They are flocking from the East
And the West,
They are flocking from the North
And the South,
Every moment setting forth
From realm of snake or lion,
Swamp or sand,
Ice or burning;
Greatest and least,
Palm in hand
And praise in mouth,
They are flocking up the path
To their rest,
Up the path that hath
Up the steeps of Zion
They are mounting,
Throngs beyond man's counting;
With a sound
Like innumerable bees
Where flowering trees
All alike abound
With honey, -
With a swell
Like a blast upswaying unrestrainable
From a shadowed dell
To the hill-tops sunny, -
With a thunder
Like the ocean when in strength
Breadth and length
It sets to shore;
More and more
Waves on waves redoubled pour
Leaping flashing to the shore
(Unlike the under
Drain of ebb that loseth ground
For all its roar.)
They are thronging
From the East and West,
From the North and South,
Saints are thronging, loving, longing,
To their land
Palm in hand
And praise in mouth.
Christina Rossetti, 1830-1894
The wretched Panther crys aloud for aid
To church and councils, whom she first betray’d;
No help from Fathers or traditions train
Those ancient guides she taught us to disdain.
And by that scripture which she once abus’d
To Reformation, stands herself accus’d.
What bills for breach of laws can she prefer,
Expounding which she owns her self may err?
And, after all her winding ways are try’d,
If doubts arise, she slips herself aside
And leaves the private conscience for the guide.
If then that conscience set th’ offender free,
It bars her claim to church auctority.
How can she censure, or what crime pretend,
But Scripture may be constru’d to defend?
Ev’n those whom for rebellion she transmits
To civil pow’r, her doctrine first acquits;
Because no disobedience can ensue,
Where no submission to a Judge is due;
Each judging for himself, by her consent,
Whom thus absolv’d she sends to punishment.
Suppose the Magistrate revenge her cause,
’Tis only for transgressing humane laws.
How answ’ring to its end a church is made,
Whose pow’r is but to counsel and perswade?
O solid rock, on which secure she stands!
Eternal house, not built with mortal hands!
Oh sure defence against th’ infernal gate,
A patent during pleasure of the state!
Thus is the Panther neither lov’d nor fear’d,
A mere mock Queen of a divided Herd;
Whom soon by lawful pow’r she might controll,
Her self a part submitted to the whole.
Then, as the Moon who first receives the light
By which she makes our nether regions bright,
So might she shine, reflecting from afar
The rays she borrowed from a better Star:
Big with the beams which from her mother flow
And reigning o’er the rising tides below:
Now, mixing with a salvage croud, she goes,
And meanly flatters her invet’rate foes,
Rul’d while she rules, and losing ev’ry hour
Her wretched remnants of precarious pow’r.
from The Hind and the Panther: A Poem in Three Parts, 1687
by John Dryden, 1631-1700 (the Panther is the Church of England)
‘The English tradition both before and after the Reformation has left its mark on Catholic theology, worship, and pastoral practice. One need only think, for example, of Blessed John Henry Newman whose influence on the Second Vatican Council has been well documented and acknowledged. With the publication of Anglicanorum coetibus, there is now a structure within the Catholic Church that both gives that English tradition concrete expression as well as fosters is growth. The Ordinariate, with its “catholicised” English liturgical patrimony, is being invited to be a guardian and promoter of its own long and varied tradition as a gift to be shared with the whole Church.
The institutional importance of Divine Worship for the Ordinariates is considerable. More than simply giving the Ordinariates an outward distinctiveness that creates a profile for their parishes in the vast sea of Catholic parochial life, Divine Worship gives voice to the faith and tradition of prayer that has nourished the Catholic identity of the Anglican tradition. There is much in this tradition that remains to be recovered: the zeal for sacred beauty, parochial experience of the Divine Office, a robust devotional life, a developed biblical piety, the vast treasure of sacred music’.
from Divine Worship and the Liturgical Vitality of the Church by Archbishop Augustine Di Noia OP
If today was not a Sunday it would be the Feast of the Apostles Ss Simon and Jude, a day of some personal significance to me. This was the day, in 1903, that the College of the Resurrection was founded by the Anglican monastic Community of the Resurrection, at Mirfield, in the West Riding of Yorkshire (the photographs above are from the 1950s and 1960s), and Foundation Day was, in my time at least, always kept at the College with much rejoicing. Over the past hundred years a number of the men, myself included, who were formed for ministry in the Church of England at Mirfield eventually found their way into the full communion of the Catholic Church. One of the present members of the Community, Monsignor Robert Mercer CR, the former Anglican Bishop of Matabeleland, is now a priest of the Ordinariate in England. Today, I give happy thanks for the invaluable contribution that Mirfield – College and Community – made in forming me for pastoral and sacramental ministry, and further teaching me the Catholic Faith within the Church of England. It was, though I’m sure unintended(!), for myself and many others, a great impetus towards communion with the See of Peter and, as such, the Collect for today is particularly fitting.
O Almighty God, who hast built thy Church upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the head corner-stone: grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their doctrine; that we may be made an holy temple acceptable unto thee; 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.
