Saturday, 22 December 2012

Bid Thou our sad divisions cease

In these final days before we celebrate the Nativity of the Lord, Holy Church provides us with the Great 'O' Antiphons at vespers with which to recall and meditate upon the mystery of the coming of the Christ. Those who follow us on Facebook will have been listening to Charpentier's setting of these wonderful verses.

This evening we give praise to the Lord Who is King of the Gentiles.
Veni, Veni, Rex gentium,
veni, Redemptor omnium,
Ut salvas tuos famulos
Peccati sibi conscios.
In John Mason Neale's English adaptation of this verse, we make a solemn prayer for unity and for the coming of the Kingdom on Earth.
O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.
 How appropriate this petition is for the Ordinariate which, formed in the heart of the Holy Father as in the Sacred Heart of Christ Himself, proclaims at one and the same time the command of unity and peace, but also that such unity must have as its source obedience to the "Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace".

Let us pray, therefore, with great urgency in these final days of expectation for the coming of His Kingdom which shall know no end, that we may not indulge our laziness and apprehension in proclaiming the truth that Christ teaches us through His Church, rather becoming bold in this Year of Faith to hold fast to that which we have received.

We include a recording below from the Paderborn Cathedral Choir singing Veni, Veni Emmanuel. Let it never be said we do not appreciate the universality of the Church and seek only our own small corner. Do enjoy the German Latin. 

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Grinding at the mill

Just in case the world does end tomorrow (yes, we know what Our Lord taught in Matthew 24:36) here’s something to celebrate the Parousia with.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Venite adoremus Dominum

The anniversary of the foundation of Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is near at hand and we bring to your attention the Festival of Carols being organised by the Friends of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in celebration of that anniversary. We hope to see many of our readers there as we give thanks to the Lord for the continuing witness of the Ordinariate to the world this coming Epiphanytide as we celebrate the revelation of the Lord to the Gentiles.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Last things first

We have been somewhat remiss here in W1 – a number of weeks have passed since our last post and, in the meantime, we have celebrated the universal kingship of the Lord, and now find ourselves immersed in the penitential, yet hope-exuding, purple of Advent. In the wider world the Government continues on a damnable course towards mindless deification by taking upon itself the authority to redefine nature in the pursuit of 'equal marriage'. The established church has further mired itself in irrelevance by continuing to bar women from promotion to its upper ranks and the unconfirmed from administering the communion.

And yet, Christ remains King of kings and Lord of lords – it is more important than ever not to forget this. As Catholics, we place at the heart of our faith submission to the will of the Servant King, not least because He will come again to judge the quick and the dead, but out of love for Him who died for our salvation. The readings at Mass these past two Sundays and the Rector's sermons have focussed our minds on this judgment and the immediacy of the need to reconcile ourselves to the Lord and His paths and to turn away from our misdeeds.
This coming Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, brings a mid-way refreshment to our Advent preparations. But it is also a call to re-orientate ourselves to the Rising Sun Who comes at Christmas. As Catholics we have the most sublime means by which to answer this call in the confessional, through which God the Father of mercies reconciles us to Himself. This weekend provides a great opportunity to make use of this grace. And if you are not yet part of Holy Mother Church, see what you are missing out on.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Forward In Faith

In these latter days of the liturgical year when we turn to consider the primacy of Christ's kingship over worldly authority, and the urgency of proclaiming His Truth to the world, it seems appropriate to reflect once again, as is the calling of the Ordinariate, on the proclamation of our identity as Catholics and our fidelity to the Lord. In a small but not insignificant gesture, the Holy See's Secretary of State, Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, has renewed calls for the clergy to wear the cassock as a sign of service to the Church but also of the dignity with which they are entrusted by virtue of their ordination.

Most Reverend Eminence/Excellency,

I wish to recall to your attention the importance of the discipline concerning the daily use of ecclesiastical (cassock or clerical) and religious dress, as determined by the norms on this matter and according to the reasons illustrated and explicated in his day by Blessed John Paul II in the Letter to the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, dated September 8, 1982.

At a time in which everyone is specially called to renew his awareness of and consistency with his own identity, at venerable behest I come to ask Your Eminence/Excellency kindly to guarantee the observance of the above on the part of all ecclesiastics and religious in service with this Dicastery/Tribunal/Office/Vicariate, recalling the duty of wearing regularly and with dignity the proper habit, in every season, partly in obedience to the duty of exemplarity that is incumbent above all upon those who render service to the successor of Peter.

The very example of those who, sealed with episcopal dignity, are faithful to the daily use of the cassock proper to them, during office hours, becomes an explicit encouragement for all, including for bishops and for those who visit the Roman Curia and Vatican City.

On this occasion, moreover, partly in order to avoid uncertainty and to guarantee due uniformity, it should be recalled that the use of the abito piano is required for participation at any event at which the Holy Father is present, as also for the Plenary and Ordinary Assemblies, the Interdicasterial Meetings, the reception of ad limina visits and the various official engagements of the Holy See.

Grateful for the cooperation, I gladly take this opportunity to confirm my distinct and heartfelt respects for Your Most Reverend Eminence/Excellency

Most devoted in the Lord

+ Tarcisio Card. Bertone

Secretary of State

All around we see the weakening of identities, whether religious, social, or otherwise, in the pursuit of a false respect and relativist sentiment. It has been a mission of our Holy Father during his pontificate to reject the erosion of Catholic identity by promoting causes which remind us of our heritage and the Faith which lies at its heart. From the publication of Summorum Pontificum, restoring the celebration of Holy Mass according to the pre-Concilior form, to the creation of Ordinariates promoting Anglican patrimony grounded in a faithful understanding of the Catholic Faith, to the reestablishment of Fridays as days of abstinence from meat, the Church is recovering a confidence in how she presents herself to the world which cannot but lead to a deepening of orthodox faith and a renewed vigour in evangelisation.

It is, indeed, an exciting time to be a Catholic.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Confessing and Glorifying Thy Holy Name

We were delighted when this blog put us back in touch with another former member of the serving team at St Mary’s, Bourne Street, Scott Vannan, who moved to Canada some years ago.  Scott was received into the Catholic Church in April this year, together with other members of the Fellowship of John Henry Newman, a group of former Anglicans in Victoria, BC and which includes their former bishop, who will be ordained priest next month, and four of their former priests.

