Tuesday, 29 January 2013

By the Grace of God brought to the knowledge of the Truth

Those of us who have had the privilege of being received into the Catholic Church understand full well that it was only through the enlightenment of divine grace that we were brought to embrace, and to be embraced by, holy Mother Church. No matter how long we spent praying and debating with ourselves and with others about taking, what seemed to us at the time, such a momentous step we could do nothing of ourselves without that grace.

There were those who thought that the disarray in the Church of England and the generosity shown by the Holy Father in Anglicanorum Coetibus would result in a stampede of disaffected Anglo Catholics clamouring to be received into the Catholic Church. That was never to be, for it is not in the noise and the fury of a stampede that one opens one’s heart in peaceful submission to the work of the Spirit. Rather there is a quiet and gentle flow of those experiencing (and open to) the operation of divine grace. So let us not be impatient with those we have left behind but be steadfast in praying that our separated brethren may be united with us to the Chief Shepherd in the One True Fold.

We have written before about the immense joy experienced at our restoration to communion and union with the faithful and to the holy sacraments of the Church and it is a joy we relive whenever we attend the reception of a new convert. On Candlemas a new member of the Marylebone Ordinariate Group, Harry Smith, will be received into holy Mother Church and on Saturday, the Feast of St Polycarp, members of our Group witnessed the reception of Alex Robertson, like Harry another former resident of Pusey House, by Fr Nicholas Edmonds-Smith Cong. Orat. in the stark beauty of the Priory Church at Blackfriars, Oxford. The Rite, and the Missa Cantata that followed, was in the Extraordinary Form with its ringing Statement of Faith by the convert.

I, born outside the Catholic Church, have held and believed errors contrary to her teaching. Now, enlightened by divine grace, I kneel before you, Reverend Father having before my eyes and touching with my hand the holy Gospels. And with firm faith I believe and profess each and all the articles contained in the Apostles' Creed, that is: I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; He descended into hell, the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God, the Father almighty, from there He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit; the holy Catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

I firmly admit and embrace the apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions and all the other constitutions and ordinances of the Church.

I admit the Sacred Scriptures in the sense which has been held and is still held by holy Mother Church, whose duty it is to judge the true sense and interpretation of Sacred Scripture, and I shall never accept or interpret them in a sense contrary to the unanimous consent of the fathers.

I profess that the sacraments of the New Law are truly and precisely seven in number, instituted for the salvation of mankind, though all are not necessary for each individual: baptism, confirmation, holy Eucharist, penance, anointing of the sick, holy orders, and matrimony. I profess that all confer grace, and that baptism, confirmation, and holy orders cannot be repeated without sacrilege. I also accept and admit the ritual of the Catholic Church in the solemn administration of all the aforementioned sacraments.

I accept and hold in each and every part all that has been defined and declared by the Sacred Council of Trent concerning original sin and justification. I profess that in the Mass there is offered to God a true, real, and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead; that in the holy sacrament of the Eucharist the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ is really, truly, and substantially present, and that there takes place in the Mass what the Church calls transubstantiation, which is the change of all the substance of bread into the body of Christ and of all substance of wine into His blood. I confess also that in receiving under either of these species one receives Jesus Christ whole and entire.

I firmly hold that Purgatory exists and that the souls detained there can be helped by the prayers of the faithful.

Likewise I hold that the saints, who reign with Jesus Christ, should be venerated and invoked, that they offer prayers to God for us, and that their relics are to be venerated.

I firmly profess that the images of Jesus Christ and of the Mother of God, ever a Virgin, as well as of all the saints should be given due honour and veneration. I also affirm that Jesus Christ left to the Church the faculty to grant indulgences, and that their use is most salutary to the Christian people. I recognize the holy, Roman, Catholic, and apostolic Church as the mother and teacher of all the churches, and I promise and swear true obedience to the Roman Pontiff, successor of St. Peter, the prince of the apostles and vicar of Jesus Christ.

Moreover, without hesitation I accept and profess all that has been handed down, defined, and declared by the sacred canons and by the general councils, especially by the Sacred Council of Trent and by the Vatican General Council, and in special manner all that concerns the primacy and infallibility of the Roman Pontiff. At the same time I condemn and reprove all that the Church has condemned and reproved. This same Catholic faith, outside of which none can be saved, I now freely profess and I truly adhere to it. With the help of God, I promise and swear to maintain and profess this faith entirely, inviolately, and with firm constancy until the last breath of life. And I shall strive, as far as possible, that this same faith shall be held, taught, and publicly professed by all who depend on me and over whom I shall have charge.

