31 August 2012

Filling in the blanks...

Some folks have the need to “fill in the blanks” when they hear something that doesn’t have the depth of detail they want. I suppose it’s a tendency resulting from those announcements made by politicians who claim they're leaving politics so they can “spend more time with family.” Let’s face it – we all immediately think, “Sure. I wonder what the real story is.”

After Anglicanorum coetibus was made public, a very helpful blog came to prominence, called The Anglo-Catholic. It served as a kind of “information central” so people could learn more about the Holy Father’s vision for Ordinariates, and it explored aspects of our Anglican patrimony through some very interesting articles. When I was invited to be a contributor, I was pleased to accept. Since then I have contributed scores of articles, and have thoroughly enjoyed it. Contributions from participants on the blog included speculation, anticipation, some pretty serious scholarship, and even some off-the-wall statements. It was all great fun, but it also served the very important purpose of building a sense of community among those who were interested in “all things Ordinariate,” and who appreciated the generosity of the Holy Father.

As the Ordinariates came into being – first in England, then in the United States, and most recently in Australia – the purpose of The Anglo-Catholic became a bit unclear. There was no more need for speculation, because what had been anticipated now existed. The blog could serve as a kind of cheerleader, but even the most dedicated cheerleaders can’t go on forever. It could be a place for reposting news articles and other blog entries, but most people would have already seen those things. It could be a place where commenters could share their thoughts, but commenters often go down paths which someone else might think is unhelpful. The respective Ordinariates have their own websites, and are perfectly capable of publicizing what their leaders wish to make public, so The Anglo-Catholic would be mere duplication if that was its purpose.

It seemed to me that The Anglo-Catholic had become a blog in search of a reason to exist, so I decided to step back, and I posted the following:

I’ve been posting articles on The Anglo-Catholic for a little over two and a half years. Many of them I’ve written myself, and others I have reposted from different sources. I hope most of them have been helpful, and I trust they have been a positive support for the Ordinariates. That has always been my intention and purpose.

Right now there seems to be a bit of a lull in any Ordinariate news to write about, and I think it’s most likely because Ordinariate activity is more of an internal thing at this particular time. It’s probably best for those of us outside the Ordinariates to back off a bit and let things work out.

To that end, I’ll be taking an indefinite break from posting on this blog. Of course, all my previous articles remain, and I’ll continue my own blog, AtonementOnline, as well as my Facebook musings.

There’s plenty to keep me busy at Our Lady of the Atonement Church and The Atonement Academy – something in the neighborhood of 3,000 people to care for spiritually, plus there’s a major building expansion that’s very much needed to accommodate the increased number of students applying for admission. I won’t be twiddling my thumbs, I promise!

The Ordinariates are dear to me, and it’s been a privilege to be able to encourage so many to seek their true home in communion with Rome through this wonderful vision of Pope Benedict XVI.

I thought that was pretty clear. Apparently, however, there are blanks demanding to be filled. But honestly – there’s no juicy filling to be had, and I can assure everyone that there was absolutely no outside pressure to put the blog on hiatus. However, there have been speculations about why I have pulled back from things. Please – let me expose some of them, and put them to rest.

It’s been suggested that I’m upset because our parish is not part of the Ordinariate in this country. That is untrue. In fact, we have remained as a Pastoral Provision parish in the Archdiocese of San Antonio by our own choice. The archbishop was willing to work out the practicalities of our move into the Ordinariate, but I asked him if he would have any objection if we chose to remain. Needless to say, he had no objection whatsoever – and, in fact, he expressed his delight about our staying. I made that request because the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter is new, it is fragile, it is very small, and it is trying to settle itself. On the other hand, our parish is nearly thirty years old, it is well-established, it has a major school, and its membership is many times larger than the present composition of the Ordinariate.

It’s even been suggested that I’m off in a corner, isolated and angry because I wasn’t given a position of responsibility in the Ordinariate. Please put that idea to rest. I had the privilege of being appointed as the founding pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Church in 1983, and I observed my 29th anniversary as pastor just a few weeks ago, on August 15th. It is my dearest hope to remain as the pastor of this parish until I retire, many years hence. As I mentioned in my final posting for The Anglo-Catholic, I have the pastoral care of nearly 3,000 souls. I am administering a parish with more than 60 employees, and with a present annual budget in excess of $5 million. I’m not crazy. I know myself well enough to realize that this task is plenty big enough for my limited capabilities, and I have no desire to be doing anything else. Being the priest in this parish is the highest and best calling God could give to me, and I'm thankful to Him daily. For all of the twenty-nine years of my priestly ministry I have been incardinated as a priest of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, and my heart is no place else. Believe me, I’m not living in isolation!