The Fellowship rents a Carpenter Gothic church, dedicated to St. Columba, from the Anglican Church of Canada (a marked contrast to the blinkered hostility shown by Richard Chartres) in which they celebrated their first mass on the Feast of All Saints.  The Fellowship will enter into the Canadian Deanery of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter when it is created. For the present it acts as an Anglican Use proto-parish within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Victoria.

Scott speaks of the peace experienced by a joyful group of people in true communion with Holy Mother Church, a peace and joy in which we share.  We join with them in the prayer for uniity of Blessed John Henry Newman.

O Lord Jesus Christ, who when Thou wast about to suffer didst pray for Thy disciples to the end of time that they might all be one, as Thou art in the Father and the Father in Thee, look down in pity on the manifold divisions among those who profess Thy faith and heal the many wounds which the pride of man and the craft of Satan have inflicted on Thy people.

Break down the walls of separation which divide one party and denomination of Christians from another. Look with compassion on the souls who have been born in one or other of these communions, which not Thou, but man, hath made.

Set free the prisoners from these unauthorised forms of worship, and bring them all to the one communion which Thou didst set up at the beginning – the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Teach all men that the See of Peter, the Holy Church of Rome, is the foundation, centre, and instrument of Unity. Open their hearts to the long forgotten truth that the Holy Father, the Pope, is Thy Vicar and representative; and that in obeying him in matters of religion they are obeying Thee, so that as there is but one company in heaven above, so likewise there may be one communion, confessing and glorifying Thy holy Name, here below.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Beauty and the New Evangelisation

In recent weeks, the Marylebone Ordinariate Group has been joined by a number of Anglicans who have now started off down the road to full communion with the Church. This is a great blessing for the group, one among many, for which we are grateful to Almighty God for continually pouring out grace upon grace upon us and prompting the hearts of those outside the Church to seek reconciliation with her. One of these individuals has offered a reflection (the first of many, we trust) on the New Evangelisation which our Holy Father has urged especially during this Year of Faith, with particular consideration of the place of beauty in preaching the catholic faith.

The text from the Synod of Bishops in Rome has certainly been giving me food for thought over the past few days. Members of the Ordinariate will be particularly pleased with much of what has come out of the Synod; the New Evangelisation being a central part of the Ordinariate’s mission. Beauty, art, and aesthetics were picked up at several points over the message, but two particularly stand out: 

We also want to thank men and women involved in another expression of the human genius, art in its various forms, from the most ancient to the most recent. We recognize in works of art a particularly meaningful way of expressing spirituality inasmuch as they strive to embody humanity’s attraction to beauty. We are grateful when artists through their beautiful creations bring out the beauty of God’s face and that of his creatures. The way of beauty is a particularly effective path of the new evangelization.
Here, beauty is seen primarily in its relationship to mission and evangelism – beauty is an effective path of the new evangelization because human beings are attracted by the beautiful. We can express something of the beauty of God in beautiful things, and these can awaken something within both the non-believer and the non-practicing believer. This point was made really quite fully by David Bentley Hart (better known for his work Atheist Delusions, a critique of the new atheism) in The Beauty of the Infinite. This is a fairly dense theological treatise which shows how beauty and sublimity can be used to transcend the everyday violence of the post-modern world. God uses beauty to draw people to Himself, beauty is the very language of God. 

Closing Mass of the Synod of Bishops

The Synod of Bishops was very clear that this theological concept has to have an impact on everyday life of parishes. I’ve already hinted at the central role which the Ordinariate has to play in the New Evangelisation, but the Synod is quite clear that this focus on beauty must be part of every parish, particularly in their Sunday celebration of Holy Mass: 

The beauty of faith must particularly shine in the actions of the sacred Liturgy, above all in the Sunday Eucharist. It is precisely in liturgical celebrations that the Church reveals herself as God’s work and renders the meaning of the Gospel visible in word and gesture. 
This focus on the beauty of the liturgical celebration has long been highlighted as part of the Anglican patrimony that can find its fullest expression in communion with the Holy See. This should not strike us as particularly surprising, as Anglo-catholics have long seen their vocation to be to commend the Catholic faith to the Church of England. To a degree they’ve achieved their goal, and been about as successful as they are going to be. As the Bishop of London made clear in his (in)famous Ad Clerum of Advent last year, there will no longer be ritual martyrs because no-one objects to candles on the table anymore, no-one really strongly objects to the use of liturgical vestments, and most people in the middle of the road churches would think the use of incense is nice, or atmospheric. In short, Anglo-catholicism has played a part in changing the aesthetics of the Church of England. Liturgical texts in the Church of England provide for a form of Chrism Mass in the shape of the blessing of oils and renewal of ministerial vows on Maundy Thursday. There are the Stations of the Cross (which stand alongside the bizarrely named Stations of the Resurrection) and provision is given for the Veneration of the Cross on Good Friday. A form of vigil service is also given for Easter morning, with various different sets of readings picking up themes from the salvation narrative. There’s even a set of optional texts under the title Exultet which provides for something akin to the 1973 translation of the Exultet, along with a metrical version and a responsorial prayer of blessing. Most people aren’t really aware of the extent to which Common Worship contains these texts, most Anglo-Catholics either having a complete distrust of the volumes, preferring instead to use the Missal, or they see them as simply diluted versions of the Easter Vigil and simply refuse to use them. 

Five hundredth anniversary of the Sistine Chapel's completion

What does all this have to do with beauty? Following the trail of breadcrumbs back to my original argument, Anglo-catholicism has been broadly successful in commending a catholic aesthetic to the Church of England, if not in actually commending the Catholic Faith. But this is, to a degree where Anglo-Catholicism has lost its way. ‘O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness’ has often been the rallying cry of Anglo-catholicism, with its focus on the liturgy. But this masks something of the long history of the Tractarian, Ritualist, and Anglo-catholic movements in the Church of England. What these gave faithful Anglicans was not a shell of aesthetics, but a language of beauty, of lives transfigured by the love of God and by grace. Something has been lost along the way. One of the key aspects of the writings of the Tractarians was the emphasis on the call to holiness of living. A holy life is a beautiful life simply because it is a life in which the beauty of God is given room enough to shine through. Anglo-catholicism seems to have lost this language of a call to holiness of life, simply because it no longer seems to possess the language to talk about a change of life. 

