‘Cardinal Newman compares, somewhere, the sensations of a convert from Anglicanism to those of a man in a fairy story, who, after wandering all night in a city of enchantment, turns after sunrise to look back upon it, and finds to his astonishment that the buildings are no longer there; they have gone up like wraiths and mists under the light of the risen day. So the present writer has found. He no longer, as in the first months of his conversion, is capable of comparing the two systems of belief together, since that which he has left appears to him no longer a coherent item at all. There are, of course, associations, memories, and emotions still left in his mind – some of them very sacred and dear to his heart; he still is happy in numbering among his friends many persons who still find amongst those associations and memories a system which they believe to be the religion instituted by Jesus Christ; yet he himself can no longer see in them anything more in hints and fragments and aspirations detached from their centre... Yet he is conscious of no bitterness at all – at the worst experiences sometimes a touch of impatience merely at the thought of having been delayed so long by shadows from the possession of divine substance. He cannot, however, with justice, compare the two systems at all; one cannot, adequately, compare a dream with a reality’.
from Confessions of a Convert, 1913
by Mgr Robert Hugh Benson, 1871-1914
Mgr Benson, the son of E.W. Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury,
was a priest of the Church of England, 1895-1903
‘It is useless for me to try to minimise the fact that for one in my position it would have been much easier in some ways to die that to have changed my allegiance. Change my Faith I could not, for Catholic in desire I have always been; what was given me [in Anglicanism] was a vitally different conception of the Divinely constituted authority of the Church… I had no choice, but to do what was obviously right.
[I]t is a personal spiritual experience, and I can only say that on February 18th , the whole position became clear to me; and I was profoundly convinced that the Divine authority and unity of the Catholic Church were to be found nowhere else but in union with the Holy See. In Bishop Gore’s own words, I was thrown back “upon the strictly Papal basis of authority,” and I realised with a clearness that will never leave me what the words Unam, Sanctam, Catholicam et Apostolicam Ecclesiam really meant’.
Abbot Aelred Carlyle OSB, 1874-1955
founder and Abbot of the Anglican Benedictines at Caldey, 1895-1912
received into the Catholic Church 1913 and Abbot of Caldey, 1912-1921
from The Benedictines of Caldey, 1940, by Peter F. Anson, 1889-1975
‘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
‘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.
Keep, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy Church with thy perpetual mercy: and, because the frailty of man without thee cannot but fall; keep us ever by thy help from all things hurtful, and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation; 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. - Collect for the Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity, Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘This is a prayer with a double petition, for the Church and for our salvation. The juxtaposition of the two is not accidental but arises out of a logical necessity. We cannot think adequately of salvation without calling to mind the Church, for in any case we cannot be saved alone and the Church is the instrument of salvation.
…The Church is often described as the ark of salvation, not meaning that membership of it is a mechanical guarantee of ultimate heaven, but that, as St Cyprian said seventeen centuries ago, outside it there is really no safety. We pray that God will “keep” it, knowing that so long as the vessel remains unharmed there is always the chance that the passengers, one and all, may arrive safe at their journey’s end.
There is always, however, the chance of accident to the individual passenger, and so we repeat the word “keep” asking that not only the Church as a whole be kept in God’s perpetual mercy, but also that each several soul may be kept from all things hurtful and led to all things profitable for its salvation.
Salvation is thus a double process: negatively it is a rescue from every possibility of harm, and positively it is an introduction to all that is good. By derivation the word implies perfect health. Theologically it includes not only the well-being of the individual but also of his environment, and finally the ultimate bliss of heaven’.
from Reflections on the Collects, 1964
by William Wand KCVO, 1885-1977 (Bishop of London 1945-1955)
‘The Strange Case of the Elusive Patrimony started when Anglo-Catholicism lost its distinctive identity in the 1960s and 70s. I’m not sure about other countries but in [England] it certainly lost it. From the 1960s onwards, a great multitude of Anglo-Catholics, a great multitude which no man could number, all rushed forward like so many lemmings, in imitation of something they then called ‘modern Rome’. The lemmings rushed forward and then toppled headlong over the cliffs of de-sacralisation and secularisation, most of all in worship. If only Anglo-Catholics had kept their nerve when so many others were going mental. If only Anglo-Catholics had made greater efforts to preserve that exquisite treasury of faith and worship which we know as The English Missal.