For that fair blessed mother-maid,
Whose flesh redeemed us; that she-cherubin,
Which unlocked Paradise, and made
One claim for innocence, and disseized sin,
Whose womb was a strange heaven, for there
God clothed himself, and grew,
Our zealous thanks we pour. As her deeds were
Our helps, so are her prayers; nor can she sue
In vain, who hath such titles unto you.
John Donne, 1572-1631
Today in the Calendar of the Personal Ordinariates of Our Lady of Walsingham and Our Lady of the Southern Cross is the memorial of Saints Chad, and his brother Cedd. Chad was a disciple of St Aidan of Lindisfarne who, on the death of his brother Cedd in 664, was elected abbot of Lastingham, an abbey in Yorkshire founded by Cedd (who was also Bishop of London) in 654. Lastingham adopted the Roman rite ten years before the Synod of Whitby heralded the same change for the rest of England, away from the Celtic rite. Chad went on to become Bishop of York in 664, until the arrival of St Theodore from Rome, which required his reconsecration according to the Roman rite. In 669 he was made Bishop of Mercia and Lindsey, which he moved from Repton to Lichfield, and died in the plague three years later. St Chad’s ministry was marked by extensive missionary travel throughout his diocese. Significantly, for those in my neck of the woods, he was the first bishop to preach and teach the people of Manchester. His legacy in this area is marked by several locales bearing his name (Cheadle, Cheadle Hulme, Cheetwood, Chat Moss, Chadderton, Cheetham Hill, Chadkirk, etc.), and in his patronage of the mother church of post-Reformation Catholicism in Manchester, St Chad’s, Cheetham Hill.
The photographs above are from a visit in May 2011 to Lichfield, and to the site of the Shrine of St Chad within his cathedral. This is where his relics were kept, behind the high altar, until the shrine was destroyed in 1538. However, some bones were recovered, hidden, and passed down through successive generations. These are now kept and venerated at St Chad’s Catholic Cathedral, Birmingham.
‘The Mercians at this time were ruled by King Wulf here, who on the death of Jaruman asked Theodore to provide him and his people with a bishop. Theodore, however, did not wish to consecrate a new bishop for them, but asked King Oswy to give them Chad as their bishop. Chad was then living quietly in his monastery at Lastingham, while Wilfrid ruled the Bishopric of York, and indeed of all the lands of the Northumbrians and Picts to the borders of Oswy’s realms. The most reverend Bishop Chad always preferred to undertake his preaching missions on foot rather than on horseback; but Theodore ordered him to ride whenever he undertook a long journey. He was most reluctant to forgo this pious exercise which he loved, but the archbishop, who recognised his outstanding holiness and considered it more proper for him to ride, himself insisted on helping him to mount his horse. So Chad received the Bishopric of the Mercians and the people of Lindsey, and administered the diocese in great holiness of life after the example of the early Fathers’.
St Bede the Venerable, 672-735
Almighty and everlasting God, who didst enkindle the flame of thy love in the hearts of thy Bishops Chad and Cedd: grant to us, thy humble servants, the same faith and power of love; that, as we rejoice in their triumph, we may profit by their example and prayers; 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.
A visit to Chester Cathedral yesterday which, before the Reformation, was a Benedictine abbey in communion with Rome. The cloister has a remarkable collection of stained glass windows dedicated to the saints and holy men and women commemorated within the kalendar of the Church of England. Here is the window to Saint Gabriel the Archangel, and an accompanying prayer to Our Lady Mary for the conversion of England. Let the reader understand!
O BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother, look down in mercy upon England thy Dowry and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in thee. By thee it was that Jesus our Saviour and our hope was given unto the world; and He has given thee to us that we might hope still more. Plead for us thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the Cross, O sorrowful Mother. Intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold they may be united to the supreme Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son. Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith fruitful in good works we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with thee, in our heavenly home. Amen.
‘On August 26, 1861, at 7.00 in the evening while I was at prayer in the church of the Rosary at La Granja, the Lord granted me the great grace of keeping the sacramental species intact within me and of having the Blessed Sacrament always present, day and night, in my breast. Because of this I must always be very recollected and inwardly devout. Furthermore I must pray and confront all the evils of Spain, as the Lord has told me. To help me do this, I have engraved in my memory a number of things, such as that without any merit, talent, or personal recommendation, He has lifted me up from the lowest of the low to the highest post, at the side of the kings of this earth. And now He has put me at the side of the King of Heaven. “Glorify God and bear him about in your body”. (1 Cor. 6:20)
…When I am before the Blessed Sacrament, I feel such a lively faith that I can’t describe it. Christ in the Eucharist is almost tangible to me; I kiss his wounds continually and embrace Him. When it’s time for me to leave, I have to tear myself away from his sacred presence’.
St Anthony Mary Claret, 1807-1870
O God, who for the evangelisation of peoples didst strengthen the Bishop Saint Anthony Mary Claret with admirable charity and long-suffering: grant, through his intercession; that, seeking the things that are thine, we may earnestly devote ourselves to winning our brethren for Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘To whatever city he came, he was always solemnly received by a procession of people and clergy. The largest churches were not able to hold the audiences. Therefore he was obliged to preach out in the open from a scaffold or, as usually was the case, from the roof of the house. Great throngs streamed out to hear him, frequently twenty to thirty thousand at a time. On one occasion sixty thousand had assembled at Erfurt, and in Vienna a hundred thousand were present for the opening address.