It has also excluded the broader concepts of beauty which go far beyond the aesthetics of worship and the beauty of the holy life. If we follow on from Hart’s argument about the way in which beauty is the language that God uses to communicate with creation, and that thereby, beauty is also our way of connecting and communicating with God. Because of this, the Church naturally reflects this through the beauty of her teachings. This is something that has been touched on in an earlier blog post dealing with the slow take up of the Ordinariate in central London. The Anglo-catholicism of my (earlier) youth expressed some concept of a call of all Christians towards unity. When I was going to confirmation classes as a teenager, it was clear what this meant – we were ultimately striving towards a reunion with the Catholic Church. But none of this is quite so clear anymore, what unity is the Anglo-catholic movement searching for? There now exists a situation in which many Anglo-catholics are not in Communion with their diocesan bishops, and after the removal of the structures of PEVs in the November legislation, the state of their communion with bishops will be even more ambiguous. Anglo-catholicism seems to have missed something of the lesson of Psalm 133, whose opening line sums up the beauty of the Church’s teaching about the Church itself: ‘Behold, how good and joyful a thing it is : brethren, to dwell together in unity!’ What has been lost is a focus on the broader concept of beauty, a divine language which finds its fullest expression in the Church. 

The Holy Father exchanges the Pax with the Ecumenical Patriarch

And this is the truth which lies at the very heart of the Bl. John Henry Newman’s motto; leaving an ecclesial community to find full communion in the Church is ultimately an expression of a response to beauty towards the fullest expression of the Christian life. Much of the discussion surrounding the Ordinariate, and of converts more generally, makes it seem as if people are simply running away from the something. To be sure, there’s plenty of things which are concerning about Anglicanism, and they were very well put by Dr Edward Norman when he announced he would be received into the Roman Catholic Church. But what is more characteristic of the journey of faithful Anglicans into the communion of the Church is the response to the divine beauty of the Church and its teaching. It’s this process of continual conversion, of grace perfecting nature, of dying to the old self, and rising to the newer, fuller expression of ourselves in Christ that makes the story of converts so important to the life of the contemporary Church. This is why the Ordinariate is so important to the New Evangelisation, and why converts can be so important to expressing and articulating the truths of the faith. Many would brand this as simply the zeal of a convert; and to be sure they have a point. But this should not cloud the fact that this is the time to turn our response to divine teaching into a tool for the conversion of this land.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Slow Moving Traffic in London

As Ordinariate members who used to be part of the Anglican Diocese of London we were, of course, intrigued by the news that Richard Chartres has at long last persuaded somebody to fill the vacancy created by the departure of Monsignor Broadhurst.  We sometimes wonder about what might have been, and indeed about what could still be, for Anglo-Catholics who live in that great and historic territory.  In spite of this topic being so close to home for our group, it is not something we have yet explored in any detail here.  As so far only an occasional contributor to this blog, I thought it might be appropriate for a new(ish) voice to offer some thoughts on this, and thereby to remedy this oversight.

In an earlier post on the subject of Anglican Patrimony, we highlighted the danger to blood pressure levels that goes with reading comments on news articles, and more particularly on blogposts. Once you go even further and start to read internet forum discussions, then you really are starting to take risks with your health.

Mercifully, comments on this blog (if they make it past censorship) are often complimentary, and are invariably constructive either of themselves, or through allowing an important point to be made in response.

Notwithstanding this health warning, recent perusal of a few internet forums that touched on Ordinariate matters revealed a comment that is worth exploring. The comment asked about the Ordinariate in London, specifically in the area where the Ordinariate's territory overlaps with that of the Archdiocese of Westminster. This area is next to territory covered by the Archdiocese of Southwark and the Diocese of Brentwood, where some of the largest Ordinariate groups in the land can be found: yet where the Ordinariate overlaps with the territory of the Anglican Diocese of London, we are not (yet) present in large numbers.

The comment suggested that, because of this, we should all simply forget about the Ordinariate in this area, and that any Anglican who wants to join the Catholic Church should do so solely through the RCIA process in his or her nearest parish. That option is of course available to any who wish to follow it, and always has been, but we have discussed at very great length (here and here, for example) how that recommendation betrays unfamiliarity with, and severely underestimates the tremendous wisdom of, the Holy Father's personal project. That is not a criticism: more than anything else, the comment reflects the ongoing need for the Ordinariate to continue explaining its origins, its purpose and its status in the Church. We referred to this phenomenon here and here, and we understand that an "awareness" programme (to use trendy language) is being planned.

Still, the observation that generated the comment merits further consideration. Why is it that the Anglican Diocese of London, particularly the Two Cities Area (ie the City of London and the City of Westminster), has, so far, seen fewer moves to the Ordinariate than other regions? First we need some historical perspective, then we might speculate as to some of the other causes of this phenomenon (noting, of course, that no one parish and no one individual will have the full combination of the causes suggested).

In "the old days", London was seen as one of the bastion dioceses of Anglo-Catholicism in the Church of England. Alongside other Anglican dioceses like Chichester and Blackburn, it was once at the heart of that movement. Names such as Charles Lowder and Alexander Mackonochie still stand out in Anglo-Catholic history. We have talked before on this blog about the Ritualist Riots at St Barnabas Pimlico, and how the Anglo-Catholics of that time maintained their faith in face of the strongest opposition. Why then, should London, and Central London in particular, not yet have shown itself to be keener on the Ordinariate?

There are many factors that have come together to give rise to this situation, and of course each (and others) might be present in any combination in the minds of those who might have been thought likely to join the Ordinariate, but who have not (yet) done so.

