Friday, 29 June 2012

Fr Hunwicke's First Mass

Yesterday was one of the most special days we have yet had as members of the Ordinariate.  Three of our group had the honour, joy and privilege to be able to attend Fr Hunwicke's First Mass, which as we reported earlier, was celebrated in the Extraordinary Form at the London Oratory.

We will be reporting on our visit to Fr Hunwicke's priestly ordination at the Oxford Oratory on Wednesday evening shortly, but since this post is ready to go, there is no reason to hold it up.

The liturgical photos in this blogpost were sourced from the famous New Liturgical Movement blog and from the Papa Stronsay blog.  Fr Hunwicke has long had a strong connection with this community of Transalpine Redemptorists, and all Ordinariate members were delighted that several of the community travelled all the way from Orkney to Oxford and London to share in their priestly friend's special events. 

We also have a couple of photos of our own, as you will see below.  None of us felt able to take pictures during the mass itself, so caught up were we by the beauty of a very expert celebration of this ancient and powerful form of offering the most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  The depth of one's sense of participation in the rite was incredible, the feeling of immediacy and indeed of intimacy quite overwhelming.  All three of us from our group who attended have attended masses in the Extraordinary Form before, but this one surely had a very particular importance for us.

Some travelled from Orkney to be there, others from Hythe, Brighton, Balham and indeed I travelled from Paris via Pimlico.    As I walked from home in Pimlico towards the Oratory, I passed by St Mary's Bourne St, our former home in our Anglican days.  In the bright sunshine of the morning, I reflected on so many very happy days there, not least (as I was on my way to an 1130am mass) of many Saturday morning 1130 services at St Mary's, and of friends of many years who were still Bournestreeters.  While we have left friends behind there, we have also found many new friends in the Catholic Church, both inside and and outside the Ordinariate, and so there was a certain symbolism as I thought of leaving the small but lovely St Mary's in my wake on my journey up to the much larger, utterly spectacular and definitely no less lovely London Oratory.  Dr Robin Ward's phrase of "a larger room" was very much in my thoughts.

Arriving in the empty Oratory was sensational in itself.  On previous visits to the Oratory, it has been a matter of waiting for the 10am mass congregation to leave before joining in with the throng waiting to enter for the 11am Solemn Latin Mass, or of joining the crowds filing in for a big event (such as the thanksgiving mass celebrated by Archbishop Vincent Nichols at the Oratory for the Beatification of Blessed John Henry Newman).  Not this time.

When I arrived, there were but a few people in that most beautiful of buildings, scattered around, each in silent prayer.  I moved to near the front, where I recognised Fr Ray Blake (who has posted extremely interestingly on yesterday on his own blog), and armed with the Oratory's mass book for the Extraordinary Form, I said some suitable preparatory prayers.

Mass itself was wonderful, witnessed by a congregation of around 45-50.  Celebrated at the side chapel of Our Lady of Victories, it was the perfect way to welcome such an eminently gifted, learned and holy man into the priesthood of the Catholic Church.  Some of the Papa Stronsay photos capture members of the Marylebone group preparing to receive the Host from Fr Hunwicke.

After mass, Fr Hunwicke offered first blessings at the main altar rail.  It truly was one of those "tingle down the spine" moments to kneel there, to hear Fr Hunwicke pronounce the blessing in Latin (included a very suitable reference to Blessed John Henry Newman), to kiss those priestly hands and, in thanksgiving and indeed in awe, to contemplate the journey we have made together into the Catholic Church, answering the Gospel call to Unity

The author of the Supertradmum blog, who very kindly introduced herself to us after mass, has posted that the congregation included what seemed like a mini-convention of Catholic bloggers.  The links provided from this blogpost prove her correct.   She also wrote (as did Fr Ray Blake) of the beauty of the vestments, and indeed of the entire celebration of mass.  How wonderful that on this quiet Thursday morning, we were able to mark such a special occasion in what truly was the beauty of holiness.

Another Ordinariate blogger, Monsignor Barnes, with his RAF background, would have appreciated the flyover by a Lancaster bomber that went almost directly overhead as we stood outside talking after mass.  While the flyover was related to the nearby opening of the memorial to Bomber Command, it certainly added even more of a sense of a special occasion to our day.

Perhaps one Sunday we shall be able to persuade Fr Colven to invite Fr Hunwicke to say the 0930 Extraordinary Form mass at Spanish Place, and then to stay on to preach at the 1030 Solemn Latin Mass.  As former Bournestreeters know very well, Fr Hunwicke is a marvellous preacher, and we rejoice that we in the Catholic Church now have him with us in full priestly orders, able to celebrate the sacraments for us and to preach the Gospel with his characteristic insight, erudition, holiness, charm and humour.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Tu es Petrus

Given that there are more than a few postings scheduled for this blog over the next few days (due to rather special Ordinariate events), we have decided to post this article two days earlier than we might have done.  It would never do for those who have joined the Catholic Church in search of the Unity called for by Christ Himself and assured by the Successor of St Peter to omit to mention Friday's great Solemnity.

When the Solemnity of Ss Peter and Paul arrives, as well as remembering to attend mass (some of us in our group at St James's, some of quite possibly at St Mary Moorfields), let us give particular thanks for the priestly ordination 61 years ago that day of our Holy Father Pope Benedict.   

Let us give thanks for the life and witness of this truly remarkable man, this Pope of Christian Unity, who has done so much to reunite the scattered flock - something of which we members of the Ordinariate are particularly aware.  Let us ask for the intercession of Our Lady, St Peter, St Paul and all the saints, that with renewed strength in the Lord, our Holy Father might continue to work valiantly and succesfully for the unity of all Christians and for the greater glory of God. 

We reproduce below a text that we included on this blog very recently, taken from an Angelus address given by the Holy Father in August 2008, in which he describes the particular role of the Church and of the Pope within it.
"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God". Jesus answers Peter's inspired profession of faith: "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven". This is the first time that Jesus speaks of the Church, whose mission is the actuation of God's great design to gather the whole of humanity into a single family in Christ. Peter's mission, and that of his Successors, is precisely to serve this unity of the one Church of God formed of Jews and pagans of all peoples; his indispensable ministry is to ensure that she is never identified with a single nation, with a single culture, but is the Church of all peoples - to make present among men and women, scarred by innumerable divisions and conflicts, God's peace and the renewing power of his love. This, then, is the special mission of the Pope, Bishop of Rome and Successor of Peter: to serve the inner unity that comes from God's peace, the unity of those who have become brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.
It seems to us that the Petrine ministry is such a tremendous gift to the Church and to the world.  It allows us to move away from a fragmented, dismembered vision of Christianity, ever ready to fracture itself further, and instead, in union with Rome and the other ancient churches, to move together towards greater unity. 

Friday, 22 June 2012

Introibo ad altare Dei

As previously posted, we are now expectantly looking forward to the coming ordination of Deacon John Hunwicke to the Priesthood at the Oxford Oratory on Wednesday 27th June at 19:00. And with even greater joy and gladness we are able to relay news that Fr Hunwicke's First Mass will be celebrated according to the Extraordinary Form at the London Oratory the following day at 11:30.