Deo gratias.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Spot the difference (ie. original title)

At this address, there was previously a post the focus of which was misinterpreted by some and therefore, in its misinterpretation, caused some concern to some others. Our intention was not to open a discussion on orders, as any longstanding readers of this 'blog would have known.  That’s not something we have ever done, it is not our place to do so being mere subjects of Christ's Church, holding in veneration her teachings as His own.  Rather, our intention was to make a cheeky remark upon noticing the increasing prevalence of clerical scarlet in Anglican quarters: in substance, we were stealing a line often spoken by Anglo Catholics themselves when they tease Anglicans who would describe themselves as Affirming Catholics, being that a focus on vesture is “salvation by haberdashery alone”.

It was an in joke, but it was misunderstood and it has thus upset one or two friends as a result. We stand by what the post really said, but not by how it could be misinterpreted.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Prophet, Priest, and King supreme

From today's pewsheet at St. James's:

The Rector writes...

The effect of the sacrament of Baptism is twofold - cleansing from original sin, that bias towards self which has tainted human nature since its original Fall, and the opening up to the life of grace, through which the Holy Spirit indwells the soul, and speaks to the heart in a language deeper than words. All this is achieved through the agency of water, that most basic of all the elements which make up the created order. We cannot reflect on the BAPTISM of JESUS without drawing parallels with our own initiation at the font - but there is a fundamental difference between what Jesus accepted at the hands of John, and the baptism which is crucial to the salvation of the rest of the human race.

The Baptist’s ministry was a call to repentance: “get ready, change your lifestyle, the Messiah is very close”. As a sign of that necessary conversion, John baptised with water, the washing away of past sin. But Jesus did not need this baptism - he had no sin to be washed away - he was the Message itself, not the medium. So why does Jesus come to the River Jordan? St Matthew has John say: “It is I who need baptism from you, and yet you come to me”, and Jesus responding somewhat ambiguously: "Leave it like this for the time being. It is fitting that we should, in this way, do all that righteousness demands”.

Over and over again we need to remind ourselves that the Incarnation is God’s act of total self-abasement. “It is fitting”. He lays his glory aside and, in a Trinitarian action, the Son - through the activity of the Spirit - assumes a humanity which is then offered to the Father in an obedience of love which re-connects the creation to its Creator. That this is the acceptable offering is evidenced by the Father’s intervention as Jesus prays after his Baptism - the heavens open, the Spirit is seen to descend, and the moment is interpreted by the Father’s voice: “You are my Son, the Belovedmy favour rests on you”.

So why is Jesus baptised? St Cyril of Alexandria writing in the 5th century takes up a theme which is common to many of the early Christian writers in seeing that Christ goes into the water not for his own needs but for ours. “The Only-begotten receives the Holy Spirit not for himself (for the Spirit is his, and is given in him, and through him) but because he was made man he had the whole nature in himself, that he might renew and restore its integrity”. Christ, the Second Adam, comes to reverse all that had led to alienation between God and those he has made in his own image and likeness. In his Baptism, Jesus begins that work of re-constitution which means that you and I are capable of communion with the living Father. Made by God, made for God, our individual calling is to holiness of life, to that righteousness which is described by St Paul in his Letter to Titus: "He did this so that we should be justified by his grace, to become heirs looking forward to inheriting eternal life”.

The challenge, of course, is whether we do really want to lead a Christian life and to allow the Spirit to sanctify us. I suspect that for you, as for me, when we come face to face with God our many sins and failures will not so much be those of commission, but of omission. In the final judgement, we are called to be saints: that is our shared vocation. But is that what we really want? Is that the goal of our lives, “the pearl without price”? In our heart of hearts is that what we are truly striving towards? And if not, why not?

Christopher Colven

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Press Release from the Friends of the Ordinariate

For Immediate Release : 3 January 2013
A Special Ephipany Celebration in Chelsea

Friends, supporters and members of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham are gathering next Thursday (10 January) at St Mary’s Church in Cadogan Street, London, for an Epiphany Service intended as a true expression of the Holy Father’s vision of allowing the traditions and heritage of Anglicanism a place in the Catholic Church.

The Ordinary, Monsignor Keith Newton, will preside and music will be provided by the well-known Schola Cantorum of the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School. Readers will include His Grace the Duke of Norfolk, the Catholic journalist Peter Stanford and the novelist Piers Paul Read. The service – part of a wider campaign by the Friends of the Ordinariate charity to raise awareness and funds for the Ordinariate – follows yesterday (Wednesday)’s announcement from the Most Reverend the Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols that the historic church of Our Lady of the Assumption and Saint Gregory in Warwick Street, Soho, is to be handed over to the Ordinariate next month.