The people listened with sighs and tears though they did not understand his language. He preached in Latin; one of his companions then translated it into the vernacular. Although the Latin sermon might last two or three hours, the audience quietly remained two more hours in the open streets, disregarding cold and snow, to hear the translation. Just to have seen the “holy man” was a consolation for the simple, pious folk. Often so many eager listeners climbed the trees in the neighbouring gardens that limbs would snap under the weight’.
from The Church’s Year of Grace, 1953, by Pius Parsch, 1884-1954
O God, who didst raise up Saint John of Capistrano to comfort thy faithful people in tribulation: place us, we pray, under thy safe protection, and keep thy Church in everlasting peace; 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.
‘The Catholic Church, both in her praxis and in her solemn documents, holds that the communion of the particular Churches with the Church of Rome, and of their Bishops with the Bishop of Rome, is – in God’s plan – an essential requisite of full and visible communion. Indeed full communion, of which the Eucharist is the highest sacramental manifestation, needs to be visibly expressed in a ministry in which all the Bishops recognise that they are united in Christ and all the faithful find confirmation for their faith. The first part of the Acts of the Apostles presents Peter as the one who speaks in the name of the apostolic group and who serves the unity of the community - all the while respecting the authority of James, the head of the Church in Jerusalem. This function of Peter must continue in the Church so that under her sole Head, who is Jesus Christ, she may be visibly present in the world as the communion of all his disciples.
Do not many of those involved in ecumenism today feel a need for such a ministry? A ministry which presides in truth and love so that the ship – that beautiful symbol which the World Council of Churches has chosen as its emblem – will not be buffeted by the storms and will one day reach its haven’.
from the encyclical Ut Unum Sint: On Commitment to Ecumenism, 25 May 1995
by Pope St John Paul II, 1920-2005
O God, who art rich in mercy and who didst will that Saint John Paul the Second should preside as Pope over thy Universal Church: grant, we pray; that instructed by his teaching, we may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ, the sole Redeemer of mankind; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘I believe the very existence of the Ordinariates is a manifestation of the determination of the Catholic Church to pursue the quest for Christian unity in the face of mounting difficulties. Your bond with the Successor of St Peter is an expression of his role as “the first servant of unity”. To those outside the Church you give a witness of the unity in diversity, even within the visible expressions of the Latin Rite. Within the Church you are a sign of the presence of the Universal Church in the particular Churches. Moreover, within the full communion of the Catholic Church you are called to share in the mission of evangelisation, bringing the specific gifts that form part of your patrimony.
...[A]ll of this can only be achieved if we understand communion not simply as a theological or canonical notion, but as something that has be lived and expressed in practice in sharing our daily lives with each other and with the other more traditional structures of the Church. It is our ongoing response to the suggestions of the Holy Spirit calling us to the perfection of charity, to holiness’.
from a talk by Fr Gerald Sheehan at the 2015 Ordinariate Festival
Church of the Most Precious Blood, London Bridge
Nine years ago today came the news from Rome (announced by William Cardinal Levada) and London (announced at a joint press conference by the Archbishops of Westminster and Canterbury) that the Holy See was to establish the provision of personal ordinariates for Anglicans entering into the Catholic Church. It was an historic day, one that I recall vividly as I sat reading the news, with a giddy head and pounding heart, at the desk in the study of my Anglican rectory in Calgary. Whilst it wasn’t easy to take in the magnitude of what was being heralded, my instinctive reaction was one of unbounded joy and excitement. I ran up the stairs, calling to my wife: ‘They’ve done it! They’ve made a home for us!’ I was an immediate and enthusiastic convert, eager to learn the detail of this offer (the actual document, the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, wouldn’t be published for another twenty days), and to share what was being offered with my parishioners, in hope – though not necessarily expectation – that they would share my enthusiasm for exploring what this might mean, in practical terms, for our small Anglican community.
Just over two years later, and after much discussion, prayer, study, and constructive negotiation with our Anglican brethren in the local diocese, we entered into the fulness of Catholic communion with the Successor of Saint Peter, ‘lock, stock, and barrel’, as it were. And so this newly-minted Catholic community of the Ordinariate began a fresh chapter in its century-old life, having succeeded in the goal of all true ecumenical dialogue – realised ecumenism – which is only possible within what Blessed John Henry Newman memorably called, ‘the one fold of the Redeemer’.
St John’s, Calgary continues its life and mission as one of the founding parishes of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter, and my prayers today on this anniversary are for its clergy and people as they endeavour to preserve the great treasures – spiritual, liturgical, and pastoral – of our Anglican patrimony, and share them with the wider Church to which they are now happily joined. Oh, yes, and a prayer of thanksgiving is also due to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, without whom none of us in the Ordinariate would be where we are today!
