29 November 2014

The Advent Sermons

The sermon topics for Advent 2014 will be the Four Last Things: 

Advent I - Death
Advent II - Judgement
Advent III - Heaven
Advent IV - Hell

Sunday Masses are celebrated at 7:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and 6:00 p.m.

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.

25 November 2014

The Academy Honors Choir sings...

The Atonement Academy Honors Choir sings "Let the People Praise Thee, O God" by William Mathias (composed for the marriage of HRH The Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer). The link is here.

21 November 2014

The Presentation of Mary in the Protoevangelium of James

"The Presentation of the Virgin" 1504-08, by Vittore Carpaccio.

The Protoevangelium of James is one of several non-canonical documents originating in the early centuries of the Church. This "gospel," which is incorrectly attributed to James, the foster-brother of our Lord, actually dates from the mid-3rd century. It has value for us because it gathers together many traditions, especially concerning the Blessed Virgin Mary, which were known and accepted by members of the early Church, but which are not found in the canonical Scriptures.

From the Protoevangelium of James, n.7:
"And the child was two years old, and Joachim said: Let us take her up to the temple of the Lord, that we may pay the vow that we have vowed, lest perchance the Lord send to us, and our offering be not received. And Anna said: Let us wait for the third year, in order that the child may not seek for father or mother. And Joachim said: So let us wait. And the child was three years old, and Joachim said: Invite the daughters of the Hebrews that are undefiled, and let them take each a lamp, and let them stand with the lamps burning, that the child may not turn back, and her heart be captivated from the temple of the Lord. And they did so until they went up into the temple of the Lord. And the priest received her, and kissed her, and blessed her, saying: The Lord has magnified thy name in all generations. In thee, on the last of the days, the Lord will manifest His redemption to the sons of lsrael. And he set her down upon the third step of the altar, and the Lord God sent grace upon her; and she danced with her feet, and all the house of Israel loved her."

19 November 2014

Word from Cardinal Müller...

A letter was sent to us from Bishop Kevin Vann, Ecclesiastical Delegate for the Pastoral Provision, informing us that His Eminence, Gerhard Cardinal Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has communicated that “the Congregation grants permission for the parishes of the Pastoral Provision to use Divine Worship: Occasional Services.  It is envisioned that the Divine Worship Missal for the celebration of Mass will be complete and promulgated… and you may expect that a similar permission will be granted to the Pastoral Provision parishes for the Missal as well.”

The Occasional Services include the Rites of Baptism and Holy Matrimony, as well as Burial of the Dead.  The Vatican has entrusted the preparation and printing of the ritual books to the Catholic Truth Society in London (www.ctsbooks.org).  The latest word is that the Missal will be ready sometime in 2015, perhaps in the first quarter. 

The material contained Divine Worship is a revision of the Book of Divine Worship (which we now use), and is the product of many months of work by the interdicasterial commission whose task it was to identify Anglican liturgical patrimony, incorporating it into Catholic worship.  We are grateful to His Eminence and the Congregation for providing for us with the liturgical textual continuity which has been the hallmark of our parish worship for some thirty years.

We will begin incorporating the Occasional Services during the Advent Season.  As the date for the new Missal’s official promulgation approaches, we will highlight some of the changes in the bulletin to prepare the congregation.  The alterations, many of which had been requested originally in 1983, are worthy additions and we look forward to incorporating them in our parish worship. 

18 November 2014

Parable of the Talents

This is the sermon from the XXII Sunday after Trinity, the 33rd Sunday of the Year. It looks at the scripture readings for the day: Proverbs, St. Paul's First Epistle to the Thessalonians, and culminating in St. Matthew's record of Christ's Parable of the Talents. You may listen to the sermon at this link.

14 November 2014

Building for the future...




The Atonement Academy is the single most important apostolate of our parish. As the people of God, we support pro-life efforts because we teach the sanctity of human life in our classrooms. Together, we support the dignity of the human person and the truth about Christ by teaching children the Catholic faith in its entirety. Together, we are changing the future of the Church and the world through our children. From its small beginning in 1994, The Atonement Academy has grown to be a regional attraction for students, drawing them from over 25 zip codes and four counties surrounding Bexar County. We have developed a positive reputation even beyond our borders, too. Almost six percent of our population are carefully-selected international students from Mexico, the Republic of Korea, Vietnam, and the Philippines, who bring a charm all their own and uniquely contribute to our strong Catholic and classical culture. We are a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence and twice the recipient of the Cardinal Newman Society’s Honor Roll of Top Catholic High Schools in the nation. Here’s one of the reasons: our average SAT score in Math and English is 1129 for our junior class. Our seniors’ average is 1138. By comparison, Northside ISD averages 972 in Math and Reading; Texas SAT average is 976.