The canonical erection of Our Lady of the Atonement Church in 1983 was ground-breaking. Our parish, in union with the other Anglican Use parishes, established a place in the Catholic Church for our Anglican patrimony, and we will continue to maintain that identity. The existence of the Ordinariates is a vindication of the pioneering work done over many years by men greater than me, and my role in helping to bring it to fruit is a privilege I treasure.

If our experience can be of any help in strengthening the Ordinariate in this country, we’re ready and willing; if our remaining outside the Ordinariate is more helpful, we understand. After all, we’re preaching the same Gospel, and we’re ministering the same Sacraments – and all the while we’re maintaining the same Anglican patrimony. In the context of the big picture, the jurisdiction in which we’re doing it is only incidental.

29 August 2012

Our Deacons' Anniversary Day

Today is the fifteenth anniversary of the ordination of our two deacons, Dn. Michael D'Agostino and Dn. James Orr.  We give thanks to God for their ministry!

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 these thy servants called to the like Office and Administration: so replenish them with the truth of thy Doctrine, and adorn them with innocency of life, that, both by word and good example, they 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.

24 August 2012

The Upper School Tea

One of our long-standing traditions at The Atonement Academy is the Upper School Tea, which takes place near the beginning of the academic year, giving our high school students the opportunity to have time with friends in the context of an English tea.  Here are some pictures from today's event... and yes, we had cucumber sandwiches, along with many other tasty treats!

22 August 2012

Crusader Bulletin Online

You'll want to read the the latest issue of the Crusader Bulletin, which is filled with information as we begin the new academic year.

17 August 2012

To Our Lord and the Saints

This prayer was written by an Anglican priest, Fr. Henry Albert Wilson, Vicar of St. Augustine's, Haggerston, from 1925 to 1954.

Jesus, thou art my only need,
Without thee I am poor indeed:
So let me never lose thee.

Without thee I cannot be good,
Or ever do the things I should:
So, Jesus, never leave me.

Holy Mary, be a Mother to me;
Saint Joseph and all the Saints, pray for me;
My Guardian Angel, watch over me to keep me from all sin;
Jesus have mercy on me;
Mary, pray for me.

May the souls of the faithful, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

 Fr. H. A. Wilson

15 August 2012

A note from Cardinal Newman...

The parish has been able to obtain a rather rare treasure -- a note which is handwritten by Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman.

In his own handwriting it says,

The Oratory
March 1, 1879

Dear Sir

I thank you for your kindness in sending me a cutting from the "Christian World." It is very gratifying to me to find so much sympathy from those who, alas, are parted from me in religious views.

Very truly yours

John H Newman

The envelope with stamp and postmark accompanies the note, and it is addressed to Absolom Peers Esq, 60 Aston Road North, Birmingham.

We will have this properly placed in a sealed frame, and it will be located near the Shrine of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman in the baptistry.

14 August 2012

The Assumption of Our Lady

On 1 November 1950, His Holiness Pope Pius XII solemnly defined the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in his Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus. If you haven’t already read it, have a look at the whole document. It’s beautiful.

Here’s an excerpt:

“…after we have poured forth prayers of supplication again and again to God, and have invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth, for the glory of Almighty God who has lavished his special affection upon the Virgin Mary, for the honor of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages and the Victor over sin and death, for the increase of the glory of that same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the entire Church; by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma:

that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.

Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith.”

O God, who hast taken to thyself the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of thine Incarnate Son: Grant that we, who have been redeemed by his blood, may share with her the glory of thine eternal kingdom; 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.

11 August 2012

Food for strength

Overwhelmed? Seem like things are at a dead end? Things not the way you think they should be? Remember Elijah under the broom tree, and the strengthening food he received from the Lord.

