Pope Paul VI to the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Michael Ramsey

"(B)y entering into our house, you are entering your own house, we are happy to open our door and heart to you." - Pope Paul VI to Dr Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Daily Office and a Review of BookofHours.org

Today is the sixth day of Christmas. I hope and pray that your Christmas season has and will continue to be merry.
As we approach New Years I would like to offer up an idea for your New Year's resolution: Say daily at least one part of the Daily Office.

There is a great website that can help you say the Daily Office according to Anglican Use called the Book of the Hours. Full disclosure: it is run by a friend of mine, and fellow convert from Anglicanism, David Trumbull. See additional webpages from him here.

The Daily Office is a collection of prayers said at certain hours of the day and is one of the treasures of Anglicanism. The two best known are Morning Prayer (or Mattins) and Evening Prayer (or Evensong), whose times are self-explanatory, but the Book of Divine Worship (download here) includes also the Noonday prayer and Compline, which is said as one heads to bed. "Vespers" is also sometimes used to refer to either Evening Prayer or Compline.

The Daily Office, also known as the Divine Office among other names, was not invented by Anglicanism. It has a long history prior to the Reformation and many parts of Christendom say it still, including in the Catholic Church, especially among the religious and the clergy. When monks pray several times a day, they are usually saying some version of the Office.

Rather Anglicanism did two things. It translated the office into Shakespearean English and made it into a lay practice. Indeed, in Anglicanism the regular Sunday service is often a longer version of Morning Prayer.

The Daily Office is not mass. It is not communion and does not involve bread and wine. Rather it is, well, a prayer service and includes many of the non-communion elements of the mass that you may be familiar with, such as bible readings, psalms and prayers of the faithful. Just like in a mass, there are parts that are the same from day to day and there are parts that are specific to that day, perhaps relating to a particular saint. This can make it difficult if you are just starting out or do not have all the right books.

That is where the Book of the Hours website comes in useful. The website will give you all the information and readings that you need for that particular day and prayer with a couple of easy clicks

When you visit the website, first you will need to choose the liturgical season, which is easy to do since the dates are given. Currently we are in the Christmas Season. Second you will need to choose the prayer that you want to say – Morning, Noonday, Evening or Compline. The prayers for tomorrow are here. You will then see a webpage with a frame on the left showing each of the parts of the service with links, and when you click on a link, in the right-hand frame will appear the words for that day for that part of the prayer service.

The Daily Office can be said in a group in a church but that is not necessary. Nor is it necessary for a clergyman to be present. A group can say any of the prayers together, or an individual could say it, sitting in front of the computer with the Book of the Hours website open. When the service is said in a group, one person should be nominated to be the "officiant" of the service, whose part is sometimes indicated with a "V.". The other part, the "people's" part, is sometimes indicated with an "R." and is in bold. The red lettering are the instructions or rubrics.

Regardless of how you say it, integrating the Daily Office into your prayer life is one way to strengthen your relationship with God and to systematically read the Bible, especially the psalms. Anglican Use of the Philippines hopes to sponsor regular public Evening Prayer services according to Anglican Use soon. Stay tuned.

The image is from Our Lady of Walsingham parish, an Anglican Use Catholic parish in Houston, Texas. It is from an Evening Prayer service featuring the semi-professional Chorus Angelorum, which is in residence at the parish. To see the chorus's schedule go here. Their next scheduled Evensong is on February 27, 2011 at 4:00 p.m. at Our Lady of Walsingham. I "borrowed" the photo from the chorus's website. I hope they won't mind. If you are in Houston, consider attending one of the parish's services.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

How may we do, for to preserve this day?

The haunting melody of the Coventry Carol always had intrigued me as a child, because it wasn't merry at all! My sister who then was studying at the Episcopal Church's Trinity College in Cathedral Heights Quezon City (now Trinity University  of Asia) was fond of playing the carol on the keyboard and on the lute. This version is close to how it was sung in Tudor England.

Only when I was a bit older that I realized the carol was about the Massacre of the Innocents, which the Syrian Church celebrates on December 27, the Latin Church on December 28 and Greek Church on December 29 as Holy Innocents' day. St Matthew 2: 13 narrates the story of Herod upon being mocked by the Magi, was livid with wrath and had all children younger than 2 years in Bethlehem and nearby villages slain. Historians debate on the historicity of the event since it was not mentioned in any other historical account save for St Matthew's Gospel.