Those familiar with Fr Hunwicke during his time in the Church of England, not least the many many devoted fans of his wonderful and informative blog (which has helped more than a few Ordinariate members, both laity and clergy, to find their way to Holy Mother Church), will recall his ardent devotion to the liturgy, particularly in its most traditional forms, and as such it comes as little surprise that he will celebrate his First Mass according to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, a form regarded by the Holy Father himself as an 'venerable and ancient usage'.

Yet again, the Ordinariate continues to show itself as fiercely loyal not only to the patrimony of centuries of separated yet worthy practice and belief developed during its members' former days, but also to the inheritance of the wider Latin Church. That which countless generations before have held as sacred continues to be proclaimed by those individuals who, through the generosity and grace of the Holy Father, find themselves as heirs to that age-old tradition.

The wonderful diversity of the Church Catholic, even in the Latin Rite, is proclaimed by Fr Hunwicke celebrating his second Mass in the Ordinary Form of that same Rite, at the Church of the Holy Rood in Oxford. He is scheduled to celebrate that Mass as the Ordinariate Group in Oxford's usual Saturday evening Mass at 18:00 on 30th June, when the setting of the ordinary of the mass will be Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli.

Certainly members of the Marylebone Group (having good reason to be particular fans of Fr Hunwicke) will be in attendance at these wonderful occasions to which all are invited, and reports on this 'blog will follow in due course.  What is about to unfold is something for which Ordinariate members have been praying ardently, and we rejoice that our prayers have been answered.

In these days leading up to this most significant week in the life of the Ordinariate and the Church in England, we renew our commitment of prayer for Fr Hunwicke as he prepares for ordination to Christ's Priesthood, and ask the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham and Blessed John Henry Newman, but also of S. John Vianney that his fidelity and love for the Sacred Heart of Our Lord may be all the more imprinted on our ordinand too.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Songs of Thankfulness and Praise

There has been some wonderful news for the Ordinariate.  Our previous post reflected briefly on the Sacred Heart and its importance as a devotion recognising the unbounded love of Our Lord for humanity, and so it is most appropriate that in this the month of the Sacred Heart, we as new members of the Church should feel not only the love of Our Lord, but also the love of our Holy Father and of fellow Catholics for their new brethren.  Today, there has been an announcement that, in Monsignor Newton's own words : a further sign of our Holy Father's love and warmth towards [the Ordinariate].
At the plenary meeting for Ordinariate clergy held at Allen Hall in London today (the photo below comes from the Ordinariate's Facebook page), it was announced that the three other former anglican bishops serving now as priests in the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham have been raised to the rank of Monsignor by the Holy Father in recognition of their long and fruitful ministry undertaken in the Church of England.

It is yet another sign not only of how much the Holy Father is keen to show his support for the Ordinariate, but also of how enthusiastic he is about recognising the immense value of the service that Ordinariate clergy have previously given.  All the polemic put about by some, with a degree of stridency (and we suggest error) worthy of E P Thompson or even Richard Holloway, to the effect that the Catholic Church requires prospective Ordinariate clergy to renounce their past, is put to utter ridicule by news such as this.

Congratulations then to Monsignor Edwin Barnes, Monsignor Robert Mercer and Monsignor David Silk.  We rejoice with you that together we have found our place in the Catholic Church, and that our Holy Father Pope Benedict continues to value so highly, and to recognise so publicly, not only the Anglican Patrimony that we bring with us, but also the undisputed value of our previous Christian life.

We are of course particularly delighted to read of Monsignor Barnes's honour.  In the Marylebone group, we are devoted fans of Monsignor Barnes's blog (to which a permanent link is provided in the right hand sidebar of this blog), and readily admit to having "borrowed" a couple of photographs he posted on his blog, including in this post.  We also have a couple more of his photos stored up ready for a future post.  Here though is a picture (copyright Fr James Bradley, and taken from the Ordinariate's own Facebook site) of Fr Barnes taken on the day of his priestly ordination.

There is a personal connection between the Marylebone group and Monsignor Barnes.  In the interregnum at Bourne St that ended with the appointment of the current Vicar, one of our group was a St Mary's churchwarden, and as such, in consultation with the assistant parish clergy, co-ordinated the list of visiting preachers.

One of those preachers was the great Fr John Hunwicke, whose powerful sermon that day can be found here.  We all know of course of this erudite, charming and holy man's upcoming priestly ordination in the Catholic Church, and indeed some of our group intend to make the journey up to the Oxford Oratory that day.

Another of the guest preachers was scheduled to be Monsignor Barnes.  However, events took over, such that, following the faster than expected establishment of the Ordinariate, it was no longer possible to secure his speaking presence among us.  We were utterly charmed by our interaction with Monsignor Barnes during those discussions, as we were when we had the pleasure of meeting him again at the Ordinariate Anniversary celebrations in January this year. 

Taking into account that not everyone at Bourne St was quite as catholic in their sensibilities as we were, in the interests of fairness, celebrity cleric Giles Fraser was also invited.  Given his fascinating views on Holy Saturday (as mentioned here), as on some other subjects, perhaps it worked out for the best that, although he accepted the invitation, a date could not be agreed. 

Another visitor was Dr Robin Ward, Principal of St Stephen's House in Oxford.  Wearing a mozzetta that would befit even the grandest of monsignori, he preached extremely well.  This, of course, was exactly as expected.  A more intelligent, thoughtful, witty and able preacher does not exist in the Church of England.  A few months before Dr Ward's visit, we had very much enjoyed reading the sermon he gave at the 125th Anniversary Celebrations of Pusey House, including his reference to Blessed Pius IX comparing Dr Pusey to a church bell, ever summoning people to church but never entering it himself.  Fr James Bradley has already commented very effectively upon this sermon on his blog (to which we provide a permanent link in the sidebar), but we can certainly confirm that the sheer intellectual force of Dr Ward's argument in that text was no small factor in our decision to accept the Holy Father's invitation to follow the Gospel's call to Christian Unity. 

Dr Ward is, of course, one of Monsignor Barnes's successors at St Stephen's House as Principal (Monsignor Burnham was Vice-Principal at one time, and Bishop Peter Elliott, the Australian bishop responsible for supervising the establishment of the new Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross, is a former student).  Who can say whether Dr Ward might one day share another of Monsignor Barnes's titles by himself becoming a monsignor in the Ordinariate.  A "larger room" for that very fine mozzetta, perhaps. 

To bring together the themes of Our Lord's love for His creation, and the Church's and the Holy Father's love for all humankind and in particular for those considering joining the Catholic Church, we might mention very briefly a book that over the past few years seems to have helped many in their journeys "across the Tiber" into the Church founded by Our Lord Himself.  It is very hard to read this book (and one chapter in particular) and not to feel a bout of Roman fever, as the Anglo-Catholics say, coming on.

Pope Benedict's book, Jesus of Nazareth, is designed to reunite the artificially separated concepts of the "Historical Jesus" and the "Christ of Faith".   By focussing too much on the first - as important a concept as it undisputedly is - we lose sight of the second, we risk obsessing about minutiae rather than pondering the momentous nature of the Son of the living God's presence among us.  If we focus only on the second, we fail to consider sufficiently the very glory of the Incarnation, that God was made man at a specific point in time and in a particular place.  In his book, the Holy Father said it rather more eloquently, of course :
What can faith in Jesus as the Christ possibly mean, in Jesus as the Son of the living God, if the man Jesus was so completely different from the picture the Evangelists painted of Him, and that the Church, on the evidence of the Gospels, takes as the basis of her preaching?
The chapters move through different aspects of Our Lord’s life and teachings, often grounding the analysis in details from each of the synoptic gospels, building on the context that was set by the introduction’s explanation of Deutoronomy’s promise of a new Moses: not merely a miracle worker, a sufferer of trials or a leader, but in fact someone close to God.