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 upon thy people. Break down the walls of separation which divide one party and denomination of Christians from another… and bring them all into that one communion which thou didst set up in the beginning, the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Teach all men that the see of Saint Peter, the Holy Church of Rome, is the foundation, centre, and instrument of unity. Open their hearts to the long-forgotten truth that our 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 holy company in heaven above, so likewise there may be but one communion, confessing and glorifying thy holy Name here below. Amen.
Blessed John Henry Newman, 1801-1890
‘When the English people had been taught and baptised through blessed Augustine’s preaching, priests and deacons were appointed, and churches were built and dedicated throughout the nation. So ‘the multitude of believers grew’, and through the whole land of the English the church abounded with new offspring.
Long afterwards there was a king of Oxford named Didan. He took a wife named Sefrida, a godly woman diligent in all good works. They rejoiced together in the flower of their youth, and the Lord made them fruitful. So revered Sefrida conceived, and in due time produced a daughter. When the king heard this he rejoiced greatly and ordered that she should be re-born with water and the Holy Spirit.
So she was baptised and they called her Frideswide… After her mother’s death the religious virgin studied to serve God day and night in vigils and prayers, always striving to forget bodily food, and to absorb spiritual food with all her might. Viewing the passing pomp and glory of this world, and valuing it all as dung, the virgin Frideswide gave everything that she had to the poor. She always wore a hair-shirt, and her food was a little barley-bread with a few vegetables and water. Meanwhile, all the English people marvelled at such virtue in one so young, and the king rejoiced, seeing and understanding that his only daughter was a vessel of the Holy Spirit’.
from an early 12th century account of the life of Saint Frideswide
Almighty, everlasting God, the author of virtue and lover of virginity: grant us, we beseech thee; that as Saint Frideswide, thy Virgin and Abbess, was pleasing unto thee by the merit of her chastity, so by her prayers we may find favour with thee; 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.
‘St Luke was not only the beloved physician: he was also an evangelist and physician of the soul. When he came into a room to visit a sick person, he was (if one may so speak) the clergyman and physician in one, bringing peace and health to body and soul alike: and by how much the soul is more precious than the body, and eternity worth more than time, by so much ought our praise and thanksgiving, this day, to go up more earnestly to Almighty God for his healing mercies in the Gospel, than even for all that he has done and is doing for our poor frail distempered bodies.
…[Christ] was manifested to take away our sins, to take our infirmities and bear our sicknesses, first by making himself one of us, then by suffering on the Cross the penalty due to our transgressions, and lastly by applying himself to us, one by one, to be the life and light, the righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, of each several Christian, man, woman and child: Christ dwelling in us and we in him. These are the wholesome medicines of the doctrines delivered by all evangelists and physicians of the soul, whereby, if it be not our fault, all the diseases of our souls may and will be healed: and in particular these are the medicines prescribed to us by Luke the beloved physician, seeing that in his Gospel the Incarnation of our Lord, the history of his Conception and Birth, is set forth more at large than in either of the other three’.
John Keble, 1792-1866
Almighty God, who didst call Saint Luke, whose praise is in the Gospel, to be an Evangelist and physician of the soul: may it please thee; that, by the wholesome medicines of the doctrine revealed by him, all the diseases of our souls may be healed; through the merits of 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.
‘A reading from the letter of St Ignatius to the Romans.
For my part, I am writing to all the churches and assuring them that I am truly in earnest about dying for God – if only you yourselves put no obstacles in the way. I must implore you to do me no such untimely kindness; pray leave me to be a meal for the beasts, for it is they who can provide my way to God. I am his wheat, ground fine by the lions’ teeth to be made purest bread for Christ. So intercede with him for me, that by their instrumentality I may be made a sacrifice to God.
All the ends of the earth, all the kingdoms of the world would be no profit to me; so far as I am concerned, to die in Jesus Christ is better than to be a monarch of earth’s widest bounds. He who died for us in all that I seek; he who rose again for us is my whole desire. The pangs of birth are upon me; have patience with me, my brothers, and do not shut me out from life, do not wish me to be stillborn. Here is one who only longs to be God’s; do not make a present of him to the world again, or delude him with the things of earth. Suffer me to attain to light, light pure and undefiled; for only when I am come thither shall I be truly a man. Leave me to imitate the passion of my God. If any of you has God within himself, let that man understand my longings, and feel for me, because he will know the forces by which I am constrained.
…I want no more of what men call life’.
St Ignatius of Antioch, 35-108 AD
Feed us, O Lord, with the living Bread and make us drink deep of the cup of salvation: that, following the teaching of thy Bishop Ignatius, and rejoicing in the life with which he embraced the death of a Martyr, we may be nourished for that eternal life which he ever desired; 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.
