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.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hip, hip hooray to the newly weds!

Now that Kate and Wills have tied the knot, we wish them all the best and may they live and love happily ever after! Now I could not help but remark about these by Damian Thompson

This is what the Church of England is for


that cartwheeling verger!

Damian Thompson is right that the wedding liturgy shows what the CoE is best at doing. The Anglican choral tradition is best. Compare this with what is dished out at Papal ceremonials at St Peter's!

But there is something about weddings that lift up the jaded still. Perhaps because it celebrates life. The Anglican wedding liturgy is replete with traditional Catholic teaching on marriage. Protestant restraint is wedded with Catholic pagentry This is what the CoE is best at. The sermon of the Bishop of London is magnificent and this smudges out ill will on his statement about the Ordinariate Catholics sharing Anglican churches.

And Rowan cannot be questioned about his authority as Archbishop of Canterbury. It shoots down wags' prediction that he would do a Rowan Atkinson!

As for the verger, I think he can be forgiven. Is being happy that the whole shebang happened with nary a  hitch a sin?

Now the CoE will have to deal with female bishops now! If no provisions  are given for traditional bishops to care for Anglicans who oppose female bishops, expect these Anglicans to cartwheel out of the CoE and into evangelical and Anglo-Catholic continuing jurisdictions or to the Ordinariate.

And while the old question was for Catholics "Whom do you wish were all Catholic?" Answer: All Anglicans/Episcopalians!

For once we have the question in reverse: Whom do you wish were all Anglicans? Answer: All Roman Catholics!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Ordinariate in England grows and grows!

The Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham last January 1 just started out with 3 former Anglican bishops and 2 religious sisters which makes five. They were all received in the Catholic Church in that month. A fortnight later, the former bishops were ordained Catholic priests with one, Fr Keith Newton appointed as the first Ordinary. Later on the  Pope bestowed the honor of being monsignori to the three priests.

This Easter season we read that many groups of Anglicans are now being received in the Church, many with their pastors. It is expected that their pastors will be ordained within the latter half of the year.

The Ordinariate may be likened to a tree with just five small branches at the start. However as the year progresses, we see many more branches grafted to the tree. In order for the graft to prosper, the branch must be of like constitution to the trunk.

The Ordinariate is the logical conclusion of Anglicanism's branch theory. The theory is partially correct as the Catholic Church acknowledges, but if the branch is separated from the trunk, it will wither and die. Here is an Orthodox priest's view of the theory. The One Holy Catholic Church may have branches true, but it can only be one if one realizes that the branches are attached to the trunk! If the branch is separated from the trunk, the branch may develop on its own and may fall into theological innovations.

But as the Ordinariates will show and I believe it will, it doesn't mean that if you have a branch, it is within the trunk! Similarly the Eastern Catholic Churches have shown this throughout the centuries.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Monday: On the road to Emmaus

Rembrant's The Supper at Emmaus
Art thou a stranger in Jerusalem, and has not known the things which are come to pass in these days?

Easter Monday is a holiday in England and the countries of the Commonwealth. In England, the custom of egg rolling happens on this day. Originally a pagan custom, it took on a Gospel reality, that is it symbolizes the rolling of the stone in Jesus' tomb when he rose from the dead. The Eastern Church considers this as  Bright Monday of Bright Week.

However this Monday commemorates the Jesus while eating supper with two men in Emmaus. The Book of Common Prayer and the Old Roman Missal have the same Gospel reading for this day, St Luke 24, 13-35

The Collect in the 1928 BCP goes

O God, whose blessed Son did manifest himself to his disciples in the breaking of bread; Open, we pray thee, the eyes of our faith, that we may behold thee in all thy works; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

On the road to Emmaus, two men reflected on the events of the last few days, when Jesus caught up with them. Jesus explained what the Scriptures told about those days. And since night was upon them, the three went to a house and had supper. Jesus took bread, blessed it  and gave it to them. And once they realized who the one who broke the bread,  Jesus disappeared from their sight.

They remarked "Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and when he opened to us the Scriptures?"

But the truth is the two men knew the Risen Jesus by the breaking of the bread. The Supper at Emmaus may be considered as the First Supper of the Risen Christ.