Former Anglicans now in the Ordinariate are understandably very interested by the chapter on the Confession of Peter and the Transfiguration. We see that Peter is recorded in all four Gospels stating clearly his confident belief that Jesus is Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah, but from our perspective we perceive very lucidly that there is both a confession and a commission, a creed from Peter but a commission from Our Lord, a calling in response.  It is almost a challenge : you say you believe this, well this is how you exercise that belief.

Peter and others were witnesses to the Truth.  They saw it, recorded it, reported it.  They were not a committee or a general synod that debated what the Truth was: it was before their very eyes, and in Peter's confession he made it clear that he had recognised it.   Truth, not opinion.  It is on this Truth, and on this rock, that the Church is built.  Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram, aedificabo ecclesiam meam.

In some of the articles on this blog, we have touched upon that theme of Tu es Petrus, and with hindsight it seems extremely fortuitous that we have talked of a journey into Unity, and of a continuing journey thereafter.  For example, in this post we mentioned the journey towards joining the Ordinariate, and in this post we highlighted the eternal yet immediate invitation, indeed the call, towards Unity that is issued to many different groups who lie outside the full and unimpaired visible communion of the Catholic Church.  In this post, we referred to the power of a particular piece of music to drive people along the road of that journey.

We cannot claim that this consistent language of journeying was deliberate, but happily it reflects something that the Holy Father talks of in the chapter on Peter's Confession.
The great period of preaching in Galilee is at an end and we are at a decisive milestone: Jesus is setting out on the journey to the Cross and issuing a call to decision that now clearly distinguishes the group of disciples from the people who merely listen, without accompanying him on his way – a decision that clearly shapes the disciples into the beginning of Jesus’ new family, the future Church. It is characteristic of this community to be “on the way” with Jesus – what that way involves is about to be made clear. It is also characteristic that this community’s decision to accompany Jesus rests upon a realization – on a “knowledge” of Jesus that at the same time gives them a new insight into God, the one God in whom they believe as children of Israel…

… The disciples are drawn into his solitude, his communion with the Father that is reserved to him alone… They are privileged to see what the “people” do not see, and this seeing gives rise to a recognition that goes beyond the “opinion” of the people. This seeing is the wellspring of their faith, their confession; it provides the foundation of the Church.
When the Holy Father talks of "the Church", we know very clearly that he talks of the Catholic Church.   The Catholic Church, founded by Christ Himself, which presents the Truth today as then, not as one of a suite of alternative theories from which we can select as we choose, but as divinely revealed Truth.   This is our call today, we are called to be members of that same Church, to accept that same Truth.

Joining the Ordinariate was a journey for all of us: a journey of faith, certainly, but clearly also a journey of trust.  This is so for all who left behind happy years with long-established friends in Anglican churches across the country, but it is perhaps most so for those brave clergy who left behind established careers and career paths, housing and membership of a pension scheme to follow their consciences.

There will be some uncharitable souls who, in response to the above, will mutter that those of the Ordinariate clergy who were already retired did not give up as much as the others.  Well, unkind and somewhat snide remarks of that nature fail when we remember that our three new monsignori laid down episcopal status to serve the Lord as priests in His Holy Catholic Church.  They gave up a comfortable position among the "great and the good" of retired Anglican bishops (status among the "great and good" is very popular in some quarters), and they gave up direct exercise of the role of a Successor of the Apostles, a most honourable calling whether retired or not.  This is not something that can be easily dismissed, either by the more worldly or the more spiritual of the deniers.

So, once again, we give thanks to Almighty God for giving all of us that sense of trust and that vision of unity, such that we have become capable of being brought at length, by the Power of the Divine Will, into One Fold and under One Shepherd.

Monsignori: congratulations, and thank you.  Please be assured that what you have done is right, and that we offer our prayers for you and for all the Ordinariate clergy, as well as for all those still wrestling with their response to the call to unity.  Your journey into the Catholic Church is an example to all, and is no less than you playing your part in the work of this our Pope of Christian Unity.

Peter confessed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God.  In response, Peter received Christ's commission, part of which was to gather together all who believe in one fold.  Let us rejoice that our lives as Christians, where we already shared in Peter's confession, have been made more whole by our response to Our Lord's commission to Peter, through joining that same Church built on that same rock.

The Holy Father, in an Angelus address given in August 2008, once again expressed all this far more eloquently :
"Upon this rock I will build my Church"

The Lord directly questioned the Twelve: "But who do you say that I am?". Peter spoke enthusiastically and authoritatively on behalf of them all: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God". This solemn profession of faith the Church continues to repeat since then. Today too, we long to proclaim with an innermost conviction: "Yes, Jesus, you are the Christ, the Son of the living God!". Let us do so in the awareness that Christ is the true "treasure" (Mt 13,44) for whom it is worth sacrificing everything; he is the friend who never abandons us for he knows the most intimate expectations of our hearts. Jesus is the "Son of the living God", the promised Messiah who came down to earth to offer humanity salvation and to satisfy the thirst for life and love that dwells in every human being. What an advantage humanity would have in welcoming this proclamation which brings with it joy and peace!

"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God". Jesus answers Peter's inspired profession of faith: "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven". This is the first time that Jesus speaks of the Church, whose mission is the actuation of God's great design to gather the whole of humanity into a single family in Christ. Peter's mission, and that of his Successors, is precisely to serve this unity of the one Church of God formed of Jews and pagans of all peoples; his indispensable ministry is to ensure that she is never identified with a single nation, with a single culture, but is the Church of all peoples - to make present among men and women, scarred by innumerable divisions and conflicts, God's peace and the renewing power of his love. This, then, is the special mission of the Pope, Bishop of Rome and Successor of Peter: to serve the inner unity that comes from God's peace, the unity of those who have become brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.
As we are still in the month of the Sacred Heart, I think we can be permitted one further example of the fine hymnody that is associated with this devotion.  A few days ago, we included O Sacred Heart.  Today, we include the hymn that was sung after Mass at St James's last Sunday To Jesus' Heart All Burning.  This is followed by a very familiar setting of the Te Deum, in thanksgiving for the love, support and recognition shown by the Holy Father to his flock in the Ordinariate, and no less in thanksgiving for the long years of service given by Monsignors Barnes, Mercer and Silk in their Anglican days.

Friday, 15 June 2012

O Sacred Heart

For members of the Ordinariate, one verse from one hymn particularly suitable for today's Solemnity is especially relevant.

As so often mentioned on this blog and elsewhere, the Ordinariate is about a call to Unity, to unity in the Truth. We offer a prayer there that all, not least in this country, might find and recognise that Truth and be united in it.

O Sacred Heart,
Bless our dear native land;
May England's sons in truth e'er stand
With faith's bright banner still in hand,
O Sacred Heart.

June is the month of the Sacred Heart, and while most would know that the Solemnity falls in June, many fewer know why that is.  The Sacred Heart always falls 19 days after Pentecost, and is therefore always on a Friday, the day of the week most associated with the visible and unarguable outpouring of the Saviour's unbounded love for his people.

