‘It is not for us, the glamour of the Seven Hills, and the confidence of membership, living and actual, in the Church of the Ages; we cannot set our feet upon the rock of Peter, but only watch the shadow of Peter passing by, and hope that it may fall on us and heal us. We shall bear the reproach of the Catholic name, without enjoying the full privileges of the Catholic heritage. And yet, even mow, we are not left without hope. Our needs have still a place in the compassionate heart of Mary, where she sits by her Father’s side; she has not forgotten her children, just because they have run away from their schoolmaster and unlearnt their lessons, and are trying to find their way home again, humbled and terrified in the darkness.
… And surely we dare not doubt that Jesus will be our Shepherd, till the time when he gathers his fold together; and that, although we do not live to see it, England will once again become the dowry of Mary, and the Church of England will once again be builded on the Rock she was hewn from, and find a place, although it be a place of penitence and tears, in the eternal purposes of God’.
From The Church in Bondage, 1914, by R.A. Knox (1888-1957)
(Mgr Knox was a priest of the Church of England 1912-1917; he was ordained a Catholic priest in 1918)
‘Why did Anglo-Catholics like me stay within the Church of England for so long? This is a question which puzzles some people. I speak for many when I say that we had a vision of eventual corporate reunion, of the reintegration of Anglicanism within the Western Catholic mainstream centred on Rome. Individual conversions would not promote this. Our task was to remain where we were, to emphasise, live out and defend our Catholic heritage within the Anglican tradition. We took seriously the provisional nature of the Anglican position; we had no creeds of our own, we were not a confessional Church of Lutheran or Calvinist or any other stance, we had no ministry of our own, but claimed to be in continuity with the threefold pattern of ministry of bishop, priest and deacon, established within the early centuries.
…The decision by General Synod in 1992 to proceed to ordain women as priests made a great many Anglicans, including myself, face the reality of our situation in a stark and uncompromising way. By this decision which was to lead to the first ordination of women as priests in 1994, three blows had been cast at those fundamental emphases that I had found in the Fathers – continuity, coherence and sacramentality.
… It was no wonder that questions about the identity of the Church of England and its claims came to the fore in many minds. Was the Church of England merely an uneasy amalgam of various, essentially incompatible, viewpoints which was now breaking up into its constituent parts? Those of us who had long felt the attraction of the Roman Catholic Church were forced to reflect more deeply about authority within the Church. Where does authority lie within the Church? Who speaks for the Church with an authoritative voice? What is the special role of St Peter’s successor, the Pope?
… I am not seeking a watertight, rigid system of belief or a mechanical guarantee of grace, as though it were a commodity. What I am striving for is wholeness of belief within a context in which there is no doubt as to what is a sacrament of the Church’.
Canon Kenneth Noakes
(Fr Noakes had been a priest in the Church of England for 25 years until 1994)
from The Path to Rome: Modern Journeys to the Catholic Church, 2010
‘When you are received into full communion with the Catholic Church you are brought into a new relationship to God, you are brought to be embraced by a wonderful worldwide communion of love, and this cannot be expressed in one single simple reason. As Newman said, “you cannot take it in a teacup.” Very often I find that people assume that there was only the one reason – possibly a negative one – which made you make the move, and if you gave another reason they say, “Ah, that was the reason why he really came.” Well, the whole thing is so much more profound and so much richer than they would suppose. And, of course, it’s really important to make the point that the fact that you could not continue in the ministry in one Church was no reason in itself for being embraced by another. So there had to be a positive reason for why one asked to be received into the Catholic Church.
… The decision of the Church of England to go over to synodical government… meant that decision was made for the Church itself to define doctrine… the Church itself was given authority over doctrine, and so that was a great problem.
… [As Bishop of London] I was appealing to the teaching of the Catholic Church, leaving out the papacy. I was looking for what the Catholic Church has taught through ages, but ignoring the pope. And one of the great changes [that] came to me was seeing the divine command to St Peter – the recognition by Our Lord that St Peter had made his confession of his divinity – and then recognising that Our Lord himself, when Peter had denied him, had forgiven him and gave him the command to feed the sheep. As Cardinal Ratzinger said most wonderfully this was, among other things, a sign that the centre of the Church’s life is forgiveness, and that the Lord used somebody who denied him, [was] pardoned, and forgiven, and this is a sign of the pastoral authority of the bishop. And for the first time in my life I came to see that, as a Catholic, I would owe my obedience on earth not to a trustee, not to a council, not to a committee, not to a commission, but to a person; the person of the pope as the successor of Peter, who had a personal responsibility for feeding all the sheep of the Catholic Church. It was this personal understanding of the papacy which came through so powerfully’.