Our recognition has put a strain on our existing classrooms. At 570 students this academic year, (almost identical to our enrollment in the last three years), The Atonement Academy is at capacity in the current building, so the need to expand our classrooms is a necessary one, which we are doing! After years of planning, we are excited that construction has begun on our 117,000 sq. ft. expansion. This time last year, we were making earnest preparations for “Phase 1 and 2” of the expansion plan, which involved the construction of 19 new classrooms and four science labs, plus a dining hall, two practice gymnasiums, more offices and site preparations which include additional parking. We’ve revised our site plan and goal since the short 2010 Capital Campaign, making the design more cost-effective without sacrificing the needed classroom space. Because of your generosity, we have continued to revise our plans and have elected to build the entire complex, including the auditorium shell, though it will not be finished-out when construction is completed. Although we are doing well in our financial goals, your ongoing participation as a tithing member of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church is vital to the success of our expansion and the overall well-being of our parish. Unlike other parishes who lack schools, and have no interest in supporting one or establishing one, we’ve chosen another path – one in which we think the Church urgently needs in this age: a well-educated, well-informed and faithful generation of young people.

Here’s where we are and here’s how we’re going it with God’s blessings…

Our current financial position is healthy for both the church and school. The church, originally built in 1983-85, and expanded in 2003-05, is totally debt free. The St. Joseph Parish House is debt free. The St. Anthony Hall, built in 1997, is debt free. The only debt we service is the school expansion (completed in 2005). Those payments are approximately $24,000 per month, and we owe about $1.6 million on the remaining note, at a 4.12% interest rate, to be completed in 2020.

Due in part to a rise in student enrollment over last three years and good fiscal stewardship, The Atonement Academy is self-sustaining without a parish subsidy to its Operating Budget and will contribute over a half million dollars this academic year to the construction costs, its third year in a row to do so. How can you help?


As the history of this parish shows, God provides. He provides, but we pray! Every parishioner, young or mature, should consider making it his or her prayerful intention over the next year to support this expansion project. Prayer moves mountains. It moves people to stop and reassess their lives, and it moves people to be generous. In addition to prayer, we need each member of the parish, and even beyond our community, to contribute financially. The gifts of each and every person are vital to the success of our on-going efforts. Reflect on how greatly God has blessed us as individuals and as a parish family, and give thanks to God for these blessings by prayerfully considering what you can do to help.

• PLEDGES OF CASH GIFTS • GIFTS OF STOCK. You may call our financial representative at USAA and he will assist you making a transfer from your portfolio to ours. Contact Mr. Vincent Knodell directly at 210-456-7012. • TITHING. All excess money (that which is beyond what is needed for the budget) given to the church through your tithes goes automatically to the Academy Building Fund.

12 November 2014

Father Paul, Mother Lurana, and Unity

St. Francis Chapel, Graymoor, New York

Here's an excellent article about our spiritual patrons, Father Paul and Mother Lurana, founders of the Society of the Atonement and source of our own title, Our Lady of the Atonement.  This is a rather good history, although near the end it veers a bit towards the usual weak understanding of ecumenism, but I urge you to read the whole thing.  You'll learn a lot about our own spiritual roots. This article appears in The Living Church, an Anglican publication.

Father Paul Wattson and the Quest for Church Unity

by Patrick J. Hayes

Early one morning last summer, I walked out to the precipice of a “holy mountain.” I looked out and saw the fog lifting from an immense and undulating forest below, like incense from a thurible. I knew I was walking on holy ground and I soaked up the silence, interrupted only by the stray bird on the wing. In this sweet-smelling, bounteous setting I was a pilgrim. There at the ledge was the grave of Father Paul James Francis Wattson, founder of the Society of the Atonement, a group of friars that established themselves for the strict purpose of uniting the branches of the Christian family.