The timing of the Solemnity means that it always falls shortly after Corpus Christi (indeed on the Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi), which, as Fr Colven pointed out in last week's St James's parish notes (reproduced below) is utterly appropriate. 
The Rector writes ...

The heart is a universal symbol of love and as such transcends all barriers of language, culture and ethnicity. For the Christian, the fact that the heart of Jesus was broken open after the crucifixion has enormous significance: many early writers in the Christian tradition drew an analogy between the blood and water recorded by St John as flowing from the damaged heart of Jesus and the two fundamental sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. Devotion to the heart of Jesus, as symbolic centre of the divine love, has its scriptural basis in the writings of both St John and St Paul: it reached a high point in the late Middle Ages, and was associated with such figures as St Gertrude and St Bonaventure, but the shape of modern devotion to the Sacred Heart comes from the 17th century and the revelations to St Margaret Mary Alacoque, a Visitation nun of Paray le Monial a town almost (appropriately) in the centre and heart of France. There is an English connection here in that St Margaret Mary’s confessor and great supporter was St Claude de la Colombiere a Jesuit who in 1676 was appointed preacher to the then Duchess of York at St James’s Palace. For two years he laboured to provide spiritual direction, and succeeded in reconciling many to the Catholic Church, but his high profile meant that in the light of the Titus Oates plot he was arrested, and eventually deported.

St Margaret Mary’s body is preserved in the chapel of the Visitation convent in Paray: to those who go there today it is probably not the saint's body which most attracts the eye but (as she would have wished) a remarkable tabernacle - free standing, on a pillar, the modern ceramic safe containing the Blessed Sacrament is surrounded by a large metal heart in deep red – it is a striking piece of art, but also a statement of theological truth. For Catholic Christians, the loving nature of the Father, as uniquely revealed in the life, death and resurrect ion of his Son, is an on-going reality in the Eucharistic Presence - which we believe to be nothing less than the continuation in time of the great mystery of the Incarnation.

This weekend in the celebration of CORPUS CHRISTI we express our gratitude for all that the Mass(“the source and summit of the Church’s life”) means to Christ’s mystical body as we seek to establish God’s Kingdom on this earth. St John Vianney (the Cure d’Ars) says famously: “My God, what joy for a Christian who has faith! On rising from the holy table he goes away with all heaven in his heart”.

Fittingly, this coming Friday we observe as the Solemnity of the SACRED HEART of JESUS. Blessed John Henry Newman identifies the parallel nature of this week’s two celebrations: “Most sacred, most loving heart of Jesus, hidden in the Holy Eucharist, you beat for us still. You say, as you said when you lived on our earth, ‘my delight is to be with the children of men’”. In a world which is increasingly inured to violence and harshness, where voices are raised so frequently to confront and abuse, there is such a profound need for the proclamation of God’s love – “when you come to live within me, make my heart beat with your Heart: make my soul free from all that is hard and cruel, all that is proud and disordered” (Newman). This challenge cannot be better expressed than in terms of what the Father has revealed to us through the Heart of his Son (the Second Vatican Council teaches that Jesus “loves with a fully human heart”) and continues to manifest itself in the Mass – “the authentic sense of the Eucharist becomes of itself the school of active love for our neighbour” (John Paul II).
The Sacred Heart was marked in the form of a High Mass at Bourne St in my early days there, but it was one of those devotions which had begun to lose a little popularity in Anglo-Catholicism, and therefore did not attract large numbers, despite the fact that St Mary's has a rather fine shrine to the Sacred Heart and a relic of St Margaret Mary Alacocque.  For many years thereafter, the day was marked as a Low or a Sung Mass, but it is heartening to note that for the past couple of years, the occasion has been upgraded once again.  May this be a sign of increasing devotion to the Sacred Heart among our separated brethren.

At St James's, the usual round of daily masses today will be of the Solemnity, including the 6pm Mass tonight, which some of us hope to attend.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Joyous News from Oxford

Today we have the great pleasure of expressing our joy in the news that Mr Thomas Mason, a member of the Ordinariate Group in Oxford and friend of this group, has been accepted by the Ordinary for training and formation to the Catholic Priesthood, commencing in the Autumn.

Firstly we offer our hearty congratulations to him. But also we renew our thanksgiving to Almighty God for His continued blessings being poured out upon the Ordinariate and the Church in England, especially in sending new workers out into His vineyard in this year when the heart of the Curé d'Ars, universal patron of priests, visits these shores.

Thomas was received into Christ’s Church only last April, and serves as yet another potent reminder of the wonderful fruits that Anglicanorum Coetibus has brought in so little time. His commitment to the solemn and worthy celebration of the sacred liturgy has become the hallmark of those already ordained to serve in the Ordinariate. We think back with delight to the ordination of two other young former Anglicans, Frs Bradley and Lloyd, just a few months ago, and are renewed in our hope for the future of the Church in England.

Yet it is not only Thomas’s fidelity to the liturgical practices of the Church which gives us cause for joy. Like so many of the other young men presenting themselves for ordination, he is fiercely loyal to solid Catholic doctrine. This is the true fulfilment of the Oxford Movement in our age, which continues not to compromise with the prevailing dictatorship of relativism in modern British society, and continues to place the Gospel call to Christian Unity at the heart of its message.  This is the vision of the founding fathers of Anglo-Catholicism, that we might do rather more than just referencing the inherited Truths of Catholicism, and that we might live them and try to share them with others. 

Individuals who found themselves on the sure rock of Holy Mother Church will complete the conversion and restoration of England as Our Lady’s dowry.  Here you will find the Truth, the faith of the Apostles.  Here you find the Catholic faith cherished for the great gift that it is, not merely tolerated as one possible view among many.

We reaffirm, therefore, our commitment to pray for Thomas’s journey to ordination, asking the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham, Bl John Henry, and S. Gregory the Great that he may grow in holiness and become conformed ever closer to the person of Christ the High Priest.

We know that Thomas is particularly keen on French organ and church music of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  To celebrate this news, we include some examples of the genre below, so that we might all rejoice together and ask for God's blessing upon him.

First, the Incantation pour un Jour Saint writted by Jean Langlais.  This piece, at once mystical, symbolic and entirely vivid, is based on the Gregorian chant of the Lumen Christi, sung by the deacon on Holy Saturday, when during the Easter Vigil he processes into the darkened church with the Paschal Candle.  How appropriate for a new Catholic that we focus on the Easter Vigil (and indeed, Thomas's last visit to St James's was for our own Easter Vigil, upon which we reported in this widely read blogpost).

Next, the Gloria from Vierne's extraordinary Messe Solenelle.  Often thought of as a grand setting for grand days, or even as a concert piece, Vierne's work, while it does represent beautifully some of the French style of that period, was in fact one of the firm favourites of many French parish and cathedral choirs.  This then sits in perfect harmony with the liturgical tradition that Thomas is so keen to maintain - the best can always be offered, even in the simplest of settings, there is no reason or cause to offer less.  What makes this piece yet more suitable for today is that it was first sung for a mass on the Immaculate Conception in 1901, a feast so long honoured in England.  That Widor played the grand orgue of St Sulpice that day with Vierne at the orgue de choeur adds a level of colour that any devotee of French music of that period will adore. 