Do we recognize Jesus, truly present, in his Risen Humanity and Divinity at every Mass in the breaking of the bread?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Harrowing of Hell

The Resurrection of Jesus and the Harrowing of Hell
The title of this post is not to scare the your wits but to recall an ancient understanding on what Easter really means. This was conserved by the English Church from its very foundation by Saint Augustine of Canterbury and is now part of the Anglican understanding of the Faith. However in the recent decades especially after the Second Vatican Council, this understanding has been downplayed in the Latin Church and too in the Anglican Church. Fortunately it still is central to Eastern Christianity's belief about Easter as seen most clearly in its icons.   The term "harrowing of hell" comes from the Old English word "hergian" which means to despoil or to snatch. Thus before Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, he descended into hell ("the dead" in modern usage). I am old enough to recall the use of "Hell" in the Creed and I always asked why did Jesus have to go to Hell. He didn't commit any sin, did he?

The English Abbot Aelfric of Eynsham (955-1010) used the term "harrowing of hell"in his homilies. Since then a rich tradition has developed about the concept even as it was taught by the early Church fathers. The Eastern Church believes that Jesus snatched Adam and Eve, now forgiven and brought them to Paradise once more. The icon above shows risen Jesus Christ snatching Adam and Eve from the tomb.  This is what the Eastern Church understands about the Resurrection. It is the real snatching of us sinners from Death! The Roman Catholic Church understands this in a slightly different way as said in the Catechism. Christ released the just who preceded him from death and perpetual exclusion from heaven. Many Protestants believe that in Jesus descending to Hell, he broke Satan's power forever.

As for my earlier question about what "hell" means, the meaning has changed in the last 1000 years. The word came from the Norse "hel" which means underneath. Now it means a place for the damned. But whatever the meaning is, Jesus Christ the Risen Lord has triumphed over hell and death.

The pre-Reformation English Church celebrated the "harrowing of hell" in many mystery plays and in the iconography of parish churches. Even the Rood Screen may have a picture of what this means and that is very close to the understanding of the Eastern Church. Sadly the Reformation almost did away with these and in the resulting Calvinist inspired iconoclasm, many representations were lost.

Nonetheless, the 1928 Book of Common Prayer collect for Easter Even or Holy Saturday echoes what the ancient tradition from the East means. In the collect it is prayed that in order to be saved we have to be buried with Him, pass through the grave and the gate of death and rise in our glorious ressurrection, because Jesus rose from the dead!

This understanding is now largely lost to us. We live in a secular world where hell is no longer real since we have lost the meaning of what sin is. And the hells we have made by our works (wars, environmental destruction, injustice, corruption, abortion, disrespect for human life and dignity etc have numbed us. Now will the Risen Jesus snatch as from all of these? How can our Christian faith harrow these hells and release us? The Anglican tradition is a gentle reminder of what is really at stake for our souls. The English Church before and after the Reformation and through the Catholic revival has nurtured many mystics who have dwelt on this reality. The Ordinariates in one sense will restore this understanding to the Roman Catholic Church, as the Eastern Church restores it to the West.

The message of Easter is that Jesus has risen from the dead, destroyed sin and death and shows us the way to eternal life. So death where is thy sting?

A blessed Easter to our readers!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Even

The Collect (1928 American Book of Common Prayer)

Grant, O Lord, that as we are baptized in to the death of thy blessed Son, oir saviour Jesus Christ, so by continual mortifying our corrupt affections we may be buried with him; and that through the grace, and gate of death, we may pass to our joyful resurrection; for his merits, who died, and was buried, and rose again for us, the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect (Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines and the  Book of Divine Worship, Anglican Use of the Roman Rite)

O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 The Collect from the Old Roman Missal

O God, Who dost illumine this most holy night by the glory of the Lord's Resurrection, preserve in the new children of Thy family the spirit of adoption which Thou has given; that. renewed in body and mind, they may render to Thee a pure service. Through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Exsultet

Rejoice now, heavenly hosts and choirs of angels,
and let your trumpets shout Salvation
for the victory of our mighty King.

Rejoice and sing now, all the round earth,
bright with a glorious splendor,
for darkness has been vanquished by our eternal King.

Rejoice and be glad now, Mother Church,
and let your holy courts, in radiant light,
resound with the praises of thy people.

[All you who stand near this marvelous and holy flame,
pray with me to God the Almighty
for the grace to sing the worthy praise of this great light;
through Jesus Christ his Son our Lord,
who liveth and reigneth with him,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.] Amen.

Deacon: The Lord be with you.
People: And with thy spirit.
Deacon: Let us give thanks unto our Lord God.
People: It is right to give him thanks and praise.
The Deacon continues:
It is truly right and good, always and everywhere, with our
whole heart and mind and voice, to praise you, the invisible,
almighty, and eternal God, and your only-begotten Son, Jesus
Christ our Lord; for he is the true Paschal Lamb, who at the
feast of the Passover paid for us the debt of Adam’s sin, and by
his blood delivered thy faithful people.
This is the night, when you brought our fathers, the children of
Israel, out of bondage in Egypt, and led them through the Red
Sea on dry land.

