Monday, 27 February 2012

Lenten Sundays Begin

The servers at St James's must breath a sigh of relief when Lent arrives.  No longer the mad dash between the end of the 0930 Extraordinary Form Mass and the 1030 Solemn Latin (OF) Mass to change everything from purple into green.  For a good few weeks (and with a couple of days of exception), it is purple all the way.  Here is how the sanctuary looked yesterday immediately after the crowds for the EF had dispersed (but before the 1030 congregation had arrived), and how it can remain for some time.  Notice the calm in the sanctuary.

We were pleased to welcome an old friend from Bourne St, still Anglican, to join us both for Mass and for a drink afterwards.  He very much enjoyed his visit, and revealed that not only had he been with us on 3 September 2011 (for our Reception Mass), as we already knew, but that he had also from time to time attended the 0930 Extraordinary Form Mass at St James's.  His visit recalls this earlier post of ours, when two friends from our earlier Anglican days joined us at St James's.

Now might be a good time to mention two sets of Lenten talks, with different themes, that might be of interest to those in and around London this Lent. 

The first is the series being organised by the Ordinariate, taking place on Monday evenings at 7pm at St George's Cathedral, Southwark.  More details can be found here.  The talks sound like they are ideally suited for those who, while not new to the Catholic faith, are new to the Catholic Church. 

The other series of talks are being held at St James's, and are labelled Perspectives in Healthcare, with various medical professionals coming to talk about their role.  St James's is situated in Marylebone, where there are many hospitals and clinics (including those in the famous Harley Street).  At the time of writing, more details can be found here.  The talks are held on Wednesdays in Lent at 6pm, the first one being given by Professor Roy Sanders.

To conclude this short post, a comment on yesterday's music.  For the mass setting, we had a Palestrina Mass setting that I didn't know, the Emendemus, very appropriate for the season of course.   It was wonderful, especially the Sanctus.  Not being able to find it on youtube, here is the no less wonderful Agnus Dei from the Palestrina Missa Brevis.

The communion motet was one of my favourite Byrd motets Civitas Sancti Tui.  In this youtube version, sung by the Hilliard Ensemble, it is correctly placed as the second half of a longer piece, following Ne Irascaris Domine.  Having said that, Civitas Sancti Tui more than stands up on its own, the Sion Deserta and Ierusalem section of the piece is immensely powerful.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Souviens-toi que tu es poussière

Having made it out of the office at a reasonable hour for once, I managed to attend the 7pm Mass at S Pierre de Chaillot in Paris this evening.  It is a splendid 1930s building, with an interesting parish history.  If your French is up to it, you can read about the church and about Chaillot, one of the villages that were subsumed into Paris as it grew, on the parish website. 

We mentioned on this blog yesterday that the Celebrant of the Mass discussed in that post, Monsignor Guy Thomazeau, had been a parish priest of St Pierre de Chaillot in the 1980s, before being elevated to the episcopacy.  Another famous churchman with a connection to St Pierre de Chaillot was Pope John XXIII, who as Monsignor Roncalli was Apostolic Nuncio to France from 1944 to 1953.  The Paris Nunciature is situated in the parish of St Pierre de Chaillot, and the future Pope was a frequent visitor to this great building.  The parish's other claim to fame is that it was in its predecessor building that the Requiem Mass for Marcel Proust was held in 1922. 

Here you can see the church pictured earlier this evening, and then a picture taken by a much more able photographer, found on the internet.

Arriving tonight around ten minutes before Mass began, the church seemed respectably busy but far from full, as the photo below, taken from my vantage point relatively near the front, makes clear.  As the clock struck seven, people appeared as if from nowhere and took their places : there were probably 200-300 in church.  Having heard reports from an Anglican friend of the Marylebone Group who attended the 1230 Mass at St James's today that there were around 300 in attendance there, almost all of whom arrived in the five minutes before Mass started, I should not have been surprised.

The architecture of the building is said to be a typical 1930s rendering of Byzantine influences : perhaps so, architecture is not my field, but I must confess that it always reminds me of Armenia (see this earlier blogpost), especially the tall bell tower that can be seen from various nearby parts of Paris.  Sadly, the photo above does not show my favourite part of the internal architecture, the Byzantine-style frescoes that adorn the walls.  Around the view you can see above is a massive arch, withOur Lord above, surrounded by various saints, then below on the left hand side early popes and the Council of Nicaea, and below on the right hand side Pope Leo XIII, Pope Pius X and Pope Benedict XV alongside the Vatican Council (or, as we might now say, Vatican I).

The music was the very typical French style chant that one expects to hear, accompanied on the fine chamber organ (rescued from St Eustache) rather than on the very fine grandes orgues built in 1994, blessed by Cardinal Lustiger himself and financed by the City of Paris. 

The Homily was very good.  It started by reminding us that the Lenten regime we are asked to follow now is very different from and much lighter than the one that existed until the second half of the twentieth century.  It is perhaps physically less challenging, but this does not mean that we should not take Lent seriously: we should not let Lent pass by without any acknowledgement.

Instead of then moving on to the usual "give up something" or "take up something" approach, Fr Marc Guelfucci took a broader line of attack.  We must do something that "costs us" in Lent.  If giving up something, it must be something we will miss.  If taking up something, it must be something that will impact us.  It is about sacrifice, which comes from sacer (or sacrum) facere, being to make something holy, to make something special, to set something apart.  He made a special appeal for people to consider whether they might give more to the poor this Lent, something that he felt, in this economic environment, was more needed than ever, and was more sure to impact upon us than ever.  He also urged us not to look for excuses, not to decide against giving those ten euros to charity because we worry that it might spend too much on administration, or because we're not sure about every little thing they do : if we make the sacrifice with the best of intentions, then we have done what we can.

One thing that struck me was noticing a phenomenon that others mention having seen.  Those who were keener on bowing, kneeling, crossing themselves - I suppose we can steal Betjeman's phrase all the inessentials of the Faith - were under 40.  As I am - just - still the right side of 40, I was more than happy to follow the approach of the youth. 