The chairman of the Friends, Peter Sefton-Williams, said: “The New Year has got off to a wonderful start for the Ordinariate and all those who want to see it grow and flourish as the Holy Father intended. First we had the announcement that the Precious Blood Church near London Bridge in Borough is to be made available to the Ordinariate. Now Archbishop Nichols has also generously designated Warwick Street as an Ordinariate church. These churches will give real focus and direction for the great spiritual energy within the Ordinariate.

Next Thursday’s service at St. Mary’s Cadogan Street, which begins at 7pm, will include Epiphany carols as well as readings taken from scripture and from Anglican authors. It will conclude with Pontifical Solemn Benediction. Admission is free but there will be a collection for the Friends of the Ordinariate. “We hope that as many people as possible, both Catholics and Anglicans, will come to celebrate with us and see this showcase of the Ordinariate”, said Peter Sefton-Williams.

Later in January, at the invitation of the Apostolic Nuncio, His Excellency the Most Reverend Antonio Mennini, the Friends will hold a fund-raising reception at the Apostolic Nunciature in Wimbledon. They are also organising a programme of visits from Ordinariate clergy to Catholic parishes to inform congregations about the Ordinariate and to appeal for funds. The Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham has to provide financial support for its clergy, many of whom are married with families. It also needs funds for the training of priests and the upkeep and beautifying of the church buildings which are now entrusted to it.

Friends of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Corde natus ex parentis

The Marylebone Ordinariate Group began this new year of grace by attending Solemn Mass celebrated this lunchtime at St. James' Spanish Place in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.  Needless to say the liturgy was executed with precision and elegance, supplemented sublimely by wonderful music from the choir. We find it difficult to imagine a better way of welcoming in the new secular year than Mozart's Coronation Mass, Palestrina's O Magnum Mysterium, and a rousing offering of Widor's Toccata from his Fifth Organ Symphony.

Introibo ad altare Dei

Fr Irwin (like us, and like the other clergy at St James's, a former Anglican) celebrated the Mass with the usual stately dignity, and can be seen below incensing the altar during the offertory.

We are privileged as Catholics to have a great treasure trove of grace stored up in the Church dispensed by the Pope as wielder of the Keys of the Kingdom. One example of such an indulgence may be attained today by participating in the public recitation of the Veni Creator Spiritus. Naturally, this devotion began today's liturgy.

Anoint and cheer our soiled face...

The Recessional Hymn at the conclusion of Mass, Of the Father's Heart Begotten, is a favourite of ours, and indeed sings of a great outpouring of joy and praise at the birth of the Lord so appropriate this Octave Day of His Nativity. We include below the translation found in the English Hymnal so worthy of meditation in their own right.

Of the Father’s heart begotten
Ere the world from chaos rose,
He is Alpha: from that Fountain,
All that is and hath been flows;
He is Omega, of all things
Yet to come the mystic Close,
Evermore and evermore.

By his word was all created;
He commanded and ’twas done;
Earth and sky and boundless ocean,
Universe of three in one,
All that sees the moon’s soft radiance,
All that breathes beneath the sun,
Evermore and evermore.

He assumed this mortal body,
Frail and feeble, doomed to die,
That the race from dust created
Might not perish utterly,
Which the dreadful Law had sentenced
In the depths of hell to lie,
Evermore and evermore.

O how blest that wondrous birthday,
When the Maid the curse retrieved,
Brought to birth mankind’s salvation,
By the Holy Ghost conceived,
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,
In her loving arms received,
Evermore and evermore.

This is he, whom seer and sybil
Sang in ages long gone by;
This is he of old revealed
In the page of prophecy;
Lo! he comes, the promised Saviour;
Let the world his praises cry!
Evermore and evermore.

Sing, ye heights of heaven, his praises;
Angels and Archangels, sing!
Wheresoe’er ye be, ye faithful,
Let your joyous anthems ring,
Every tongue his name confessing,
Countless voices answering,
Evermore and evermore.

Hail! thou Judge of souls departed;
Hail! of all the living King!
On the Father's right hand throned,
Through his courts thy praises ring,
Till at lest for all offences
Righteous judgement thou shalt bring,
Evermore and evermore.

Now let old and young uniting
Chant to thee harmonious lays
Maid and matron hymn thy glory,
Infant lips their anthem raise,
Boys and girls together singing
With pure heart their song of praise,
Evermore and evermore.

Let the storm and summer sunshine,
Gliding stream and sounding shore,
Sea and forest, frost and zephyr,
Day and night their Lord alone;
Let creation join to laud thee
Through the ages evermore,
Evermore and evermore. Amen.

Ite, missa est