‘The great day dawned, and fourteen thousand English Catholics were crowded into St Peter’s. With typical Roman incompetence, we had to be seated an hour early while technicians shouted “Pronto, pronto” through the loudspeaker systems. The service itself was the traditional Roman mixture of high pomp and shoddiness: as a concession to the modern age, the doves, which for some reason are traditionally presented to the Pope in cases of gold and silver, were caged in chromium. But it was curiously and undeniably moving to see 14,000 Englishmen gathered 2,000 miles away from home in the thoroughly un-English splendour of St Peter’s to honour the memory of co-religionists put to death in the most squalid circumstances 400 years before. The hymns had all been carefully chosen several months in advance, so as to give no offence to Anglicans. Some were even Anglican hymns, which, being unknown to the congregation, passed by in almost total silence. Above all it was decided that this was not an occasion for singing the triumphalist anthem of English Roman Catholicism, “Faith of our Fathers”. Unfortunately, it is also an old favourite, and the organisers did not reckon with that long wait. About half an hour before the Pope was due to enter, a whisper started among the massed ranks.
“Faith of our fathers, living still In spite of dungeon, fire and sword!” Within a few minutes it had grown to a mighty roar, defying all the organisers efforts to sabotage it with impromptu voluntaries: “Faith of our fathers Mary’s prayers Shall win our country back to thee: And through the truth that comes from God England shall then indeed be free”.
The five days which followed can only be described as an ecumenicist's nightmare, as triumphalist demonstration succeeded triumphalist demonstration. Romans had never seen Pope Paul greeted with such enthusiasm before. Nobody who took part in the extraordinary week can seriously doubt that there is enormous goodwill between the Christian communities to unite and settle their differences; but equally nobody can fail to have their doubts whether the present leaders of the Churches are adequate in the task of achieving that reconciliation’.
Auberon Waugh, 1939-2001, writing in The Spectator, November 1970
on the Canonisation of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales
O merciful God, who, when thy Church on earth was torn apart by the ravages of sin, didst raise up men and women in England who witnessed to their faith with courage and constancy: Give unto thy Church that peace which is thy will, and grant that those who have been divided on earth may be reconciled in heaven and be partakers together in the vision of 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.
Today is the memorial of Saint Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, who died on this day in 373. Athanasius was present at the Council of Nicea, and proved to be a staunch proponent of the Council’s teachings, leading the charge against Arius in his denial of Christ’s divinity. Whilst the Athanasian Creed, which bears his name, is not believed by modern scholarship to have been authored by Athanasius, nonetheless, its clear Christological statements and defence of the doctrine of the Trinty certainly indicate the spirit of the good bishop’s influence.
The version below is that which appears in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, having first been included in the 1549 Prayer Book. As we seek to maintain and proclaim these cherished truths, may the prayers of Saint Athanasius strengthen us for this great task.
WHOSOEVER will be saved: before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholick Faith.
Which Faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled:
without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.
And the Catholick Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;
Neither confounding the Persons: nor dividing the Substance.
For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son: and another of the Holy Ghost.
But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one:
the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal.
Such as the Father is, such is the Son: and such is the Holy Ghost.
The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate: and the Holy Ghost uncreate.
The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible:
and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible.
The Father eternal, the Son eternal: and the Holy Ghost eternal.
And yet they are not three eternals: but one eternal.
As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated:
but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible.
So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty: and the Holy Ghost Almighty.
And yet they are not three Almighties: but one Almighty.
So the Father is God, the Son is God: and the Holy Ghost is God.
And yet they are not three Gods: but one God.
So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord: and the Holy Ghost Lord.
And yet not three Lords: but one Lord.
For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity:
to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord;
So are we forbidden by the Catholick Religion:
to say there be three Gods, or three Lords.
The Father is made of none: neither created, nor begotten.
The Son is of the Father alone: not made, nor created, but begotten.
The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son:
neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons:
one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts.
And in this Trinity none is afore, or after other: none is greater, or less than another;
But the whole three Persons are co-eternal together: and co-equal.
So that in all things, as is aforesaid:
the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.
He therefore that will be saved: must thus think of the Trinity.
Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation:
that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For the right Faith is that we believe and confess:
that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man;
God, of the Substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds:
and Man, of the Substance of his Mother, born in the world;
Perfect God, and Perfect Man: of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting;
Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead:
and inferior to the Father, as touching his Manhood.
Who although he be God and Man: yet he is not two, but one Christ;
One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh: but by taking of the Manhood into God;
One altogether, not by confusion of Substance: but by unity of Person.
For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man: so God and Man is one Christ.
Who suffered for our salvation: descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead.
He ascended into heaven, he sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty:
from whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies:
and shall give account for their own works.
And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting:
and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.
This is the Catholick Faith: which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.
Pious aspirations to the Mother of God, for every day in the month of May (from the Italian)
Fr Lee Kenyon
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