Today, in the Ordinariate (in England & Wales, and Canada), is the Memorial of ‘St John the Apostle in Eastertide’. It was, until its removal by Pope St John XXIII from the revised General Roman Calendar of 1960, kept throughout the Catholic Church as ‘Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist, before the Latin Gate’, a name that survived in Archbishop Cranmer’s Calendar of the Book of Common Prayer as ‘St John the Evangelist Ante Portam Latinam’. It also appeared in the calendars of the Anglican and English Missals of the early 20th century, and thus – in those places where that tradition was the practise – the feast continued to be celebrated long after it was dropped in 1960. As was once related to me by a certain Canadian monsignor (and this explains the Canadian patrimonial provision for today’s observance), the Anglican Society of Saint John the Evangelist in Canada kept today as their feast day, rather than the 27th December, because that date was both too close to Christmas and in Northern Ontario, too cold for much festivity!
How fitting then, that such a day, no longer universally observed by the majority of Catholics, should find harbour and be celebrated (with the same old Mass propers) in the ordinariates; a practical illustration indeed of that call to ‘maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift’.
‘One day Salome presented her two sons, James and John, to Jesus, and with a mother’s ambition asked Him to grant them the highest places in his Kingdom. In reply, the Saviour spoke of the chalice which He Himself would have to drink, and foretold that these two disciples would also drink of it. The elder, James the Great, was the first to give his Master this proof of his love. John, the younger brother, offered his life in testimony of Jesus’ divinity.
But the martyrdom of the latter Apostle called for a scene worthy of the event. Asia Minor, which his zeal had evangelised, was not a sufficiently glorious land for such a combat. Rome, whither Peter had transferred his Chair and where he died on his cross, and where Paul had bowed down his venerable head beneath the sword, alone deserved the honour of seeing the beloved disciple march on to martyrdom, with that dignity and sweetness which are the characteristics of this veteran of the Apostolic College.
In the year 95 John appeared before the tribunal of pagan Rome. He was convicted of having propagated, in a vast province of the Empire, the worship of a Jew who had been crucified under Pontius Pilate. He was considered a superstitious and rebellious old man, and it was time to rid Asia of his presence. He was, therefore, sentenced to an ignominious and cruel death.
A huge cauldron of boiling oil was prepared in front of the Latin Gate. The sentence ordered that the preacher of Christ be plunged into this bath. The hour had come for the second son of Salome to partake of his Master’s chalice. John’s heart leapt with joy. After cruelly scourging him, the executioners seized the old man, and threw him into the cauldron. But, lo! the boiling liquid lost all its heat; the Apostle felt no scalding. On the contrary, when they took him out again he felt all the vigour of his youthful years restored to him.
The praetor’s cruelty was foiled, and John, a martyr in desire, was to be left to the Church for some few years longer. An imperial decree banished him to the rugged Isle of Patmos, where God revealed to him the future of the Church even to the end of time’.
from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Guéranger OSB, 1805-1875
O God, who with the oil of gladness didst anoint blessed John a companion in the tribulation and patience of the Lord Jesus: grant us likewise to rejoice in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings; that when his glory shall be revealed, we may be glad with exceeding joy; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Collect for Saint John the Apostle in Eastertide, Divine Worship: The Missal.
The following ‘Ancient Homily on the Lord’s Descent into Hell’ is found in the order for ‘A Liturgy of the Word for Holy Saturday’ as found in the Ordinariate’s Divine Worship: The Missal. It is attributed to Bishop Melito of Sardis, who died c.180.
‘Something strange is happening - there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.
He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the Cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all”. Christ answered him: “And with your spirit”. He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light”.
“I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.
“For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.
“See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.
“I slept on the Cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.
“Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity”’.
O God, Creator of heaven and earth: grant that, as the crucified body of thy 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; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - A collect for Holy Saturday, Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘Lent prepares us to commemorate the death of our Lord on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter morning.
But what do we mean by commemorate? Not just remembering an ancient story but finding how the death of Jesus can mean more to us than ever before, and how the risen life of Jesus is something in which we may actually be sharing. Start by putting our aim into a prayer: Thanks be to thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits thou hast won for me, for all the pains and insults thou hast borne for me: most merciful redeemer, friend and brother, may I know thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly.
Realising the meaning of his death, sharing in his risen life: that is our goal. Our way will include our prayer, our sharing in the Holy Communion, our reading… But this will not be in a vacuum, but in the midst of the world around us. In the terrible suffering of our time Jesus suffers. By the cruelties and evil of our time Jesus suffers. So, linking our Lent with the world around us, pray now for some who suffer whether near or far; and pray now for some near or far whose cruelty or callousness is wounding Jesus’.
A.M. Ramsey, Lord Ramsey of Canterbury, 1904-1988 (Archbishop of Canterbury, 1961-1974)
Congratulations to my colleague Monsignor Carl Reid (second from right, above), who was yesterday named as the new Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Southern Cross in Australia, in succession to Mgr Harry Entwistle (who, like myself, was once of the Anglican Diocese of Blackburn). Mgr Reid is presently the Administrator of Blessed John Henry Newman, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, and will be installed as Ordinary at the end of August. I was privileged to be present for his ordination to the priesthood in Ottawa in 2013 and honoured to be asked to preach at his First Mass. Australia and its Ordinariate will be greatly blessed by this appointment.
O Lord, who has taught us that all our doings without charity are nothing worth: send thy Holy Ghost, and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity, the very bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whosoever liveth is counted dead before thee; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. – Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘This most lovely collect was introduced into the Prayer Book in 1549 to set before us in the plainest terms our proper aim in the forthcoming season of Lent. We are to use this opportunity not in order to acquire some of the more rare and exquisite graces of the Christian life, but to make sure of our competence in the most fundamental virtue of all.
We are not left in any doubt about the unique importance of charity. Both the beginning and the ending of the collect assure us of that. Jesus himself has taught us that “all our doings without charity are nothing worth”, and we know that without it an otherwise healthy person is reckoned as dead in the eyes of Christ.
It would be difficult to find words that put more strongly the position that for Christians the law of charity is the primary law of life, the standard to which all other regulations must conform. No other success in the sphere of living is of any lasting value unless it is permeated by the spirit of charity.