The finest patrimony of Anglicanism is the treasure-trove of traditional Anglo-Catholic worship. The precious core of that treasure was forged when The English Missal came to birth in 1912. It then evolved, getting better and better with each subsequent edition. Its use of Sarum and Tridentine liturgical texts in Cranmerian English fired and sustained the Anglo-Catholic movement with remarkable success. The English Missal was the bedrock of those edifying decades when, in the words of Sir John Betjeman, the faith was taught, and fanned to a golden blaze. Then came the hasty reforms of the late 1960s and 1970s. The reformers piped and the lemmings jumped. But let us be fair. It wasn’t just Anglican lemmings who jumped. Roman lemmings also jumped. On both sides of the Tiber far too few had the courage or the honesty to question the glaring discontinuity and to ask: how on earth does this new tune harmonise with what we always heard before?
God is very good and mercifully brings order out of confusion. One particularly bright shaft of light has now emerged to lighten our darkness. That light is the publication of Divine Worship: The Missal. This Missal is a magnificent piece of work. It preserves a large portion of that traditional Anglo-Catholic patrimony which has so much to offer the modern Church in the modern world’.
from an address, ‘Blessed John Henry Newman: Our Guide for Tomorrow’, 15 October 2018, by Fr Ignatius Harrison, Cong. Orat. The full article can be read here.
Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee: that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by thy governance; that thy Church may joyfully serve thee in all godly quietness; 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. - Collect for the Fifth Sunday after Trinity, Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘If we are to live in the world in peace how must we be governed? Peaceably. There must not be war. Nations must work together in industry, commerce, art, literature, and in every other way. We must work together as God’s children, seeing in every man… a brother for whom Christ died. This can only come about by all the peoples of the world thinking and behaving as though they believed God to be the Father of all men; letting Him rule in their hearts and lives: realising that He is their Maker and Redeemer, their Saviour and their God. He is desirous that all men should live together as brothers in love and goodwill. God must be allowed to govern.
This can never happen until every nation has heard the good tidings of great joy of which the angels told the shepherds on that first Christmas Day. The angels’ song said that His birth would bring peace to those who accepted Him, “Among men in whom is his good pleasure.” So what the world needs more than anything is the news of the glorious Gospel of peace. That must shine throughout the world before peace can reign in the hearts and minds of all men’.
from Teaching the Collects, 1965, by HE Sheen
‘Father Paul Wattson, founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, had a long and deep devotion to Mary, Mother of Christ. Even before he was received into the Roman Catholic Church, Fr Paul and Society of Atonement co-founder, Mother Lurana White, established the Rosary League of Our Lady of the Atonement. In 1903, he enclosed a pamphlet in the first issue of his publication, The Lamp, encouraging devotion to Our Lady by praying the Rosary.
Later, this devotion led Father Paul to give the title “Our Lady of the Atonement” to the Blessed Mother. He felt that the Society of Atonement’s goal to re-unify Christians could not be accomplished without the help of prayer and the intercession of Our Lady. He wrote an editorial in The Lamp in March of 1910, “God forbid that the Children of the Atonement should ever be strangers to the passion and crucifixion of Jesus Christ”. He adds, “The very name Atonement is a perpetual reminder of the Cross. Our Lord hanging there in mortal agony; Our Lady standing by, the sword, foretold by Simeon, piercing her heart. This is the central scene in the mystery of the Atonement.” Fr Paul believed that her claim to this high title rests most solidly on the fact that she consented to become the Mother of the Redeemer and that she suffered with Jesus during the Passion. In the September 1932 issue of The Lamp, Father Paul wrote, “When we, therefore, give to our Blessed Mother the title of ‘Our Lady of the Atonement’, we mean ‘Our Lady of Unity.’”
