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.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Talks on Anglicans and the Catholic Church at UP

Please keep posted on a series of talks on the ecumenical developments between Anglicans and Roman Catholics at the University of the Philippines. Coming soon!

And at the end of each talk will be a service of Evensong!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Prayer for the Ordinariates from the Ordinariate Portal

Eternal Father, we place before you the project of forming the Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans seeking full communion with the Catholic Church.
We thank you for this initiative of Pope Benedict XVI, and we ask that, through the Holy Spirit,
the Ordinariates may become:
families of charity, peace and the service of the poor, centres for Christian unity and reconciliation, communities that welcome and evangelize, teaching the Faith in all its fullness, celebrating the liturgy and sacraments with prayerful reverence and maintaining a distinctive patrimony of Christian faith and culture.
Drawing on that heritage we pray:
Go before us, O Lord,
in all our doings
with thy most gracious favour,
and further us
with thy continual help;
that in all our works, begun,
continued and ended in thee,
we may glorify thy holy name,
and finally by thy mercy
obtain everlasting life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Our Lady of Walsingham:
Pray for us as we claim
your motherly care.
Saint Therese of the Infant Jesus:
Pray for us as we place this
work under your patronage.
Blessed John Henry Newman:
Pray that Christ’s Heart
may speak unto our hearts.
Saints & Martyrs of England,
Wales, Scotland & Ireland:
Pray for us and accompany
us on our pilgrim way.
And we in the Philippines seek the intercession of
Blessed Pope John XXIII, Blessed Pope John Paul II, Bishop Charles Henry Brent, Father John Staunton, 
Pray for us to God! 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Filipino Episcopalians debate about purgatory while Catholics no longer bother about it!

This is how the Medievals thought about Purgatory!
At the Pinoy Episcopalians Facebook group, someone posted if "Episcopalians are to believe in purgatory". This post sparked a lively discussion which has touched on the relationship of Scripture and Tradition and how classical Anglicanism has received these and if these are relevant to the 21st century. Of course the debate extended beyond Purgatory but to the importance of Authority in the Church. This is so related to the troubles plaguing Anglicans now and how the Anglican Communion may be able to preserve her unity.

Here is how one Filipino Episcopal priest has it

"Luther did not oppose the idea. he only opposed the wrong means on how to pass through it. Purgatory is not for the lost, only for believers already on the way to heaven yet have to take the long journey to life because of their attachment to the world that they live in and a world they are leaving. Purgatory is connected to fire purification, which is really meant the fiery trial a Christian has to experience due to sanctification."

Thanks to depictions by countless artists throughout the ages, many Catholics and Protestants think Purgatory is a place where there is fire to cleanse sinners. This has led to many misconceptions but the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1030-1032) states that Purgatory is a condition rather than a place and states Scriptural references that support this understanding. Blessed Pope John Paul II restated the teaching in a papal audience. The Church however teaches that there is a "cleansing fire" in Purgatory and tradition is that this is understood not in a metaphorical sense but in a real sense. Mystics have understood this as a purifying inner fire, an understanding that Pope Benedict XVI appears to endorse.

The Thirty Nine Articles of Religion of the Church of England in Article XXII explicitly reject the doctrine of Purgatory as being without "warrant in Scripture" However, the Articles are not binding on Anglicans as the CCC is upon Catholics. For many Episcopalians, the Articles are of historical interest. Thus there is a wide spectrum of belief among Anglicans as as the debate on Pinoy Episcopalians would suggest, many still adhere to the idea that Purgatory is indeed a condition where  souls are purified. However many Episcopalians will still have difficulty in accepting the Roman Catholic belief on indulgences. This is at the root of medieval abuses that brought upon the Reformation. A famous Anglican, CS Lewis accepted belief in Purgatory in the way the Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman understood it.

But as I had posted I am amazed that Filipino Episcopalians debate about Purgatory when Filipino Roman Catholics hardly bother about it! In fact I have never heard the doctrine being the subject of a Sunday Mass homily in the last 20 years! It must be that the subject is too pre Vatican II and it deals with the afterlife rather than this life. And many priests don't want to scare the worshipers out of their wits with talk of eternal damnation and purification!

Some Roman Catholic priests tend to believe that we are experiencing Purgatory  right now, since we have a corrupt government and we ourselves are party to this and we have cut down all the trees and so we are in an environmental mess etc. Perhaps that is true but it misses out on what the Church teaches about it and the real costs of God's purifying love.

And so it takes our Anglican brethren to remind Roman Catholics of this teaching, at least to me. I have not bothered with that doctrine ever since I was received into the Church 25 years ago!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Know thy Mass!