‘One day, having a little more leisure - for occupations confided to me left me scarcely any - I was praying before the Blessed Sacrament, when I felt myself wholly penetrated with that Divine Presence, but to such a degree that I lost all thought of myself and of the place where I was, and abandoned myself to this Divine Spirit, yielding up my heart to the power of His Love. He made me repose for a long time upon His Sacred Breast, where He disclosed to me the marvels of His Love and the inexplicable secrets of His Sacred Heart, which so far He had concealed from me. Then it was that, for the first time, He opened to me His Divine Heart in a manner so real and sensible as to be beyond all doubt, by reason of the effects which this favour produced in me, fearful, as I always am, of deceiving myself in anything that I say of what passes in time. It seems to me that this is what took place:
“My Divine Heart is so inflamed with love for men, and for you in particular that, being unable any longer to contain within Itself the flames of Its burning Charity, It must needs spread them abroad by your means, and manifest Itself to them (mankind) in order to enrich them with the precious graces of sanctification and salvation necessary to withdraw them from the abyss of perdition. I have chosen you as an abyss of unworthiness and ignorance for the accomplishment of this great design, in order that everything may be done by Me”.
After this He asked me for my heart, which I begged Him to take. He did so and placed it in His own Adorable Heart where He showed it to me as a little atom which was being consumed in this great furnace, and withdrawing it thence as a burning flame in the form of a heart, He restored it to the place whence He had taken it saying to me:
“My well-beloved, I give you a precious token of My love, having enclosed within your side a little spark of its glowing flames, that is may serve you for a heart and consume you to the last moment of your life; its ardour will never be exhausted, and you will be able to find some slight relief only by bleeding. Even this remedy I shall so mark with My Cross, that it will bring you more humiliation and suffering than alleviation. Therefore, I will that you ask for it with simplicity, both that you may practice what is ordered you and also to give you the consolation of shedding your blood on the cross of humiliations. As a proof that the great favour I have done to you is not imagination, and that it is the foundation of all those which I intend further to confer upon you, although I have closed the wound in your side, the pain will always remain. If before, you have taken only the name of My slave, I now give you that of the beloved disciple of My Sacred Heart”’.
The first apparition of Christ, 27 December 1673, as recorded by St Margaret Mary Alacoque, 1647-1690
O Lord Jesus Christ, who unto thy holy Virgin Margaret Mary Alacoque didst reveal the unsearchable riches of thy Sacred Heart: grant us, by her merits and example, to love thee in all things and above all things, and so find in thy loving Heart and everlasting habitation; who livest and reignest with the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Upon the Book and Picture of the Seraphical Saint Teresa
O thou undaunted daughter of desires!
By all thy dower of lights and fires;
By all the eagle in thee, all the dove;
By all thy lives and deaths of love;
By thy large draughts of intellectual day,
And by thy thirsts of love more large than they;
By all thy brim-fill’d bowls of fierce desire,
By thy last morning’s draught of liquid fire;
By the full kingdom of that final kiss
That seized thy parting soul, and seal’d thee His;
By all the Heav’n thou hast in Him
(Fair sister of the seraphim!);
By all of Him we have in thee;
Leave nothing of myself in me.
Let me so read thy life, that I
Unto all life of mine may die!
Richard Crashaw, 1612-1649
Merciful God, who by thy Spirit didst raise up thy servant Saint Teresa of Jesus to reveal to thy Church the way of perfection: grant that her teaching may awaken in us a longing for holiness until, assisted by her intercession, we attain to the perfect union of love in 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, forty years after his death in 1978 (I was *just* born within his papacy), Blessed Pope Paul VI is canonised by Pope Francis in the Vatican. Paul VI appointed Popes John Paul I, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI to the College of Cardinals.
‘Our words would not be an adequate expression of the thought and solicitude of the Church, Mother and Teacher of all peoples, if, after having recalled men to the observance and respect of the divine law regarding matrimony, they did not also support mankind in the honest regulation of birth amid the difficult conditions which today afflict families and peoples. The Church, in fact, cannot act differently toward men than did the Redeemer. She knows their weaknesses, she has compassion on the multitude, she welcomes sinners. But at the same time she cannot do otherwise than teach the law. For it is in fact the law of human life restored to its native truth and guided by the Spirit of God.
The teaching of the Church regarding the proper regulation of birth is a promulgation of the law of God Himself. And yet there is no doubt that to many it will appear not merely difficult but even impossible to observe. Now it is true that like all good things which are outstanding for their nobility and for the benefits which they confer on men, so this law demands from individual men and women, from families and from human society, a resolute purpose and great endurance. Indeed it cannot be observed unless God comes to their help with the grace by which the goodwill of men is sustained and strengthened. But to those who consider this matter diligently it will indeed be evident that this endurance enhances man's dignity and confers benefits on human society.
The right and lawful ordering of birth demands, first of all, that spouses fully recognise and value the true blessings of family life and that they acquire complete mastery over themselves and their emotions. For if with the aid of reason and of free will they are to control their natural drives, there can be no doubt at all of the need for self-denial. Only then will the expression of love, essential to married life, conform to right order. This is especially clear in the practice of periodic continence. Self-discipline of this kind is a shining witness to the chastity of husband and wife and, far from being a hindrance to their love of one another, transforms it by giving it a more truly human character. And if this self-discipline does demand that they persevere in their purpose and efforts, it has at the same time the salutary effect of enabling husband and wife to develop to their personalities and to be enriched with spiritual blessings. For it brings to family life abundant fruits of tranquility and peace. It helps in solving difficulties of other kinds. It fosters in husband and wife thoughtfulness and loving consideration for one another. It helps them to repel inordinate self-love, which is the opposite of charity. It arouses in them a consciousness of their responsibilities. And finally, it confers upon parents a deeper and more effective influence in the education of their children. As their children grow up, they develop a right sense of values and achieve a serene and harmonious use of their mental and physical powers’.
from his encyclical letter Humanae Vitae, On the Regulation of Birth, 1968
by Pope St Paul VI, 1897-1978
Here Edward king, lord of the English,
sent his soul strong in truth to Christ,
in God’s safekeeping, his holy spirit,
He in this world dwelt for a time
in kingly power and wise counsel.
Freely the king for twenty-four
winter-times shared out wealth
and prosperous times, ruler of men,
graciously governed Welsh and Scots,
And Britons also, Aethelred’s son,
with Angles and Saxons, and their warriors,
Clasped round by cold waves,
all obeyed Edward, noble king;
they heard him faithfully, his young retainers.
The blameless king was ever happy in spirit,
though he long had been deprived of land,
walked the outcast’s ways wide on the earth,
after Cnut overcame Aethelred’s kin,
And Danes ruled over the dear kingdom
of the English land, sharing its wealth
for twenty-eight winter-times.
After he came forth freely bearing armour,
the best of good kings, pure and mild,
Edward the atheling defended his home,
land and people, until suddenly came
death and bitter, and took the dear one,
the atheling from the earth; the angels accompanied him,
his soul strong in truth, into the sky’s light,
The wise one therefore committed the kingdom
to one high in rank, Harold himself,
noble eorl, who at all times
faithfully obeyed his lord
in words and deeds, holding back nothing
at the need of the king of the people.
Today is the memorial of Saint Wilfrid, Abbot of Ripon, apostle of Sussex, Bishop of Leicester, and of Hexham, and twice Bishop of York, succeeding Paulinus and Chad. He retired to Ripon, died at Oundle (during a visit), but his relics were translated back to Ripon. His shrine and cult were maintained until 948 when King Eadred destroyed the cathedral, and the relics were translated to Canterbury. The photos above were taken during a visit to Ripon Cathedral in May 2011.
‘We looked on our holy bishop as a great man and a faithful servant of Christ, but our Lord, by the miracles worked on his behalf, made it known that he was no less than a saint living with him in glory. It happened one day that all the abbots came to Oundle to carry away the body in a carriage. Some of them wanted to wash the corpse and have it decently vested (as indeed was only right and proper) and obtained permission to do so. Abbot Bacula spread out his robe on the ground and the brethren laid the body on it. After the washing and vesting, which the abbots themselves performed, it was taken with great reverence to the place appointed. And lo, once again from over the monastery came the sound of birds alighting and taking off with a gentle, almost musical flapping of wings. The wisest members of the community were convinced that Michael had come with his choirs of angels to lead our bishop’s soul to Paradise. The washing had been done outside the monastery buildings in a tent put up for the purpose and the water had been emptied out in the same place. The monks erected a cross to mark the spot and many miracles were later performed there. Our monks wrapped up the holy remains in linen, placed them in a carriage, and brought it to Ripon, chanting as they came. The community came out with the holy relics to honour the cortège and hardly any of them managed to fight back his tears. They found voice, nonetheless, to sing the hymns and canticles for the reception of the corpse and let it into the basilica he himself had built and dedicated to Saint Peter. There he was buried with all honour in the seventy-sixth year of his age and the fortieth of his episcopate. Who can tell how many bishops, priests, and deacons he had consecrated and ordained or count the churches he has dedicated during all those years? His glory shall endure for ever’.
from The Life of Wilfrid by Eddius Stephanus (Stephen of Ripon), d.709
Almighty God, who didst call our forebears to the light of the Gospel by the preaching of thy servant Wilfrid: grant us, who keep his life and labour in remembrance, to glorify thy Name by following the example of his zeal and perseverance; 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.
‘[N]ever forget that the principal form of Eucharistic prayer is contained in the holy Sacrifice of the Altar. It is Our opinion that this point ought to be considered more carefully, Venerable Brethren, for it touches on a particularly important aspect of priestly life.
…We… hope to say something worthwhile in this matter by showing the principal reason why the holy Cure of Ars, who, as befits a hero, was most careful in fulfilling his priestly duties, really deserves to be proposed to those who have the care of souls as a model of outstanding virtue and to be honoured by them as their heavenly patron. If it is obviously true that a priest receives his priesthood so as to serve at the altar and that he enters upon this office by offering the Eucharistic Sacrifice, then it is equally true that for as long as he lives as God’s minister, the Eucharistic Sacrifice will be the source and origin of the holiness that he attains and of the apostolic activity to which he devotes himself. All of these things came to pass in the fullest possible way in the case of St John Vianney.