In 1919, Pope Benedict XV granted Father Paul’s fervent appeal to bless the Atonement community by recognising the Graymoor custom titling the Mother of Christ as Our Lady of the Atonement, and she was given a feast day of July 9. Father Paul composed a prayer to Our Lady of the Atonement which continues to be prayed by the Friars and Sisters of the Atonement today’.
from the Father Paul of Graymoor Guild
O God, who dost gather together those that have been scattered, and who dost preserve those that have been gathered: we beseech thee, through the intercession of the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Atonement; that thou wouldest pour out upon thy Church the grace of unity and send thy Holy Ghost upon all mankind, that they may be one; 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.
‘[L]ook at Calvary, and there is the glory of the divine self-giving love shining glorious. Jesus on the Tree is reigning as King. And there too, on Calvary, we see cleansing. Listen to Saint John: Jesus has died on the Cross, and the Roman soldier comes with the lance and pierces His sacred side, and there flows a stream of water and blood. And the Evangelist places the most intense emphasis on this incident. “He that hath seen hath borne witness, and his witness is true, and he knoweth that he saith true that ye also may believe”. Why this intense emphasis upon the flowing of the water and the blood? Of course, it is the emphasis of the historian, and the Evangelist wants his readers to know it is solid fact and history; and an eye witness was there and really saw these things happen; and the Son of God did, in truth, die; and the water and the blood flowed from His side. But, knowing Saint John, we are always sure that there is not only history but also symbol in the things that he shows us, and so it is here. Water – what is water? Water that cleanses, and cleansing does flow to our sad and sinful human race from Calvary. The humility of Calvary flows like a great stream to cleanse the pride of men and nations. And blood, what is blood? Blood is sacrificial life, not just life, but life that passed through death; and not just death, but death that has the mighty potency of true sacrifice about it. And it is this sacrificial life that flows from Calvary – flows as a gift, so that, first in the community of the redeemed Church, and then amongst all men who are brought within that community, there may be lived out a life that is sacrificial; offered to God and offered to the world in sacrificial service’.
A.M. Ramsey, Lord Ramsey of Canterbury, 1904-1988 (Archbishop of Canterbury, 1961-1974)
Cathedral of St John the Divine, NYC, 1962
O Holy Ghost, whose temple I
Am, but of mud walls and condensed dust,
And being sacrilegiously
Half wasted with youth’s fires, of pride and lust
Must with new storms be weather-beat;
Double in my heart Thy flame,
Which let devout sad tears intend; and let
(Though this glass lanthorn, flesh, do suffer maim)
Fire, Sacrifice, Priest, Altar be the same.
John Donne, 1572-1631
‘The heart of Pentecost is spontaneity. Pupils are always to be overshadowed by their tutor’s wisdom, and what if that tutor is divine? The disciples of Jesus had their learning first; the moments were all too few and precious in which they could study the words and ways of a divine master. Then like the good master that he was, he saw that he could teach them no more by word and presence; so he turned to another business he had on hand, he went and died for them; having told them of an inward teacher who would finish their education by a different sort of instruction; by truth springing from the heart, not entering through the ear. The loss of their first teacher left them powerless, without direction or aim, except to pray and wait for the new teacher from heaven. And then, and then when the day of Pentecost was fully come, their bodies and the air surrounding them trembled with spiritual thunder. A rushing wind sang in their ears, the fire ran out in tongues, their lips moved, and sound broke out as by a power not their own. This was the new teaching from heaven; but what did it say? To what did it move? The Spirit would show in due time; but meanwhile at least here was spontaneity, here was life’.
Austin Farrer, 1904-1968
‘When we pray “Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire”, we had better know what we are about. He will not carry us to easy triumphs and gratifying successes; more probably He will set us to some task for God in the full intention that we shall fail, so that others, learning wisdom by our failure, may carry the good cause forward. He may take us through loneliness, desertion by friends, apparent desertion even by God; that was the way Christ went to the Father. He may drive us into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. He may lead us from the Mount of Transfiguration (if he ever lets us climb it) to the hill that is called the Place of a Skull. For if we invoke Him, it must be to help us in doing God’s will, not ours. We cannot call upon the
Creator Spirit, by whose aid
The world’s foundations first were laid
in order to use omnipotence for the supply of our futile pleasures or the success of our futile plans. If we invoke Him, we must be ready for the glorious pain of being caught by His power out of our petty orbit into the eternal purposes of the Almighty, in whose onward sweep our lives are as a speck of dust. The soul that is filled with the Spirit must have become purged of all pride or love of ease, all self-complacence and self-reliance; but that soul has found the only real dignity, the only lasting joy. Come then, Great Spirit, come. Convict the world; and convict my timid soul’.