The Church has always considered these children as martyrs even if they were not capable of choosing to follow Christ since they died in place of Him. The Church understands this to be a fulfillment of the prophecy in Jeremiah 31:15.  The medieval English Church calls this day as "Childermas" which celebrates childrens' innocence and how they easily enter God's Kingdom.

The Coventry Carol's lyrics were written by Robert Croo in 1534 and was part of the mystery play The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors, which was performed in Coventry, England. It is the only song from the play that has survived the Reformation. At the Reformation, mystery plays were banned since they were considered "superstitious".

Historians in Herod's time did not report the massacre likely because Herod was capable of doing worse atrocities and indeed he was. Similarly In World War II, the magnitude of the Holocaust was so great that all other atrocities of the war paled in comparison and only 60 or more years later did journalists and historians write about these other atrocities. The medieval Church, East and West estimated the number of children killed in the tens of thousands, but it is likely that at most 40 children were killed, a dozen or so in Bethlehem itself.

But that does not reduce the horror of the crimes at all. Today abortion merits no news. Filipinos are numb about tabloid news of aborted fetuses dumped in the trash or on Catholic church steps. Some Christians consider abortion a "blessing"!

For me, the most haunting stanza of the Coventry Carol is

"That woe is me, poor Child for thee
And ever mourn and say
For thy parting neither say nor sing
Bye, bye, lullay, lullay."

Medieval people if they time travel to our 21st century world would be horrified at the scale of abuse and maltreatment of children today. Herod's madness would pale in comparison.

Woe is upon us for all the poor children we never were able to save from being aborted, or if they were born from abuse and maltreatment and the worst form of violence, poverty. They are in a real way holy innocents. And we neither "say nor sing" at their passing. May God forgive us!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Pope's Homily during Christmas Eve Mass at St Peter's

James Tissot's Annunciation to the Shepherds
Pope Benedict XVI's homily during this year's Christmas Eve mass is here.  As expected the papal homily shows us another insight into the Christmas story we have taken for granted, especially about what the Heavenly Host of angels really sang on that first Christmas night. A Blessed Christmas to All!

Festival of Lessons and Carols

Merry Christmas.

One of the treasures of Anglicanism is the Christmas season service called "A Festival of Lessons and Carols", "lessons" being the very-Anglican term for bible readings. It is a service simple in concept but powerful in execution especially when attention is given to the music and the congregation joins in fully. There are usually nine bible readings, beginning with Genesis, where we are reminded of our original sin, the reason why Christ came. It continues through the Old Testament prophecies that tell of the coming of Christ and ends with the Gospel readings we are all most familiar with. (Wikipedia article here.)

From its modest beginnings in a temporary wooden cathedral in Truro, England in the late 19th Century, it has expanded throughout the globe, first to other Anglican churches and then to other denominations. Many of the Anglican Use parishes continue the tradition. My "home" AU parish in Boston, the Congregation of Saint Athanasius, has their annual Lessons and Carols service this Sunday, December 26, at 5:00 P.M. One of the most famous such services comes from King's College in Cambridge, England, which the BBC broadcasts live and then makes available on their website for online listening here. More information about the service is available from the King's College's website including an order of service and a history. One example of a Catholic version can be found here on the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, though I would have chosen more traditional carols and ones that go together better. The styles seem to clash. "Ave Maria" and "Go Tell It on the Mountain" are in my mind both too dissimilar styles to go together in a single piece and not Christmas carols.

Living in the Philippines, I miss Anglican Christmas Eve services, including Lessons and Carols. They speak to my soul in a way that other services do not. I am not sure what it is exactly. It is hard to put a non-verbal experience like spirituality into words. But I do know that it has something to do with the music and the conmunal experience of singing familiar, generations-old songs together. Lessons and Carols take the Christmas music we all love, and are bombarded by for months, and creates a communal singing experience, and then intersperses the music with lessons about the meaning of Christmas, all with an Anglican sensibility and attention to detail. The carols are not just mood music to get through the boring bits but integral to the service, to the teaching involved. Without the carols, the lessons have less punch, and without the lessons, the carols are merely tunes that I heard at the mall. Together in this simple service, they remind us body and soul of the reason for the season.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, commonly called Christmas Day

Merry Christmas to all! But first let us pray and meditate on

The Collect and Gospels for Christmas Day from the 1928 American Book of Common Prayer

ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us thy only. begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin; Grant that we being regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

The first Gospel for Christmas Day

The Gospel. St. John i. 1.