"And the angel of the Lord came again a second time, and touched him, and said, 'Arise and eat, else the journey will be too great for you.' And he arose, and ate and drank, and walked in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God." (I Kings 19)

Jesus said, "I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." (St. John 6)

09 August 2012

A Prayer to Mary

O Holy Mary, blessed Mother of my God, who dost bear in thine arms He Who is the sacrifice for my sins, and Who rested His head upon thy breast; pray for me, that as thou did hold Him in His death, so He may hold me in the hour of my death in His everlasting arms.  Amen.

05 August 2012

Basilica of the Transfiguration

They say getting there is half the fun. Unless, of course, you're talking about the top of Mt. Tabor, the site of our Lord's transfiguration. I'm sure the taxi drivers have great fun at the pilgrims' expense, and no matter how many times I make the trip, taking hair-pin turns at break-neck speed is nerve-wracking. When you finally get to the top, the terra is reassuringly firma, and the walk to the basilica is a joy. The only dark cloud is remembering that what goes up must come down... that pesky return trip! No wonder St. Peter wanted to build three booths and stay there.

This basilica, built in 1924 over the ruins of more ancient churches, marks the traditional site of the transfiguration of Christ in the presence of Peter, James and John, along with the appearance of Moses and Elijah. There are depressions in the shape of two footprints in the rock. I'm not sure if this was the work of Jesus, or of some over-eager monks in an earlier age. But Mt. Tabor is the spot. It's been attested to from the earliest days of the Church. It's an inspiring place to visit and a most peaceful place to pray.

O God, who on the holy mount didst reveal to chosen witnesses thy well beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the King in his beauty; who with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end. Amen.

Behold our Lord transfigured...

Behold our Lord transfigured,
In Sacrament Divine;
His glory deeply hidden,
'Neath forms of Bread and Wine.
Our eyes of faith behold Him,
Salvation is outpoured;
The Saviour dwells among us,
by ev'ry heart adored.

No longer on the mountain
With Peter, James and John,
Our precious Saviour bids us
To walk where saints have gone.
He has no lasting dwelling,
Save in the hearts of men;
He feeds us with His Body,
To make us whole again.

With Moses and Elijah,
We worship Christ our King;
Lord, make our souls transfigured,
Let us with angels sing.
Lead us in paths of glory,
Give tongues to sing thy praise;
Lord Jesus, keep us faithful,
Now and for all our days.

Text: Fr. Christopher G. Phillips, 1990
Music: "Ewing" by Alexander C. Ewing, 1853

04 August 2012

Pray for priests...

...and not just generally, but pray specifically for particular priests by name. Here's a brief prayer to help you:

O Lord Jesus Christ, great High Priest and gracious Shepherd; bless thy servant N., whom thou hast consecrated to minister unto thee in holy things; and grant him such purity of heart and life, and such zeal for souls, that he may bring many into union with thee, and fulfill his ministry in holiness to thy glory, our Lord and Saviour; who livest and reignest in the unity of the Father and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

03 August 2012

An Act of Commendation

O my Crucified Saviour, O Blessed Jesus, 
My only hope and refuge, 
Bathe me with thy Blood, 
Clothe me with thy merit, 
Bless me with thy grace. 
By all that which is near and dear unto Thee, 
In heaven and in earth, 
O blessed Jesus Christ, bestow on me 
A happy departure of my soul out of this world; 
With thy Holy Sacrament to strengthen me, 
With thy Holy Mother to pray for me, 
With thy holy angels to guard and protect me, 
And thyself, O dear Jesus, to comfort me,
And to receive me into life everlasting. 

01 August 2012

Chick-Fil-A, Anyone?

Not bad...you can make a statement, even while you're eating!

Lammas Day

In older kalendars August 1st is kept as the feast of St. Peter's Chains, celebrating the dedication of the basilica of St. Peter ad Vincula in Rome, which was built in about 432 on the Esquiline Hill in Rome and consecrated on August 1, and which contains the relic of the chains that bound Saint Peter when he was imprisoned in Jerusalem, joined to the chains which bound him during his imprisonment in Rome.

Sometime around the 9th century in England this date was also kept as Lammas Day, from the Saxon Hlaf-masse, or Loaf-mass. Bread made from the first harvest of wheat would be brought to the Church to be blessed, asking God for a good harvest and for enough to supply people's needs throughout the winter until the next harvest.

The Harvest, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder