Friday, 30 September 2011

Shattering Stereotypes

On the last day of his four-day visit to Germany, the Holy Father gave a homily that demonstrated very clearly that the stereotypes of him and of the Catholic Church so beloved by some in the media, and sadly by some Christians, are totally wrong.

These stereotype views have sometimes been expressed directly to some of us.  There are people who say that the Catholic Church is a harsh place, full of impossible rules, unwelcoming to people who live in the "real world" and lead "real lives".  Well, Pope Benedict's words in Freiburg directly contradict that assertion.

Addressing the crowd of 100,000 on the Gospel of the day, in which Our Lord concludes a parable by sayng to the supposed faithful that prostitutes and publicans will go before them into the Kingdom of Heaven because they believed, whereas the faithful who had heard the message did not repent, the Holy Father expressed this same concept in modern terms.
Translated into the language of our time, this statement might sound something like this: agnostics, who are constantly exercised by the question of God, those who long for a pure heart but suffer on account of our sin, are closer to the Kingdom of God than believers whose life of faith is “routine”and who regard the Church merely as an institution, without letting their hearts be touched by faith.
With these words, the Holy Father showed very clearly that there is a place for everyone, and that people such as he talked about, with "real lives" in the "real world" as his critics would say, should not feel that they are excluded from the love of God, and should not feel that the Catholic Church looks down on them.  They are closer to the Kingdom of God than many who might claim to be more godly or more devout, those who in fact lead a superficial life in which their faith is expressed in no more than routine.

Today we commemorate St Jerome, priest and Doctor of the Church.  St Jerome was an astonishing character, no stranger to controversy (whether in theological debate or in suffering rumours about his personal life), very well travelled, renowned for his fiery temper and recognised throughout the ages for his God-given intellect and talent.

He is perhaps most well known for his achievement of the Vulgate Bible, but no less important are his associated work of biblical exegesis and commentary, his sermons and letters, and his constant insistence on focussing only on the original, authentic translations of scripture.

St Jerome, pray for us.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

HE Cardinal Levada supporting the Ordinariate

In our post on this blog yesterday, we referred to the reception being held last night in the Archbishop of Westminster's throne room, at which His Eminence Cardinal Levada formally launched the Friends of the Ordinariate.

Photos of the event have now started to appear on the internet.  You can find the Catholic Church's Flickr photostream of this event here.

Two of the best known British Catholic bloggers have also posted short reports and some photos on their highly-to-be-recommended blogs.   Here is Fr Ray Blake of St Mary Magdalen, Brighton on the reception.  The first to post photos was Fr Tim Finigan, at his Hermeneutic of Continuity blog.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will spot that one of the members of the Marylebone Ordinariate Group can be seen in the middle of one of Fr Finigan's photos.

Do please consider making a donation to the Friends of the Ordinariate, thereby directly helping the implementation of the Holy Father's generous Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus.

For more background on the Ordinariate, provided by Monsignor Keith Newton in conversation with Ruth Gledhill, do watch the video below.  Monsignor Newton talks of his own spiritual journey in thie film, in which, of particular interest to the members of the Marylebone Ordinariate Group, he mentions St Mary's Bourne St, Eric Mascall and Brian Horne.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle

The 29th of September is the Feast day of Ss Michael, Gabriel and Raphael (and, by the way, the tenth wedding anniversary of the author of this post - for which, thanks be to God).  St Michael is well known as being an Archangel and as Prince of the Angels.  What might be less well known is that according to Church teaching he has four distinct roles. 
  •   Enemy of Satan, expelling him from Heaven. 
  •   Saving souls at the hour of death 
  •   Weighing souls on Judgment Day 
  •   Guardian of the Church
While some of these roles might appear unfashionable to some, they apply now as ever.  In the homily given at his first ordination of bishops as Pope Benedict XVI, the Holy Father talked about the similarities between the mission of bishops and the mission of the angels.  Fr Ray Blake quoted a very informative news release on this homily on his St Mary Magdalen, Brighton blog :
Just as angels, explained the pope, bishops must lead humanity to God; they must knock on the door to their hearts to announce Christ; they must heal the wounds of relations between man and woman and save them from sin with reconciliation and forgiveness.
The Holy Father's homily was a timely reminder of the importance of the role of the angels, in this age where so many do not know God, and when even many of those who do like to form their own conclusions rather than listen to the Church.  On his recent visit to Germany, the Holy Father talked about how strange it now seems to the modern mind that Martin Luther was so interested in how one might receive God's grace: 
“How do I receive the grace of God?” The fact that this question was the driving force of his whole life never ceases to make an impression on me. For who is actually concerned about this today – even among Christians? What does the question of God mean in our lives? In our preaching? Most people today, even Christians, set out from the presupposition that God is not fundamentally interested in our sins and virtues. He knows that we are all mere flesh. Insofar as people today believe in an afterlife and a divine judgement at all, nearly everyone presumes for all practical purposes that God is bound to be magnanimous and that ultimately he mercifully overlooks our small failings. But are they really so small, our failings? Is not the world laid waste through the corruption of the great, but also of the small, who think only of their own advantage? Is it not laid waste through the power of drugs, which thrives on the one hand on greed and avarice, and on the other hand on the craving for pleasure of those who become addicted? Is the world not threatened by the growing readiness to use violence, frequently masking itself with claims to religious motivation? Could hunger and poverty so devastate parts of the world if love for God and godly love of neighbour – of his creatures, of men and women – were more alive in us? I could go on. No, evil is no small matter. Were we truly to place God at the centre of our lives, it could not be so powerful. The question: what is God’s position towards me, where do I stand before God? – this burning question of Martin Luther must once more, doubtless in a new form, become our question too.
So how might we build the work of the angels?  In addition to doing what we humanly can to contribute to their mission in "announcing Christ", perhaps through being Confidently Catholic, the answer is prayer.  Pope Leo XIII added the prayer below to the "Leonine Prayers" to be said after Mass.  Although the Leonine Prayers are no longer required after Mass, Pope John Paul II specifically encouraged the faithful to use this prayer to St Michael, as an aid in our "....battle against the forces of darkness and the spirit of this world."
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.  May God rebuke him, we humbly pray: and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.
To conclude, a setting of Psalm 148 by the eighteenth-century French organist and composer, Michel Corrette. 

St Michael, pray for us.

Friends of the Ordinariate, Cardinal Levada and St Wenceslaus

As mentioned elsewhere on the web, including in the Archbishop of Westminster's online diary and in several blogs, this evening, His Eminence Cardinal Levada will be present at an event held in the Archbishop of Westminster's Throne Room to boost and to launch formally the recently-created Friends of the Ordinariate.  Let us pray for the success of this event.  It is off to a good start, as it has become one of the hottest invitations in town - we must hope that those attending are inspired to dig deeply into their pockets to support this excellent cause, and to inspire others to do the same.

You can read about the work of the Friends of the Ordinariate here and here.

Please consider whether you can make a financial contribution of some kind to Friends of the Ordinariate, thereby supporting the work of the Ordinariate and helping directly to implement the plans of the Holy Father in his care for this country. 

Forms to set up a standing order and gift aid contributions can be found here, as well as bank details if you would like to make a direct transfer.

Today we commemorate St Wenceslaus, Duke of Bohemia, well known of course for a certain Christmas carol, but also revered as the Patron Saint of the Czech Republic (today is the National Day of the Czech Republic), and a martyr, killed on his way to church, who accepted his fate without a struggle, and who in his last words forgave those who had attacked him.

To mark today's Saint, here is a piece of baroque music from his homeland, the mammoth setting of the Te Deum by Jan Dismas Zelenka.  Although very long, the piece is a good showcase for Zelenka's skill for using many different styles, and indeed some sections are full of little surprises.

St Wenceslaus, pray for us.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

St Vincent de Paul, pray for us

Today we commemorate St Vincent de Paul, a saint famed for his early seventeenth work as a missionary and for his works for the poor. 

Many continue to support his work today through the Society of St Vincent de Paul, a charity that is  "dedicated to tackling poverty and disadvantage by providing direct practical assistance to anyone in need."  You can read about the activities of the St James's Conference of the Society of St Vincent de Paul on this webpage.  At St James's, there is also a good number of people who are active in the Order of Malta.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that "God blesses those who come to the aid of the poor and rebukes those who turn away from them", and that, of the Corporal Works of Mercy, "Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God."

Might today be a good opportunity to consider a donation of time or money to a charity such as the Society of St Vincent de Paul?

St Vincent de Paul was also involved in what we know was equally important work in mission to the poor.  This well known extract from the Messiah contains text from the Epistle to the Romans that is very suitable for one such as he :

"How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things."

Saint Vincent de Paul, pray for us.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Pray unceasingly

In recent posts, we have commented on how devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham and to Blessed John Henry Newman are to be found in abundance amongst new Catholics arriving in the Ordinariate. For obvious reasons, those in the Ordinariate probably have a newly re-invigorated sense of such devotion.  It is rightly a source of joy that this is so.
Particular saints are venerated more in some places than in others, and more in some times than in others. This may be caused by a local connection, by a particular relevance to current events, or very simply because we find one saint more interesting or even likeable than another. Even although we are all united across time and space through our place in one Church, it is no surprise that we on earth, the Church Militant, should identify more readily with some of those of the Church Triumphant than with others.

