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.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The First Pro Life day

James Tissot's (1836-1902) Massacre of the Innocents has always been a shocker for me since it is so realistic in its depiction (and is like those photos of aborted fetuses).  And like many people who then and now get scandalised by death (and photos of aborted fetuses), they criticized the artist for the harshness of the theme.  Even though many historians and Biblical scholars now think Herod's murder of the children is hagiography to shore up the early Christians' resolve, I would still think it did happen though not in the scale we thought it was. Nonetheless, a single murder is an abominable sight in God's eyes. The scale doesn't matter. But in our human weakness we tend to consider murder, homicide and  accidental death as statistics.

Tissot painted the scene according to an ancient tradition as the Brooklyn Museum website says

" Herod lured the intended victims to the palace with the promise of a party. The children were then wrenched from their mothers’ arms and tossed to their deaths in a courtyard. Herod’s deviousness was thus highlighted: called singly into a long corridor, the women had no opportunity to warn others of the impending tragedy. "

Tissot's watercolour brings the message that the massacre was due to deviousness and fear and the children are no statistics. Tissot who was once a celebrated painter of gay  ("gay" in its original meaning!)   secular subjects especially of high society in the 1880s had a mystical experience and from then on painted only religious subjects culminating in the Life of Christ. We don't exactly know the details of Tissot's conversion but perhaps the Book of Common Prayer's collect for Holy Innocents Day reflects it well

"O ALMIGHTY God, who out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast ordained strength, and madest infants to glorify thee by their deaths; Mortify and kill all vices in us, and so strengthen us by thy grace, that by the innocency of our lives, and constancy of our faith even unto death, we may glorify thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen"

Let us beg forgiveness to the Lord for our neglect of children for this is the First Day for Pro Life!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Rev Dr Jeffrey Steenson, ex TEC bishop tipped to be first US Ordinary

Virtueonline reports that former TEC bishop of the Rio Grande, Rev Dr Jeffrey Steenson will be named as the first Ordinary of the US Ordinariate once it is erected on New Year's Day 2012.

Dr Steenson served the Episcopal diocese for just two years from 2005-2007 after which  he resigned his Anglican orders and joined the Roman Catholic Church. He was ordained as a Catholic priest on Feb 21, 2008. He teaches at St Thomas University. Upon the promulgation of Anglicanorum coetibus in 2009, Dr Steenson has been heavily involved with Cardinals Wuerl and DiNardo in how the apostolic constitution and its seminary formation program will be implemented in the United States.

Dr Steenson is married with three adult children. As such he cannot be raised to the Catholic episcopate but will have most of the jurisdiction, rights and privileges of a Catholic bishop except that of ordaining men to the priesthood. It is expected that he will be named as a Monsignor.

At present several TEC parishes have decided to join the soon to established Ordinariate. Around 67 priests and 2 Anglican bishops are expected to join as well as the Anglican Use parishes the largest of which are in Texas. These parishes are under the Latin Rite ordinary where they are located.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Ad orientem, worshiping to the East and English church ordering

A medieval English priest offers Mass according to the Sarum Use

Mass celebrated with priest and laypeople  facing the geographical east is really an English custom. In the 7th century, Catholic churches in England were built on the feast day of the saint on which the church when completed will be dedicated. The earliest churches in Rome had the sanctuary at the western end and the entrance at the eastern end due to peculiarities of Rome's geography. The priest thus celebrated mass ad orientem and versus populum.  A prime example is mass in St Peter's Basilica and St Paul's Outside the Walls. However,  the Apostolic Constitution of 472 mandated the worship of the True God to the east which later became universal in the Latin Church until the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.  In England where there was a pagan cult of the Sun, in 597 Pope St Gregory counselled St Augustine of Canterbury, the first Archbishop of that see to deal gently with these customs and henceforth the first Archbishop of Canterbury ordered all English churches be ordered with the altar at the east end and that the celebrant should be bathed in the full light of the morning sun through the East window. Since then this has been a feature of the English parish church.

A  defining feature of the English church is a square chancel which is often rounded in continental European medieval churches. In the medieval Slipper Chapel shown above which is now England's Roman Catholic National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in Norfolk, we see the great East window and the square chancel. These medieval churches had their orientation to the East where the sun will rise at the Spring and Autumn equinoxes. How did the medieval masons figure this out?

Masons will patiently wait for sun to rise and with the use of a gnomon placed at the centre of the proposed church site, the shadow lines at dawn or dusk of the gnomon were marked off on a circle, giving a true east west axis. The resulting east and west points were used as centres marking off two circles that intersect forming a fish shape or vesica pisces. A line drawn between the vertices of the vesica pisces gives the true north south axis. The church plan can now be executed and the church built. Usually the chancel and choir are built first and consecrated

English medieval plan to orient a church
Even the Episcopal Church cathedral in Quezon City show traces of this English ordering of a square chancel and an East window although in this cathedral these are three small windows. The Cathedral of St Mary and St John is oriented to the geographical east like its predecessor in Ermita, Manila which was destroyed in World War II.

St Mary and St John Cathedral in Quezon City

Old St Mary and St John in Ermita, Manila (destroyed in WW 2)
Thus when some cradle Catholics (who have been habituated to versus populum masses) asked the Ordinariate Catholics why they insist on an ad orientem way of worshiping, the reason they gave is that this way is part of the Anglican patrimony which predates the Reformation. Thus it is authentically Roman Catholic.

Reference: Paul NP (1995) Enjoying Old Parish Churches. Vol. 1 Pentland Press, Durham, England.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

From the East to the West, Christ is Lord of the Cosmos!

The Western Church celebrates the Solemnity of Christ the King since Scripture warrants it. In Christian iconography it is traditionally represented

In the East as the Pantocrator. This Greek word means that all that happens is made possible by Christ and Christ alone. He rules the cosmos and has total sovereignty over it.

The Pantocrator in Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

In the West as the Christ in Majesty, Christ is seated like the Latin Kings and rules over all.

Christ in Majesty in the Codex Bruschal (1220)

The Sovereignty of the Christ over the cosmos was not achieved by violence, deceit, bribery and obviously not by democratic elections! This Sovereignty is because Jesus is the Christ. It is his very essence.

A good old priest told me that in the end we have to give our account of what we have done to a Pantocrat. Jesus is Lord, Jesus is King, Jesus is Saviour and rules over what we see and cannot see! The Universe is a pantocracy even if physicists demonstrate there may be many of them. Christ is ruler of them all.

Even if Christ is Pantocrat, he humbled himself, became man, lived amongst us and atoned for our sins. This is the greatest contradiction in history.


Almighty and everlasting God,

whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son,

the King of kings and Lord of lords:

Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin,

may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

American Ordinariate to be established on New Year's day 2012

Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington DC as the CDF's delegate on the establishment of an Anglican Ordinariate announced that Pope Benedict XVI has approved the establishment of the American Ordinariate on Jan 1,2012. Read the details here.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Ordinariate as a new way being a church, problems and opportunities.

The Anglican Ordinariate is like a baby. In England it is an 11 month old baby and like a child entering its ones and twos, it will have to learn how to stand and to toddle and walk. Thus as the Catholic Herald observed, the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is in its most crucial time in its history. We have to give laud to the Ordinary, the Rt Rev Msgr Keith Newton for being a good shepherd of the Ordinariate.  Many Ordinariate groups have been received with their pastors and they are sharing Roman Catholic churches in England but they have no buildings of their own. While the Archbishop of Canterbury was supportive of church sharing arrangements with Anglican congregations, other Anglican bishops were not supportive and Msgr Newton has made sure that conflicts with the Anglican church were avoided.

As of this writing, the Ordinariate doesn't still have a "principal church" which is essentially a cathedral. Several op ed writes like Damian Thompson have written about it. As the Herald notes, the principal church is needed in establishing the Ordinariate's identity as a church.  The Herald suggests that the Ordinariate has to do something and not wait for the Catholic bishops of England and Wales to act.