Mgr Graham Leonard KCVO, 1921-2010
(Anglican Bishop of London, 1981-1991)
‘Anglicans do need to sit up and take seriously the “papal dimension”. We need to grow out of our habit of seeing the pope as the distinguished proprietor of a rival firm, and instead begin to realise the fact that there must be the focus and sign of Christian unity. There will be no unity without the pope. Are we prepared not just to accept this grudgingly, but to reconsider whether after all the papacy might be part of God’s gift of episcope to his church? The Anglican evangelical John de Satgé has done just that in his Peter and the Single Church (reviewed for St Mary’s [Bourne Street] by E.L. Mascall):
“The renewal of the Roman Catholic Church at the springs of its own integrity has passed the point where the historic Protestant reproach of betraying the gospel message loses all force. In an earlier book I suggested that when that happened, two questions demanded a positive answer before the heirs of the Reformation followed the obvious course of seeking full communion with Rome. Have the claims which Rome makes for herself come to look inherently likely? And if so, can you see them being fulfilled in the Roman obedience as it is now developing? To both questions I now return the answer Yes.”
And while no one would wish Anglicans to spend more time in navel-contemplation than they have over the last generation, a critical look at our own church as it exists today might help us appreciate our need to be grafted back into our parent stem’.
from an article in Tracts for Our Times 1833-1983, 1983
by Hugh Moore, Vicar of St Alphage, Burnt Oak, London
‘The Roman See and its occupant are only too often ignored altogether by Anglicans or else are dismissed with a few airy and superficial generalisations. Common gratitude alone seems to demand something more than this; for it was the missionary zeal of St Gregory the Great that send the Roman monk Augustine to Canterbury in AD 596 to bring the Gospel to the people of Kent, and for nearly a thousand years from that date the Church of England was in communion with Rome and used the Roman liturgy… Whatever may be our judgement about later developments, the fact remains that it was from Rome and its pontiff that the Church of England to which we belong derived its origin. In any case we might well ponder the following words of Dr Jalland from the Preface to his Bampton Lectures on The Church and the Papacy:
“To those to whom the ultimate demands of papal doctrine seem in the end unacceptable there must come inevitably a sense of tragedy that so many great gifts as those which the Roman see appears to have enjoyed did not in fact prove capable of better use in the interests of Christendom as a whole. It may be that a fuller recognition of its status in the history of our Faith there will grow a more generous acknowledgment of its appropriate place in the glorious reunited Christendom of the future.”’
from The Recovery of Unity: A Theological Approach, 1958
by E.L. Mascall, 1905-1993
‘The Gospel shows us that we follow a very old custom, when we start our guests with sherry, and then put them off with vile mixtures. It did not happen at the Cana wedding, because our Lord and God himself replenished the wine, and it is not his custom so to treat his guests; he keeps the best wine until last. It was in the end of his dealings with Israel that he brought them his life-giving blood, and it was in the end of his earthly days that he mounted the cross and poured it out. We drink it week by week at his altar, but it keeps its best savour until the last. If you are faithful, the love of God will be stronger in your veins next year than this. It takes no staleness from the passage of time and, says Jesus, I will drink it new with you in the Kingdom of God’.
from The Crown of the Year: Weekly Paragraphs on the Holy Sacrament, 1952
by Austin Farrer FBA, 1904-1968
‘I should like briefly to mention the feast of the Epiphany, celebrated on January 6, which is closely connected with Christmas. Let us leave on one side all the historical details and the many glorious patristic texts on the subject. Let us try to understand it very simply in the form that we have here in the West. It interprets the Incarnation of the Logos in terms of the ancient category of “epiphany”, that is, of the self-revelation of God, the God who manifests himself to his creatures. In this perspective the feast links together several different epiphanies: the adoration of the Magi as the beginning of the Church of the Gentiles, the procession of the nations to the God of Israel (cf. Is 60); the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, in which the voice from above publicly proclaims Jesus as the Son of God; and the wedding at Cana, where he reveals his glory. The narrative of the adoration of the Magi became important for Christian thought, because it shows the inner connection between the wisdom of the nations and the Word of promise in Scripture; because it shows how the language of the cosmos and the truth-seeking thought of man lead to Christ. The mysterious star could become the symbol for these connections and once again emphasise that the language of the cosmos and the language of the human heart trace their descent from the Word of the Father, who in Bethlehem came forth from the silence of God and assembled the fragments of our human knowledge into a complete whole’.
