‘The Ordinariate is a precious gift from Pope Benedict XVI to the entire Church. It is first and foremost an act of genuine ecumenism. It allows former Anglicans to bring important parts of their great treasury of music, liturgy and spirituality with them into the Catholic Church. Now, when Anglicans enter the Catholic Church, they have generously been given the means to maintain important parts of their patrimony and so feel fully at home. The beauty of Anglican liturgies will also strengthen the Catholic Church and the unity it provides will strengthen Christianity’.
The Rt Hon Jacob Rees-Mogg MP
‘The presence of the Risen Christ calls all of us Christians to act together in the cause of good. United in Christ, we are called to share his mission, which is to bring hope to wherever injustice, hatred and desperation prevail. Our divisions dim our witness to Christ. The goal of full unity, which we await in active hope and for which we pray trustingly, is no secondary victory but an important one for the good of the human family.
In the dominant culture today, the idea of victory is often associated with instant success. In the Christian perspective, on the contrary, victory is a long, and in our human eyes, not always uncomplicated process of transformation and growth in goodness. It happens in accordance with God’s time, not ours, and requires of us deep faith and patient perseverance. Although the Kingdom of God bursts definitively into history with Jesus’ Resurrection, it has not yet come about fully. The final victory will only be won with the Second Coming of the Lord, which we await with patient hope.
Our expectation of the visible unity of the Church must also be patient and trusting. Only in this frame of mind do our prayers and our daily commitment to Christian unity find their full meaning. The attitude of patient waiting does not mean passivity or resignation but rather a prompt and attentive response to every possibility of communion and brotherhood that the Lord gives us.
…I would like to entrust to St Paul’s intercession all those who, with their prayers and their commitment, are sparing no effort in the cause of Christian unity. Although, at times, one has the impression that there is still a long way to go to reach the reestablishment of communion and that the road is fraught with obstacles, I invite all to renew their determination to pursue, with courage and generosity, the unity which is God’s will, after the example of St Paul who, in the face of every kind of difficulty always firmly kept his trust in God which led to the fulfilment of his work.
Moreover, on this journey there is no lack of positive signs of rediscovered brotherhood and of a shared sense of responsibility for the great problems that are afflicting our world. All this is a cause of joy and of great hope and must encourage us to continue in our endeavour to reach the final goal all together, knowing that in the Lord our effort is not in vain (cf. 1 Cor 15:58). Amen’.
from his homily on the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul, 2012, by Pope Benedict XVI
‘Newman never changed from the view which he had expressed so forcefully in Lectures on Anglican Difficulties (1850) that Anglo-Catholicism was inherently illogical and inconsistent. In 1882, by now a cardinal, he wrote that what Anglo-Catholic ritualists lacked, for all their dedication and even heroism under persecution, was “an intellectual foundation - which, sufficient for practical purposes, the Evangelicals seems to me to have”. It was a devastating indictment, but there was also a damning corollary: the lack of any real authority for the Anglo-Catholic position, a position which seemed to fly so manifestly in the face of the historical facts of the English Reformation, also seemed to Newman to carry within itself the seeds of theological liberalism. For a religion without either the biblical authority of Evangelicalism or the Magisterium of the Catholic Church could only be “a form of liberalism”, however liturgical and sacramental it might be’.
from his chapter ‘C.S. Lewis, Newman, and Conversion’, in ‘The Path to Rome: Modern Journeys to the Catholic Church’, 2010, by Fr Ian Ker.
‘Something better and fuller awaits us, if we discern God’s will rightly, and have the courage to try to fulfil it... [T]he kaleidoscope is turning and entirely uncharted and unexpected territory will be coming into view. We have grown up against the background of an ecclesial view where we knew our place as Catholic Anglicans, and how we fitted, or hoped to fit, into the wider pattern of the Church militant. Now, it seems, the inadequacy of that view is being revealed, and we have to allow God to reveal something more to us. We all feel confused and disquieted and none of us likes to feel the rock we have stood on, with such surety, is shifting (and even proving to have certain sandy properties we have never wanted to admit), but Jesus’ prayer on the Cross is our surrender to the Father’s will, and that is where we must base our hope. In human terms, yes, so much we have worked for seems to have collapsed, for ourselves and for our brothers and sisters. But, perhaps, this is God’s moment, and through the breakdown of what we have known and valued, something infinitely grander and closer to his Heart, is beginning to emerge’.