For, if you give careful consideration to all of the activity of a priest, what is the main point of his apostolate if not seeing to it that wherever the Church lives, a people who are joined by the bonds of faith, regenerated by holy Baptism and cleansed of their faults will be gathered together around the sacred altar? It is then that the priest, using the sacred power he has received, offers the divine Sacrifice in which Jesus Christ renews the unique immolation which He completed on Calvary for the redemption of mankind and for the glory of His heavenly Father. It is then that the Christians who have gathered together, acting through the ministry of the priest, present the divine Victim and offer themselves to the supreme and eternal God as a “sacrifice, living, holy, pleasing to God”. There it is that the people of God are taught the doctrines and precepts of faith and are nourished with the Body of Christ, and there it is that they find a means to gain supernatural life, to grow in it, and if need be to regain unity. And there besides, the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church, grows with spiritual increase throughout the world down to the end of time.
It is only right and fitting to call the life of St John Vianney a priestly and pastoral one in an outstanding way, because he spent more and more time in preaching the truths of religion and cleansing souls of the stain of sin as the years went by, and because he was mindful of the altar of God in each and every act of his sacred ministry!
It is true of course that the holy Cure’s fame made great crowds of sinners flock to Ars, while many priests experience great difficulty in getting the people committed to their care to come to them at all, and then find that they have to teach them the most elementary truths of Christian doctrine just as if they were working in a missionary land. But as important and sometimes as trying as these apostolic labours may be, they should never be permitted to make men of God forget the great importance of the goal which they must always keep in view and which St John Vianney attained through dedicating himself completely to the main works of the apostolic life in a tiny country church.
This should be kept in mind, in particular: whatever a priest may plan, resolve, or do to become holy, he will have to draw, for example and for heavenly strength, upon the Eucharistic Sacrifice which he offers, just as the Roman Pontifical urges: “Be aware of what you are doing; imitate what you hold in your hands”’.
from his encyclical Sacerdotii Nostri Primordia, 1 August 1959, by Pope St John XXIII, 1881-1963
Today is the memorial of Saint Paulinus, first Bishop of York. A monk-priest, he was sent to England as part of Pope Saint Gregory the Great’s second mission to the English, in 601. For two decades he laboured in Kent, preaching and evangelising until, in 625, when the Kentish princess Ethelberga married the powerful Anglo-Saxon king Edwin of Northumbria, Paulinus travelled north as part of her retinue. Within two years he had succeeded in Edwin’s conversion to Christianity, and established the venerable primatial and archdiocesan See of York. What follows is the account by the Venerable Bede of Edwin’s acceptance of the Christian faith and his baptism in 627. The photos above were taken on a visit to York, and its cathedral minster of Saint Peter, in August.
‘So King Edwin, with all the nobility of his kingdom and a large number of humbler folk, accepted the Faith and were washed in the cleansing waters of Baptism in the eleventh year of his reign, which was the year of our Lord 627, and about one hundred and eighty years after the first arrival of the English in Britain. The king’s Baptism took place at York on Easter Day, the 12th of April, in the church of Saint Peter the Apostle, which the king had hastily built of timber during the time of his instruction and preparation for Baptism; and in this city he established the see of his teacher and bishop Paulinus. Soon after his Baptism, at Paulinus’ suggestion, he gave orders to build on the same site a larger and more nobler basilica of stone, which was to enclose the little oratory he had built before. The foundations were laid, and the walls of a square church began to rise around this little oratory; but before they reached their appointed height, the cruel death of the king left the work to be completed by Oswald his successor. Thenceforward for six years, until the close of Edwin’s reign, Paulinus preached the word in that province with the king’s full consent and approval, and as many as were predestined to eternal life believed and were baptised’.
St Bede the Venerable, 672-735
O God our Saviour, who didst send thy servant Paulinus to preach and to baptise, and so to build up thy Church: grant that, being inspired by his example, we may proclaim to the whole world thy truth; that with him we may receive the reward thou hast prepared for all thy faithful servants; 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 Feast of Blessed John Henry Newman - theologian, poet, hymnographer, cardinal - a man dear to the hearts of English Catholics, Catholic university students, the Fathers and Brothers of the Congregation of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri, and to former Anglicans now in full communion with the Catholic Church. Newman, who was an Anglican clergyman prior to his reception into the Church at the hands of Blessed Dominic Barberi in 1845, was, in 2011, appropriately named by Pope Benedict XVI as the patron of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham upon its erection by the Holy See. Newman founded the Oratory at Birmingham in 1849, the first of its English houses, and he lived, worked, and prayed here from 1852 until his death in 1890. As the photograph of the plaque above indicates, Pope Benedict visited the Oratory in 2010, shortly after beatifying Newman in nearby Cofton Park; the first such ceremony ever to be held on English soil. The photos were taken from a visit in August.
‘We are not our own, any more than what we possess is our own. We did not make ourselves; we cannot be supreme over ourselves. We cannot be our own masters. We are God’s property by creation, by redemption, by regeneration. He has a triple claim upon us. Is it not our happiness thus to view the matter? Is it any happiness, or any comfort, to consider that we are our own? It may be thought so by the young and prosperous. These may think it a great thing to have everything, as they suppose, their own way – to depend on no one – to have to think of nothing out of sight – to be without the irksomeness of continual acknowledgement, continual prayer, continual reference of what they do to the will of another. But as time goes on, they, as all men, will find that independence was not made for man – that it is an unnatural state – may do for a while, but will not carry us on safely to the end. No, we are creatures; and, as being such, we have two duties, to be resigned and to be thankful.