We were all ashed, and indeed communicated, very quickly and efficiently.  The ashing was copious, but when I eventually got to see it in a mirror, I cannot say that it looked much like a cross, it was more of a black daub.  Still, I can take comfort from the Gospel reading of the day, in that I avoided making an ostentatious, pharisaic display: I simply looked as if I had had a nasty accident. 

One last photo, proving that not all of Paris is taking on a more sober appearance for Lent.  Here is a picture of the Eiffel Tower, as seen en route from S Pierre back to my flat.

To conclude, after all that talk of France, we must have a piece of very English Lenten choral music.  Here is William Byrd's setting of the Matins responsory for the first Sunday in Lent, Emendemus in Melius.

Let us amend for the better in those things in which we have sinned through ignorance;
lest suddenly overtaken by the day of death,
we seek space for repentance, and are not able to find it.
Hearken, O Lord, and have mercy:
for we have sinned against thee.
Help us, O God of our salvation,
and for the honour of thy name deliver us.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Malteser Broadcast and a Call to Almsgiving

Last Sunday's live broadcast of Mass on French Television (France 2), in a programme entitled Le Jour du Seigneur, featured a celebration of Mass held at the parish of St Elizabeth of Hungary, in the 3rd arrondissement of Paris.  The Mass was celebrated by Monsignor Guy Thomazeau, who was until 2011 the Archbishop of Montpellier, and who, much earlier in his priestly life, was the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Paris and Parish Priest of S Pierre de Chaillot (Paris 16th arrondissement), being the parish in which I live during the week, and where I hope to attend Mass tomorrow evening.

St Elizabeth's is an extremely beautiful church, but is slightly unusual, in that it is both a parish church and also the Conventual Church (in France) of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Malta (as well as being the centre of the Catholic Mission to the Chinese of Paris). 

If you watch the footage, which at the time of writing you can do by clicking on the link below, you will see that a large number of Maltese Knights and Dames are present, and that one of the Knights, Charles de Boissezon, is interviewed about the Order and about reconciling his being a member of the Order with working in finance.  (Apologies to those of you who don't have French.)  Liturgy in Paris is sometimes criticised for being at the forefront of 1960's tastes, but this is most definitely a very respectable and respectful offering of the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, even including up-to-date features such as the so-called Benedictine Arrangement of a crucifix on the altar during a versus populum celebration (such as was seen during a visit to Holy Ghost, Balham).

Link to 19 February 2012 edition of Le Jour du Seigneur

The programme also includes a brief reportage on the history of the Order of Malta (in French).  Please be aware that if looking at the link after Sunday 26 February 2012, you might find yourself directed to a different edition of the programme... so, hurry up!

Regular readers of this blog will know that the Knights of Malta have a strong presence at St James's, Spanish Place (see this blogpost for example) and have also shown great support to the Ordinariate, both the Marylebone Group in particular and the Ordinariate more widely.  Photographic evidence of their support for the Marylebone Group can be seen in our profile picture near the top of the right hand side of this blog.  Photographic evidence of their support for the Ordinariate can be found aplenty here and here.

The fact that some of the Knights of Malta known to us are also former members of the congregation at St Mary's Bourne St most probably helps, but without doubt we as the Ordinariate owe a debt of thanks to the Order of Malta.

As we approach Lent, when our thoughts turn, amongst other things, to whether we are doing what we can in terms of almsgiving, the French broadcast reminds of of the charitable works performed by the Order of Malta.  You can read more about these here and here.  While the visible presence and practical assistance of the Knights is much appreciated, including at public events such as the annual Rosary Crusade of Reparation, this is only a part of their role: their active charitable works in the fields of medical work, humanitarian activities and emergency relief are most definitely no less vital.  The Paris métro has, for example, recently been covered in Ordre de Malte posters intended to bring the 59th Annual Leprosy Day to the attention of the public.

At a more individual level, each of us can put some thought into our charitable giving during Lent, in order to comply, to the extent we can according to our situation, with the encouragement to almsgiving given in the Seven Corporal Works of Mercy. 

No doubt good causes such as the Society of St Vincent de Paul and Malteser International are ready to accept any financial support we might wish to provide.  Do have a look at the websites of both groups and at the good work that they do, both in the UK and around the world.  As part of your Lenten programme this year, think about whether there is something you could do to help them to continue to assist those in need.

Monday, 20 February 2012

All Things New, Dvořák and Cardinal Merry del Val

In previous years, we would have thought of yesterday as Quinquagesima, or the Next Sunday Before Lent, now for us it was the Seventh Sunday of the Year.   Despite the difference, we felt no pangs of loss for the former things passed away. 

The Epistle we heard on this day in previous years was the resonant Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels (upon which the eminent Fr Hunwicke has commented so fascinatingly here).  Instead, we had 2 Corinthians 1:18-22, which talks of the constant "Yes" of the promises of God in Christ Jesus, to which we, sealed by God in the Spirit, reply "Amen".

The Gospel readings were closer to each other.  In our Anglican days, we would have had Jesus healing the blind man (Luke 18:31), whereas yesterday we had Jesus healing the paralitic (Mark 2:1-12).  The parallel went beyond a simple tale of healing, and, picking up on Fr Colven's theme in his homily, both readings show that healing (for which one might read forgiveness) is available to all, if it is asked for and desired, and if a firm resolve exists to lead a new life.

Something else that was new to all of us, at least in a liturgical context, was the Dvořák Mass setting in D Major.  Given the efficient way in which the Canon is said at St James's (the Celebrant says it during the singing of the Sanctus, the Consecration occurs, then the choir continues with the Benedictus while the Celebrant continues with the Anamnesis), this long mass setting only delayed our visit to the local hostelry (an example of Anglican Patrimony) by ten minutes.  However, these were ten minutes very well spent, particularly on the beautiful Kyrie and Gloria. 