First of all, yes, London was indeed one of the bastions of Anglo-Catholicism, but it has never been a wholly Anglo-Catholic diocese, nor anything like it. There has always been a mix of middle-of-the-road and evangelical parishes, and in more recent times there was seemingly a pattern of appointing diocesans from alternating "churchmanships" (this was a practice that ended when Monsignor Graham Leonard was replaced by Dr David Hope, both Anglo-Catholics upon appointment). Yet, this is in no way special: for the last 150 years, most Anglican dioceses have contained an extremely diverse base of "churchmanship".

One can conjecture that having historically been one of the bastion dioceses London has seen proportionally more than its fair share of departures across the Tiber. Before and after the major exodus around 1993, when hundreds of clergy and thousands of laity left the Church of England for the Catholic Church, there has been a constant and steady trickle of people coming into full communion, still continuing today. The turmoil around 1993, which centred around whether the Church of England, by a system of democratic votes among both its clergy and its laity, had the authority to decide on a major change (whatever that change's merits might or might not be) to Holy Order, saw London very well represented in the transfers.

This was all happening at the zenith of London having Anglo-Catholicism as almost its very own established religion, and as such the fall out was bound to be considerable.

Monsignor Graham Leonard, the then recently retired diocesan bishop, joined the Catholic Church, the most senior Anglican cleric ever to do so, and soon became a very high profile example of ordination sub conditione. One of the London suffragan bishops (in Anglican parlance, this means an assistant bishop to the diocesan) also became a Catholic priest: now Monsignor John Klyberg, he had been a very vocal and visible presence in the Anglo-Catholic world. The present Rector of St James's Spanish Place, where our Ordinariate group attends Mass, was at that time the Vicar of the Anglican Parish of St Stephen's Gloucester Road: over the years since he left, somewhere between 70-100 people have followed him to Rome. If we think of our own former Anglican home, St Mary's Bourne St, some 30-40 left for Rome in the early to mid 90s (the tales of the empty rows at the front of the epistle side of church are still fresh), with a small trickle that has never completely dried up continuing thereafter.

Given that attendances in Anglican parishes in Central London are typically around the 80-120 level, these are significant numbers. Just as we have seen with the Ordinariate, the people who leave are often among some of the most committed, not merely those with the most knowledge of the Faith, but also those who give the most of their time (and sometimes of their money) to the running of the parish. How could the impact of these departures have been anything other than significant on the forceful drive for Catholic Unity that was once the proud boast of many an Anglo-Catholic parish?

How was this dealt with? In many parishes, the solution adopted was (and still is) quite simply not to talk about it. A number of people had gone, that was sad but there it was: life went on. One can understand, up to a point. By not talking about what had happened, by putting away considerations of why it had happened, a false sense of calm and tranquility could prevail. The divided opinions were there, but opportunities for them ever to come to a clash were carefully avoided. This despite the fact that a PCC of such a parish might contain any combination of (1) those worried by Anglican developments and on the impacts on Unity; (2) those in agreement with developments in principle, but not with the way they were being introduced; (3) those vehemently in favour of the developments; (4) a fierce anti-Roman or two; and (5) a healthy sprinkling of people who had no knowledge of or interest in what was going on in the Church of England more widely.

The last group often has much in common with a significant proportion of many a congregation, who quite simply like what they see before them every Sunday morning, and are not in the least bit worried if somewhere else, someone they have never heard of is causing difficulties for other people they have never heard of on a subject for which they care little.  One can understand: church politics are rarely appealing.

The Fawlty Towers style solution "Don't mention Catholic Unity, I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it" was and still is the best way of keeping calm and carrying on, even if it also recalls the childlike response to any overbearing problem "Don't think about it and it will go away."

To be fair to those involved, even at the best of times, the situation would have been extremely difficult to manage. Through years where many leaders of one's constituency had gone, and where holding together existing congregations was tough, leading a parish, politically, theologically and ecclesiologically was a task that few would choose to tackle head on. The conspiracy of silence that resulted did indeed hold many congregations together, papering over cracks whenever necessary, but it also had a rather deleterious side effect, from all perspectives.

In the 1990s, there was a certain amount of flow between many of the Anglo-Catholic parishes in London. Some would move to somewhere more in favour of what was going, others would move to somewhere less in favour, but there was little net change in numbers overall. However, a trend emerged for those from a more mainstream Anglican tradition to start attending what had been Anglo-Catholic strongholds (perhaps because of the music, the language - both real and faux Cranmerian - the architecture, or even the aesthetic appeal of a respectfully executed liturgy with vestments), at first this seemed like a wonderful opportunity for bringing new people into the Anglo-Catholic fold, but in an atmosphere where robustly pro-Catholic teaching had to be handled delicately, the result was in fact of dilution of previously resolutely Anglo-Catholic practice. If you want proof of this, just take a look at how many entering an Anglo-Catholic church now lustrate themselves upon entering the building, ask the Vicar about numbers for confession, consider how many of the congregation at a service marking the Immaculate Conception or the Assumption are from the regular Sunday congregation, and if they are, how well they understand the feast of the day.

None of what is described above is necessarily a bad thing, none of the paragraph above is a criticism. Nurturing faith is a good thing. Blessed John Henry Newman himself, hardly an apologist for Anglicanism, made reference to God's grace existing in the Church of England "through the overflowings of His dispensation". Catering for all, not just for its dedicated constituency or even just for its churchgoers, has historically been a huge strength of the Church of England, and it is an element of Anglican Patrimony of which everyone should be extremely proud.

One could say that if you visit many a Catholic parish, the parish priest might comment on some of the same things. However, for the Anglo-Catholic movement, the inessentials of the Faith, such as lustration and making the sign of the cross have been vitally important. “Vitally” in both senses, both in terms of the "inessentials" being, in fact, essential parts of the movement, and in terms of their being a sign of life in the movement. Members of the Catholic Church never had to prove that they were Catholic, whereas Anglo-Catholicism sought to prove that its members were, sometimes by being "more catholic than the Pope" in adherence even to these small signs and gestures.

This shift in balance bears witness to a certain degree of de-catholicisation of the once entrenched catholic practices of Anglo-Catholicism. When there are so many in a congregation who like the way the "worship" looks, sounds or feels, but would never dream of genuflecting or of asking for the intercession of Our Lady themselves, why should one expect there to be a rush to join a body designed to welcome Anglicans into the universal fold of the Catholic Church?