How else to conclude but with a Te Deum.  This, a well known and much loved recording of the plainchant of the Te Deum (as we sang at St James's only two Sundays ago) interspersed in an alternatim setting with the immense power of Pierre Cochereau's playing of the grand orgue of Notre Dame in Paris. 

Monday, 11 June 2012

Deus, qui nobis sub sacramento mirabili.....

There was a wonderful feeling of reassuring familiarity, of being in the right place, yesterday at St James's as we marked the Solemnity of Corpus Christi.  In our previous blogpost, we referred to a sentiment that our arrival in the Catholic Church was the only logical outcome for those who shared the understanding of Anglo-Catholicism that we did: yesterday reinforced that.

As usual, given the busy mass schedule at St James's, we arrived while the prayers after the 0930 Extraordinary Form mass were being said.  This always provides, very conveniently, a few quiet moments of preparation for the Solemn Latin Mass (OF) at 1030.  Once these were over, the organ launched into JS Bach's Chorale Prelude Schmücke Dich, O Liebe Seele BWV654.  This piece, a favourite of mine in my organ-playing days, is based on the tune of a eucharistic hymn very often sung in Anglican churches, and eminently suitable for Corpus Christi.

Deck thyself, my soul, with gladness,
Leave the gloomy haunts of sadness;
Come into the daylight’s splendour,
There with joy thy praises render
Unto Christ Whose grace unbounded
Hath this wondrous banquet founded.
Higher o’er all the heav’ns He reigneth,
Yet to dwell with thee He deigneth.
The procession entered, the Kyrie and the Gloria were sung, and then like a thunderbolt came Latin words that were utterly familiar to us.  Dare I say it, and with apologies for being arrogant, they might even have been more familiar to us than they were to some of our friends at St James's. 
Deus, qui nobis sub sacramento mirabili, passionis tuae memoriam reliquisti: tribue, quaesumus, ita nos corporis et sanguinis tui sacra mysteria venerari, ut redemptionis tuae fructum in nobis iugiter sentiamus.
The collect for Corpus Christi of course, but also the collect used at Benediction.  Every Sunday, the rite of benediction at Bourne St is performed in Latin - that being the result of a congregational vote in the 1970s - and so those of us who had been regular servers and members of the congregation there over the years were immediately struck by these familiar words, now in what was for us their new setting.

The beautiful chant of the sequence for Corpus Christi, Lauda Sion, rang out around the arches of St James's as we prepared to hear the Gospel.

The guest preacher was Fr Christopher Pearson, who is the Ordinariate priest who guided us on the process towards our reception into the Catholic Church.  Fr Pearson's homily reflected, amongst other things, on how differently we consider blood now as compared to how it was considered by those who lived at the time of the Gospels or before: this was in no small part due to a lack of familiarity with blood, not only in the way we live but also in the nature of our worship, the blood sacrifices made regularly in the Temple are very different to our re-presentation and witnessing of the one perfect sacrifice, made once. 

One might also have reflected on how homilies such as he delivered, on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, are now pretty rare in our former Anglican home.  What once was familiar teaching in Anglo-Catholicism is now unfamiliar.  Now in the Catholic Church, the contents were familiar, they were very much at home.

The prayers of the faithful also contained an echo of Anglo-Catholic history.  The intercessor prayed that we might all recognise Our Lord in the Sacrament, and that in so doing, we might also be better able to recognise Our Lord in the faces of the poor and needy.  This recalled the speech of Frank Weston, Anglican Bishop of Zanzibar, given at the conclusion of the 1923 Anglo-Catholic Congress in the Albert Hall. 

Weston, even if he was only "in place" as such for a pitifully short time, was the only clear leader that the Anglo-Catholic movement had really known and recognised since Blessed John Henry Newman left for Rome in 1845 (and, with no disrespect to our three monsignori in their days of leading the movement, is probably unsurpassed as leader since).  He was addressing the gathering of sixteen thousand on the importance of building on what they had achieved, using their theological, liturgical and ecclesiastical achievements in God's service.  This quotation, his last charge to the Anglo-Catholic movement (he died one year later, at the tragically early age of 53), sums up in a few lines something that was historically at the heart of Anglo-Catholicism, bringing Our Lord, and the Catholic Faith that leads to Him, to His people. 
. . I say to you, and I say it with all the earnestness that I have, if you are prepared to fight for the right of adoring Jesus in His Blessed Sacrament, then, when you come out from before your tabernacles, you must walk with Christ, mystically present in you, through the streets of this country, and find the same Christ in the peoples of your cities and villages. You cannot claim to worship Jesus in the tabernacle if you do not pity Jesus in the slum. . . . It is folly, it is madness, to suppose that you can worship Jesus in the Sacrament and Jesus on the throne of glory, when you are sweating Him in the bodies and souls of His children. . . . You have your Mass, you have your altars, you have begun to get your tabernacles. Now go out into the highways and hedges, and look for Jesus in the ragged and the naked, in the oppressed and the sweated, in those who have lost hope, and in those who are struggling to make good. Look for Jesus in them, and, when you have found Him, gird yourself with His towel of fellowship and wash His feet in the person of his brethren.
For any of you who have not read Frank Weston's speech, I would implore you to read it here.  It is very, very stirring stuff.

After our previous blogpost, when we recalled the different understandings of Anglo-Catholicism, specifically as regards the importance of unity, it is interesting to note that Weston made the groundbreaking move of sending the following telegram to Rome during the 1923 conference.
Sixteen thousand Anglo-Catholics in congress assembled offer respectful greetings to the Holy Father, humbly praying that the day of peace may quickly break.
He was of course savaged by the press and the protestant elements of the hierarchy for having dared to open the door to communication with Rome, but he also suffered rebukes from a number of prominent Anglo-Catholic friends, including some who were comfortably installed in the Anglican establishment.

Back to Sunday at St James's.  It was by delightful co-incidence that most of us in the Marylebone Ordinariate Group happened to kneel at the right place before the altar rail for Fr Pearson to be able to communicate us.  It could not have worked out better.

The procession around church was a joy (even if I must confess to being no fan of indoor processions of the Blessed Sacrament where the laity join in, if only to avoid traffic management issues and to encourage the faithful to pray in adoration upon their knees).  A be-coped Fr Colven bore the monstrance around the church, under a canopy, flanked by Fr Pearson and Fr Irwin (another former Anglican) as his assistants.  Fr Nicholas Kavanagh was also in procession (photos of Fr Kavanagh in his Anglican days as curate at St Mary's Bourne St can be found here).

A small number of photos are shown below, but perhaps the greatest joy of the procession was the hymns.

The first hymn is one we have mentioned before on this blog.  The immensely moving O Bread of Heaven, as sung at the Ordination Mass of our three Ordinariate monsignori came first, as the procession formed up and moved off. 

O Bread of Heaven, beneath this veil
Thou dost my very God conceal:
My Jesus, dearest treasure, hail!
I love Thee and, adoring, kneel;
Each loving soul by Thee is fed
With Thine own Self in form of Bread.

O food of life, Thou Who dost give
The pledge of immortality;
I live, no 'tis not I that live;
God gives me life, God lives in me:
He feeds my soul, He guides my ways,
And every grief with joy repays.