We all learned one further new thing yesterday, being the association of Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val with St James's.  Fr Colven's parish notes describe this below :
.....he was baptised in the old church in Spanish Place in 1865, received some of his early education here in London, and began his studies for the priesthood at Ushaw College outside Durham.  A polyglot, when asked in later life what was his first language, his reply was that his dreams were always in English! He was related to the de Zulueta family who played such a large part in the life of Saint James’s in the first half of the last century (they had a personal chapel in their house at 21, Devonshire Place) and were largely responsible for the decoration of the Lady Chapel – the crucifix on its wall belonged to him. Recruited into the diplomatic service of the Vatican, Merry del Val rose to become Cardinal Secretary of State to Pope St Pius X and, it is rumoured, came within a handful of votes of succeeding him as the Successor of St Peter. In 1953 the cause for his canonisation was begun, and he is now termed “Servant of God”. So in this good and holy man (who died in 1930) Saint James’s might have had from within its congregation a Pope – and perhaps, one day God willing, even its own saint ......... from his vantage point in Heaven may he watch over and pray for this parish which first nurtured him in the Faith. 
Cardinal Merry del Val, pictured below with Pope St Pius X, composed the Litany of Humility, which he recited after every Mass.

Fr Colven has suggested that all those attend St James's might wish to pray at least once a week during Lent.  It would be a very good thing if readers of this blog would also consider doing the same.
O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honoured, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, Jesus.
That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. 
Following on from recent blogposts here, one little historic aside worth making is the link between Cardinal Merry del Val and King Edward VII. 
  • We mentioned in a recent blogpost that King Edward became the first British monarch publicly to attend a Catholic Mass since King James VII and II, when he attended, wearing the uniform of a Portuguese Colonel, the Requiem Mass for the assassinated King and Crown Prince of Portugal in 1908.  This Mass was celebrated at St James's, the church which had first nurtured the faith of the young boy who grew up to become Cardinal Merry del Val. 
  • As Archbishop Merry del Val, he attended, with the newly ordained Eugenio Pacelli (later Pope Pius XII) the Coronation of King Edward VII as the official representative of Pope Leo XIII
  • A rather more macabre co-incidence is that Merry del Val died while being operated on for appendicitis, the same condition that had led to King Edward VII, some years before, falling seriously ill and having had to delay his Coronation. 
Former Anglicans in particular may also know Cardinal Merry del Val as the driving force behind Apostolicae Curae.  While Apostolicae Curae is now sometimes bandied about as some sort of insult from Rome, it should be noted that (a) the Church of England took steps in Saepius Officio and through the Dutch Touch to address points made in Apostolicae Curae, and (b) that at the time, though disappointing to leading Anglo-Catholics who had perhaps pushed the discussion too far too soon, Apostolicae Curae was generally received in the Church of England in a more positive way than it would have been had Rome declared that the Church of England's clergy were in fact fully functioning Catholic priests.

Cardinal Merry del Val died in 1930, and so falls within the period during which it is possible that vintage footage of him exists.  He is quite probably to be glimpsed in footage of those around Pope Benedict XV or Pope Pius XI (there is very little easily accessible film of Pope St Pius X), but more certain than following that approach is for us to include this 1926 footage of Cardinal Merry del Val acting as Papal Legate at the Commemoration held in Assisi for the 700th Anniversary of the death of St Francis.

Cardinal Merry del Val, Servant of God, is buried in St Peter's Basilica in Rome, next to the triple tomb of the last of the Stuarts, the exiled King James VIII and III, and his two sons, Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie, King Charles III), and Henry Benedict Cardinal Stuart, Duke of York (King Henry I and IX, and Dean of the College of Cardinals).

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Cardinal Wiseman, Anniversaries and Vintage Pathé Film

It seems to be the season for anniversaries and occasions of note.  A little over a month ago, we marked the first "birthday" of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, and within the last week we have seen the birth of the second Ordinariate being formed under the provisions of Anglicanorum Coetibus, the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter.  Earlier this week, the one hundredth post appeared in this blog.  Today, we mark the death in 1865 of Cardinal Wiseman, the first Archbishop of Westminster.

Cardinal Wiseman is someone that Ordinariate members should probably study more.  His visits from Rome to England in 1835 and 1836 caused great interest among the Oxford Movement, not least for Dr Pusey and Blessed John Henry Newman.  In 1836 he was one of the co-founders of the Dublin Review, which was in fact published in London, and which published articles of interest on Catholicism not only for Catholics with an interest in such academic study, but also with a view to being a window on the Catholic world for interested non-Catholics. 

In the time he spent as a Co-Adjutor Bishop for the Central Area of England, and as President of Oscott College, he was central to the provision of support (not least material support) being provided by the Catholic Church to incoming Anglican clergy.  He maintained a lifelong enthusiasm for what some call the "zeal of the convert" and what others might more kindly call the excitedness of new Catholics, even when some of his fellow "cradle Catholics" were less pronounced in their delight at the phenomenon.  Cardinal Wiseman was also an ally of the ex-Anglican who was to become his successor as Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Manning (whom we mentioned recently here).

Cardinal Wiseman would have been rather amused at the Pope parks his tanks on the lawn-type fuss that greeted the announcement of Anglicanorum Coetibus.  In the summer of 1850, he was summoned to Rome, and following Pope Pius IX's announcement in Universalis Ecclesiae (29 September that year) of the re-establishment of the English hierarchy, Wiseman was elevated to Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster and Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of the Southwark (the first Bishop of Southwark was the man who later became Cardinal Bourne, and the first Archbishop of Southwark was the famous Archbishop Amigo**).  Wiseman followed this by speaking very grandly of the "restoration of Catholic England to its orbit in the ecclesiastical firmament" in a letter entitled "Out of the Flaminian Gate".  You can find the whole text here, but here is a little taster to give you some idea.
The great work, then, is complete; what you have long desired and prayed for is granted. Your beloved country has received a place among the fair Churches, which, normally constituted, form the splendid aggregate of Catholic Communion; Catholic England has been restored to its orbit in the ecclesiastical firmament, from which its light had long vanished, and begins now anew its course of regularly adjusted action round the centre of unity, the source of jurisdiction, of light and vigour....

