Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy Feast Day of St. Thomas of Canterbury

In honor of St. Thomas of Canterbury (a.k.a., St. Thomas Becket), Bishop and Martyr, whose feast day is today, here is a clip from the 1964 movie, Becket, starring the late Sir Richard Burton as Becket and Peter O'Toole as King Henry II.  The entire movie, though lengthy, is well worth watching, especially for Burton's excellent portrayal of the martyred archbishop, whose struggle to defend the Church in the face of Henry's attempt to force it to submit to the state prefigures the later struggle of his namesake, St. Thomas More, against another tyrannical King Henry some 360 years later.  The last 5 1/2 minutes or so of this scene are particularly worth watching, when St. Thomas prays that the Lord will make him worthy of the holy office entrusted to him.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Novena to St. Thomas of Canterbury

In anticipation of the impending announcement on January 1 of the establishment of a personal ordinariate for the U.S., the St. Thomas of Canterbury Anglican Use Society of Washington, DC and Northern Virginia (STCS) is inviting it's members and friends to pray a novena to St. Thomas, beginning on Friday, Dec. 23 and winding up on Saturday, Dec. 31.  The Feast of St. Thomas (a.k.a., St. Thomas Becket) falls on Dec. 29, just three days before the announcement.

The text is posted on the STCS website.  For those of you unfamiliar with the practice of praying novenas, check out this link to an explanation on the "Fish Eaters" site, including historical background and instructions.  I would say that this particular novena falls into the second category listed, a novena of preparation or "anticipation."  I would be pleased to hear from you if you do decide to participate.

St. Thomas of Canterbury... pray for us!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

First Anglican Use Mass in Northern Virginia

The St. Thomas of Canterbury Anglican Use Society of Washington, DC and Northern Virginia will hold a Requiem Mass on Sept. 11, 2011 at 5:00 p.m. at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Annandale, VA. To my knowledge, this will be the first time an Anglican Use Mass has ever been celebrated in the state of Virginia--publicly, at least.

Our celebrant, Fr. Eric Bergman of the St. Thomas More Society, will also speak at St. James' Catholic Church in nearby Falls Church, VA on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 10-11, at 7:30 p.m., at the invitation of the Institute of Catholic Culture (ICC).  The talks, entitled "Roots of Immorality," will focus on the fallout from the 1930 Lambeth Conference.  The ICC flyer is posted here.

Admission is free.  Please join us if you can.  The text of our invitation/flyer is posted below.

The St. Thomas of Canterbury Anglican Use Society


Washington, DC and Northern Virginia

invites you to a 

Requiem Mass according to the Anglican Use of the Roman Rite
For the Repose of the Souls of those who died on September 11, 2001

on Sunday, September 11, 2011

at five o’clock

Holy Spirit Catholic Church 
8800 Braddock Rd.
Annandale, VA  22003-4150

and afterwards for 

a Reception at Holy Spirit School opposite the church

For More Information
Contact: Heide Seward                                                   
The St. Thomas of Canterbury Anglican Use Society of Washington, DC and Northern Virginia invites you to join with them in building an Anglican Use Catholic parish to become part of the future US Ordinariate under the terms of the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum coetibus. Regular services of Evening Prayer according to the Book of Divine Worship will be held this fall on first Sundays at 5:00 p.m. at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Annandale and on third Saturdays at 4:45 p.m. at St. Anselm’s Abbey in Washington.
Check our website for directions & further details:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

O Make Us Love Thee More & More...

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (the Feast of Corpus Christi), which we celebrate today, has come to be one of my favorite feast days on the liturgical calendar.  Growing up in the Episcopal Church I found the idea of the Eucharist as a merely "spiritual" reality rather confusing.  Depending on who you asked, Christ was either truly present on the altar at the consecration, or we were merely sharing a meal at "the Lord's Table."  When I was preparing for Confirmation at the age of 12, I can even remember someone offering the explanation that, in effect, if I chose to believe in the Real Presence, then Christ would be truly present for me, though not necessarily for the person next to me in the same pew!  I couldn't quite get my head around that, and I always assumed that the problem was my own intellectual and spiritual deficiencies.