Pope Benedict XVI
I come in the little things,
Saith the Lord;
Not borne on morning wings
Of majesty; but I have set my feet
Amidst the delicate and bladed wheat
That springs triumphant in the furrowed sod--
There do I dwell, in weakness and in power;
Not broken or divided, said our God!
In your straight garden plot I come to flower;
About your porch my vine,
Meek, fruitful, doth entwine,
Waits, at the threshold, Love’s appointed hour.
I come in the little things,
Saith the Lord;
Yea, on the glancing wings
Of eager birds, the soft and pattering feet
Of furred and gentle beasts, I come to meet
Your hard and wayward heart. In brown bright eyes
That peep from out the brake, I stand confest.
On every nest
Where feathery Patience is content to brood
And leaves her pleasure for the high emprise
There does my Godhead rest.
I come in the little things,
Saith the Lord;
My starry wings I do forsake,
Love’s highway of humility to take;
Meekly I fit my stature to your need.
In beggar’s part
About your gates I shall not cease to plead
As man, to speak with man
Till by such art
I shall achieve my immemorial plan;
Pass the low lintel of the human heart.
Evelyn Underhill, 1875-1941
‘For we brothers who were able to know that man remember to tell with frequent instruction those whom after his death the blessing of heaven has gathered into the fellowship of our brotherhood, that so long as he was in physical health he used to lend every effort to work for the glory of the Holy Church of God and especially for the peace, the honour, and the tranquility of this monastery. Having crossed the sea so many times he never returned empty-handed or profitless, as is the habit of some, but once brought back a goodly store of holy books, then the venerable gift of blessed relics of Martyrs for Christ, then masons to build a church, then glaziers to decorate and also to secure its windows, then again he brought teachers for the singing and for ordering the service in the church for the whole year, next he carried with him a letter of privilege sent from the lord pope by which our freedom might be kept safe from any outside interference, then he brought pictures of holy stories which could be displayed not just to beautify the church but also to teach those who looked upon them, inasmuch as those who are not able to read might learn the works of Our Lord and Saviour through beholding the images themselves’.
from a homily on St Benedict Biscop by St Bede the Venerable, c.672/673-735
O God, by whose gift the blessed Abbot Benedict left all things that he might be made perfect: grant unto all those who have entered upon the path of evangelical perfection; that they may neither look back nor linger in the way; but hastening to thee without stumbling, may lay hold on life eternal; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘In the life of Christ the baptism in the Jordan is an event of highest importance because it represents a significant phase in the work of redemption. In the course of the ecclesiastical year not only this episode but all the phases of Christ’s redemptive work are commemorated in the liturgy. In recent weeks we have celebrated quite a number of important events pertaining to our redemption, viz., the annunciation (Missa aurea of Advent), the nativity, the circumcision, Christ’s coming-of-age. The baptism at the Jordan marks the beginning of our Lord’s public life. Indeed, it seems as if His baptism effected His anointing as the Messiah by the Holy Spirit. Whatever its ultimate significance, the Greek Fathers in particular regarded the event as tremendously importance.
In the symbolism of His baptism, Christ displayed beforehand His redemptive death and resurrection. Himself immaculate, He assumes the sins of the world, descends into the purifying waters, and raises mankind to divine sonship. Note that Christ’s baptism was vicarious in nature. There He stands in the Jordan in our stead. Consequently, the act must find its true expression in our subjective or personal redemption. Three such occasions would be baptism, holy Mass, and death.
At my baptism I was immersed with Christ, and with Him I died and was buried. Then I emerged, and for the first time heaven opened to me as the Holy Spirit made His entrance into my soul; and my Father in heaven glanced down upon me, now “His son, His child.”
In each holy Mass Christ’s baptism is again operative. Through the holy Sacrifice I am immersed in His sacrificial death; heaven then opens and the Holy Spirit descends in holy Communion, while through the pledge of the sacrificial Banquet the Father assures me of renewed and enriched sonship in Himself.
The baptism of Christ takes place within me a third time at death, for death is indeed a sort of baptism. Death is like immersion into the dark depths, and when I emerge, it is into heaven above. Then I will see the Blessed Trinity, no longer through the darkened sun-glass of faith, but in immediate vision, face to face.
