“Well, if it’s a symbol, to hell with it.” –Flannery O’Connor

During the ten years I spent as a Baptist, I believed the elements of our monthly communion—the little cubes of white bread and the tiny individual glasses of grape juice—were symbolic.  I nevertheless found it disrespectful to put the empty glass on the floor afterwards, the same way I would not want to see an American flag dropped onto the floor.

As my faith deepened, however, it became intuitively more sacramental.  By the time I first visited Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary I was ready for acknowledging Christ’s Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament.  It helped this understanding was imparted so simply by the reverence the priests showed in how they prayed the Mass.  Lex orandi; lex credendi.   

So, this morning, when I read news of a new Pew Research study that shows seven in ten U.S. Catholics believe the bread and the wine in Holy Communion are merely symbols, I thanked God for how our traditional Anglican Catholic form of worship prepared us for understanding Catholic teaching on the Eucharist.  Continue reading

How Cardinal Newman can help us

More than 20 years ago,  when I was a traditional Anglican, I remember a Catholic convert waving Cardinal John Henry Newman in my face to try to persuade me that Anglicanism was wrong and that I must follow Newman’s example and join the Catholic Church.

At the time, I spoke to a traditional Anglican priest about this and he said: “Newman’s a liberal.”  So, I dismissed the cardinal out of hand.  But as I continued to learn more about the Catholic faith, I began to see the brittleness of my previous positions.

We all remember, after Anglicanorum coetibus was published, encountering those who insisted:  “I’m Catholic already; just not Roman Catholic” as if the “Roman” was a pejorative word.  There was the pervasive notion of “Branch Theory” that circulated among Continuing Anglicans that traditional Anglicans represented a branch of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church similar to the Orthodox churches, and thus had access to to a purer Catholic faith before all those “Roman accretions.”   These erroneous views prevented many members of our church families in the Traditional Anglican Communion from crossing the Tiber.

As my conversion deepened, I shed those ideological positions and realized they represented a form of “golden age” thinking, an idea that one could recover a purer faith, a purer Church in the distant past and it was our job to recover that.  So, I’m very alert to similar kinds of “golden age” thinking and black-and-white ideological approaches to the Catholic faith among those who are already members of the Catholic Church. Continue reading

The Portal and the Online Martyrs Map

coverThe August edition of The Portal Magazine is out and, as usual, it’s full of interesting news and commentary from the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

The co-editors & founders, Jackie Ottaway and Ronald Crane, interview Graeme Garvey, who has created an extraordinary online map showing the locations of all the English Catholic martyrs from the years 1534 to 1680.

Here are some excerpts from Ottaway’s and Crane’s interview with the map’s creator.

“As I started to plot the map that message became stronger. What it really said was that the faith in the country was stronger than people like to think. They loved the faith and didn’t want to lose it. They were made to give it up. In fact, in the early days the Calvinists were seen as Germans and the English didn’t want to become part of something which was foreign.

“All sorts of things started to come through. As I started to plot these people, I was conscious I couldn’t get all the names. There were so many. Some I had never heard of. They weren’t recorded. Eventually I had done the map and put it out for whoever might
want to see it…

“The project started to grow. It was a labour of love and took many hours, but every minute was a privilege, because you were coming across people who loved Jesus so much they were willing to die for Him…

“The humbling thing with the Martyr’s Map was that again and again, I kept coming across the example that the imitation of Christ is what they were doing. There was a love there. There wasn’t a nastiness, or a meanness. It was a courage. The people were just ordinary people. That is the message. They were people who were very bright, very educated too, it reached everybody because the message is very simple.”

The Portal Magazine is committed to discovering more about Anglican and English Catholic history, in addition to explaining the Ordinariates to cradle Catholics and helping Ordinariate members learn more about the Catholic Church.

Garvey again:

“I speak to friends at church about how dark things are. I think we are at a bad time. For me it’s inspirational to look at the history of the Catholic Church in England. People like yourselves and the Ordinariate: The love of Christ has continued. It must have been so
difficult for people who were culturally not part of the Catholic Church, but were emotionally.”

You can view the map here.

Exactly what we signed up for . . .

Shane Schaetzel over at the Complete Christianity blog has a post on the authority of the Catholic Church that is well worth reading in light of my post yesterday.

In a post entitled The Treco Case is Exactly What We Signed Up For  Shane outlines the journey he and his wife made  evangelicalism and Anglicanism and the shaky nature of authority on faith and morals in any of those ecclesial communities.  It’s a journey all of us now in the Ordinariates for Catholics of Anglican Patrimony all share.