Now I realize that the real reason I couldn't grasp this concept was that it was pure nonsense.  It has to be either one or the other in reality; otherwise it is meaningless.  Considering the series of rather broad hints our Lord gave us about what he intended it to be--especially in today's Gospel reading from the 6th Chapter of John--I am inclined to trust the consistent teaching of the Catholic Church on this one.  Our Lord's teaching just doesn't make sense unless he meant that He is really there.  And O, how wonderful it is to know that He really did mean it when He said he would be with us always....

My thanks to Father Christopher Phillips at Our Lady of the Atonement in San Antonio, who posted this lovely video on his blog for Corpus Christi last year. The hymn, "Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All," was written by Fr. Frederick William Faber, one of the Oxford Movement converts who followed Blessed John Henry Newman into the Catholic Church. He wrote a number of beautiful hymns, including the well-known "Faith of Our Fathers," and one of my particular favorites, "There's a Wideness in God's Mercy."

The words in the YouTube video vary slightly from the text below--the actual words of Faber's original, as far as I can tell.  Still, it's a lovely video.  Enjoy.

Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All
Jesus, my Lord, my God, my all,
How can I love Thee as I ought?
And how revere this wond'rous gift,
So far surpassing hope or thought.
Sweet Sacrament, we Thee adore.
O make us love Thee more and more!
O make us love Thee more and more!

Had I but Mary's sinless heart,
To love Thee as my dearest King;
O with what bursts of fervent praise,
Thy goodness, Jesus, would I sing!
Sweet Sacrament, we Thee adore.
O make us love Thee more and more!
O make us love Thee more and more!

O, see, within a creature's hand,
The vast Creator deigns to be,
Reposing infant-like, as though
On Joseph's arm, on Mary's knee.
Sweet Sacrament, we Thee adore.
O make us love Thee more and more!
O make us love Thee more and more!

Thy body, soul, and Godhead, all--
O mystery of love divine!
I cannot compass all I have,
For all Thou hast and art are mine.
Sweet Sacrament, we Thee adore.
O make us love Thee more and more!
O make us love Thee more and more!

Sound, sound His praises higher still,
And come ye Angels to our aid;
'Tis God, 'tis God, the very God,
Whose power both man and angels made.
Sweet Sacrament, we Thee adore.
O make us love Thee more and more!
O make us love Thee more and more!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Patronal Feast

Today, June 22, is the Feast of St. Thomas More, my patron saint, and St. John Fisher, the only English bishop martyred under Henry VIII, and there is much more to celebrate now than there was when I wrote my first blog entry on the subject in 2008.  That was more than a year before Anglicanorum coetibus.  The fault lines in the Anglican Communion were especially apparent at the time, and the evangelical response, the first GAFCON meeting, seemed to me well-intentioned but ultimately unworkable.

Speaking of the proposals floating among GAFCON participants, I concluded the article as follows:
There is another way, and I don't mean forming a separate Anglican entity. I mean returning home--to the Church that was and still is the one established by Christ and entrusted to his Apostles. And by  "the Church," I mean the Church that St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher gave their lives for. It will continue to happen, but not primarily, I think, on an institutional level--with the possible exception of parishes that might seek reconciliation with the Catholic Church through the Pastoral Provision. It will continue, I hope and pray, at the individual level.
How much has changed since then!  Now the Holy Father has, essentially, expanded the Pastoral Provision so that this reconciliation can also happen at an institutional as well as an individual level, and it is happening already in England and Wales, where the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham has been established and a whole new crop of priests were ordained recently.

As we await the establishment of our own American Ordinariate--in the fall, according to Cardinal Wuerl's announcement at the USCCB Spring General Assembly last week--let's ask the continued prayers of these two great English saints.

St. Thomas More & St. John Fisher,
Pray for us.