IN the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to be come the Sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

And the Second Gospel for Christmas Day 

The Gospel. St. Luke ii. 1.
AND it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judæa, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be de livered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, be hold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

The  Gospel for a second service in the 1928 BCP in the Roman Missal was proclaimed during the Christmas Eve Mass. The first Gospel of the BCP in the Roman Missal was proclaimed in the third Mass of Christmas Day.  In the Roman Missal, the first two masses including the Christmas Eve Mass dealt with the Lucan infancy narratives since there was the Christmas Eve mass and a second Mass at dawn, with the Dawn Mass having St Luke 2, 15-20 "the Adoration of the Shepherds" as the Gospel.  The Third Mass during the old days when masses were held at most three times a day, was celebrated much later in the day and thus St John 1:1 was more appropriate.  

The Book of Common Prayer "reversed" the original sequence with the the Johannine Gospel read first in the day and the Lucan Gospel narrative read in subsequent services. This reflects on a different focus in Anglicanism.

The Book of Divine Worship (BDW) of the Roman Catholic Church permits the use of the 1928 BCP Christmas collect. It is to be noted that the 1928 BCP has the words "pure virgin" rather than "virgin" since there had always been a view within Anglicanism that Mary's virginity was to be viewed in a metaphorical sense.  Anglicans believed that Mary was really a virgin in the physical sense.

The BDW in its Gospel readings for Christmas Day follows the that of the Roman Missal.

The Catholics and Episcopalian/Anglicans of old took very seriously the Virgin Birth and this is part of the Christmas story.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Australia: Conference on Ordinariate set for Feb 1 to 3

Progress is being made on establishing Anglican ordinariates especially in the UK, the US and Australia. In every country, conferences of various sizes have been held to bring together the various Anglicans and Catholics who are interested. From noon on Tuesday February 1 to 2:00 P.M. on Thursday, February 3, there will be such a conference in Australia entitled "A Festival introducing the Anglican Ordinariate for Australia" at Saint Stephen’s College, Reserve Road, Coomera (Gold Coast) Queensland. Interestingly it is being hosted jointedly by Bishop Peter Elliott, who is the delegate of the Holy See for the Australian Ordinariate (i.e. the Catholic Bishop overseeing the Catholic side) and Australia-based Archbishop John Hepworth, who is the Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, a worldwide communion of Continuing Anglican churches. It is advertised as being "for Anglicans and Catholics (i)nterested in the Ordinariate, (i)ntending to join the Ordinariate, (or) (w)anting to support the Ordinariate." More information can be found on Friends of the Anglican Ordinariate (ht The Anglican Use of the Roman Rite)

This conference comes on the heels of the announcement of the formation of the Australian Ordinariate Implementation Committee (news here). An article on the website of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne had more details about the Implementation Committee and the conferences:

Reflecting on the historic announcement of the Australian Ordinariate Implementation Committee formation on 16 December, Bishop Elliott said once the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has determined and decreed that an Ordinariate be established in Australia, it will be inaugurated through public Eucharistic celebrations. “These events will happen around the country,” he said. “But people do not have to enter at that time. The Ordinariates will always remain open to welcome new members and friends. Once the Ordinariate is established, any Catholic will be able to receive the sacraments in an Ordinariate church.”...

Bishop Elliott said membership of the Australian Ordinariate Implementation Committee was still being finalised but it will include representatives from the Anglican Church of Australia, the Anglican Catholic Church of Australia (Traditional Anglican Communion) and the Catholic Church. The committee will take up practical issues, including the timing of the reconciliation of lay faithful, how best this can be achieved in accord with the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus and local conditions....

Bishop Elliot said the national gathering in Coomera, Queensland in February 2011 would be an opportunity for interested Anglicans and Catholics to come together, to get to know one another and to discover more about the ways the new faith community will form and grow.
So, if you are in Australia and are interested in or just curious about the Ordinariate, attend the conference. Stay tuned for more information.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

To save our souls from Satan's power

The traditional English carol "God rest ye merry gentlemen" was written in 1760 and is one of the more popular English carols to Filipinos. The carol was again another attempt to recover pre-Reformation themes in an England just recovering from the Civil War (after a century) and the threats to the established Anglican Church. In Commonwealth England, the singing of carols was banned.