.....then truly is this day to us a day of joy and exaltation of spirit, the crowning day of long hopes, and the opening day of bright prospects. How must the saints of our country, whether Roman or British, Saxon or Norman, look down from their seats of bliss, with beaming glance, upon this new evidence of the faith and Church which led them to glory, sympathising with those who have faithfully adhered to them through centuries of ill repute for the truth’s sake, and now reap the fruit of their patience and long suffering. And all those blessed martyrs of these latter ages, who have fought the battles of the faith under such discouragement, who mourned, more than over their own fetters or their own pain, over the desolate ways of their own Sion, and the departure of England’s religious glory; oh! how must they bless God, who hath again visited his people,--how take part in our joy, as they see the lamp of the temple again enkindled and rebrightening, as they behold the silver links of that chain which has connected their country with the see of Peter in its vicarial government changed into burnished gold; not stronger nor more closely knit, but more beautifully wrought and more brightly arrayed.
The tone upset some, of course, but not as much as the mere fact of the re-establishment of the Catholic hierarchy upset some of the Protestant establishment.  There were a number of violent street protests (including smashing windows of Catholic churches), and a good few "No Popery" processions, but the new Cardinal did much to defuse the situation.  He issued a public letter in which he described the re-establishment of the hierarchy as merely a necessary practical measure for the Catholic faithful, and answered those who mocked him for "claiming jurisdiction" over Westminster by arguing that his real business was with the poor of the areas for which he was responsible.  The government of the day followed up by passing a law in 1851 forbidding, on pain of imprisonment and fines, any Catholic diocese in England or Ireland taking the same name as an Anglican diocese (the law seemed unnecessary, as the Catholic hierarchy had already respected this practice, and was repealed a mere 20 years later). 

The times are very different of course, but those who worried that the Ordinariate existed in order to "poach" happy Anglicans were as wrong as those who thought that Cardinal Wiseman planned to invade Westminster with the Papal Army in order to seize territory.

Cardinal Wiseman died on 16 February 1865, and a great procession followed his coffin from St Mary Moorfields all the way to Kensal Green.  His remains were at last transferred to the newly built Westminster Cathedral in 1907, where they still lie in the crypt, under a gothic tomb showing the Cardinal in full pontificalia.

Perhaps the Ordinariate should sing one of Cardinal Wiseman's own hymns more often, sung to a tune named after him. We mean, of course, Full in the Panting Heart of Rome.  His understanding towards those joining the Catholic Church from Anglicanism, and his knowledge of working in a time where the growth of Catholicism was treated with great suspicion, mark him out as one of those in the history of the Church in England who have shown the greatest of affinities with incoming ex-Anglicans.

Readers of this blog may have noticed a weakness on our part for vintage film.  That being the case, talk of anniversaries, of the re-establishment of the hierarchy and of Westminster Cathedral (a visit to which is described here) lead inevitably to some stunning Pathé footage of the 1950 celebrations marking the hundredth anniversary of the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy in England.

At the end of a week of celebrations, with several Masses on a grand scale, a garden party and various functions, on Sunday 1 October 1950, cardinals (including the famous Cardinal Spellman of New York, as well as cardinals from Toronto, Malines, Lyons, Berlin and Cologne), archbishops and bishops gathered from around the country and the world to mark this great occasion. 

In the afternoon, a great pageant of English Catholic history was held at Wembley Stadium, in front of a crowd of around 100,000, followed by a High Mass (shame on you who thought outdoor masses are a new and modern-rite-only phenomenon).  The crowd was at times very loud, as for example during the singing of Faith of our Fathers, Full in the Panting Heart of Rome and in the Latin of the Credo, but their total silence at the Elevation, during Communion and as they listened to a recorded address from Pope Pius XII struck those who reported on the event.  The mass was sung by the Archbishop of Birmingham, in the presence of the Papal Legate to the Centenary Celebrations, Cardinal Griffin, Archbishop of Westminster.

That same morning, there had been also the very grandest of Solemn High Masses at Westminster Cathedral, in the presence of six cardinals and seventy archbishops and bishops.  The film you can watch below will provide handy hints for future Ordinariate celebrations, if MCs ever have to find themselves managing the manoeuvring of multiple cappae magnae in procession, or placing the Gentlemen in Spanish Court Dress and the Cathedral Canons around the Throne, or wondering which direction an Archbishop as Apostolic Delegate (in the pictures it is the then Archbishop William Godrey, himself later to become Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster) sitting at the faldstool during a Solemn Pontifical High Mass should face during the genuflection at Et Incarnatus.  The preacher (according to this from the Catholic Herald) was Monsignor Ronald Knox (who was, as every Ordinariate member knows, a former Anglican clergyman).  I have stuck with the Catholic Herald's version of events, but various reports you can find on the internet provide conflicting accounts of who did what at the grand Sunday Mass: I suspect the confusion is because there was a whole series of barely less grand High Masses that week, celebrated by visiting cardinals as well as by Cardinal Griffin

The film, from the Pathé website, is very much worth watching, even if some of it appears to be in the wrong order. 

If clicking on the image above does not work, click here to watch the first film, describing the day's events.

If clicking on the image above does not work, click here to watch the second film, which contains some spectacular footage of of the Solemn High Mass at Westminster Cathedral.

If clicking on the image above doesn't start the film, then click here to watch footage from the Wembley ceremonies that afternoon.

**  Please note the welcome correction (to be found in the comments on this post) about the history of the Southwark bishops from Fr Sean Finnegan, Pastor in Valle, author of the excellent Valle Adurni blog, to which a permanent link is provided in the sidebar on the right hand side of this blog.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

One Hundred Not Out

This is the one hundredth post to appear on this blog.  The perfect opportunity, then, to reflect on what all this endless writing has been for.