To sum up, today’s liturgy helps me to understand more clearly the basic structure of spiritual life. Christ’s death is the foundation. Upon this foundation the edifice rises through baptism and the Eucharist; while the Lord’s return at death spells completion to the work’.
from The Church’s Year of Grace, 1959, by Pius Parsch 1884-1954
Heavenly Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ did take our nature upon him, and was baptised for our sakes in the river Jordan: mercifully grant that we, being regenerate and made thy children by adoption and grace, may also be partakers of thy Holy Spirit; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Collect for the Baptism of the Lord, Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘The Epiphany still continues; it is prolonged throughout the centuries. “We, too,” says St Leo (Sermo 35, In Epiphanie solemnitate 6), “are to taste the joys of the Magi, for the mystery which is accomplished upon this day is not to remain confined to it. Through the munificence of God and the power of His goodness, we in our day enjoy the reality whereof the Magi had the first fruits.”
The Epiphany is renewed, indeed, when God makes the light of the Gospel shine in the sight of the pagans; each time that the truth is realised by those living in error it is a ray of the Magi’s star that appears to them.
The Epiphany continues too in the faithful soul when her love becomes more fervent and steadfast. Fidelity to the inspirations of grace – it is Our Lord Himself Who tells us so, – becomes the source of a more ardent and brighter illumination: Qui diligit me... manifestabo ei me ipsum (Jn 14.21). Happy the soul that lives by faith and love! Christ Jesus manifests Himself ever more and more within her; He makes her enter into an ever deeper and closer comprehension of His mysteries.
Holy Scripture compares the life of the just man to a path which “as a shining light, goeth forwards and increaseth even to perfect day” (Prov 4.18), to that day whereon every veil will fall away, all shadows flee, when the eternal splendours of the divinity will appear in the light of glory. In the heavenly city, says St John, in his mysterious book of the Apocalypse where he describes the magnificence of the Jerusalem which is on high, there is no need of the sun, for the Lamb, that is to say Christ, is Himself the Light which enlightens and gladdens the souls of all the elect (Apoc 21.23; 22.5).
That will be the heavenly Epiphany’.
from Christ in His Mysteries by Blessed Columba Marmion (1858-1923)
‘Brother André became a saint because of his intimacy with God. He became a saint because he loved God and placed himself entirely at the Lord’s service. He also became a saint because he loved the men and women he met on the journey of life, especially the suffering. He prayed for them, and placed himself entirely at their service as well. Brother Andre was permeated by the “constant love” mentioned in the first letter of Peter. He also made his own these subsequent words of the epistle: “serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” And these gifts were many. Brother André was a very welcoming and compassionate man. For dozens of years he went to his office on the mountain and listened to those who came to confide in him their sufferings, their worries, their hopes, their little and great troubles, their distress, their cries and their hopelessness. He listened. He invited them to pray. He prayed himself. He encouraged them to have confidence in God, to commit themselves to Him. He confided in St Joseph the intentions he wanted to present to God. Once his prayers were answered he would say openly: “I’ve done nothing; it is St Joseph who wanted it. He’s the only landlord around here, and God wanted it as well.” Brother André belonged to the kind of saints who want to help the lowly, the poor, the most unfortunate, the most sick among the men and women who live on earth. Is it not through the intercession of these saints that God accomplishes the greatest of deeds?’
from a homily at a Mass of Thanksgiving for the Canonisation of St André Bessette, 2010
by Jean-Claude, Cardinal Turcotte, Archbishop of Montreal
O Lord our God, who art friend of the lowly and who gavest to thy servant Saint André Bessette, a great devotion to Saint Joseph and a special commitment to the poor and afflicted: help us through his intercession to follow his example of prayer and love, and so come to share with him in thy glory; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. – Divine Worship: The Missal
‘Year by year the Head of our Nation still offers his gold and frankincense and myrrh at Westminster Abbey with the Wise Men on their Feast. We, who worship with them today, what about ours?
GOLD – our property. All that is within our power to detach and give away if we so desire. Yes, we give a very fair amount. How much do we miss it?... By what standards do we measure our giving? The Christ-Child lies there in the manger, his little hands stretched out to the world of men. In hard times older people sometimes go very short for the sake of the children. “Whatever happens the child must not suffer!” There is the Holy Child, and these are hard times, and He has great need… If you would worship with the Wise Men, will you as you kneel with them overhaul the question of your giving as you look at the Christ-Child, “Who for us men, and for our salvation came down from heaven,” with His hands stretched out to you and to the other Wise Men for your gifts, and with the joy of seeing you there shining in His eyes?