The author is not known but the carol was published in a hymnal in 1833 and is referenced in Dickens' "A Christmas Carol"

Just like the medieval carols, there is a strong reference to the saving power of Christ. Perhaps this is only Christmas carol to mention Satan by name. In our 21st century Christianity, we try to omit reference to Satan as much as possible so not to scare anyone. But we as Christians are really in a long term spiritual battle. The carol brings this truth home at Christmas. But the babe in the manger, powerless as he may appear to be, is already triumphant.

The YouTube video clip is a 21st century Celtic inspired interpretation by Scottish rock singer Annie Lennox from her 2010 CD "A Christmas Cornucopia". In this post-post modern interpretation, Lennox sings the carol entirely and the video surprisingly quite traditional (except maybe that Treebeard look-alike!)

Friday, December 17, 2010

The US Anglican Ordinariate and the Philippines

We were discussing about the American Anglican Ordinariate last month. This Ordinariate, a particular church of the Roman Catholic Church will likely be up and running within the first six months of 2011. As a particular church in communion with Rome, she, in the words of Pope John Paul II, will be a living body and as such will come to a stage of maturity and she herself will give rise to other particular churches by sending out missioners and spreading the Good News of salvation.

We were wondering whether the American Ordinariate will complete the missionary work of Staunton and Brent in the Philippines more than a century ago. In a sort of redux, the American church could send its Anglican missionaries (now in communion with Rome) to the Philippines. I suppose this will eventually come to pass even if Anglicanorum Coetibus does not explicitly mention sending missions at all. A particular church is always tasked to spread the Gospel, the Anglican Ordinariates are not exempted from this mandate. An Anglicanism restored in the Catholic Church may be planted in the Philippines.

The Anglican Use in the Philippines will likely be in close contact with the American Ordinariate for historical and cultural reasons. While we will still be under the care of the Filipino Roman Catholic bishops, the American Ordinariate we hope will give us support not in financial terms but more in prayer and liturgical resources.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Holly And The Ivy

Filipinos put the holly and ivy as Christmas decorations in their houses and workplaces. Of course they use the plastic ones since aside from a small Chinese species of holly, neither English holly and ivy can grow in their tropical isles. Nonetheless the holly and ivy have become part of the Filipino Christmas.

But the carol the Holly and the Ivy is not as known as the other English carols like Wade's "O Come all ye Faithful" which is sung at Christmas Eve Mass.

The Holly and the Ivy like any of the medieval English carols has a reference to the Passion. It was Cecil Sharp who put the words into music after hearing a rural Englishwoman sing the carol. The carol probably dates back to the Medieval mystery plays that were standard entertainment fare in Chaucer's England and up to the reign of the Tudors. The holly has always been sacred to the British pre-Christian religion. When England was evangelized, the holly took another meaning, and that is with reference to the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. The song mentions the blood red berry and prickle of the holly, which points to the blood shed by Christ on the cross and the lance that pierced his side.

The Ivy on the other hand is a reference to the Holy Virgin and her love for her babe. The juxtaposition of the holly's blood red berry and the prickle to the Virgin and Child makes the carol's message like the message of the Eastern Christian icons of the Virgin Mary. To Filipinos the most popular of which is the Icon of the Mother of Perpetual Help. In this icon we see the instruments of Christ's Passion and the babe in his mother's arms.

Before the Reformation, English churches (still in communion with Rome) were decked with the holly and the ivy, since the plants represented to the English people the clear message of salvation. But the Reformation put an end to the mystery plays as they were considered "superstitious" and the message of the holly and ivy was largely lost even if the now Anglican churches were still decked with these decorations. But the carol survived in Gloucestershire until in the 19th century under the influence of the Oxford Movement, the carol was popularized and its message was recovered. In fact even the hugely popular "Adeste Fideles"  and "What Child is This?" (both 19th Century creations) were influenced by the need to recover the sacramental in Anglicanism. These two carols for most Filipinos sound medieval but really are not!

