thus given his witness, went to the place of glory that he deserved. It was through jealousy and conflict that Paul showed the way to the prize for perseverance. He was put in chains seven times, sent into exile, and stoned; a herald both in the east and the west, he achieved a noble fame by his faith....  Around these men with their holy lives there are gathered a great throng of the elect, who, though victims of jealousy, gave us the finest example of endurance in the midst of many indignities and tortures. Through jealousy women were tormented, like Dirce or the daughters of Danaus, suffering terrible and unholy acts of violence. But they courageously finished the course of faith and despite their bodily weakness won a noble prize.”

- Pope St. Clement

Almighty and everlasting God, who didst enkindle the flame of thy love in the hearts of the holy martyrs of Rome: Grant to us, thy humble servants, a like faith and power of love, that we who rejoice in their triumph may profit by their example; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

28 June 2012

Fr. Hunwicke's First Mass

Fr. John Hunwicke celebrated his first Mass at the Lady Altar in the London Brompton Oratory, according to the Extraordinary Form.

St. Irenaeus, Bishop & Martyr

O Almighty God, by whose grace and power thy holy bishop and martyr St. Irenaeus triumphed over suffering and was faithful even unto death: Grant us, who now remember him with thanksgiving, to be so faithful in our witness to thee in this world, that we may receive with him the crown of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

St. Irenaeus was born in Asia Minor around the year 140. It is not known when he came to Gaul. He was a priest of the Church of Lyons during the persecution of 177 when St. Pothinus, first bishop of the city and the first martyr of Lyons, was put to death. Irenaeus succeeded him as bishop and twenty-five years later was martyred in his turn during a fresh persecution. At a time when Gnostic sects threatened to undermine Christianity by a perversion of Christian thought, St. Irenaeus vigorously denounced all heresies and safeguarded unity of belief by laying down the principles of the doctrinal tradition of the Church.

27 June 2012

Fr. John Hunwicke

  It's with great joy and thanksgiving that we receive the news of the priestly ordination of Fr. John Hunwicke for service in the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. Fr. Hunwicke was a guest of our parish this past year, and he is one of the truly great priests coming into full Catholic communion from Anglicanism.

 As is noted on his blog, Fr. Hunwicke "was for nearly three decades at Lancing College; where he taught Latin and Greek language and literature, was Head of Theology, and Assistant Chaplain. He has served three curacies, been a Parish Priest, and Senior Research Fellow at Pusey House in Oxford."

 And now, a Catholic priest in full communion with the Holy See!

The Rood Screen

The word "rood" comes from the Saxon word "rode," which means "cross". The rood screen is so called because it is a screen surmounted by the Rood -- a large figure of the crucified Christ -- and it separates the sanctuary from the nave of the church.  The rood screen at Our Lady of the Atonement Church is a major architectural feature of the interior, with the central arch providing a frame for the tabernacle and altar. 

Our Lady of the Atonement Church, San Antonio, Texas
(Another view, below)

Our Lady of the Atonement Rood Screen
(above, decorated for Easter)

Lux in Arcana

An historic exhibit was opened in Rome on March 1st, and it will continue to be open to the public until September 9th. Although most of us won't be able to visit it in person, we can taste something of the mystery of the Vatican Secret Archives by going to the website of Lux in Arcana (Light in Mysterious Places). Touching upon many of the momentous events in Western history, it's well worth spending some time navigating the website, and having a peek at things few of us will ever be able to see in person.  For instance, pictured here is the document in which King Henry VIII sought a Decree of Nullity for his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, and it is described in this way:

It was the year 1530. For months the matrimonial case of Henry VIII of England versus Catherine of Aragon had been pending in the hands of pope Clement VII. The king, obsessed more than ever by what he called his “Secret Matter,” wanted to obtain at all costs the pope’s annulment of his first marriage so that he could marry the young Anne Boleyn and hopefully sire the longed-for heir to the throne. It was thus necessary to step up the pressure on the pope. On June 12th, Henry summoned a number of his supporters to court, mostly members of the House of Lords, and asked them to write to Clement VII, urging him to adjudicate the king’s suit by granting him an annulment. A draft of the proposed letter was read out to the meeting, but some of the attendees criticized its overly aggressive tones; it suggested that a council might be summoned to act against the pope if he did not grant Henry’s wish.