One major problem of the Ordinariate is financial. Just like with any Roman Catholic diocese, it is responsible for supporting its clergy. The main difference is that all of the Ordinariate's clergy were former Anglican priests many of which are married and have families (like Msgr Newton himself) or are retired and in need of pensions.  Many of the clergy have to be housed and have to be given dispensations to find secular jobs to support themselves after they have lost their Church of England entitlements. This should be an eye opener for Roman Catholics who want Rome to dispense with the vow of celibacy for all Latin Catholic priests.  If the Ordinariate whose laity are small are having problems, the wider Roman Church whose parish laity numbers in the thousands will have more problems on this matter. It is very likely that more Anglicans and Anglican oriented Roman Catholics will join and worship with the Ordinariate and thus the Ordinary will have to address the financial problem soon. The Ordinariate is not short of supporters who have contributed some "seed money" but they cannot be expected to contribute for the long run. The Ordinariate must be self financing.

We are just awaiting the erection of the American Ordinariate and this will be much of interest for Anglican Use Catholics, Roman Catholics and Episcopalians in the Philippines. However like in England, the American Ordinariate will face similar problems that what the English Ordinariate now faces. But there is a major difference. The Pastoral Provision allowed the establishment of Anglican Use personal parishes in the last 30 years with their married clergy. Some parishes have grown well like the Atonement parish in Texas. Thus there has been experience in making sure that the Anglican patrimony is conserved in the Roman Catholic Church.

In England as in the US unless the Anglican congregations own their church buildings by title, they are are unlikely to bring their church buildings with them when they leave the Episcopal Church since under that church's canons, the buildings and real estate are held in trust for the Episcopal diocese. Like the Atonement congregration, they will have to build their own churches. In one case the Episcopal diocese and the departing Episcopal congregation have reached an agreement on leasing their church building with an option to purchase. But this likely to be an exception rather than the rule.

The Ordinariate is thus a new way of being an old church. We say new since Anglicanorum coetibus is really a radical way of uniting a separated church. But those separated are returning to Tradition which while old is forever new. The Ordinariates need our prayers!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Married clergy and the vocations problem

The first post on this blog was about married priests in the Anglican churches in the Philippines and how this created a minor controversy in the wake of the Vatican announcing Anglicanorum coetibus  two years ago. But before we proceed we have to make some things clear

The official facts:

The Catholic Church has married priests in the Eastern Catholic Churches. A majority of parishes in the Greek, Ukrainian, Ruthenian churches are staffed by married clergy.

The Latin rite of the Catholic Church (which comprises the vast majority of Catholics) requires that all priests should be celibate (meaning unmarried). However the popes have dispensed with this obligation especially for married ministers of Protestant and Anglican churches called to the Catholic priesthood. A majority of clergy which were given this dispensation were from the Anglican Communion.

The Eastern (Orthodox and Catholic) Churches and the Western (Latin) Church do not allow married men to be consecrated bishops. In the Eastern churches, the bishop is also a monk and since monks are celibate, the bishops must be too. Also the bishop is traditionally seen to be married to their dioceses. In the Eastern Churches a widow may be consecrated as a bishop. In the Roman Catholic Church we know of one cardinal, an former Anglican priest, Cardinal Henry Manning of Westminster, who was a widow. Upon his death and among his cardinal's regalia his staff found that he had a locket with his late wife's picture.

The Latin Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches permit the ordination of married men as deacons. The Latin Church considers married deacons as permanently in the diaconal calling, while in the Eastern Churches they might be ordained as priests. In the Latin Church, the decision to do this lies with the national bishops conference. In the Philippines, the CBCP has not given the go signal but 20 years ago, the subject was brought before the Plenary Council of the Philippines. Deacons like priests and bishops are in Holy Orders

Married and celibate vocations have been honored in the Church since her founding. They are to be considered equal and of complementary value.

And here are some more

It is said that a married clergy will help solve the clergy problem. However even the Protestant churches have suffered a lack of vocations as our society becomes more secular. The Prime Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the Philippines, the Most Rev. Edward Malecdan has said that enrolment in the ECP's St Andrew's Theological Seminary has dropped in recent years.

It may be financially hard for a particular church to support married clergy and their families. The Ordinariate in England is facing a financial challenge to support its clergy all of which are former Anglican priests and many of them have families. The support for them should come from the diocese and in this case the Ordinariate. In the Philippines, Roman Catholic dioceses find it increasingly difficult to support secular priests, especially retired one and even the parish church buildings since then dioceses depend mostly on mass stipends. Fr Raymond Arre of UP told me that since the parish church is a national cultural treasure, the parish has to make sure the church and its artworks are well maintained and this entails increasing costs on top of supporting the priests and parish staff.

