‘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
‘The Roman See and its occupant are only too often ignored altogether by Anglicans or else are dismissed with a few airy and superficial generalisations. Common gratitude alone seems to demand something more than this; for it was the missionary zeal of St Gregory the Great that send the Roman monk Augustine to Canterbury in AD 596 to bring the Gospel to the people of Kent, and for nearly a thousand years from that date the Church of England was in communion with Rome and used the Roman liturgy… Whatever may be our judgement about later developments, the fact remains that it was from Rome and its pontiff that the Church of England to which we belong derived its origin. In any case we might well ponder the following words of Dr Jalland from the Preface to his Bampton Lectures on The Church and the Papacy:
“To those to whom the ultimate demands of papal doctrine seem in the end unacceptable there must come inevitably a sense of tragedy that so many great gifts as those which the Roman see appears to have enjoyed did not in fact prove capable of better use in the interests of Christendom as a whole. It may be that a fuller recognition of its status in the history of our Faith there will grow a more generous acknowledgment of its appropriate place in the glorious reunited Christendom of the future.”’
from The Recovery of Unity: A Theological Approach, 1958
by E.L. Mascall, 1905-1993
We kept our Solemnity of Title yesterday, the first time we have been able to celebrate the feast of Saint John Henry Newman on the calendar since his canonisation in Rome on 13 October last year. Veneration of our first class relic of the saint (some strands of his hair) - a gift from the Fathers of the Manchester Oratory - was not possible due to present restrictions, but we placed it before his image for the veneration of the faithful present at Mass in his honour.
‘On the spiritual plane, Newman never suffered disappointment. Nor did the faintest shadow of such a thing ever enter his head. What he had longer for, what he had striven so sorely to attain, he at last had gained – Jerusalem. The Vision of Peace, God with Us. In the letters he wrote following his conversion, there are repeated references to the ineffable joy and peace he felt in the knowledge that Christ is sacramentally present with His Church. That belief he held unwaveringly till his last hour. The Shekinah, the Blessed Presence, luminous and life-giving, which went with Israel hidden within the cloud, he had found again, though shrouded in the densest of clouds, and God knows how dense they can be – that Presence he had found, and never lost again’.
Louis Bouyer, Cong. Orat., 1913-2004
O God, who didst bestow upon thy Priest Saint 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 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
Fr Lee Kenyon