After a few days’ adjournment - perhaps the time needed to redraft the letter - the meeting sat again on June 16th, the Sunday of Corpus Christi. This time, though, Henry took a shrewder approach. To avoid the risk of further delay, he spoke separately to each member. It was impossible to resist his vehement arguments; that day, the letter received a good number of the signatures Henry sought. But the king wasn’t satisfied; the document had to be signed and sealed even by the men who hadn’t been able to come to court. The absentees were reached at their homes by royal commissioners dispatched to every corner of the kingdom. For example, during the night of June 16th the conspicuous parchment was presented to cardinal Thomas Wolsey at his house at Esher; Wolsey signed it in the space reserved for archbishops and pressed his seal into the wax with which the royal messengers had already filled the tin skippet assigned to him.

The document, bearing all its signatures and seals, was dated and dispatched a month later. The signers included nearly 70% of the members of the House of Lords: all of the kingdom’s dukes, marquesses and earls, most of the barons and the abbots in charge of the major abbeys. None of the signers could have imagined the fate that would befall some of them a few years later. George Boleyn, viscount of Rochford and brother of the future Queen Anne, was executed with her for high treason, aggravated by the further charge of having committed incest with his sister. Richard Whiting, abbot of Glastonbury, was hanged, drawn and quartered for refusing to turn the abbey and its property over to the Crown. Abbot Hugh Cook of Reading was hung as a traitor in his own abbey, his body left to rot on the gallows. Henry Courtenay, Marquess of Exeter, and Henry Pole, Baron Montague, wholehearted opponents of the “Anglican Schism,” were beheaded for having taken part in a conspiracy against the king.

The document has been called “the most impressive one ever circulated by the Tudors.” Its 83 signatures embody the stories of the protagonists and the victims of some of the bloodiest decades in English history.

St. Cyril of Alexandria

Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, by Pius Parsch:

St. Cyril is one of the great Greek fathers of the Church. He was chosen by divine Providence to be the shield and champion of the Church against Nestorius, who denied the unity of person in Christ. If this heresy had succeeded, Mary would not be called the Mother of God.

Excepting Sts. Athanasius and Augustine, his equal as a defender of orthodoxy, can hardly be found in the Church's history. His greatest achievement was the successful direction of the ecumenical council at Ephesus (431), of which he was the soul (Pope Celestine had appointed him papal legate). In this council two important dogmas were defined – that there is but one person in Christ, and that Mary (in the literal sense of the word) can be called the Mother of God (Theotokos). His successful defense of the latter doctrine is his greatest title to honor.

His writings show such depth and clarity that the Greeks called him the "seal of the fathers." He died in 444 A.D., after having been bishop for thirty-two years.

O God, who didst strengthen thy blessed Confessor and Bishop Saint Cyril, invincibly to maintain the divine motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary: vouchsafe that at his intercession we, believing her to be indeed the Mother of God; may as her children rejoice in her protection; through the same 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.

25 June 2012

No sleeping...!

This is the small stained glass window at the entrance to the Chapel of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus at Our Lady of the Atonement Church, and is the chapel where adoration of the Blessed Sacrament takes place each week from Friday morning until Sunday morning. The depiction is, of course, our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane, but the sleeping disciples serve as a good reminder to each of us as we enter the Chapel for adoration..."Could ye not watch with me one hour...?"

24 June 2012

Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Almighty God, by whose providence thy servant St. John the Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of thy Son our Saviour by preaching repentance: Make us so to follow his doctrine and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and after his example constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth’s sake; 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.

23 June 2012

Remembering Ralph Johnston

We celebrated the Requiem Mass for our former Headmaster, Ralph Thomas Johnston, on 22 June 2012, the Feast of Ss. John Fisher & Thomas More.  The church was filled with hundreds of mourners, as we commended him to God's eternal keeping.  The following tribute was written by Deacon James Orr, and was included in the bulletin for the Mass:


The parishioners of Our Lady of the Atonement knew his name.  They saw it printed on the front of the bulletin for years.  Perhaps they saw him attending the Sunday evening Mass in Latin, of which he was quite fond, but it was the students, parents, faculty and staff of The Atonement Academy who knew more than just the name.  They knew this person on a day-to-day basis.  They knew him as leader, colleague, mentor, and some knew him as friend.