Friday, June 17, 2011

All the Right Enemies

An article by James Hitchcock in the June 2011 online issue of the Catholic World Report, "The Failure of Liberal Catholicism" (the second of two installments), is well worth a read.  The two-part series provides an interesting glimpse into the anachronism that is liberal, "Spirit of Vatican II" Catholicism.  Dr. Hitchcock has mined sources like the flagship paper of the Catholic left, the National Catholic Reporter, to discover a series of telling quotes, including the following:
One woman told the NCR that she finds the acceptance of former Anglicans into the Church “worrisome,” because “They’re kneeling for Communion, the priest facing the altar…we are regressing from the Vatican II model....
I guess the secret is out.  Us Anglican Use types constitute the worst nightmare of organizations like Voice of the Faithful:  We are happy Catholics who desire to be faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church, and we like our worship to be reverent, beautiful, and focused on God rather than on ourselves.

The first installment (from the May 2011 issue) also contains some gems, including the following:
A retired teacher warns against the phrase “and with your spirit,” because it will “encourage ordinary Catholics to think that their religion is basically about saving souls” and “will once again lead the ordinary Catholic astray.”
Here's what Dr. Hitchcock has to say about that.  I'd say he puts it very well:
The writer does not consider himself a naïve “ordinary Catholic.” In his enlightenment he understands vastly more than such “ordinary Catholics” as, for example, Ignatius Loyola and Teresa of Avila, who naïvely thought their religion was about saving souls.

Indeed.  In fact, I, too, have been under the impression all my life that saving souls is precisely what religion is all about.  Silly me.  Seems I'm in good company, though.

Part I:
Part II:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

St. Luke's Bladensburg

This is old news by now in the age of instant information, but I was out of town when the news broke earlier this week about St. Luke's, Bladensburg (Maryland).  Members of the St. Thomas of Canterbury Anglican Use Society (STCS) have been hoping and praying for this happy outcome, and we are immensely pleased for our brothers and sisters in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC--the first Episcopal parish in the Washington Archdiocese, and the second in the state of Maryland (Mt. Calvary, Baltimore was the first)--to officially declare their intention to join the anticipated US Ordinariate.  I would like to add my own hearty congratulations and welcome them in advance to the Catholic fold.

We will have even more to celebrate this Saturday, June 11, when we hold an Anglican Use Mass marking the first anniversary of our founding.  For more about the Mass, see the STCS website.

Here's an excerpt from their website:
It is with great joy St. Luke's announces its intention to join the Personal Ordinariate of the Roman Catholic Church. We have been discerning the leading of the Holy Spirit since the Holy Father's announcement of Anglicanorum coetibus in October of 2009. Since that time we have been in close dialogue with both the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and the Archdiocese Washington

Read more here.

Update:  I heard on WMET-AM1160 (our local Catholic radio station) today that Fr. Scott Hurd, Cardinal Wuerl's assistant for the implementation of Anglicanorum coetibus, and Fr. Mark Lewis, the Rector of St. Luke's, are scheduled to be on "The World Over Live" (Raymond Arroyo's show) on EWTN tonight.  The show is broadcast live from the JPII Center near Catholic U at 8pm.  For more information, see the EWTN website.

Friday, May 27, 2011

AU Mass Celebrating First Anniversary of the St. Thomas of Canterbury Society

The Ordinariate-bound group here in the Washington area, the St. Thomas of Canterbury Anglican Use Society (STCS), began on June 12, 2010 with a meeting in a local library attended by a grand total of five people.  The purpose was simply to gauge interest in forming a local "Group of Anglicans" to accept the Holy Father's offer to Anglicans set forth in Anglicanorum coetibus. Attendance doubled to ten for the second meeting, and since then by God's grace we have seen steady growth.  We are now looking forward to initiating regular services in Northern Virginia with Evensong and Benediction on June 26th--the Feast of Corpus Christi--at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Annandale, VA (map).  This is in addition to monthly Evening Prayer services we have been holding at St. Anselm's Abbey in Washington, DC since September 2010.  More information is available on the website of the STCS.

