Monday, 30 April 2012

Look Down in Mercy Upon England thy Dowry

Former Anglo-Catholics now in the communion of the Catholic Church are no strangers to Marian devotion.  What has changed is that this practice, which in our Anglican days was felt to be extreme, and was seen as something indulged in by a minority group, is now conducted in union with the whole Church, as part of the mainstream.

That is in no way to denigrate the devotion to Our Lady which existed, and in many circles still does exist, in the Church of England.  One year ago, the Facebook group page of our former Anglican parish contained a link to exactly the same youtube video as we now include below (you may have noted on this blog a weakness for Frank Patterson's performances of Catholic hymns, for example here, co-incidentally the hymn sung after Mass at St James's last Sunday).  All people have recourse to Our Lady and to the power of her intercession on our behalf, and is that not indeed one of the most wonderful things about her.

Yet in those days, it was something that we knew was not widespread in our ecclesial environment.  Other parishes and other clergy would view the May Procession at Bourne St as something eccentric, as something unfamiliar and exotic.  In all honesty, it must be admitted that some of the congregation were rather bewildered by it too: although there, all credit must be given to those who were, and are, so determined to carry on with this longstanding tradition, something which tells so powerfully, so visually and so audibly of the solid Catholic tradition of devotion to Our Lady.

One of the first large scale public events to occur involving the Ordinariate after our reception into the Catholic Church was the annual Rosary Crusade of Reparation.  If anything showed our new place in the order of things, and the solidity of the welcome given to us in the Catholic Church as Ordinariate members, that early event did, with Monsignor Newton leading the long procession from Westminster Cathedral to the London Oratory.  Photos of that great day can be seen here on our group's Flickr site and here on the Flickr site of the Ordinariate itself.  We are no longer at the edge of things, we are very much part of the core.

Much credit has been given to the Holy Father for his vision in bringing about the Ordinariates now springing up around the world.  We must give thanks not only for this, but also for the intercession of Blessed John Henry Newman and of Our Most Blessed Lady, since Anglicanorum Coetibus has allowed us and well over a thousand like us in England alone, to work together in Unity

We have said before that Ordinariate members should take Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman to their hearts, a wise Prince of the Church who showed great favour to Anglicans joining the Catholic Church.  We have also exhausted the airwaves by posting his hymn Full in the Panting Heart of Rome more than a few times.   On this the eve of Mary's month of May, perhaps his prayer for the Conversion of England is the most suitable way to conclude the opening blogpost of this special month.

Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother,
look down in mercy upon England thy "Dowry"
and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in thee.
By thee it was that Jesus our Saviour and our hope was given unto the world;
and He has given thee to us that we might hope still more.
Plead for us thy children,
whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the Cross,
O sorrowful Mother.
Intercede for our separated brethren,
that with us in the one true fold
they may be united to the supreme Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son.
Pray for us all, dear Mother,
that by faith fruitful in good works
we may all deserve to see and praise God,
together with thee, in our heavenly home. Amen. 

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Some Rays of Light Vouchsafed to Them

Sometimes Blessed John Henry Newman appears to be writing to us in the present day.  In the course of preparing a blogpost on another subject, I had a piece of Newman in mind, but I couldn't remember the source.  I mistakenly thought it was the Apologia, to which we have referred before as the impetus for many a move from Canterbury to Rome. 

It was not the Apologia.  It was the last section, "Persons who inspire anxiety", of Lecture 11 in "Certain Difficulties felt by Anglicans in Catholic Teaching".  Doesn't this just speak of many people in a certain situation today?
There is but one set of persons, indeed, who inspire the Catholic with special anxiety, as much so as the open sinner, who is not peculiar to any Communion, Catholic or schismatic, and who does not come into the present question. There is one set of persons in whom every Catholic must feel intense interest, about whom he must feel the gravest apprehensions; viz., those who have some rays of light vouchsafed to them as to their heresy or as to their schism, and who seem to be closing their eyes upon it; or those who have actually gained a clear view of the nothingness of their own Communion, and the reality and divinity of the Catholic Church, yet delay to act upon their knowledge. You, my dear brethren, if such are here present, are in a very different state from those around you. You are called by the inscrutable grace of God to the possession of a great benefit, and to refuse the benefit is to lose the grace. You cannot be as others: they pursue their own way, they walk over this wide earth, and see nothing wonderful or glorious in the sun, moon, and stars of the spiritual heavens; or they have an intellectual sense of their beauty, but no feeling of duty or of love towards them; or they wish to love them, but think they ought not, lest they should get a distaste for that mire and foulness which is their present portion. They have not yet had the call to inquire, and to seek, and to pray for further guidance, infused into their hearts by the gracious Spirit of God; and they will be judged according to what is given them, not by what is not. But on you the thought has dawned, that possibly Catholicism may be true; you have doubted the safety of your present position, and the present pardon of your sins, and the completeness of your present faith. You, by means of that very system in which you find yourselves, have been led to doubt that system. If the Mosaic law, given from above, was a schoolmaster to lead souls to Christ, much more is it true that an heretical creed, when properly understood, warns us against itself, and frightens us from it, and is forced against its will to open for us with its own hands its prison gates, and to show us the way to a better country. So has it been with you. You set out in simplicity and earnestness intending to serve it, and your very serving taught you to serve another. You began to use its prayers and act upon its rules, and they did but witness against it, and made you love it, not more but less, and carried off your affections to one whom you had not loved. The more you gazed upon your own communion the more unlike it you grew; the more you tried to be good Anglicans, the more you found yourselves drawn in heart and spirit to the Catholic Church. It was the destiny of the false prophetess that she could not keep the little ones who devoted themselves to her; and the more simply they gave up their private judgment to her, the more sure they were of being thrown off by her, against their will, into the current of attraction which led straight to the true Mother of their souls. So month has gone on after month, and year after year; and you have again and again vowed obedience to your own Church, and you have protested against those who left her, and you have thought you found in them what you liked not, and you have prophesied evil about them and good about yourselves; and your plans seemed prospering and your influence extending, and great things were to be; and yet, strange to say, at the end of the time you have found yourselves steadily advanced in the direction which you feared, and never were nearer to the promised land than you are now.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Another First Mass in the Ordinariate