The carols of medieval England which Filipinos sing at Christmastide represent the voices of Catholic England and thus bring the Catholic message of salvation back to us. And one of the carols, the haunting Coventry Carol proves that Catholic England was very pro-life. And this I shall blog about after Christmas.

The "Holly and the Ivy" in the video clip is performed by the Westminster Cathedral Choir.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Simbang Gabi, Misa de Gallo (Dawn Mass Novena before Christmas)

Tomorrow at dawn, Filipinos (who can wake up very very early) will troop to the churches to attend the Simbang Gabi mass at 4:00 AM. This is a uniquely Filipino Christmas liturgical celebration and is a novena of 9 dawn masses. The diocesan committees of the Philippines has this to say about this liturgical tradition. The Dawn Mass honors the babe by honoring His mother. This is so Filipino.

The Simbang Gabi is truly Filipino catholic and Catholic. Non Roman churches have also adopted the practice. The Methodists and United Churches have nine days of dawn services. The Episcopal Church in the Philippines has the liturgy in its Book of Common Prayer, the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) which has its origins in the Roman Catholic Church has preserved the tradition with dawn masses and some Orthodox missions in the Philippines have nine days of dawn Divine Liturgies.

The Philippine Catholic Church in plenary council in 1953 applied to Rome for an indult to celebrate this mass. This was granted in 1961 by Pope John XXIII. The indult is for the festive celebration of the series of masses with the alleluia, gloria and carols sung and white vestments worn by the priest, deacons and mass servers. Since the masses fall within Advent, a season of penitence, an indult was necessary.

Rome recognized that for Filipinos, Christmas is not only on December 25 but is from December 16 to the feast of the Epiphany!

Pope John Paul II said in a homily in Mexico that the Church "respects and fosters the qualities and talents of the various races and nations. Anything in these people’s way of life which is not indissolubly bound up with superstition and error, she studies with sympathy, and, if possible, preserves intact. She sometimes even admits such things into the liturgy itself, provided they harmonize with its true and authentic spirit”"

The Church because she is Catholic and when she encounters another culture, crowns that culture and if the cultural practices are in harmony with the truths she preaches, she preserves this patrimony.

And this is the reason why the Catholic Church can take in (or for better terms, recover what has been lost) Anglican religious expressions! The Church becomes more Catholic in the process.

Simbang Gabi is celebrated everywhere in the world where Filipinos are found. When I was in outback Australia, I was able to finish the novena of masses since there was a Filipino community served by a Filipino missionary priest. 

There are traditions that are linked with the dawn masses. The churches are well lit and Parols or Christmas Star lanterns are to be found everywhere. Food stalls sell puto bumbong, hot chocolate and arroz caldo. Small children are brought to mass sleepy eyed but are instantly awoken by promises of eating puto bumbong after the mass (of course toys are more effective and toy sellers are also found in the churchyard!). Grown-ups look forward to eating arroz caldo.

In the past the Mass was celebrated to allow farmers to praise God before tilling the fields at daybreak. Even the party animal was catered for. The Spanish era party animal or soltero "bachelor" always attended the Mass after a night of tertulias after which he hit the sack at dawn.

Today call center agents, physicians, nurses, police officers and other workers who have night duties attend the Mass after their shifts. In traffic hellish Manila, workers wake up early to commute and find time to attend the Mass before work starts.

Climate change has finally caught up with Simbang Gabi. In the past people reveled in the nippy atmosphere (17-18 C, quite chilly for a tropical country) and wore sweaters even in Manila expecting to eat puto bumbong and arroz caldo afterwards! But the weather bureau predicts a warm 25 C this 2010 season!

Filipino tradition says that anyone who finishes the series of 9 dawn masses will be blessed in the coming New Year! But that is easier said than done. Waking up at 3 AM for nine days can cause sleep deprivation for many people that they end up like Scrooges by Christmas!

Of course there are abuses to the tradition and the local diocesan bishops have taken notice. One is the innovation of having "anticipated" Simbang Gabi at 8 PM! The whole idea is contrary to the essence of the tradition. The papal indult specifically specified mass at dawn. Of course one can attend Masses in a Godly hour but the Mass will be in Advent mode and not in Simbang Gabi mode!