The saints commemorated today throw up a little conundrum as far as the inhabitants of these isles are concerned. Saints Cosmas and Damian, the twin martyr physicians, are widely celebrated in both East and West, they are saints of extremely long standing, having been martyred before the year 300AD (not 300CE, as the BBC would have us say), and are well known for acts that remain very obviously good works even in these changed times (providing medical care without charging). They are even among the saints commemorated in the Communicantes prayer of the Roman Canon.

Yet, they are not especially known in this country. 

There are a few churches dedicated to them (internet sources suggest there might be five parish churches in England dedicated to them).  The Barbers’ Company in the City of London is dedicated to them, and the coat of arms of the Royal Society of Medicine includes them as supporters. The records of Canterbury Cathedral show that they once possessed some relics of the twin saints, as did Salisbury Cathedral, Bisham Abbey and other places. Salisbury Cathedral has some nineteenth century statuary of them.  Yet, apart from this, the twin saints are not especially recognised or venerated here.

Amongst the great Cloud of Witnesses, there are many with whom we are not familiar. We do not know all the Church Triumphant any more than we know all the Church Militant or indeed all the Church Penitent.  Yet, it doesn’t matter that we don't know them all.  Even if we should show interest in others, and draw inspiration from the lives of the saints, what counts is that, being members of one Church, we ask the prayers of the Communion of Saints, of our brothers and sisters in this life, and of the Holy Souls in Purgatory, and indeed also that we ourselves pray for others

As new members of the Catholic Church, members of the Ordinariate are very well aware that they have entered into a new and wider communion.  Therefore, we are as conscious as anyone of the wider perception of that fellowship and communion, which includes the living and the dead, the Saints in Heaven and the Holy Souls in Purgatory, the known and the unknown, those to whom we are devoted and those of whom we have never heard.

As we pray for all members of Christ’s Church, and ask their prayers for us, let us join that common intercession most especially today with the prayers of Our Lady of Walsingham, of Saints Cosmas and Damian, and of Blessed John Henry Newman. 

To finish, a much loved piece of Anglican Patrimony, the setting by Stanford of Iustorum Animae, the text used at the Offertory at Mass on the Solemnity of All Saints.

Pray unceasingly, we must empty Purgatory
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina Padre Pio

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Two Reflections

In the first of the two reflections referred to in the title of this post, the Rector of St James's Spanish Place, Fr Christopher Colven, assesses the impact that the Holy Father's visit in September 2010 has had on Catholics in this country.  The text is taken from this week's Parish Notes.

The Rector writes :

On Saturday 1st October, beginning from Westminster Cathedral at 1.15pm, there is to be a Procession of the Blessed Sacrament through the streets to St George’s Cathedral Southwark. This act of witness to the Eucharistic Lord is part of celebrations to mark the first anniversary of Pope Benedict’s visit to this country. In itself, the procession is a sign of renewed confidence among the Catholic community: the months preceding last September’s Papal visit saw increasing nervousness as to how he would be received in what was thought to be among the most secularised parts of Europe – and there had been a well orchestrated campaign in elements of the media ridiculing belief in general and Catholicism in particular. In the event, from the moment the Holy Father touched down in Edinburgh, hundreds of thousands turned out to welcome him and, more importantly, listen attentively to what he had to say. This was evident when he addressed civil society in Westminster Hall and when he spoke to ecumenical leaders in Westminster Abbey, and spectacularly in the great vigil in Hyde Park and then Cardinal Newman’s beatification in Birmingham. The Pope commented that his visit had given him “fresh breath”, and that is certainly true for the Catholics of Scotland, Wales and England.

A year on, how can we assess the events of September 2010? Since St Gregory the Great sent Augustine on his mission in 597, England had always enjoyed a close relationship with the Successors of St Peter – which accounts for the pain of the discontinuity introduced in the 16th century and the searing experience of penal times which has written loyalty to Rome deep into the British Catholic consciousness. What was re-experienced last year was a sense of cohesion around Peter: through our communion with Rome, our place within the universality of the Church is secured. The Pope is there to ensure that St Peter’s act of faith in the living Christ as Son of Man and Son of God is proclaimed in every age: it is his responsibility to guarantee the parameters of right belief (to encourage dialogue and fresh thinking but to ensure it does not lose touch with “what was first received”). In so many unexpected ways the present Papacy has proved much more radical than could ever have been imagined ( a warning against stereotyping) and it is exciting and stimulating to be a Catholic Christian with Pope Benedict at the helm of Peter’s bark!