We reported earlier this week from the Ordinations of Fr James Bradley and Fr Daniel Lloyd at St Patrick's Soho Square, and from the First Mass of Fr Bradley at Holy Ghost Balham.  After the offering of Fr Bradley on Sunday morning, members of the Marylebone Ordinariate Group journeyed north to Oxford, the City of Dreaming Spires, to assist at Fr Daniel Lloyd’s first celebration of the Sacrifice of Calvary.

The setting could hardly have been more different. The Church of the Holy Rood, a title so appropriate for the First Mass of an Ordinariate Priest, is in many ways a product of the great iconoclasm of the last century, yet at a second glance retains and rejoices in many of the traditional marks of the Catholic Faith. As such, Mass was celebrated towards the East, as is to be favoured according to the Ordinariate’s liturgical patrimony: priest and people together in awful anticipation of Christ the High Priest’s return.

In recognition of the universality of the Catholic Church, into which Fr Lloyd has now been ordained as priest forever, the Newman Consort sang the Introit and other Propers in Latin plainsong, the language of generations before. The setting of the Mass, Missa Euge Bone, composed by Christopher Tye, echoed that fateful era of the Henrician Schism when, as the Assistant Priest Mgr Andrew Burnham pointed out, the musical jewel of English Catholicism was buried, divorced from centuries of tradition. How moving it was, then, to witness this humble new priest offering the same sacrifice using a “set of texts which has not changed by more than a few syllables since Augustine used those very words at Canterbury on the Third Sunday of Easter in the summer after he landed”.

Fr John Saward of Ss. Gregory and Augustine in Oxford, himself a former minister in the Church of England, preached the homily. He drew our attention to the life of Bl Karl Leisner, a holy priest held in Dachau concentration camp, who died of tuberculosis shortly after being liberated by the Allied Forces. He was captured a deacon, and whilst imprisoned was ordained to the priesthood by a bishop and fellow inmate. Due to his illness he had only the strength to offer the Mass but once.

Fr Saward noted the natural response of the secular world to such a situation; how great a waste of a life and futile an exercise to ordain a priest who had no opportunity to help the sick or console the dying. We were put in mind of the words of the Blessed Apostle Paul, of the crucified Christ Himself, “unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” Fr Lloyd was exhorted to remain faithful to the celebration of the Mass, and reminded of the infinite grace outpoured at a single offering in union with Christ and His Church.

The Prayers of the Faithful echoed words which remain imprinted on the hearts of the Marylebone Ordinariate Group, those of the Prayer for the Church Militant here in Earth, amended to intercede on behalf of our Holy Father the Pope, along with the Ordinary, before also beseeching God’s protection of His servant Elizabeth our Queen and her Government. Patrimony received, purified, and proclaimed by the Church in the fullness of truth.

The joyful beauty of the Mass reached a crescendo at the Benedictus and culminated in the Agnus Dei, the Newman Consort truly excelling and raising hearts on high in the sight of the Divine Majesty. Such unspeakable wickedness to silence the song of Christ’s Faithful in the name of reformation.
An altogether different song of gladness concluded the Mass. A resounding ‘We praise thee, O God’ from our new priest gave way to the exuberance of Haydn’s Te Deum, echoing the great joy of the Church Militant and Triumphant at this first offering of the Holy Sacrifice. Those present could not but cast their minds back to the Beatification Mass of Blessed John Henry Newman, when our Holy Father concluded his offering with that same great expression of praise. Not confounded by this monolith of Austrian faith, English devotion to the Ordinariate’s heavenly mother could not but assert its place, with all in typically enthusiastic chorus singing ‘Joy to thee, O Queen of Heaven…’.

The celebration of a priest’s First Mass is one which draws together the Body of Christ in love for the new priest. Yet such an occasion is inevitably deeply personal and intimate for the man conformed to Christ Himself. In grateful thanksgiving, Fr Lloyd offered his mother and wife posies of flowers which had previously adorned the altar, before imparting his first blessing on them and all present.