The Eastern Churches in the USA also face the same problems as they ordain married men for service in that country. In the Philippines, poor communities may find it difficult to support a married cleric and his family.

It appears that vocations to the clerical state in the Catholic, Anglican/Episcopal and Protestant churches have been decreasing and this isn't due to the religious traditions they have (clerical celibacy or a married clergy) but to the increasing secularization of Filipino society. Perhaps one solution is to revive spirituality among the youth. One Anglican UP graduate sent me a private message on Facebook and he told me that his Episcopalian grandparents who were devout Anglicans were the reason why his uncles and a brother had religious vocations. One uncle became a vicar general of a Roman Catholic diocese and his brother became a Roman Catholic priest!

It is the family and how the family lives out its faith traditions that is the seedbed of religious vocations to the Catholic Church and this religious tradition need not be Roman Catholic at all.

My personal take on the matter is that I value the call to celibacy and to the married state as equally valuable since they are premised on being faithful. If one is single and in the lay state, then there is no choice but to be celibate. If one is married then one is no longer celibate but has to be faithful to his/her spouse and family. As I said the family is the seedbed of religious vocations.

In a secularizing Philippines, it is increasingly hard to live out these Christian callings.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Should the Church of England be disestablished?

This analysis by Abp Cranmer the blogger is interesting. This is about the recent proposal by UK Prime Minister David Cameron to allow the UK Monarch to marry a Roman Catholic and to allow the firstborn daughter of the Sovereign to ascend the throne even if she had brothers. Under current laws on succession (300 years on the books), the male has the right to succeed even if he has an elder sister. Princess Elizabeth now Queen Elizabeth II of the UK for 59 years assumed the throne since she had no brothers only a sister, the Princess Margaret.

Prime Minister David Cameron essentially got the approval of the governments of the Queen's other 15 realms in the latest Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, Australia. The Queen is Queen of these independent nations. She shares her crown with these nations. For instance, in Papua New Guinea she is not the Queen of England, but the Queen of Papua New Guinea. Under the Statute of Westminister any change to the Succession Laws should get the approval of these independent nations, whose parliaments will pass similar legislation to change the succession.

The changes which appear minor to us Filipinos and other non-Brits, have immense constitutional implications for the Commonwealth and the UK. The Monarch in England has a religious role

as clearly seen in this historic video of the present Queen's coronation in 1953 in Westminster Abbey. She is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England and her coronation was within the context of the Anglican Eucharistic celebration. Obviously she should be a communicant of this church. She may worship at nearby Roman Catholic Westminster Cathedral (which she has done on special occasions upon the invitation of the Cardinal Archbishop), but she still has to be a member of the Established Church. History gives us an example. Low churchy Queen Victoria was not amused by Anglican panoply and she preferred the Scottish Kirk instead.

The Cameron succession proposals require amendments to what the BBC says a "raft of legislation" which essentially forms the backbone of Britain's unwritten constitution. Cameron however insists  that the amendments won't dispense the Monarch from being required to be formally Anglican.

Which raises some practical issues. In families with mixed religious traditions, the children by convention are raised in the faith of the mother. However the Roman Catholic Church goes even further. The Roman Catholic Church requires that upon marriage, the couple agree to raise the children as Roman Catholics whether the man or woman is the Catholic party. In many cases things do work out. I do know of friends who are married to non-Catholics and the children alternately on Sundays go to Protestant church and then to Catholic church. One famous Filipino ex-secretary of health and later senator had the solution "If we wake up early enough on Sundays, we go to the 6 AM mass and if not, we go to the 9 AM service".

Usually when the children come of age, they are free to choose their religious affiliation. It may not be the affiliation of their parents! However most kids are not destined to be King or Queen (except perhaps of their tiny condo unit!) and they won't have any problems in running their little realms in terms of religion. The only problem they will have is paying the bills which the British royals never had to worry much about, at least the Queen!