O Bond of love that dost unite
The servant to his living Lord;
Could I dare live and not requite
Such love - then death were meet reward:
I cannot live unless to prove
Some love for such unmeasured love.

Beloved Lord, in Heaven above
There, Jesus, Thou awaitest me,
To gaze on Thee with endless love;
Yes, thus I hope, thus shall it be:
For how can He deny me Heaven,
Who here on earth Himself hath given?
The second hymn was again full of significance for former members of the congregation of St Mary's Bourne Street congregation.  It was the Fr Faber classic Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All.  I confess, we did not sing it to a hymn tune I know, but at least we did not sing it to Stella, more often employed for Hail, Queen of Heaven, the Ocean Star.  The tune I had hoped we would have was the following one, a very beautiful melody called Sweet Sacrament.

Fr Faber's hymn can be found in the St Mary's English Hymnal Supplement, few copies of which are in existence now, but being a hymnbook that, in pre-New English Hymnal days, filled in a few of the "gaps" as we might say in the catholicism of the English Hymnal.  Proving that Bourne St was once at the vanguard of catholic teaching, the words in the Supplement are Fr Faber's, whereas those in the NEH are somewhat different.

The third verse of the hymn, as a friend once observed, has the very distinct ring of an Eric Mascall sermon, of the kind he would preach at Bourne Street between Evensong and Benediction.  Eric Mascall has been mentioned at great length on this blog before, in the context of wondering what the great man might have done had he lived a little longer.

Jesus, my Lord, my God, my all,
How can I love Thee as I ought?
And how revere this wond'rous gift,
So far surpassing hope or thought.
Sweet Sacrament, we Thee adore.
O make us love Thee more and more!
O make us love Thee more and more!

Had I but Mary's sinless heart,
To love Thee with, my dearest King;
O with what bursts of fervent praise,
Thy goodness, Jesus, would I sing!
Sweet Sacrament, we Thee adore.
O make us love Thee more and more!
O make us love Thee more and more!

O, see, within a creature's hand,
The vast Creator deigns to be,
Reposing infant-like, as though
On Joseph's arm, on Mary's knee.
Sweet Sacrament, we Thee adore.
O make us love Thee more and more!
O make us love Thee more and more!

Thy body, soul, and Godhead, all--
O mystery of love divine!
I cannot compass all I have,
For all Thou hast and art are mine.
Sweet Sacrament, we Thee adore.
O make us love Thee more and more!
O make us love Thee more and more!

Sound, sound His praises higher still,
    And come ye Angels to our aid;
'Tis God, 'tis God, the very God,
Whose power both man and angels made.
Sweet Sacrament, we Thee adore.
O make us love Thee more and more!
O make us love Thee more and more!

Those who say that there is no Anglican tradition in Eucharistic worship in the Catholic Church would have had no choice to recant had they been present in Marylebone yesterday.  It was even clearer on the 15th January at the Ordinariate's First Anniversary celebrations of course, but still, we were utterly at home yesterday.

Indeed, Eric "Patrimony" Mascall quotations have been doing the rounds of the Catholic blogs on the internet this week, showing just how much Anglo-Catholic theology has been, at its best, in tune with the very best theology of Rome herself.  One particular favourite Mascall quotation on the mass is the following :
The Eucharist of the Church, is not either a commemoration or a dramatic imitation of what was done at the Last Supper; it is the same thing. ‘Do this.’ Both the Last Supper and the Eucharist bring about the anamnesis of the other.
Fresh from receiving Benediction, we left the church, greeted Fr Pearson at the door, acquired Ordinariate badges, and moved round to a nearby hostelry, where with true Anglican Patrimony we shared drinks and talked of mutual friends.

Did we feel that we had in any way missed out?  Did we feel we had lost something compared to the, it must be said, beautiful and spectacular way in which Corpus Christi is marked at Bourne St?  Well, it might not surprise you to learn that the answer is no.  Corpus Christi 2012 was for us a wonderful way of celebrating this most sacred mystery, in communion with the Successor of St Peter, in the heart of the Church that is the guardian of the sacraments, celebrating a feast that is at the core of the Church's teaching rather than celebrating in a context where to do so is seen as extreme and eccentric.
O Lord, who in a wonderful sacrament hast left us a memorial of thy passion; Grant us so to reverence the holy mysteries of thy Body and Blood, that we may ever know within ourselves the fruits of thy redemption.
Before concluding this very long blogpost with photos of yesterday in Marylebone (and with a bonus photo of ecumenical friendship in Oxford), let us counterbalance the very old, if splendid, picture of a Corpus Christi procession in Rome that can be found above with video footage from last year. 

Finally, an act of ecumenical friendship in honour of our Oxford connections: a photo of the Oxford Oratory's Corpus Christi procession as it passed Pusey House, with Pusey House regulars kneeling in the street in adoration of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.  My Lord and my God.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Contrasting Definitions

Time, indeed like an ever rolling stream, has appeared to go quickly since we became Catholics.  A year ago, we were in our final month at Bourne St, preparing to leave the Church of England and our status as Anglicans.  We were embarking upon a eucharistic fast that was to last several months, in preparation for our eventual reception into the Catholic Church in early September.  It was appropriate that one of the last services we attended as Anglicans was the Bourne Street Corpus Christi devotion, in which we could give thanks for all the grace that had been poured out upon us in our time there.  Bourne Street always marks the Sunday following Corpus Christi with the grandest of services, greenery and herbs strewn on the floor during a procession, and of course some very fine music.  We wish our friends there well for their celebrations tonight. 

At St James's we mark Corpus Christi today with a Procession of the Blessed Sacrament after Mass.  We look forward to welcoming Fr Christopher Pearson of the Ordinariate as guest preacher.

That Bourne Street service last year was the final occasion upon which I served as an Anglican, acting as MC at a service of Evensong, Procession and Benediction.  How apt that the first time that I should serve at the altar as a Catholic should also be for the same form of service and in the same capacity.  Below you will see a couple of pictures of the Catholic service at which I served, the Ordinariate Anniversary at St James's, followed by a couple of pictures from Bourne St. 

You will see why we for us the progression seems entirely natural and normal.  Very much a continuation of the same, but crucially, now in communion with the Successor of St Peter.  A couple of pictures from the Bourne St archive now follow, giving a further indication of the reverence with which Corpus Christi has been treated in Anglo-Catholicism.  The first picture is from 2011, the second from c1995.

Our memories of those happy days have not flown, forgotten as a dream, but are very much fresh (all these Isaac Watts quotations were not intended to link with the mention of St Anne in our previous post, but do so quite nicely).  While in many ways so much has happened over this year, some of which has been recounted on this blog, in other ways we consider that what has happened was nothing more than the natural outcome for us, given the way we had understood Anglo-Catholicism.  There was a predictability, perhaps even in some ways an inevitability about what has happened, even if not about the way it has been allowed to happen, through the graciousness of Anglicanorum coetibus

Now, more than ever, it has become very clear that there was no one definition of what people understood by Anglo-Catholicism.  There had always been a wide range of sub-groups, that themselves could either be virtually entirely in line with the teachings of the Catholic Church, or in reality quite far from them in some important ways.  High Church Anglicanism and Anglo-Papalism are but two of the most long-established terms, but even there the difference is clear.