How can we not, on such occasions, pray all the more earnestly for vocations, for mothers and fathers to offer their sons to the Lord who is ever-faithful? Lovingly reverencing the anointed hands of the new priest, by whose words and actions the grace of Christ is made present to his flock, we pray that His grace may extend to wanderers from the fold so that they might be one with the saints in one unbroken peace, one unbounded love.
Praise we Him, Whose love divine
Gives the guests His blood for wine,
Gives His body for the feast,
Love the victim, Love the priest.
Thanks be to God for sending His Church these two new priests.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Sacerdotes Domini

Another truly groundbreaking few days for the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.  This weekend, for the first time in the Ordinariate, we witnessed the ordination to the Sacred Priesthood of former Anglicans who had never been Anglican priests.  This was a sign of progress, a sign of continuity and a sign of hope for the future.   Below you will see a picture of most of the Marylebone Ordinariate Group with the newly minted Fr James Bradley, then below you will see one of our number receiving one of Fr Daniel Lloyd's first blessings.

In April 2010, in our Anglican days, a small group of us from St Mary's Bourne St travelled up to Oxford to attend a conference on the subject of Anglicanorum Coetibus held in Pusey House.  In one of the breaks between the fascinating talks that day, we joked with The Revd Canon Dr Robin Ward, Principal of St Stephen’s House, as we pointed to two of his students, James Bradley and Daniel Lloyd, and together wondered, perhaps in fact only half in jest, if we were looking upon the last two catholic ordinands in the Church of England. 

I doubt that any of us there that day would have believed that only two years later, almost to the day, we would, as Catholics ourselves, be gathered in the magnificently restored St Patrick’s Soho Square to witness the ordination of those two young men into the Catholic priesthood at a service in which Dr Ward read from the Letter to the Hebrews of how Our Lord “learned obedience through what he suffered; and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.”  Here is a photo of Dr Ward during the reading of that lesson, standing in the pulpit where, as he pointed out himself on his Facebook page, the great Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Servant of God, had once stood to preach.

As the two deacons lay prostrate before the altar and we invoked the prayers of Our Lady of Walsingham, the Holy Angels, the Saints and Blessed John Henry Newman, we did so with the confidence of those who had been guided by such prayers, and by the grace of God, into full union with Holy Mother Church.  At the moment Bishop Alan Hopes (himself a former Anglican) consecrated Fr Bradley and Fr Lloyd to the dignity of priesthood we gave heartfelt thanks that we had been brought to witness the ordination of the first two men not previously to have served in the Anglican priesthood to offer their service to God as priests in his Church in the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

In his homily, our Ordinary, Monsignor Keith Newton, quoted from ‘Aaron’ by George Herbert, the divine of our very own Anglican Patrimony.

Holiness on the head,
Light and perfection on the breast,
Harmonious bells below, raising the dead
To led them unto life and rest.
Thus are true Aarons dressed.

Profaneness in my head,
Defects and darkness in my breast,
A noise of passions ringing me for dead
Unto a place where is no rest.
Poor priest thus am I dressed.
Only another head
I have, another heart and breast,
another music, making live not dead,
without whom I could have no rest:
In him I am well dressed.
Christ is my only head,
My alone only heart and breast,
My only music, striking me even dead;
That to the old man I may rest,
And be in him new dressed.
So holy in my head,
Perfect and light in my dear breast,
My doctrine tuned by Christ, (who is not dead,
But lives in me while I do rest)
Come people; Aaron's dressed.
We have included a large number of photos of Saturday's Ordination Mass in an album on our group's Facebook site (which you can reach through the link on the right-hand toolbar of this blog - do sign up to "like" our group page if you haven't already done so).  A small selection of our favourite photos is set out below.  For those readers with a connection to St Mary's Bourne St and St Barnabas Pimlico, you might recognise below the Very Reverend John Salter in one of the pictures, another former Anglican, and since 2002 a Melkite priest in full communion with Rome.

After each ordination to the Sacred Priesthood, there is always a First Mass.  Members of the Marylebone Ordinariate Group managed to attend Fr Bradley's FIrst Mass in Balham, and Fr Lloyd's First Mass in Oxford.

As feeble and ignorant Central Londoners, we do not know much of what lies beyond Zone 1, and we referred to this on our blogpost about our previous visit to the parish of Holy Ghost, Balham.  Therefore, there were, we regret to confess, those of us who were unaware that true beauty might be found in Balham.  It may famously be the Gateway to the South, but it is not widely known as the Stairway to Heaven.  Some of us trod our way rather warily from W1 to SW12, the marbled magnificence of St Patrick’s Soho Square fresh in our minds.  What a wonderful surprise lay in store for us, for there in Nightingale Square at the Church of the Holy Ghost we found a haven of beauty that should be a compulsory stop on the itinerary of every church architect and parish priest in the land wishing to discover what can be achieved with taste and simplicity.

One would have described it as tranquil but we arrived just as the congregation from an earlier mass was leaving, and the area was awash with small and excited children.  We are not so small but were just as excited as we were about to witness the First Mass of Fr James Bradley, whose ordination we had witnessed on Saturday.