from Readings in St John’s Gospel by William Temple, 1881-1944
(Archbishop of Canterbury, 1942-1944)
O risen Saviour, bid me rise with thee
and seek those things which are above;
not only seek, but set my whole heart upon them.
Thou art in heaven, ever raising lives to thyself;
O, by thy grace, may mine be making that ascent
not in dream, but in truth,
now, tomorrow, always.
Daily in spirit, in thy Holy Spirit,
let me behold thee on the throne of GOD,
thou King reigning in holiness,
thou Conqueror of all evil,
thou Majesty of love,
very GOD and very Man,
of glory unimaginable and eternal,
in whom all hope is sure.
So, longing for thy courts,
let me rise, ascend, seek;
finding in the nearer light of thy countenance
higher and yet higher things
to love, to do and to attain.
Until, through the open door of heaven,
that most blessed voice shall speak;
‘Enter thou into thy Lord’s joy’,
and thy servant comes;-
to sing of thy glory and honour all the day long
and tell of all thy wondrous works;
knowing no end thereof,
for there is no end thereof.
from My God, My Glory: Aspirations, Acts and Prayers on the Desire for God, 1959
by Eric Milner-White OGS CBE DSO, 1884-1963
‘When Jesus had gone up from them, Mary and the apostles met and prayed. Their master, and her Son, was still the leader in their praying; they used his words, they shared his mind, they prayed with him as though they said the words after him. He was now, indeed, somewhat further from them than he used to be; further, even, than he had been from Peter, James and John in Gethsemane. There they had overheard his prayer, though he knelt beyond them up the hill. Now he was further still ahead, they could not see or hear him. But the further he was from them, the nearer he was to the heart of God; further from those who prayed, but nearer to the Mercy to whom all prayer ascends. Not nearer simply, it was not a matter of degree. He was there, had reached the goal, was one with the fountain from which all things always come. In Jesus they were there too, for he was one of them. They turned their faces upwards and stretched up their hands, and what he inspired them in his name to ask was asked by God from God’.
from The Crown of the Year: Weekly Paragraphs for the Holy Sacrament, 1952
by Austin Farrer, 1904-1968
O God, the King of glory, who hast exalted thine only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph unto thy kingdom in heaven: we beseech thee, leave us not comfortless; but send to us thy Holy Ghost to comfort us, and exalt us unto the same place whither our Saviour Christ is gone before; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. Divine Worship: The Missal.
On this Rogation Sunday, words from the George Herbert on the usefulness of the Rogation Procession.
‘The Countrey Parson is a Lover of old Customes, if they be good, and harmlesse; and the rather, because Countrey people are much addicted to them, so that to favour them therein is to win their hearts, and to oppose them therin is to deject them. If there be any ill in the custome, that may be severed from the good, he pares the apple, and gives them the clean to feed on. Particularly, he loves Procession, and maintains it, because there are contained therein 4 manifest advantages. First, a blessing of God for the fruits of the field: Secondly, justice in the Preservation of bounds: Thirdly, Charity in loving walking, and neighbourly accompanying one another, with reconciling of differences at that time, if there be any: Fourthly, Mercy in releeving the poor by a liberall distribution and largesse, which at that time is, or ought to be used. Wherefore he exacts of all to bee present at the perambulation, and those that withdraw, and sever themselves from it, he mislikes, and reproves as uncharitable, and unneighbourly; and if they will not reforme, presents them. Nay, he is so farre from condemning such assemblies, that he rather procures them to be often, as knowing that absence breedes strangeness, but presence love’.
from Chapter XXXV, The Parson Condescending
in A Priest to the Temple by George Herbert, 1593-1633
‘The Resurrection explains this life which without it would be a mere existence, without purpose, ending the grave after meaningless trials, suffering and temptations.