This is the night, when all who believe in Christ are delivered
from the gloom of sin, and are restored to grace and holiness of

This is the night, when Christ broke the bonds of death and
hell, and rose victorious from the grave.
[How wonderful and beyond our knowing, O God, is your
mercy and loving-kindness to us, that to redeem a slave, you
gave a Son.

How holy is this night, when wickedness is put to flight, and sin
is washed away. It restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to
those who mourn. It casts out pride and hatred, and brings
peace and concord.

How blessed is this night, when earth and heaven are joined and
man is reconciled to God.]

Holy Father, accept our evening sacrifice, the offering of this
candle in your honor. May it shine continually to drive away all
darkness. May Christ, the Morning Star who knoweth no
setting, find it ever burning—he that giveth his light to all
creation, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday, It is finished!

James Tissot's "Consummatum Est!" Image courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum, NYC
It is finished! Christ hath known
All the life of men wayfaring; 
Human joys and sorrows sharing.
Making human needs his own

Lord in us thy life renewing,
Lead us where thy feet have trod,
Till, the way of truth pursuing,
Human souls find rest in God.

It is finished! Christ is slain,
On the altar of creation,
Offering for a world's salvation
Sacrifice of love and pain,

Lord thy love through pain revealing,
Purge our passions, scourge our vice,
Till, upon the tree of healing,
Self is slain in sacrifice!

-Reverend Gabriel Gillett

The Rev Gabriel Gillett (1799-1871) is one of the largely forgotten vicars of the Church of England in the 19th century. Rev Gillett after receiving an MA from Oriel College, Oxford, became rector of Waltham on the Woods, was in charge of a dilapidated church, which he renovated at his expense. Today the rectory he built is a nursing home. Many people remember him for the hymn "It is finished!" which is still sung in Anglican/Episcopal churches on Good Friday. The hymn is number 380 in the Church of England Hymnal

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Holy Week news, Episcopal Church in the Philippines in Synod, papal interview

Some Holy Week updates. First from the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in England. The first former Anglican congregations will be received into the Catholic Church beginning this week. Some pictures from the reception of the first congregation from London (South) are here. Monsignor Keith Newton, the Ordinary received the congregation. While the reception is very low key media-wise, it is of major importance in the history of the Church.

Our brothers and sisters from the Episcopal Church in the Philippines will meet in Provincial Synod at historic St Mary the Virgin in Sagada from May 3-6. This link has articles on the accomplishments of the ECP since its last Synod as well as proposed amendments to the constitutions and canons of the church. Filipino Episcopalians ask the prayers of all, especially from our readers here, so that their synod will be successful.

As a Holy Week reading, we suggest "Benedict XVI, Light of the World: A Conversation with Peter Seewald" Ignatius Press, Distributed in the Philippines by National Bookstore at PhP 395.00. His Holiness celebrated his 84th birthday last April 16 and marks 6 years of his pontificate on April 19.

It is very rare for a Pope to give interviews with journalists, It is even rarer to read about his views on many issues in one tome. Pope John Paul II gave interviews and much of his were on theological, philosophical, ecumenical, political and social issues that came out in the best selling "Crossing the Threshold of Hope"(1994) But the interviewer did not ask the Pope questions of a personal nature. In "Light of the World" Mr Seewald asks a variety of questions on challenges facing the Church some of which are personal.

Benedict XVI surprises all by being very candid and true to form, razor sharp. Reading the book, one can imagine a conversation with a literate professor, which Benedict XVI really is.

Some excerpts:
On knowledge:
 B16: "Knowledge is power. That means if I know, then I can also control. Knowledge brought power, but in such a way that with our own we can also now destroy the world that we think we have figured out intellectually. ....an essential perspective is lacking, namely the aspect of the good. What is good?"

On the Anglican Ordinariates: 
B16:"The initiative did not come from us, but from Anglican bishops who entered into dialogue with the CDF.... But it is at any rate a sign, you might say, of the flexibility of the Catholic Church. We don't want to create new uniate churches, but we do want to offer ways for local church traditions that have evolved outside the Roman Church to be brought into communion with the Pope."

On personally meeting victims of priest sex abusers:
B16: "Actually I couldn't say anything special at all to them. I was able to tell them that it affects me very deeply. That I suffer with them. And that was not just an expression, but it really touches my heart. And I was able to tell them that the Church will do everything possible so that this does not happen again."

About using an exercise bike as prescribed by his doctor:
B16: No, I don't get to it at all... thank God!