One of the lessons that the present Pope can teach us is not to be afraid to address contemporary culture on its own terms. In the address at Westminster Hall, Benedict XVI reminded those present of Europe’s rooting in Christian Faith and gave his analysis of contemporary societies not at ease with themselves having lost contact with God: he did not preach, but he did teach, and an audience which was uncertain at first acclaimed him enthusiastically at the end. This didactic approach, wanting to engage others in genuine discussion, putting forward thoughts and ideas which have intellectual integrity – going out into the market place (like St Paul) to meet people of different beliefs, and none, on their own ground – with a clarity underpinned by humility, which offers an invitation but does not demand attention, is surely the way to reach into the hearts and minds of our own generation.” I will endow him with my spirit: he will proclaim the true faith to the nations. He will not brawl or shout … he will not break the crushed reed, nor put out the smouldering wick” (Matthew 12:20).

Christopher Colven                                                              

Readers may also find a short reflection given by Fr Ed Tomlinson of the Tunbridge Wells Ordinariate Group of interest.  The theme is Our Lady of Walsingham and Christian Unity

To conclude, another Walsingham hymn :

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us

Today is a very special day for the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, since we mark the Solemnity of Our Lady of Walsingham. 

Those who have come into the Catholic Church from the Church of England will usually have an existing devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham, and will have visited the Anglican Shrine and most probably the Catholic Shrine too, the Slipper Chapel, on a number of occasions.  Devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham is something that is most definitely not unfamiliar to former Anglo-Catholics. 

Indeed, when I was one of those running the Facebook site of St Mary's Bourne Street, I posted some albums that highlighted some of the strong connections that had existed between St Mary's and Walsingham.  The two albums in question are of Fr Humphrey Whitby and of Lord Halifax.

Here is a hymn called Mary of Walsingham, sung a few years ago by the choir of the Anglican Parish Church in Wantage, Oxfordshire.

This year, the annual Pilgrimage of Reparation and Consecration in Walsingham was joined by a large number of members of the Ordinariate, and was led by Monsignor Newton.

Here is a link to a very informative set of personal reflections on that day written by Angela Moffat, the organiser of the pilgrimage.  In particular, it shows that there is more to Anglican Patrimony than singing hymns, and that perhaps one of the things that former Anglicans can bring is a familiarity with certain devotional practices that have somehow retained greater popularity in Anglo-Catholic circles than they have managed to do in the wider Catholic Church that gave birth to them.  

Angela Moffatt's reflections also include an account of the moment when the Pilgrimage reached the Anglican Shrine.  The Anglican Shrine was of course very familiar to many of the Ordinariate members on the pilgrimage, and by all accounts it seems that many felt deeply moved by what was happening.  A joint prayer service was held with our Anglican friends, and the rite of sprinkling was carried out.  All prayed for the Unity of Christians.

Photos of the Ordinariate's Pilgrimage of Reconciliation to Walsingham

Pope Leo XIII, who authorised the re-opening of the Slipper Chapel as the Catholic Shrine in Walsingham in 1894, prophesied that "When England goes back to Walsingham, Our Lady will come back to England."  Let us pray for the Unity of all Christians, and that aided by the unending intercession of Our Most Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Walsingham, England may once again be known as Our Lady's Dowry.

It now seems appropriate to provide a link to this footage of Pope Leo XIII in 1896, accompanied by a recording of him chanting the Ave Maria.

Last but not least, if you are in or near Oxford, don't forget that the Oxford Ordinariate Group is marking today's Solemnity with a special programme of events. 
Oxford Ordinariate - Solemnity of Our Lady of Walsingham

O Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, Our Lady of Walsingham, Mother of Reconciliation, pray for us.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Padre Pio, pray for us

Time only allows for a short blogpost today, in which we touch briefly on the saint of the day, Padre Pio, Pio of Petrelcina, and in which we would like to draw your attention to two upcoming events

The video below shows a visit by Pope Benedict XVI to San Giovanni Rotondo, the home town of Padre Pio, where he prayed before the Saint's tomb and celebrated Mass.  In his homily that day, he reminded pilgrims not just of Padre Pio's spiritual strengths, but also of the obligation to provide for those in need, however difficult that might be. 

The first of the two events we would like to highlight is that the Oxford Ordinariate Group is marking the Solemnity of Our Lady of Walsingham (the day is marked as such in the Ordinariate) wih a special programme of events for tomorrow afternoon.  If you are in or near Oxford then, do support this with your presence and/or your prayers.

Oxford Ordinariate - Solemnity of Our Lady of Walsingham

The second event has been highlighted by Fr Ed Tomlinson of the Tunbridge Wells Ordinariate Group.  A Mass is being celebrated by the Archbishop of Westminster at Westminster Cathedral on October 6th for the St Barnabas Society, a charity that offers financial support to clergy converts and their families.  Again, please support this event with your presence and/or your prayers, and consider whether you might be able to offer some financial support as well, either throught the St Barnabas Society or through the Friends of the Ordinariate. 