Fr Christopher Colven, writing in the wake of the 1992 decision of the Church of England to ordain women to the priesthood. Fr Colven was Priest Administrator of the Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham (1981-1986), and has been the (Catholic) Rector of St James, Spanish Place, London, since 2009.
‘I accepted for a time the borderland of Anglicanism; but only on the assumption that it could really be Anglo-Catholicism. There is a distinction of ultimate intention there which in the vague English atmosphere is often missed. It is not a difference of degree but of definite aim. There are High Churchmen as much as Low Churchmen who are concerned first and last to save the Church of England. Some of them think it can be saved by calling it Catholic, or making it Catholic, or believing that it is Catholic; but that is what they want to save. But I did not start out with the idea of saving the English Church, but of finding the Catholic Church. If the two were one, so much the better; but I never conceived of Catholicism as a sort of showy attribute or attraction to be tacked on to my own national body, but as the inmost soul of the true body’.
from ‘The Catholic Church and Conversion’, 1926, by G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936).
‘In my own case I was moved away from the rationalistic island mentality of a conservative Englishman, to a truly Catholic – that is universal – perspective. My mind, imagination, heart and soul were stretched. I had tried to package my God into being an English God: somewhat effete, consoling, and so understanding as to be undemanding. The relativism in faith and morals of many Anglican parishioners was summed up for me by one lady who had told me, “I love the Church of England, because it does not make any demands on you!” Like the National Health Service, the Church of England was the final state-approved emergency service to be used as and when you wished.
In my young arrogance [as an Anglican curate] I thought that I was not part of such a compromised Christianity and that I could change individual attitudes and whole congregations. Yet, I too had compartmentalised God and certainly thought I had my faith and my calling under decent middle-class control… How could I witness to truth and the universality of the faith in a denomination which had broken from the traditions and teachings of the Catholic Church? The institutionalised state Church here had more than stifled universality. The concept of authority had been rejected and thereby the teaching on faith and morals was Anglicised, almost in a politically correct way.
…It is not that I have rejected Anglicanism, only that Anglicanism wasn’t universal enough. Anglicanism is forever linked to England, and ecumenical work as an Anglican can only ever begin from that basis. As a Catholic, on the other hand, one works from a universal foundation… So I have come to understand more of our faith which I recognise now as the universal reconciliation and love offered by Christ on the Cross. The English cannot restrict such a Christianity to themselves and their own requirements, nor must I ever think again that I have got God boxed up, or figured out’.
from his chapter ‘Conversion and Ecumenism’, in ‘The Path to Rome: Modern Journeys to the Catholic Church’, 2010, by Neville Kyrke-Smith.
‘Far from being a portrayal of Protestantism (as some might say), the Church of England’s reconciliation with Rome would be its vindication and fulfilment. It would be neither a triumph for Anglo-Catholicism, nor a defeat for Evangelicalism. Certainly it would fulfil many aspirations of the Oxford Movement leaders who began their work 150 years ago with reunion at the centre of their hopes and prayers, but it would also rejoice the hearts of the sixteenth century reformers to find their insights welcomed into, and acknowledged by, the Roman Catholic Church, through a union which leaves unharmed their cherished traditions.
John de Satgé has written: “If indeed Anglicanism is, as I hope, to lose its independence within the Catholic unity, it will be because its vocation is fulfilled. Rome has at last listened and learned. That which was held in trust for the whole Church within the Anglican boundaries has had its effect. Anglican return to Rome would signify not failure but success”.
We have come a long way: but one step more’.
from ‘One Step More between Rome and Canterbury’, 1982, by Fr Michael Rear
Today marks the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, originally conceived in the 1920s as an octave of prayer for the reunion of Anglicans with the Holy See.
‘For the “Anglican Papalists”, the Anglican tradition began with the mission of Pope St Gregory the Great. Because of his apostolic care in sending St Augustine of Canterbury to do what he could not do himself, the English Church can only be understood in relation to its Roman mother, even though for some centuries this has meant hostility rather than intimacy. England was evangelized from Rome, and historically the unity of the Church in England and the patriarchal jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Canterbury were both dependent on the link with Rome and the Pope’s grant of the pallium, as a sign and symbol of the authority that comes from Peter. England as a nation arose from the unity of the English Church, which, whatever distinctive features it may have had, was dependent on the Church of Rome’.