Fr. Wattson’s life is less well known than his legacy and it is deliberate that his grave should rest in a somewhat remote corner of the property at Graymoor, the Atonement friars’ headquarters in Garrison, N.Y. The career of Fr. Wattson is subordinate to his singular ambition to fulfill the Lord’s command that “all may be one” (John 17:21) — words that today emblazon the friars’ coat of arms (ut omnes unum sint) and motivate their ministry. From their outpost on this holy mountain and in centers around the globe, the Atonement friars are responsible for inserting the “Church Unity Octave” into the liturgical calendar.

It began first in the United States at Graymoor in 1908 and was later called the “Chair of Unity Octave” to emphasize its Petrine dimension. It has now given way to theWeek of Prayer for Christian Unity, which since 1966 has been a joint project of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The Week of Prayer is marked in churches around the world each January 18–25.

The role of the Church Unity Octave was not merely to repair relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, but was an active and prayerful attempt at returning the Anglican world to pre-Reformation bonds with Rome. The idea for this festival of unity emerged in the simple exchange of words between friends. It is easy to pinpoint the exact date, too. On Nov. 30, 1907, Fr. Wattson was writing out replies to letters he had received the previous day. Among his correspondents was his friend and fellow priest, the Rev. Spencer John Jones, the Anglican rector of St. David’s Church, Moreton-in-Marsh, England. Fr. Jones suggested that a special sermon be given on Christian unity in every church in the Anglican Communion on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, to restore unity in the one Church of Christ. Fr. Wattson agreed and asked his correspondent what he thought of “inaugurating a Church Unity Week beginning with S. Peter’s Chair at Rome, January 18, and ending with S. Paul’s Day.” Fr. Jones picked up this idea and helped promote it throughout Europe; Fr. Wattson reached the multitudes everywhere else.

Behind this expression of Fr. Wattson’s thinking lay a longstanding commitment which was in gestation since his boyhood. Born Lewis ThomasWattson in Millington, Md., in 1863, he was the son of the Episcopal rector of the little parish of St. Clement’s, whose only notable feature was the white Communion table, a gift from Queen Anne. Fr. Wattson’s father, Joseph, had been expelled from General Theological Seminary, and sometimes labeled a “Jesuit in disguise,” but was brought into the ministry through the graciousness of Bishop William R. Whittingham of Baltimore.

The elder Fr. Wattson was never able to escape the whispers of his leanings toward Rome. Many at the time considered any rapprochement toward Roman Catholicism a blasphemy, and such openness was roundly condemned by people like the Rev. A. Cleveland Coxe, rector of Grace Church, Baltimore. Writing in an introduction to Frederick Meyrick’s Moral Theology of the Church of Rome (Baltimore, 1856), Fr. Coxe made no bones about his stance: “Papal Rome, like Rome Imperial, has but one instinct, and that is—Empire. Its undying part is the iron will, by which all humanity must be crushed into subjection.”

We know that young Fr. Wattson read this kind of literature, just as he observed the whispers surrounding his father, whom he revered. Lewis would go on for schooling out of state at St. Mary’s Hall in New Jersey and then to St. Stephen’s College (now Bard College) before entering General Seminary. He was ordained in 1885 and, after a brief parish assignment in Maryland, he became the rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Kingston, N.Y. He remained there for the next ten years.

Biographers later would describe the young priest as a “High Churchman” and one endowed with an “extraordinary preaching ability.” But they also noted how he seemed somewhat reclusive, almost given to a monastic lifestyle. His early spirituality, deeply imbued with biblical literalism, is seen as giving way to his growing interest in religious life, especially Franciscanism, which prized personal poverty as given in a common rule even while working to eradicate poverty in the society. In his sermons, he spoke from the heart, almost never reading from notes, and balanced his words with his deep knowledge of Scripture. Invitations soon began to pour in for Fr. Wattson to come and preach beyond his own congregation. As a way of spreading his thought, in May 1894 he began to publish The Pulpit and the Cross.

These two-fold venues—the pulpit and the press—allowed Fr. Wattson to communicate his ideas of engagement with the Roman Catholic Church. In 1895, he understood the doctrine of papal supremacy — delineated in the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Aeternus at Vatican I (1870) — as both a test of American democracy and itself a religious problem. All Roman Catholic bishops in the United States were agents of a foreign bishop, he contended, and so had “no lawful jurisdiction” on these shores. He often wrote on sacramental questions and papal authority, always respectfully critiquing the position held by Rome. Why couldn’t Roman Catholics see their errors? Or was it Fr. Wattson and his tribe that were somehow misunderstanding?