…One would be terrified if one felt that this charity was something one had to acquire for oneself: the consequences of not attaining it are so disastrous. Happily, however, we are told that this is not something we must win for ourselves. It is a gift. All we have to do is to reach out our hands and accept it, and then let it have its way with us. And so we pray that the Holy Spirit may pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity’.
from Reflections on the Collects, 1964
by William Wand KCVO, 1885-1977 (Bishop of London 1945-1955)
‘Members of the Ordinariate… bring to the Catholic Church an experience and painful memory of what happens to a Christian community when clerical leaders permit a widening of the gap between orthodoxy and orthopraxy. It is sometimes joked that the only moral principle upon which all members of the C of E can agree is that a failure to separate one’s recyclable rubbish from the food scrapes bin is gravely anti-social behaviour. If the only thing uniting a community is the desire for the community to hold together regardless of the actual beliefs and values of those in the community, then that community may well hold together as a mutual social welfare support service for the weaker members who rely on social welfare, but it will lose its character as a church, as an ecclesial body, and it will hold no attraction for the stronger members of the community who don’t go to church for the free cup of tea and opportunity to pick over the goods on offer at the second-hand clothes stall. If the provision of social welfare, kindness, care and concern, rather than a common creed, becomes the glue that holds a group together, then the sacramental participation in the life of the Trinity will be very much occluded and ecclesial communities will become hard to distinguish from gatherings of secular humanists and political moralists. To Catholics who are tempted to go down that route, members of the Ordinariate can attest with some high degree of authority based on experience that it does nothing to improve the numbers of bottoms on pews on Sunday.
From Rome the Ordinariate initially received the gift of St John Paul II’s high sacramental theology of marriage which situates human sexuality into the context of the creative love within the Trinity. Arguably this is the intellectual antidote to the Church of England’s historic weakness in the field of moral theology. Where good and evil is concerned, the Anglican disposition of opting for the middle position is not always the best policy.
The fact that the Ordinariate has its own Divine Worship books is an assurance that the English heritage will be respected, that the principle of ‘unity with distinctiveness’ which avoids absorption will prevail. However realised ecumenism does not allow for unity of communion without unity of faith. The Ordinariate can therefore be a model of receptive ecumenism morphing into a realised ecumenism insofar as its members become the purveyors of both transcendent liturgical worship and sound catechetical preaching.
The Ordinariate is not however merely a model of successful receptive ecumenism, it is also potentially a model of re-weaving the tapestry ecumenism. Running through the tapestry as a central thread is a Christocentric Trinitarian sacramental theology that finds its highest expression in the liturgy. While common garden variety Catholics are re-weaving parts of the tapestry by recourse to the theological work of the ressourcement scholars, Ordinariate Catholics can help to re-weave other bits of the tapestry by recourse to the works of the Caroline Divines, members of the Oxford movement and writers like Coleridge and T. S. Eliot’.
from a paper entitled Ecumenism: What Future? given in 2017 in honour of the fifth anniversary
of the erection of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross
by Prof Tracey Rowland
‘[T]he Ordinariate’s championing of elements of the traditions of Anglicanism can re-introduce Catholics in this country to their own Catholic heritage. There is a common assumption among English Catholics (it was certainly prevalent in my own Catholic schooling) that the Catholic faith disappeared in this country in 1536 and re-started again in 1850. There was simply an intermission, like turning your computer on and off. It was in no way acknowledged that the form of Catholicism restored in 1850 was in many ways unlike that of the middle ages, drawing its identity and spirituality from sources unknown to medieval English Catholicism. Accordingly, the names of Richard Rolle, Julian of Norwich, St Edith of Wilton, St Wilfrid, St Frideswide are virtually unknown to modern English Catholics. They are all there, in the Customary. The Ordinariate can help re-present a Catholicism whose spirituality, language, customs and music are grounded in these islands; whose mysticism draws upon not only upon St Theresa of Avila but also the Cloud of Unkowning; not only upon Francis de Sales but also Aelred of Rievaulx; whose piety, as well as Italian and baroque, is also forged in the mists and vales of England; who honours Mary not only at Lourdes and Fatima but also at Walsingham; whose liturgical seasons, as well as marching to the mighty beat of Rome, also recall the native footfall of Sarum. Of course, it is easy to be romantic and over-precious about this, and many have fallen into that trap. Moreover, Catholicism is vigorous because it is universal, and English Catholicism today boasts many cultural strands which enrich and strengthen it. But Anglicanism in particular has preserved something unique, a rich and distinctive flavour of Catholicism that was moulded in this land throughout a millennium, and which will enrich our national treasury of spirituality.
…[T]he Ordinariate has a rich potential for ecumenical endeavour which is only just starting to be realised. It has in particular a mission to bring to the fore, for both Catholic and Anglican audiences, those same Catholic elements within the Anglican tradition which were noted by Vatican II, elements within Anglicanism in which the Catholic Church sees itself and which are features impelling us to unity. These elements have a magnetic pull, drawing us together. The Ordinariate has a unique role in distinguishing these elements and, both directly and indirectly, encouraging, reminding and urging onward Catholics and Anglicans in their pilgrimage towards Christian Unity’.
from a talk given to the clergy of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham
12 February 2015, by, Mgr Mark Langham
Though it will be transferred to Sunday in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter, today is the Solemnity of the Chair of St Peter, the Titular Solemnity of the Ordinariate in the United States and Canada. Here follows a homily, preached on this day, during the Ordinariate’s 2014 pilgrimage to Rome, by Archbishop Augustine Di Noia OP.
‘According to tradition, the feast of the Chair of St Peter marks the anniversary of the day when St Peter, having borne witness to the divinity of Christ, was appointed by Our Lord to be the rock of his Church — quo electus est primus Petrus papa, as the very ancient Western liturgies have it. Peter is thus the first to be seated in the chair that then comes to symbolise the episcopal office of the pope as bishop of Rome.
…[T]here were at one time two feasts of the chair of St Peter. In the calendar in force until the reform of the liturgy after the Second Vatican Council, 18 January marked the feast of the Chair of St Peter in Rome while 22 February that of the Chair of St Peter in Antioch. The second thing to notice is that there is actually a chair in the picture. The chair in question is associated with St Peter’s sojourn in Rome, and, in particular, with a chair venerated since ancient times as the cathedra Petri. Since the 17th century this wooden chair has been enclosed in the bronze of Bernini’s magnificent sculpture, enthroned above the Altar of the Chair in St Peter’s Basilica and held aloft by the four Doctors of the Church (Ambrose, Augustine, Athanasius and Chrysostom).
The fact that there were at one time two feasts of the Chair of Peter reminds us that Christ consigned to Peter a munus, a ministry, that he exercised first in Jerusalem, and then at Antioch, and only ultimately at Rome. This recognition offsets the danger that the theology of the papal ministry can become, in effect, a theology of the primatial character of the see of Rome. Then we are tempted to concentrate on the history of the exercise of papal ministry by successive bishops of Rome, on the relationship of the bishop of Rome to the college of bishops, on the canonical dynamics of the bishop of Rome’s universal jurisdiction, on the relationship of the bishop of Rome to other patriarchal — and primatial — sees and implicitly to the leadership of other churches and ecclesial communities. Now don’t get me wrong: these are indeed important issues.
But the munus petrinum entrusted by Christ to Simon Bar Jonah is in fact both temporally and logically prior to its location in or its identification with the see of Rome. Before there was a primatial see at Rome, there was the divinely instituted ministry of Peter within the “college” of the Apostles. The primacy of the see of Rome was immediately recognised because it was the see from which Peter and his successors — in the exquisitely apt design of divine providence — would come to exercise their ministry. It could have been Jerusalem where Christ suffered and died under Pontius Pilate, or Antioch where his followers were first called “Christians”. The prominence of Rome — not only geopolitical and cultural, but specifically Christian as the place where the blood of the martyrs was shed and where the Apostles Peter and Paul sojourned and gave their lives for Christ — is naturally not to be overlooked. But the munus petrinum — the office of guiding and teaching and governing the Church — was bestowed upon Peter by Christ before ever he came to exercise it from the cathedra of the bishop of Rome.
And this brings us to the second fascinating thing about this feast: there is actually a chair in the picture, however obscure its history and provenance. An instance of the remarkable concreteness of Catholic sensibility, the association of an existing episcopal cathedra to be venerated spurs our faith and devotion as we contemplate the grace of the petrine ministry. Not for nothing is the chair of Peter considered a sacramental in Catholic theology and practice. Here we touch on the fundamental Catholic conviction that God uses the tangible and visible things of earthly existence both to signify and, uniquely in the sacraments, to bestow his spiritual gifts.
Above all, he uses consecrated persons as instruments of his grace. The Holy Father, the cardinals, the bishops, the priests, and the deacons of the Church: they are the instruments through whom God willed to pour out his grace on us in the Church through the preaching of the Word and the celebration of the Sacraments. In this way, God adapted himself to our human nature — by sending his only Son who in turn commissioned the Apostles and their successors — so that we might receive his word and his grace from other human beings. The hand of another human being blesses us, pours the water of Baptism on our foreheads, offers the body and blood of Christ to us in the Eucharist, and is raised in absolution unto the forgiveness of sins. Through these persons — St Peter first among them — and through these actions and objects, God’s grace is bestowed on us’.
Archbishop Augustine Di Noia OP
O Almighty God, who by thy Son Jesus Christ didst give to thy Apostle Saint Peter many excellent gifts, and commandest him earnestly to feed thy flock: make, we beseech thee, all Bishops and Pastors diligently to preach thy holy Word, and the people obediently to follow the same; that they may receive the crown of everlasting glory; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. – Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘With the inclusion of... a liturgical provision in Anglicanorum coetibus, the Holy See acknowledged the legitimate patrimony of Anglican ecclesial communities coming into full communion. The presumption here is that an essential part of that patrimony must be liturgical since worship expresses in a most tangible way not only the ethos of a community, but also the faith that prompted it to seek full communion in the first place. Just as it would be unthinkable to describe the Catholic Church without reference to its liturgical and sacramental life, so it would in some sense be for every ecclesial body. The manner in which an ecclesial community worships uniquely expresses its inner life.
The publication of Divine Worship was of historic significance in that this is the first time the Catholic Church acknowledged the value of liturgical forms in use in communities that emerged in the sixteenth century reformations and, moreover, undertaken to incorporate them. To be sure, the Church over the years has drawn elements of the musical traditions of these communities — such as hymns, motets, and chorales — but never official liturgical texts or usage.
…It is remarkable that the Catholic Church should have undertaken a formal process such as the Anglicanae traditiones Commission to identify and incorporate the richness of Anglican liturgical practice. In constituting a body of authoritative texts duly approved and promulgated by the Holy See, Divine Worship is true to the fundamental character of a liturgical “patrimony”.
It is massively important to recognise that the liturgical books comprised by Divine Worship arise from an exercise of Peter’s authority over the churches that recognises the authentic faith of the Church expressed in Anglican forms of worship and confirms that expression as a treasure or patrimony for the whole Church. In other words, the universal Church recognises the faith that is already hers expressed felicitously in another idiom. The elements of sanctification and truth that are present in the Anglican patrimony are recognised as properly belonging to the Church of Christ and thus as instruments of grace that move the communities where they are employed towards the visible unity of the Church of Christ subsisting in the Catholic Church (cf. Lumen Gentium, 8). By further enriching those expressions through access to the Magisterium that authentically interprets the Word of God and preserves Christian teaching from error, the Catholic Church proposes this form of worship anew as an efficacious means of sacramental grace for future generations.
To be sure, the sources are Anglican, and many of the liturgical texts in Divine Worship have their origin in a situation of ecclesial rupture. Yet there is a powerful dynamism at work in the reintroduction of these texts in communities now in full communion with the See of Peter. It is not just that they are given a “new lease on life” in a new context or successive generation. These liturgical forms “return” to the Church having been purified and transformed in Catholic communion. Words pronounced at other times and in other context are no longer simply Cranmer’s poetry or an English assertion of independence from Rome, or now merely the eloquence or piety of the priest celebrant who speaks them, but rather the words of the Church and her faith’.
from a talk entitled Anglican Patrimony: A Perspective from the Holy See
given at a conference The Gospel and the Catholic Church: Anglican Patrimony Today
Oxford, April 2018, by Archbishop Augustine Di Noia OP
‘Am I grateful for my Anglican heritage? Yes, I am. Where did I first learn the Catholic Faith? At home, in the vicarage. Therefore I rejoiced when news of the Ordinariate came from Rome. I have been hoping for something like this for years.
…The Pastor of the nations is reaching out to give you a special place within the Catholic Church. United in communion, but not absorbed - that sums up the unique and privileged status former Anglicans will enjoy in their Ordinariates.
Catholics in full communion with the Successor of St Peter, you will be gathered in distinctive communities that preserve elements of Anglican worship, spirituality and culture that are compatible with Catholic faith and morals. Each Ordinariate will be an autonomous structure, like a diocese, but something between a Personal Prelature (as in Opus Dei, purely spiritual jurisdiction), or a Military Ordinariate (for the Armed Forces). In some ways, the Ordinariate will even be similar to a Rite (the Eastern Catholic Churches). You will enjoy your own liturgical “use” as Catholics of the Roman Rite. At the same time your Ordinaries, bishops or priests, will work alongside diocesan bishops of the Roman Rite and find their place within the Episcopal Conference in each nation or region.
There is no “hidden agenda” here, no popish trap!... This is a step of faith in Jesus Christ and his Church. It involves accepting all the teachings of the Church on faith and morals. Such a personal assent of faith needs to be formed and informed. To use an Anglican expression, please “read, mark, learn and inwardly digest” the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This summarises the Faith “once given”, embodied in one Word of God that comes to us, as the Second Vatican Council teaches, through Scripture and Tradition.
There will be sacrifices, but humility and suffering are parts of a faith journey - and many of you have already suffered much for the sake of conscience.
Yet you do not come to the Ordinariates with empty hands. As I learnt forty two years ago, you will lose nothing - but you will regain an inheritance stolen from us four centuries ago. That heritage was largely recovered by the giants of the Oxford Movement. I believe they smile on us now. In these early days, let us keep praying with them, so that together we may patiently work out how Pope Benedict’s project can be achieved’.
Bishop Peter Elliott, 2010 (Auxiliary Bishop, Archdiocese of Melbourne, 2007-2018)
‘Among the opinions we can be sure to encounter is a certain uneasiness with our Missal’s use of traditional language and even the snarky charge that Divine Worship is really just a “Tudorbethan fantasy, an exercise in mock-Tudor nostalgia, or a Cranmerian pastiche with limited appeal and prospects only for evangelising a small set of gin-sipping anglophiles.” I exaggerate for effect, but only slightly – just wait until the blogs light up and start smoking with both sharp criticism and misplaced praise for the linguistic register of Divine Worship. Criticism of our sacral dialect is to be expected and is in fact quite understandable, given what we’ve lived through in the general linguistic confusion of the last fifty years and given the unfortunate politicising of liturgical expression, but I would suggest too that such misapprehension can be an occasion to rediscover and rethink the evangelising potential of Catholic worship in our distinct sacral idiom.
First observation: Liturgical language is not primarily a means of description or information; it is not and has never been the diffuse idiom of everyday communication and commerce; rather it is the Church’s focused, concentrated instrument of mediation to effect, to incarnate our participation in the saving mysteries of our faith and to immerse, to wash the faithful in the figural meanings of Holy Scripture.
Second observation: Liturgical language is stylised, enacted speech with its own kind of intelligibility, and far from excluding archaic elements it welcomes a modicum of traditional expressions and some ritualised conventions that “reach to the roots”, resonate in the auditory memory, and habituate an experience of worship wider, deeper, older than ourselves, transcending the gathered congregation in time and space to represent and configure our incorporation into the Communion of the Saints.
Third observation: Liturgical language is recursive and immersive; it bears and demands repetition, day by day, week by week, season by season, year by year, without ever exhausting its capacity to stimulate meditation and work ongoing conversion of life; its words are “poetic” in the sense of being athletic, even ascetic, by gently, insistently stretching the limits of expression in order to exercise, train, tune, and elevate our faculties that we might lift up our hearts to God and open out our lives in love and service.
Along these lines, recent decades have seen some new appreciation of the function of liturgical language, though it’s been an appreciation forged in fires of controversy and some ashes of compromise - as well you know. Still the ecclesial context is vital – what a difference it makes to be fully, unambiguously Catholic! Words, of course, signify their meanings in context, according to their arrangement, occasion, and purpose, the time, place, and attitude of their utterance (ad placitum ab suppositio as medieval grammarians were fond of saying). When we recite the familiar words of the Nicene Creed, I believe one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, those words must mean something very different to us as Catholics than when we said the same words as Anglicans (with our fingers crossed!). It makes a profound difference to pray the Mass with the Collect for Purity at the beginning and the Prayer of Thanksgiving at the end, clustered now not around an equivocal Prayer of Consecration (one not altogether clear about what exactly it’s doing), but irradiating from the confidence of the Roman Canon and the power of the Holy Sacrifice. Such a context can literally transfigure the significance of familiar words. Yet we also know from our Anglican experience that the rich words of the Prayer Book can fall flat and ring hollow when an otherwise lovely lex orandi gets detached from an authoritative lex credendi and leaves lex vivendi prey to the zeitgeist of “lifestyle politics” and sets souls adrift.
It seems to me, then, that we have to learn to read our own Anglican history and to examine our habits and affections in a new key, a new context, not so much for the defensive retention of a “goodly heritage”, but to discover in its resources a new impetus for transfiguring mission’.
from a talk entitled Very Members Incorporate:
Some Reflections on the Sacral Language of Divine Worship
2 February 2015, by Dr Clinton Allen Brand KSG
‘The idea that there is a unique Anglican approach to Scripture was first proposed to me years ago during those first conversations that would eventually lead to the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus. I must confess, initially I found this idea puzzling, partly because the greater incorporation of Sacred Scripture in the liturgical life of the Church is one of the express desires of the Second Vatican Council and even more recently underscored by the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God and the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini of Pope Benedict XVI. And yet, consistently and from various sources both Anglican and Catholic, historical and contemporary, one finds the assertion that the Anglican liturgy is distinguished by the prominence it gives to Scripture in the conduct of public worship and in the promotion of biblical piety.
There is a culture within Anglicanism wherein scriptural words, and images are almost a default starting position, a culture nourished and preserved in the parochial celebration of the Divine Office. This bears witness to the hallowed tradition of English monasticism which informs so much of Anglican worship. Additionally, the inclusion of the various scriptural “touchstones” throughout the Eucharistic liturgy (the Summary of the Law, the Comfortable Words, the Sentences, the fraction anthem “Christ our Passover”) is a distinctive Anglican feature which informs, underscores and punctuates the liturgical action. While the biblical intuition is present from the very beginning of Anglicanism when the insistence on the vernacular found expression in the beauty of the King James Bible and “Prayer Book English”, this approach to Scripture is more about reading the Bible liturgically, allowing the words and poetic cadences to linger, penetrate, and take root in the soul as a sustained, communal lectio.
Let us be mindful, though, that this approach to Holy Scripture is what one might call “less tangible” patrimony. One cannot point to it as demonstrably as one would point to, say, Evensong. As patrimony goes, its contours are much more subtle, defying both simple definition and replication. And yet, one need but read some of the Pastoral and Plain Sermons of John Henry Newman to see an eloquent example of this approach’.
from a talk entitled The Mission of the Ordinariate given 2 February 2013 in Houston
by Bishop Steven Lopes
The photos above show the Church of St John the Evangelist, Calgary, in the Canadian province of Alberta, whose Feast of Title it is today. It was my very great privilege to be able to serve this parish for almost nine years as both the Anglican priest-in-charge and, six months later, the Catholic parish priest, a feat that was only possible on account of the courage and faith of the people in accepting, all the way back in 2010, the gracious invitation of Pope Benedict XVI to enter into the fulness of Catholic communion under the provision of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus. It was a document that gave life and hope for the future to this historic Anglo-Catholic Prayer Book parish in the Anglican Diocese of Calgary (second only in age to the cathedral). Happy feast day, St John’s clergy and parishioners!
Hosanna! yet again,
Another glorious day,
Ye cherubs sing and play,
Ye seraphs swell the strain.
Hail! highly favour’d man,
Thy name and lot transcend
All praise that e’er was penn’d
Since first the verse began.
O dear to Christ supreme,
His bosom friend declar’d,
And yet for all he car’d
With tenderness extreme.
As Benjamin was blest,
When he to Egypt came,
By Joseph full of fame,
And honour’d o’er the rest.
But Christ was meek and poor,
No chariot his to ride,
No Goshen to divide,
No favours to procure.
Yet in his realms above,
Which are the highest heav’n,
First of th’ elect elev’n,
Thou claim’st thy master’s love.
Christopher Smart, 1722-1771
Merciful Lord, we beseech thee to cast thy bright beams of light upon thy Church: that she being enlightened by the doctrine of thy blessed Apostle and Evangelist Saint John, may so walk in the light of thy truth, that she may at length attain to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Today marks the ninth anniversary of the promulgation in 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI of the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum cœtibus. It was this Constitution which gave life to the personal ordinariates on three continents, and which provides the norms by which the ordinariates were established and their ecclesial lives governed.
The Constitution represents a great gift on the part of the Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church to those Anglicans who, over many years, petitioned the Holy See for some form of corporate reunion with the Catholic Church. That response - the gift of the ordinariates as the means for achieving this prophetic unity - continues to be a blessing to those of us who have accepted this most generous offer and now abide happily in peace and safety - and with not a few precious treasures of our Anglican heritage in tact - within the Barque of Peter.
The full text can be read here.
‘[T]he Holy Father Benedict XVI – Supreme Pastor of the Church and, by mandate of Christ, guarantor of the unity of the episcopate and of the universal communion of all the Churches – has shown his fatherly care for those Anglican faithful (lay, clerics and members of Institutes of Consecrated life and of Societies of Apostolic Life) who have repeatedly petitioned the Holy See to be received into full Catholic Communion.
The Introduction to the Apostolic Constitution lays out the ratio legis of the provision emphasising a number of things which it might be useful to point out:
The Church, which in its unity and diversity is modelled on the Most Holy Trinity, was instituted as “a sacrament – a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all people” (Lumen gentium, 1). For this reason every division among the baptised wounds that which the Church is and that for which the Church exists, and constitutes, therefore, a scandal in that it contradicts the prayer of Jesus before his passion and death (cf. John 17:20-21).
Ecclesial communion, established by the Holy Spirit who is the principle of unity in the Church, is, by analogy with the mystery of the Incarnate Word, at the same time both invisible (spiritual) and visible (hierarchically organised). The communion among the baptised, therefore, if it is to be full communion, must be “visibly manifested in the bonds of the profession of the faith in its entirety, of the celebration of all of the sacraments instituted by Christ, and of the governance of the College of Bishops united with its head, the Roman Pontiff”.
Although the one Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church governed by the Successor of Peter and the Bishops in union with him, there are also elements of sanctification and of truth to be found outside her visible confines, in the Churches and Christian Communities separated from her, which, because these elements are gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling towards Catholic unity.
Those Anglican faithful who, under the promptings of the Holy Spirit, have asked to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church have been moved towards unity by those elements of the Church of Christ which have always been present in their personal and communal lives as Christians.
For this reason, the promulgation of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus by the Holy Father, together with what will follow from this, indicate in a particular way the movement of the Holy Spirit.
The juridical means by the which the Holy Father has decided to receive these Anglicans into full Catholic communion is the erection of Personal Ordinariates (I § 1)’.
from The Significance of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum cœtibus
by Fr Gianfranco Ghirlanda SJ
‘The English tradition both before and after the Reformation has left its mark on Catholic theology, worship, and pastoral practice. One need only think, for example, of Blessed John Henry Newman whose influence on the Second Vatican Council has been well documented and acknowledged. With the publication of Anglicanorum coetibus, there is now a structure within the Catholic Church that both gives that English tradition concrete expression as well as fosters is growth. The Ordinariate, with its “catholicised” English liturgical patrimony, is being invited to be a guardian and promoter of its own long and varied tradition as a gift to be shared with the whole Church.
The institutional importance of Divine Worship for the Ordinariates is considerable. More than simply giving the Ordinariates an outward distinctiveness that creates a profile for their parishes in the vast sea of Catholic parochial life, Divine Worship gives voice to the faith and tradition of prayer that has nourished the Catholic identity of the Anglican tradition. There is much in this tradition that remains to be recovered: the zeal for sacred beauty, parochial experience of the Divine Office, a robust devotional life, a developed biblical piety, the vast treasure of sacred music’.
from Divine Worship and the Liturgical Vitality of the Church by Archbishop Augustine Di Noia OP
‘I believe the very existence of the Ordinariates is a manifestation of the determination of the Catholic Church to pursue the quest for Christian unity in the face of mounting difficulties. Your bond with the Successor of St Peter is an expression of his role as “the first servant of unity”. To those outside the Church you give a witness of the unity in diversity, even within the visible expressions of the Latin Rite. Within the Church you are a sign of the presence of the Universal Church in the particular Churches. Moreover, within the full communion of the Catholic Church you are called to share in the mission of evangelisation, bringing the specific gifts that form part of your patrimony.
...[A]ll of this can only be achieved if we understand communion not simply as a theological or canonical notion, but as something that has be lived and expressed in practice in sharing our daily lives with each other and with the other more traditional structures of the Church. It is our ongoing response to the suggestions of the Holy Spirit calling us to the perfection of charity, to holiness’.
from a talk by Fr Gerald Sheehan at the 2015 Ordinariate Festival
Church of the Most Precious Blood, London Bridge
Nine years ago today came the news from Rome (announced by William Cardinal Levada) and London (announced at a joint press conference by the Archbishops of Westminster and Canterbury) that the Holy See was to establish the provision of personal ordinariates for Anglicans entering into the Catholic Church. It was an historic day, one that I recall vividly as I sat reading the news, with a giddy head and pounding heart, at the desk in the study of my Anglican rectory in Calgary. Whilst it wasn’t easy to take in the magnitude of what was being heralded, my instinctive reaction was one of unbounded joy and excitement. I ran up the stairs, calling to my wife: ‘They’ve done it! They’ve made a home for us!’ I was an immediate and enthusiastic convert, eager to learn the detail of this offer (the actual document, the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, wouldn’t be published for another twenty days), and to share what was being offered with my parishioners, in hope – though not necessarily expectation – that they would share my enthusiasm for exploring what this might mean, in practical terms, for our small Anglican community.
Just over two years later, and after much discussion, prayer, study, and constructive negotiation with our Anglican brethren in the local diocese, we entered into the fulness of Catholic communion with the Successor of Saint Peter, ‘lock, stock, and barrel’, as it were. And so this newly-minted Catholic community of the Ordinariate began a fresh chapter in its century-old life, having succeeded in the goal of all true ecumenical dialogue – realised ecumenism – which is only possible within what Blessed John Henry Newman memorably called, ‘the one fold of the Redeemer’.
St John’s, Calgary continues its life and mission as one of the founding parishes of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter, and my prayers today on this anniversary are for its clergy and people as they endeavour to preserve the great treasures – spiritual, liturgical, and pastoral – of our Anglican patrimony, and share them with the wider Church to which they are now happily joined. Oh, yes, and a prayer of thanksgiving is also due to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, without whom none of us in the Ordinariate would be where we are today!
O Lord Jesus Christ, who, when thou wast about to suffer, didst pray for thy disciples to the end of time that they might all be one, as thou art in the Father, and the Father in thee, look down in pity on the manifold divisions among those who profess thy faith, and heal the many wounds which the pride of man and the craft of Satan have inflicted upon thy people. Break down the walls of separation which divide one party and denomination of Christians from another… and bring them all into that one communion which thou didst set up in the beginning, the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Teach all men that the see of Saint Peter, the Holy Church of Rome, is the foundation, centre, and instrument of unity. Open their hearts to the long-forgotten truth that our Holy Father, the Pope, is thy Vicar and Representative; and that in obeying him in matters of religion, they are obeying thee, so that as there is but one holy company in heaven above, so likewise there may be but one communion, confessing and glorifying thy holy Name here below. Amen.
Blessed John Henry Newman, 1801-1890
‘Anglicanism and the official Protestant bodies tolerate almost every species of heterodox theology and disordered morality. The Anglicans, who once claimed to follow St Vincent of Lerins in holding only what all Christians at all times and in all places have believed, now teach what has never been believed anywhere by anyone, even on the far left of heresy… A man can deny the Virgin Birth and Bodily Resurrection of Christ and end up as Lord Bishop of Durham. There is even a “Sea of Faith” group for Anglican atheists. The chief consequence of twentieth-century ecumenism would seem to be the even greater distancing of the Reformation communities from the Catholic Church. The hopes of the Anglo-Papalists are in ruins. Or are they? In 2009, by the motu proprio Anglicanorum coetibus, Pope Benedict XVI established a Personal Ordinariate for Anglicans reconciled with the Catholic Church, which would seem to fulfil the aspirations of the long neglected Anglo-Papalists of the 1930s. As Archbishop Augustine Di Noia OP has recently said, in the Ordinariate we see a work of the Holy Spirit and an answer to the Church’s prayers for Christian unity. Reunion has come to pass, not “all round”, but for those brave souls who relinquished the material comforts of the Anglican Establishment in order to profess the Catholic faith, in the divine integrity of its truth, with and under Peter’.
Fr John Saward, from his foreword to Reunion Revisited: 1930s Ecumenism Exposed, 2017
by Fr Mark Vickers
Continuing the theme of yesterday’s feast of Our Lady of Walsingham, today I’m sharing the original version of the Walsingham Pilgrim Hymn, written by Sir William Milner (1893-1960) and sung to the tune Lourdes, with its familiar refrain of the Aves. The hymn was revised by Father Hope Patten’s successor as Administrator of the Anglican shrine, Father Colin Stephenson, in 1960 (after Sir William’s death that year, and two years after Hope Patten’s death - canny timing, that). The version below is taken from the third edition of the The Pilgrims’ Manual, dated 1949 (the first edition was published in 1928, but the hymn predates this, as Father Cobb, in his history of the shrine, indicates that the first issue of Our Lady’s Mirror in 1926 mentions the hymn). In my 1949 manual the hymn is prefaced with these brief words of explanation: ‘This processional is based on the mediaeval legend, long loved by our Catholic forefathers’.
Comparing the two versions is an interesting exercise in literary taste, history, memory, and mixed emotion. The older form of the hymn is longer by five verses and, for those who enjoy the stuff of legend, it happily fleshes it out somewhat, particularly on the detail of Richeldis’ vision of the Virgin and the miraculous circumstances of the erection of the Holy House at the hands of Our Lady herself, with Lady Richeldis’ chaplain receiving an honourable mention. Also notable is that whereas the updated version of the hymn references Henry VIII as a ‘king who had greed in his eyes’ (the older version speaks, more poetically, of his ‘covetous eyes’) in relation to the treasures and wealth of the shrine, the older version sounds a more merciful note of regal rehabilitation (‘But his soul did repent, when he came for to die/And to Walsingham’s Lady for mercy did cry’). This is lacking in the present form, which feels, to me at least, notwithstanding the historical accuracy, just a tad heart-rending (especially when the accompanying organ sounds an ominous note during the verse; though I do realise that this is much enjoyed by others of a more mischievous disposition).
Father Stephenson’s version also includes a curious verse which, like the above, as an Anglican I always considered peculiar given the shrine’s place within the life of the established Church of England. Now, as a Catholic of the Ordinariate, it’s certainly much easier, theologically, to sing (‘And this realm which had once been Our Lady’s own Dower/Had its Church now enslaved by the secular power’), but its continued presence within the canon of the Walsingham Pilgrim Hymn of the Anglican shrine is even more baffling in light of the happy existence of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. Sir William’s version makes no mention of this emasculation, thus rendering it more coherent for those Anglicans who have not (yet) taken up the generous offer of the Ordinariate which, if nothing else, promises that liberty for the Church from the slavish excesses of the secular power...
Of course the older version had its critics long before Father Stephenson amended it. Michael Yelton, in his excellent history of Father Hope Patten and the Anglican shrine, notes that Sir William’s words ‘have often been criticised for their banality,’ and references Bishop Henley Henson’s (then-Bishop of Durham) attack on it as ‘pitiable rubbish’. But in these days of revived traditional worship in its hieratic register of English (think Divine Worship: The Missal...), I rather like it. It won’t catch on too widely, of course, because the present version, now nearly sixty years old, is much-treasured, not least because there are some memorable and even fun verses to be found therein (‘Then lift high your voices, rehearse the glad tale/Of Our Lady’s appearing in Stiffkey’s fair vale’, and ‘So crowded were roads that the stars, people say/That shine in the heavens were called Walsingham Way,’ for example). Nonetheless, perhaps Sir William’s old hymn can be dusted off and brought out in an Ordinariate context from time to time where the rhyming of ‘meads’ with ‘bedes’ is happily married in verse, and where the use of such old-fashioned phrases as ‘celestial-crowned’, ‘full wondrous’, ‘for to die’, ‘right soon’, ‘forthwith goodly store’, and the like might be regarded as (albeit antiquated) treasures to be shared... Anyway, judge it for yourself.
Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham, Patroness of the Personal Ordinariates of Our Lady of Walsingham in England and Wales (where it is a solemnity), and of the Chair of St Peter in the United States and Canada. Devotion to Our Lady under this ancient title is something held very dear by Catholics and Anglo-Catholics alike, and for those of us who came into the fulness of Catholic communion in the See of St Peter through the provision of Anglicanorum coetibus, it is especially significant. Before today’s feast was appointed as such on the calendar, in 2000, today was Our Lady of Ransom. It was a feast which, in England, focused the Church’s attention on the conversion of England, the return of apostates, and the forgotten dead. All appropriate themes given the ravages of the Reformation, and equally appropriate, then, that this devotion should be localised to the great and historic centre of Marian devotion and pilgrimage in England in Walsingham, a place which has become a focus for intense prayer for the reunion of Christendom, and for the rightful return of England to Our Lady as part of her divinely-given earthly dower. The photos above are from a visit to Walsingham in October last year. Our daughter Richeldis is greeting her namesake (the Saxon noblewoman, Richeldis de Faverches, to whom Our Lady appeared in this village in 1061), and our son Dominic is assisting me as I offer the Holy Sacrifice, according to Divine Worship, in the Slipper Chapel, under the watchful gaze of Our Lady of Walsingham... and our daughter Verity. A blessed feast!
‘At Walsingham we should glory in all that unites us, and mourn in deepest penitence for all that divides us. In this place where we have recovered so much we may regard prayer for the full recovery of Catholic unity as a special obligation.
What of the future? It is the hope of all concerned with the Shrine that it may more and more take its place as a great spiritual force for evangelism and conversion in this land which was once “our Lady’s Dowry,” and which is so many ways at the present day is no great credit to her patronage. It is a visible demonstration in this world of unbelief that God became man in the fullest sense - He had a human mother - He lived in an ordinary little house - all these things are stated without equivocation in the Shrine of the Holy House of our Lady of Walsingham, and perhaps as you [ponder] its foundation, destruction, and restoration in our own time you may be led to think that God has allowed this to happen that the message of “The Word made Flesh” may come with special force in this age of materialism and that the warmth of devotion from England’s Nazareth may play its part in the conversion of England’.
from England’s Nazareth: A History of the Holy Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, 1959
by Donald Hole, revised by Colin Stephenson
O Mary, recall the solemn moment when Jesus, thy Divine Son, dying on the Cross, confided us to thy maternal care. Thou art our Mother, we desire ever to remain thy devout children. Let us, therefore, feel the effects of thy powerful intercession with Jesus Christ. Make thy Name again glorious in this place once renowned throughout our land by thy visits, favours, and many miracles. Pray, O Holy Mother of God, for the conversion of England, restoration of the sick, consolation for the afflicted, repentance of sinners, peace to the departed. O blessed Mary, Mother of God, our Lady of Walsingham, intercede for us. Amen. - Walsingham Pilgrims’ Manual.
O Lord, we beseech thee, let thy continual pity cleanse and defend thy Church: and, because she cannot continue in safety without thy succour; preserve her evermore by thy help and goodness; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Collect for the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity, from Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘This is one of the most popular of the collects, especially loved by the clergy who are inclined to include it in any set of prayers they are called upon to say.
And why should they not? It is concerned with the Church, the special family of God to whose service they are pledged, and it emphasises the intimate relation the Church bears to God. It is his Church, the particular instrument of his revelation and redemption, the means by which the work of his Son is continued through the generations, the ‘body’ by which the Christ still functions on the earth.
As such it is of immediate concern to everyone of us. It is not a remote, inaccessible ideal. It is our near neighbour in the local parish church; it brings heaven to the meanest mission altar; it is on our doorstep in the figure of vicar or curate.