from his foreward to ‘Look to the Rock: The Anglican Papalist Quest and the Catholic League’, 2019
by John Hind, Anglican Bishop of Chichester, 2001-2012
A joyful day yesterday as we kept, as a parish family, today’s anniversary of the promulgation in 2009 of Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus. By the direction of our bishop all parishes and parochial communities in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter, with the gift of an indulgence attached, offered a Votive Mass of the Holy Ghost in thanksgiving for this occasion, concluding with a Solemn Te Deum. We were blessed to hear Hassler’s Missa Secunda for the Kyrie, Sanctus-Benedictus, and Agnus Dei, and an English setting of the Missa de Angelis for the Gloria and Credo. We also heard Palestrina’s Super flumina Babylonis, appointed for the Offertory for Trinity XX, and Attwood’s sublime Come Holy Ghost, our souls inspire as our Communion motet. The Anglican patrimony was well represented with Come down, O Love divine for our opening hymn, Come, thou Holy Spirit, come for the Offertory, and O thou who camest from above as our final hymn. The Te Deum, sung in English following the Postcommunion Prayer, was according to the Ambrosian melody. An inspiring liturgical and musical offering to the glory of God, meaningful fellowship, and much hope for the future of the Ordinariate here in Victoria. We give thanks to God, and to Pope Benedict, for this great gift of communion now bearing fruit in our portion of the vineyard.
Almighty and everlasting God, who dost govern all things in heaven and earth: mercifully hear our prayers, and grant to this Ordinariate all things needful for its spiritual welfare (priests and deacons to labour in this portion of thy vineyard; holy, learned, and zealous religious; churches complete in the beauty of holiness). Strengthen and confirm the faithful; protect and guide the children; visit and relieve the sick; turn and soften the wicked; arouse the careless; recover the fallen; restore the penitent. Remove all hindrances to the advancement of thy truth; and bring us all to be of one heart and mind within the fold of thy holy Church, to the honour and glory of thy blessed Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. - St Gregory’s Prayer Book.
Today, the Feast of the Apostles Ss Simon and Jude, is a day of some personal significance. 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, and this Foundation Day was 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 (pictured above in a 1960s CR booklet entitled ‘Bread of Life’), 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.
On this feast day of St Ignatius of Loyola, I share a letter, written in 1553 to St Peter Canisius, but addressed the whole of his Society of Jesus, on the requirement of all its members to pray fervently and regularly for the conversion of Germany and England ‘back to the purity of the Christian faith and religion’; a reminder that, notwithstanding his great Indo-Chinese missionary endeavours, St Ignatius founded his order against the backdrop of the turmoil of the European and English Reformations.
‘Ignatius of Loyola, General of the Society of Jesus, to my beloved brothers in Christ, superiors and subjects of the Society of Jesus, everlasting health in our Lord.
The order of charity by which we should love the whole body of the Church in her head, Jesus Christ, requires a remedy to be applied, especially to that part which is more seriously and dangerously affected. Therefore, it seems to us that we should, as far as our slender resources allow, to bestow with special attention the help the Society is able to give to Germany and England and the northern nations which are so grievously afflicted with the disease of heresy.
Though many of us have already carefully attended to this by other means, applying Masses and prayers for many years now, still, in order to give this duty of charity a wider field and a longer life, we enjoin on all rectors and superiors, who are placed over others, to celebrate, if they are priests, and to have those under their authority celebrate one Mass each month to God; and those who are not priests, their prayers for the spiritual needs of Germany and England, so that at length the God of these nations and of all others that are infected with heresy may have pity on them and deign to lead them back to the purity of the Christian faith and religion.
It is our desire that these prayers continue as long as these nations need our help, and that no province, even those in farthest India, be exempt from this duty of charity’.
St Ignatius of Loyola, c.1491-1556
O God, who for the greater glory of thy Name, didst endue thy Church militant with an increase of strength through the life and labours of blessed Ignatius: grant us, by his help and example, so to wage our earthly warfare; that with him we may be found worthy of a heavenly crown; 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 Calendar of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter today is the memorial of Our Lady of the Atonement. It is an observance rich in significance for the Ordinariate in North America since Our Lady, under this title, is the patroness of the first Pastoral Provision parish within the United States, Our Lady of the Atonement, in Texas, established in 1983 under the care of Fr Christopher Phillips.
The Pastoral Provision is essentially the precursor to the Ordinariate in the United States and Canada, provided for by Pope St John Paul II in 1981 to allow for the establishment of personal parishes, the ordaining of Anglican priests to the Catholic priesthood, and the retention of elements of Anglican liturgical practice, in a form which later came to be known as the ‘Anglican Use’. In 2017 the Vatican determined that those remaining parishes of the Pastoral Provision that had not yet entered into the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter were to be transferred to its jurisdiction. It was at this time that Our Lady of the Atonement entered the fold.