Tunbridge Wells Ordinariate - St Barnabas Society

Friends of the Ordinariate

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The Angels rejoice.... and so do the ex-Anglicans

Perfectly reasonably, some Catholics wonder if all these incoming ex-Anglicans, particularly those joining the Church through Anglicanorum Coetibus, willl need to "change their mind" on a number of key teachings, such as Transubstantiation, the Assumption, the Immaculate Conception and Papal Infallibility.

In fact, the kind of Anglican most often likely to avail himself or herself of the generous provisions of Anglicanorum Coetibus will have come from an Anglican parish where the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception were celebrated with some solemnity, where belief in the Real Presence was taught and held, where the Holy Father was prayed for by name, and where at least some had an appreciation of what Papal infallibility did and did not mean. 

For us ex-Anglicans, there are things to learn and things to get used to, most certainly, but there is no need for anyone to be worried that ex-Anglicans arriving in the Church through Anglicanorum Coetibus are somehow going to consitute a separate pocket of half-measure Catholics.  What is happening is that these people are coming into the full communion of the Catholic Church, they are coming into communion with the Successor of St Peter: while preparation is required, they are not learning a totally unfamiliar faith.

Even if these ex-Anglicans, like their now fellow Catholics, know what an Ex Cathedra teaching is, there cannot be many who have ever seen it happen.  The only example since the solemn definition in 1870 of the dogma of Papal Infallibility in the First Vatican Council's Pastor Aeternus is Pope Pius XII's declaration, in the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus, on 1 November 1950 that the Virgin Mary  "having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory."

So that more of all of us have seen it happen, here is some truly remarkable footage of that great day in 1950.  Pope Pius XII emerges on the sedia gestatoria just before 3.30, and makes his Ex Cathedra declaration at 6.05.  Assumpta est Maria in caelum: gaudent Angeli, laudantes benedicunt Dominum : and don't worry, the ex-Anglicans rejoice too.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Feast of St Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist : Beatus vir, qui timet Dominum

Today is the Feast of St Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist.  St Matthew is the patron saint of accountants, bankers, bookkeepers, stock brokers, tax collectors, customs officers and security guards : people who need his and our prayers as much as anyone else, despite what the newspapers say.

The gradual set for Mass today is "Beatus vir, qui timet Dominum".  This text has been set to music many times, by Gorecki, Vivaldi, Mozart and others, but perhaps one of the most well known settings is by Claudio Monteverdi.

Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord: he delights exceedingly in His commandments.His seed shall be mighty upon earth; the generation of the righteous shall be blessed.

Saint Matthew, pray for us.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Confidently Catholic

One year on from Pope Benedict's visit to this country, the Bishops of England and Wales have marked the occasion with a Mass at Westminster Cathedral on Sunday (the Archbishop of Westminster's excellent homily can be watched here : and have offered some thoughts one how we might build on the good done while the Holy Father was among us:

They ask us to be "Confidently Catholic", and, echoing the Holy Father's frequent quotation of Blessed John Henry Newman last year, they ask us to carry out the "definite service" that our Heavenly Father calls us to perform. 
God was all-complete, all-blessed in Himself; but it was His will to create a world for His glory. He is Almighty, and might have done all things Himself, but it has been His will to bring about His purposes by the beings He has created. We are all created to His glory—we are created to do His will. I am created to do something or to be something for which no one else is created; I have a place in God's counsels, in God's world, which no one else has; whether I be rich or poor, despised or esteemed by man, God knows me and calls me by my name.
God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission—I never may know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. Somehow I am necessary for His purposes, as necessary in my place as an Archangel in his—if, indeed, I fail, He can raise another, as He could make the stones children of Abraham. Yet I have a part in this great work; I am a link in a chain, a bond of connexion between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do His work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling.

Blessed John Henry Newman, Meditations and Devotions

Being "Confidently Catholic" is certainly one way to do service to God and to others.  A strident, triumphalist  or exclusivist Catholicism is not what is called for by this phrase, but rather a Catholicism manifested in a Catholic who lives what he believes, who witnesses to his faith by what he does.

In our discussions with others, we are asked to follow the Holy Father's example in witnessing to the Splendour of Truth, as he did at Westminster Hall, where in the Archbishop of Westminster's words he spoke "with sensitivity and reasoned argument, without hectoring or condemning, inviting rather than demanding, firmly but gently." 

One thing that the Bishops invite us to take up immediately is the restored practice of Friday abstinence from meat.  Abstaining from meat on Fridays not only achieves our Friday penance, but is also both a means of solidarity with those who have less than we do, and a gentle but clear way of marking out to others that we are serious about what we say we believe.