FRANKINCENSE – the outward symbol of worship. Get the idea of worship right. It is an act of the will, placing yourself in your right relationship with God with reference to His worth and yours. Sometimes you make the act privately, sometimes all together. There is He, and there are you. And the incense goes up before Him as you are consumed for Him, and all that you have in you is offered to Him in sweetness. I have no doubt you do this privately. Do you do it together as often as might be?... [D]ay by day, if you will, you have the inestimable privilege of joining in that offering… The Holy Child will grow up, and He will offer Himself to the Father for the sins of men – the medicine that will save a ruined race. And to you day by day He gives the privilege of joining in that offering. How often do you use it? As you kneel with the other Wise Men today at the manger, will you open your casket of incense, and see whether it is anything like full?
MYRRH – the spices to embalm our bodies. Our mortal bodies, with all they know and do and suffer. And especially suffering, and its end, death. Do we offer our sufferings with His? Or do we just almost continually grumble? And have we ever sought suffering so as to be nearer Him, as kings and prelates in bygone days wore their hairshirts under all the pomp? As we kneel there with the other Wise Men, do we offer this gift which is within the reach of all? It may be mental suffering, or it may be acute bodily pain. The Christ-Child grew to bear them all – forsaken by those He loved, denied by one, betrayed by another – and the bodily pain, the whip falling on His Sacred Body, the nails, the crown of thorns. If we offer our myrrh we are indeed at one with the Holy Child.
…Gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. All three, if we would really be one with the Holy Child before Christmas passes this year again’.
from a sermon preached, 1939, by Dom Bernard Clements OSB, 1882-1942
(Vicar of All Saints, Margaret Street, London, 1934-1942)
O God, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thy Only Begotten Son to the Gentiles: mercifully grant that we, who know thee now by faith, may be led onward through this earthly life, until we see the vision of thy heavenly glory; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Given, not lent,
And not withdrawn – once sent,
This Infant of mankind, this One,
Is still the little welcome Son.
New every year,
New-born and newly dear,
He comes with tidings and a song,
The ages long, the ages long;
Even as the cold
Keen winter grows not old,
As childhood is so fresh, foreseen,
And spring in the familiar green –
Sudden as sweet
Come the expected feet.
All joy is young, and new all art,
And He, too, whom we have seen by heart.
Alice Meynell, 1847-1922
Mary, Mother of the Lord
Peacemaker who repairest
Man’s and Angel’s old accord
Through the dear Christ thou barest;
Pray yet for us, entreat thy Son
Until the Love Divine is won
To show us grace, and so efface transgression
That we may freely run
To heavenly fruition,
Our day of exile done.
Austin Farrer, 1904-1968
Nay, not gold
At His Crib I hold;
Base metal is mine heart, and bare my hand.
I may not canopy His Altars high
With warm blue wreaths. How cold and ashen-dry
These prayers that I had planned!
Myrrh at His Cross’ foot I lay -
All my dull worth of patience harshly strong
To plod by day or night my short life long
(Grim on God’s errands gay)
His own parched footsore way!
A.S. Cripps, 1869-1952
‘The actual, first nativity of Christ, His actual birth from all eternity in the bosom of His Father, must be venerated in silence. We should never permit our mind to investigate this mystery. Since time and space did not exist, since no form of expressions had yet been created, since there is not a single eyewitness, nor anyone who can describe this eternal birth, how can reason form any concept for reflection? How can the tongue give expression to thoughts that cannot be formulated? The Father was, and the Son was born! Do not say: “when?” but rather leave that question unasked. Do not ask “how?” for there is not answer! For the word “when” suggests time, and “how” suggests birth in the flesh... God is on earth, He is among men, not in the fire nor amid the sound of trumpets; not in the smoking mountain, or in the darkness, or in the terrible and roaring tempest giving the Law, but manifested in the flesh, the gentle and good One dwells with those He condescends to make His equals! God is in the flesh, not operating from a distance, as did the prophets, but through Him human nature, one with ours, He seeks to bring back all mankind to Himself’.