In the light of the Resurrection we can see that for them who love Christ all things work together for goodness – through the cross and the grave to the Resurrection. Life now has an aim or purpose – to fit us for the fuller life beyond. We are citizens of heaven on a pilgrimage; the end is certain if we remain faithful. Lest we should faint by the wayside, we are supplied for the journey with heavenly armour and protection, with healing, with God and the companionship of the saints.
When all is said and done, the whole purpose and joy of life flows from the Resurrection (the Easter Mass speaks for itself). Therefore with joy, triumph and thanksgiving and unquenchable hope we offer the sacrifice today, for we have all been given an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, that fadeth not away, renewed in heaven for us’.
Raymond Raynes CR, 1903-1958
‘Easter is rightly called the Queen of Feasts. Like a queen she reigns over every other event in world history. Like a queen she reigns supreme over every other feast in the Christian year. Yet, to understand her greatness, we must see how all that went before is fulfilled in her, and how she is a new beginning for all future time. Easter is the completion of a great mystery: she is the beginning of a mystery as great.
It would be easier for us to remember the true meaning of the feast if its name were derived directly from the Hebrew Pasch, as is the English Passover and the French Pâques. For Easter is the Christian Pasch, or Passover.
… The Passover feast of the Jews commemorated the events which accompanied the “passing over” of their forefathers from the slavery of Egypt to the freedom of Palestine. The “passing over” had started with a meal for which a lamb without blemish had been slain without a bone of its body being broken; its blood had been sprinkled on the door-posts of their houses so that the angel of death might pass over them; and the lamb had been eaten. Then had followed many signs of God's special care for them: the safe crossing of the waters of the Red Sea which had drowned Pharaoh and the Egyptians; the light guiding them by night; the manna feeding them in the desert; until they eventually reached the land of promise.
So God brought forth his Chosen People from slavery to freedom. But the events which accompanied the Exodus from Egypt not only sealed the Israelites as the Chosen People of God; they were also a kind of rehearsal for the way in which God would eventually redeem mankind as a whole, and each individual as an individual. It was as if God allowed the shadow to appear centuries before, so that when the reality came it might be recognised. Christ was the reality of which these events were the shadow. He was the true Lamb, slain without a bone of his body being broken. His blood was shed and sprinkled so that the angel of death might pass over his people dying in sin. As the Israelites had passed through the Red Sea from death to life, so Christ passed through the sepulchre from death to life. As the enemies of the Israelites had been drowned in the waters of the Red Sea, so by his death Christ destroyed the enemies of mankind, sin and death. Christ is the true light, lighting man through the darkness of this world. He is the true manna, giving his body and blood to be the food of man in the wilderness of this life.
So we have a second Passover: the passing over of Jesus Christ from death to life, fulfilling the pattern of the ancient passing over of the Jews from Egypt to Palestine. So was the first Easter Day the completion of a great mystery.
But it was the beginning of a mystery as great. For Christ passed over from death to life so that each human soul might pass over from death in sin to eternal life. The events of the Exodus were not only a rehearsal for Christ's passing over; they were also a rehearsal for each individual soul's passing over. Born in captivity to sin, man passes through the waters, not of the Red Sea, but of Baptism, his soul cleansed by the blood of the Lamb of God. Christ is the light and the food of his soul, leading him through the wilderness of this life to the promised land of heaven’.
from Holy Week and Easter: The Services Explained, 1956, by E J Rowland
John Keble, 1792-1866
‘“For the joy that was set before him”, Jesus endured the cross. So must we bear all the discipline of God. Our sufferings do not come to us because God has withdrawn his loving purpose, but because we need them in order to be fitted for that purpose.
If we could have loved God in some better way than by suffering, Jesus would have chosen that better way. Oh, it is sweet to suffer, since Jesus has suffered! Suffering is no transitory trouble. Suffering is, to the faithful in Jesus Christ, the very beginning of eternal joy. Suffering makes life sweet by expectation. Death sums up all the sweet hopes of life, and admits the faithful to the secure possession of that which they have desired.