The devotion of Our Lady of the Atonement has its roots in the life and work of an Anglo-Papalist priest, Lewis Wattson. In 1899 Wattson, together with a small group of Anglican nuns, founded the Society of the Atonement, referencing Romans 5:11 (“We also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement”), and professed religious vows, with Wattson taking the name Paul James Francis. From its foundation the Society, though a part of the Episcopal Church of the United States, promoted corporate reunion with the Holy See and the primacy of the Roman Pontiff. Ten years later, in 1909, the Society - seventeen members strong - realised this goal for themselves with their own corporate reception into the Catholic Church. The process of canonisation for Father Paul, now Servant of God, was opened by Cardinal Dolan in 2015.
Within the Catholic Church the Society soon flourished - and flourishes still. Ten years after their reception into the Church the title ‘Our Lady of the Atonement’ was approved formally by Pope Benedict XV, with today’s feast day being approved by the Holy See in 1946. Given the roots of the devotion it was fitting that Father Phillips and his former Anglican community, now reconciled with the Holy See, should choose to dedicate themselves to Our Lady under this venerable title that is so expressive of that heartfelt desire - of Christ Himself - for his followers to be one with one another in Him. As Father Paul once said: “When we, therefore, give to our Blessed Mother the title of ‘Our Lady of the Atonement’, we mean ‘Our Lady of Unity’”. Father Paul’s prayers, together with those of Our Lady, have certainly sustained the steady growth of her parish in San Antonio over the past thirty-five years, as it has sought to share the treasures of the Anglican patrimony within the Catholic Church as a way of fulfilling Our Lord's prayer that “they may be one”.
'[Our Lady] is necessarily “of the Atonement” since it was the will of God that she play a necessary part in the atonement or redemption. This is not to say that without her man would have remained unredeemed but that God’s plan gave her a large share in the redemptive work. When we address the Blessed Mother, as “of the Atonement”, we mean then, that there is some very close bond between the atonement and her, that she belongs to the atonement and the atonement to her. Mary, although her part is in no way similar in nature to that of her divine Son’s, cooperated with Jesus Christ, as no other creature did, in his work of reconciling man with God.
Her claim to this high title rests most solidly on the fact that she consented to become, and became the mother of the Redeemer; that she suffered with Jesus during the passion; and that all graces merited for mankind by Christ have come to us through Mary’.
Fr Paul of Graymoor, Servant of God, 1863-1940
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.
‘[W]e have heard and received report from the relation of diverse rumours that your bishops are not at all in harmony with the rule of the Catholic Faith according to the precepts of Scripture, and, on account of their animosities and verbal assaults, a grave schism and cruel scandal may arise in the Church of Christ, which the maxim of the Psalmist detests that says, “Much peace have they that love thy law and to them there is no stumbling block”. For truly, obedient harmony in religious matters unites with charity, just as harsh strife contaminates it. For the Psalmist enjoins the unity of brotherhood upon the followers of truth, saying, “God who maketh men of one manner to dwell together in a house”. This house, according to allegory, is understood to be the Church, spread throughout all points of the world. For indeed, heretics and schismatics, foreign to the society of the Church, sprouting up in the world and like, so to speak, the dreadful seed of darnels sown in the midst of a fertile crop, defile the harvest of the Lord by their contentious arguments. But the Apostolic Trumpet [Saint Paul] curbs the disgrace of altercation of this sort: “But if any man seems to be contentious”, he says, “we have no such custom nor does the Church of God… which does not have spot or wrinkle”. Indeed, the evangelical oracles proclaim that peace is the mother of Catholics and the authoress of the children of God’.
from a letter to King Geraint by St Aldhelm, c.639-709
O God, who as on this day didst exalt thy blessed Bishop Saint Aldhelm to everlasting felicity: we pray thee; that by his merits and intercession, thy mercy may bring us unto that place whither he is gone before; 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.
‘Am I grateful for my Anglican heritage? Yes, I am. Where did I first learn the Catholic Faith? At home, in the vicarage. Therefore I rejoiced when news of the Ordinariate came from Rome. I have been hoping for something like this for years.
…The Pastor of the nations is reaching out to give you a special place within the Catholic Church. United in communion, but not absorbed - that sums up the unique and privileged status former Anglicans will enjoy in their Ordinariates.