There are few occasions more joyful in church than the First Mass of a priest.  In his homily Fr Stephen Langridge was to remind us of Blessed Theresa of Calcutta's injunction to priests to “celebrate each Mass as if it were your first Mass and your last Mass” and when we witness the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass being offered at the hands of a newly-ordained priest it is as if we too share in it for the first time.

After the rich liturgical diet of the Sacred Triduum at St James’s, Spanish Place, and yesterday’s ordination one could be forgiven for becoming a touch jaded, especially upon hearing of rumours of guitars in church (ever an uncomfortable reminder of the worst excesses of some of the more popular misinterpretations of the Second Vatican Council).  Yet again would Balham prove the folly of blind prejudice. The songbirds themselves were surely listening in awed silence as the sound of Padilla's Missa Ego Flos Campi and Guerrero's Regina Caeli floated, accompanied by authentic Spanish instruments in their correct context.

On leaving the church, one parishioner was overheard saying to another "What is this Ordinariate then?".  Her friend replied "Oh, it's what they call the Church of England nowadays."  This reminded us of the challenge continually ahead of us, that of spreading the word about what the Ordinariate is and what it does.  Efforts such as mentioned here must continue to be made (we know that there are plans afoot to do exactly this).  Yet, perhaps that casual remark between friends was closer to the truth than we had at first recognised - where else now was that vision of the Church of England to which we in our Anglo-Catholic days had adhered?

We returned to Marylebone humbled, joyful and full of thanksgiving for the start of the ministry of Fr Bradley.

We will report on the happy occasion of Fr Daniel Lloyd's First Mass in the next few days.  Thanks be to God for giving us these two new priests. 

Sacerdotes Domini incensum et panes offerunt Deo et ideo sancti erunt Deo et non polluent nomen eius. 

The priests of the Lord offered bread and incense to God and therefore they shall be holy to their God and shall not defile his name.  

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Ad Multos Annos, Sancte Pater

People talk about remembering where they were when Kennedy was shot, or when the World Trade Center came down in September 2001.  I remember exactly where I was on 19 April 2005 when Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI. 

My family and I were living in Hong Kong at the time, and I had fallen asleep in front of the television, watching CNN's wall-to-wall coverage of what was happening in Rome.  At around 2am Hong Kong time, I was woken up by the loud cheering that greeted Cardinal Estevez as he emerged to make his great announcement :
Anuntio vobis gaudium magnum;  habemus Papam: Ementissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum, Dominum Iosephum Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Ratzinger qui sibi nomen imposuit Benedictum XVI.
Cardinal Ratzinger had been much talked about as a likely candidate, but I had first become properly aware of him just over a decade before, when I was still an undergraduate.  One of the Anglican clergy at Pusey House at the time, now a Catholic, was keen on extolling his virtues, and this made a lasting impression on me.

Dear Brothers and Sisters: After the great Pope John Paul II, the Lord Cardinals have elected me, a simple and humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord. I am consoled by the fact that the Lord knows how to act, even... with inadequate instruments and above all I entrust myself to your prayers. In the joy of the Risen Lord, trusting in His permanent help, as we go forward the Lord will help us, and His Mother, Mary Most Holy, is on our side. Thank you. 
Did any of us know in 2005 just what a massive difference Pope Benedict XVI would make to us personally?  Of course not.  The Holy Father's vision for Unity has brought the members of the Marylebone Ordinariate Group, and well over a thousand others in England alone, into the full communion of the Catholic Church.  Thank you, Pope Benedict, for making this possible. 

The Provost of the London Oratory put it like this :
Another of the Holy Father’s outstanding achievements is his inspiring work for Christian Unity in setting-up the Ordinariates for former Anglicans. What a brilliant way of cutting through the plethora of mealy-mouthed verbiage and foggy thinking that has characterized so much ecumenical activity in recent decades, verbiage and fogginess which may indeed have had the very best of intentions, but which nevertheless achieved so little in real terms.

Let us also pray with all our heart and mind and strength that our vitally important ecumenical journey with our Greek and Russian Orthodox brethren will continue apace, that our charitable and respectful dialogue with them will bear much fruit, so that the universal Church might once again breathe with two whole lungs, and so that soon there may be but one flock and one shepherd. Domine, ut sit!
To add to the achievement of greater Unity brought about by Anglicanorum Coetibus, it looks like there could be a great reconciliation with the SSPX.   We have mentioned before on this blog that there are parallels, even if far from exact, between the situations of these two groups that are being / have been / will be brought (back) into full visible communion.  Those still outside full visible communion might be interested in reading this letter

In this great week when we have celebrated Pope Benedict's 85th birthday, and now the 7th anniversary of his election as our Pope, we give thanks for his mission among us, for the inspiration he provides and for his faith and devotion.  Most of all, we give thanks for his achievements in working for unity

In the words of an earlier Prince of the Church, who showed great support for Anglicans joining the Church, "God Bless Our Pope".  Ad multos annos, Sancte Pater. 

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Beyond the End of Our Noses

A few days ago, someone left a comment on our blogpost The Extraordinary Form in Hong Kong, asking what the contents of that post had to do with the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.  A response was provided, stating that, as explained in the opening paragraphs of the post, the Ordinariate was part of the Catholic Church, and that it was a good thing that Ordinariate members were interested in what was going on in the Catholic Church.  It would be ridiculous for us not to be.