…It is darkness which prepares us, darkness which preserves us, darkness which perfects us.
…If we would really share the joy of the resurrection, we must accept it as a true solace for all times of suffering. As we are Christ’s members, we must own the power of his resurrection working within us, while we are made conformable to his death. As suffering and death are the porch through which we pass to joy, we must find the power of love strengthening us in all suffering to feel the sympathy of his presence. He who has not shared the cross cannot share the resurrection’.
Richard Meux Benson SSJE, 1824-1915
Since blood is fittest, Lord, to write
Thy sorrows in, and bloody fight;
My heart hath store; write there, where in
One box doth lie both ink and sin:
That when sin spies so many foes,
Thy whips, thy nails, thy wounds, thy woes,
All come to lodge there, sin may say,
No room for me, and fly away.
Sin being gone, oh fill the place,
And keep possession with thy grace;
Lest sin take courage and return,
And all the writings blot or burn.
George Herbert, 1593-1633
In both the Ordinariate and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite, one week exactly before Good Friday, Our Lady of Sorrows is today commemorated. In the Ordinariate it is known as ‘Saint Mary in Passiontide’, a day to recall the sufferings of Our Blessed Lady at the foot of the Cross of her Son. A poem to share for this day, Pietà, by the Welsh Anglican priest R.S. Thomas (1913-2000), written in 1966.
Always the same hills
Crown the horizon,
Of the still scene.
And in the foreground
The tall Cross,
Aches for the Body
That is back in the cradle
Of a maid’s arms.
Although the following was penned 137 ago this Lent, Edward King’s words, especially in the first paragraph, seem almost prophetic. A reminder, perhaps, that the feelings and emotions associated with the present abnormality in our domestic, social, educational, working, and ecclesiastical lives, is nothing new, and that in all and through all there remains an abiding, unchanging, and objective joy underpinning all things and events in our individual and corporate lives. Can we, then, see this time as an opportunity to give up ourselves and so grow in trustfulness and hopefulness?
‘[Y]ear after year, as Passiontide after Passiontide goes round, and we see people getting old around us, and more nervously distrustful, and more melancholy, and undergoing all the manifold sufferings of this world, getting out of spirits, and feeling themselves failing, and that they cannot enjoy things as they used; money and pleasure will not do what they used for them; they feel physically used up – we feel that all this is not so with the spiritual nature. The nearer we get to God the more we see of Him; the more satiated we are with love for Him; the more spiritual power we receive; the more strength comes to us. And all this grows, as year after year in Passiontide we gain an ever-increasing trust in the death of Christ. And whether it is a wet or fine Easter; whether we have a fine service here in London, or a dull one all alone down in the country, this unchanging joy is the same in our hearts, the joy which makes Good Friday indeed good, and Easter Day exceedingly bright, the one thought, He died for me!
When we really realise this, we dare think of His coming again in great glory, we dare look forward to the Judgement Day, and on to heaven beyond!
We ought, each one of us, to be growing in this spirit of even trustfulness and hopefulness, for we know there is nothing of our own to trust in, but only the merits of Christ. And this spirit would be growing in each one of us, if we did not shrink from availing ourselves of all the helps He has provided for us in His Church. We should be able to say, “The Precious Blood of Christ cleanses me from all sin. It is mine. It marks my soul”.
… Do not let Passiontide come and go this year, as if the Atonement was a distant thing – with no particular application to yourself – but try and bring it home in this way to your own soul, and you will find an ever-increasing and abiding peace.
He gave up all, and died for me; the very least we can do is to give up ourselves entirely to Him. Do not go and use this means of grace selfishly, in order that we may say, “Oh, I feel so happy; I am cleansed from all my sins!” But what must follow? We must give ourselves to Him. Let this one act be our chief devotional exercise this Passiontide – to reconsecrate ourselves, for the rest of our lives to His service’.
from an address given in Lent 1883 by Edward King, 1829-1910
(Anglican Bishop of Lincoln, 1885-1910)
Fr Lee Kenyon