from On the Incarnation, by St Basil the Great, 330-379
Almighty God, whose servants Basil and Gregory proclaimed the mystery of thy Word made flesh, that thy Church might be built up in wisdom and strength: grant that we, through their prayers, and rejoicing in the Lord’s presence among us, may with them be brought to to know the power of thine unending love; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘Still immersed in the spiritual atmosphere of Christmas, in which we have contemplated the mystery of Christ’s birth, today we are celebrating the Virgin Mary, whom the Church venerates as Mother of God with the same sentiments since she gave flesh to the Son of the Eternal Father. The biblical Readings of this Solemnity put the emphasis mainly on the Son of God made man and on the “Name” of the Lord. The First Reading presents to us the solemn Blessing that the priests pronounced over the Israelites on the great religious feasts: it is marked, precisely, by the Name of the Lord, repeated three times, as if to express the fullness and power that derive from this invocation. This text of liturgical Blessing, in fact, calls to mind the riches of grace and peace that God gives to man, with a benevolent attitude to him, and which is expressed by the “shining” of the divine face and his “turning” it to us.
Today the Church listens once again to these words, while she asks the Lord to bless the New Year that has just begun, in the awareness that in the face of the tragic events that mark history, in the face of the logistics of war that unfortunately have not yet been fully overcome, God alone can move the human spirit in its depths and assure hope and peace to humanity. By now it is a firm tradition, on the first day of the year that, the Church throughout the world raise a unanimous prayer to invoke peace. It is good to begin a new stretch of the journey by setting out with determination on the path of peace. Today let us respond to the cry of so many men, women, children and elderly people who are the victims of war, which is the most appalling and violent face of history. Let us pray today that peace, which the Angels announced to the shepherds on Christmas night, may reach everywhere: “super terram pax in hominibus bonae voluntatis” (Luke 2.14). For this reason, especially with our prayers, we wish to help every person and every people, in particular all those who have the responsibility of government, to walk with ever grater determination on the path of peace’.
Pope Benedict XVI, 1 January 2011
O God, who by the fruitful virginity of Blessed Mary hast bestowed upon mankind the reward of eternal salvation: grant, we beseech thee, that we may know the help of her intercession, through whom we have been counted worthy to receive the Author of our life, Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Hail the love and power amazing
Of the incarnate living Word!
Year by year the song upraising,
Join we all with one accord,
Blessed saints and martyrs praising,
Who have died for Christ, their Lord.
Sing we now, for naught esteeming
Tyrant’s rage, Saint Thomas dies,
How the murderer’s weapon gleaming,
Place of prayer and praise defiles;
Yet the martyr’s life-blood streaming
Still for pardoning mercy cries.
How he lived a life laborious,
Be the wondrous story told;
How he died a martyr glorious,
Bishop wise, confessor bold;
How he reigns with Christ victorious
Clothed in white with crown of gold.
To the Lord of all creation,
In whose love the martyrs rest,
To the God of our salvation,
Whom their dying breath confessed,
Honour, praise and adoration,
Father, Son and Spirit blest.
They scarcely waked before they slept,
They scarcely wept before they laughed;
They drank indeed death’s bitter draught,
But all its bitterest dregs were kept
And drained by Mothers while they wept.
From Heaven the speechless Infants speak:
Weep not (they say), our Mothers dear,
For swords nor sorrows come not here.
Now we are strong who were so weak,
And all is ours we could not seek.
We bloom among the blooming flowers,
We sing among the singing birds;
Wisdom we have who wanted words:
Here morning knows not evening hours,
All’s rainbow here without the showers.
And softer than our Mother’s breast,
And closer than our Mother’s arm,
Is here the Love that keeps us warm
And broods above our happy next.
Dear Mothers, come: for Heaven is best.
by Christina Rossetti, 1830-1894
‘Mary and Joseph taught Jesus primarily by their example: in his parents he came to know the full beauty of faith, of love for God and for his Law, as well as the demands of justice, which is totally fulfilled in love (see Romans 13.10).
From them he learned that it is necessary first of all to do God’s will, and that the spiritual bond is worth more than the bond of kinship.
The Holy Family of Nazareth is truly the “prototype” of every Christian family which, united in the Sacrament of Marriage and nourished by the Word and the Eucharist, is called to carry out the wonderful vocation and mission of being the living cell not only of society but also of the Church, a sign and instrument of unity for the entire human race.
Let us now invoke for every family, especially families in difficulty, the protection of Mary Most Holy and of St Joseph. May they sustain such families so that they can resist the disintegrating forces of a certain contemporary culture which undermines the very foundations of the family institution.