The person who left the comment didn't leave any clues as to their identity, so we cannot know if it was someone quite genuinely asking a question without any preconceptions or prejudice, or if the comment was an uncharitable attempt at a snide remark. Given that doubt, it should be made clear that the rest of this post refers to a general phenomenon, and is in no way an assault on (nor a guess at) the views of Anonymous of a few days ago.

I must confess to having been rather irritated by the question raised in the comment: I know, I should know better than that.  What irritated me is that it reminded me of a habit amongst some of delighting in fantasising that the Ordinariate is somehow pointless.  Those prey to this phenomenon criticise the Ordinariate as not being Anglican enough ("What's the point of it?") and yet simultaneously and no less ill-informedly criticise the Ordinariate as not being Catholic enough ("Why don't they just become 'proper' Catholics?").   Anonymous of a few days ago brought all this to mind because his or her remark seemed to imply that Ordinariate members should only be interested in the Ordinariate.

When they leave polemic aside and reflect calmly, I wonder what these people believe that those like me thought we would be signing up to when we joined the Ordinariate.  I wonder what they think our motives were.  They cannot seriously imagine that we wanted to create a little ghetto for disgruntled ex-Anglicans to hang about in, a ghetto in which we could ignore the rest of the Church.  They must surely know that we were answering a call to Unity in the Catholic Faith, in the Catholic Church, in communion with the Successor of St Peter.  No longer do we sojourn in a halfway house.  They cannot be under the misapprehension that we were called upon to renounce anything of our Anglican past, they must know that indeed the contrary was asked of us, that we should bring our Anglican Patrimony with us so that this might become part of the wider treasures of the Catholic Church

Ordinariate members are fully part of the Catholic Church, and we are full of joy to be so.  We are not Ordinariate members first and somehow members of the Catholic Church second.  We are delighted to have come into the full communion of the Catholic Church: joining the Ordinariate was a wonderful means of achieving this, it was not itself the goal. 

We do indeed look beyond the end of our noses, and realise with great happiness that we are part of the Church, part of an "organisation" that is present around the world and has over a billion members.  We are not interested in obsessing only about our little constituent part of the Catholic Church. 

Ordinariate members do not (and should not) spend their time focusing solely on their own immediate environment, ignoring the wider Catholic Church around them. The shortest of trawls of Ordinariate-related blogs makes this perfectly clear. Fr Ed Tomlinson talks regularly of the joy of unity that the group of Anglicans he led out of St Barnabas Tunbridge Wells and into the Catholic Church now shares with their now fellow Catholics in Pembury, and of what has been achieved for his group by both Monsignor Newton and by the Archbishop of Southwark and his Area Bishop John Hine. Fr Edwin Barnes frequently highlights joint events with diocesan parishes, indeed one of his recent posts talked of how he had attended two Chrism Masses this year, the Ordinariate Chrism Mass and also the Portsmouth Diocesan Chrism Mass.

As Anglo-Catholics, we for many years managed to cling on to the belief that the Church of England was part of the one Universal Church, separated from the wider Church only by misfortune and accident of history.  This was the vision that was shared for generations, but it was also a vision and ecclesiology that crumbled around us, a phenomenon that caused Dr Eric Mascall and many others great anguish.  Now that we are undoubtedly fully part of the Catholic Church, why would anyone think that we would not rejoice in being in that wider communion, why would anyone think that we would not be interested in the Catholic Church as a whole?

Two follow-on comments :
  • Criticisms of this nature are often accompanied by melodramatic sweeping comments such as ".....and I know lots of Catholics who are very worried by the Ordinariate."  Well, perhaps such people do, but from personal experience, I can only say that I have encountered nothing other than joy and welcome from my fellow Catholics.  Members of the Marylebone Ordinariate Group were especially touched at the support shown to the Ordinariate's First Anniversary Evensong and Benediction by members of the St James's parish congregation.
  • There are some who rather mystically decree that the Ordinariate is not about Unity.  Their logic escapes me entirely.  It really does.  Unity is about people coming together, not about finding new and exciting ways in which to split Christianity.  This marvellous initiative from Pope Benedict, who is truly showing himself to be the Pope of Christian Unity, is a real gift. 
In one of our earliest posts on this blog, The Universal Church, we referred to how when we were Anglicans we thought we knew all about the concept of believing in unam sanctam catholicam et apostolicam ecclesiam, we even sang those words every week, but now that we were truly part of the Catholic Church, we had realised that we had a lot to learn.   What a joy it is to learn about being part of the Catholic Church, and to come across its treasures across the world.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The Extraordinary Form in Hong Kong

In today's post, we leave the reports of activities in London W1 behind us and focus instead on a report from a friend of the Marylebone Ordinariate Group (another former member of the congregation of St Mary's Bourne St), who lives in Hong Kong and who this weekend attended the Easter Day Solemn Pontifical High Mass celebrated in the Extraordinary Form by the Bishop of Hong Kong, newly elevated to being a Cardinal. 