The blog began as a means to record the first few weeks of a group of ex-Anglicans who had joined the Catholic Church through the provisions of Anglicanorum Coetibus.  Partly, this was in line with the well-known phenomenon of there being Ordinariate groups with blogs (most notably of course Fr Ed Tomlinson's blog and Fr Edwin Barnes's blog), as well as blogs of Anglicans with Catholic-leanings who wonder about their future (for example, Let Nothing You Dismay, Ancient Briton and St Peter's London Docks).  However, it was also because our little group was quite unusual, in that we had left our Anglican parish, St Mary's Bourne St, without having been led by our then clergy, and were finding our way on our own.

True, we had a huge amount of help from Fr Christopher Pearson of the London (South) Group, who with Monsignor Newton worked out the practicalities for us.  Furthermore, we could hardly have ended up in a Catholic parish better suited to cope with a group of ex-Anglicans : Fr Christopher Colven and the clergy of St James's Spanish Place are former Anglicans who joined the Catholic Church in the mid 1990s.  These factors were tremendously helpful, but ultimately we felt there was an unusual story, of hopefully some passing interest, to tell.

Time for a few statistics.  We might not reach the heights of Fr Tomlinson's blog (over a thousand hits per day), but for a little group of three (and perhaps now four) without a priest, we have managed to drum up some reasonable level of interest. 
  • As at the time of writing, we have reached the grand total of just over 8,900 hits. 
  • That means each of our posts (99 having been published up to now) has been read an average of 90 times (though some have been read much much more than that), and that we have had an average of over 57 hits per day.
  • At the current rate, we are heading for 21,000 hits per year.
  • Unsurprisingly most of our hits come from the UK, but the other countries in our top ten are the USA, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Romania and Spain.  We also have regular visits from Italy, Switzerland, Latvia, Sweden, Bulgaria, Malawi, South Africa, Israel, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Mexico, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil.
  • A significent number of our hits still come from the Marylebone Ordinariate Group's page on Facebook, although this is a smaller proportion than before.  More and more people arrive on this site either directly after searching for Marylebone Ordinariate on e.g. google, or by following a link from another blog.
  • 77% of hits to our site are on Windows, 9% on a Blackberry, 5% on a Mac
  • 56% of hits to our site are via Internet Explorer, 15% via Firefox and 18% via Safari or Mobile Safari.
As to the different blogposts, I think my favourite is The Angels Rejoice.....and the ex-Anglicans do too, and not because of being self-satisfied and smug at the last line of the blogpost, and only partly because of the fantastic video footage contained therein (a still photo of the event captured in the film is shown below).  No, I like it because it is short (unlike many of the posts on this blog) and because it says succinctly that what we have done feels natural, we don't feel like strangers in a strange land, we don't feel lost, nor that we have somehow been crushed to conform.

How long will this blog continue, now that we have arrived and have begun to settle in properly?  Christmas originally seemed like the right time to stop.  Perhaps you noted the beginnings of a valedictory tone in Christmas Past, Christmas Present, but this had gone by the time we reached A Catholic Christmas, most likely due to the next "right time to stop" having appeared, the Ordinariate Anniversary Evensong celebrations.   The Ordinariate anniversary came and went, there followed some comment on the outcome of the Church of England's General Synod (something that often makes people, no matter the context, think that it is the "right time to stop (breathing)"), and now here we are, at the hundredth blogpost.

We shall see.  There are three more blogposts stored up in draft, which together kick the decision into touch for a while at least.  In particular, there is a rather fun one ready for later this week, focussing on a towering figure of nineteenth-century English Catholicism whom we think Ordinariate members should take to their hearts, and including some excellent vintage footage.

Until then, thank you for visiting this site and for your interest in this blog and in the Ordinariate.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Lines in the Sand

Another intrusion into the business of others: a few follow up remarks on the Church of England's General Synod-related blogpost we put up on Tuesday, given feedback received, and given developments in Synod since.

First of all, an apology that we didn't state clearly in that post something we have stated clearly in many other posts.  What we should have emphasised is that we fully understand that this is an extremely difficult time for faithful Anglo-Catholics left in the Church of England (and indeed the Church in Wales).  Many have adapted their Anglo-Catholicism to suit the times, but many have not, and this latter group now find themselves in a tremendously challenging situation.  Our blogpost gave rise to a very friendly and very gentle response on the always interesting Let Nothing You Dismay blog, through which we felt rightly reminded of the need to bear in mind the trials facing our Anglo-Catholic brethren, as all of us ultimately share the knowledge that, or are coming to the realisation that, the writing does indeed seem to be on the wall.

The second point we would like to make is a comment on a reaction to what happened yesterday in Synod.  The following statement, unattributed but supposedly from "the Traditionalists", quoted on the Guardian's website, is rather surprising.  So surprising, that, having been unable to find it elsewhere on the internet, I am genuinely unable to say whether it comes from Evangelical "Traditionalists" or Anglo-Catholic "Traditionalists".

We welcome the fact the general synod is open to the possibility of the House of Bishops amending the draft measure, and call upon the house to do so in a way that will provide properly for those unable in conscience to accept the oversight of women bishops. The archbishops' amendment is a long way from our original proposals for provision; what we are saying is that we are willing to work with it, or something like it, for the sake of the unity of the church.
This seems a very, very, very long way from "A Code of Practice will not do" for example, which was only a year or two ago a rallying call of many Anglo-Catholics.  Synod voted against there being any "substantial" change to what is already on the table.  Furthermore, the "unity of the church" being referred to seems clearly to be the unity of the Church of England.  As admirable a goal as that is, wider Christian Unity doesn't get a look in.

The reason the statement quoted above is so surprising is that for any Anglican who has given thought to becoming a Catholic, or to his/her place as an Anglican in the univeral Church, there has always been a line in the sand, or one or a number of straws that could break the proverbial camel's back.  Panglossian statements about the proposed legislation and code of practice make it very hard to know where a line in the sand might be these days, if there is one at all.

The line (or the straw) is different in every case of course, and since each individual Anglican begins from a different starting point and sees different kinds of changes in his/her own time and in his/her own province/diocese/parish, that is not in the least bit surprising.  At some point Anglicans who become Catholics decide that their beliefs mean that their home is in the Catholic Church, not in a branch of the Anglican Communion.  Sometimes, that process is initiated by something that the Catholic Church does (eg the Holy Father's call to Unity in response to requests from Anglicans, as expressed in Anglicanorum Coetibus) and sometimes that process is initiated by something happening in their own branch of the Anglican Communion.