A combination of questioning and a search for a deeper interior life came to a head in 1895. That summer he was approached by a group of unmarried Episcopal men living a semi-monastic life in Omaha. They wondered whether Fr.Wattson would agree to be their superior. He gave it three years before returning to New York, even more confused than before.

Fr. Wattson’s reputation caught the attention of Lurana Mary White, who first contacted him in 1896. She was then living in a diocesan community of Episcopal women in Albany — the Sisters of the Holy Child—and had also been hoping to form a sisterhood that would embrace corporately and individually the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Searching for a community of this sort proved difficult in the United States and so she joined the Sisters of Bethany in London.

After a year’s novitiate, and having accepted the brown habit and cord of the Franciscans, she entered a new phase of her spiritual life. Before returning to America in 1898, she made a pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi where, she later wrote, she became “guilty of a pious act of duplicity.” While touring St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, she left her party long enough to kiss the foot of the statue of St. Peter.

She brought Fr. Wattson to her family home in upstate New York, where a kind of mutual epiphany occurred. Forming a spiritual alliance that would last all of their lives, in December 1898 Mother Lurana took possession of a piece of property to begin a new religious community. In the spring of 1899, the two would launch their new venture—the Society of the Atonement — from an abandoned farmhouse and chapel on a hilltop in Garrison.

Over the course of the next ten years, a steady creep toward Rome was in evidence. His study of religious life was augmented by a year’s trial in the Fathers of the Holy Cross at Westminster, Md., and in 1900 he also accepted the habit of a Franciscan friar, taking the name Paul James. Fr. Wattson soon found himself back in New York, building up Graymoor and touring nearby churches. In 1901, he was invited to preach before an Episcopal congregation in Long Island and chose as his topic “The Reunion of Christendom and the Chair of Peter.” It was difficult to hear him over the noise of those vacating the church. Undeterred, in 1903 he began to publish The Lamp, a magazine advocating greater ties with Rome through the acceptance of papal infallibility. Another publication, The Antidote, specifically set an apologetic tone to counteract the anti-Roman vitriol of The Menace, a Midwestern publication that had nearly 1.5 million subscribers.

In his work to allay suspicions over foreign encroachments in the United States, Fr. Wattson also defended those Anglicans who were scorned for trying to close the breach with Rome. Fr. Wattson looked upon the squabbles within Anglicanism less as an opportunity to grouse and more as a chance to show pastoral solicitude. Fr. Paul had a strict policy never to utter a word against Anglicanism, but chose instead to highlight the Anglican Communion’s values, the eloquence of its members, and the beauty of its sacramental life. He carried this policy throughout his life, teaching not mere tolerance but love.

This is all the more remarkable given that both Fr. Paul and Mother Lurana, along with 17 other members—sisters, friars, and laymen—were received corporately into the Roman Catholic Church on Oct. 30, 1909. In 1910, after a year’s work at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, Fr. Wattson was ordained by Archbishop John Farley of New York. “Coming over” had not been easy, but it was not a decision made in haste. Archbishop Farley communicated his own misgivings to Rome—he did not like the manner of the foundation, let alone its message. Though the corporate conversion of Fr. Paul and his companions was done through the formal rite, including an abjuration of their Anglicanism, the founder of the Society of the Atonement had made it clear that the renunciation would not be negative. There would be no curse, but a solemn recognition of the truth of personally held convictions. Fr. Wattson had written in The Lamp in 1907 that “I could not bear those people who say that the Anglican Church is a mockery.”

Even after becoming a Roman Catholic priest, he never publicly repudiated his Anglican orders. Only after dialogue with officials in the Roman hierarchy, including the prefect of the Congregation for Religious, Genarro Cardinal Falconio, and the Secretary of State to the Holy See, Cardinal Merry del Val, was the way paved for his reception.

This high-level contact proved fortuitous, because through their assistance Fr. Wattson was able in turn to present his hope for the Church Unity Octave directly to Pope Pius X, who blessed the initiative, and later Pope Benedict XV, who extended the observance to the universal Church in February 1916. In 1921, Dennis Cardinal Dougherty of Philadelphia proposed to the hierarchy that the octave be observed throughout the United States—a resolution that, for the first time in the history of American Roman Catholicism, received unanimous consent.