For those who live in or near London, there are two events in the next few weeks that will give opportunities for other ways of being "Confidently Catholic".  Do support these events if you can, and bring all your friends.

The first is a Procession of the Blessed Sacrament from Westminster Cathedral to St George's Cathedral, Southwark on Saturday 1 October, leaving Westminster Cathedral at 1.15pm with Benediction scheduled to begin at St George's at 2.30pm.

The second is another procession, this time a Procession of Our Lady, a Rosary Crusade of Reparation.  For more details, see the link below.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us

One year ago today, Pope Benedict XVI beatified Blessed John Henry Newman at an outdoor Mass celebrated in Cofton Park, Birmingham. This was a true high point in his spectacular visit to the United Kingdom. 

On Saturday morning 18 September, there had been the Mass in Westminster Cathedral, which spoke to many thinking of joining the Catholic Church. Saturday evening saw the Holy Father lead a Prayer Vigil in Hyde Park attended by around 80,000 people, including many Anglicans who are now part of the Ordinariate, for example as seen in these photos


Then, finally, there came the beatification of one of the leaders of the Oxford Movement; one who along with Pusey, Keble and others had sought to prove the catholic nature of the Church of England; one who later had taken the decision to join the Catholic Church, the same choice that was now being pondered so actively by many; one whose decision to leave behind him the familiar surroundings of his present ecclesial home and to move elsewhere was strikingly resonant.
Newman is an inspiration to both Anglicans and Catholics.  There is immense and justified pride in the massive achievements of a man who had a major influence on the Church of England, and who, in his own way, went on to bring an early form of “Anglican Patrimony” to the Catholic Church.  There is admiration for his writings both devotional and academic, for his work in education, for his pastoral skills, and for his contribution to the development of the Catholic Church in this country.

There was a time when some in the catholic wing of the Church of England would jokingly warn each other not to read Blessed John Henry Newman’s Apologia pro Vita Sua, or his novel Loss and Gain, as to do so gave one “Roman fever”.   Well, no doubt the Papal Visit and the Beatification of Blessed John Henry Newman did inspire many to read or reread both the Apologia and Loss and Gain. Some of those people are now part of the Marylebone Ordinariate Group, so it seems the friendly warning said in jest was not entirely baseless.
Being well aware of the importance of Blessed John Henry Newman in the Oxford Movement, and noting his status as Patron of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, we wanted to include an appropriate quotation from his works on the inside cover of the orders of service for the Mass celebrated when we were received into the Catholic Church. After some debate, we settled on this famous passage from the Apologia.

“From the time that I became a Catholic, of course I have no further history of my religious opinions to narrate. In saying this, I do not mean to say that my mind has been idle, or that I have given up thinking on theological subjects; but that I have had no variations to record, and have had no anxiety of heart whatever. I have been in perfect peace and contentment; I never have had one doubt. I was not conscious to myself, on my conversion, of any change, intellectual or moral, wrought in my mind. I was not conscious of firmer faith in the fundamental truths of Revelation, or of more self-command; I had not more fervour; but it was like coming into port after a rough sea; and my happiness on that score remains to this day without interruption.”

How appropriate this seems. It is entirely consonant with our experience so far.

To conclude then, a brief clip from of that great day one year ago when Blessed John Henry Newman was beatified, and also a reminder that two of the three permanent video links in the right hand sidebar are of Newman hymns, Praise to the Holiest and Lead Kindly Light.  Listen to those two inspiring hymns.

Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us.


Sunday, 18 September 2011

Pope Benedict XVI at Westminster Cathedral

The last two days of the Pope Benedict's visit to the United Kingdom in September 2010 included two events that very heavily influenced many of those who have joined the Ordinariate and the wider Catholic Church this year. 

The first of those was the Mass celebrated at Westminster Cathedral exactly one year ago today.  The second, of which more tomorrow, was the Beatification of Blessed John Henry Newman.

The Westminster Cathedral Mass created huge interest and was of huge appeal.  Those who watched it were moved by the solemnity, dignity, reverence and beauty of the liturgy, and by the obvious warmth and rapport between the Holy Father and all those gathered inside and outside.   

For some who have joined the Catholic Church recently, it was an occasion that contained so many things with which we were so familiar, and which we loved: yet we were, in one hugely significant way, cut off from it.  We were not in full communion with the Successor of St Peter: with the open invitation seen in Anglicanorum Coetibus and indeed generally, there seemed to some of us to be less and less justification for deliberately allowing that situation to persist.  And so, from that date onwards, a thought process, which had been begun many times before but never concluded, finally started on its way to what became formal Reception.