Let us then view God’s providences towards us more religiously than we have hitherto done. Let us try to gain a truer view of what we are, and where we are, in His kingdom. Let us humbly and reverently attempt to trace His guiding hand in the years which we have hitherto lived. Let us thankfully commemorate the many mercies He has vouchsafed to us in time past, the many sins He has not remembered, the many dangers He has averted, the many prayers He has answered, the many mistakes He has corrected, the many warnings, the many lessons, the much light, the abounding comfort which He has from time to time given. Let us dwell upon times and seasons, times of trouble, times of joy, times of trial, times of refreshment. How did He cherish us as children! How did He guide us in that dangerous time when the mind began to think for itself, and the heart to open to the world! How did He with His sweet discipline restrain our passions, mortify our hopes, calm our fears, enliven our heavinesses, sweeten our desolateness, and strengthen our infirmities! How did He gently guide us towards the strait gate! How did He allure us along His everlasting way, in spite of its strictness, in spite of its loneliness, in spite of the dim twilight in which it lay! He has been all things to us’.
Blessed John Henry Newman, 1801-1890
O God, who didst bestow upon thy Priest Blessed John Henry Newman, the grace to follow thy kindly light and find peace in thy Church: graciously grant that, through his intercession and example, we may be led out of shadows and images into the fulness of thy truth; 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.
‘The authentic history of the patron saint of France is even more meagre than that of our St George. Denys was sent in the third century, perhaps from Rome, as missionary bishop to the neighbourhood of Paris, where, together with his companions Rusticus and Eleutherius, he suffered martyrdom by decapitation about 273. The Christians of Paris faithfully treasured the memory of the blessed founder of their Church, and two hundred years later St Genevieve, the saviour and heroine of Paris, built a church in his honour, at the place where the martyrs’ bodies had been buried. The shrine soon became a place of pilgrimage, thus the fame of St Denys grew and spread. Successive churches, ever more impressive, were built to enshrine him, royal burials took place there and finally St Denys’ church was the Westminster Abbey of France. He was the patron of its kings, his name their war-cry.
But from the ninth century the story of the first Bishop of Paris became greatly enlarged by confusion with that of an earlier Denys – namely, that Dionysius mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles as a convert of St Paul’s at Athens: “Certain men believed, among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite”. He is said to have been ordained by St Paul and become the first Bishop of Athens. After attending St Paul at his martyrdom in Rome, he was sent to France, and so finally to his own death in Paris. Then, in the sixth century great interest was taken in a mass of theological writings supposed to have been written by this Dionysius the Areopagite, whose letters were particularly appealing, for they dealt with the glorious apostolic days, and the writer claimed to have been present at the death of the Virgin Mary. With the confusion of these three persons, St Paul’s convert, mystical writer, and Bishop of Paris, the legends and miracles of St Denys lavishly increased, and there now appeared the famous one, often portrayed in art, which relates how the body of the martyr, being left to the sacrilege of wild beasts, arose, picked up its severed head, and walked two miles to Montmartre (Mount of Martyrs), accompanied by angels. St Denys was greatly venerated in England, where churches were built in his honour from Saxon times, one at Stanford in Berkshire claiming a relic’.
Sibyl Harton, 1898-1993
O God, who didst strengthen blessed Denis, thy Martyr and Bishop, with the virtue of constancy in his suffering, and didst vouchsafe to join unto him Rusticus, Eleutherius, for the preaching of thy glory to the heathen: grant us, we beseech thee, by thy example, to despise the prosperity of this world, and to fear none of its adversities; 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 doorway of a low grey house,
built of stones as old as the Crusades,
a woman of Bruges
sits in the sunlight, among the flowers,
saying her Rosary.
The story of Mary is her own story,
and her son was her life’s joy
and her life’s sorrow;
and for ever
her son is her life’s glory.
In a field in Flanders,
among the red poppies, he is sleeping:
he will sleep soundly
until the day of resurrection.
She has still the patchwork quilt
made, when her hands were nimble,
for the wooden cot:
now he is sleeping, and each year
he has a new coverlet
of delicate young grass,
and at the end of his cot
a wooden cross.
The cradle of the wood,
the wood of the cross:
from cradle to cross,
like a lullaby.
The story of the woman of Bruges
is the world’s story.
it is the story
of human joy and sorrow,
woven and interlaced,
like the blue and crimson thread
in a woven cloth:
the story of birth and death,
of war and the rumours of war
and of peace past understanding,
peace in the souls that live
in the life of Christ.
In the doorway in Bruges,
sitting among the flowers,
her mind like a velvet bee
droning over a rose,
taking the honey of comfort
out of the heart of Love,
the old woman is nodding
over her Rosary.
She has lived her meditation,
like the Mother of God,
living the life of Christ:
let her sleep in Christ’s peace.
Caryll Houselander, 1901-1954
Fr Lee Kenyon