David Hope, Monsignor Leonard's successor as Anglican Bishop of London, maintained the diocese on a steady course, and held it together as it was. Nothing new of a dramatic nature happened, to the diocese at least, during his tenor.

Then we come to Richard Chartres, whose complex relationship with Anglo-Catholicism was described in our most popular post so far, More Than Words.  Going beyond what was said in that post, there are perhaps two points to highlight.

First, the recent history of the Anglican Bishopric of Fulham. The person who held that post until December 2010 was the Ordinariate's Monsignor John Broadhurst and his predecessor was Monsignor John Klyberg. Before Monsignor Klyberg, there was Brian Masters, who after three years at Fulham was translated to take on what had arguably become the London area bishopric most associated with Anglo-Catholicism, Edmonton. Brian Masters died a little over a decade later in 1998, at the young age of 65, and had a funeral service in St Paul's Cathedral that by all accounts did not leave a dry eye in the house, perhaps because of the ecclesiology disappearing from sight as much as for the loss of great man. Having run the Edmonton area in as Anglo-Catholic a way he could, he was replaced by Peter Wheatley, who, like his boss Dr Chartres, is rather less pro-Roman. Now Dr Baker is to pack up his cappa magna and forsake Pusey House for Fulham, presumably never having discovered the whereabouts of Ebbsfleet, so brief was his tenure there.  One should, perhaps, not be surprised that he has elected to leave the home of lost causes in order to join another, for the ever-diminishing band of Anglo-Catholic clergy are thought better together.

The Church of England heading in a new direction?
Second, the wider history of Provincial Episcopal Visitors, the “PEVs”, and their involvement with London.  Outside London, alternative episcopal oversight was provided by PEVs, the famous "flying bishops", which roles our own Monsignor Newton, Monsignor Burnham and indeed Monsignor Barnes have each held. In London (and in the neighbouring Anglican dioceses of Rochester and Southwark), this role was carried out by the Anglican Bishop of Fulham, except in the Two Cities Area of the diocese. In the Two Cities Area, alternative oversight to the diocesan bishop is provided by another Anglican bishop called......Dr Richard Chartres. Will those central-London Anglo-Catholic parishes presently under the direct rule of Dr Chartres now seek the alternative oversight of Dr Baker?  We will watch with interest.

As mentioned in our post More than Words, whether acting in his capacity as diocesan or in his capacity as provider of alternative episcopal oversight, Dr Chartres let Anglo-Catholic parishes get on with things, allowing the temptation for individual parishes to think that all was well in their world to continue, allowing them to think that all was safe in their comfortable bubble, that the publicity surrounding troubles in the Church of England at large was nothing to do with them.  After all, did not their diocesan bishop still come along, vest properly (more or less) and do pretty much everything that was asked of him liturgically?  Outwardly, all was well.

Beyond this reasoning, why so little movement?

There are those who very properly feel that they should not disrupt their family life or who are understandably reluctant to give up homes and financial security. Some will argue that they do not want to surrender their role as "parish priest" ministering to all within their territory even though such a role has long ceased to have any real meaning in central London. Yet others will be reluctant to abandon a lifestyle that would be less readily tolerated in the Catholic Church. And then there are those who enjoy being a part of the Establishment, even, we suspect, those who covet the opportunity to wear scarlet cassocks, whether given in Anglican shape by HM the Queen or tailored into multi-buttoned catholicity for the more particular clerics.

Perhaps, though, we delude ourselves if we think there are vast numbers of Anglo-Catholics (whatever that term now means, that arguably being exactly the point) who are in some way languishing in the CofE, feeling that they should be elsewhere, who accept what Rome teaches and who are not among those who convince themselves that they ought to be contented with their lot.

Clearly, there are some in that position, perhaps even a good many. However, there are not thousands upon thousands of them. There are many who would describe themselves as Anglo-Catholic who are extremely happy with where the Church of England is going. We might not share their view, but nor do they see themselves as ignoring a call that they ought to answer.  We might challenge their self-definition as any kind of Catholic, but they might challenge the Catholic Church’s claim to hold the monopoly on the use of that term.

They are Anglicans, and happy to be so. There is absolutely nothing wrong, of course, about being a happy Anglican. These are good and honest people who stand by genuinely held positions.

Perhaps, then, what William Oddie foresaw in The Roman Option has come to pass, a positive conclusion where people have a clearer idea of where they stand and of where they want to stand. Perhaps we will now see a Church of England happier in what it is, less divided, more confident in itself and in its interpretation of Christianity, not feeling the need to follow Rome or the Orthodox. Those who wanted to be Catholics have mostly moved on, those who have a different vision are in a place where they are free to proclaim and share that vision without what they might see as being "held back" by those of a more Catholic leaning.

As the Vicar of St Peter's London Docks has written on his own blog :

Whatever the House of Bishops offer, whatever Synod decides, Anglo-Catholics in 2013 will need a new way to see and understand their identity, mission and long term role within Anglicanism. A simple overwhelming 'I'm a Roman Catholic paid by the Church of England' will no longer do, not morally, not spiritually, not liturgically, not theologically and not practically.

Perhaps, therefore, this article's premise is entirely wrong, perhaps it is incorrect to wonder why there hasn't been more traffic moving at speed towards the Ordinariate in London. Perhaps Dr Oddie was right all those years ago, and that a happy and more defined, even if rather strange and, for many, largely unexpected result has been attained.

Whether anything will change once Dr Chartres has either retired or been translated elsewhere, who knows, but for now, it seems that most people are where they want to be. Whether it is where they should be and what they may think they are doing there is the subject for another post. 

The Catholic Church: heri et hodie ipse et in saecula  

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Mystici Corporis Christi - Part I

Almost three years have now passed since the apostolic constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus, was given by Pope Benedict XVI providing for the creation of personal ordinariates for Anglicans wishing to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. That same apostolic constitution requires under Article XI that the Ordinary must go to Rome every five years for an ad limina visit to report on his ordinariate’s status. Since the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham has now been in existence for about a third of that time, it seems an appropriate time to consider what the Ordinary might relay to the Holy See if he were called now to account for the past year and a half.