One of the permanent video links on the right hand sidebar of this blog is of the Holy Father's procession into the Cathedral at the start of Mass, to the truly stunning accompaniment of James Macmillan's setting of Tu es Petrus.  Please take a look at it now if you haven't before (and perhaps even if have).  To complement this, here is the well known Bruckner setting of Ecce Sacerdos Magnus, as sung by Westminster Cathedral Choir as the Holy Father processed out after Mass, and paused for prayer at the new Shrine of St David. 

Saturday, 17 September 2011

The Holy Father in Westminster

One year ago today, the Holy Father used the occasion of his speech in Westminster Hall to remind the leaders of the nation of the place that religion should have in society. 

His direct approach in defence of faith, especially in the place where St Thomas More was tried, was very much in the spirit of the saint of the day, St Robert Bellarmine, a Doctor of the Church, a Cardinal and a Bishop, and a great defender of the Faith.

After Westminster Hall, the Holy Father moved on to Westminster Abbey for a moving ecumenical service.  Here is one of the hymns from that service.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Saint Ninian, pray for us

When our Ordinariate group was formed and we were received into the Catholic Church, one of us took Ninian as his Confirmation Name.

September 16th is the Feast of St Ninian, the "Apostle to the Southern Picts", and the first Bishop known to have ministered in Scotland.  St Ninian is believed to have been responsible for the construction in 397AD of the first known Church building in Scotland, the Candida Casa (the White House), a white-washed stone building from which the town of Whithorn in Galloway takes its name.

Although the evangelisation of Scotland is more often associated with St Columba, in fact St Ninian lived well over a century before St Columba, and worked in different regions of Scotland. 

September 16th also marks the first anniversary of the great day last year when the Holy Father arrived in Scotland at the start of his visit to the United Kingdom.  That visit was a definite turning point for many who have come into the Ordinariate and into the wider Catholic Church in this country in the past year.  One of the things that Pope Benedict did exactly one year ago was to celebrate an open-air Mass in Bellahouston Park in Glasgow in front of around 65,000 people.  That Mass was of course of St Ninian of Galloway.

The Collect at the Mass said by the Holy Father was as follows :

Lord our God, you brought the Picts and Britons to a knowledge of the Faith through the teaching of Saint Ninian, the Bishop: in your goodness, listen to our prayers: grant that we who have received from him the light of your truth may remain strong in faith and active in works of charity.  We ask this through Our Lord, Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.   Amen.

In the video below, there is some footage of the Mass celebrated that momentous day.  Underneath that video is a link to a hymn, Ninian of Galloway, which was sung just before the start of the Papal Mass in Glasgow, and to a prayer for the Feast of St Ninian.

As we now give thanks to Almighty God for the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom last year, we ask for His continued blessing on these islands.  May Our Lady, St Ninian and all the Saints of this land pray for us.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Our Lady of Sorrows

For today's Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, here is the text of the Collect from Mass, followed by Vivaldi's setting of the sequence Stabat Mater Dolorosa.

Father, as Your Son was raised on the cross,
His mother Mary stood by Him, sharing His sufferings.
May Your Church be united with Christ
in His suffering and death
and so come to share in His rising to new life,
where He lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Rosary Crusade of Reparation

We would like to highlight that on Saturday October 8, there will be a Rosary Crusade of Reparation, with a statue of Our Lady being carried in procession from Westminster Cathedral to Brompton Oratory. The event has been run for the past 26 years, with around 2000 people taking part each year.

Members and friends of the Ordinariate should note that this year the procession will be led by Monsignor Newton, and so the organisers are particularly keen for members and friends of the Ordinariate to participate.

People should gather at Westminster Cathedral by 1.45, with the procession concluding at the Oratory with Prayers, Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and Benediction. Proceedings will have finished in good time before the 6pm Mass at the Oratory.

Full details of the order of events on the day can be found at :

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

From the Epistle set for Mass today :

Brethren, let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. For which cause God also hath exalted Him, and hath given Him a name which is above all names: that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth: and that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.

On our group's Facebook page (which can be reached through one of the links on the right), earlier today we posted a link to Anton Bruckner's setting of Christus Factus Est.  The text of this motet comes from the Gradual of the Mass for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which in turn comes from the passage from the Epistle to the Philippians.   It seemed very appropriate to link to this particular performance, as in the link we can hear the music being sung by Westminster Cathedral Choir at Mass on the occasion of the Holy Father's visit almost exactly one year ago. 