And so the Philippines has the longest liturgical Christmas season in the world which starts on December 16 and in all practicality goes beyond Epiphany and ends in the Feast of the Holy Child or the Santo Nino in mid January. And come to think of it, if we speak of the commercial sense, Christmas in the Philippines starts on September 1 and in reality never ends!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"Becoming One" conference in Kansas City, Missouri, from Feb. 25 to 26

A "Becoming One" conference will be held in Kansas City, Missouri, United States from Friday, February 25 to Saturday, February 26. More information can be found on The Anglo-Catholic blog here.

But this is not the first "Becoming One" conference. The first one was held earlier this year in San Antonio (and again The Anglo-Catholic covered it) and that conference built on several previous gatherings.

Last year when the Vatican announced its intention to create Anglican Ordinariates in several different countries, many within Anglo-Catholicism recognized a need to bring together those who are interested or at least curious to meet and discuss the way forward. Afterall, Anglicanism is split across many different institutions. There are Catholic-leaning Anglicans within the Anglican Communion, within Continuing Anglican Cchurches, and within the Roman Catholic Church. There are also Anglo-Catholics within various Orthodox churches.

Many of the clergy and laymen from whatever denomination have known each other and worked together for years, but many have not. If ordinariates were going to be built successfully, they would need to work together closely. The loose network of various
Anglo-Catholic institutions and individuals would have be tightened and strengthened. Therefore, a variety of gatherings have been held since the Vatican announcement, some previously scheduled such as the 2010 Annual Conference of the Anglican Use Society, many especially set up to discuss the Ordinariate. Out of these have come the "Becoming One" conferences.

Expect to see more "Becoming One" or similar conferences held throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, the UK, and possibly elsewhere over the coming months. If you are interested in Anglican Use and joining the Anglican Ordinariates, or just curious, and there is such a conference in your area, attend. (The Anglo-Catholic is a good source for news.) The optimism and joy of such conferences will uplift you.

Images are from the San Antonio "Becoming One" conference and are taken from Fr. Christopher Phillips's post on The Anglo Catholic entitled Some Pictures From "Becoming One" Gathering

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What Child Is This?

This English carol is perhaps one of the best known among Filipinos. Written in 1865 by William Dix in his poem "the Manger Throne", after experiencing a bout of depression, the carol was eventually set to the tune of the 16th century Tudor era tune "Greensleaves". This rendering is by Charlotte Church.

There are two versions of the lyrics. The most popular ones do away with the reference to the Passion. But my Anglican hymnal has the other version which has

"Nails, spears shall pierce him through, the Cross be borne for me, for you. Hail, hail the Word made Flesh, the babe the Son of Mary!"

A reference to the Passion while telling the Nativity story is well within the English medieval tradition (see the post on the Cherry Tree Carol) which a materialistic and commercialized celebration of Christmas has lost. It is said that the Passion really began when the Word became one of us. Thus God the Son became one of us in exile. The baby was the target of human rights violators, an exile, a poor boy and grew up to be an ordinary man rejected by his own hometown. He was an innocent man and executed by crucifixion. But he was, is and will be Sovereign Lord of all that is seen and unseen! He was made man for our own sake and salvation.

Christmas Day will never make sense without Good Friday and Easter! The Babe's Kingdom shall have no end!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Britain feared violence after pope Anglican offer—US cable - INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos

Well, even Anglicanorum Coetibus was Wikileaked!

Britain feared violence after pope Anglican offer—US cable - INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos

But of course, none of the fears proved real!

Laus Deo!

The Philippines: Largest English-speaking Catholic Country

OK, saying that it is the largest English-speaking Catholic country is using a bit too many qualifiers. Afterall, how many English-speaking, majority Catholic countries are there?

But do you even know how big the Philippines is?

It is, to put it simply, large, if not very large, especially by historical standards.

It is the 12th largest country in the world by population, the fourth largest Christian country, and the third largest Catholic country. It is bigger than any country in Europe (Russia excluded), bigger than any country in South America but one, and bigger than any country in Africa but one. Manila, the 5th largest city in the world by some definitions–a megacity–is bigger than 75% of all countries and territories. The Philippines is even more populous than the Roman Empire at the time of Christ, perhaps twice the size.

The size of the population is one thing. But what about the size of the economy? It is in the top quartile roughly if using nominal GDP (48 out of 181) and in the top quintile if using purchase-power-parity GDP (36 out of 180). If there was a G50, the Philippines would be there.