Over the past 20-30 years, the picture has become even more confused.  Movements such as Affirming Catholicism have sprung up, which happily absorb much of the liturgical and sartorial practice of the Catholic Church, while adopting an approach to moral teaching that is not based on the Catechism but on what people feel - quite genuinely - to be right and good.  It's the same old debate about there being a Truth that has been revealed, and is interpreted afresh in each generation, or there being an ongoing series of revelations in which the Truth today is not the same as the Truth yesterday (and indeed even today there can be multiple Truths, some of which can contradict each other).  We touched on this topic in this recent and widely-read post.  Anglo-Catholics of a more traditional outlook were sometimes prone to using the odd slightly unkind nickname for Affirming Catholics, the more printable of which include AffCaths and indeed De-Caffs.  However, the same naughtiness was shown in return, with Forward in Faith and its quasi-predecessor Cost of Conscience having been unkindly labelled Backwards in Bitterness and Price of Prejudice respectively.

That debate continues with Anglo-Catholicism.  With the departure of many to the Ordinariate, and the seeming acceptance of the changes likely to emerge from this summer's General Synod, the overall theme of Anglo-Catholicism seems to be shifting.  The debates on the approach to moral teaching will remain, but there now seems to be a view that the primary object of Anglo-Catholicism is not [to act] defence of Catholic Truth and...[to labour for]...the Reunion of Christendom, (as the words on the memorial to Lord Halifax say, see the photo in this post) but rather to be one of a number of contrasting strands of Christianity that should co-exist within the Church of England, even if the teachings of those strands are in some very signficant ways utterly incompatible.  The new Anglo-Catholicism now seems to be moving towards saying that if corporate reunion with the Roman Church were to come along, that would be lovely, but only if Rome moves on a number of significant matters, because Rome cannot expect to dictate to the Church of England the terms on which any such corporate reunion would take place. 

Perhaps this was obviously going to be the case.    The people who felt more of a draw to Rome and the Catholic Church have left or are very seriously considering leaving: yet this is not a new trend.  Yes, there have the departures since the 1990s, and indeed since the Ordinariate, but ever since Anglo-Catholicism began (in the sense we understand it arising from the Oxford Movement), there has always been a steady flow over the Tiber, even before the moment that Blessed John Henry Newman concluded that his eloquent and impressive arguments about the catholic nature of the Church of England, written while still an Anglican, did not stand up to the reality of the day (see here for details of where Newman drew his line in the sand, it being, to mix metaphors, a final straw at the end of a long process).

Newman's Tract 90, in which he argued that the 39 Articles of the Book of Common Prayer were not an attack on Catholic theology but rather an attempt to limit excesses, caused a great stir.  In response to protests from (Anglican clerics who were) senior in the University of Oxford (including Archibald Campbell Tait, mentioned so prominently in our most popular ever post) the Anglican Bishop of Oxford requested that there not be a Tract 91, and neither there was.  Tract 90 was published in 1841, just before Newman's withdrawal to Littlemore in 1842, from where he was received into the Catholic Church by Blessed Dominic Barbieri in October 1845.

Anglo-Catholics still cite Tract 90 today in defence of the great Anglo-Catholic vision of old, but given what is happening around them, one wonders if they can really continue to do so for much longer, at least in respect of the Church of England as it is today.  The drive of the Tracts for the Times, particularly Tract 90, was to show the Church of England as ecclesiastically catholic rather than protestant, ie that it was in tune with the teachings of the Catholic Faith.  As we mentioned a week or two ago, Geoffrey Fisher, a recent Archbishop of Canterbury summed this view up in the following way, just after the second world war.
The Church of England has no doctrine of its own, save that of the one Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church.
When we quoted this recently, a comment on that blogpost was picked up upon by the excellent Let Nothing You Dismay blog.  There, the author pointed out
Although the idea of a synodical structure which would allow the laity, clergy and episcopate an opportunity to deliberate together on the issues facing the contemporary Church is (in theory) a laudable one, it has proved disastrous in practice. And this has been, not only because of the adoption of a quasi-parliamentary 'democratic model which has given the politicisation of church life a focus and an official platform, but because within Anglicanism there is no consensus as to what constitutes the authentic tradition.

Archbishop Fisher's comments about the Church of England having no doctrine which is not that of the catholic church are often seized upon by people like me, but the truth is that, however authoritatively they were expressed, they remain just the views of one Archbishop of Canterbury among many; they may have been an accurate snapshot of the consensus at the time within the Church, but are they any more than that? It's instructive that his comment was made just before the then established consensus (perhaps the high water mark of Tractarian influence within Anglicanism, going far beyond those who would identify themselves as 'Catholics') was about to fall apart.
As usual, the LNYD blog is spot on.  You cannot argue for the catholicity of the Church of England now (I make no comment about the past, nor do I make any comment about orders, which is an entirely different point) without addressing the issue of the change of direction.  You cannot logically argue using Tract 90 without volunteering to write a Tract 91, arguing the impossible, that everything that is now happening in the Church of England will not change the catholic vs protestant analysis that so obsessed the Tractarians who gave rise to what we call Anglo-Catholicism.

So in the CofE for those Anglo-Catholics who stay, change is required.  You can see this even from the wording of the statement issued by the Forward in Faith bishops last week. 
.....we must say something about diversity. At the heart of our theological tradition is an acceptance that the Church of England is enriched by the range of viewpoints within its spectrum. We are committed to the recognition of this diversity and to the liberty that protects it. Of course, the defence of liberty is one of the functions of justice and law, of which the monarch is guardian and symbol.
Really?  Diversity, with mutually incompatible theologies, is that a good thing?   Of course, this phenomenon is not new in the Church of England, but it has not always been seen as a strength of Anglicanism.  It seems there is no longer the attempt to catholicise or re-catholicise the Church of England, but that diversity of opinion,  Anglo-Catholic (of whatever hue) and protestant is good.  Well, here we come back to what we think we mean by saying "the Church", or even "the Catholic Church".  

The Forward in Faith bishops go on to say:
.....our search for unity will commit us to continuing engagement with the ARCIC process and dialogue with the Orthodox Churches.
So there you have it.  Anglicanorum coetibus is not on the agenda, the outcome of July's General Synod is irrelevant.  Christian Unity for the Forward in Faith bishops is the ARCIC process and the Orthodox (who, as we have noted before, do not think in the least bit favourably of the current Anglican changes).  That means it is not a high priority for them.  In the words of the Anglican Archbishop of New Zealand after the end of the recent ARCIC talks in Hong Kong:
There seem to be many obstacles from a human point of view, and it does not seem likely to have fully visible unity in the near future
Diversity constituted by incompatible theologies, and what risks appearing as institutional loyalty (however much any of us love our view of what the CofE is or has been) at the expense of a clear impetus towards unity, those are not goals for which any of us in the Marylebone group could have ignored this gracious call to Unity issued by Pope Benedict.

For us, it is sad to note this seemingly different approach.  However, we must acknowledge that it is only sad because it relates to our vision of what Anglo-Catholicism was all about.  We had always seen the Church of England as being part of the Church, but being in impaired communion, we had viewed the Catholic Church as being the rock from which....[the Church of England was]...hewn, we had seen ourselves as being separated by accident of history.  We had never seen the Church of England as a standalone entity in which we could seek to maintain a strand of catholicism.