Looking at the process emerging from General Synod yesterday, two great Anglican converts of the past come to mind, as do their "lines in the sand". 

Cardinal Manning, once the Anglican Archdeacon of Chichester, towards the end of his Anglican days came up against a change that was implemented by the state, and although he fought for a while to protect the Church of England from the consequences, eventually decided that he could not even begin to achieve what would be necessary.  The change in question was the fallout from the Gorham Judgment in March 1850, when the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council directed the Church of England to grant its ordination to a clergyman who did not believe in Baptismal Regeneration.  The House of Lords voted against transferring this decision to the Church of England's Convocation, and the matter was settled by the state.  This way of proceeding, following other less significant difficulties, did not match with Manning's then view, a view held dear by generations of Anglo-Catholics, some even to this day, that the Church of England was part of the one universal Church, even if in impaired communion.  Manning did not agree that the teachings of the Church should be changed by parliamentary command.

If by any chance the Church of England's General Synod rejects the legislation before it in the summer, and delays the introduction of women to its episcopacy, one can only shrink in horror at the consequences.  Canon Jane Hedges, a potential frontrunner to be one of the Church of England's first women bishops, was quoted in a Times interview in 2009 about the strong support in Parliament for there to be women bishops.  Frank Field MP has tabled an Early Day Motion urging the Church of England to "get on with it".  Everyone is clear that the Church of England has decided to, and will, ordain women to its episcopacy, the question is how exactly to deal with those who dissent from that majority view.  However, if the legislation falls over in July because of a failure to agree on how to provide for dissenters, then surely there is a significant risk that Manning's nightmare of the state intervening to make the Church of England "behave" will happen once again.

The other great Anglican convert who comes to mind now is Blessed John Henry Newman.  There were various things that brought him to his conclusion about joining the Catholic Church, but there are perhaps two that appear most relevant today : the Jerusalem Bishopric, and the comparison of Roman and Anglican "innovations".

The "beginning of the end" for Newman was the 1841 initiative of the Jerusalem Bishopric.  This was an extraordinary, and in its original form, ultimately doomed project in which the Church of England was to work with the Church of Prussia to set up a focal point in the Holy Land for pan-European Protestantism.  The Anglophile King Frederic William IV of Prussia was keen to introduce episcopacy into the state-run Church of Prussia, Lord Palmerston and Lord Shaftesbury agreed with the venture, and the Anglican hierarchy (including our old friend Bishop Blomfield of London, mentioned in this earlier post of ours) was happy to see its influence extending to the "less perfectly formed Protestant Churches of Europe" without interference from Rome.

Evangelicals in the Church of England were delighted, but those with what we might now call an Anglo-Catholic vision were not.  Newman in particular was horrified at the idea that the Church of England would be admitting adherents of the "heresies" of Lutheranism and Calvinism to communion with it.

Newman did not see Christian Unity in terms of reaching out to relatively like minded state churches.  He saw it as union with Rome: taking into account the teaching of the Catholic Church, not moving away from it.

As to counter-accusations that the Catholic Church had a long-established habit of introducing innovations itself, Newman had the following to say, and perhaps this May 1843 quotation speaks louder than ever today:
At present I fear, as far as I can analyze my own convictions, I consider the Roman Catholic Communion to be the Church of the Apostles, and that what grace is among us (which, through God's mercy, is not little) is extraordinary, and from the overflowings of His dispensation.  I am very far more sure that England is in schism, than that the Roman additions to the Primitive Creed may not be developments, arising out of a keen and vivid realizing of the Divine Depositum of Faith.
One final point.  Some of the reactions appearing online to what is going on (apart from those of a Panglossian nature) display hurt and astonishment at the process.  Though it is little consolation to say this, feeling ejected from what one has regarded as one's spiritual home is nothing new, as this passage from The Parting of Friends (Blessed John Henry Newman's final sermon as an Anglican) relates, full of quotations from Isaiah in referring to the Church of England as a mother:
.....thine own offspring, the fruit of thy womb, who love thee and would toil for thee, thou dost gaze upon with fear, as though a portent, or thou dost loathe as an offence;—at best thou dost but endure, as if they had no claim but on thy patience, self-possession, and vigilance, to be rid of them as easily as thou mayest. Thou makest them "stand all the day idle," as the very condition of thy bearing with them; or thou biddest them be gone, where they will be more welcome; or thou sellest them for nought to the stranger that passes by.
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.  Still, don't be disheartened, reflect and pray, ponder all these things in your heart : there is at least one place where you "will be more welcome", if that is the route you eventually decide to choose, and until then, please be assured that those who have made that journey before you know exactly how hard it can be to take those first steps on the road.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Facing Facts

As its 2.30pm debate begins, it really would probably be safer and fairer to avoid any comment on this week's General Synod in the Church of England.  Having left the Church of England, the debate has no direct impact on members on members of the Marylebone Ordinariate Group, other than being a source of concern for those of our formerly fellow Anglo-Catholics who are very anxious at the moment.

However, it might nonetheless be topical and not too much of an intrusion to comment on one particular aspect of the debate.  Not the fundamentals, but the way in which the debate risks heating up unnecessarily.

There is much outrage about the seemingly unsympathetic attitude of some of the most notable proponents of the legislation to bring women to the Church of England's episcopate.  An article has appeared in The Telegraph, and the blogosphere is aflame (for example, see here, here and here).