Catholics in full communion with the Successor of St Peter, you will be gathered in distinctive communities that preserve elements of Anglican worship, spirituality and culture that are compatible with Catholic faith and morals. Each Ordinariate will be an autonomous structure, like a diocese, but something between a Personal Prelature (as in Opus Dei, purely spiritual jurisdiction), or a Military Ordinariate (for the Armed Forces). In some ways, the Ordinariate will even be similar to a Rite (the Eastern Catholic Churches). You will enjoy your own liturgical “use” as Catholics of the Roman Rite. At the same time your Ordinaries, bishops or priests, will work alongside diocesan bishops of the Roman Rite and find their place within the Episcopal Conference in each nation or region.
There is no “hidden agenda” here, no popish trap!... This is a step of faith in Jesus Christ and his Church. It involves accepting all the teachings of the Church on faith and morals. Such a personal assent of faith needs to be formed and informed. To use an Anglican expression, please “read, mark, learn and inwardly digest” the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This summarises the Faith “once given”, embodied in one Word of God that comes to us, as the Second Vatican Council teaches, through Scripture and Tradition.
There will be sacrifices, but humility and suffering are parts of a faith journey - and many of you have already suffered much for the sake of conscience.
Yet you do not come to the Ordinariates with empty hands. As I learnt forty two years ago, you will lose nothing - but you will regain an inheritance stolen from us four centuries ago. That heritage was largely recovered by the giants of the Oxford Movement. I believe they smile on us now. In these early days, let us keep praying with them, so that together we may patiently work out how Pope Benedict’s project can be achieved’.
Bishop Peter Elliott, 2010 (Auxiliary Bishop, Archdiocese of Melbourne, 2007-2018)
On this Octave Day of the Church Unity Octave (otherwise known as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity), the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, a prayer by Blessed John Henry Newman:
O Lord Jesus Christ, who, when thou wast about to suffer, didst pray for thy disciples to the end of time that they might all be one, as thou art in the Father, and the Father in thee, look down in pity on the manifold divisions among those who profess thy faith, and heal the many wounds which the pride of man and the craft of Satan have inflicted 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
‘I am a Catholic because the Church Christ founded and gave us is our literal, historical, temporal connector to Him. Without the connector, the wire that plugs into the infinite divine electricity, our souls die. We receive His life, His literal blood, through the umbilical cord of the Church’s Eucharist. It literally incorporates us into His corpus, His body.
We also receive His mind through the Church’s teachings. Infallible dogmas can come only from the only infallible mind in existence, the divine mind. But they do not save us; they are only the road map. Unlike Plato and Buddha, Jesus saved us by saying not “This is my mind” but “This is my body”. And not just by saying it but by doing it, by giving us His body, on the Cross and in the Eucharist and in the Church.
…He comes to us in His body today just as He came to us in His body two thousand years ago. And the Church is His body; it is “the extension of the Incarnation”.
The body we receive in Holy Communion is the very same body that He saved us with by offering it on the Cross. He has only one body, but it is in three places: on the Cross, in the Eucharist, and in the Church. And He is in the Church in two ways, or two dimensions, because we exist in two dimensions and so does He in His humanity: He is in the public, external, objective, visible institution that teaches and sanctifies His people, and He is also in the private, internal, subjective, invisible souls and bodies of His people who are baptised into His body and who receive His body into their bodies in the Eucharist and who thus become the cells in His Mystical Body, the Church.
When He said, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53), did He mean by His “flesh” His mortal body on the Cross, His sacramental body in the Eucharist, or His Mystical Body in the Church? Wrong question. It’s not an either-or. Remember, He has only one body, not three.
To break with His body the Church is to break with Christ, just as to kiss or hit or heal or kill your body is to kiss or hit or heal or kill you. That’s why St Thomas More gave up his life over his king’s break with Rome’.
Dr Peter Kreeft
‘I have been a Catholic for less than six months and already it is difficult to understand why I did not submit thirty-eight years ago. The slowness with which I saw the truth; the misconceptions, which were only partly the result of my heredity and upbringing, as to what the Christian Faith in fact was; the individualism which persisted in pursuing a course for ‘reunion’ which I had worked out theoretically without a proper appreciation of the practical difficulties… - all these, and more, are part of a mea culpa which found relief in the formal utterance demanded and made gladly on my reception: “With a sincere heart and with unfeigned faith, I detest and abjure every error, heresy and sect opposed to the Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church”.