On Saturday, June 11, 2011--the Vigil of Pentecost--we will celebrate the first anniversary of what turned out to be our founding meeting with a Mass according to the Anglican Use of the Roman Rite at 4:00 p.m. at St. Anselm's Abbey.  The celebrant for this Mass will be Fr. Eric Bergman, Chaplain of the St. Thomas More Society, the Anglican Use congregation in Scranton, PA.  He also served as celebrant for the Society's first official Mass on March 19, 2011, which drew a standing-room-only crowd of 80.  Fr. Bergman will speak at a reception after the Mass on the practical aspects of forming an Anglican Use parish, a process with which he has personal experience.

Anyone who lives in the Washington area or plans to be here on either of those dates, please join us.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

New Book from Ignatius Press: Anglicans and the Roman Catholic Church

The quest for a path to corporate reunion between Anglicans and the Catholic Church is a relatively obscure topic for most modern observers.  It is probably fair to say that most Catholics and Anglicans are unaware of or have only a vague understanding of the history of that quest, one that stretches back until at least the 17th century.  Even now, a year and a half after the promulgation by Pope Benedict of Anglicanorum coetibus in November of 2009, the very existence of this ground-breaking document is still unknown to most Catholics and Anglicans, let alone it's enormous progress to date.  Still more obscure is the history of the Pastoral Provision.

With the publication of Anglicans and the Roman Catholic Church: Reflections on Recent Developments (Ignatius Press, 2011), a collection of essays on the subject, those of us who have been laboring to explain the origins of Anglicanorum coetibus to whomever is willing to listen have a valuable resource at their fingertips.  Many of the contributors are former Anglican priests who have been ordained into the Catholic priesthood through the Pastoral Provision.  One of them, Bishop Peter Elliott, was not married and so was able to become a Catholic bishop.  Another is a woman who relinquished holy orders in the Episcopal Church to enter the Catholic Church. The essays are grouped into four categories, explaining the historical, canonical, theological and liturgical aspects of the relationship between Anglicans and the Catholic Church.  Most were written before the promulgation of Anglicanorum coetibus, and they provide a telling picture of just how precarious was the future of the Anglican Use before November 4, 2009.

Most of the essays were first published in Anglican Embers, a quarterly journal of the Anglican Use Society (AUS), whose purpose is to support existing Anglican Use Parishes and to promote the Pastoral Provision. I first heard several of the essays as talks delivered at the Society's annual Anglican Use conferences.  The editor of the book is also the editor of Anglican Embers, Stephen Cavanaugh, who worships with the Anglican Use congregation of St. Athanasius in Boston and moderates the blog, The Anglican Use of the Roman Rite.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

You Are Invited...

The St. Thomas of Canterbury Anglican Use Society
Washington, DC and Northern Virginia
invites you to a 
Mass according to the Anglican Use of the Roman Rite

on Saturday, March 19, 2011

at four o’clock

St. Anselm’s Abbey
4501 South Dakota Avenue, NE
Washington, DC  20017-2753

and afterwards for

a Reception and Talk by our celebrant,

Fr. Eric Bergman, Chaplain of the St. Thomas More Society

For more information contact:  James W. Farr, Jr. (
For more information about the St. Thomas of Canterbury Society or directions to St. Anselm's, check out our website:

The St. Thomas of Canterbury Anglican Use Society of Washington, DC and Northern Virginia invites you to join with them in cultivating an Anglican Use Catholic parish to become part of the hoped-for future US Ordinariate under the terms of the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum coetibus. Regular services of Evening Prayer according to the Book of Divine Worship are held on the third Saturday of each month at 4:45 p.m. at St. Anselm’s Abbey in Washington.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Dr. Bernard Nathanson, Requiescat in pace

The announcement last week of the death of Dr. Bernard Nathanson was at the same time an occasion of great sadness and also a poignant reminder of the utter magnitude of God's grace.  A man of great integrity, Dr. Nathanson was willing to follow the truth where it led him, even when it was decidedly inconvenient and required him to repudiate the abortion culture that he worked so hard to create.  And he did so initially without the light of any religious faith.  His pursuit of the truth ultimately led him to embrace belief in God and then belief in Christ.  The pro-life movement has lost a great friend and a brave champion.