In the case of the children of the Anglican Monarch married to a Catholic consort, what Church would the would the heir apparent affiliate? If the royal family were to respect Catholic sensibilities, then the heir should be Catholic and he/she would have to change religion upon succeeding the departed Monarch.

Thus the Cameron proposal really affects the whole raison d' etre of the Anglican establishment. The British and the Commonwealth will have to know what the reasons are, whether these are for the right reasons and not just for short term political gain as many critics have written. Things will be made easier if Cameron insisted on disestablishing the Church of England. But that would make the whole constitutional house of cards fall for the status of the Monarch is what holds it all together as one Catholic blogger has it The reason is that the whole constitutional arrangements of the UK are premised on the Monarchy having a religious character. In short the British Monarchy is the last  institution of religious significance in Britain if not in Europe, excepting the Papacy of course. Europe has become aggressively secular and this is not of the humanistic kind. There is an increasing concern that Christianity is being persecuted in Britain. For example Roman Catholic adoption agencies may face fines since in conscience they cannot leave orphans to care for by same sex couples.

Roman Catholics are divided on Cameron's proposals. While the proposals appear to end the last legal liability in England for Roman Catholics, some Catholics are wary. Many recognize that the Established Church fosters and witnesses for the Faith which even the present Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster accepts.

While these constitutional proposals for Britain seem to be remote for Filipinos, we have to remember that we inherited our charter of liberties from the English (from the same laws Cameron's parliament want amended) through the Americans in their Bill of Rights. The civil liberties we enjoy were a product of English struggles in the 16th century. As Pope Benedict XVI reflected on his speech to the British establishment in Westminster Hall in September 2010

"This country’s Parliamentary tradition owes much to the national instinct for moderation, to the desire to achieve a genuine balance between the legitimate claims of government and the rights of those subject to it. While decisive steps have been taken at several points in your history to place limits on the exercise of power, the nation’s political institutions have been able to evolve with a remarkable degree of stability. In the process, Britain has emerged as a pluralist democracy which places great value on freedom of speech, freedom of political affiliation and respect for the rule of law, with a strong sense of the individual’s rights and duties, and of the equality of all citizens before the law. While couched in different language, Catholic social teaching has much in common with this approach, in its overriding concern to safeguard the unique dignity of every human person, created in the image and likeness of God, and in its emphasis on the duty of civil authority to foster the common good."

And the Pope continued

" By appeal to what authority can moral dilemmas be resolved? These questions take us directly to the ethical foundations of civil discourse. If the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident - herein lies the real challenge for democracy."

" I cannot but voice my concern at the increasing marginalization of religion, particularly of Christianity, that is taking place in some quarters, even in nations which place a great emphasis on tolerance. There are those who would advocate that the voice of religion be silenced, or at least relegated to the purely private sphere. There are those who argue that the public celebration of festivals such as Christmas should be discouraged, in the questionable belief that it might somehow offend those of other religions or none. And there are those who argue – paradoxically with the intention of eliminating discrimination – that Christians in public roles should be required at times to act against their conscience. These are worrying signs of a failure to appreciate not only the rights of believers to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, but also the legitimate role of religion in the public square. I would invite all of you, therefore, within your respective spheres of influence, to seek ways of promoting and encouraging dialogue between faith and reason at every level of national life."

The Pope is saying that all these liberties are possible since the state recognizes the sovereignty of God.

And I pose the question, if the secularists succeed deleting references to God in our Constitution, will our nation fall apart like a house of cards? It will. Like England the identity of the Philippine nation is rooted in a religious tradition, predominantly but not exclusively Christian.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Ordinariate preserves the Latin liturgy but it isn't traddie

Unbeknownst to many Roman Catholics especially those of the Latin traditional persuasion, Anglicanism has preserved  Latin in the Western Church and now hands it back to the 21st century  Church. Professor Diarmaid McCullough credits the Anglicans for preserving what he calls things of beauty the post Vatican II Roman Church threw out.

The Book of Common Prayer has a beautiful psalmody and it is likely that this would be included in the liturgical books of the Ordinariates. The psalms are still introduced by their first Latin verse. Example Psalm 137 is still introduced by its first Latin verse as "Super flumina". Now which Roman Catholic prayerbook still has that?