This was from my Anglo-Catholic "lola" who bought it in 1952 when she was studying in Minnesota. If I am not mistaken, Anglo Catholics in the American Episcopalian biretta belt used the American Missal which is an almost exact translation of the Roman Missal. In fact I was able to follow the Tridentine Mass in a Cubao Catholic parish using her Missa Anglicana and this catechetical comic book!

Nonetheless, forty one years after Vatican II's reforms on the Mass, most people have no clue on what is happening in the Mass. No wonder they text during the service. The Mass itself has ceased to be an occasion for catechism, but rather as a ho hum service which is most likely even made worse by bad homilies. But pre Vatican II Mass books for the laity had always a bit of catechetical information on what the Mass rubrics really mean. The pre Vatican II Mass books are much much closer in ethos to the Anglican Book of Common Prayer than the Mass books and Missalettes Roman Catholic have today. Both the Roman Missal and the BCP had a didactic function and that is to hand in the Faith (in Latin "Traditio")

In the scanned image above, the comics explain the Creed. This is an act of  what is called in Latin as "renditio" which means to "hand over". We hand over our understanding of the Faith at this point of the Mass.

All these need to be recovered in both the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches. It is not surprising that modern Anglican prayer books and liturgies have taken cue from what Reformation historian Diarmaid MacCulloch calls "What the post Vatican II Roman Catholic Church threw out"

The saving grace is that Anglicanism preserved much of what the Roman Church threw out. And all hopes are with Anglicans on both sides of the Tiber to reflect and restore all these things of beauty and Faith.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Newman's Collect

Blessed John Henry Newman as an Anglican priest
Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman's best known prayer is a hymn "Lead Kindly Light". During my college days at UP, we had a Catholic priest who was a fan of Newman and he always sang this hymn after the Mass had ended.

However there is a collect for Evening Prayer written by Newman years before he even contemplated becoming a Roman Catholic which has been largely forgotten in the Philippines and virtually unheard of in the Catholic Church in the Philippines

And here it is

Support us all day long

"O LORD, support us all the day long of this troublous life, until the shades lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over, and our work done. Then, Lord, in thy mercy, grant us safe lodging, a holy rest, and peace at the last; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

This prayer was once said during Evensong at Brent School, according to Dr Rafael B Rodriguez, former President of Trinity College (now Trinity University of Asia) in Quezon City. However over the years as Dr Rodriguez told me, the prayer has been relegated to the sidelines. 

This is unfortunate for it is one of the best, night time prayers I have ever said. My grandfather has  
it written down longhand probably from memory in his wartime (1942-1945) diary. It provided him with the comfort and peace of God during those troubled times.

John Henry Newman lived up to his calling as a cardo, Latin for hinge, that links the Anglican and Roman Catholic faith together.

Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, pray for us to God!

What the Pope did to the BCP, TEC parish swims the Tiber and the Photoshop argument

What the Pope did to the BCP

Dr William Oddie has written something that makes for interesting reading at the Catholic Herald. Dr Oddie writes that the Pope has made the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) (well much of it) into a Catholic liturgy! This was something no one would have thought possible as late as 30 years ago.

Evensong is now sung at Roman Catholic places of worship in England, the United States, Canada and Australia, and soon, the Philippines. We prayed this office at the University of the Philippines.  What was considered quite Protestant is now wedded with a traditional Roman Catholic devotion, the Benediction. Evensong is now the Ordinariate's evening office .  Dr Oddie sums up what I have consistently reminded my Anglican/Episcopal friends. Anglicans will restore to the Roman Catholic Church what has been lost or forgotten.

Reformation historian Diarmid MacCulloch was more blunt. He was quoted saying that "The Anglican Communion preserved much of what the post Vatican II Catholic Church threw out"

And here writes Dr Oddie "these Anglican converts are bringing with them derives from Catholic sources that we have lost or at least temporarily mislaid"

Well that is what it really is. The BCP is as everyone knows was influenced by older Catholic liturgies such as the Sarum Use and the reforms of the Roman Breviary by Cardinal Quiñones of Spain.  While Archbishop Thomas Cranmer made sure that the denial of Catholic belief in the Mass was explicit, this was placed in a liturgical setting that resembled the Mass, but really wasn't. And only the theologically astute among the churchgoers could detect the difference. Thus the Anglican Eucharist could be celebrated with Tridentine panoply, or even in the most Protestant way of celebrating the valid Catholic mass called the Novus Ordo, which the present Pope calls the "Ordinary Form". While the former may impress 21st century Tridentine traddies, the latter does give them apoplexy!

