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.