I have tried to set down now, before the memory is blurred, the face of things as it appeared at the time; for the besetting temptation of every convert is to doubt, or at least to minimise, his own good faith in the days before his conversion. And, in the process, it has become clearer than ever to me that “the gift of faith” is, indeed, a gift dispensed by the mercy of God and in no way attainable by any intellectual process. “Credo ut intelligam” remains true.
…[T]here is an earlier passage in [Chesterton’s] Orthodoxy which I find even more appropriate: “Catholic doctrine and discipline may be walls; but they are the walls of a playground. Christianity is the only frame which has preserved the pleasure of Paganism. We might fancy some children playing on the flat grassy top of some tall island in the sea. So long as there was a wall round the cliff’s edge they could fling themselves into every frantic game and make the noisiest of nurseries. But the walls were knocked down, leaving the naked peril of the precipice. They did not fall over; but when their friends returned to them they were all huddled in terror in the centre of the island; and their song had ceased”.
So, inside the walls, I have found the freedom and the safety and the happiness of the garden again’.
from The Walled Garden: An Autobiography, 1957
Hugh Ross Williamson was an Anglican priest, 1943-1955
‘We, the undersigned Priests and Deacons (or lay communicants) of the Catholic Church, in full communion with the See of Canterbury, desire, in respectfully approaching your Lordships, to express our deep sense of sorrow at the long continuance of the divisions of Christendom, and our deep sense of the manifold evils which result from this.
…We are mindful of the efforts made in former times by English and foreign Bishops and theologians, to effect, by mutual explanations on either side, a reconciliation between the Roman and Anglican communions.
And, considering the ultimate and visible unity which existed between the Church of England and the rest of Western Christendom, we earnestly entreat your Lordships seriously to consider the best means of renewing like endeavours; and to adopt such measures as may, under the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit, be effectual in removing the barriers which now divide the Western branch of the Catholic Church.
But fully conscious that so great a gift as the healthful reunion of Christendom cannot be obtained by any effort of mere human wisdom, we further ask your Lordships specially to commend to the members of your flocks earnest and persevering prayer that God would so pour his love into the hearts of all Christians, that they may be drawn to be again one fold under one Shepherd’.
from a letter signed by 1,112 clergy (including Benson, Butler, Carter, Lee, Lowder, Mackonochie, and Pusey) and 4,453 laymen of the Church of England, to the bishops of the Anglican Communion gathering at Lambeth for the first time in 1867.
‘[T]here are three [gifts] in particular which former Anglicans bring into the Catholic Church. The first, as our friend Monsignor Ronald Knox so cleverly demonstrated, is apologetics. Cardinal Hume said to me once: “Peter, I know that everything you believe you had to fight for”. Unbeknownst to me, he heard me preach in Southwark Cathedral at the Catholic Renewal Conference. “I saw the way you defended the Catholic Faith”, he said, “in a way that my own friends and flock don’t need to. They take it for granted”. Ronald Knox, in his writings and in his pamphlets, was the exponent par excellence of that great gift of explaining simply the fundamental truths of the faith. I still have my Francis Hall Dogmatic Theology series, and I highly recommend them. They consist of something like twelve volumes, and they are possibly the only titles the American Church Union still publishes. Within them, there are good arguments for so many of the doctrines of the faith, so they are helpful for teaching and converting.
The second great gift that former Anglicans bring to the Catholic Church relates to the liturgy: Lex orandi, lex credendi… When it comes to worship, some of us Anglicans were doing it better than our Roman Catholic confreres. We read the rubrics and we kept them. The most recent rubrical guide to the new Roman Missal is by Monsignor Peter Elliott (another former Anglican who has made it to the purple). He has written his own guide on how worship should be done, and it is one of the gifts Anglicans have given the Catholic Church.
The third gift is pastoral care, one of the great marks of Anglicanism through history. Perhaps we have excelled as pastors because our parishes have been fractionally smaller (we haven’t had crowds of people). Our parishioners know they are a part of a community and a family, and we nurture them, sustain them, and help them on their pilgrimage. This is a great strength we must hold on to. We must resist the bureaucracy, and the committees, and all that activity that takes us away from pastoring souls. We must reemphasise that each and every one is precious and needs to be protected and developed’.