Thus this are Anglican treasures being shared to the Catholics. I wonder if the Catholics will appreciate these?

This we will have to see. In the meantime I was shocked to hear from a Filipino cradle Catholic that he thought the Evening Prayer  we were saying was a Protestant invention!

Episcopal Parish swims the Tiber

St Luke's Episcopal Parish near Washington DC in Blandensburg, Maryland has decided to join the Catholic Church. The parish becomes the second Episcopal parish after Mt Calvary Parish in Baltimore to join the Catholic Church after Anglicanorum coetibus was published. St Luke's is now under the pastoral care of the Archbishop of Washington Cardinal Wuerl.  The parish was under the Episcopal Bishop of Washington John Chane who graciously supported (with the Catholic Archbishop of Washington), the parish discernment process. The parish will continue to worship in their church building, which will be leased to them by the Episcopal diocese with an option to purchase.

Both St Luke's and Mt Calvary will be Ordinariate bound and they will undergo a formation program before formally being received in the Church.

Why women cannot be priests: An image processing analogy!

Both the Catholic and Evangelical wings of the Anglican Communion are against the ordination of women as priests since it has no Scriptural basis and is not in accordance with the ancient tradition of the undivided Church.

Women's ordination is a very divisive issue in the Anglican Communion. However a majority of provinces allow it, with some provinces providing "alternative episcopal oversight" to parishes who don't agree with it.

The consecration of women bishops (which naturally follows if women become priests) has ignited more discord in the Church of England and threatens an irreparable Anglican split if no arrangements are made to protect the conscience of people who can't accept this.

Catholics and the Orthodox hold on to the "alter Christus" argument why women can't be priests. They believe that the Christ who sacrificed himself for us was a man, therefore the priest who offers the same sacrifice on the altar should be a man. The Evangelicals hold on to the "headship of the family" argument which says that the head of a natural order such as the family is a man and by extension, the church should be headed by a man.

Nonetheless I received an email from an Anglican who tends to accept the Catholic argument. He says that since the priest images Christ at the altar, a woman simply can't do. Then he gives the Photoshop argument. If we image process a man, and we expect him to look or do things like a man, then we don't do much to the image. But if we image process a woman and we expect him to look or do things like a man, then we have to tweak the image!

And no wonder why some people are never comfortable with the sight of a woman priest or bishop. She in those vestments made for men, will look male!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Martyrs of Uganda

Blessed Martyrs of Uganda, Pray for us to God!
In  the late 1800s Christian missionaries (first Anglican in 1877 and then Roman Catholic in 1879) began to preach the Gospel in Buganda (now part of Uganda). The people received the Christian message very enthusiastically and many were baptized. The King of Buganda,m Mutesa at first received the missionaries warmly and even allowed the Christians to preach at court.  However to protect his throne and to balance the political and social influence of the missionaries, he also welcomed Arab traders who preached Islam.

The Roman Catholic White Father missionaries had to walk the diplomatic tight rope as they say, since the King's favour shifted from one religious group or the other. This was a time before Christians had an appreciation of ecumenical principles and the Anglicans were often in competition with the Catholics and both Christian groups were in competition with Muslim missionaries.

After the death of Mutesa his son Mwanga ascended the Bugandan throne. While at first he was warm to the Christians, he later became hostile to them. Mwanga became sold to the idea that it was treasonous to give allegiance to the Christian God. An Anglican bishop James Hannington was consecrated as a missionary bishop for Equatorial Eastern Africa. When he went to the mission areas in Buganda, the King had him killed. The bishop is the Protomartyr of the Christian missions. His last words to his executioners are "Tell Mwanga that I have purchased the road to Buganda with my blood!"

However the King's sexual tastes included homosexual sex with the young pages in his court. The boys refused to bend to his will.

The chief steward at court Joseph Mukasa , who was a Catholic rebuked the King for the murder and for that he was also stabbed and burned to death as an example to all. He became the first of the Catholic martyrs. Mukasa was able to teach the boys the Christian teaching on homosexual acts and for the boys to resist and keep away from Mwanga's whims. Charles Lwanga took over him in looking after these boys.

One of the boys resisted Mwanga's advances and he too was martyred. Enraged, he ordered the execution of all his pages in court, all of whom are Christian, Anglican and Roman Catholic as well as catechumens.

The King gave the boys a choice whether to renounce their faith or not. Mwanga commanded all who pray (the Lord's Prayer) to his left and those who don't to his right. All the boys went to the left and they were led to the place of execution. They were bound with reeds and faggots and these were lit. The boys included the eldest Charles Lwanga and the youngest Kzito was only 14. While on the way they prayed the Lord's Prayer and recited their catechism, Anglicans and Roman Catholics, cheerful on the road to Eternal Life. It was Ascension Day.