Finally, please note that to mark today's Feast, there will be a performance of the Anglo-Saxon poem The Dream of the Rood, with music composed by Sharon Jennings and sung by the Fentiman Singers, in the Lady Chapel at St James's, Spanish Place tonight. The dream is of the cross telling Christ its own story of the crucifixion. The performance, given in honour of Holy Cross Day, begins at 7.30pm. Admission will be free, but donations towards the costs will be welcome.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Thoughts from St James's on the Ordinariate (2)

In this week's parish notes, Fr Christopher Colven provides some further thoughts on the Ordinariate, and how its existence might contribute to Catholic parish life.

The Rector writes ...
Last weekend a number of those who have been worshipping here over past months were received into full communion through the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham. Ordinariates are models established by Pope Benedict whereby Christians from other traditions can become Catholics while retaining elements of their own background or “patrimony”. As with other fresh expressions of ecclesial life – the Neo-Catechumenate, Focalare, Communion & Liberation, for example – the Ordinariates are integrated into the life of the local Church, while retaining a character of their own. A current question – and it will only begin to be answered over coming months – is what particular “patrimony” might be involved in an Ordinariate consisting of former Anglicans. Never one to hesitate to step where angels fear to tread, my own view is that the special charism being brought in this case is neither liturgical nor theological, but pastoral. Let me explain.

Perhaps the greatest change experienced by an Anglican on becoming a Catholic is the difference in size of congregation! Anglican parishes tend to be relatively small in number (two hundred on a Sunday would be thought large) whereas Catholic parishes, often serving much wider areas, attract many more. This is both a strength and a weakness. Clearly, our parishes are not just “catholic” in name – they are a genuine cross section of culture, age and ethnicity, a microcosm of wider society – but the sheer numbers coming to Mass can make them feel impersonal, and it is possible to worship alongside the same people for years without ever engaging with them in any real way. Because Anglican parishes tend to be much more consciously gathered communities, their members usually know one another better and consequently can offer stronger patterns of pastoral care. Almost by osmosis Anglican parishes, too, while dealing with smaller numbers of actual worshippers, have inherited a sense of responsibility for the wider social context in which they exist.

What I hope the Ordinariate groups might offer the Catholic Church in this country is a dialogue in which fresh pastoral techniques, and a deeper sense of service towards civil society, can be integrated into our existing life and practise. As we commemorate the first anniversary of Pope Benedict’s visit to this country, it does us well to examine the changing patterns of religion in Britain: without being overly partisan, it is clear that the Established expression of Christianity cuts less and less ice with the majority – the natural consequence of a less homogenous, multi-cultured nation - and that the Catholic Church has a responsibility to begin to fill the vacuum. My own belief is that we do this best not by public stridency or by trying to mark out distinctive territory, but by the quality of life lived in our parishes. Jesus promises: “Where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them” (Matthew 18:20) - if we need a blueprint, there it is: people of Christian faith, recognising the image of the Saviour written deep in one another, who allow the concern they feel to flow out to embrace the needs of the wider community. The Second Vatican Council document, “Lumen Gentium”, has it this way: “If we continue to love one another and to join in praising the Most Holy Trinity – all of us who form one family in Christ – we will be faithful to the deepest vocation of the Church”.
Christopher Colven

Thoughts from St James's on the Ordinariate (1)

In October 2010, Fr Christopher Colven, the Rector of St James's Spanish Place, provided some thoughts on the new possibilities opened up by the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus.

A New Ordinariate Group is Born

Welcome to our new blog.

The Marylebone Group of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham began formally on Saturday 3 September 2011, the Feast of St Gregory the Great, when three former members of the congregation of St Mary's Bourne St were received into the full communion of the Catholic Church by Monsignor Keith Newton, the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham was established on 15 January 2011 for groups of Anglican faithful and their clergy who wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. It has been placed under the patronage of Blessed John Henry Newman.

The establishment of this Ordinariate in England and Wales was the first fruit of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, issued by Pope Benedict XVI on 4 November 2009. The Constitution and the Complementary Norms published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith provide the essential norms which will enable members of the Ordinariate to preserve within the Catholic Church those elements of Anglican ecclesial prayer, liturgy and pastoral practice (patrimony) that are concordant with Catholic teaching and which have nurtured and nourished their Christian faith and life.

Our members usually attend the 10.30 Solemn Mass each Sunday morning at St James's, and it is hoped that eventually occasional Ordinariate masses will be said at St James's, in addition to the active liturgical life of this busy and very welcoming parish. 

We are very grateful to Fr Christopher Colven, Rector of St James's Spanish Place, for his welcome, understanding and much valued assistance. 

A word of thanks also to the clergy of the Ordinariate who have been instrumental in bringing us into the Catholic Church.  We thank Fr Christopher Pearson, as well as Monsignor Keith Newton and Deacon James Bradley for their time, patience and dedication.

Please check this blog from time to time for updates, sign up to follow it, or join our Facebook group (link on the right) to be updated automatically.