from his essay Conversion and Enrichment by Fr Peter Geldard
in Anglicans and the Roman Catholic Church: Reflections on Recent Developments, 2011
‘The untroubled page of history in those early days, to which some profess to appeal, attests the fact that St Matthew 16:19 says that there was then but one Church on earth. There was no second no other, none like it, none beside it; and the centre and head of that Church was the centre and head of the Christian world. It was the city of Rome, and in that city of Rome the See of Rome, the apostolic throne on which sat the successors of the Chief of the Apostles of Jesus Christ. No one doubts this as to history in the past; but the history of the past is supposed to lay no jurisdiction over our consciences now. Men treat history as an idle page, which they may read for their amusement, but refuse as a guide for their consciences. And yet it is indubitable that the one only Church of God, the circumference of which rested on the sunrise and the sunset, had a centre, and that centre was in Rome. Take it then as a mere matter of fact. The Divine Architect, in describing the circuit of His kingdom on earth, placed one foot of His compass in the city of Rome, and with the other traced a circumference which included the whole world. The annals of the Church in succession recognise the Bishop who sat in Peter’s seat as head among the Bishops of the world. I need not wear away your time by citing testimonies. Any one who will take the page of history may read it. I raise no claim, as yet, to anything beyond the fact…
There follows also another truth, and it is an awful one, a truth which springs from the last so inseparably and by so strong a necessity, that I dare not pass it by. If, indeed, God the Holy Ghost being the midst of us, and if it be God the Holy Ghost Who speaks to us through the one Holy Catholic and Roman Church, then it imposes its doctrines on the consciences of men under pain of eternal death. It is under pain of eternal death to disbelieve that which God the Holy Ghost has revealed. To disbelieve what the Holy Ghost, through the Church of God, has taught, incurs the pain of eternal death for those who with their eyes openly reject it’.
Henry, Cardinal Manning, 1808-1892
(Anglican Archdeacon of Chichester 1840-1851; Catholic Archbishop of Westminster 1865-1892)
‘It was not Jesus’ practise to change his disciples’ names: apart from the nickname “sons of thunder”, which in specific circumstances he attributed to the sons of Zebedee and never used again. He never gave any of his disciples a new name.
Yet, he gave one to Simon, calling him “Cephas”. This name was later translated into Greek as Petros and into Latin as Petrus. And it was translated precisely because it was not only a name; it was a “mandate” that Petrus received in that way from the Lord. The new name Petrus was to recur frequently in the Gospels and ended by replacing “Simon”, his original name.
This fact acquires special importance if one bears in mind that in the Old Testament, a change of name usually preceded the entrustment of a mission.
…‘Peter will be the rocky foundation on which he will build the edifice of the Church; he will have the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven to open or close it to people as he sees fit; lastly, he will be able to bind or to loose, in the sense of establishing or prohibiting whatever he deems necessary for the life of the Church. It is always Christ’s Church, not Peter’s.
…This pre-eminent position that Jesus wanted to bestow upon Peter is also encountered after the Resurrection: Jesus charges the women to announce it especially to Peter, as distinct from the other Apostles; it is to Peter and John that Mary Magdalene runs to tell them that the stone has been rolled away from the entrance to the tomb, and John was to stand back to let Peter enter first when they arrived at the empty tomb.
Then, Peter was to be the first witness of an appearance of the Risen One. His role, decisively emphasised, marks the continuity between the pre-eminence he had in the group of the Apostles and the pre-eminence he would continue to have in the community born with the paschal events, as the Book of Acts testifies.
His behaviour was considered so decisive that it prompted remarks as well as criticism.
At the so-called Council of Jerusalem Peter played a directive role, and precisely because he was a witness of authentic faith, Paul himself recognised that he had a certain quality of “leadership”.
Moreover, the fact that several of the key texts that refer to Peter can be traced back to the context of the Last Supper, during which Christ conferred upon Peter the ministry of strengthening his brethren, shows that the ministry entrusted to Peter was one of the constitutive elements of the Church, which was born from the commemoration of the Pasch celebrated in the Eucharist.
This contextualisation of the Primacy of Peter at the Last Supper, at the moment of the Institution of the Eucharist, the Lord’s Pasch, also points to the ultimate meaning of this Primacy: Peter must be the custodian of communion with Christ for all time. He must guide people to communion with Christ; he must ensure that the net does not break, and consequently that universal communion endures. Only together can we be with Christ, who is Lord of all.