So, are you one of those people who think that the Philippines is a small country in a far corner of the world? Please stop. Facts prove otherwise.

Yes, the Philippines is not a Great Power. It is not even the biggest country in the neighborhood. But it is a major country which influences the world, and its influence will only grow as it and Asia grows.

It is especially important within the Catholic Church and particularly among English-speaking Catholics. The Philippines has and will continue to have significant if secondary role in the future of Anglican Use.

Image: Makati skyline, Metro Manila, Wikipedia Commons

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Freedom in China

This is not related to Anglican Use but it is related to the Philippines and it is what I am thinking about at the moment.

Today I read both the news that the Philippines will not attend the Noble Peace Prize ceremony for prisoner of conscience Liu Xiaobo and a letter from Cardinal Zen to his fellow bishops dated November 19, 2010 about the state of the Catholic Church in China. Was this a coincidence? Maybe, but it left me wondering: Will we be a voice for love and freedom, in Asia and around the world? Or will the Philippines put pesos above people?

First from Cardinal Zen:
I think it is my duty, given this special opportunity to inform my eminent brothers, [to say] that there is still no religious freedom in China. There is too much optimism around something that does not correspond to reality. Some have no way of knowing the reality, others close their eyes to reality, others still see religious freedom in a very simplistic way.
This month we have examples of this lack of freedom. One about forcing attendance at an upcoming conference:
AsiaNews sources are reporting that the official bishop of Hengshui was forcibly removed from his residence by police and taken to an isolated location. The police had besieged the prelate’s house for hours, struggling against believers and priests who had formed a wall in an attempt to defend the freedom of their bishop.

Another bishop of Cangzhou, has disappeared and the police threatened the diocese: either he hands himself in to police custody or they will issue an arrest warrant throughout China identifying him as a "dangerous wanted criminal."
And earlier, in a church surrounded by security forces, there was an illicit ordination of a bishop in Chengde. Many of the few legitimate priests and bishops who did attend were forced by the Chinese government:
Other participants, seized by the government in recent days, were bishops Pei Junmin of Liaoning, Li Lianggui of Cangzhou and Feng Xinmao of Hengshui, as well as bishops Li Shan of Beijing, Meng Qinglu of Hohhot, Zhao Fengchang of Liaocheng and Coadjutor bishop Francesco An Shuxin of Baoding.
We are blessed to live in a country like the Philippines where religious freedom is practiced. May all human beings one day share in such blessings.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Rome-leaning Anglicans in Japan

On the Groups of Anglicans forum of The Anglo Catholic, was posted this:

I'm already in fellowship with the TAC [Traditional Anglican Communion] Anglicans here, most of whom I would not expect to post messages on this English language forum, but perhaps there are some English speaking Anglicans in Japan (and are lurking on these forums) whom I have not met.

BTW the Nippon Kirisuto Sei Ko Kai (The Japanese member Church of the Traditional Anglican Communion) finally has a web site, all in Japanese of course: http://www.nkskk.org/

It is unclear to me whether this part of the TAC has voted to follow their archbishop and most of the TAC into union with Rome. I hope to have this clarified soon.

Making matters more difficult, this is one of a handful of member churches of the TAC who are outside of countries expected to have Anglican Ordinariates. If they do decide to follow, what will be their status within the Catholic Church? The answer to this question will only become clear as the Ordinariates are established over the next year or so.

In the meantime, please keep them in your prayers. May they soon join us in bringing Anglicanism to the Roman Catholic Church in East Asia.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Anglican Ordinariate announced for Australia

Following news about the timeline for an English-Welsh Anglican Ordinariate come reports about establishing an Ordinariate in Australia. The Australian newspaper The Catholic Weekly reported:

The first personal ordinariate for former Anglicans is expected to be established in Australia by next Easter, according to Bishop Peter Elliott, the Australian Catholic Bishops’ delegate for assisting lay Anglicans join the Church.

The first such ordinariate is to be established in England and Wales in early January.

Bishop Elliott says “we’re hoping to follow a similar timeline”, but it “may be a few months later”.

“We’re yet to work out with the Vatican what would be the best procedure, but it ought to focus around Easter and Pentecost,” said Bishop Elliott, auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne....