Our correspondent has previously reported in from Hong Kong (in a blogpost containing some very fine vintage 1930s footage of Catholic processions there) and from the National Shrine of St Francis in San Francisco.  This was, however, his first glimpse of the Extraordinary Form. 

It does some good to show that we in the Ordinariate are not obsessed with our canonical entity, our little corner of the Catholic world, our Anglican Patrimony.   We are very much part of the wider Catholic Church, and we have an awareness of what is going on around the world in the Catholic Church and of the riches of the various forms of liturgy and music that can be found in the Catholic Church.  We signed up because we wanted to be part of the one Universal Church: and now we are.


Although usually more at home on Hong Kong island, your correspondent made a special trip over to Kowloon on Easter Day.  Just one road south of Boundary Street (the original limit of British control until the lease of the New Territories was granted in 1898) is St Teresa's Church on Prince Edward Road.  This was the venue for a Solemn Pontifical High Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite celebrated by His Eminence John Cardinal Tong, the Bishop of Hong Kong.  This Easter Day event was organised in thanksgiving upon the tenth anniversary of the foundation of the Tridentine Liturgy Community of Hong Kong

The Mass was advertised as starting at 3pm.  When I arrived at 2.40pm, the church was already very nearly full.  As this was my first Extraordinary Form Mass, and since my GCSE Latin is almost as rusty as my singing, I very much appreciated both the glossy souvenir booklet containing the text of the entire service (in Latin, English and Chinese) and the opportunity to practise some of the hymns along with the choirs before the service began.  For those unfamiliar with the Mass of the Ages, page numbers from the Mass booklet were helpfully displayed on an electronic board to the left of the sanctuary (and you thought that such things could only be used for bouncing balls and choruses....).

The Cardinal processed in, as I understand is correct, twice.  First of all in choir dress, before his formal vesting, and then again properly attired to offer the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

The entire Mass was, of course, in Latin, save that the Gospel was repeated in Cantonese and then in English.  The Homily was delivered first in Cantonese and then in English, although my Cantonese is not up to my being able to be sure that it was exactly the same homily being delivered twice. 

While many in the congregation were members of the Tridentine Liturgy Community, there also seemed to be a large number who were not familiar with the Extraordinary Form at all, but were nonetheless enthusiastic participants.  Events such as this, especially when supported by Cardinal Tong (exactly as similar events were supported by his predecessor Cardinal Zen), will doubtless encourage more people to encounter the traditional liturgy.

The best part of two hours after we began, Cardinal Tong processed out.  It was a thrilling experience to witness this form of the liturgy generating such enthusiasm and interest.

Since writing this report, I am pleased to note that the New Liturgical Movement website has published some excellent photos of the same Mass.  It was a great occasion. 


To conclude, and to prove that the Extraordinary Form is growing in popularity in Hong Kong, here is the last segment of a youtube recording of Cardinal Zen celebrating at a similar, though smaller, event a couple of years ago.

Sunday, 8 April 2012


At the Easter Vigil last night in St James's, in common with the rest of the Church, we completed the Triduum and began the great rejoicing of Easter.

The Vigil on Holy Saturday evening has, in my experience, often been the least well attended of the Triduum liturgies.  Perhaps this is down to fatigue, perhaps it is down to the lateness of the service or to the fact that it is on a Saturday night.  Although St James's was not quite as packed as it had been on Good Friday, where there were certainly 500+ in church, we managed an extremely respectable turnout indeed, with perhaps 300-400 there.  Not bad for a cold Saturday evening, in an eerily deserted "Bank Holiday Weekend" Central London.  How pleasing to note that people still came to church despite Giles Fraser's fascinating earlier assertion on Radio 4 that people should not enter a church building on Holy Saturday. 

There was limited lighting in church, but then at 9pm exactly, all the lights went out, and across the gloom, one could just make out the procession leaving the sacristy and heading to the back of church.  The new fire was lit inside (an advantage of having a tall building and plentiful space behind the back rows of seating).  The effect of the light on the fire on the gothic arches of St James's was beautiful. 

Fr Irwin, who had sung the Ecce Lignum Crucis so well on Good Friday, chanted Lumen Christi as the newly lit Paschal Candle was borne up the centre aisle.  He went on to sing the haunting, enchanting and joyful Exsultet, in the much-talked about new bee-friendly translation of course.

As the series of readings continued, the choir made their presence felt with some stunning chant singing.  In the dim light of the candles, flickering around that stunning building, the beauty of the chant of the Canticle of the Red Sea, the Cantemus Domino, was overwhelming, as was the Palestrina setting of Sicut Cervus

After the Easter Alleluias and the Gospel, we moved onto a tour de force of a homily by Monsignor Jamieson.  He talked of the challenge of maintaining and nurturing faith, holding on to the incredible importance of the events we marked last night in this negative and doubting world.  The Devil was negative, the Devil was against things, whereas we as Catholics defined our stance in positive terms, most notably that, as Fr Colven had said on Good Friday, Jesus had died for all, and that death had no more dominion over him and need hold no fear for us.  