May they help Christian families to be, in every part of the world, living images of God’s love’.
Pope Benedict XVI
O Lord Jesus Christ, who by thy wondrous holiness didst adorn a human home, and by thy subjection to Mary and Joseph didst consecrate the order of earthly families: grant that we, being enlightened by the example of their life with thee in thy Holy Family, and assisted by their prayers, may at last be joined with them in thine eternal fellowship; who livest and reignest with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Collect for Holy Family Sunday, Divine Worship: The Missal.
As it was earlier in the year, in Lent and Eastertide, so public Masses have once more been suspended in British Columbia since late November. We hope to resume just after the Epiphany. The worship of God, however, did not cease. The Mass continues to be offered daily by the clergy of the parish, and I am blessed to have room to accommodate a small domestic oratory at home. Masses since Christ the King have been offered here and live streamed to parishioners. The photos above show Mass offered today for the Feast of St Stephen, Protomartyr. The poem, St Stephen, below, is written by the Anglican priest and academic, Leighton Pullan (1865-1940).
I see that I must die.
O Christ, how shall I bear the cruel stones
E’en though there be a place among the thrones
At thy right hand for me? Create again
The very sinews of my soul:
I asked not for an aureole,
But strength to bear the pain.
Help me, for life is dear:
The growing rapture of the summer morn,
The cedarded hills, and soft-cheeked roses born
Within the cooling breath of Hermon’s snow,
The rare reluctant shaded streams,
The sea that sings, and weeps, and dreams;
I love them: Thou dost know.
I loved my father’s faith:
The synagogue with all its sacred gear,
The feasts that guard the march of every year,
The trumpets, lamps, and waving of the palms,
The azure fringe on robes like milk,
The yellow scrolls wrapped round with silk,
The triumph of the psalms.
I loved to preach the truth,
To thrust and parry in a fair debate,
To trace God’s dayspring in His nation's fate,
To lift up Christ, who dying broke death’s bands;
I love to give men joy for sighs,
To win the thanks of widows’ eyes,
And children’s trustful hands.
‘The truth.’ Yes, I will die.
This chafing Sanhedrin shall not prevail
To check me. They shall see the truth full-sail;
They cannot sink truth, stone me though they can.
Lord, I am ready. By Thy grace
No shade of fear shall cross my face,
And I will play the man.
Now let us sing, both more and less
Of Christ’s coming Deo gracias.
A virgin pure, this is full sure,
Gabriel did her greet,
And all her cure, I am full sure,
Ever did endure,
A Babe was born, early by the morn,
And laid between the ox and the ass,
The Child they knew that was born new
On Him they blew:
An angel full soon sang from aboon:
Gloria in Excelsis!
That lady alone might make no moan,
For love of One,
This Babe is bought when we were brought
Into great thought and dreadful case;
Therefore we sing, both old and ying,
Of Christ’s coming:
edited by Edith Rickert, 1871-1938
from Ancient English Christmas Carols
O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Desire of all nations and their Salvation:
come and save us, O Lord our God.
Divine Worship: The Missal
‘The theme here is the same as in the preceding antiphon. Our real lawgiver is Christ, who has liberated us from the yoke of the Law. Jews and pagans together await him as King and Saviour.
These antiphons express the theology of Advent and are the season’s brightest jewels. The incarnation of the Son, salvation, the pursuit of our redemption until the end of time - these are the constant themes of Advent theology. From them we can see that the celebration of Advent, like that of Christmas, has its true centre in the paschal mystery, wherein the death and resurrection of Christ accomplishes our salvation’.
from The Liturgical Year, 1977, by Adrien Nocent OSB, 1913-1996
O King of the Nations, and their Desire, the Corner-stone, who makest both one:
come and save mankind, whom thou formedst of clay.
Divine Worship: The Missal
‘The antiphon speaks of the Son as having already effected the gathering (“of the mighty arch of man” would read, in a literal translation, “who make the two one,” an allusion to Ephesians 2.14). The Church begs him to come and save man, whom God has fashioned in his own image but whose features sin has distorted. We await the return of Christ, who is the Keystone, or, in a somewhat different image, the Cornerstone upon which the Church, as the definitive ingathering of mankind, is built’.
from The Liturgical Year, 1977, by Adrien Nocent OSB, 1913-1996
Fr Lee Kenyon