He writes:

What we signed up for was a return to the original authority structure, the one given to us by Jesus Christ, and in doing so, we admitted to the reason for the defeat of orthodoxy within Anglicanism. Its demise was inevitable, because the Apostolic authority given by Christ was never really there to protect it. We had all the illusions of it, the trappings, and the rigors, but not the real authority of the Apostles.

To date, this Apostolic authority to protect the truth has held true for us in the Ordinariates, even in the face of widespread misinterpretation of Amoris Laetitia on communion for couples in objectively adulterous “marriages.” We should be reminded at this point of how authoritatively but eloquently Bishop Steven J. Lopes defended orthodoxy in A Pledged Troth. We should be reminded by this, that His Excellency does not take matters of doctrine lightly, and his history of orthodoxy is beyond question. While the defenders of Fr. Treco would have the Catholic media, and all of us, believe that Bishop Lopes plays loose and liberal with doctrine and discipline, the historical context of this man doesn’t match that narrative.

I totally agree.

Read the whole post, as Shane makes a number of excellent points. He concludes:

Fr. Treco has appealed his case to Rome, as is his right, and we should all support that. This is what we all signed up for. We signed up for a definitive authority which could handle matters like this, so they don’t turn into schismatic sects or endless legal battles in civil courts. We signed up for definitive judgement on such matters, and in due time, one will come. Regardless of the outcome, we will all accept it, because that is exactly what we signed up for. Regardless of the outcome, we will rejoice in it, because that’s exactly what we signed up for. We wanted to join a Church that was bigger than us, bigger than our own judgement, and bigger than our own directives. As Anglicans (and Evangelicals turned Anglican, like myself) we grew tired of being our own popes, our own judges, our own juries, and our own executioners. The Treco case is in Rome’s hands now, and thank God it is! In leaving Anglicanism, and joining the Catholic Church, this is exactly what we signed up for.

Do we trust that God is in charge of His Church or not?  Do we think we have to take charge ourselves to sort out doctrine because we see sinful and fallible men in charge?

Anyway, I will respect the Church’s judgment in this matter.

Wheat and tares and avoiding ideology

The Shared Treasure blog put an interesting post up July 28 about the dangers Ordinariate communities face in the guise of individuals who lure members offside into ideologies from the left or the right.

In The Tares Among the Wheat: the challenge to emergent communities The blogger writes:

Because many are currently small (like a mustard seed! – cf St. Mark 4:30–32) and enthusiastic, emergent faith communities are ready targets for aggressive individuals that seek to appropriate a community’s immediacy and energy.
Extremists (too strong a descriptor?) insinuate themselves into a community and like malicious microbes infect their host, sapping its vitality and possibly dividing a community within itself or from the wider Church.

Vade retro Satana; Numquam suade mihi vana.
Sunt mala quae libas; Ipse venena bibas.
Though an aspect or two of the extremists’ agenda might have merit, their actions largely detract from the mission of the Church, which is to:*
  1. invite new disciples into a life-giving relationship with Christ;
  2. nurture reverence and beauty in liturgy, so that the Ordinariate’s tradition of worship deepens the faith and authentic discipleship of all the faithful;
  3. model ecumenism, fostering the unity of the Church that our Lord prayed for (John 17:21);
  4. serve in evangelical charity by caring for those in need.
Whether they be from the left or the right, power hungry pietists prey on the sympathies of generous believers and drag them into an acid pool of conspiracy theories and ideological battles. Historic events are frequently twisted to fit and reinforce a false narrative, and subsequently another narrative emerges, a chimera that is as malicious as it is alluring. Such conspiratorial traps drag or push believers into swamps of sectarian behaviour.
I would like to create a blog roll for the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society, and I will definitely include this blog.
Any others you suggest?

On Fr. Treco, I stand with Bishop Lopes

When it comes to the Fr. Vaughan Treco affair, I stand with Bishop Steven Lopes.  I am tired of seeing the bishop cast in a negative light and Treco made into a hero-martyr of “the faith.”

When we came into the Catholic Church we had to give up being our own Pope, that is, deciding for ourselves the Catholic faith is.   And secondly, we had to give up the idea that we could vote on doctrine like a bunch of congregationalists or Anglicans, who in their various synods have brought us such novelties as women priests and bishops and so on.