So while it may all be rather sad for us, the changes may be positive and welcome for others.  The word Anglo-Catholicism has never meant just one thing, and the Anglo-Catholic movement has never had one single goal upon which all its adherents agreed.

Let us move back to Corpus Christi. Here are two contrasting pieces of music to prepare us for today.  First, some Tallis, and then another appearance from Frank Patterson.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

From Rebuff to Jubilee

Blog writers like to know how their readers find them.  "Domine, salvam fac reginam nostram" is a term that seems to be searched for a lot on google, and searches for that phrase have led to many a reader stumbling our blog. 

That term comes from a well known prayer said for the monarch, the French and thence Canadian origins of which we explained in a post we published on the anniversary of the Queen's accession earlier this year.  The post also provides an anecdote as to the the significance that St James's has in the history of the British Royalty and the Catholic Church.  Here then is that prayer, which, in accordance with the instructions of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales, we said after the blessing at mass today, but before the final dismissal.

Domine, salvam fac reginam nostram Elizabeth
Et exaudi nos in die, qua invocaverimus te.
Lord, save Elizabeth, our Queen
And heed us when we call on Thee

Almighty God, we pray for your servant Elizabeth our Queen, now by your mercy reigning over us. Adorn her yet more with every virtue and remove all evil from her path: that with her consort and all the royal family she may come at last in grace to you, who are the way, the truth and the life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen

Just as with the article on Domine, Salvam Fac, today's blogpost depends heavily on Fr Colven's parish notes for this week.  The second paragraph reminds us of just how much Britain has changed over this past century, and we can rejoice that in contrast to the rebuff that was given to Cardinal Hinsley, our present Queen referred to Cardinal Hume as "my Cardinal".  Progress indeed.  Let us pray that the growth and development of the Catholic Church will continue throughout this land, through the Ordinariate, through the welcome given to Catholics arriving from other lands, and through the people of this Sceptred Isle finding their way to the faith of the Church. 
The Rector writes ...

No one could have had a more exalted understanding of the nature of monarchy than the 17th century French king, Louis XIV. The court at Versailles was the byword for opulence and as Nancy Mitford writes in her biography “The Sun King” Louis saw himself as having a special relationship with God – in the chapel at Versailles all the chairs faced not the altar but the royal box at the back where only the king was allowed to face God! English monarchs of the period toyed with the same ideas but the Divine right concept was literally cut down to size by Oliver Cromwell and then the so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688 with the emergence of a constitutional monarchy (governing in tandem with parliamentary checks and balances) which is basically the situation with which we continue to live today (though as late as the 1950’s it is recorded that a "Salve" was still being sung at the seminary at Allen Hall, then at Ware, for the success of the Jacobite cause!).

In 1935, Cardinal Hinsley summed up the attitude of Catholics: “my faith tells me that genuine loyalty is due to my true king, and an enlightened patriotism adds to this a sense of duty” - but those words were written in response to a rebuff from the then government (in the form of the Home Office) who had refused to accept a loyal address from the Catholics of the United Kingdom to George V and Queen Mary on the Silver Jubilee of their coronation. There has certainly been an inherited ambiguity in the relationship between Catholics and the British monarchy – and it would be naïve not to recognise that the long centuries of persecution and the denial of full civil rights have left their mark – but as this weekend we return thanks to Almighty God for the sixty years reign of Queen Elizabeth we are conscious of the changes which have taken place during her reign.

Britain today is very different from the year of the Accession in 1952 – less cohesive, ethnically profoundly mixed, significantly richer in its complexity – and Empire has transformed itself into a Commonwealth of diverse peoples. Perhaps the greatest gift the Queen has brought to this era of rapid change is to allow the institution to embrace new situations while remaining a force for stability, and nowhere has this been more marked than in the evolving acceptance of differing faith communities in the national life. Catholics no longer experience the marginalisation of earlier generations (though indifference might well prove to be more damaging in the long run than hostility): much of this has to do with the evident warmth with which the Queen received both Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict on their pastoral visits to our country and, of course, Queen Elizabeth did talk affectionately of Basil Hume as “my Cardinal”, a phrase which must have had some of her forbears spinning in their graves. It is hard to overestimate the watershed marked by the recent state visit to the Irish Republic: for British Catholics, most of whom until recently having Irish antecedents, this was the healing gesture which laid to rest so much inherited tension and bad memory.

It is with full hearts and minds that Catholics will this weekend offer the prayer “ Domine salvum fac” at all Masses, as suggested by the Bishops of England and Wales.
At the end of mass, we sang a plainchant Te Deum to give thanks for the 60 years of the Queen's reign, and mass at St James's at 10am tomorrow will be offered for the Queen's intentions. 

Not, I hasten to add, that during mass we focused too much on the secular events of the day, as significant and historic as they were.  The mass was most definitely that of Trinity Sunday, upon which theme Fr Colven gave a very clear and succinct homily.  This was doubly impressive because, at least on the subject of the Trinity, a clear and succinct homily, with all due respect, seems often to be at the outer edge of many a clergyman's abilities. 

The music was particularly fine this morning.  The organ voluntary that was squeezed in between the end of the 0930 Extraordinary Form Mass and the 1030 Solemn Latin Mass was a personal favourite, the JS Bach Prelude in E flat BWV552.  Time did not allow for the fugue to be played as well, which is rather a shame as the triple fugue on the theme of a well-known hymn tune "St Anne" is a very fine piece.  Perhaps though, the associations that would have been conjured up in the mind of anyone familiar with the words most often set in this country to that hymn tune ("O God, our help in ages past") would arguably not have been appropriate for a day of such national celebration. 

The setting of the ordinary of the mass was the Haydn Missa Sancti Nicolai.  This is a personal favourite (it was the setting used at my wedding in St Mary's Bourne St), and a very fine piece.  We have included the very beautiful Kyrie on this blog before (in a post on Archbishop Amigo of Southwark and Bishop St Nicholas of Myra), and so this time here is the Sanctus.  It has one of the hallmarks of a classic Viennese mass, the threefold chordal repetition of the word "sanctus" occuring very quickly at the beginning: supposedly, so the story goes, to spare hoi oligoi likely to have been the first intended hearers of this setting the burden of having to wonder if they might yet raise their heads after having bowed.  So much easier than with those complicated polyphonic settings, you see.  The story may be no more than that, a story, but like many other similar stories, is vaguely credible. 

To conclude this trinity (plus one for Our Lady) of musical examples, here is something we did not have this morning, but which is a Trinity piece of which I am extremely fond.  It is a wonderful motet that will bring you closer to having a keen interest in Sebastian de Vivanco, a near contemporary of Victoria, who like his more famous fellow composer, was born in Avila and went on to become not only a prominent church musician and composer, but also a priest.  He finished his days as Professor of Music at Salamanca University and as the maestro di cappella at Salamanca Cathedral.  Vivanco, and his contempories St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross (both of whom also had strong connections with Salamanca), represent some of the most well known contributors to the Spanish Counter-Reformation.

Before signing off, there is exciting news about next week at St James's. Not only are we to mark the transferred Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (or to use the name we would have used in our Anglican days, "Corpus Christi") with a procession, but we are also to have a visiting preacher, a priest of the Ordinariate indeed.    For those of you who wish to mark Corpus Christi on the "proper day", there is an 11am mass in the extraordinary form on Thursday.