Easter was a positive message, he said, and we as positive Catholics should hold on to its place in our lives.  Not only at moments of great joy when we remember to give thanks, nor only at moments of great trial when we want to ask for help, but all the time.  Unlike antitheists, who are against those who believe in God, and unlike Protestants, who define themselves by negative comparison against Catholics, we must be positive, and bear Easter in our hearts. 

Around ten adults were then confirmed (a few were also baptised) in a very moving few moments.  With the exception of what happened at Candlemas, which had a familiar Ordinariate-influenced feeling to it, this was the first time that some of us had witnessed the phenomenon of numerous individuals joining the Church.  Come to think of it, for me at least, it was the first time that I had witnessed (as far as I remember), people being baptised and confirmed at the Easter Vigil, surely the most appropriate time for it to happen. 

After communion, the opportunity to sing our first great Easter hymn of the year "Jesus Christ is Risen Today!  Alleluia!".  This put us in mind of the singing of the Reginae Caeli to that tune, something that we hope to have the opportunity to do soon, for that is very much Anglican Patrimony. 

After mass was over, and the Vierne finale from Symphonie no 6 concluded, our little Ordinariate group repaired to the home of one of our members (along with a friend from the Oxford Ordinariate Group, one of at least two from that group who was present with us in church last night) to celebrate the Resurrection with a glass of something.  We return to St James's in a few hours, when we continue our celebrations with the Mozart Mass in C K337, and with the Byrd Haec Dies.

Surrexit Christus!  Alleluia!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Good Friday

The Sacred Triduum continued yesterday at St James's with the most moving Good Friday liturgy that many of us had experienced.  It was, of course, very familiar, but the depth of the ceremonies was tremendous, not least to those of us experiencing Good Friday for the first time as Catholics.

Taking account of the speed in which St James's filled up on Thursday evening, I arrived almost half an hour before the liturgy began, to find that the front half of church was pretty much already full, with the back half filling up gradually.   More impressive than that was the total silence, even with all those people present, a silence that was fully maintained.

Yesterday was mostly sunny and light, as this picture taken on my way to St James's shows.  However, inside the church, there were no lights on at all, and this effect, coupled with several well-timed passing clouds lessening what sunlight was coming in, made for the perfect sombre setting.  On account of the lighting, there are no photos of the inside to share today.

The liturgy began in utter silence at 3pm, with all four of the parish clergy following the servers in and prostrating themselves before the altar, as around 500 people knelt down in the body of the church.  It was very powerful. 

Before the Passion, we all sat in silence as the choir sang this motet by Anerio.  The way the music appears to die, but then pushes on after the first "usque at mortem" is a homily in itself.

Following the beautiful singing of the Passion by three choir members (including the Byrd setting for the choral parts, which was new to me), Fr Colven gave a homily that addressed two main points.  First, in John's Gospel, where no textual detail is merely padding, that Pilate's order that INRI be written in Greek, Hebrew and Latin was a sign that what happened on Good Friday was part of something that was for everyone and would change existence for everyone, there was a universality to it.  Second, that what changed is that, as the Catechism says, death is not to be feared, and this is for all who put their trust in Christ.

The Solemn Prayers had a particular resonance and logic to new Catholics, the prayers for separated brethren in particular.

Perhaps the most striking part of the liturgy was the Procession of the Cross (with Fr Irwin singing the Ecce Lignum Crucis rather well) and the Veneration.  The Veneration must have taken around half an hour, purely on account of the number of people present. 

During the Veneration, the choir sang several motets and hymns.  The question raised on the famous New Liturgical Movement website a couple of weeks ago was answered at Spanish Place with the beautiful setting by Victoria.

Among the hymns, the popular but moving When I Survey was included.  This verse in particular never fails to pull heartstrings.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

As we returned to our seats following Veneration, we were each handed a card with a prayer of Blessed John Henry Newman :

....shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Thy Presence in my soul; let them look up, and see no longer me - but only Jesus.

This text tied in perfectly with the Holy Father's Chrism Mass homily, which has been so widely covered elsewhere, but which talked about sacrifice of self and dedication.

We wait for tonight's vigil and the resurrection with the rest of the Church.

Friday, 6 April 2012

More on Maundy Thursday

Last night's post, The Dutch Who Don't Touch, included some photos of the St James's Spanish Place liturgy for Maundy Thursday, one of which is reproduced below.  However, to counter its slightly flippant tone, here is an eyewitness report of last night at St James's, provided by another member of the Marylebone group.  Before going into the report, we'd just like to note that yesterday, our blog passed the milestone of having received 13,000 hits - what an appropriate day for that to have occurred. 

At the end of the report, there is the organ piece that preceded the Mass, the extraordinary Le Banquet Céleste by Olivier Messaien, which meditates on the text of John 6:56 "He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in Him."

Maundy Thursday is one of the very few religious occasions in England widely reported by the media. Alas, it is inevitably reported not as a religious but as a regal occasion, being the day on which the Queen distributes the Maundy money. Time was when the royal connexion emphasised rather than obfuscated the religious significance of the start of the triduum. The monarch would not only distribute alms but also kneel to wash the feet of the poor. In 1689 William III refused such close contact with his subjects (as we mentioned last night, a case of “the Dutch don’t touch” perhaps) and ended the tradition, which his Protestant successors have shown no inclination to reinstate.