Back in the 1980's, when my convictions about the dignity of the human person were still in the formative stages, I saw something that finally tipped the scales for me.  It convinced me that I could no longer remain a fence-sitter regarding the issue of abortion, especially.  Not that I would ever have described myself as "pro-choice."  I was adopted as an infant, in 1958, and I couldn't help wondering what would have become of me if I had been born just 15 years later, after Roe vs. Wade became the law of the land.  The issue simply was not at the forefront of my thinking.

Then one day in late 1984 or early '85 I was watching television and happened to see a story about Dr. Nathanson's new documentary film, The Silent Scream, which caught on videotape a sonogram-guided early-term abortion.  Sonogram technology at the time was rather primitive by today's standards, yet it clearly showed the pre-born infant fighting for its life against the suction device that was about to take its life.  It was convicting, to say the least, and it one of the key catalysts that propelled me into the pro-life movement.  A year or two later I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Nathanson speak at a North Carolina Right to Life (NCRTL) gathering in Greensboro.  At the time he had made no public repudiation, as far as I knew, of his atheism, but his remarks indicated that he was heading in that direction.

It would be another decade or more before he entered the Catholic Church, but in a way that event itself was a hint of what was to come for him, and eventually for me.  The NCRTL meeting was held in a Catholic Church, and it dawned on me at the time that Catholic Christians were not only the foot soldiers of the pro-life movement; they were also the major source of its rational underpinnings.  Little did I know at the time that Dr. Nathanson, a Jewish atheist, and a WASP like me would both end up "coming home" to the same place, the Catholic Church, in large part because of the consistent witness of the Church on the life issue.

See the story on Life Site News for more about his funeral Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral on Monday, presided over by New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan.  It contains a link to the excellent homily preached by Fr. Gerald Murray.

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei.
(Eternal rest grant him, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon him.)

Friday, January 28, 2011

March for Life & Mid-Atlantic Gathering (Introducing the St. Thomas of Canterbury Society)

Beginning of Recessional at St. Alphonsus
As announced on this blog and elsewhere, the recent March for Life, commemorating the 38th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, was the occasion for a gathering of Ordinariate-bound Catholics and Anglicans from the mid-Atlantic area and elsewhere.  It was also the occasion for the debut of our new Ordinariate-bound group here in the Washington/Northern Virgina area, the St. Thomas of Canterbury Anglican Use Society (STCS).  Click here to visit our website, which is still under construction at this writing.

On Sunday, January 23, Fr. Eric Bergman of the St. Thomas More Society in Scranton, PA, celebrated an Anglican Use Mass at the beautiful St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in Baltimore, Md.  Turnout was very respectable, over 100 people, among whom about 25 percent were young children.  It is always a great joy to see so many children at such events, since it affirms the strong commitment of these groups of Anglicans to the Gospel of Life.  We were assisted by an all-male schola, who sang the propers for the day from the Anglican Use Gradual.  The ordinary parts of the Mass were the standard--and lovely--Healey Willan compositions straight out of the 1940 Hymnal.  The Offertory hymn was one of my particular favorites, "Dear Lord and Father of Mankind":
Here's Verse 1:
Dear Lord and Father of mankind, forgive our foolish ways!
Re-clothe us in our rightful mind, in purer lives Thy service find,
in deeper reverence, praise, in deeper reverence, praise.

My husband, Bernie, and Fr. Scott Hurd at St. Alphonsus after Mass
Fr. Bergman's homily was, as usual, spot on, recalling our Lord's first recorded sermon, as recorded in the Gospel reading (Mt. 4:12-23), "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."  He reminded us of the great gift we have in the Catholic Church--the unequivocal naming of sin as sin, and the call to repentance and forgiveness.  It is the Catholic Church which has remained steadfast in naming the sin of abortion and the underlying sin of the refusal to embrace the gift of new life; in a word, contraception.

Mt. Calvary

Following the Mass, the group reconvened a few blocks north at Mt. Calvary Church.  Mt. Calvary is the Episcopal Church whose congregation (all but a small fraction of them) voted last October to leave ECUSA and seek reception into the Catholic Church.  Their rector, Fr. Jason Catania, hosted a gathering in the church's undercroft that featured elegant wine and food that was a welcome sight on a rather frigid night.