This establishment of the Australian Anglican Ordinariate was also mentioned in the pastoral letter from the Traditional Anglican Communion's (TAC) primate Archbishop John Hepworth:

The creation of the first Ordinariate for Anglicans under the Apostolic Constitution of Pope Benedict XVI has been announced. As anticipated, for a host of symbolic and historical reasons, the first Ordinariate will be in England.

A second Ordinariate has this week been announced for Australia.

This suggests a pattern and a timeline. The first Anglican Ordinariate will be established in England and Wales, which is only fitting since that is where Anglicanism began. Other Ordinariates in countries with sizable interest will follow quickly and will be formed by Easter or Pentecost. This first wave includes Australia, the home of the TAC primate Archbishop Hepworth, and likely will include Canada and the United States, the latter where Anglican Use Catholic parishes have existed for a generation. I expect that announcement about Canada and the U.S. will be made soon.

What about Ordinariates outside these countries, including countries that have active TAC parishes who have voted to join the Catholic Church, countries such as Japan and those in Central America? There may be announcements soon about those as well, or it could be that the Vatican will focus first on the "big" countries mentioned above and then allow those Ordinaries and Ordinariates to advise it on the other countries. It has been a year since Anglicanorum Coetibus was announced and then there has been a flurry of activity this November in preparation for Easter, all of which suggests a pattern – a big announcement followed by a period of consolidation before another big announcement and more consolidation.

However, this is speculation and should be taken as such. Regardless of what happens "above my pay grade," as they say, I still have mass to attend, prayers to say, and my soul to nurture.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Bishop of Ebbsfleet preaches his last homily as an Anglican

The Rt Reverend Andrew Burnham preached his last Anglican homily on Nov 27. He will be received into the Catholic Church in the New Year and be ordained as a priest soon after.

At the end of the service, he laid his crozier and mitre at Our Lady's feet. What a quintessentially English way to honour a Queen!

Bp Burnham loved the Psalms and the Revised Standard Version and we hope all of us do.

Report shows Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world

Christianity is now the most persecuted religion. 

Te Deum Laudamus

It is quite rare to hear the Te Deum Laudamus sung in churches in Metro Manila these days. However the singing of the Te Deum figures in the history of the Filipino nation. When the Protestant Dutch ships were defeated by the few Spanish-Filipino galleons in La Naval in Manila Bay in 1646, a solemn Te Deum was sung in the Cathedral and the churches of Intramuros. When news of the martyrdom of Lorenzo Ruiz and companions reached Manila, the Te Deum was sung in the Cathedral. If the Dutch succeeded in conquering the Philippines, there wouldn't have been a Filipino nation. The Te Deum was sung not just for the defeat but for the salvation of the Philippines. The Te Deum is sung in thanksgiving for the consecration of bishops, ordination of priests, the election of the Pontiff, saint's feast days or the consecration of a church.  In the Roman Rite's Liturgy of the Hours the Te Deum is sung at the end of the Office of Readings. But in the Roman Church, the Office is mainly recited by the clergy and the religious and has fallen out of use by the laity.  However recent Popes beginning with Paul VI have encouraged the laity to say it especially in a parish setting. In the Anglican Communion, the Divine Office remains said by the laity in parish and private devotion. This preserved the monastic character of Anglican prayers.

It was a pleasant surprise to hear the Te Deum sung at Solemn Evensong at St Andrew's Seminary Chapel in Cathedral Heights to cap St Andrew's Day. Unfortunately I got stuck in traffic on the way to Cathedral Heights and I just barely made it to the singing of the Te Deum.

The Te Deum is a Latin Hymn attributed to St Ambrose and is part of the Anglican tradition in Church music and is in the Book of Common Prayer. In the Anglican Church the hymn is sung so often at Morning Prayer or Evensong that many Anglicans know it by heart. In the 19th Century there was a ship that floundered in the Atlantic during a storm and miraculously the passengers and crew were all saved. The Anglicans broke into the singing of the Te Deum but the Roman Catholics were hard pressed to find a hymn they knew. This was unfortunate because the Te Deum is a Catholic hymn!

Part of the things Anglican that can be brought back to the Roman Church is the Te Deum. If this is sung often at Church services then Catholics will have recovered a hymn that best celebrates salvation and deliverance. The Te Deum is another beautiful Roman and Anglican patrimony as they say! The Te Deum YouTube clip in this post is an early Anglican version by Orlando Gibbons.