So I watch the train wreck of Fr. Vaughan Treco’s priesthood with a combination of dismay and sadness.  It seems the words of Martin Luther reverberate down the ages:  “Here I stand, I can do no other.”   And we know how that turned out.  Continue reading

Tom’s Digest critiques the proposed Divine Offices

Tom B. over at his blog Tom’s Digest has begun a series critiquing the proposed draft of the Divine Offices for the Personal Ordinariates to replace the Book of Common Prayer.

He writes:

Rome should take its time, and the three ordinaries, the Congregation for Divine Worship, as well as anyone else involved in the official drafting process, should seriously consider ironing out some real problems that make the draft as it currently stands, in my opinion, unfit for prime time.


One of the weakest points of the Ordinariate’s draft is that it (understandably) wants to have the best of all worlds — the Anglican Prayer Books, and both classical and modern forms of the Roman Rite — but goes about it in such a clumsy way that it ends up potentially falling short of them all.

The most evident symptom of this in the divine office drafts is the abundance of one powerful little word, “may,” in the rubrics.

Archbishop Cranmer understood that in order for his Prayer Book offices to achieve their goal of being the largely unchanging platter on which substantial daily portions of the Psalms and Scriptures could be served up in a systematic fashion, options at the celebrant’s discretion had to be kept to a minimum.


Divine Worship by contrast has lost the strongest feature and driving purpose behind Cranmer’s project and the whole classical Prayer Book tradition: a mandatory and relatively uniform simplicity.

Here is why: from beginning to end, the draft offices are full of, “The celebrant may” do this, omit that, add the third thing, choose between the following options…

This post got shared on the Anglican Ordinariate Forum and other similar discussion groups on Facebook and some interesting discussion ensued.

Part of the reason why the proposed offices have so many options is they combined practices from former Anglican jurisdictions using different versions of the Book of Common Prayer.  I hope, though, once the offices are approved, that each Ordinariate can publish its own Catholic Book of Common Prayer with its regional variations, such as the collects praying for the Queen in Canada and the U.K. but leaving out all the options never used in that area, or, as Tom’s Digest suggests, putting the options into an appendix.

Several months ago, I interviewed John Covert, creator of the Prayer.Covert.org.

This site offers the Morning and Evening Prayer (plus Midday Prayers and Compline) with the opportunity to choose the Psalms from the lectionary or from the daily BCP cycle of daily readings; plus the readings and collects for the day.   Covert said he tried to make it as close as possible to what he was able to piece together about the draft office books.

But he, too, seemed to hope whatever Prayer Book gets published is simple and easy to use.  He told me it must “pass the Grandma test,” so Grandma can use it on her own without a lot of explanation.  

While many are eager to see the Office Books published, we continue to use the 1962 Canadian Book of Common Prayer for our Mattins and Evensong and our offices are very close to what Covert has on his site.  We add the Angelus and for Evensong, the Phos Hilarion, and the Marian Anthem.

On the Forum, Christopher Mahon offered some opinions that I thought were worth passing on here. Included is some of the discussion:

Christopher Mahon The author is correct to say the Holy See should take its time with the office. The important thing is for ordinariate communities to simply pray mattins and evensong as we have always done.

It’s not like the apostles went out after the Ascension and got all worked up about praying daily until Peter had gotten around to reviewing, editing, and promulgating formal books. They just prayed as they were accustomed. The books followed.

In other words, the books are meant to reflect the received tradition. In the case of evensong and mattins, that tradition is already given to us.

  • Steven Rabanal Basically, do what’s patrimonial and don’t worry about it, right?
  • Christopher Mahon Exactly. Here’s an interesting thought experiment. People sometimes worry that if the Holy See issues a book that modified a prayer or custom, we might have to give up the customary way of doing it. But what if the Holy See instead issues a book that adds options to what we usually do? That’s not a bad thing if it’s trying to capture and reflect received patrimonial tradition, but it could easily cause confusion and entice some local folks to changing their custom.

    Bottom line is we should keep calm and carry on patrimonially.

  • Claudia Brown It’s very important to work at it until a version “for the ages” is produced. Amongst us Romans, the Post-Vatican II work of the ICEL (International Commission on the English Liturgy) was an ongoing food-fight for years, producing “interim” versions of texts which would be deemed official for some number of years (like three) until something “definitive” could be agreed upon. This was a mess for all the obvious reasons, but its most singular achievement was the absolute destruction of what had been the UNIVERSAL use by the Congregation of a personal Missal.

    Except for such pockets as the FSSP, this former custom has never really recovered. So much for the vaunted “Age of the Laity”!! The loss of the Missal, in my view, was a strategic act of hyper-clericalism. Get it right the FIRST time, no matter how long it takes.