First, however, it is necessary to return to that original document which, along with its Complementary Norms issued by William Cardinal Levada, forms the basis of the ecclesiastical authority and form of the ordinariates, but also entrusts them with their mission and vocation. This return to those founding documents will then provide us with the means to consider both what the objectives of the ordinariates must be, as formed in the mind of the Successor of S. Peter, but also to assess whether the ordinariates, particularly that established here in the Dowry of our Blessed Mother, have achieved anything of what they were created to accomplish, and whether they are well-placed to bring to fulfilment the prayers of Our Lady to win our country back for God. The aims of the ordinariates as expressed in Anglicanorum Coetibus can be refined into three distinct yet complementary objectives, and it is upon these that our assessment of the Ordinariate will be based.

The Lord’s mandate to the Successor of S. Peter to preside over and safeguard the universal communion of all the Churches

Since the Second Vatican Council much emphasis has been placed upon ecumenism, and yet since the publication of Lumen gentium, some elements within the Church have in certain ways lost a true sense of what ecumenism actually entails, and indeed what the Council Fathers understood by it. Across the world events involving other religions and communities have taken place which have sought to not only open up the Church to an understanding and dialogue with those traditions, but also to proclaim as equals the Catholic Faith and interpretations of the religion of Jesus Christ.  Furthermore, and particularly relevant to the Anglican Communion, there had been a not insignificant move away from position held for many centuries culminating with the conclusion reached in Apostolicae Curae that Anglican orders are ‘absolutely null and utterly void’. Despite there never having been an official retraction or amendment to that position, an attitude has arisen in sections of both the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion that their respective clergy were speaking the same words each Sunday morning, wearing the same vestments, and were performing equally valid and wholesome acts: all this as if they were each utterly interchangeable.

Clearly, this is not the truth that comes from God as received by the Church whose teachings are as His own. Lumen gentium itself made clear that ‘the sole Church of Christ which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic, which our Saviour, after His Resurrection, commissioned Peter to shepherd, and him and the other apostles to extend and direct with authority, which He erected for all ages as 'the pillar and mainstay of the truth,' as a society in the present world…subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him’.

The Creed is the identity of the Church expressed Sunday by Sunday during the Mass and declared by each individual wishing to assume that identity as their own in baptism. What is evident in the current pontificate is a clear longing for a recovery of this identity faithful to Christ’s own teaching which Anglicanorum Coetibus proclaims as ‘visibly manifested in the bonds of the profession of the faith in its entirety…united with its head, the Roman Pontiff’. The Holy Father has not only sought to recover traditional identity by drawing in Anglicans who hold firm to that which they received from S. Augustine and grew through faithful adherence to those teachings. The universal liberation of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite as something that ‘earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too’ in Summorum Pontificum reminds the Church of her holy tradition which has professed our blessed Faith in all generations. It is this calling to mind of the Truth that makes us free which the apostolic constitution seeks to achieve first and foremost. The pastoral concern of the Vicar of Christ for the sheep entrusted to him cannot accept the ever more aggressive advances of the dictatorship of relativism, whether inside communities of faith or otherwise.

The apostolic constitution itself responds to those who, as illustrated earlier, appear to hold confused positions on orders apart from the Church. Article VI outlines provisions for those who ministered as Anglican deacons, priests, or bishops to be ordained as priests. The document does not make any comment on whether they are, or even might in certain cases arguably be, deacons, priests, or bishops in the sense meant in the Catholic Church. Whilst it is entirely right, as the constitution quotes from Lumen gentium, that ‘many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside [the Church’s] visible confines’, Anglicanorum Coetibus requires even the tiniest element of doubt to be removed, and ordination to Holy Order to take place.  Why would anyone wish to argue that even an iota of doubt should be allowed to remain?

What is strongly stated immediately following that quotation is that the gifts of sanctification and truth properly belong to the Church, and as such ‘they are forces impelling towards Catholic unity’. Many commentators on the Church’s position on ecumenism and the position of other baptised communities fail repeatedly to grasp the implications and force of this statement. To include it in his apostolic constitution founding the Ordinariate is a clear statement from the Holy Father that we are to be strong and firm in the Faith, and not to shy away from boldly proclaiming it.

Since the publication of Anglicanorum Coetibus, and particularly in the first days after its release, there has been widespread shock and criticism from leaders in the Anglican Communion, and indeed within the Church in England. Many expressed their distaste for the proactive approach taken by the Pope, and equated it with landing tanks in front of Lambeth Palace. Yet this is the mission of the Pope as Successor of St. Peter, the Rock on which Christ Himself wished to build His Church. Pope Benedict, in his own words, ‘could not fail to make available the means necessary to bring this holy desire to realisation’.

Has the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham succeeded in its efforts to realise the will of Pope Benedict in this regard? Clearly the result of the first objective is of success. Over a thousand souls have been received into the Church through the Ordinariate, and the stream of men and women, young and old, of diverse backgrounds continues week by week. In many ways this success renders the remainder of this post redundant, as the most precious and immediately important concern of the Church is to bring as many as possible to partake in the sureness of salvation won on Calvary’s tree, guaranteed in the faithful reception of the sacraments as acts of love and devotion for the Lord.

Yet in reality the number of Anglicans who have felt the call of the Holy Spirit and obeyed the command of Christ to be one could have been higher. Explanations for this are certainly complicated and multifaceted, and they can also be confusing.  Some of those Anglo-Catholics who are still in the Church of England, claiming  to be remaining loyal to the church of their baptism, have themselves petitioned repeatedly and insistently for fuller communion with the Pope, and continue to pray for him in the Roman Canon each day, and affix images of him to sacristy walls, exactly as though they were in that fuller communion from which they, in fact, prefer to separate themselves. 

The Ordinariate is called in Anglicanorum Coetibus to proclaim afresh the Faith of the Church so that England may indeed be free. The brave decision of the Ordinary to lead the Forty Days For Life prayer vigil this Autumn is one powerful example of how the Ordinariate can achieve this objective in the fight against one of the greatest evils of our generation. The commitment of the laity and clergy of the Ordinariate to the fight against the redefinition of marriage has been exemplary, and the devotion of priests in the worthy celebration of the Mass has become an ordinary part of the Ordinariate’s daily cycle.