Pope Paul VI canonized the Roman Catholic martyrs on 18 October 1964. However the Pope also recognized the martyrdom of the Anglican boys in his homily during the canonization Mass by saying

"And the others are worthy of mention also, who, professing the Anglican religious customs, were afflicted with death for the name of Christ."

The martyrdom of the Ugandan boys became the seed for the rapid growth of Christianity in Uganda. But it was the will of God that many yet will shed their blood for the Gospel in this land. In the 20th Century, the most notable of them was the Anglican Archbishop of Uganda, Janani Luwum,a staunch defender of human rights,  who in 1977 was ordered killed by Idi Amin. It is said that as Abp Luwum was to say the Lord's Prayer, Amin enraged, shot him.

The Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion commemorates the Martyrs on their feast day of June 3. 


O God, by whose providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church: Grant that we who remember before thee the blessed martyrs of Uganda, may, like them, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ, to whom they gave obedience even unto death, and by their sacrifice brought forth a plentiful harvest; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever, AMEN. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Anglicans and Divorce

As the Philippine House of Representatives begins to tackle a divorce bill (which I think is a political ploy in indecent haste, definitely even more divisive than reproductive health) after the much of the debates on the RH bill, it is now time to look into what has been the historical position of Anglicanism on divorce. Dr William Tighe gives a splendid historical review in the Anglo Catholic blog. 

The Church of England is in the popular perception viewed as founded on divorce. However that is not entirely correct, for Henry VIII sought an annulment from his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. During those times, it was only the Pope who can grant that as a dispensation. However we are viewing the issue with 21st century eyes. In the Medieval period and through the Reformation, any formal break up of a marriage was considered divorce. The legal niceties were just debated by the Doctors of law and theology in the Universities! 

Henry got his annulment from a complacent Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer in 1533 and thus was able to marry Anne Boleyn. But he could only have this union legally recognized if he outlawed all appeals to Rome. Thus he made himself "Supreme Head of the Church in England" in 1536 and was excommunicated. The Church of England was separated from Rome.

The Continental Reformers agreed that divorce may be granted under certain circumstances and the parties may remarry (during this time it meant only remarry in church!) However Henry's Church of England remained resolute in disallowing divorce and remarriage (which included what we know as annulment). Thus the Church of England is the church which has the strictest discipline about divorce and remarriage. In contrast the Presbyterian Church of Scotland recognized divorce in the sense we know it now. The Anglican Church says "no, never" unless one of the spouses has passed away. The Anglican Church would not admit a divorced person to communion. In contrast a divorced Roman Catholic may be admitted to communion if he/she has not remarried.

This has been the stand of the Anglican Church and throughout the history of the British Monarchy, this has been THE BIG issue above anything else. in 1936 Edward VIII wanted to marry the woman he loved, Mrs Wallis Simpson, but Mrs Simpson is a divorced woman. The government advised the King that he cannot marry Mrs Simpson because the Church of England does not allow the remarriage of a divorced person and so he gave his famous abdication speech. And for that he and Wallis Simpson became history's most famous icon of romance.

Much later on 9 April 2009 Charles Prince of Wales (who was divorced from Princess Diana but with her death he could be remarried in church) married Camilla Parker-Bowles in a civil ceremony. He was barred from marrying in Church of England rites since Mrs Parker-Bowles was a divorced person. The Queen did not attend the ceremony due to her position as Supreme Governor of the Church of England. She however attended Charles and Camilla's  Anglican blessing service in Windsor Castle.

And this state of affairs is likely to mean that when Charles ascends the Throne, Camilla will be legally queen, but it is likely she will be known as the Princess Consort rather than queen consort. And this is because of the Church of England's discipline on marriage.

The wedding of Charles firstborn son, William and Kate Middleton last April 29 is a wedding where it was rude to talk about divorce. The young couple were much in love and were single when they tied the knot. But the sermon of the Bishop of London focused on the indissolubility of marriage.  And so did the wedding liturgy.

Even if the Church of England has largely kept its traditional discipline, England's civil law has allowed divorce and remarriage, the Church's recent practice has been found wanting. You can read Dr Tighe's review on what has happened in the Anglican Communion here. This leaves the Roman Catholic Church as the only major Christian body to disallow divorce and remarriage.

But as the Philippines considers civil divorce we are reminded about what the Gospel of St Matthew says

"It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:
But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery."

And in St Mark, we are reminded why the Jews allowed divorce because "of the hardness of our hearts"