Roman Catholics in the United States were catching up with their Anglican brethren. The Lambeth Conference had by the late 1870s proposed a season of prayer for Christian unification and in the 1890s the Archbishop of Canterbury ordered that fitting prayers be spoken on Whit Sunday. In the United States in 1913, the Faith and Order Commission of the Protestant Episcopal Church published a pamphlet of prayers commending church unity on Whit Sunday. By 1915, a full-scale manual of prayers was drawn up. Fr. Wattson’s own ecclesiastical superior, now Cardinal Farley, was reluctant to entertain his proposal for fear of confusion among the faithful or, worse still, communio in sacris.

By contrast, Farley’s successor, Archbishop (later Cardinal) Patrick Hayes, was among the first prelates in the United States to advocate for the Unity Octave. Archbishop Hayes, it might be noted, was notoriously scrupulous in avoiding any engagements with Protestants, but he saw in this movement an opening that was ecclesiastically legal, satisfying of Jesus’ own command, and productive of good will. His instinct in approving the work of Fr. Wattson proved important for the future of the Week of Prayer, for without the archbishop’s approbation, the friar could not have continued in as successful a fashion as he did. Throughout his tenure, the archbishop’s relation to the Church Unity Octave was as a “participant observer” — frequently allowing Fr. Wattson the use of the pulpit at the Cathedral of St. Patrick to promote the cause of unity.

Not everything was so sunny, however, for Fr. Wattson. He experienced several difficulties with members of his new fraternity, and this would prove a mild distraction compared to his legal woes. As the superior of the convent of sisters, he had charge of their welfare. The convent’s property was owned by three women — all good Episcopal ladies of Garrison — who had permitted the sisters’ growth but never signed over a deed. Trustees of St. John’s Episcopal Church, which had stood as a ramshackle chapel on the property before the arrival of Mother Lurana, evicted the sisters in 1910, one year after they had become Roman Catholics.

Mother Lurana chose to follow the longstanding Franciscan principle of offering no resistance, thinking it better to be homeless than to be the source of conflict. Fr. Wattson saw the matter differently and vowed to pursue it in court—a decision that carried on for the next seven years. An agreement was struck, however, when Fr. Wattson met Hamilton Fish II on Election Day in 1917. Fish was not only a well known politician in the state of New York; he was also the senior warden of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Garrison. When Fr. Wattson explained his legal troubles, Fish offered to broker a settlement, which was finally won in March 1918, by an act of the New York legislature. As a side note, all of the original owners of the property became Roman Catholic and two are buried in the sisters’ cemetery at Graymoor. But the lesson of the story is simple: cooperation in the Christian household always brings a greater yield and is one more visible token in praise of God’s glory.


The 1920s and ’30s were building years for the order, which constructed a seminary, a printery, shrine chapels and St. Christopher’s Inn, a treatment center. The numbers of sisters and friars burgeoned. Always the message was the same: unity is the hallmark and sustenance of the work. But as Fr. Wattson began to slow (he died in 1940), his allies in the nascent ecumenical movement picked up the charge. In Belgium, Dom Lambert Beaudoin founded in 1925 a Benedictine community that took shape at Chevetogne for the express purpose of praying for unity—originally with the Orthodox, but now with all Christians.

From the Archdiocese of Lyons, France, Father Paul Couturier (1881–1953) spread the message of prayer for unity “as God wills it and by the means that he wills.” Fr. Couturier changed the tenor of the prayer, however, away from reunion of all others with Rome by reflection on a once-shared past to a more concerted effort on the part of all Christians to work toward future unity par cum pari—literally, on equal footing. This, he said, could only be done together; it could not be expected that non-Romans would simply see the light. This plea was heard by Trappistines in Grottaferrata, Italy, and some began, in the late 1930s, to devote their prayer lives to building religious bridges. When temporal unity finally occurs, it will rest on the storehouse of supernatural graces stocked by so much fervent prayer.