The Pope gives his thoughts more on the engagement of Catholicism with Islam, the Orthodox, secularism, ecumenism, papal infallibility, clerical celibacy, a Third Vatican Council and the SSPX schism.

The interviews allow us to get a closer look at Benedict's papal program and the future direction of the Roman Church.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What does Anglicanism really have to offer in restoring the Roman Church?

The following essays (the Ordinariates, the Pope and Liturgy parts 1 and 2) by Father Aidan Nichols OP read at the Ordinariate conference in Canada recently tells in a magnificent way the historical background of the Ordinariates and what their being Anglican can offer in the restoration of the Roman Church. The essays also tell us that the other passengers for the "ark" have their own gift to give in restoring the Catholic Church.

Some of Fr Nichols' highlights and my questions

What really has the Anglican Communion preserved which the post Vatican II Roman Catholic Church casually threw out?

"Unlike Roman Catholicism, Anglo-Catholicism in the twentieth century has been largely impervious to the seductions of architectural Modernism, and its iconographical and musicological equivalents, owing to the apologetic concern to demonstrate continuity with the Christian past by using neo-mediaeval forms or perhaps neo-Baroque ones.  One could think here of the patronage given by twentieth century Catholic Anglicans to such influential church designers as John Ninian Comper (whose work synthesises mediaeval, palaeo-Christian and Renaissance features) and (for the Neo-Baroque) Martin Travers."

On Benedict XVI and the Liturgy

" the Pope is aghast, in a manner Anglo-Catholics generally would appreciate, at the present state of much liturgical practice in the West.  The Liturgy has been invaded by politicization, as in milieux affected by Liberation Theology; it has suffered banalisation in populist environments where the mantra has it that modern popular culture just has to be followed; and in less ideologically freighted parish practice its manner of expression has been simplified in a well-meaning but misguided attempt to ensure instant intelligibility such that much of its richness has been lost.'

And perhaps this is what Anglicanism can help repair in the Roman Catholic Church so she can get on the way to a new evangelization

"Unlike the Latin clergy who are principally interested in their own flocks, and where apostolic outreach is concerned, the lapsed members of those flocks, there is something much more potentially universal in the pastoral outreach of the Anglican ministry.  The notion that evangelization should be directed to entire neighbourhoods, and be expressed in general visiting, as well as recognition of the need for involvement in civic life, in voluntary associations, and all the expressions of life together in a given locale, is typical of a Church that conceives itself as responsible for the soul of a society.  It is a Christendom outlook which has, thankfully, survived the disintegration of the mediaeval organism."

And that is why I am not surprised  and very gladdened that the Holy Mass celebrated ad orientem is more often celebrated at the Episcopal Cathedral of St Mary and St John at Cathedral Heights, Quezon City than in the Roman Catholic Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Manila! Also the community orientated pastoral concern of the Episcopal Church towards Filipino society.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A collect for Blessed Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II and Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Robert Runcie bless the congregation at Canterbury Cathedral in 1982
From Father Zulhsdorf's blog the Latin collect for John Paul II

Deus, dives in misericordia,
qui beatum Ioannem Paulum, papam,
universae Ecclesiae tuae praeesse voluisti,

praesta, quaesumus, ut, eius institutis edocti,

corda nostra salutiferae gratiae Christi,

unius redemptoris hominis, fidenter aperiamus

Which he translated into English as

O God, who are rich in mercy
and who willed that the Blessed John Paul II
should preside as Pope over your universal Church,
grant, we pray, that instructed by his teaching,
we may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ,
the sole Redeemer of mankind.
Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit.....

Which we could "Cranmerize" as

O God, thou art rich in mercy
and who hast willed that the Blessed  Pope John Paul II
should preside as Pope over thy universal Church.
grant and we beseech thee, that edified by his teaching
we may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ,
the only Redeemer of men
Who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and fore ever more, Amen.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Talks on the Anglican Use and the Ordinariate

The Anglican Use in the Philippines is currently hosted by the University of the Philippines Parish of the Holy Sacrifice through the kindness and generosity of the curate Fr Raymond Arre, the assisting clergy and the parish council. As such we have the obligation to contribute to the parish and student ministry's spiritual activities and formation.

We are considering holding talks on Anglicanism, the Anglican Use, Anglicanorum coetibus and the Ordinariate. The talks will give students a wider appreciation of the diversity in liturgical expressions in the Catholic Church, why there is a need for an Ordinariate and the current ecumenical environment and pastoral approaches of the Holy Father, Benedict XVI.

The talks will be in the first semester of next academic year, most likely in July. Please keep posted for details on this blog.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Pictures please!

Pictures from the recent activities of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham can be seen on this Flickr page.

Happy viewing