This is not to say that there remain no issues. There are some who have the mistaken impression that the Catholic priesthood in which Ordinariate clergy serve is identical to the Anglican priesthood in which they served so recently.  To take this view is to see their Catholic priestly ordination as merely a confirming in their pre-existing orders for the wider Church, signalling a failing in sacramental theology and also in understanding of the Catholic insight into holy orders. Similarly the sacrament of Confirmation which, along with Holy Orders and Baptism, cannot be repeated, with simulating such being sacrilege. It is absolutely wrong for clergy to preach or teach such divergences from the Faith, or to instruct candidates that they are merely continuing exactly what they have always enjoyed, with nothing whatsoever having changed. Whilst such deviations from the teaching of the Church are rare, they can be found, and for as long as they continue, the Ordinariate will have an extra challenge placed before it as it seeks to fulfill its fullest potential as a sign and symbol of Christ to the English people. Certainly we must preach to our separated brethren by kindly words, and we must at all times take great care to avoid arrogant pride: but in that spirit of friendship and humility, we must not hide or deny the integrity which we attained when we decided that it was indeed better to be together with the Sucessor of St Peter.

In the Vatican Council’s decree Unitatis redintegratio, the Fathers noted the numerous communities of the baptised which present themselves to men as the true inheriters of Jesus Christ, but also that whilst it is true that division amongst the baptised wounds the Church and causes scandal, those separated communities fall short of what those in the Ordinariate now achieve. It is essential, therefore, that the Ordinariate does not falter in its preaching of the Church being ‘the all-embracing means of salvation’, which all men must embrace so that they can be sure of being able to benefit fully from the means of salvation within her.


Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Christian! hence learn to do thy part and leave the rest to Heaven

On this great Feast of the Blessed John Henry Newman, we resolve once more to do our part in bringing the best that the Catholic Faith has to offer to those considering entering into communion with countless generations of saints both here on earth, and in the world to come. Yet as our patron rightly instructs us, it is only by the grace poured out from on high to a heart open to the promptings of Christ's own heart that a true conversion can be effected. We pray, therefore, for the conversion of England, and ask that Our Lady, Refuge of Sinners and Ark of the Covenant, may draw into the Barque of Peter all those for whom her Son prayed that they may be one.

Our Blessed Patron in cappa magna so in vogue with Catholic bishops and Anglican prelates alike

Monday, 8 October 2012

An opening of the heavens, a sudden gleam of supernatural brightness across a dark sky.

The Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham began her celebrations of the feast of her patron, Bl John Henry Newman, yesterday with Solemn Evensong and Benediction at St. James's, Spanish Place. Typically high standards both in the choir loft and sanctuary gave due honour to our great patron, whose example of seeking after the Truth amid the encircling gloom remains ever relevant in an increasingly relativist world.

The Psalms

We have included a few preliminary photographs to give a fuller sense of the solemnity of the occasion alongside the exceptional sermon of the Provost of the Oxford Oratory, Fr Daniel Seward, who effortlessly drew connections between the pursuit of holiness and truth to which Bl John Henry devoted his life, and our own journey towards salvation.

The Very Reverend The Provost of the Oxford Oratory

On Thursday we shall begin the Year of Faith, which marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Both of these anniversaries give us a light on our own journey of faith. The Blessed John Henry Newman is often described as the “unseen Father of Vatican II” since his teaching, especially on the universal call to holiness, was so influential and came to a providential fruition at that Council. The Catechism we might see both as a great fruit of Vatican II and as a response to Newman’s call for an educated laity. The Catechism sets out for us in a comprehensive and accessible way the authentic teaching of the Church for our time. So how can Blessed John Henry be a companion for us in this Year of Faith? Above all it is in responding to the call of Lumen Gentium for us to form the People of God – each in our own place to form the Church, which is called to holiness. 

The saints show us that heroic sanctity is possible and necessary for us as Christians. They remind us of that call to holiness which is addressed to each of us, and they encourage us on our journey towards that perfection for which God has created us. St Philip used to say that we should never marvel at what the saints do, but rather at what God does in His saints. So here is the first qualification for holiness. If a person is merely a human marvel, that is no doubt a good thing, but it is not enough. He must point us beyond Himself to the God who is the source of all holiness. So to make someone a saint is not the equivalent of giving them the Nobel Prize or a kind of celestial knighthood, it is done for the glory of God alone. 

The deep wish to do God’s will and to pursue holiness marked out John Henry Newman from a young age, in a way that he saw very clearly to be a mark of Divine Providence. The Calvinist religion in which the young Newman began his spiritual journey attached great importance to God’s grace but very little to personal holiness. Yet his inner conversion at the age of fifteen was accompanied by an unusual conviction that God was calling him to a celibate life. St Paul said, “The world as we know it is passing away. I should like you to be free of all worries. The unmarried man is busy with the Lord’s affairs, concerned with pleasing the Lord”. So the young Newman, while still a Protestant, made that sacrifice of himself in witness to the transience of this world and the endurance of the kingdom of heaven. Celibacy is certainly not the only route to holiness of course, but for Newman, it was part of his conviction that God had a mission for him, a definite service, a work committed to him not given to any other.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost...

Holiness does not mean leaving the world – the saint lives in the world but he is not of the world. God’s own holiness means that He is infinitely separate from everything but Himself. He lives in unapproachable light – so that when the prophet Isaiah saw his great vision of the courts of heaven and the angels singing , “Holy, holy, holy”, he was overcome by terror that he, a man of unclean lips, should have seen the Lord of Hosts. Newman too had a profound reverence for the mysteries of the faith, which came from that Gift of the Holy Spirit which we call Fear of the Lord, or Wonder and Awe in God’s presence. King David tells us that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom”, and so we can only start to approach holiness when we first realize our deep unworthiness and the infinite gulf that stands between us and God. The sense of the awfulness of sin – a concept so often glossed over – was a constant theme in Newman’s thought. Newman was uninterested in the value which the world at large might put upon a person – it is the state of his soul in the eyes of God that matters. So he told his hearers in one of his sermon The Salvation of the Hearer the Motive of the Preacher: “We may securely prophesy of every man born into the world, that, if he comes to years of understanding, he will, in spite of God’s general assistances fall into mortal sin and lose his soul…Now what a thought is this! what a light does it cast upon man’s present state! how different from the view which the world takes of it; how piercing, how overpowering in its influence on the hearts that admit it.” 