Fr. Wattson’s Spirit and Ordinariates

The theme for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is “You Are Witnesses of These Things” (Luke 24:48). Coinciding with the Scottish centennial celebration of the World Mission Conference at Edinburgh, widely acknowledged as an ecumenical milestone, the theme strikes at the soul of collaboration between churches: what we memorialize together, what we work on, what we anticipate through God’s grace. Whether we speak in a prophetic voice, like the Paul Wattsons of a prior generation, there is always a call to set aside a passive stance and move.

Action of some sort never negates a stillness of mind and heart, but flows from it. Achieving that quietude comes from asking ourselves sometimes difficult questions: What do I believe? To whom shall I turn? Who am I? What is impressive about the path Fr. Wattson took is not so much his rather spectacular conversion or the issues attendant upon it, as much as the authenticity of its genesis, together with its manifold fruits. Roman Catholics cannot ignore the abiding fealty Fr. Wattson had toward the purest elements of the Anglican spirit, since part of that is its desire toward the vocation of unity. In an era of ordinariates, Roman Catholics will do well to observe how a new injection of Anglican culture into their midst will serve to heal and make whole again a body broken for too long.

In speaking of ordinariates today, canon lawyers refer to “extra-territorial” sees or “non-territorial particular churches,” which serve as instruments for service to the people of God that have, for purposes of identification, no visible boundaries but a clear governance structure that is necessarily flexible to meet extraordinary circumstances. One reason for the recent Anglicanorum Coetibus, the apostolic constitution of Pope Benedict XVI establishing personal ordinariates for those Anglicans entering a new relation with the Roman Catholic Church, is to supply a flexible response to legalistic questions. Both communions will do well to study whether the ecclesiological principles articulated in the constitution will be in service to the great challenge of ecumenism in our time, particularly as it conforms or departs from the legacy of visionaries like Fr.Wattson.

Among these principles is a recognition of the action of the Holy Spirit working as “a principle of unity” to establish the singular “Church as a communion.” What appears to some to be a wayward cluster of Anglican congregations may actually hold promise as a vehicle for tutelage and mutual understanding, on all sides, in rendering a new vista for ecclesial unity.

Patrick J. Hayes has a doctorate in theology from the Catholic University of America and has taught at Fordham University and St. John’s University in New York. He is at work on a study of Roman Catholics in the New York Archdiocese between 1865 and 1938.

09 November 2014

Pope St. Leo the Great

Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, by Pius Parsch:
Leo I, Pope and Doctor of the Church, ruled from 440 to 461. He is surnamed "the Great" and ranks among the most illustrious sovereigns that ever sat on the throne of St. Peter. Of his life, we know little; with him the man seems to disappear before the Pope. He saw most clearly that one of his greatest tasks was to vindicate the primacy of the Roman bishop, St. Peter's successor, and to raise the prestige of the Holy See before the entire world. Hardly any Pope in history has occupied a like position in the ecclesiastical and political world.

As a writer, too, his name is famous. His sermons, which occur frequently in the Divine Office, belong to the finest and most profound in patristic literature. The Council of Chalcedon was held under his direction (451). The Breviary tells us: Leo I, an Etruscan, ruled the Church at the time when Attila, King of the Huns, who was called the Scourge of God, invaded Italy. After a siege of three years, he took, sacked and burned Aquileia, and then hurried on toward Rome. Inflamed with anger, his troops were already preparing to cross the Po, at the point where it is joined by the Mincio.

Here Attila was stopped by Leo (452). With God-given eloquence, the Pope persuaded him to turn back, and when the Hun was asked by his servants why, contrary to custom, he had so meekly yielded to the entreaties of a Roman bishop, he answered that he had been alarmed by a figure dressed like a priest that stood at Leo's side; this individual was holding a drawn sword and acted as if he would kill him if he advanced farther. As a result Attila retreated to Pannonia.

Meanwhile, Leo returned to Rome, and was received with universal rejoicing. Some time later, the Vandal Genseric entered the city, and again Leo, by the power of his eloquence and the authority of his holy life, persuaded him to desist from atrocity and slaughter (455).

O Lord our God, grant that thy Church, following the teaching of thy servant St. Leo of Rome, may hold fast the great mystery of our redemption, and adore the one Christ, true God and true Man, neither divided from our human nature nor separate from thy divine Being; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

04 November 2014

Pray for our nation...

Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant, we beseech thee, that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain these liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

01 November 2014

All Souls Day

Requiem Masses at 7:30 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and 6:00 p.m.

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.