His obituary stated that, upon coming to the academy, “he began volunteering…as the textbook inventory manager, the college counselor, an instructor in technology, economics and government, a member of the school council, and eventually the headmaster.”  This reveals a trait in Ralph which was so welcomed at the academy, and that trait was helpfulness.

He volunteered to help with the textbooks, because it needed to be done.  It involved moving heavy boxes and getting dirty, but Ralph never complained.  He volunteered to be the college counselor because we didn’t have anyone to do this necessary work, and he was so good with our students and their parents in this regard.  He volunteered to teach, because there was a need for his expertise.  Everywhere Ralph saw a need, he filled it.  He never asked anyone to do anything that he was unwilling to do if need be.  He’d just as frequently be found on a ladder installing a projector, or moving some speakers and setting up some microphone, or carrying some boxes or books, as he would be found writing some design proposal or meeting with a person with a question, or steering some senior down a path which would forever change his or her life.

Ralph was everywhere, and his personality was one of complete giving.  Saying that he was “helpful” is an understatement; he was invaluable, but never one to insist – never one to demand.  So many times, Ralph would stop talking when another interrupted, or drop his head in humility.  He was self-effacing and charitably humble; a rare character trait to find in a leader.  He was a good Catholic man.   He lived the message of the Gospel.

Ralph was a firm and vocal supporter of the American republic, the founding documents, the free market, our cherished constitutional liberties, and the freedoms so many take for granted.  Ralph was a true patriot.

The hours of service he gave to our school were immense, and so greatly appreciated by those who knew him.  The personal touch and insight he offered to those in need will never be forgotten in our lifetime.  And his greatest asset – his brilliant mind!  Ralph knew a little bit about most things and he knew a tremendous amount about some things, and he willingly used and directed his mind for the improvement of the kingdom of God.   We will miss you very much, Ralph!  Rest eternal, dear friend, and may light perpetual shine upon you.

21 June 2012

Fortnight for Freedom

Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty

O God our Creator,
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel to every corner of society.
We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.
Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood and every danger overcome
for the sake of all who come after us— this great land
will always be "one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

19 June 2012

St. Romuald of Ravenna

St. Romuald, born c.950, is the founder of the Camaldolese Order, which is a branch of the Benedictines. Austere and devout, along with the penance he imposed upon his young monks, he also gave them solid formation. Here is the “Brief Rule” of St. Romuald for his monks:
Sit in your cell as in paradise. Put the whole world behind you and forget it. Watch your thoughts like a good fisherman watching for fish. The path you must follow is in the Psalms — never leave it.

If you have just come to the monastery, and in spite of your good will you cannot accomplish what you want, take every opportunity you can to sing the Psalms in your heart and to understand them with your mind. And if your mind wanders as you read, do not give up; hurry back and apply your mind to the words once more.

Realize above all that you are in God's presence, and stand there with the attitude of one who stands before the emperor.

Empty yourself completely and sit waiting, content with the grace of God, like the chick who tastes nothing and eats nothing but what his mother brings him.
That sounds like good guidance for all of us.

15 June 2012

Immaculate Heart of Mary

"Immaculate Heart of Mary" oil on canvas at the lectern, Our Lady of the Atonement Church

Following upon the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, is our commemoration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Here's a prayer for consecrating ourselves to her motherly heart.

O Mary, Virgin most powerful and Mother of mercy, Queen of Heaven and Refuge of sinners; we consecrate ourselves to thy Immaculate Heart. We consecrate to thee our very being and our whole life: all that we have, all that we love, all that we are. To thee we give our bodies, our hearts, and our souls; to thee we give our homes, our families, and our country. We desire that all that is in us and around us may belong to thee, and may share in the benefits of thy motherly blessing. And that this act of consecration may be truly fruitful and lasting, we renew this day at thy feet the promises of our Baptism and our First Holy Communion.

We pledge ourselves to profess courageously and at all times the truths of our holy Faith, and to live as befits Catholics, who are submissive to all directions of the Pope and the Bishops in communion with him. We pledge ourselves to keep the commandments of God and of His Church, in particular to keep holy the Lord’s Day. We pledge ourselves to make the consoling practices of the Christian religion, and above all, Holy Communion, an important part of our lives, in so far as we are able to do.

Finally, we promise thee, O glorious Mother of God and loving Mother of men, to devote ourselves wholeheartedly to the spreading of devotion to thy Immaculate Heart, in order to hasten and assure, through thy queenly rule, the coming of the Kingdom of the Sacred Heart of thine adorable Son Jesus Christ, in our own country, and in all the world; as in Heaven, so on earth. Amen.

14 June 2012

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Stained glass window in the
Chapel of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus,
Our Lady of the Atonement Church, San Antonio, Texas.

O God, who hast suffered the Heart of thy Son to be wounded by our sins, and in that very heart hast bestowed on us the abundant riches of thy love: Grant that the devout homage of our hearts, which we render unto Him; may by thy mercy be deemed a recompense, acceptable in thy sight; through the same 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.

O Sacred Heart,
our home lies deep in thee;
on earth thou art an exile’s rest,
in heav’n the glory of the blest,
O Sacred Heart.

O Sacred Heart,
thou fount of contrite tears:
where’er those living waters flow,
new life to sinners they bestow,
O Sacred Heart.

O Sacred Heart,
our trust is all in thee,
for though earth’s night be dark and drear,
thou breathest rest where thou art near,
O Sacred Heart.

O Sacred Heart,
when shades of death shall fall,
receive us ‘neath thy gentle care,
and save us from the tempter’s snare,
O Sacred Heart.

O Sacred Heart,
lead exiled children home,
where we may ever rest near thee,
in peace and joy eternally,
O Sacred Heart.

Chapel of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Our Lady of the Atonement Church, San Antonio, Texas

13 June 2012

St. Anthony of Padua

The Feast of St. Anthony of Padua is on June 13th, and it's a pretty big deal for us here in the city that bears his name. It was on St. Anthony's Day in 1691 that the Franciscan fathers arrived at a small Indian village near the river, and named the settlement after him. From that tiny beginning, San Antonio is now the seventh largest city in the United States, and as far as I'm concerned, a wonderful place to live.

St. Anthony was born in Portugal and entered the Augustinian monastery of Sao Vicente in Lisbon when he was fifteen. When news of the Franciscan martyrs in Morocco reached him, he joined the Franciscans at Coimbra. At his own request, he was sent as a missionary to Morocco, but he became ill, and on his return journey his boat was driven off course and he landed in Sicily. He took part in St. Francis' famous Chapter of Mats in 1221 and was assigned to the Franciscan province of Romagna.

He became a preacher by accident. When a scheduled preacher did not show up for an ordination ceremony at Forli, the Franciscan superior told Anthony to go into the pulpit. His eloquence stirred everyone, and he was assigned to preach throughout northern Italy. Because of his success in converting heretics, he was called the "Hammer of Heretics" and because of his learning, St. Francis himself appointed him a teacher of theology. St. Anthony of Padua was such a forceful preacher that shops closed when he came to town, and people stayed all night in church to be present for his sermons. He became associated with Padua because he made this city his residence and the center of his great preaching mission.

After a series of Lenten sermons in 1231, Anthony's strength gave out and he went into seclusion at Camposanpiero but soon had to be carried back to Padua. He did not reach the city but was taken to the Poor Clare convent at Arcella, where he died. He was thirty-six years old, and the whole city of Padua turned out in mourning for his passing.

He was canonized within a year of his death and was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XII in 1946.

- Excerpted from The One Year Book of Saints

Here are a couple of hymns I wrote several years ago:

Praise to God the mighty Father, who didst call Saint Anthony
from a life of sore temptation to the way of purity.
Humble work and meek obedience marked his holy way of love;
now, his earthly task completed, works his wonders from above.