Where does this human tragedy of sin begin? Its starts, Newman tells us, with a distrust of the supernatural reality of prayer. Unless we are rooted in that relationship with God which prayer entails, unless we are truly convinced that our hidden life is more real than the affairs of this world – what hope have we to escape the snares that lie in our path? Only God’s grace. It is for this reason that all of John Henry’s endeavours were ultimately directed to the salvation of souls. On the day of his ordination as an Anglican Deacon in June 1824 he wrote, “I have the responsibility of souls on me until the day of my death”. The Apologia tells us that the young Newman wondered whether God were calling him to preach the Gospel among the heathen. In his youth, our Holy Father Saint Philip burned with zeal to shed his blood preaching the Gospel in the far East, but he was told by a holy monk, “Rome is to be your Indies”. Similarly, a few days after his first ordination as Deacon, Newman’s diary records that he went to the Church Missionary House to ask about the qualifications to be a missionary. From what he wrote later, it seems as though he may have been rather hoping for a negative response: “They say weakness of voice, shortness of sight, want of eloquence, are not sufficient impediments.” 

The Censing of the Faithful

Nevertheless, Oxford, and later Birmingham turned out to be Newman’s Indies. As a tutor at Oriel, he considered his role to be as much pastoral as academic and his primary concern was for the souls of his undergraduate charges. A burning desire to save souls is universal among the saints. It is a fire caught from our Lord Himself, who said, “I am come to send fire on the earth and what will I, but that it be kindled.” Newman says, “such a zeal, poor and feeble though it be in us has been the very life of the Church, and the breath of her preachers and missionaries in all ages. It was a fire such as this which brought Our Lord from heaven, and which He desired, which He travailed, to communicate to all around Him”. And it was this zeal which caused John Henry Newman to take the gigantic step he did in entering the Catholic Church in 1845 – not a purely abstract love of Truth, but a conviction that the Truth that the Church teaches is the Truth that will save our souls. 

The Entrance

The Victorian contemporaries of Newman brought many improvements to the world: sanitation, education, social mobility, improved communication and so on. The picture of the nineteenth century philanthropist is a fine and noble one. Today too, we have the example around us of so many who rightly try to solve the problems of poverty, climate change and other human woes. This is good. But is there something missing? Is there one problem which is greater than any of these – the peril faced by the human soul? It is very easy to confuse God who is Truth with other, lesser goods that He created. This was essentially the temptation that faced Christ in the desert. Pope Benedict, in his recent book, Jesus of Nazareth, writes about this, saying, What did Jesus actually bring, if not world peace, universal prosperity, and a better world? What has he brought? The answer is very simple: God. He has brought God...He has brought God, and now we know his face, now we can call upon him. Now we know the path we human beings have to take in this world. Jesus has brought God and with God the truth about our origin and destiny: faith hope and love. It is only because of our hardness of heart that we think this is too little. Yes indeed, God’s power works quietly in this world, but it is the true and lasting power. Again and again, God’s cause seems to be in its death throes. Yet over and over again it proves to be the thing that truly endures and saves. The earthly kingdoms that Satan was able to put before the Lord at that time have all passed away. Their glory…has proved to be a mere semblance. But the glory of Christ, the humble, self-sacrificing glory of his love, has not passed away, nor will it ever do so.

The Magnificat

The world around us is transfixed by temporary realities – or even by things which are not real at all. This is not a new phenomenon. What we now call celebrity, Newman called notoriety and it was an equally potent force in the nineteenth century as in the twenty-first. Newman’s description of notoriety in Saintliness the Standard of Christian Principle has a strikingly contemporary ring to it:

Never could notoriety exist as it does now, in any former age of the world; now that the news of the hour from all parts of the world, private news as well as public, is brought day by day to every individual…And hence notoriety, or the making a noise in the world, has come to be considered a great good in itself, and a ground of veneration…Notoriety, or, as it may be called, newspaper fame, is to the many what style and fashion, to use the language of the world, are to those who are within or belong to the higher circles; it becomes to them a sort of idol, worshipped for its own sake, and without any reference to the shape in which it comes before them. It may be an evil fame or a good fame; it may be the notoriety of a great statesman, or of a great preacher, or of a great speculator, or of a great experimentalist, or of a great criminal; of one who has laboured in the improvement of our schools, or hospitals, or prisons, or workhouses, or of one who has robbed his neighbour of his wife…

The contrast that the Christian religion sets up to the love of celebrity or notoriety is that of saintliness.

“Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers in their generations. The Lord apportioned to them great glory, his majesty from the beginning”. Our famous men are not the passing stars of this world but those whose names will live to all generations. This is why the Church gives us saints, Newman tells us: 

They are always our standards of right and good; they are raised up to be monuments and lessons, they remind us of God, they introduce us into the unseen world, they teach us what Christ loves, they track out for us the way which leads heavenward. They are to us who see them, what wealth, notoriety, rank, and name are to the multitude of men who live in darkness, - objects of our veneration and of our homage.

It is for this reason that we rejoice that our Cardinal has become the Blessed John Henry Newman. He stands as a reminder that there is a higher life than this daily one, and a brighter world than that we see. He is a testament to the supernatural reality of Truth, and that the salvation of our souls is the only real goal of life. He must be for each of us an inspiration to strive for holiness. We may not be able to imitate Newman’s soaring intellect, his academic endeavour, or his grasp of fine detail, but we must be impelled to see in him “an opening of the heavens, a sudden gleam of supernatural brightness across a dark sky.” “Let us follow the saints, as they follow Christ”, and let us follow John Henry Newman in his kindness, his faithfulness, his docility to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, his confident trust in the supernatural reality of our holy religion and in his holiness. May he come to show to our own time the resplendent holiness of our Creator, who is for ever blessed in His angels and in His saints.

Tantum ergo...

Further photographs may be found here.