...“Let thy continual pity cleanse and defend thy Church”. God’s agape or love, which is the very essence of his being, when it is directed towards men, the human element in the Church, necessarily manifests itself as pity or compassion. From the supreme height of his power and purity we must appear of a frailty that must call out all his desire to protect. Consequently having been cleansed, the Church prays to be defended, having full confidence that God will answer the prayer.
...The fact is that in the midst of all these dangers, open or disguised, the Church cannot continue in safety without God’s succour. We therefore ask him not only to set up a defensive barrier against its perils but also to preserve his Church evermore by filling it with his goodness.
What precisely the goodness of God means in this connection it may not be easy to say. But at least it includes the notion of kindness, which is of the essence of God’s nature and the foundation of all human virtues.
The safety of the Church depends entirely on God’s kindness, that is, compassionate love, and if all depends on kindness, obviously the Church herself must endeavour to reflect the same fundamental virtue. Our essential safety depends on our continued possession of it.
If we become afraid of losing love, or fear that kindness is disappearing from the Church, let us remember that the indwelling life of the Church is the Spirit and that Spirit is love. We can only lose the Spirit by losing life itself, and that the Church can never do’.
from Reflections on the Collects, 1964
by William Wand KCVO, 1885-1977 (Bishop of London 1945-1955)
Keep, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy Church with thy perpetual mercy: and, because the frailty of man without thee cannot but fall; keep us ever by thy help from all things hurtful, and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Collect for the Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity, Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘The Collect is ancient and, with the [Prayer Book] Epistle and Gospel, is the same as used before the Reformation, though both Epistle and Gospel are lengthened. It is interesting to notice how constantly the frailty of our nature is insisted on in the Collects.
In this Collect as elsewhere in the Prayer Book we call ourselves God’s Church. Keep us, thy Church, with thy perpetual mercy! We need God's protection because of our frailty or fragility; our good resolutions are so apt to be broken. So we ask to be kept from hurtful things to be given things profitable to our salvation.
...The Collect does not tell us the names of the things we need, but it says plainly that we need God’s help to keep us from things hurtful. God’s help comes to us through prayer and sacrament, through conscience guiding us, through God's holy inspiration, through the gifts of the Spirit, and they will lead us to things profitable to our salvation.
Just as we need to be careful about little things if we are to be profitable, in things spiritual we must be equally careful if they are to be profitable to our salvation. We need above all things the gift of holy fear... [w]e should be afraid to think or say or do anything which would injure God’s Holy Name, or his Word or his Church. If we have this sort of fear it will lead us to things profitable to our salvation’.
from Teaching the Collects, 1965, by H.E. Sheen
Almighty and everlasting God, give unto us the increase of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain that which thou dost promise, make us to love that which thou dost command; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Collect for the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity, Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘The Collect is very ancient and, together with the Epistle and Gospel [in the Prayer Book], is the same as used in England before the Reformation.
This Collect asks for an increase of the three Christian virtues, faith, hope and love, which are also gifts of the Spirit. St Paul said these gifts would abide when the extraordinary gifts of the Church’s earlier days would pass away. Once more the Collect reminds us that mere obedience will not suffice; we must love to do what God commands. Our obedience must not be thaa of a servant, but that of a child.
It was Quinquagesima when we spoke about these three Christian virtues mentioned in today’s Collect, and we dealt very fully with the last - charity. Now although charity may well be the greatest of these three virtues, we cannot do without faith and hope. They form a kind of Trinity of virtues because each is necessary to the others; they are complementary, they complete each other, and all are necessary if we are to obtain God’s promises’.
from Teaching the Collects, 1965, by H.E. Sheen
Today is the Passion of Saint John the Baptist (the ‘Decollation’ in old money), and on account of Saint John being the patron of the Ordinariate deanery in Canada (because St John is the older patron of (French) Canada; being officially proclaimed so by Pope St Pius X in 1908) today is observed as a feast in those communities of the Dominion. So a very blessed feast day to the Ordinariate clergy and faithful in the True North. May the prayers of St John Baptist keep you strong in that faith once delivered to the saints.
‘Dance for me’, time
says. ‘Half of my kingdom
if you dance well’.
The machine does so
Coming with its request
At the end not
For humanity’s head but
Its heart on a platter.
R.S. Thomas, 1913-2000
Almighty and merciful God, of whose only gift it cometh that thy faithful people do thee true and laudable service: grant, we beseech thee; that we may so faithfully serve thee in this life, that we fail not finally to attain thy heavenly promises; through the merits of Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Collect for the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity, Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘This is most certainly a prayer that assumes that human beings are made in the image of God to be his servants not only in this life but in the age to come. They are creatures who by God’s mercy look forward to a rich, full and everlasting life in the kingdom of God, where their service of the Lord will be richer and fuller and progress from glory to glory. However, in this prayer is also the biblical assumption that the fulness and quality of the life to be enjoyed in the age to come is related to the type of life that is lived in this evil age.
The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is addressed as the “Almighty” (the Sovereign, All-powerful) and as “merciful” (showing pity and love to the undeserving). Then, in bowing before his presence (by the device grammatically of the relative clause) his people remember that their vocation in this world, as Christians in the Household of God, is that they serve God fruitfully even as they daily pray, “Thy will be done”. Also they remember that their right serving of their God and Father is dependent upon his gift to them of grace, mercy, wisdom and strength. The little word “only” emphasises that they are wholly dependent on God’s help to serve him aright.
If the vocation of the creature is to serve the Creator, who is the Father and the Judge, in the name and merits of Christ Jesus, then it is most appropriate for the people of God to ask for spiritual strength to offer this service daily in the right mind and attitude and with appropriate fervour and consecration. “Grant, we beseech thee,” is an emphatic way of showing total dependence and asking for total help with the intention of offering complete service.
The end of man is to enjoy and glorify God for ever. The Gospels and Epistles place before Christian believers an array of promises of eternal life with rewards for those who, in this world and life, faithfully serve the Lord and their fellow men. Implied in the words of petition is a warning that we may fail to attain to the enjoyment of the content of the promises of heavenly bliss.
This prayer is offered not only through the one Mediator, Jesus Christ, but specifically through “the merits” of the same Lord, for the attainment of the promises is only possible by what he has done for us and for our salvation’.
Peter Toon, 1939-2009
Fr Lee Kenyon
A Treasure to be Shared
The Acolyte’s Toolbox