In three minutes we can see the Mass of St Theresa of Avila in the Anglican Use celebrated by the Rt Rev Msgr Andrew Burnham in St Mary Magdalene, Brighton. No one can confuse this Mass as a Novus Ordo or the Tridentine Mass. It is the Mass of the Anglican Use of the Roman Rite. This Mass does not claim to be the "Mass of the Ages". All Masses are, irrespective of rite or use.

But we do not detect a defiant traddie attitude in this Mass. It is a Mass celebrated in the 21st century but preserves the Catholic ethos of Anglicanism. It is Catholic in an Anglican expression.

The Ordinariate is not a particular church separated and exclusive from the rest of the Catholic Church. It is living a tradition that has restored and preserves  a spirituality that has animated the faithful over the centuries.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

We share one baptism, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Bishop Kevin Vann of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth, TX, USA gave a homily during the Mass welcoming Anglicans into communion with the Catholic Church, You can read the bishop's homily here.

This I find as the best passage

"In God’s providence someone who loved you, led you to the baptismal font to and to the life and light of Christ.  For many of you here, today, this was the baptismal font of the Anglican churches where you grew up and knew the Lord.  The portrait of your life began there, at that moment, with the hand of God.  For those of you who are returning to the Catholic Church, it was the font of baptism in your local parish where you parents worshipped.  And for others still, it was a decision you made as an adult.  Whatever the case may be, your baptism formed the foundational part of the picture that we now build on today, without which none of this would be possible."

We really share one baptism and we look forward to sharing a single Eucharist in the Father's house.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Rt Rev Msgr Keith Newton on "What is the Ordinariate?"

The Ordinary of Our Lady of Walsingham has approved a transcript of his lecture delivered last January on "What is the Ordinariate?" You can read it in the Catholic League blog here.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The American Ordinariate is almost upon us

The American Ordinariate which is supposed to be erected by the fall of this year seems to be almost upon us, The Ordinariate which is expected to be named in honor of the Blessed Virgin's title of Our Lady of the Atonement will probably include all of the Pastoral Provision Anglican Use parishes. For those unfamiliar with the Pastoral Provision, this is an ecclesial structure that allowed former lay and clergy of the Episcopal Church in the USA to join the Catholic Church as groups and retain aspects of their Anglican/Episcopal liturgical expressions. These expressions were deemed "proper" to the Anglican tradition and gave these groups a distinct Anglican identity within the wider Latin Rite church in the USA. Pope John Paul II gave his approval to the provision in 1980.

The Provision became a sensation in the early 1980s for it made possible for former Episcopal priests who are married to be ordained as Catholic priests and be dispensed from the obligation of remaining celibate. In short the Provision took advantage of a dispensation from clerical celibacy that really wasn't new. The Popes have allowed married ministers of Protestant churches to be ordained and remain married. While a majority of former Episcopal clergy who were ordained were married, a minority were unmarried and they had to take the obligation of remaining celibate.  A distinct liturgy and a Mass book called the Book of Divine Worship was authorized very soon after in 1983. The BDW incorporated and retained much from the Episcopal Church's Book of Common Prayer (1979 and 1928) while including the Eucharistic canon of the Roman Missal. Most noticeably, the BDW removed Archbishop Thomas Cranmer's Eucharistic canon which denied the Catholic belief on Transubstantiation and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The BDW was not free from criticisms from the Anglican and Roman Catholic sides.

The Pastoral Provision scheme resembles and differs from the Ordinariate in major ways. First like in the Ordinariate, the Pastoral Provisions parishes are "personal" parishes. However unlike in the Ordinariate, these parishes are under the jurisdiction of their Latin Rite ordinary and not under the Ordinariate's ordinary. If a new parish is to be erected, the Latin Rite bishop must give his assent. In the USA some bishops did not give their assent for Anglican Use parishes while some did. Most of the 7 Anglican Use parishes are in Texas. These parishes are one of the most vibrant in the American Catholic Church.

The Pastoral Provision really is centered on how Episcopal priests can be made Catholic priests. There was really no structure in place whether new ordinands to the priesthood from Anglican Use communities (all will be expected to be celibate) will continue to celebrate the sacraments in the Anglican Use. Lately even Lutheran ministers have taken advantage of the provision.