Certainly the Catholics of Marylebone were in no doubt about the religious importance of the day as they crowded into St James's Spanish Place for the evening mass to commemorate Our Lord’s Last Supper with his Apostles.

The choir sang Palestrina’s setting of the Introit, Nos autem gloriari oportet in cruce Domini nostrae Iesu Christi (Let our glory be in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ) and as the priests of the parish entered the sanctuary it was suddenly illuminated by sunlight bursting through the stained glass windows as if in anticipation of Fr Colven’s reminder in his homily that today we were gathered, in spirit, in the Upper Room where Jesus commanded us to love one another, where He gave us the Holy Eucharist and where He instituted the priesthood.

It was on the priesthood that Fr Colven asked us to concentrate. When Our Lord knelt to wash the feet of his disciples, God knelt before all he had made and all Christian ministry was thus defined in terms of service. Karl Rahner had written, “You are only what you should be as a priest if you bring your whole life into your vocation. You are only a priest such as a priest must be, if you drain all the strength of your life in carrying out the duties of your office in faith, hope and love. Your life-work is to establish an ever closer intimacy between yourself and your office. Your vocation is your life and your life your vocation. …………..The candle on the candlestick in the house of the Church that you are to be must burn by the oil of your own heart, must burn all your life away. Only then will it burn, as it must. One can only discharge this office by paying one's life for it”.

Those of us in the Ordinariate have particular reason to give thanks for the gift of priesthood. On Monday we had gathered with the priests of the Ordinariate for the Chrism Mass. These were priests who had shown great courage and faithfulness in their response to Pope Benedict’s call to unity and in their ministry to the laity who had responded to that same call. Today we gathered with the priests of St James, all of whom had made that same brave journey at earlier times and who have been most generous in welcoming the Marylebone Ordinariate Group. We do indeed give thanks for these men and for, in St John Vianney’s words, their “love of the heart of Jesus”, as we begin our first Triduum as Catholics.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

The Dutch Who Don't Touch

The poor old Dutch must be tired of being mentioned so often in blogs touching on Catholicism and Anglo-Catholicism.  All this talk of the Dutch Touch : few enough people know about it in England, it must surely be perplexing for any native of the Netherlands that so much space is given to this topic.

Well, today, we can make amends.  We can talk about the Dutch who don't touch

Why today?  Today, Maundy Thursday, the Holy Father washed the feet of 12 priests during the liturgy at the Basilica of St John Lateran, reflecting the Gospel passage where Our Lord washes the feet of his disciples.  For many centuries, this was also the custom of the English monarch.  It remained so until the overthrow of the Catholic King James II (King James VII of Scotland).  The Dutch usurper, the staunchly protestant Prince William of Orange, had no wish to continue such practices.

A few photos then of this evening at Spanish Place.  The main body of church was impressively full, although there was space left in the side aisles.  The liturgy was well executed and the choir were on good form. 

The photos of the Altar of Repose have worked particularly well, so much so that we will include one of them first. 

The Altar of Repose is situated in the beautiful Spanish Place Lady Chapel, which has featured on this blog before.  Before we put up the other photos of this evening, here is a hymn ideal for today that is in fact dear to the members of the Marylebone group, since it was sung at the Ordination Mass of the three Ordinariate monsignori in January 2011. 

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?

A most blessed Triduum to you all, and a joyful Easter when it comes.

Unexpected Anglican Patrimony

A tremendous amount of time has been spent discussing Anglican Patrimony and what it might mean.   This blog has participated in that debate, for example in this blogpost and in a follow up to it here

One particular feature of the Ordinariate Chrism Mass celebrated earlier this week reminded members of the Marylebone Ordinariate Group of something in their Anglican past that you might think would be very hard to fit into the category of Anglican Patrimony. 

The deacons, James Bradley and Daniel Lloyd, who are both to be ordained priest at St Patrick's, Soho later this month, wore what looked like apparelled amices.  There is no reason why readers should know what these are, so if you don't know, it probably reflects better on you than it does on people like me who do.  Originally a decorated edge to the top of the amice, in some parts of Europe they evolved into separate collars, even as they fell out of use in Rome.  Here are Deacons Bradley and Lloyd last Monday, seen in one of the very fine Mazar photos of the day.

Apparelled amices became a feature of Sarum celebrations, and you can see traces of that around many of the grander buildings found in Anglicanism.  For example, these two archive photos from Westminster Abbey show how apparelled amices have survived there, as a vestige of a very old English use.

They survived outside Sarum though, including in places such as Milan and indeed in Spain, this latter connection making their use at St James's Spanish Place very suitable (St James's having originally been, in penal times, the Spanish Embassy chapel).

Talk of a Spanish connection, Anglican Patrimony and apparelled amices leads us back to St Mary's Bourne St, where the so called "Spanish set" of vestments, used usually on Marian feast days, includes apparelled amices.  Here are a couple of photos of them being worn in procession c.1992.  The eagle-eyed amongst you will spot that one of the clergy captured here in his Anglican days is Fr Nicholas Kavanagh, now one of the priests at St James's Spanish Place.  It's a small, small world.