It is true that some might have expressed themselves in more diplomatic language, for example the Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin has painted things rather starkly in this recent Telegraph article.  This section in particular has caused much upset :
The Church is desperately trying to hold everybody together, and we haven’t understood that this is not going to be possible. To try to do that is to put on a sticking plaster that is going to curl at the edge and fall apart. It cannot be sustainable. The whole thing is a mess. We need to say, as a Church, 'We ordain men and women.’ Full stop. All the way to the top. For those who feel that they can’t live with it? They’re adults. By all means, go to Rome. Join the Ordinariate. Don’t stay and make demands of the Church. It’s wrong.
However, if one scrapes away the veneer of the tone and looks at the underlying message, is the Revd Hudson-Wilkin really saying anything that unreasonable or unrealistic?  All she is saying is that the Church of England has made up its mind about ordaining women to its episcopate, and that those who don't like it will just have to accept it and act accordingly.  There is no magic solution that will be acceptable to everyone.  As to the tone, well, after 37 years of debate, surely we can all (including the Revd Hudson-Wilkin) be excused a little frustration.

Is what she says in the article really any different from the message that Dr Chartres, the Anglican Bishop of London, was giving to his clergy when he made it clear that he did not wish them to use the new translation of the Roman Rite?  In what remains our most read blogpost by some margin, we wrote the following :
The difficulty is not so much that the Bishop of London is strongly critical of any of his clergy adopting the new translation.  Rather, it is his argument for taking this approach.  In short, he says that Anglicanorum Coetibus has called bluffs : those who wanted to use texts issued by Rome that express communion with the Pope have headed off to the Ordinariate, those who remain should not be following instructions issued by the Pope to those in that other communion.  His conclusion is that if people in the Diocese of London use the new translation, they are rejecting the instructions of both the Catholic Church and those of the Diocese of London.
The messages sound strikingly similar, and in fact are rather simple : this is what is happening, this is what the Church of England has decided, and if that's not you, then you need to look elsewhere for something that is. 

While instinctively and historically we have enormous sympathy with the comments of the Revd Ross Northing on a current post in the blog of the famous Anglican Bishop of Buckingham (Dr Wilson's tone is far more brutal and strident than the Revd Hudson-Wilkin's, especially in his responses to comments on his blog), despite coming at things from a different perspective of course, it is hard to disagree with the comments made by Erika Baker on the same post.
I still don't understand why those who are deliberately members of the CoE suddenly claim that it isn't the church ...... when they don't like its decisions. Yes, there are those who believe that the CoE doesn't have the power to make this decision.  But the CoE disagrees and it has made that decision and it has had women as priests for a long long time now.
We can do little more than refer once again to Geoffrey Kirk's excellent recent article in New Directions, and to a recent blogpost written by Fr Ed Tomlinson.  Links to both of these can be found in the second half of this recent blogpost of ours.

The reality is, and there is no point in debating the rights and wrongs of how we got here, that the Church of England has made certain decisions.  People can either live with them or they can't.  The levels of frustration, and sadly animosity, increase on both sides when there is an inability or an unwillingness to see the new reality.  As Mark Twain never said, Denial Ain't Just a River in Egypt.

Enough intrusion.  For those in the Church of England who might join the Ordinariate, perhaps the next few days and indeed months will be an important step in that process.  Decision making can be difficult, and has always been able to be so (see this article on how it agonised Dr Eric Mascall): all we can do is assure you that we do not regret our decision for so much as one second.

For those in the Church of England who do not feel comfortable with the idea of joining the Catholic Church yet are unhappy with the likely changes, we hope very much that you find a way to respect and cherish the Anglo-Catholic heritage that has formed you.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Domine, salvam fac reginam nostram Elizabeth

I don't think that we could say anything better than this.  Here is Fr Colven's parish note for this week.  We did indeed sing the chant to Domine Salvam Fac Reginam Nostram Elizabeth at the end of Mass yesterday, and what a treat it was.  Fr Colven's introduction gives us an excuse to include a picture of His Late Majesty King Edward VII, as well as of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.  If you continue reading all the way to the end of this past, you will see how it also gives us an excuse to mention the Emperor Napoleon.

On 8th February 1908 a Requiem Mass was celebrated here at Saint James’s for the assassinated King of Portugal, Don Carlos, and Crown Prince Manuel, “in the presence of Edward VII and Queen Alexandra and other members of the Royal Family. The King, dressed as a Portuguese Colonel, became the first British monarch to officially attend a Catholic Mass since James 11”. Thus Spanish Place had a small but not insignificant part to play in the re- emergence of Catholicism into the national life of this country - a process furthered by the acceptance by Queen Elizabeth II of an invitation from Cardinal Hume (“my Cardinal”) to attend Vespers at Westminster Cathedral in 1995. St Paul writing to his disciple Timothy says; “there should be prayers offered for everyone – petitions, intercessions and thanksgivings – and especially for kings and others in authority, so that we may be able to live religious and reverent lives in peace and quiet” (2:2): we have a clear duty of intercession for the leaders of civil society, for, as the Catechism reminds us (in rather quaint language): ”the love and service of one’s country follow from the duty of gratitude and belong to the order of charity. Submission to legitimate authorities and service of the common good requires citizens to fulfil their roles in the life of the political community”.

Monday (6th February) marks the 60th Anniversary of the Queen’s Accession and the 6pm Mass will be offered for her intention. It is clear that Elizabeth II is motivated by a deep Christian faith (which was expressed very clearly in her most recent Christmas broadcast) and that the anointing she received at her coronation has, in her own mind, established a sacramental bond of lifelong service to Britain and the nations of the Commonwealth. It would be naive though to gloss over the sensitivities which are still felt by some over the chequered history between the British monarchy and the Catholic Church – and the realisation that the Catholic constituency (through new waves of immigration) has a complex view of national loyalties. In this context, the symbolic value of last year’s state visit to Ireland cannot be overemphasised; the part that the Queen has played in the healing of memories should be recognised and applauded. Until 1964 it was the proud custom in English Catholic churches to sing the "Domine salvum fac" at the end of the principal Mass on a Sunday (something that we will revive for this Sunday closest to the date of the Accession): this prayer for the reigning monarch would seem to trace its history back to Louis XIV of France and the chapel at Versailles – and was often set to glorious music - but, by a strange quirk, in 1759 the Catholics of Quebec began to substitute the name of the then British king George III for Louis XV and the rest, as they say, is history.