When the American Ordinariate is erected, if the Anglican Use parishes do join, they will be transferred from the jurisdiction of their Latin Rite bishops to the Ordinary. So far after Anglicanorum coetibus was promulgated, other US Episcopal/Anglican groups have made known their intention to join the Ordinariate. Since there is no Ordinariate yet, they are undergoing their catechetical formation under their respective Latin rite bishops.

Unlike in England, American Anglo-Catholics have a wider spectrum and diversity of acceptance of Catholic doctrine as stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Also there is no Established Anglican Church in the USA. Aside from the Episcopal Church, there are a lot continuing Anglican Churches some of which have a Catholic orientation and some are more Evangelical.  This has made the establishment of the American Ordinariate require a lot of time. And because of this diversity, it is expected that fewer groups will join the American Ordinariate than the case in England.

Widely tipped to be the first American Ordinary is one of the first priests ordained under the Pastoral Provision, Father Christopher Phillips. Fr Phillips has had wide experience in advancing and conserving the Anglican tradition in Catholicism and dealing with the Vatican bureaucracy. His efforts have been lauded by by the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in England and its senior clergy led by the Ordinary, the Rt Rev. Msgr Keith Newton.

The establishment of the American Ordinariate will demonstrate that Anglicanism in the Catholic Church is really Catholic and not just limited to one country, like England. This Ordinariate will also likely have an ecumenical charism. Also Anglican Use in the Philippines  will be connected to this Ordinariate. It is foreseen that we in the Philippines by reasons of history will draw prayer support and affection from this Ordinariate, while we remain obedient to our Filipino diocesan bishops until a Filipino Ordinariate is erected when God at last wills it.

As a side note, if the American Ordinariate is named after Our Lady of Atonement, it then becomes linked under this title to the Catholic Diocese of Baguio in the Cordilleras whose patron and Cathedral is named under that title. This is significant for the Anglo Catholic presence in the Philippines was first planted by the Episcopal Church in this region 100 years ago. Is this a sign of things to come?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Manifesto for Holy Cross Day

An Appeal to the Philippine Nation
We are Christians of various backgrounds and traditions. We are bound by a common confession in God who is one and triune, and who has loved us so much that in Christ God has destroyed death and made possible the redemption of this world. Through the Spirit which has been given to us, we have the courage to profess this love to all men and women.
Today is a date special to many Christians. It honors the Cross, which is the sign by which Christ conquered death, defeated sin, and challenged the powers of this world. This sign of powerlessness was so powerful that it has transformed the world.
Even the things we hold dear were started by people of faith, especially those who affirmed faith in the Cross of Christ: democracy, freedom, the rule of law. The achievements of our civilization were achievements of those who also found comfort, peace, and above all, freedom in that redeeming Cross.
In our time, however, this whole story is being challenged by those who believe that our nation should, in its public life, not be founded on any form of religious belief. They further assert that the Christian faith, whatever its manifestations, has been harmful to us as a nation. To suggest that it should be disregarded because of the tragic legacies of colonialism neglects the way by which the Cross of Christ has so transformed our nation that we are now witnessing to it even in nations where Christianity seems to be in decline.
We confess that we have not been truly faithful to this Cross of Christ. We have neglected its power to transform our nation and thus surrendered our future to the forces which threaten to undermine faith in God.
This is the same Cross which Paul the Apostle spoke about more than two millennia ago, when he wrote to the believers in Corinth:

Jews look for signs but Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
 Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’” (1 Cor 1:23-31)
These are words of hope for our struggling nation. Our hope is not in renouncing God as the center of our lives and our world. Our hope is in God, who loves us so much that we cannot help but return this love.
Regardless of where we disagree on the little things, we hold fast to this common confession.
Against those who say that God has no place in public life, we say that God is ultimately the Lord of all, even our politics.
Against those who say that faith ought to have no role in how our economy and our society works, we say that Christ redeemed even our economic and social structures.
Against those who say that we must alone rely upon science and technology without the guiding hand of faith-based ethics, we affirm that by the Cross, all our human endeavors will be judged.
But most of all, we affirm that all is not lost.
We appeal to Filipinos of faith, especially in God and in Jesus Christ, whether here in the country or abroad, to work for a society where there is space for the spiritual.
We appeal to our brothers and sisters who do not share our faith to join us in this endeavor, for this will only make possible the freedom of belief that you seek.
We appeal to our churches to set aside animosity and hatred and to work together to create a new and transformed society shaped by the Cross of Christ, where all are truly equal, truly free, and truly human.
Finally, we appeal to those who have lost faith in Christ and in God. We pray that you will discover once again how God has loved you first and that you will find that only in Christ can you truly think free.
May God’s Name be glorified. May the Cross of Christ triumph in our nation and in the world.

14 September 2011
Holy Cross Day
Renato Paolo V. Aguila
writer/researcher, Philippine Bible Society
Romel Bagares
Elder, Christian Reformed Church in the Philippines
Benjamin Vallejo Jr.
Associate Professor, UP Diliman
Rei Lemuel Crizaldo
Pastor, Norzagaray Christian Church

Monday, September 5, 2011

September, The Holy Virgin, Cardinal Newman and 9/11

The Church marks the Nativity of the Mother of God on September 8. Thus September is also "Mary's month" in the Philippines.

Filipinos are people who look forward to birthdays of all sorts. Not just for the party and the cakes but to mark the coming of a better year for the celebrant. I have had 44 birthday cakes in my life and have blown 44 or more candles off my cakes!

Although I was born in March, this September I mark another "birthday". This is when God gave me a second chance at living.

On September 5, 2001 I was diagnosed with a bad case of dengue fever which progressed from bad to the worst. So I was rushed to hospital, the Episcopalian run St Luke's where the doctors realized my prognosis was bad. Being a scientist, I asked the doctors "if I will make it". Well they had to tell me what they thought.

I had to prepare for death, as long as I was conscious. A dying man may have regrets and likewise I had too. I haven't done much good or anything at all!

On September 9, I called for a priest. No priest came but one of my ex students who was a Jesuit scholastic/seminarian (he has since been ordained as a priest) came in quite unexpectedly in soutane and the nurses thought I was to kick the bucket. He was a Chinese from the mainland and he asked me to pray to the first saint that came to my mind. And that was no other than John Henry Newman. Newman wasn't beatified then. The seminarian asked Newman's intercession to heal me.  The next day I was going into shock. An Anglican priest came in and gave me Extreme Unction (I can't remember his name!) A little later the Roman Catholic hospital chaplain came in and gave me a reproduction of the Virgin of Piat's picture.  The Catholic priest came from the Cagayan region where the Virgin of Piat is venerated by the people.

On September 10, my situation went from bad to worse. I now know the feeling when life ebbs and for all we have done on this earth matters not. What matters is the love and mercy of God. The Blessed Virgin Mary does pray for us at the hour of our death, when that comes and when God finally allows it to happen! But suddenly something strange did happen to me. The next day (Sept 11), I was up and about, walking along the wards and hungry! The doctors were amazed! The disease ran its course.

But the amazement faded when I saw on the hospital TV that two skyscrapers New York were destroyed in a terrorist plot when two aircraft were deliberately crashed on the WTC. I thought it was some B movie on cable, but it was for real. The doctors were no longer glued to my case but to the terrorist attack.

And so if they ask me what I was doing when the Twin Towers collapsed, I can only say that God brought me back to life when that happened.

When I was well enough once more, I emailed the Oratorian Fathers in London about Cardinal Newman's intercession and how a seminarian prayed for that intercession. I got a response from them and they told me that they will have my testimony as part of the positio for Newman.

Did a miracle happen to me? The scientist in me would say "No" since there are people who do survive the worst prognosis for dengue. And it just happened that one of them was me! That is the limit of what Science can say in this affair. However I can say that Cardinal Newman brought my prayers to God and that is what really matters. There is no such thing as "it just happens to be" to God. God wills what happens. As for the Virgin of Piat, she has rescued the Itawes people from drowning in the 16th century, healed the sick at death's door and she continues to do so. God wills that the Blessed Virgin Mary works these miracles for His glory.

And on a September day, the 19th last year. Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Henry Cardinal Newman.