Praise to Jesus Christ our Savior, who didst give Saint Anthony
grace to preach with zeal and boldness, giving truth new charity.
Men, once lost, who heard the Gospel from the lips of Francis' son
came to know God's grace and favor, and the life which Christ had won.

Praise to God the Holy Spirit, who inspired Saint Anthony
in the way of love and service, calling men to charity,
lifting up the fallen sinner, feeding them with Living Bread,
showing men the way to heaven, there to live with Christ their Head.

Gracious Doctor and Confessor, holy Priest with golden tongue,
joined with all the saints of heaven, praising God the Three in One;
help us in our earthly journey, keep our thoughts on God most high,
that with thee, Christ's saint and servant, we may live and never die.

Tune: Rustington, by Charles H. H. Parry (1848-1918)
Text: Fr. Christopher G. Phillips

Simple saint and faithful priest, at this Eucharistic feast
we recall thy holy face, and with thee our Lord embrace.
Give us true simplicity: pray for us, Saint Anthony.

Word of God thou didst proclaim; unto thee God's Spirit came,
bringing faith when thou didst preach, showing truth when thou didst teach.
May we speak words truthfully: pray for us Saint Anthony.

Error flees before God's Light: through thy life Christ shineth bright,
showing men the way to peace, evil's hold from them release.
Free from evil may we be: pray for us Saint Anthony.

Tune: Bread of Heaven, by William Dalrymple Maclagan (1826-1910)
Text: Fr. Christopher G. Phillips

10 June 2012

Sweet Sacrament Divine...

Blessed be God.  Blessed be His holy Name.  Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.  Blessed be the Name of Jesus.  Blessed be His Most Sacred Heart.  Blessed be His Most Precious Blood.  Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.  Blessed be the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.  Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most holy.  Blessed be her holy and Immaculate Conception.  Blessed be her glorious Assumption.  Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.  Blessed be Saint Joseph, her most chaste Spouse.  Blessed be God in His angels and in His saints.

08 June 2012

Corpus Christi

This Sunday, June 10th, we will celebrate the Solemnity of Corpus Christi -- the time when we give special thanks to Almighty God for the gift of the Sacrament of His Most Holy Body and Blood.

The Mass schedule is as follows:

7:30 a.m. - Low Mass

9:00 a.m. - Sung Mass followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament

11:00 a.m. - Sung Mass with Procession to the outdoor Shrine for Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, returning to the High Altar for Benediction in Latin.

6:00 p.m. - Sung Mass (Ordinary Form in Latin)

07 June 2012

Living near the church...

Here's an interesting article on the benefits of living near one's parish church.  It caught my eye because we have so many families in this parish who have chosen to do that very thing.

The only disadvantage... parishioners' interest in purchasing tends to drive up the asking price!

06 June 2012

D-Day - 6.6.44

The world is grateful to these brave men...

St. Norbert

Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace by Pius Parsch:
Although a cleric, Norbert led a very worldly life for a number of years. The decisive change took place suddenly in 1115. While riding one day, he was overtaken by a thunderstorm. A flash of lightning struck the ground before him, the horse threw him, and he seemed to hear a voice upbraiding him for his conduct.

As in the case of St. Paul, the experience wrought a complete transformation. Norbert decided to give away his property and income rights, and to lead a life of abnegation, devoting himself particularly to preaching. In 1120 he founded the Order of Premonstratensians (the first monastery was at Premontre) according to the rule of St. Augustine; approval came from Pope Honorius II in 1126.

In 1125, he was named archbishop of Magdeburg. On July 13, 1126, Norbert entered the city and came barefoot to the cathedral. About to enter the archepiscopal palace, he was refused admission by the porter, who failed to recognize a bishop so poorly dressed. "You know me better and see me with clearer eyes than those who are forcing me to this palace. Poor and wretched man that I am, I should never have been assigned to this place," Norbert answered when the porter later sought his pardon.

O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us, we pray thee, from an inordinate love of this world, that, inspired by the devotion of thy servant St. Norbert, we may serve thee with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; 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.

02 June 2012

The Most Holy Trinity

Almighty and everlasting God, who hast given unto us thy servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity: We beseech thee that thou wouldest keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see thee in thy one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.