Love for country and a right respect for its leaders must not though be confused with a narrow nationalism or blind acceptance of whatever rulers or governments may determine. The Catechism reminds us: “The Church, because of her commission and competence, is not to be confused in any way with the political community. She is both the sign and the safeguard of the transcendent character of the human person”. We must neverforget that although we are called to share in building the Kingdom here on earth – and this hopefully will involve many lay Catholics in the political process for the betterment of society - its completion is more than the fruit of human imagination. “There is no eternal city for us in this life, but we look for one in the life to come. (Hebrews 13:14): souls and bodies both need feeding, and it is the Church’s task to hold that delicate balance between the things of this life while proclaiming those of the next. Every time we pray "thy Kingdom come" we are asking for justice in this life in the expectation of its promised fulfilment in the eternity of God.
Christopher Colven

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

To follow Fr Colven's text, the most obvious piece of music to include is the very popular O Lord, Make Thy Servant Elizabeth, by William Byrd. 

Having included that loyal piece of music, it is probably just about permissible to include something that might otherwise lead one to be sent to the Tower, at least on a day like today.  Fr Colven's text referred to the Domine Salvum Fac having had a particular association with the French court before the Catholics of Québec had the bright idea of amending it to pray for King George III.  It was indeed sung at the end of every liturgy in the French Chapel Royal, as fine settings such as those by Couperin and Lully demonstrate (clicking on those links will take you to a youtube performance of those composers' settings).

Long-time readers of this blog might just remember that discussion of Doctor Chartres, Anglican Bishop of London, once led us to talk of the Emperor Napoleon.  Therefore, it seems just about excusable to include the Gounod setting of Domine Salvum Fac, being Domine Salvum Fac Imperatorem Nostrum Napoleonem.  It's a rather fun piece.

Despite that sortie into matters French, happy Accession Day one and all, and best wishes for this Jubilee Year.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

A Candlemas Welcome

About 100 or so attended the 6pm Solemn Mass at St James's for Candlemas last Thursday.  We have a small number of photos of the event, starting with a picture of The Golden Lady, the statue of Our Lady and the Infant Jesus that is situated near to "Ordinariate Row" at St James's.

Welcome to Scott Anderson, one of the Ordinariate's newest Catholics.  May he feel as welcome and as content as we do.  Scott becomes part of the London (South) Ordinariate group. 

We must highlight the choice of final hymn last Thursday.  The Race that Long in Darkness Pined has a a certain resonance for those of the Marylebone Group who were once Presbyterians, but it did also seem immensely apt for those now finding their home in the Catholic Church.

One other thing to highlight was the incident whereby poor Scott found himself "locked" in the sanctuary.  He had been bidden into the sanctuary in order to be the first lay person to receive communion.  While this was going on, one of the servers, in accordance with usual practice, locked the altar rails in preparation for the congregation to come up to receive communion.  Scott was therefore trapped : Fr Colven wondered if this might be a sign of things to come in the future, a sign that Scott might one day return to duties in sanctuaries. We shall see, this is not the current plan we understand, but who knows what the future might hold.

The less said about the incident when a St James's regular nearly found herself going up in flames holding one of the Candlemas candles, the better. 

A little more information on Scott's arrival in the Catholic Church can be found here.

Thursday, 2 February 2012


Today is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, to use its official modern title, commonly known as Candlemas.  This is one of the most ancient feasts of the Church, and indeed one of its most important.  Traditionally, the date was seen as the end of Christmas, falling 40 days after Christmas Day.  The fortieth day after a birth was when Jewish custom decreed that a mother should come to the Temple for a ritual of purification after childbirth, and that a first born should be presented in the Temple. 

In a broader context, the idea of any kind of uncleanliness requiring cleansing is so misunderstood by our age that this blog is not even going to begin to approach it.  We leave that to others with greater knowledge and greater patience.  The modern approach is to say that we are all perfectly good and never do any wrong, so we have nothing to be cleansed for and nothing to repent.  That approach is rather far removed from, for example, the Catholic approach, which is to say that we, every single one of us, do all sorts of things wrong, and we are all in need of God's forgiveness, which He will lovingly and willingly give us if only we ask it. 

The concept of the Presentation is perhaps more readily understood.  The Jewish law, contained in the Old Testament, held that all firstborns belonged to God, although happily firstborn children were redeemed by their parents from the Temple.  This reminds us, as does the Proclamation of the Nativity discussed at Christmas, that the Incarnation occurred at a particular time in a particular place, among the Jews in first century Palestine, and that God took on our human form and lived in every way the life that people at that time in that place knew.

Here, Christmas ends, the child born of a Virgin, whose existence has been revealed to the Jews, and in the Epiphany to the world, now comes to his own Temple.  God had become truly present among us and, through giving his incarnate self back to us through his ritually redeemed Son, continued the redemption of all his people.

Given the importance of today's feast, it is no surprise that there is much fine music that has been written for use at services today.   The first piece is a real example of Anglican Patrimony, a setting of the Nunc Dimittis by Stanford.  Stanford sets the bass soloist the words contained in Luke's Gospel, spoken by the old man Simeon, who had been told that he would not see death before seeing the Lord's Christ. 

Another piece, very well known in the Church of England, although perhaps, like the Cornelius anthem we mentioned recently, seeming to be more Anglican Patrimony than it truly is, is the setting by Johannes Eccard of Maria Wallt zum Heiligtum, usually known in England as When to the temple Mary went.

The third piece I would like to include is the Alleluia set for Mass today, Senex Puerum Portabat.  This is the setting included by Byrd in his Gradualia.

There is also a very fine setting of Senex Puerum Portabat by Victoria, which you could hear if you were to be going to the London Oratory tonight.  However, I am more than sure that all Ordinariate supporters free in London tonight will want to be at St James's for the 6pm mass this evening, in order to welcome Scott Anderson to the Catholic Church.  Please gather at the back of church before Mass begins in order to participate in the candle ceremonies and procession.

I shall be in France, although I fear that I shall not be enjoying the French custom of making crepes on Candlemas, La Chandeleur

A most blessed feast day to you all.