Fr. Catania welcomed us, then Fr. Bergman spoke.  He announced the creation of the St. Thomas of Canterbury Society and mentioned our ongoing Evening Prayer services (the third Saturday of each month) and other upcoming events.  Fr. Hurd, Cardinal Wuerl's assistant for the implementation of Anglicanorum coetibus in the US, also spoke.  He had previously slipped into St. Alphonsus after the beginning of Mass.  (He is pictured above with my husband.)  Obviously, he is not at liberty to divulge any state secrets at this stage, but what he did say was encouraging.  He confirmed that questionnaires from groups around the country (including our local group) were submitted to Cardinal Wuerl at the end of 2010 and have been submitted to the CDF.  The enthusiasm among the people gathered there was palpable, among those anticipating reception into the Catholic Church as well as those of us who have already made the journey and are eager to welcome them "home."

A number of St. Thomas of Canterbury Society members were also in attendance, and our Vice President Patrick Rothwell spoke briefly to the assembled group about us.  I passed my camera to someone who took the photo below (which has been posted already on the Anglo-Catholic!).  I'm the one in front in the green sweater.

Several members of the St. Thomas of Canterbury Society (w/Fr. Bergman & Paul Campbell)
March for Life

On the following day (Monday), a large group of us met near the National Mall in Washington to participate in the March for Life.  We marched under a large red banner proclaiming, "Thank you, Holy Father, for Anglicanorum coetibus!"  Along with hundreds of thousands of others we braved temperatures that topped out in the low 30's to bear witness to the Gospel of Life.  Most of the group was from the St. Thomas More Society; a number were from Maryland; two of us were from the St. Thomas of Canterbury Society; and one of our number came all the way from Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston.  I snapped the photo below before we joined the main March.

Anglican Ordinariate group at the 2011 National March for Life in Washington, DC
As always, the March was a solemn occasion, marking the anniversary of a grave injustice done in the name of a false notion of "freedom," but it is also a sign of hope that things are changing.  As I noted in my post on last year's March, the presence of so many young people, a third of whose peers have been lost to abortion in the nearly four decades since Roe, is a great encouragement.  As is the presence of the Silent No More Awareness campaign, which works to bring hope and healing to women and men wounded by abortion and to help create a culture in which abortion is unthinkable.  In fact, that is the reason all of us do this year after year.  It was a great joy to be in the company of these folks, and to demonstrate to the wider pro-life movement our commitment to the Culture of Life.

Georgette Fourney of Silent No More Awareness (& Anglicans for Life)
On Constitution Avenue (Old P.O. Tower in background)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Mid-Atlantic Gathering of Ordinariate-bound Anglicans & Catholics

Ordinariate-bound Anglicans, Catholics (and those who are merely curious) are invited to attend several events during and leading up to this year's March for Life (Jan. 23 and 24).  Fr. Christopher Phillips has posted something about it on the Anglo-Catholic blog.

At 4:00pm on Sunday, Jan. 23, Fr. Eric Bergman, a Pastoral Provision priest and pastor of the St. Thomas More Society in Scranton, PA, will celebrate an Anglican Use Mass at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in downtown Baltimore.  Nearby Mt. Calvary Church has very generously offered their parish hall for a reception afterward.  Mt. Calvary is the Episcopal Church whose congregation voted overwhelmingly last October to leave ECUSA and become Catholic.  See my post about it here.  This will be an opportunity to meet other like-minded Catholics & Anglicans and to find out more about what is happening around the mid-Atlantic region related to the eventual formation of an Ordinariate in the US.

On Monday, Jan. 24, there will be an opportunity to march together at the March for Life on the National Mall under a banner which proclaims, “Thank you, Holy Father, for Anglicanorum Coetibus!”  We will meet at 1:00 pm at the corner of 7th St. and Independence Avenue, SW (just west of the Air and Space Museum).  Click here for a map.