Thus, Peter is responsible for guaranteeing communion with Christ with the love of Christ, guiding people to fulfil this love in everyday life. Let us pray that the Primacy of Peter, entrusted to poor human beings, will always be exercised in this original sense as the Lord desired, and that its true meaning will therefore always be recognised by the brethren who are not yet in full communion with us’.
from a general audience, 7 June 2006, given by Pope Benedict XVI
‘Josaphat Kuncewitcz was born about the year 1580 at Vladimir, Volhynia, and given the name John at baptism. While being instructed as a child on the sufferings of our Saviour, his heart is said to have been wounded by an arrow from the sacred side of the Crucified. In 1604 he joined the Ukrainian Order of Saint Basil (Basilians), lived as a monk in a very mortified life, went barefoot even in winter, refrained from the use of wine and flesh-meat, and always wore a penitential garb. In 1614 he was appointed archimandrite of Vilna, Russia and four years later archbishop of Polotzk; in this position he worked untiringly for Church reunion. He was a great friend of the poor, once even pledged his archepiscopal omophorion (pallium) to support a poor widow. The foes of union decided to assassinate him. In a sermon, he himself spoke of his death as imminent. When he visited Vitebsk, his enemies attacked his lodging and murdered a number of his companions. Meekly the man of God hastened toward the mob and, full of love, cried, “My children, what are you doing? If you have something against me, see, here I am.” With furious cries of “Kill the papist!”, they rushed upon him with gun and sword. Josaphat’s body was thrown into the river but emerged, surrounded by rays of light, and was recovered. His murderers, when sentenced to death, repented their crime and became Catholics’.
from The Church’s Year of Grace, 1953, by Pius Parsch, 1884-1954
Stir up in thy Church, we pray, O Lord, the Spirit that filled Saint Josaphat: that, as he laid down his life for the sheep; so through his intercession we, too, may be strengthened by the same Spirit and not fear to lay down our life for the brethren; 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 marks the ninth anniversary of the promulgation in 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI of the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum cœtibus. It was this Constitution which gave life to the personal ordinariates on three continents, and which provides the norms by which the ordinariates were established and their ecclesial lives governed.
The Constitution represents a great gift on the part of the Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church to those Anglicans who, over many years, petitioned the Holy See for some form of corporate reunion with the Catholic Church. That response - the gift of the ordinariates as the means for achieving this prophetic unity - continues to be a blessing to those of us who have accepted this most generous offer and now abide happily in peace and safety - and with not a few precious treasures of our Anglican heritage in tact - within the Barque of Peter.
The full text can be read here.
‘[T]he Holy Father Benedict XVI – Supreme Pastor of the Church and, by mandate of Christ, guarantor of the unity of the episcopate and of the universal communion of all the Churches – has shown his fatherly care for those Anglican faithful (lay, clerics and members of Institutes of Consecrated life and of Societies of Apostolic Life) who have repeatedly petitioned the Holy See to be received into full Catholic Communion.
The Introduction to the Apostolic Constitution lays out the ratio legis of the provision emphasising a number of things which it might be useful to point out:
The Church, which in its unity and diversity is modelled on the Most Holy Trinity, was instituted as “a sacrament – a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all people” (Lumen gentium, 1). For this reason every division among the baptised wounds that which the Church is and that for which the Church exists, and constitutes, therefore, a scandal in that it contradicts the prayer of Jesus before his passion and death (cf. John 17:20-21).
Ecclesial communion, established by the Holy Spirit who is the principle of unity in the Church, is, by analogy with the mystery of the Incarnate Word, at the same time both invisible (spiritual) and visible (hierarchically organised). The communion among the baptised, therefore, if it is to be full communion, must be “visibly manifested in the bonds of the profession of the faith in its entirety, of the celebration of all of the sacraments instituted by Christ, and of the governance of the College of Bishops united with its head, the Roman Pontiff”.
Although the one Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church governed by the Successor of Peter and the Bishops in union with him, there are also elements of sanctification and of truth to be found outside her visible confines, in the Churches and Christian Communities separated from her, which, because these elements are gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling towards Catholic unity.
Those Anglican faithful who, under the promptings of the Holy Spirit, have asked to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church have been moved towards unity by those elements of the Church of Christ which have always been present in their personal and communal lives as Christians.
For this reason, the promulgation of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus by the Holy Father, together with what will follow from this, indicate in a particular way the movement of the Holy Spirit.
The juridical means by the which the Holy Father has decided to receive these Anglicans into full Catholic communion is the erection of Personal Ordinariates (I § 1)’.
from The Significance of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum cœtibus
by Fr Gianfranco Ghirlanda SJ
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)
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.
Fr Lee Kenyon
A Treasure to be Shared
The Acolyte’s Toolbox